Friday, July 19, 2024

Will What We Do in the Shadows Ship Nandor x Guillermo?

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With five episodes having passed in the third season of What We Do in the Shadows, FX’s amazing vampire mockumentary, the possibility has never been stronger. What was once a crack ship with absolutely no shot of happening seems…quite possible. It almost feels like the show wants us to believe it will happen. The pieces are not just on the table, they are halfway connected.

For a certain subset of the larger TV audience, I can certainly see the appeal of shipping these two, problems and all. The master/servant dynamic is easy to project feelings onto. Guillermo’s dedication to Nandor always felt a bit extra, as has Nandor’s reliance on Guillermo for the most basic of tasks. Every temporary split in this relationship sees neither of them prove capable of moving on from each other. Nandor can never find a familiar of Guillermo’s quality, and Guillermo can never stop coming back to protect Nandor, Lazlo, and Nadja from their own incompetence.

Nandor visiting Guillermo in the hospital during What We Do in the Shadows

Still, for all their obvious and unhealthy codependence on each other, their relationship never really touched or hinted on anything remotely sexual. Guillermo wants to be a vampire and sticks with Nandor to make this dream come true. That is the basis of their dynamic. You could argue that since Nandor does sleep with men and Guillermo never shows any interest in anyone else around him, that the two of them could be possible in a far-flung future, but no progress was ever made to truly suggest sexual tension or interest of any kind.

Then season 3 came along. I still do not think there is blatant interest of any kind between them, but for the first time, this sexual element has been introduced, even if said element is mostly used in the show’s jokes.

The most substantial hint is probably Guillermo’s near confession that he is…well, not straight. We do not know what exactly he was going to say in “The Casino” before he was rudely interrupted, but it is a strong possibility he was about to say he was gay. He was clearly about to confess something about his sexuality. If he was just into women, there would be no need for a confession.

Knowing he is likely attracted to men places his actions throughout the first two seasons into a new context. Why exactly does he keep returning to Nandor? Surely he could try and convince a different vampire to turn him? Nandor makes efforts at reconciliation for his mistakes, but those efforts are never what Guillermo deserves from him. If it turns out that Guillermo is attracted to Nandor and developed feelings over his decade as the vampire’s familiar, then his dedication makes more sense.

Now to be clear, Guillermo has tried to get another vampire to turn him. His patience for Nandor’s foolishness is not limitless. Still, he keeps going back to Nandor when he really has no good reason to. All that exists is his connection to Nandor, Lazlo, and Nadja, and Lazlo and Nadja consistently treat him far worse than Nandor. Romantic feelings would add necessary context to his need to protect Nandor and the others.

On the flip side of things, Nandor has numerous moments throughout the third season of What We Do in the Shadows where the possibility of a relationship with Guillermo is teased. Most prominent of all is the episode where he tries to score a date with the reception girl, Meg, at his gym. Let’s leave aside the eventual revelation that this woman turns out to be a lesbian, and the trope of queer people always finding other queer people, or whether she suspected Nandor was gay the whole time and that is why she put up with the weird guy who dresses straight out of Bram Stoker’s Dracula.

The episode culminates with a diner conversation where Nandor talks about Guillermo in a way that makes Meg assume he has feelings for him, complete with suggesting Nandor ask Guillermo out on a date. Yes, this is somewhat played for laughs, but it is more notable that Nandor does not completely dismiss the idea out of hand. Rather, he treats Meg’s suggestion like a startling revelation.

To be clear, it is not Nandor’s sexuality that is in question. We have known for practically the entirety of What We Do in the Shadows that Nandor has no reservations regarding gender. The revelation is rather the idea of Guillermo as a romantic partner.

The following episode, “Gail,” sees one of Nandor’s on-again, off-again lovers return. This time the weirdness comes from Guillermo, who acts irrationally suspicious of Gail. It is never outright stated but he is clearly jealous of her. Maybe you can argue that Guillermo simply took his new bodyguard role too far. Everyone else hates the idea of Gail coming back since she always breaks Nandor’s heart, so you could also argue that Guillermo just does not want to see that.

There is an obvious romantic jealousy to read into his behavior, though, and considering what Meg says in the previous episode, how can you interpret Guillermo any other way? Or that Nandor randomly decides to find a past lover one episode after this startling potential revelation regarding Guillermo?

Then you have “The Chamber of Judgment,” where the vampires’ neighbor Sean outright mistakes Guillermo to be Nandor’s boyfriend. Over and over, season 3 of What We Do in the Shadows has crafted content around the idea of Nandor and Guillermo being a couple, or at least attracted to each other. The ship is alive and thriving.

This most recent episode also saw Guillermo save the life of a friend-turned-vampire from season 2, and on top of that, a friend who is clueless regarding traditional vampire rules. There has never been a more fitting opportunity for Guillermo to find a vampire who will turn him. Derek was already Guillermo’s friend, and he has no clue why a vampire would or would not turn someone else. He is an exception to the game more ancient vampires play with their familiars. If Guillermo does not even broach the subject of Derek turning him, it will either be a massive plot hole or substantial proof of his loyalty to Nandor.

As we saw last season with Benjy, Nandor is not totally unwilling to turn his familiars. His unwillingness to do so for Guillermo could also be seen as evidence of a latent attraction considering everything happening this season.

So, yeah. The evidence is there. Nandor x Guillermo could absolutely happen. I lean towards believing What We Do in the Shadows will make it happen. How will it happen? Should it, considering the obvious problematic elements involved?

Guillermo and Nandor at a casino from What We Do in the Shadows

The most obvious of these problems is the way the other vampires treat Guillermo. While Nandor has usually not been as cruel the others, he still treats Guillermo as a servant to boss around at will. Even with season 3’s evolving power structure, he still “hypnotizes” Guillermo and defaults to bossing him around. Nandor’s efforts at kindness are appreciated but still have quite a way to go.

This also ties back into What We Do in the Shadow’s longstanding power imbalance between these two, and the transactional nature of their relationship, which makes any healthy ship between the two seem impossible. Nandor only keeps Guillermo around because of his use as a servant, while Guillermo seemingly stuck around to eventually be turned. While Guillermo certainly knows Nandor down to some of his most intimate details, the master/familiar relationship means Nandor has no real idea who Guillermo is.

A significant aspect of why season 3 has made the ship feel more possible is the way it has addressed both these issues. Guillermo’s new role as bodyguard has balanced out the power dynamic and established him on more even footing with the others. This has allowed the others to see him more as his own person, instead of a blank familiar to project upon. Much of what makes the idea of Nandor being in love with Guillermo problematic is that he has no idea who Guillermo really is. What We Do in the Shadows still has some work to do before he can really know his former familiar, but at least the effort has begun.

So, will they sail the Nandermo ship? And what happens if they do?

I think that, if it happens, it will be much like everything else our Staten Island vampires get up to. It will be messy, dumb, and cause huge problems between everyone involved. If there is one thing What We Do in the Shadows consistently does with its relationships, it is to make them messy, dumb, and cause huge problems between each other.

There are few things this show could do to make things messier and dumber than having Nandor and Guillermo sleep with each other. Most of all, that is why I believe this will happen at some point. All the groundwork this season is being laid for both characters to do something extremely dumb with each other, something that will make everyone’s lives more complicated. It will not be the adorable vampire x bodyguard love story shippers want, not right away, but I do think they will kiss or hook up.

We have a few more episodes in season 3 for What We Do in the Shadows to either further tease or completely halt the momentum of Nandor x Guillermo. We’ll see what happens.

Images Courtesy of FX

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