Interview With The Vampire breaks new ground in the best episode of season 2 yet

Interview With The Vampire takes a break from its main storyline to focus on show MVP Daniel Molloy. It explores territory not present in the original book, which is part of why it's so thrilling.
Jacob Anderson as Louis De Point Du Lac and Eric Bogosian as Daniel Molloy - Interview with the Vampire _ Season 2, Episode 5 - Image Courtesy of AMC Network Entertainment LLC
Jacob Anderson as Louis De Point Du Lac and Eric Bogosian as Daniel Molloy - Interview with the Vampire _ Season 2, Episode 5 - Image Courtesy of AMC Network Entertainment LLC /

Interview With The Vampire gives itself a powerful shot in the arm here at the halfway point of season 2, which was starting to feel a little stale, at least compared to season 1. It was always going to be hard to top the white hot passion and danger of the relationship between Louis and Lestat, as toxic as it was addicting. Season 2 has focused on Louis' budding relationship with the vampire Armand, who is an all-around more trustworthy and gentle lover.

That's great for Louis, but a little dull for us in the audience. The reality is that we lap up drama like wine, and no one brings drama like Lestat. Maybe Louis feels the same way, because we find out here that he's finding it just as hard to let go of Lestat as we are. Lestat is still dragging Louis down despite being out of his life for decades. Moreover, he's dragging Armand down with him, which is making him a more interesting character. Everybody wins!

Well, again, not Louis, or Armand, or Daniel, or Lestat. But we win. This is the best episode of the season so far.

When it comes to this show, lately I've been most interested in the scene set in the present between Louis, Armand and Daniel Molloy, rather than the scenes set in Paris from Louis' past. Daniel's insistence on puncturing every self-important story Louis and Armand tell him never ceases to be delightful. He keeps it up here, deflating Armand's sweet story about how he and Louis would spend night after night looking at a ceiling in a Paris library during their early courtship. "Hot," he says simply. Snerk.

Eventually, Armand leaves the apartment to go hunt, kill and eat a willing volunteer who will get a fortune if he can outrun the ancient vampire...but we all know that's not going to happen. This seems more cruel than what we saw Louis do in the first season: drain a dude of some of his blood but leave him alive to stumble and come back later replenished, paid for his trouble. Armand is more sensitive than Lestat, but he has a vicious side. Remember that as we get deeper into the episode.

With Armand out, Daniel takes the opportunity to grill Louis about what happened between them in the '70s, when Daniel was a cub reporter and Louis a few decades into his relationship with Armand. The show has been teasing that something big went down between these three in 1973, and I didn't expect to get the full story all at once so soon. But I'm very glad it happened.

Interview With The Vampire review, Episode 205, "Don't Be Afraid, Just Start the Tape"

Young Daniel Molloy (Luke Brandon Field) is smart and ambitious, but much more insecure and impulsive than the seasoned journalist we know. He isn't sure whether he's gone back to Louis' San Francisco apartment to interview a mysterious stranger or to have sex with him. These two clearly have a connection, one that carries over to the scenes in Dubai, where we see a flicker of youthful uncertainty in the older Daniel's eyes. No, he and Louis didn't have sex back then — remember, Daniel's memory of the event is foggy — but you half-wonder if he's still hoping it might happen.

What did happen is more interesting. Daniel isn't the only one who was different 50 years ago. Louis is more volatile and unstable. He picked Daniel up because he wanted even then to tell his story, even if it's against his interest. He rushes through an excoriating recount of his relationship with Lestat, making sure to bash his maker at every turn as abusive, manipulative, and less smart and sophisticated than he thinks he is. But he's not telling the tale carefully; he's venting, something that even the young, drug-addled Daniel picks up on. This isn't a professional interview like the one in Dubai. This is Louis going on an angry rant, and Daniel is young, stupid and high enough to interrupt him and make demands.

Things get out of hand and Louis bites Daniel, absorbing all the cocaine, quaaludes and whatever else is in Daniel's bloodstream into himself. Armand shows up just in time to pull Louis off Daniel before he kills the kid, and these two vampires have a monster of a lovers' quarrel. It's bitter, brutal stuff. Louis accuses Armand of being dull, boring, a "bitch"; as Armand puts it later, Louis says "the worst things you have ever said to me." In return, Armand roasts Louis for being a self-pitying, love-whipped little nothing who would still crawl back to Lestat if he asked, even after years spent at Armand's side.

These two use each other's deeper vulnerabilities to hurt one another, and in the end it's too much for either of them. Louis tries to end it all by leaping into the sun, snatched back from death by Armand and put to bed charred and blackened, screaming in pain. And because Armand can't take his hurt out on a weakened Louis, he turns to the weakened Daniel, who's been bleeding in a corner this whole time.

Armand takes a turn

Armand is less explosive than Louis and far less cruel than Lestat; he's been at this longer than either of them, after all, and knows how to control himself. But he still has a heart, and it's been wounded. He tortures Daniel, wanting to know what makes this boy so fascinating to Louis, who before had killed dozens of young men without a thought. Why was he keeping this one alive? Armand prevents Daniel from moving, pries into his thoughts, and keeps him captive for days as Louis recuperates. Armand's actions are more cold and removed than Louis' or Lestat's, and therefore terrifying in a new way. This is the edge his character has been needing.

In the end, a weakened Louis entreats Armand to let Daniel go, which he does...with a caveat. Louis and Daniel discover these memories together, uncovering them one at a time. Armand's cruelty goes beyond what either of them know. He has manipulated both of their minds, hiding key parts of their pasts from themselves, all in the name of keeping Louis by his side.

When Lestat feared losing Louis, he created Claudia to give Louis a reason to stick around. When Armand feared losing him, he violated Louis' mind. Why does Louis pull away? Perhaps it's because he insists on maintaining ties with humanity, ties that both Lestat and Armand abandoned. In any case, he finds himself in a terrible loop.

All of this is delivered in electrifying fashion by Jacob Anderson, Assad Zaman, Luke Brandon Field and Eric Bogosian. I found this episode thrilling to watch. Even though we know none of the characters are going to die in the 1970s flashbacks, the scenes radiate with an intensity that will hopefully carry over to the present. I don't know how the group are going to get back to talking about post-war Paris after this.

Interview With The Bullet Points

  • Armand briefly makes contact with Lestat in an attempt to hurt the injured Louis, but it backfires: Lestat wants Armand to tell Louis he loves him, but Armand won't do it. Armand must have been jealous of Lestat's hold over Louis for decades. People fall for this guy hard and do not get over it.
  • We don't go to Paris at all in this episode, and I didn't miss it. It'll be nice to get back to it next week, but I already know how that story ends; it's in the original 1976 book and the 1994 movie. This show has invented a lot of new dynamics for Louis, Armand and Daniel, and they're as dramatic as anything in the original book. The novelty is exciting. It helped make this episode my favorite of the season so far:

Episode Grade: A

Interview With The Vampire reviews:

Next. Interview With The Vampire inches forward the romance and intrigue in Episode 204. Interview With The Vampire inches forward the romance and intrigue in Episode 204. dark

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