Interview With The Vampire gives us hope and snatches it back in Episode 206

Claudia's companion Madeleine steals the show with her transformation into a vampire, but she cedes the stage to a very special guest star right at the end...
Photo Credit: Larry Horricks/AMC
Photo Credit: Larry Horricks/AMC /

Anne Rice published the book interview With The Vampire in 1976. The movie with Brad Pitt and Tom Cruise came out in 1994. I'm always looking for something new this show brings to the material, and usually I've found it. This episode, what I'm most impressed with is Madeleine, played by Roxane Duran. The '94 movie gave little attention to Claudia's vampiric companion, but the AMC show turns her another memorable creature of the night.

I've been enjoying this season of Interview With The Vampire, but I've found it hard to connect with Claudia's story in particular. Maybe it's because the stuff between Louis and Armand (and Daniel) has been been so compelling it's seemed dim by comparison. Maybe it's that they had to cast an older actor to play Claudia, removing the strangeness of her being a child vampire. Whatever the reason, I understood her story when Madeleine became involved.

Madeleine, who you'll remember is shunned by her fellow Parisians thanks to her dalliance with a scared young Nazi soldier during the German occupation, finds herself accosted by her neighbors, this time violently. But her dark angel Claudia is watching over her. She kills the invaders and reveals what she is to Madeleine, who is shocked but not scared. Madeleine, like Claudia and Louis and Armand and Lestat before they were turned, is broken, and some part of her seeks a way out. It's the lonely drafting the lonely into the ranks of the lonely.

After some cajoling, Claudia convinces Louis to turn Madeleine into a vampire for her, so she'll have a companion the way Louis has Armand. Louis can oscillate between vulnerability and hardness. He's hard here; he's angry with Claudia for asking him to do this thing, but feels obligated. I thought back to the soft words he gives her in the season 2 premiere; there's none of that here, but in the present, Louis is wistful and despairing about Claudia, able to acknowledge his feelings more honestly decades in the future.

With her consent, Louis and Claudia both feed on Madeleine, and it's a weirdly moving scene; part spiritual transformation, part ménage à trois, and easily the most gentle bloodletting we've seen on this show yet. Louis and Claudia may be breaking new ground here, pioneering a kinder way to be a murderous bloodsucker. And Madeleine seems to adjust to vampiric life well; before long, she, Claudia, Armand and Louis are having dinner and talking about what comes next.

And then Armand has to go and ruin everything.

Interview With The Vampire review, Episode 206: "Like the Light by Which God Made the World Before He Made Light"

That's probably too harsh. In the B-plot, Armand continues to lose control of the coven, despite his best efforts to rein in Santiago and the other rebellious vampires. Unbeknownst to Louis (or us), he strikes a deal with the mutineers, apparently giving up Claudia (and maybe Louis; stay tuned) in exchange for his own life. He doesn't say a word about this to Louis, showing again what a skilled liar and manipulator he is; we saw that at play last week when we learned that he'd erased Louis' memories from his first meeting with Daniel in the '70s.

Only that ends up being a more complicated situation than we thought. Althoug the show keeps definite answers out of reach, Louis may have asked Armand to erase his memories of that painful event. And into all this chaos walks Lestat, who has been summoned back to Paris by Santiago and the rest of the coven to mete out what I assume will be, knowing him, some extremely melodramatic justice.

I think it's too early to read Armand's exact motives, but I do believe that his love for Louis has clouded his judgment, and that he's in pain, both in the past and the present. Everybody on this show is in pain, constant throbbing pain like a dull hum under every line of dialogue. But it's radiant pain, pain we can't look away from thanks to the performances and the delicate, artful cinematography. All credit to showrunner Rolin Jones and his team for making this warm oozing morsel of a dark drama. As usual, I can't wait to bite into the next episode. Lestat is back!

Interview With The Bullet Points

  • Daniel talks with an agent of the Talamasca, which is kind of the FBI of the paranormal in Anne Rice's world. I think this is the first time someone actually used the word "Talamasca" on the show? We're world-building, we're world-building.
  • Armand loses his coven so quickly it almost feels like an afterthought. He has other things on his mind, like Louis coming into Armand's office and demanding Armand lay in his coffin face down and naked so Louis can, uh...give of himself. That's another example of Louis becoming harder and colder...kinda hot, though.
  • I imagine the report about drunkards hanging off the Eiffel Tower was Santiago and the rest of the coven sending psychic vampire messages across the sea to Lestat. I dunno how vampire brain powers work. As for Lestat, he's only onscreen for the last minute or so of the episode, but man, is that a super-charged minute. The show has missed him.

Episode Grade: B+

Interview With The Vampire reviews:

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

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