Nandor (Kayvan Novak) and Guillermo (Harvey Guillén) aren’t a typical will-they/won’t-they couple. Five seasons into the series, their back and forth is often between whether they actually like or respect each other at all. Guillermo has an undying love of some sort for Nandor as his familiar, but he seems unsure of what that love actually means, and Nandor’s refusal to turn him into a vampire weakened that affection time and time again. And while there is a simmering sexual tension between the two, it’s not always obvious — besides, the hypersexual vamps in What We Do in the Shadows have off-the-charts physical chemistry with everyone they encounter. If Nandor and Guillermo really are endgame, it seems like it will be a very slow burn.
In recent seasons, Nandor has been more open about his feelings toward Guillermo. He’s saved him from certain death on more than one occasion, always coyly reverting to the excuse that no one will kill his familiar but him. When Nandor got married, he asked Guillermo to be his best man. In the penultimate episode of Season 4, “Freddie,” Nandor showed he was so jealous of Guillermo’s relationship with his boyfriend that he inadvertently destroyed it by trying to replicate it for himself. There’s plenty to read into the motivation behind each of these moves, of course, but none have been a blatant or even conscious display of affection on Nandor’s part.
In the Season 5 finale, “Exit Interview,” however, Nandor’s actions send a clear message. He knows Guillermo better than he knows himself, and he gives him exactly what he’s been too afraid to ask for even though it means besmirching vampiric tradition, proving his love for his longtime familiar.
Nandor finally discovers the secret Guillermo’s been hiding from him all season: another vampire turned him. It’s an extreme act of disrespect that means Nandor must kill both him and his sire, Derek (Chris Sandiford). Guillermo manages to get a head start and hides out at a motel, successfully avoiding Nandor who is convinced he’ll be able to attack when Guillermo returns to a local Panera Bread. At the motel, Guillermo gets another unexpected display of affection. Nadja (Natasia Demetriou), Colin Robinson (Mark Proksch), and Lazlo (Matt Berry) all stop by under different pretenses, yes, but to ultimately share how much they’ll miss Guillermo once Nandor kills him. His work for his vampiric roommates didn’t go unnoticed all those years, and in what they believe to be his final moments, he finally gets the acknowledgement he’s craved since day one.
Patton Oswalt (in a cameo as himself) helps Nandor realize that he would miss Guillermo if he wasn’t around. Instead he returns to give Guillermo what he’s thought he wanted all along, turning him into a full vampire. (His transformation wasn’t complete because he never drank human blood, something that Laszlo failed to realize in his many, many, many failed experiments throughout the season.) There’s a sadness to Nandor as he offers Guillermo the final ingredient. It’s not because he’s unhappy to be losing a familiar or that he’s still holding a grudge against Guillermo for going to someone else for his transformation. It becomes clear that it’s because he’s known this whole time that Guillermo would hate being a vampire.
Nandor understands that the life he lives is cursed, not magical. In Season 3, he went on a pursuit of greater purpose, searching for a satisfying career, a longtime companion, religious fulfillment, and a new outlook on life. His lack of success in doing any of those things sent him into an existential spiral in Season 4, when he was ready to end his life for good. He knows the darkness that comes with eternal life and seems to feel it more heavily than his vampire companions, and it’s something that Guillermo as a human could never fathom.
Nandor also knows that Guillermo has too good a heart to be a ruthless murderer of anything but vampires, especially with Van Helsing blood pumping through his veins. And that point is proven when Guillermo finally goes full vamp — while the others rejoice in the killing spree, Guillermo can’t even break skin on an already unconscious man. It’s the sign that Nandor needs to concoct a plan.
The final scenes of the episode are dedicated to what Nandor tells Guillermo is an ancient ritual performed for all new vampires. He gathers everyone in cloaks, puts up some superfluous banners to make everything seem more official, and gives Guillermo a final out, asking, “Would you rather be a human or a vampire?” When Guillermo whispers “human,” Nandor puts the plan into motion.
“As I predicted,” he says. “You want to be a human, there’s no shame in that.” There is another ancient ritual Nandor discovered to reverse the effects, it just involves killing Derek. When Guillermo can’t do it himself, Nandor swiftly steps in to do the deed to ensure that Guillermo can return to the life he truly wants. If that’s not a grand romantic gesture, then what is?
What We Do in the Shadows Seasons 1 through 5 are streaming on Hulu. Join the discussion about the show in our forums.
Brianna Wellen is a TV Reporter at Primetimer who became obsessed with television when her parents let her stay up late to watch E.R.