AMC’s Interview With The Vampire premiered last week, with an episode that set the tone for what is to come. “In Throes of Increasing Wonder” exploded onto my television screen in that The premiere episode was one of the best episodes of television I have ever had the pleasure of viewing. The final moments were also explosive due to Louis’ (Jacob Anderson) entry into all things vampiric at the hands of Lestat (Sam Reid). That sentence was hilarious if you watched the first episode, I promise. While episode one was fantastic in its own right, Interview with the Vampire episode 2 was the better half of a two-part story.
The entire first season is one continuous story of Louis’ life, death, and rebirth as a vampire told to reporter Daniel Molloy (Eric Bogosian) in the present day. Regardless of all eight episodes connected through the personal tale, the first two episodes feel like direct continuations of the same chapter and not distinct chapters in his life like future episodes. The final scene of the first episode acts as the hinge on which this two-parter door swings, one side his mortal life and on the other immortality.
Alan Taylor, who directed “In Throes of Increasing Wonder” returns with the duo Jonathan Ceniceroz and Dave Harris taking over as writers. Join me, Louis, and Daniel as we journey through Interview With The Vampire “…After The Phantoms of Your Former Self.”
[Warning: Spoilers from Interview with the Vampire “…After the Phantoms of Your Former Self” are below]
Life begins again in “…After the Phantoms of Your Former Self”
As the audience saw in the closing moments of “In Throes of Increasing Wonder” Lestat set Louis’s life in a new direction by changing him into a vampire. A change that is both painful and exhilarating for Louis as episode two opens. Excruciating pain overcomes Louis, as his body begins the adaptation into a creature of the night, but the sounds and sights flood his sense, causing him to feel a new lease on life.
He feels like he’s seeing and hearing the world for the first time, and he’s also starving for blood, the only thing keeping him alive. The heartbeat of every human rings in his ears, overwhelming him, calling to him, begging him to feed.
And so begins Louis’ training by Lestat on how to not only survive but thrive as a vampire in New Orleans. He learns how to properly feed, such as who to pick to stay undetected and to avoid sunlight if you wish to survive.
Of all the lessons that Lestat is teaching him, perhaps the one that Louis struggles the most with is leaving his former human life behind. Throughout the episode, he’s still seen running his brothels, developing better businesses that further tie him to the human race. He also continues to see and support his family, even referring to himself as one of them, which annoys Lestat who wishes for Louis to let go of the personal relations.
Growing pains grow abundant
As time goes on, Louis experiences more difficulties in his apparent human life, especially with his family. It becomes more of a challenge to hide his vampire side, as children are born and sunglasses at night draws questions for Louis’ mother and sister.
As a viewer, it broke my heart to watch Louis grapple with his desire to be close to his family, while also knowing to protect them he has to let them go. However as the episode ends, we haven’t seen him be able to break those ties because the love of his family and his humanity is still quite strong.
As Louis distances himself from his human connections, he begins to find holes in his relationship with Lestat. While Louis is completely in love with Lestat and even states that he is “under his power,” Louis finds that there are some aspects of Lestat that he doesn’t like. Such as Lestat’s anger, the way he toys with humans, and his lack of understanding and compassion for the issues Louis is going through. Part of those issues results from being in love with a man during the early 1900s as well as the racial disparities that become apparent the longer he stays with Lestat in New Orleans.
Daniel questions Louis’ journey in Interview With The Vampire episode 2
Interspersed between the story of Louis and Lestat are scenes between the former and Daniel. Louis’s goal is to tell his story, exposing the life and society of vampires, but throughout the interview, audiences are given modern takes on these decade-old stories, through Daniel’s questions. Such things as race dynamics, seeing that Lestat is white and Louis is black, and sexuality, combined with the two vampire’s relationship is a huge problem for the time period.
Using the interview storyline in this way is perhaps the most interesting part for me because it allows for some of the questionable aspects of the original novel to be examined and called out by someone who is representative of our society’s values. Daniel challenges Louis quite a few times, bringing up the power structure in the two vampire’s relationship, part of which is reflective of the color of their skin. Louis has to act like the servant to Lestat in public settings, to not draw attention, but it highlights the abusive nature that runs deep in this story.
Louis even snaps at Lestat at one point about how “fledging” feels like a replacement for “slave”, to which Lestat gaslights the young vampire. Lestat wants to control and can control Louis through “love” even though it’s not really love.
Louis wants to be equal with Lestat, as well as the other white men that run businesses in New Orleans, however, the color of his skin and the power dynamics between his lover holds him back in every way. As the show continues, look for this issue to come to a head and erupt like Mount Vesuvius.
Part of Louis recanting his story is to gain some of his power back from this relationship, although there are discrepancies between what he is saying and what the audience is seeing. Louis tells Daniel that he was a willing participant in the relationship with Lestat, however, playing out on our screen is a relationship that Louis begins to question.
Lestat is vindictive toward everyone when he doesn’t get his way, a fact that Louis can see towards others but refuses to accept himself. It feels like Stockholm Syndrome, but Louis hasn’t accepted that he could possibly be in love with a monster, at least quite yet.
The good and the bad of Interview With The Vampire “…After the Phantoms of Your Former Self”
I loved how this episode felt like a character study of Louis’ humanity, which felt a closer and deeper look than we have seen in the film or novel up to this point. While the pace was slightly slower than the first, it felt like “…After the Phantoms of Your Former Self” took a moment to breathe in the new life and what it means to be a vampire who longs to still be a part of the human population.
This episode stood as a real test for Louis, no longer fitting into a specific category anymore, well at least not any socially acceptable category. He’s a gay, black, vampire attempting to live in a straight, white, human world during the early 1900s. Vampirism is just another boulder for Louis to push uphill and I loved that we got to really stop and explore this moment in his afterlife.
I also loved how Daniel gets to be the voice questioning Louis and aspects of his life. To ignore some of the problematic parts of the novel would have cut the story off at the knee. There are important aspects of these problems that should be discussed instead of brushed under the rug.
However, with Daniel leading the charge in his questioning, the story becomes even more enriching. Addressing the issues of abuse, sexuality, and race allows for a deeper understanding of Louis, Lestat, and the world they inhabit. I hope to see more of this as we go along.
As I stated above, this episode moves a little slower than the first, which I fear may turn some people off to it. It’s not so slow that I was falling asleep or wishing to watch something else, but I do think the series could have benefited from having a two-part premiere episode, allowing this initial hump of the story to be told completely.
Telling the two together, you could almost forgive the pace because it isn’t something that is standing on its own. Though the thing about Interview With The Vampire is that this series is a slow burn in many ways. We’re watching an entire life unfold, with decades of story that includes exciting moments and also periods of peace. So it’s okay if the pace changes, the characters are interesting enough to keep me turning back for more.
Interview With the Vampire “…After the Phantoms of Your Former Self” was a fantastic episode. I loved the time we got to slow down and learn the rules for which Louis now has to operate. However, I can also recognize that those looking for action-packed vampire antics may not enjoy what this episode had to offer.
The psychologist in me loved it though. Interview With The Vampire excels at getting us into the mind of these characters, humanizing them. There may be less action, but the characters are phenomenal, which is the real reason to watch this show.
Interview With The Vampire airs Sundays on AMC and AMC+. Have you watched the second episode? What did you think? Let us know on social media. If you haven’t already, read my review of the Interview With The Vampire premiere episode!