Updated: Nov 17
Sorry it took me so long. I had planned to post this earlier.
Season 1, Episode 2 Review: After the Phantoms of Your Former Self
Lestat, pushing a heavy wheelbarrow in a graveyard at night, followed by a stumbling, complaining, questioning Louis. Louis is a newly made vampire and Lestat explains that his body is confused. He is blasé about the retching and the pain that Louis is experiencing. This may be the first time Louis realizes that Lestat's moods are fickle and his caretaking is inconsistent. After all the pretty words at the altar in the church, now Lestat is matter-of-fact and impatient.
I love this scene, and the way Sam/Lestat dumps the bodies into an open crypt, even breaking the legs of one corpse so it will fit. He then notices that Louis is sitting cross-legged on the stone wall nearby and there is a shot of Lestat, suddenly interested, hanging off the crypt with one hand, and they look like two kids in a strange playground.
"There's the spark," he says to Louis, leaning close.
This is wonderfully done, with Lestat's beautiful face appearing like an angel in Louis' enhanced vision. Lestat examines him and then breaks into gleeful laughter.
"Lestat's blood was giggling inside me."
They walk through the streets of New Orleans, hunting for Louis' first kill. They find a bar and Louis is drawn to a buff and handsome soldier drinking with his friends.
"Straight to the prettiest girl at the party," Lestat says. "I admire the aesthetic."
But he explains to Louis that it will take too long to separate the young man from his buddies and also people will look for him if he disappears. He directs Louis to a plainer, older gentleman and they bring the man home to their townhouse in the French Quarter.
Louis is clumsy and rushed, and Lestat seems to be amused as he guides him through the experience.
"No, you don't bite the blood. You suck it," he explains as he sits on the stairs, watching.
Once sated, Louis experiences immediate regret and distaste, but Lestat assures him it will get easier. But Louis is anxious and wants to return to his human home. He fights back when Lestat tries to stop him and Lestat lets him go. It's morning, and the rising sun burns Louis' skin as he stumbles along the sidewalk. He ends up back at the gates of the townhouse, banging to be let in. Lestat covers himself with a cloak and retrieves him, explaining that the sun is their enemy and they must protect themselves against it.
I really love the skylight in their townhome that they open and close with a lever. This is used to great affect at several points in the series.
Lestat shows Louis the secret room with his coffin and disrobes while Louis becomes more and more uneasy. Louis has only recently admitted that he desires other men, and everything becomes very overwhelming. He says he's not going to sleep in the coffin with Lestat, but Lestat, again blasé and now seductive, tells him:
"It's okay. You can be on top."
I love everything about this. It establishes their dynamic and what Lestat expects from the relationship, while Louis struggles with conflicting emotions.
The next night, Lestat continues to be Louis' teacher, explaining that vampires can read minds but that it's boring because most humans only want three things: Food, sex, or to go home. Lestat is in his element, blithely showing off his knowledge and abilities, trying to impress his new boyfriend. It's really quite adorable.
They have their first real argument after Louis kills a white landlord in a moment of anger.
They fight about Lestat's use of the word "fledgeling" which Louis finds offensive and patronizing. Lestat obviously finds Louis' attitude extremely tiresome - he is frustrated and at his wit's end. Louis swears at him in English and Lestat curses Louis in French. This is the first sign that Lestat might be in over his head with parenting a newly born vampire. That he doubles down with Claudia several years later is a source of ongoing amusement to me.
When they go into their coffins before dawn (Louis has his own, now), there is a shot of the two coffins side by side, and then Lestat's muffled voice:
"I don't like sleeping angry."
The scene reminded me of What We Do in the Shadows and I loved the brief levity of a quarrelling romantic couple that we are treated to here. Lestat asks how he can make it up to Louis and Louis asks for the Fairplay Saloon. Lestat concedes and purchases the venue for Louis. They change the name to the Azalea Hall and use it as a place of business and a hunting ground.
After Louis returns home to visit his mother, who insults him in her thoughts, and Grace, whose unwitting trust almost leads to disaster, Lestat invites Louis to the Opera to help him get over his realization that he can't go back home and that he will never have children of his own.
What follows is a glimpse into how Louis must still comport himself in public, even though he is a powerful vampire, in order to avoid suspicion or court trouble. He bristles at having to walk a pace behind Lestat to their box at the Opera House and only sit down once the overture begins and the lights go down. Lestat chooses this moment to confide that loneliness is the most difficult thing to deal with as a vampire. Louis asks how many other vampires exist and Lestat says maybe a hundred (which, If you've read the other books, is an out-and-out lie). So he is keeping Louis in the dark, perhaps to keep him from going to find someone else who might be less of a narcissistic manipulator?
Lestat's love of music and his contempt for the tenor's performance is beautifully demonstrated - Sam Reid's acting is superb here. When he begins to mark the libretto with his blood, and then talks up the young singer at the bar afterwards, the viewer (and Louis) knows where this is headed. Sure enough, back at home, Lestat berates the tenor and has him attempt to sing to his satisfaction. But the tenor fails miserably, becoming less and less confident, all of which Louis observes with distaste. He sees how callous and unfeeling his lover can be. Lestat plays with his prey like a cat with a mouse, and Louis asks why he has to do it.
"Well, I like to do it. I don't say that you have to like it. Take your aesthete's taste to purer things. Kill them swiftly if you will, but do it! For do not doubt: you are a killer, Louis!"
I loved the way Sam Reid delivers these lines. He's furious that Louis doesn't understand that they are killers, i.e. no longer human and now possessed of a predator's instincts and appetites. You can see that he is confounded by Louis here, he doesn't get what Louis' problem is, and it frustrates him so much. All he wants is a companion to share the dark gift and Louis is, unfortunately, not fulfilling his expectations. But he loves Louis and Louis, despite his misgivings, feels strong emotions for Lestat, and pretends to enjoy the taking of the tenor's life in order to placate him.
But he can't keep pretending, and in the flash forward to present day, Louis tells Daniel that the tenor was the last human he ever participated in killing.
Feel free to let me know what you thought of this episode below.