After a brutal fifth episode that divided the fandom, episode six of Interview With the Vampire, “Like Angels Put in Hell By God,” had a massive task ahead of it. The episode couldn’t downplay the horror of the violence that occurred, but it still had to find a way to make Lestat at least a little sympathetic—while also balancing the intricate family dynamics that had been absolutely shattered following the ending of episode five.
“Like Angels Put in Hell by God” starts with a gruesome exploration of Louis’ body after the fight. He’s broken and blinded, but he’s recovering, even sleeping during the day to do so. Daniel interrupts, asking about the whole flight thing. Louis tries to describe it, but Daniel is currently being treated by Dr. Fareed Bensali, who repeatedly iterates that he is not here into the mic.
And then, Louis asks him “Are you still dreaming about our first meeting, Daniel?” and Daniel responds, “I keep waking up just before you ask me back to your shitty apartment,” and reader, I fully exited my body. Daniel continues to interrogate Louis, who eventually asks if “we are the sum of our worst moments.” While I would generally agree with him, I think that we can probably all agree that vampires, in general, are the sum of their worst moments.
We go back to New Orleans, and Louis is squinting out of mismatched, swollen eyes, attempting to read a chapter in a book entitled Marriage: A Retrospect, which normally I wouldn’t think twice about except as a clever little detail. That’s when I realize that this is, actually, an essay from Love’s Coming-of-Age by Edward Carpenter, a nonfiction publication from 1906 that explicitly argues for the queering of social norms, gender equality, and a relaxing of sexual mores. Besides the fact that Louis is sitting here reading queer rights lit after being beaten by his husband I am simply stunned all over again by the level of detail that has gone into this production. Truly unmatched levels of consideration.
Louis and Claudia remain in the house alone as Louis recovers. Claudia tends to Louis, reading the poems of Emily Dickinson, reflecting her growing sense of isolationism. And then, as they play games in the living room, Lestat appears at their door with a gift. When Claudia attempts to turn him away, Lestat says that Louis should decide whether he wants to see him or not. Louis responds by throwing Lestat’s coffin out of the second-story window, smashing it on the ground below. I don’t know how this show got to be so funny, but I can assure you that this is absolutely a comedy.
Lestat continues to appear with apologies. He tosses Louis keys to a car, and Louis can’t even look at him as Lestat almost apologizes for the attack. It’s only when Lestat says that he would leave Louis’ life forever if only he’d ask that Louis looks at him. There’s so much pain there, so much anger and hatred, and, at the same time, a twisted kind of love. Claudia breaks the moment, tossing the keys back at Lestat and leading Louis away. He does not tell Lestat to fuck off, and so Lestat stays hanging on like a shadow.
We learn that this continues for six years, and every gift, entreaty, and visit is met with silence. “We burned more gifts than bodies that decade,” Louis recounts. And then, in 1937, Louis receives a record. It’s one song, titled “Come to Me,” and on the front of the sleeve is an inscription that reads “For Louis, My Muse! Lestat”.
Then, “Come to Me” plays. This is important because not only is it the breaking point for Louis, but it’s also a musical score that repeats throughout the series. We first heard it in episode one, when a scored version of this song–“Viens a Moi”–plays as Daniel is whisked off to Dubai. There’s also a difference here in between the diegetic music that’s played in New Orleans and what’s piped through in the Dubai apartment. In Dubai, Lestat is singing. In New Orleans, it’s Antoinette. Checking the song that’s available to stream, it’s Sam Reid credited. No Antoinette anywhere, except in Louis’ memory. This is even enforced when Daniel asks “that’s his voice?” and Louis nods the affirmative.
The layers on this show! I’m so confused and concerned. What’s real? What’s only a memory? What’s happening here? Is Louis telling the truth? Has he forgotten? So much of this show is so incredibly intentional, this detail feels too important to be a mistake.
So the record, for Louis in New Orleans, is an apology featuring Antoinette, Lestat’s female human lover, and this is what does him in. He finds Lestat holed up with Antionette, smashes the record, and reveals that he swam across the Mississippi to find Lestat in order to both stab him, bleed him dry, and hatefuck him. It’s incredibly sexy and horribly beautiful. Lestat has realized that showing Louis love wasn’t going to work; he needed to make Louis hate him enough to do something about it.
And after this, Louis takes Lestat back. Claudia, Louis, and Lestat sit down and have a talk about how they will move forward, as a family. Claudia and Louis lay down some rules: kill Antoinette, reveal your powers, and no more lies. When Lestat shares his origin story, a traumatic and magnanimous creation, it’s clear that Louis is fully bought in. But Lestat provided one detail during this reveal that will come back to haunt us: Magnus died because he threw himself into a fire. More on that later.
This is also around the time that New Orleans begins to catch on to the fact that there are undying vampires in the Rue Royal. As Louis attempts to convince Claudia and Lestat to behave, he makes concessions; he will return to drinking human blood for the comfort of his two companions. This does not work. Lestat and Claudia snipe at each other, barely keeping the peace, but only for Louis’ sake.
Claudia and Lestat play chess. Claudia baits Lestat constantly, while Lestat answers in between insults. All of it done for Louis, the audience who must watch his two loves fight it out. As Lestat leaves the chess game, Claudia begins speaking to Louis telepathically, calling Lestat “massa” and driving home the slave owner metaphor. Neither Louis nor Lestat are amused.
When Lestat disappears that night, it’s to Antoinette’s apartment–even though earlier he had promised to kill her and even delivered a finger and an obituary as proof of the deed done. The camera pulls out of the apartment and we see Claudia and Louis standing outside on the balcony. Louis isn’t mad, he’s numb. And Louis decides to do nothing. Even Louis admits that he’s disassociating in order to protect himself. Eventually, Claudia decides to run away. She implores Louis to leave with her, but he refuses. Claudia sneaks onto a train and heads west.
We cut back, unceremoniously, as Louis remarks that this is the point where, during their first interview, Daniel cut him off and asked Louis to make him a vampire. There’s some back and forth and Louis says, off-handedly, “I’d give it to you now.” Daniel stares at him, unimpressed, unmoving. From the side, Rashid looks up, watching Louis carefully as the vampire begins to list out everything the gift would give Daniel. Daniel doesn’t say no, really, but he definitely doesn’t say yes.
When we return to New Orleans, Louis ideates on suicide, and walks home. He’s carrying his cane, and as he enters Lestat has the radio on—World War II has started. There, in the living room is Claudia. Next, a flashback within a flashback as we see Claudia on the train, hear it screech to a stop, a scream from the conductor, and then… Lestat, come through like crossroads demon, kicking in the door and holding the conductor’s head in his hand, sing-song calling out, “Tickets, please!” while moving the jaw on the beheaded conductor in a horrific Brooklyn accent, skipping in between the luggage.
The camp of this scene! The drama! The sheer, unhinged delivery from Sam Reid during every single line. Even as Claudia begs to be allowed to leave, Lestat drags her home. Bailey Bass’ performance as Claudia while Lestat rationalizes his decision here is phenomenal. She cries bloody tears and the next time we see her she’s playing chess with Lestat.
What happens during this chess match is a elucidation of the rest of the season—Claudia is determined to free both herself and Louis from the clutches of their maker. She can’t leave on her own, after all, so regardless of whether or not Louis even wants to leave, she’s going to have to take him, and she can’t do that with Lestat in the picture. Still as she plays chess she demands Louis listen. Eventually, she puts Lestat in checkmate, and she tells Louis, telepathically, “you want to kill him too, and you will enjoy doing it.”
We cut back to Louis, telling Daniel, “we were going to kill Lestat.” He repeats himself, and we get a view of Daniel, asleep, exhausted from his Parkinson’s treatment. Louis calls Rashid over the telecom, tells Rashid that “our boy” is asleep, and requests, of all things, a blanket. Once again, I, a Daniel/Louis truther, am going fully out of my mind over this moment of kindness.
And then, we get a flashback. We’re not in New Orleans, we’re in San Francisco, in the ‘70s, and “Baby Strange” by T. Rex is playing at Polynesian Mary’s. It hardly needs to be said at this point but I have committed myself to the asylum and I am going insane. This is Everything I Want. Daniel Molloy–in his early ‘20s, played by Luke Brandon Field–enters into a gay bar, looking to score. He sits at a corner of the bar and who else is there but Louis.
Louis lays it on thick. And then, be still my beating heart, the bartender comes over and addresses Daniel by name. In a gay bar. Where he is looking to get drugs, hook up with men (presumably), and has his work in the bag. Louis pays for his drink and continues to flirt with him. Truly, I am dying. Louis offers Daniel drugs, saying that he has a room on Divisadero, and we have to remember that this is when Daniel has said that he usually wakes up.
But the dream keeps going. Louis admits he’s a vampire; they both laugh. Daniel says that he wants to interview Lous, who agrees, and the Daniel says, “I mean, if something happens, you know, I’m cool, but… yeah, I really want to interview you.”
I cannot believe this is happening in front of my salad, but the hits keep coming. Louis leans back, looks over his shoulder, and asks someone off-screen if that’s okay, if they’d like to join Louis and Daniel. Rashid comes on screen, tells Louis to have his fun, and Daniel jolts awake in Dubai, having finally remembered that singular moment in Polynesian Mary’s.
There is so much here!! There is SO MUCH here!! Is Rashid really Armand? Is Daniel remembering this correctly? Will Louis and Daniel ever kiss?! Is something happening with Daniel’s treatment? Will Antoinette ever die? Will Louis and Claudia kill Lestat?! I have so many questions, and I’m going to have to wait until the finale to get the answers, if any of them materialize at all.
The finale episode of Interview With the Vampire’s first season airs Sunday, November 13 on AMC. All episodes, including the finale, are currently available to stream on AMC+.
Want more io9 news? Check out when to expect the latest Marvel, Star Wars, and Star Trek releases, what’s next for the DC Universe on film and TV, and everything you need to know about James Cameron’s Avatar: The Way of Water.