In Throes Of Increasing Wonder
Episode 1 of Interview with the Vampire starts with a journalist called Daniel Molloy. He’s well-respected in his field and he receives a package in the mail from an old friend. Inside are a series of tapes and a handwritten letter from Louis de Pointe Du Lac.
Getting out his old boombox, Daniel plays a tapes where it’s revealed that this man is, in fact, a vampire. The letter reveals that he’s been following Daniel’s success through all these years and has helped give him some perspective since the last time they spoke.
In a week’s time, Louis wants Daniel to finish the project they once started. It’s been 49 years since they shared a room in San Francisco but this time will be different. This time, Louis is going to reveal his entire life story.
Daniel takes Louis up on his offer, where the latter points out how old Daniel is and how he has Parkinson’s Disease. Barely anyone knows that he’s actually ill, which seemingly confirms the intimate bonds these two have, but there’s also a lot of history too, complete with an undercurrent of tension. When the interview begins, we jump back in time to 1910; Storyville, New Orleans.
Back then, Louis was on course to inherit his father’s business, which works in the field of “pleasure”. Essentially, Louis’ father owns a series of brothels and Louis works as a pimp. Trouble lurks around every corner, including his priest brother Paul whom he pulls a knife on when he tries praying outside one of Louis’ pleasure houses. He’s not actually going to gut his brother, but it’s a small way of showing who’s the boss.
This small act also attracts the attention of Lestat De Lionheart, a new arrival in town who gushes over Louis’ job when the pair meet a little while later.
Lestat claims Louis sold him a townhouse, and antagonizes the latter, with wandering hands all over Miss Lily (whom Louis has affection for). Despite rage building up, Louis is unable to move, seemingly spellbound by Lestat’s power.
Lestat believes that Louis is his destiny, showing both emasculation and admiration in equal measure. This strange charismatic man has powers beyond hypnosis though. During a card game, he seems to freeze time, speaking only to Louis. “I believe there is great opportunity in this city.” He says, with a smile. “but to seize it, I’ll need protection from the wolves.”
After this, the pair begin hanging out – at night of course – as Louis discusses to Daniel through narration how he was seduced by Lestat. The pair have a symbiotic bond. Louis begins telling Lestat his troubles and his worries, unaware that he’s being hunted by the vampire, who looks longingly at his neck.
Lestat tries to sweeten up the family with gifts, and shows up for dinner where he’s questioned over his relationship with Louis. Paul doesn’t take kindly to him though, wanting to know what his relationship with God is.
As we know from old tales, vampires don’t exactly have a close bond with Christ, and Lestat is quick to point that out under the guise of a bad past of humiliation and beatings. “There is an ocean between me and Christ.” He rasps at Paul. Banging his hand on the dinner table, Louis manages to calm things down and their ties continue.
So much so in fact that the next scene we see Louis and Lestat together in a Pleasure House. Things get hot and heavy, eventually leading to Lestat biting Louis’ neck, naked, from behind. Brokeback Mountain this ain’t; the pair awkwardly ascend into the air and stand stiffly (no pun intended) together. Lestat lets him go after taking a little drink; not enough to turn him into a vamp or kill him.
For Louis, this act is both unsettling and intimately arousing. However, it also allows Louis to open up…but not too much. An openly gay black man in New Orleans, deep in the heart of 1910, certainly won’t fly with the general public.
Deciding to sever his ties with Lestat, Louis has a chat with Paul on the roof about his future and his business interests. Paul calls Lestat the devil before strangely turning toward the lifting sun and jumping off the roof, committing suicide.
This is the last sunrise Louis ever saw, and unfortunately, in his grief, Lestat seizes his chance to take control of Louis. With his mother blaming him for Paul’s death, Louis decides against going to the wake and, despite wanting to grieve alone, is summoned to Lestat. Although Louis manages to get away long enough to arrive at the church to confess his sins, Lestat is not far behind.
Lestat kills the priest by punching him straight through the skull, destroys the place and starts a fire.
Alone, and under the dancing light of the flames, Lestat admits that he loves Louis and saw sorrow in his eyes the first time they met. He manages to disarm the tortured soul, promising to get rid of the pain he’s feeling . And with that, Louis allows himself to be turned into a vampire.
The Episode Review
Interview With The Vampire gets off to a good start, with some beautiful cinematography, gorgeous characterization and a smart premise. The modern spin on this classic is nicely handled, although I can appreciate that it might turn some people off. There’s also the annoying reminder of the pandemic at the start of the episode, which serves absolutely no purpose. Thankfully, the rest of the chapter settles into a steady, hypnotic rhythm.
Louis is an easy character to warm to and he has a charismatic charm that makes you want to learn more about his past. His ties with Lestat are going to be the highlight of this season – especially if that teasing preview regarding everything coming up this year is anything to go by.
The first episode essentially sets the scene, with important background work done and a solid premise to work with. Sure, vampires aren’t anything new in this medium but the way this story is being told injects this genre with fresh blood.