Coven Rules Are Loose Guidelines in This Week’s Interview With the Vampire

The Theatre des Vampires debuts a new show for Claudia (Delainey Hayles), while tensions brew among them after Armand (Assad Zaman) went off the script and did not kill Louis (Jacob Anderson) in last week’s episode of Interview With the Vampire.

In  “I Want You More Than Anything in the World,” directed by Levan Akin with a script from Coline Abert and A. Zell Williams, Armand bends coven rules for himself as everyone seems to be doing. Meanwhile in the modern age, Molloy (Eric Bogosian) continues Claudia’s side of the story from her code-breaking journals, which chronicle a new friendship she makes and provide a huge departure from Anne Rice’s original book.

Image: AMC

Performing as a little girl in the Theatre des Vampires gets old really fast for Claudia. It’s played like a 50-year group initiation hazing requirement but she tires of it by the 500th performance. The “Baby Lu” skit is reminiscent of the uncomfortable nature of the cake walk, alluding to the exploitative nature of a minstrel show, where Claudia is infantilized in high society garb for a violent skit that’s put on by the coven to break her. It’s got layers of commentary, if intentional, but it’s dubious if it’s not, to bring into the show—which gingerly reflects Louis and Claudia’s Black identities. In the last episode Louis remarks how at least there wasn’t lynching in Paris, but the exploitative nature of race and gender in entertainment is something that cannot be fully erased. It’s fully tucked beneath the theatrical pastiche of Claudia’s punishment as a Black woman in a child’s body that the coven doesn’t believe will be able to outlast her limitations. In the modern day when Molloy calls the infantilization out, Armand says she was “willing” to do it as her requirement, while Louis admits she did not like it.

Back in the past, Claudia stands up for herself, “I am a fierce vampire trapped in the body of a little girl,” she says as she tries to break out of the Baby Lu part of her contract, and Armand tells her she’s to live her days in the childish dress until she finds inspiration to play Baby Lu again. Admittedly, it’s a bit uncomfortable to see the punishment doled out by another who has known exploitation as a marginalized identity too. Santiago (Ben Daniels), of all people, stands up for Claudia by telling Armand he’s being unfair, considering that the show is doing great—but he wouldn’t know since he’s off dallying around the city with Louis—who he lets get away with so much. They’re basically married at this point; they quickly say “I love you” to one another and are still not dealing with the brewing coven resentment, with Claudia’s added anger thrown in. Molloy interjects, asking if that’s why they’re the only ones to survive the theater’s fire, a fact supplied by his computer pen-pal spy Raglan. It’s something that alerts Armand to the fact that something is amiss; he tells Molloy he was not supplied with that information and the interviewer quickly BS’s that his research assistant stumbled on the event—which we’re building up to.

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Image: AMC

Back to Claudia’s journal point of view, where she recalls Santiago catching her scribbling away breaking law three “ No vampire must commit to writing the history of vampires”. Something that makes her worry but Santiago quickly assuages her concern by implying the rules are loose guidelines. He admits he was made in violation of law one and was not given the dark gift by a leader, and often bends law four: “No vampire shall ever reveal his true nature to a mortal, and let that mortal live.” Made to feel like everything is really loosey-goosey, Claudia begins to trust Santiago and looks up to him even more. Maybe it’s a plot to drive a wedge between her and Louis, who Santiago definitely has it out for, or maybe he does see a bit of himself in her. The point is proven when over a coven dinner, Santiago drags Louis by parroting his pretentious love of culture and humans with another of his dark gifts, knowing exactly what the New Orleans vampire is going to say down to the Cajun drawl he mimics, calling him out about hiding his true identity. Armand exerts his dominance freezing time around them and reprimands them like little kids to back off one another, while still refusing to hold himself or Louis accountable for existing as lovers outside the coven.

Armand’s mercurial nature rears its head in the modern day too; as Louis shows Molloy photographs he took during that era, it turns out the only image that he took from the folio is the one of Armand. Someone out to gaslight and gatekeep removed all the pictures he snapped during that time. Armand plays dumb and when Molloy raises innocuous questions, he quickly projects himself into Daniel’s mind as a scary distraction to distract him from getting too close to something. Louis insists he didn’t want to misrepresent his work and that he was only wanting to capture images of his time in Paris, totally not wanting to be praised as a photographer—even though he did almost eat a curator for telling him his work only had potential. The answer to his seeking validation shows up in the form of Lestat’s projected presence, assuring him with artistic notes to improve—interrupted by Armand reciting Shakespeare at the balcony. Sam Reid as Lestat savors these scenes with delicious reactions, literally guffawing at Armand’s poorly recited Romeo lines.

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Image: AMC

In order to make up for his behavior at dinner with the coven, Armand takes Louis on a night at the museum after hours. There, he shows Louis a piece of art done by his master Marius de Romanus, who bought him from the brothel where he was sold into slavery after his parents were tricked into thinking he was being put on a merchant boat. He describes living in exploitation before ultimately being saved by his master with the dark gift and basking in his “worshipful mercy,” until the Rome coven came through and set fire to his maker. It’s a lot to unpack, considering he says “I am my history I have endured,” but that’s no excuse to treat your own in ways that would have them experience anything similarly—as a marginalized vampire of color, for instance.

Exploring themes like this can be tricky and things get trickier when we catch up with Claudia who takes the initiative to begin a tight friendship with Madeline (Roxanne Duran), the dressmaker, by saving her from the gang who paints another swastika on her window by eating them and revealing her true nature. Turns out that the reason she is being targeted is because she consensually had sex with a Nazi soldier after the war—once. So it’s totally okay for her and Claudia who have done things considered “monstrous” to be besties. Yep, that’s what they’re going with in the show, which cool that Claudia gets a more age-appropriate friend, I guess? Weird choice to give her the “I slept with a fascist one time but I have a Black vampire friend now” pass. They bond over weathering the cards life has dealt them and for the first time Claudia makes a connection something outside of Louis and the coven, who she knows mostly hates her.

Image for article titled Coven Rules Are Loose Guidelines in This Week’s Interview With the Vampire

Image: AMC

Too bad that Armand catches her on the way back from the dress shop and threatens her with his knowledge of what she and Louis did to Lestat. Back in the apartment she and Louis have it out again. Their relationship is all but broken as she accuses him of choosing another man over her and telling about what they did. Louis tries to counter that Armand knew all along, but that doesn’t matter to Claudia—and she’s right; he kept it from her that the secret was out to the coven leader. Louis is too lovestruck to realize it’s being used to threaten his child and preventing her from forming her own bonds but he says she chose the coven over him. It doesn’t change that he picked another one over her, breaking his promise from the top of the season.

It’s so heartbreaking to see and even Lestat’s apparition was like damn, “The wilderness that is our daughter.” The fracturing of relationships continues as Santiago spies on the New Orleans vampires. Louis leaves and entertains a tender moment with Lestat, one where he recalls the honeymoon phase to avoid falling into a new situation, as tends to happen with those dealing with abusive relationship trauma—and ignoring that maybe Armand is exerting a different type of abuse. You know he wants Louis, he wants out of the coven, and thinks it can lead to its disassembly. It’s so messed-up to see Armand show up and use his weaponized incompetence to go along with Louis’ idea to let Santiago get more leadership over the coven, and play his hand in wrecking it for them. But where does that leave Claudia other than being seen as another obstacle to Armand’s chase for Louis?

The episode closes in the modern day with Armand and Louis arguing over the steathily planted photos, which Armand assures Louis wasn’t his doing. Meanwhile, outside the lovers’ quarters, Molloy gets sent audio files of his first interview with Louis where it sounds like he was attacked by the vampire before Armand shows up to clean it all up.

Interview With the Vampire airs Sundays on AMC and AMC+.

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