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The Ending Of What We Do In The Shadows Season 5 Explained

Contains spoilers for "What We Do in the Shadows" Season 5, Episodes 9 and 10

Like the many mockumentary comedies that preceded it ("The Office," "Parks and Recreation," and "Modern Family," to name a few), "What We Do in the Shadows" is episodic in nature but held together by a few plot threads that run throughout. That's still the show's modus operandi, but this season, the delightfully gruesome and anachronistic antics have been held together by stronger connective tissue. Season 5 of "What We Do in the Shadows" has the most consequential central plot yet. In fact, all four previous seasons have been leading up to it. 

Episode 1, "The Mall," picks up right where the fourth season finale, "Sunrise, Sunset," left off. Finally coming to terms with the fact that Nandor (Kayvan Novak) is unlikely to ever turn him into a vampire, Guillermo (Harvey Guillen) stuffs a bunch of cash into a bag and asks his fanged buddy Derek (Chris Sandiford) to do it. So does the longtime familiar at long last achieve his dream of sucking blood, transforming into a bat, and having eternal life? And where does that leave Guillermo, Nandor, and the other vampires? Read on to find out how Season 5 ends in its two-episode finale.

What you need to remember about the plot of What We Do in the Shadows Season 5

Is Guillermo a vampire? Sort of. Inexperienced Derek botched the job, but if Nandor finds out that another vampire turned his familiar, he'll never recover from the humiliation. Laszlo (Matt Berry) discovers Guillermo's secret and is determined to solve his predicament (the stalled transformation part) by conducting a series of experiments. This results in a legion of animal-slash-Guillermo-clone hybrids, but Guillermo himself is no closer to full vampire-hood. 

Meanwhile The Guide (Kristen Schaal), desperate to fit in with the vampire housemates, lets Nadja (Natasia Demetriou) believe she's hexed so that the two might become better friends. Nadja falls for the hoax, but continues to ignore her, finding kinship with fellow Antipaxians instead. Colin Robinson (Mark Proksch) attends community forums to drain crowds of energy, but realizes that running for Staten Island comptroller would be an even more effective strategy. For a while, Colin becomes too interesting for his own good when a TikTok of actor John Slattery hitting him with his car goes viral. 

The Baron (Doug Jones) is back and looking better than ever — until The Guide lets it slip at Laszlo's roast that it was Guillermo who burnt him to an unrecognizable crisp. He tries to get his revenge but learns about the business with Derek and decides to let the situation between Nandor and his familiar play out as it will. Then Guillermo accidentally roasts him — literally — again. 

What happens at the end of What We Do in the Shadows Season 5?

Fed up with being excluded, The Guide invites the vampires to Morrigan Manor, and things look like they're going in the direction of a "Downton Abbey"-esque parody. But once characters start going missing, it's clear we're headed into "grand old house" murder mystery territory. Though The Guide gets herself caught in a trap and suffers a grisly leg wound, she's revealed to be the culprit once Laszlo, Nadja, Nandor, and finally Colin Robinson are all trapped in silver cages. 

The Guide berates them all for having treated her so poorly, but quick-thinking Laszlo asks the camera crew to play footage from one night the previous November. In it, the vampires talk glowingly about The Guide, and she feels stupid for having assumed the worst. Later, we see that they were actually trying to set her up with Colin Robinson so they could get rid of them both. 

In her rant, however, The Guide also mentions that Guillermo had no choice but to take matters into his own hands. For the first time, Nandor picks up on the fact that everyone has been keeping something from him. Guillermo comes clean, and Nandor does, indeed, promise to kill him and then himself. Guillermo hides out in Derek's apartment, and to his dismay, the vampires come by to say their goodbyes. He's worried they'll spill the beans about his secret location, but instead, Nandor menacingly calls him from Guillermo's mother's house. 

Why couldn't Guillermo fully transform into a vampire?

In addition to threatening to kill Guillermo and himself, Nandor also solves the puzzle of his familiar's stunted vampire transformation. Guillermo de la Cruz has Van Helsing blood. His vampire killer DNA is fighting against Derek's blood, halting the process. This is why Guillermo can still eat raw hamburger meat, why he has only tiny bat wings sprouting from either side of his spine, and why he can only levitate so high and for so long. That Nandor came to this conclusion so quickly suggests that he's been thinking about turning Guillermo himself for some time. The holdup probably wasn't that Guillermo wasn't worthy, or that Nandor didn't want to accept him into his, Laszlo's, and Nadja's vampire family. He always knew this was going to be a problem, at least once the truth about Guillermo's lineage came out. 

It nearly broke Laszlo's spirit that he couldn't work out the reason Guillermo was only effectively half-vampire. He also couldn't work out the solution, which again, Nandor comes up with right away. Guillermo drank enough of Derek's blood to start the transformation, but for his vampire-ness to win out over his Van Helsing-ness, Guillermo will have to drink human blood, which he has yet to do.  

Why does Nandor decide not to kill Guillermo?

Nandor goes hunting for Guillermo at Panera Bread, which he believes to be an important part of every human's life. Outside one location, he mistakes comedian Patton Oswalt for his former familiar, but once Nandor releases him from a chokehold, the two strike up a fast friendship over Oswalt's Turkey Bacon Bravo. Nandor unloads his problems onto Oswalt, whom he calls a good listener. Oswalt tries to relate by sharing details from his own life, but the vampire is disinterested in the celebrity who voiced the rat in "Ratatouille." 

Oswalt proposes that, since Nandor and Guillermo obviously care deeply about each other, Nandor could rebuild their relationship instead of killing his friend. This upsets Nandor, who tosses Oswalt from a rooftop. Seconds after we hear his body hit the ground with a thud, Nandor reconsiders. Not only was Oswalt's advice sound, he feels weird about having just thrown his new friend to his death. He imagines that it would feel much worse to kill his best friend, Guillermo. 

At the home of Guillermo's mother, Sylvia (Myrna Cabello), Nandor confesses that he isn't there to hurt either of them. He even gives Guillermo the chance to off him with a stake if he doesn't believe him. Guillermo doesn't understand his change of heart, but Nandor tells him all about Patton Oswalt, then gives him his warrior's word that he can return to the vampire house alive and as an equal. 

Why doesn't Guillermo want to be a vampire anymore?

Guillermo tastes his first sip of human blood and instantly becomes 100 percent vampire. Invigorated by his new power, he and the crew goes hunting together to celebrate. They descend on a mid-priced restaurant and, while Nadja, Laszlo, and Nandor end the lives of everyone inside and drink themselves stupid, Guillermo can't bring himself to sink his fangs into anyone's neck. His first potential victim smells too much like shampoo, and just like that, the thrill of being a vampire — the very outcome Guillermo had pursued for 13 years — is over. 

Guillermo quietly confesses to the documentarians that, though he's been indirectly involved in many human deaths and directly responsible for several vampire deaths, he just doesn't think he'll be able to murder innocent people on a regular basis. Turns out, Nandor is listening behind the curtain, fearing that this was the case. Realizing that his familiar isn't cut out for vampire-dom, he schemes to set things back to the way they were. Well, almost. 

Season 5 closes with a faux ceremony in which Nandor asks Guillermo to choose between being vampire and human. Guillermo chooses human, but assumes he'll die. Nandor assures him that, if he kills Derek, he'll only lose a month of his life through rapid aging. Guillermo grows an instant beard and, as a courtesy, brings Derek back to life-ish as a zombie. 

What does the ending mean?

"What We Do in the Shadows" has always been a favorite of the queer community and their allies. Gender roles and sexual norms are broken left and right. Many of the characters exist somewhere on the LGBTQ+ spectrum. But the queerest thing about "What We Do in the Shadows" is Nandor's and Guillermo's unspoken romance. It's the heart of the show and a multilayered metaphor for a multitude of queer experiences. 

Vampire stories have long been metaphors for sex, and the simplest read on the tension between Nandor and Guillermo is that the familiar doesn't want his master to bite him, he wants him to bed him. Guillermo is an out gay man. He brought his boyfriend, Freddie (Al Roberts), around last season. Fans will remember that Nandor took a liking to Freddie, which complicated things between the trio and Nandor's wife Marwa (Parisa Fakhri). A more nuanced take is that the tension between Nandor and Guillermo is really about navigating emotional vulnerability between friends who could also be lovers. Guillermo going to Derek feels like cheating. What could have been an incredibly meaningful moment in both Guillermo and Nandor's lives is instead a sore spot. 

So what does Nandor accepting that it was Derek who turned Guillermo signify? And what does it really mean that Guillermo doesn't want to be a vampire anymore? At the very least, it means they both care about each other no matter what, beyond the confines of roles and norms. 

Where do the vampires go from here?

Season 5 doesn't leave off on a cliffhanger like Season 4 did, but there are still plenty of unresolved issues in the vampire house. First and foremost, it'll be fascinating to see how Guillermo readjusts to life as a human and, we can assume, a familiar. For a brief time, Nandor, Laszlo, Nadja, and Colin Robinson saw him as, more or less, an equal. That'll obviously change now that he's chosen to become human again. It's also possible that Guillermo could come to regret his decision, which could give Nandor another chance at being "the one." 

We also don't know whether The Guide will continue to hang around the house now that she's been fooled into believing that the other vampires like her. The Baron and the Sire, having adopted some of the offspring of Laszlo's experiments, could be fodder for some family comedy. Not to mention, the addition of Zombie Derek to the rotating cast of creepy characters (previously, we've been treated to werewolves, witches, gargoyles, hellhounds, ghosts, wraiths, sirens, and shapeshifters) could be fun.  

What has the cast and crew said about Season 5?

Harvey Guillén, who plays Guillermo, recently graced the cover of Entertainment Weekly's Pride issue. Because he's "round and brown," in his words, and queer, he wasn't sure he'd find success in Hollywood. As is the case with Guillén himself, the actor says there's more than meets the eye to Guillermo de la Cruz. "We started with Guillermo being very submissive and quiet. It was important to me that we didn't make him feel too much like he was a slave," Guillén explained, adding, "Being one of the only people of color on the show, I was like, that doesn't sound like the direction we should be taking." 

The 33-year-old actor is pleased with his character's growth over the last five seasons. "Guillermo is done waiting for his turn. Guillermo is taking matters into his own hands," he told EW. "And that's kind of a metaphor for life." He views Guillermo's temporary transformation not just as an LGBTQ+ allusion but as a call for people to go after the jobs, love interests, and experiences that they dream about before it's too late. 

Co-executive producer Yana Gorskaya talked to TV Insider about Panera Bread and Patton Oswalt. "Panera actually let us shoot in a real Panera Bread, which we were so thrilled about," Gorskaya said, adding that filming on location helps the show's documentary style feel authentic. She was also thrilled to get Oswalt, describing him as "game and delightful."

Will there be a Season 6?

"What We Do in the Shadows" has developed a cult following that began with the 2014 film and has grown up around the now five seasons of the show. That following will be happy to know that there will be a Season 6. They'll be less happy to know it'll be a while (likely 2025) before it premieres. FX renewed the series for a fifth and sixth season back in 2022. However, Yana Gorskaya confirmed to TV Insider that, like the vast majority of films and series that were in pre-or-active production as of this summer, "What We Do in the Shadows" has been impacted by the ongoing WGA and SAG-AFTRA strikes. She indicated that some work, including the writing of several scripts, had taken place prior to the strikes, but "What We Do in the Shadows" is officially on pause as long as those continue. 

That's not ideal, but it's okay. With popular shows being canceled abruptly, sometimes with little to no warning to fans, devotees of "What We Do in the Shadows" can rest easy that another installment is coming. And if Guillermo can wait 13 years to become a vampire, fans can wait 24 months to see what happens next.