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Recap: The premiere of ‘Reginald the Vampire’ tells an unlikely vampire origin story
"You can say fat, I’m not afraid of the word.”
Vampires are hitting the small screen with a vengeance, and one of them is unlike any of the others. SYFY’s latest original series, Reginald the Vampire, is based on the Fat Vampire books by Johnny Truant. In a world of fat-shaming vampires, Reginald sticks out because he is, as the title of the novels suggest, fat.
He makes it a point to say that he’s not afraid of that word. He’s unhappy with his life, but no one is more critical of Reginald than he is of himself. Played with charm and heart by Jacob Batalon (Spider-Man: Far From Home), Reginald is different from every other vamp on any screen right now. He wishes that wasn’t the case, but the premiere of Reginald the Vampire doesn’t give him a choice. Come to think of it, that's not entirely true... he is given a choice. It's not a good one, though.
He might not love his own origin story, but we enjoyed it just fine. That’s likely a very small comfort to him.
**SPOILER WARNING: Spoilers will follow for "Dead Weight," the premiere of Reginald the Vampire. If you have not watched yet, go and sink your fangs into the episode and then speed right back.**
Things begin as a vampire escapade normally would. A cool vamp in a cool coat feeds on a misogynist who is driving a car that screams overcompensation. The vamp is very fast, he has fangs, and he bites this jerk’s neck. We don’t know it yet, but this is Maurice (Mandela Van Peebles), and he is going to be very important.
We then cut to Reginald (Batalon) giving a self-help seminar, but it’s all in his imagination. He’s not a slick and slim guru in a suit, he’s an overweight guy in a “Slayer” t-shirt who repeats a Henry Ford quote on a loop: “If you always do what you’ve always done, you always get what you’ve always got.”
Reginald goes to work at the Slushy Shack, where his co-worker Todd (Aron Buchholz) is constantly trying to make unfunny fat jokes into an Olympic sport. Reginald is vastly better at making them than Todd is, because he’s heard them all. Todd is able to stick into him a little when Sarah (Em Haine) enters; she is another co-worker, she’s pretty and nice, and Reginald has a hopeless crush on her.
Is it hopeless, though? They have a decent banter going, and as they work, they have a game where they talk to each other only using song titles. Reginald barely notices Maurice coming in to get a slushy.
Out back, Reginald has a talk with the universe. “Dear God, and/or grownup baby Jesus,” he starts, letting whoever might be listening that he wants a refund. “I was promised so much that I did not receive. The marketing was deceptive,” he says. He is not satisfied. He wants bugless summers and he would like to sweat less. He wants, as he says, a “lucky break.”
We find out later in the episode that Maurice was planning on drinking Reginald’s blood in this moment, but he doesn’t go through with it. He helps Reginald out instead, as he has heard most of Reginald’s plea. It wasn’t a prayer; Reginald says that he’s an atheist. Maurice is not an atheist, but he still believes that people should have bugless summers.
Maurice sees Sarah, he sees the way Reginald looks at Sarah, and he just can’t help himself. He glamours Reginald, giving him precise (and very decent) directions on asking Sarah out. Reginald thought that he’d have no chance with her, but Maurice tells him that “everybody gets to write their own story.”
Under the glamour, Reginald asks Sarah out, and she accepts. He is amazed, and the next night he tells Maurice that he’s never been on a date. “Loneliness is sort of my natural habitat,” he admits, while Maurice gives him advice in a bar that is close to where the date will take place. For some reason that he cannot explain, Reginald trusts Maurice completely.
He doesn’t trust the four vampires who enter the bar to make trouble, however.
Maurice takes LeBron and Isaac out back to get through whatever bees are in their vampire bonnets. He brings Reginald, because Moira and Penelope really want to suck his blood. LeBron starts to tell Maurice that he is being faced with charges of some sort because of “defiance,” the women come out and bite Reginald anyway.
The women vanish, and Maurice stakes Isaac, who blows away in a cloud of ash. LeBron runs, and Reginald dies. End of series. What a fun time, right?
That’s not what happens. Reginald is about to die, but Maurice asks for his permission to save him. He can’t do it without permission. Reginald gives it, Maurice feeds him blood from his own wrist, and now “the Vampire” can officially be added to the end of Reginald’s name.
Once Reginald comes to and gets it through his head that he’s not dreaming and that vampires are real, Maurice starts to explain some of the finer points of vamp life to him. Reginald is happy that he will now be able to eat whatever he wants, but the only thing that will nourish him is blood. While he does have something of a similar super-speed ability to Maurice, he’s not good with it. He runs right into a tree, and Maurice tells him (and us) that every vampire has different enhancements based on who they were when they got turned.
What’s most troubling for Reginald is that even though he will never age, and will never die (unless he is killed), he will look this way forever. He can never diet. He will always be fat.
“Being a fat vampire, that’s going to cause some problems in the vampire community,” Maurice says. In the world of this show, vampires are, apparently, just as dismissive of overweight people as everyone in the real world is. Wonderful! Good stuff. Reginald retreats to the depressed comfort of his Henry Ford quote, only for Maurice to point out some things about who Henry Ford actually was.
As Maurice says: “Henry Ford believed that Jews invented Jazz to corrupt America, so…”
Reginald takes the point. The next day, Reginald wakes up to texts from Sarah, who is asking if he is okay. Reginald has blown the date. He also finds out that he burns in the sun, but thankfully he heals quickly. Using a hoodie, shades, and oven-mitts to go outside, he jets to the Slushy Shack in the hopes of apologizing to Sarah in person.
Todd needles him, which he can tolerate. Todd badmouths Sarah, and this Reginald cannot tolerate. He’s on him lightning fast, scaring the s*** out of him. Todd gets off lucky here, as all Reginald can focus on is Todd’s pumping neck vein. He has the same issue with co-worker Ashley when he tries to pound sustenance in the break room.
Outside, Maurice reminds him that for the good of everyone around him, he needs blood. That doesn’t mean killing, because our sweet Reginald doesn’t want to be a killer. He can feed a little, and then glamour the person’s memory away. Maurice points out that Sarah will be in danger unless he feeds, so Reginald naturally pulls out one of the biggest cliches around. He “breaks up” with Sarah for her own protection.
He doesn’t use those words, but it’s the “noble superhero breaks up with someone they love for that person’s own good” thing, and Sarah barely understands it. Reginald cries blood after doing it.
Maurice catches up to him eventually, knowing his location and his feelings because of the blood/maker bond that they now share. Reginald realizes that he will likely never see his parents again; they moved to Hawaii because they love the sun. Maurice tells him that “one day your old life is gonna feel like a dream you had,” and the aspect ratio shrinks (to better fit with Maurice’s artistic vision) and we’re with him in 1972. He works with an activist named Angela (Savannah Basley of SurrealEstate) who turns him into a vampire so he can seriously get involved in the fight for justice.
“Let’s just say this isn’t my first revolution,” Angela cryptically says.
Presumably having either heard this or sensed the story, Reginald says, “I think I like your origin story better than my origin story.” Maurice agrees to mentor Reginald, something that Angela did not do for him. He also (somewhat reluctantly) agrees to be Reginald’s friend.
What happened to Angela? Maurice doesn’t talk about it, but she’s still on the scene. LeBron, Moira, and Penelope go to report to the one they work for, and wouldn’t you know? They were sent by Angela. She rips Moira’s heart out because Reginald was not properly disposed of. “Tell me about Maurice’s companion,” she says to the remaining two. This isn’t gonna be good for our main man vamp, because Maurice has already said that being a fat vampire is going to be a problem. Reginald is supposed to be keeping a low profile until Maurice can figure it all out.
Reginald has no idea that Angela is interested in him, though. He discovers that speed-reading (and immaculate retention) is at least one of his special enhancements, as he is able to read all of War and Peace by flipping through it. He can recall specific passages instantly. That'll be useful! Who needs love when you have books?
Yeah, Sarah shows up at his apartment. She rejects his rejection of her. She knows how he looks at her, but he might not know how she sometimes looks at him. She walks in, and Reginald’s fangs can’t help but come out.
Is he going to eat Sarah, or is he going to tell her the truth? Is he going to tell her the truth and then glamour her for her own protection? We really hope not, but we’ll still be on his side.
Reginald the Vampire gushes out new episodes every Wednesday on SYFY.