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SYFY WIRE What We Do in the Shadows

WTF Moments: Benedict Wong scatting Haley Joel Osment into a zombie on What We Do In The Shadows

By Brian Silliman
Haley Joel Osment on What We Do in the Shadows

How would What We Do in the Shadows, the insane vampire mockumentary show, ever outdo itself after the first season, especially the episode called “The Trial,” wherein almost every actor who has played a vampire in anything showed up to cameo as those characters? I foolishly thought that the show had peaked too soon, because you can’t compete with Wesley Snipes video-calling into a trial sequence as Blade, can you?

You kind of can, it turns out.

And on a seemingly unrelated but actually very, very related note, everything that I thought I knew about scatting (and life in general) changed in the Season 2 premiere of What We Do in the Shadows. Benedict Wong used the power of “zapa-da-beep-da-zo-dap bap bop zop zaaahhh” to turn Haley Joel Osment into a zombie. Behold the power of scat.

What We Do in the Shadows continues to go bat-s**t ("BAT!") insane, fueled with the bloody power of WTF energy, and the S2 opener “Resurrection” is the result. 

Osment appears as a new familiar, Topher, to our vampire heroes. He’s a great annoyance to Guillermo (Harvey Guillen) and shortly ends up dead. Nandor (Kayvan Novak), Laszlo (Matt Berry), and Nadja (Natasia Demetriou) refuse to accept Topher’s death, so they take him to a necromancer named Wallace (Wong). 

As is usual with this series, Wallace isn’t a necromancer in the classic mold. He sells all kinds of dark and mystical items in his little house, but he also sells novelty license plate keychains. Nandor is fascinated with these, especially one that bears the name “Steve,” because he thinks that someone named Steve would really enjoy such a fun novelty license plate keychain. Nandor ends the episode by buying this — again, his name is not Steve.

That's good enough right there, to be honest, but love for a novelty license plate keychain that has a name on it that isn’t even yours is merely the parsley on the side of the dish that we’re about to be served. The trio makes a deal with Wallace to return Topher to life, and he begins what we think is going to be a dark ritual.

Wallace begins the magic, everything is as expected ... and that’s when Wallace starts scatting. Zap-bop bapp tooo-weeeee ... !

The vampire trio is as stunned as we are, because this isn’t how we thought dark magic worked. The last thing we ever expected Benedict Wong the necromancer to do was to break out into scat-song, but he does, and before we can even register the nutso brilliance of Wong scatting in the first place, a cellphone dings. Wallace keeps scatting, but he also checks his phone. He’s got Topher (Haley Joel Osment, remember) lifted in the air, he's scatting, and he checks his phone. Laszlo isn't pleased, but the ritual continues. 

The ceremony works … kind of. Topher is brought back to life, but he’s a zombie. He’s even more annoying than he was when he was a living person, so the group dumps him back off with Wallace by episode’s end, and Wallace puts him to work in a secret sweatshop underneath his house. Presumably, zombie Topher will spend the rest of eternity making novelty license plate keychains. 

Just … WTF???

It’s been said before for other WTF Moments, but there are things in life that you just don’t realize you need to see until they are right in front of you. Having Benedict Wong appear on this show is a great thing in and of itself — we’re used to seeing him play a highly competent magician (Wong in the MCU), and we kind of expect the same here, but that’s because we forget what show we’re watching.

What We Do in the Shadows succeeds so well (in every aspect) because it subverts every single cliche there is about vampires, werewolves, and the occult in general. We think we know what to expect, we think we know the rules, and then the show laughs at us, burns the book of rules, and leans in on the insanity of it all.

In the world of this show (and the world in general), a necromancer using scat to turn someone into a zombie makes about as much sense as buying a novelty license plate keychain with the word "condom" written on it. That is entirely the point. 

The show also knows how to play up masterful meta moments (“The Trial” being a prime example), so having Wong’s Wallace resurrect someone played by Osment is another meta-layer, Osment being an actor most famous for saying a line about seeing dead people.

This is a WTF Moment of the highest quality, and it should be showcased in a WTF museum. Try to describe this scene to someone and see how far you get. Try saying this with a straight face: “Benedict Wong is a necromancer who sells novelty license plate keychains and he scat-sings Haley Joel Osment into a zombie.” You will not succeed.

This delightful WTF lunacy is where Season 2 of this masterful fang-fest begins … I can’t even imagine where it will go from here. Mark Hamill is coming, so, zop-bop baapp tooo-weeee.

I'm sure that Steve (whoever he is, Nandor does not know a Steve) will enjoy his novelty keychain.