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Season 4 of What We Do in the Shadows has come to an end, and the Staten Island vampires called way too much attention to themselves with their vampire clud, introduced us to Baby Colin Robinson (Mark Proksch), and ruined their mansion via the faux home makeover reality series, Go Flip Yourself. In the fourth season finale, "Sunrise, Sunset," the whole cast of characters including Colin, Nandor (Kayvan Novak), Laszlo (Matt Berry), Nadja (Natasia Demetriou), and the most patient Familiar ever, Guillermo (Harvey Guillén), all had a bit of a reset which means anything can happen in Season 5.
SYFY WIRE got on a Zoom call with showrunner Paul Simms and Proksch to unpack the big turns in the episode and get the inside story on how weird it was to make Colin a singing, dancing star. Guess what? They also reveal who's responsible for that ear worm all season.
Let's start with baby Colin Robinson's arc. The season obviously picked up from the Season 3 finale, where Colin was a baby, but did you know that he was going to literally come full circle by the end of the season or did you play with the idea of keeping poor Mark suspended in eternal childhood?
Paul Simms: No, we knew somehow he would be back to normal Colin Robinson at the end. But even when we started shooting the season we didn't know exactly how we were going to do that. But I think the main thing is we thought of this season as like a microcosm of childhood so he starts as a baby and grows into a teenager and then is a person who doesn't even remember all the help that he was given growing up. I think I'm anticipating what happens when my kids are older, which is what was inspiring me.
Mark, did this season feel like the ultimate acting exercise having to work entirely as a VFX character until the end of the season?
Mark Proksch: Yeah, it definitely breathed some new life into the character, getting to figure out what a child Colin Robinson would be like. And the time that I was doing the majority of my acting, the scenes were pretty locked and filmed. And so being able to improvise was definitely a challenge. I think we got a couple of things in.
Simms: Mark had to act in a way where it was like, "You have to have your head there, and you have to be looking exactly up there and the light has to fall on you this way. Beyond that, just feel free to do whatever you want but it has to fit in within the lines that we've already shot." [Laughs.] My favorite improv [from his], and it's so silly in the "Go Flip Yourself" episode, where he runs in and pushes something over and goes, "Bang!" Which is exactly the kind of nonsensical and annoying thing my own child would do.
Who takes responsibility for young Colin Robinson's "Guess whats" all season long?
Proksch: I don't have children so I was unaware of the "Guess what?" so that came from Paul.
Simms: And that came straight from my son Charlie. The thing I do like about "Guess what?" is the final time he says it is when he's a teenager and he's yelling as Laszlo when he goes, "Laszlo, guess what? I hate you!" [Laughs.]
The season finale, "Sunrise, Sunset," uses the classic Fiddler on the Roof song to bookend the episode. Was that a musician Matt Berry suggestion or was it a writers' room idea?
Simms: There was an element of desperation because we write all nine episodes before we start a season and we don't write the 10th one until it's absolutely due. I was just thinking about the idea of kids growing up and what happened to them. It really was me trying to make the other writers laugh when they read the script. And then Matt did such a great job doing it very poignantly. Another thing that I just did to see if I could make the other writers laugh and then I loved the final result, is in the closing credits having the whole cast singing the song, which is just very expensive and very silly.
Was that audio from the set or a studio recording?
Simms: We had a temp version that we got on set but then everyone had to go to a studio, all at different times, to do it. I think it was worth it.
Mark, this was your musical theater season as young Colin. Was that terrifying or a dream come true for you?
Proksch: I've been wanting to do Colin gets into theater. There are certain topics I think an Energy Vampire thrives in and musical theater was definitely one of them. Getting to sing and dance has been something I've wanted to do since Season 1.
Simms: We also weren't sure what Mark's singing voice was going to be like, plus, the added element that his singing voice had to sound a little bit like a little kid. We had a backup version, but Mark ended up doing it all. He does his own singing.
Proksch: And as long as it's nasally, like I am, it sounds like a kid.
Was there a favorite era of young Colin to play, or was it just getting back into your own skin in the last episodes?
Proksch: It definitely was nice getting back into the beige uniform. But as far as favorite, I think the tween Colin was my favorite. Getting to sing and dance enthusiastically, that was probably my favorite era of Colin Robinson.
Simms: It was fun because it's the opposite of Colin's normal demeanor, but it is still annoying and energy-draining in its own way.
Moving onto the other season-ending arcs, Nadja's Club looks like it's dead in the water. Will it return or is there a new phase awaiting her in Season 5?
Simms: There's another phase coming up. The next season which we start shooting in 10 days, a lot of it for Nadja is about recovering from how out of control she got running the nightclub. When we thought of the nightclub story, we did think we wanted to follow the traditional arc that this is gonna be a fun thing. And then there's a little substance abuse and overindulgence. And by the end, the person has driven themselves mad and is making terrible decisions. Next season is Nadja trying to get back on track.
Did Laszlo's parenting season have any lasting change on the old man? Did Matt ask for something life-changing?
Simms: Again, that was just me anticipating my own future in the next six to seven years. [Laughs.]
With Nandor's failed relationship arc, did he come out of that learning anything?
Simms: I don't think Nandor learned anything. I think he thought getting married would solve his problems. And then he thought using wishes to tweak his wife, each little wish would make somehow make her more perfect. Then he stole Guillermo's boyfriend and his own weird way, and then he put him on a train. And I but I don't think he learned anything. [Laughs.]
What about the big cliffhanger of Guillermo paying Derek the vampire to turn him. Why was now the right time to have him go that route?
Simms: A lot of this season was about Guillermo taking matters into his own hands, including stealing from the nightclub. It was about him sort of taking control of his life, in his own way. In a very mild way having his family over for dinner is starting to put his own life first. He's always such a cautious character it felt interesting to end with him making a very rash decision.
Closing up the season, can you pinpoint your personal highlights?
Simms: I shouldn't brag, but there are so many things I'm proud of this season. This might be my favorite season. Technically, we pulled off the baby Colin. Even the day before we started shooting, we weren't sure if it was going to work. If it hadn't worked, we had a whole season of stuff that wouldn't work, so that was good. "The Night Market" episode was our biggest, wildest, grand production ever. And then "The Go Flip Yourself" episode that was so conceptual, and we spent so much time in editing trying to duplicate every little detail of those kinds of shows, I thought was really fun.
And Mark, in Season 5 should we expect a familiar adult Colin Robinson or will he be a bit changed?
Proksch: Actually I've been thinking about that, which is probably causing terror in Paul. [Laughs.] I think that he's kind of rebooting a little bit and I don't think he'll have swagger. I think it'll be the opposite. I think he'll be a little drier going into this season trying to get his feet underneath him.
What We Do in the Shadows Season 4 is available on FX and streaming on Hulu.
Looking for more vampire TV? Watch the upcoming Peacock Original Series Vampire Academy when it premieres on Sept. 15.