This is a spoiler-filled recap of season 1 episode 1 of the AMC TV series Interview with the Vampire. My review of episodes 1 and 2 (with minimal spoilers) is HERE.
Interview with the Vampire is based on Anne Rice’s 1976 novel of the same name and follows the misadventures and twisted affections of two vampires, Louis de Pointe du Lac and Lestat de Lioncourt. Louis narrates the tale via the framing device of the titular interview, given to ageing investigative journalist Daniel Molloy. The series alternates between their discussion in the present day and depictions of the past as Louis describes it.
Present day Louis lives in a customized penthouse in Dubai with a staff of devoted servants and a fabulous art collection. Now that they are both older and wiser, he invites Daniel to visit and have a second go at the disappointing interview they did together almost 50 years ago.
Louis begins the new version of his story in 1910, when he was the human owner of several brothels in New Orleans, which he maintained in order to support his elderly mother, engaged sister and mentally ill, religion-obsessed brother in the style they’d enjoyed while his father was alive. He was a Black Creole business owner in the Jim Crow south, which meant his business options were strictly limited. He’d kept from his family how close they’d already been to financial ruin when his father died a few years earlier.
Louis had to alter the way the family made its money because their sugar plantations (changed from indigo plantations in the book) no longer supported them due to restrictions imposed by the racist Jim Crow laws. Rather than accept the truth, his family believed that he preferred the low life and fast money of the red-light district and had willingly chosen this life over their genteel lifestyle.
As the story begins, the vampire Lestat arrives in town, fresh off the boat from France, and discovers New Orleans is a town that very much suits his tastes.
And that Louis is a man who very much suits his tastes.
The episode begins with a faux MasterClass commercial for Daniel Molloy’s (Eric Bogosian) online journalism seminar. We glean from his bio that he’s won 2 Pulitzer Prizes; worked for the San Francisco Chronicle, the Los Angeles Times and The Guardian; been fired from 3 newspapers and been hired back by two. The third was owned by the defunct newspaper publishing chain Knight-Ridder. Daniel believes that journalism isn’t a complicated job but it will wreck your personal life. He tells his potential students that he knows how the world has changed in the last 50 years and journalism has along with it, holding up a phone to symbolize those changes.
The implication is that Daniel has had a legendary career since his first meeting with Louis in the mid 1970s, with his strong opinions and willingness to take risks creating both his rise and fall. But now, with the journalism field as a whole struggling in the age of the internet and social media and the outlets that still exist favoring younger, cheaper, more diverse voices, he’s down on his luck. His hand shakes as he does a jigsaw puzzle, letting us know he has Parkinson’s Disease, a disabling and eventually fatal illness. He also has an old scar from a vampire bite on his neck.
He receives a small package in the mail, but stops to answer the phone in the middle of opening it. S1 takes place during the Covid 19 pandemic and the call is Daniel’s doctor responding to his questions about whether he should continue social distancing, and even isolating, given his health status. Daniel decides that it’s not worth the risk to expose himself to crowds unnecessarily. When he discovers the interview tapes in the package, along with a note from Louis, he tells the doctor he’ll call him back.
Louis (Jacob Anderson) must have kept the tapes in this version of the story, so they were never published. They aren’t part of Daniel’s publishing history, since he says later that claiming to have spoken to a vampire would have hurt his career.
He still has an ancient boom box in a closet that will play the cassette tapes. The first one is labelled “9/14/73”. On the recording, Louis tells Daniel he was 33 years old when he became a vampire, then explains that he wants to tell the truth during their interview. Present day Daniel is unnerved and turns off the tape.
He reaches for the note instead:
“Dear Mr Molloy,
I hope this letter finds you safe and thriving, if such a thing were a possibility in this bleak hour. I’ve been following your career with some interest since our last meeting. Please allow me to congratulate you on all your successes, those professional and those personally redemptive. The passage of time and the frailties that accompany it have provided me perspective. And I suspect the same might be for you as well. I’m hoping health and pride won’t deter you from the following proposal. In a week’s time, in a setting of my choosing, we revisit the project boyish youth prevented us from finishing. 49 years and thousands of miles removed from the room we shared in San Fransisco, I offer, for your journalistic pleasures, my full attention and my life story.
All affinities, Louis de Pointe du Lac”
Louis makes Daniel an offer he can’t refuse, a technique favored by mobsters and vampires alike. Book readers might recognize the similarities to Louis’ maker’s style, though Louis’ will always be more subtle than Lestat. If I were Daniel, I’d feel a bit stalked after learning that the vampire who bit me had then kept track of me from afar for the next 50 years, starting long before social media made mild stalking a global obsession.
After the interview in the book, Daniel was inspired to go find more vampires. TV Daniel was inspired to become an award-winning investigative journalist and a bestselling author of several books. He’s a risk taker in every reality, so one week later, we find him sitting in Louis’ penthouse, joking that he told his editor he was meeting with the most dangerous man on the planet. His editor guessed either Jeff Bezos or Vladimir Putin. Daniel let him think Putin was the correct answer.
Louis isn’t interested in being famous or dangerous, but he does have a score to settle. He notes that Daniel has grown old and he wasn’t sure the journalist even remembered him since he didn’t mention Louis in his recent memoir about the Summer of Love and San Francisco.
Louis longs for intimacy, devotion, seeing and being seen. During the first interview, he told Daniel more about his life than he’s told almost anyone else and the least he expected was to make a lasting impression.
Daniel explains that his memoir focused on the grittier side of his life. An anecdote about meeting a sensitive vampire and spending the night talking with him wouldn’t have fit the tone.
So his humiliations and degradations due to drug use were relatable to the general public, but it would have ruined his street cred to mention his experience with the supernatural. Welcome to America.
I have to wonder how Lestat’s (Sam Reid) rock star years play into Daniel’s world view. Hopefully we’ll find out in a few seasons.
Louis changes direction and brings up Daniel’s Parkinson’s Disease. Daniel gets testy and points out that Louis hasn’t aged since the last time they saw each other and leads an expensive, privileged life. Louis agrees that his privacy is expensive to maintain. Daniel is angry because only a few people know he’s sick and he doesn’t appreciate Louis’ invasion of privacy.
Invasions of privacy are only acceptable when Daniel is the one doing the invading and he justifies them to himself as doing his due diligence on sources. Daniel has demonstrated that he found out everything he could about Louis as well. But Louis’ money buys better privacy for himself and better vetting of the people who enter his home, so he won the premeeting research competition. Those Pulitzer Prizes apparently went to Daniel’s head and he can’t handle the truth anymore.
Next Daniel asks how Louis is able to be awake in a window-filled room in sunny Dubai during the day. Louis demonstrates the light filtering coating on the glass by having his assistant, Rashid (Assad Zaman), turn down the filter level. Louis holds his bare forearm in the sunlight for a few seconds while it burns his flesh to ash. He tells Daniel that he has to be careful who he lets in.
He literally wears his self-destructiveness on his sleeve. After watching Louis pull this stunt in front of a stranger, it must be killing Rashid to leave the ashes where they are for the moment.
Now that Louis has exposed his own vulnerability, Daniel relaxes a little and gets to the heart of his anxiety. At the end of their previous interview, he asked to be made into a vampire. Louis, outraged that Daniel missed the point of his story, bit him in the neck and sucked his blood, though obviously not a fatal amount. Daniel plays this section of the tape.
When he’s heard enough, Louis crosses the room with vampire speed to turn it off, telling the other man, “You were disrespectful.” Daniel replies that he was high, as if that makes it any better.
Louis: “You were not worthy of my story then.”
Daniel, speaking for literary snobs everywhere and everywhen: “Maybe your story wasn’t worth telling. You’ve got the tapes. Hire a transcriber. I don’t do
gothic romance chick lit puff portraiture anymore.”
Too bad. The book was a massive best seller.
Louis points out that, despite Daniel’s hypocritical disdain, he flew to the other side of the world during a pandemic for another shot at the interview with a vampire. Daniel admits he was so high when they did the interview that he couldn’t remember it without the tapes. After listening to them, he’s disgusted with the way he let Louis ramble without questioning aspects of his story. “It’s not an interview, it’s a fever dream told to an idiot.”
Louis agrees with Daniel’s assessment. He and his circumstances have changed and he finds the tapes lacking, though I imagine that unlike Daniel, he found meaning in the story then and still does. It’s likely that his interpretation of his life’s story has acquired more depth and richness as he’s had another 50 years to reflect on it and to listen to the other vampires’ sides of the story, but that doesn’t mean the original was lacking simply because it shared the perspective of a younger, less evolved vampire.
They agree to the do over. Daniel tries to exert more control over the process, demanding the final edit on his eventual written piece and that he and Louis work one on one. Rashid reminds Daniel that these demands aren’t part of their agreement. Daniel’s annoying show of bravado is likely meant to help him rein in his fear and maybe to test Louis’ strength. It doesn’t jibe with his Practicum advice for students to treat sources as oracles or some such nonsense. Moments ago he pointed out that Louis’ original story was full of contradictions. Now he’s contradicting his own published interview methods. But Louis is forever having his gentleness and affability mistaken for weakness, even by people who’ve met his vampire side many times.
Louis mildly suggests that Daniel have a meal and then rest for a while before they get started, since he’s a thoughtful host and his guest has just traveled halfway around the world. Daniel insists on starting right away, because he’s a child in a pissing contest. He makes the typical mistake of treating a vampire as if he’s the same age as he appears and complains that he’s a picky old man and can do what he wants. As if Louis hasn’t also lived through the last 50 years, plus nearly a century before that.
Now that they’ve established their motives and excuses in the past and present, Louis has the grace to ignore Daniel’s bluster, probably understanding that most of it is meant to hide his fears and insecurities. Or maybe because he doesn’t actually care if Daniel digs himself into an earlier grave by ignoring his precarious health. Either way, Louis agrees to his demand to start immediately and asks Rashid to check on Daniel’s accommodations.
This is a polite way to get Rashid out of the room. He’s clearly the most efficient, devoted assistant a vampire could ask for and if Louis doesn’t turn him in a few seasons, we’ll be having words. Or maybe he’s already a vampire, but knows when to keep his mouth shut.
Daniel begins the formal interview with identifying information for the historical record.
Daniel: “It’s 10:08 in the morning on June 14, 2022. I’m in the penthouse apartment of the Al Sharaf Towers across from Mister…”
Louis: “Louis de Pointe du Lac.”
Daniel: “So, Mr du Lac, how long have you been dead?”
Louis chuckles, a violin plays and we finally get to the good stuff. Fade to a cobblestoned street in New Orleans, 1910, 5 years after the death of Louis’ father. In voiceover, Louis explains that he was named the executor of the du Pointe du Lac family trust when his father died, even though he wasn’t the oldest son, and 5 years later, he still ran the trust. The family originally made their fortune from the sugar plantations they’d owned for generations. The plantations were no longer profitable thanks to the south’s Jim Crow laws, which were passed in the late 19th century and removed many of the freedoms southern people of color had won after the Civil War.
The only place left where a Black Creole person such as himself could make his fortune was in the section of town known as Storyville, the red-light district where New Orleans’ brothels and gambling halls were located. “Twenty blocks of drinking, gambling and gluttonous whoring.”
Louis describes his business empire, saying, “The product was desire and it came in as many forms as there were ways to move it. Of the two dozen sporting houses on Liberty Street, I owned 8 of them. Modest in proportion to the venues on Basin Street. What they lacked in size and elegance, they more than made up for in efficiency and reputation.”
He owned one third of the second best brothels in town. They were well run and catered to a variety of tastes, showing the talent for business which has carried him all the way to his exclusive lifestyle in Dubai.
While modern Louis does the voiceover, 1910 Louis drives up to one of his brothels in a nice car and accepts an envelope of cash from the bouncer, Finn (Jeff Pope), who’s standing on the porch. Louis makes a fat joke when he asks Finn if he’s holding any money back. In voiceover, Louis admits that he was rougher then, but says he had to be to survive the mean streets of Storyville, where any hint of weakness could get you killed.
When he’s done with Finn, a prostitute with a peg leg named Doris (Rachel Handler) stops him from leaving, exclaiming that there’s bad trouble in the house across the street. It’s practically a scene out of The Music Man.
Louis follows Doris up to the room where the prostitute Bricks (Dana Gourrier) and Alderman Fenwick (John DiMaggio) are, or were, doing business, until the Alderman decided to go in Bricks’ back door without asking permission first, then refused to quit when she protested. She hit him on the head and left a deposit in his naked lap to give him a taste of his own medicine. When Louis arrives, the Alderman, who is blind drunk, with a bleeding scalp wound, is apologizing and proclaiming his love to Bricks, but she isn’t interested in a reconciliation.
You have to admire Fenwick’s devotion, given his head wound and her retaliation on his lap. She should get some promises in writing before he sobers up.
Louis shushes the laughing hookers in the hall, sends someone for the doctor and has Bricks get towels and water. Once things quiet down, Louis presses a cloth to Fenwick’s head to stop the bleeding. The Alderman yells at him to get his hands off, adding a racial slur. Louis tells him not to make him regret his support, presumably in the form of bribes, since Black men were denied the vote in the Jim Crow era. (Black women, like all women in the US, were denied the vote following the Civil War when it was given to Black men.)
Once Fenwick recognizes Louis, he apologizes and blames the wine. Louis has no choice other than to swallow his anger and pride and accept the Alderman’s contrition. He promises to keep the incident quiet.
Whenever Fenwick speaks, or Tom Anderson once he appears, imagine a racially demeaning, degrading tone permeating every word. He and Tom intend to keep Louis in his place with every word and action.
Bricks returns with supplies and Finn enters with the news that there’s more trouble outside one of the other houses. Louis snaps that he pays Finn to handle these situations. Finn explains that “It’s a citizen priest,” which is code for Louis’ brother, Paul (Steven G Norfleet). Louis leaves Fenwick with Bricks and goes to his brother.
In the doorway to one of the brothels, Paul begs a prostitute to give up her life of sin and find refuge in the Lord. The prostitute threatens to throw him in the lake, even if he is Louis’ brother. Finn grabs Paul by the collar and drags him into the street. Louis tells him to go home. Paul notices the blood on his brother’s shirt and asks what evil he’s been involved with tonight. Louis softly tells him he’s not helping.
Paul: “Oh, but I am. The Lord told me to come, Louis. In my head, like a family of birds, many voices, but also one voice…”
Louis loses his patience as Paul begs him to listen. Their argument turns physical and Louis pulls out a long knife that’s normally hidden inside his walking stick. He pulls Paul close again and holds the knife at his throat, threatening to bleed his brother like a kochon (pig) unless he goes home.
Paul backs away. Louis puts away his knife and walks in the other direction. He almost runs into Lestat, whose back is to the camera. Lestat turns to follow Louis’ movement with fascination. In voiceover, Louis explains that he didn’t want to pull a knife on Paul, but he had to maintain his reputation in Storyville.
“You never knew who was watching.”
The next morning, Paul and Louis continue their bickering at the family breakfast table in the du Lac ancestral home. Paul tells his mother, Florence (Rae Dawn Chong), and sister, Grace (Kalyne Coleman), that Louis pulled a knife on him. Louis points out that Paul was interrupting the businesses which also belong to their mother. Paul appeals to his mother on the grounds that Louis has made her part of his wicked endeavors.
Florence and Grace are consumed by the plans for Grace’s upcoming wedding and prefer not to be involved with the men’s squabbles about business, morality or religion. Or mental health. Paul wants to save the family’s souls by tithing their ill gotten gains to the church. Proving she has no head for business, Florence tells him that isn’t necessary because soon Louis will find a more respectable business that pays as well as vice. Paul counters that they should still be making their money from sugar cane, just as their father would be if he were still alive. Louis notes that their father also locked Paul up in an asylum, so maybe they shouldn’t use his judgements as the standard.
Grace snipes that even though her wedding is just a month from now, that’s not what she dreams about. No, she dreams of eating breakfast in peace. Not knowing when to quit, Paul tells her that her future husband isn’t suitable since he’s a Baptist rather than Catholic, like them. Even worse, Levi still takes part in pagan traditions like jumping the broom.
Paul: “Plenty of brooms down at the Mayfair sisters’ home.”
The Mayfairs are a long line of witches, male and female, at least in the books (also by Anne Rice), with their own TV series set to begin in January 2023. Jumping the broom was a tradition used by enslaved Black Americans to create their own weddings when they weren’t allowed to marry legally. Some continued the practice as a cultural tradition after slavery ended.
In voiceover, Daniel comments that Paul sounds annoying. Louis responds that he promised his father on his deathbed that he would take care of his brother. He did it willingly, because he loved Paul more than anyone else in his life, despite their differences. Paul had been sheltered and indulged by the family, but when his mental illness wasn’t clouding his thinking, Louis still found happiness in his companionship. Each day after breakfast, Louis would walk Paul to their parish church, St Augustine’s.
In 1910, the brothers finish their morning walk to St Augustine’s and greet Father Matthias (Mike Harkins), who appears humble and kindly, then Paul heads straight to the confessional. Louis stops to speak with Father Matthias, who thanks him for the family’s most recent generous donation. Louis tells Father Matthias that the du Lacs are indebted to the church for their help with Paul. Paul complains that he won’t confess to anyone but Father Matthias. Before ending their conversation, Father Matthias reminds Louis that he hasn’t been to confession recently and the church is there for him when he needs them.
Louis tries to look open to Father Matthias’ words rather than uncomfortable, but in voiceover he reveals the truth.
Louis: “My business and my raised religion were at odds, and the, uh, latencies within me, well, I beat those back with a lie I told myself about myself- that I was a red-blooded son of the South, seeking ass before absolution.”
In 1910, he watches a man he’s attracted to walk down the street, then in 2022 he explains that in order to cover up his illicit attractions, he visited a particular prostitute who worked at one of his competitors, Fairplay, the best brothel in town. Which is what he does now, entering the building and greeting the madam, Miss Carroll (Eugenie Bondurant). She sends him up to the terrace to find Miss Lily (Najah Bradley). On the way there he runs into the Fairplay’s proprietor, Tom Anderson (Chris Stack), who invites him to a private poker game in the back room on Friday night.
When Louis finds Miss Lily, she’s sitting with another man who’s speaking to her in French.
Miss Lily tells Lestat that she doesn’t understand him, but he sounds nice saying it. As Louis arrives at the table, he translates Lestat’s words, “Only the impossible can do the impossible.” Lestat gazes up at Louis like a flower turning toward the sun and asks if he speaks French. Lily responds that many languages are commonly spoken in New Orleans.
Louis: “It’s a hard table to get. How’d you manage it?”
Lestat: “How’d you manage to get yourself through the front door?”
Louis: “Excuse me?”
Lestat: “I mean that as a compliment, a man of your race to have privileges here.”
The Fairplay club isn’t quite whites only, but Louis may be the only Black man there. Lily explains that Louis is a prominent businessman in the community, which gets him entry privileges. Lestat laughs at Lily’s explanation and Louis bristles in offense. Lestat marvels that of course his name is Louis. He takes out a small case and pulls out one of his calling cards, embossed with the name “Lestat de Lioncourt”, handing it to Louis. Then he tells Louis that he already knows him. Louis is the man who induced him to buy a townhouse in the quarter. “I owe you everything.”
Louis informs him that he didn’t sell him a townhouse, adding an insult for good measure. Lily tells Louis to stop arguing and sit down. Lestat explains what he means. He’s only just arrived in America. Louis insults his clothing and Lestat agrees that he’s still “a 19th century man at heart,” one who’s just crossed the Atlantic and had planned to travel north up the Mississippi River to settle down.
They’re interrupted by a waiter. Lestat buys a round for the table and for the musicians, who he says are always forgotten. Then he kisses Miss Lily, leaving her dazed and breathless, before going back to his story.
As his ship passed through New Orleans, he heard music and saw people dancing at the edge of the water. He was drawn into the city for the music but he’s been just as entranced by the food, so much so that he can’t choose a favorite.
Vampire in joke.
Louis listens with a sour look on his face. Lestat’s hands wander over Lily’s body as he speaks. Present day Louis admits that he was enraged by the sight and wanted to kill Lestat right then, but he was frozen in place.
Louis: “His gaze tied a string around my lungs and I found myself immobilized.”
Lestat stares into Louis’ eyes, speaking in a seductive voice, “And the women, all shades of skin, white, Black, cinnamon. I’ve emptied a bank vault sampling, I must say. But it was not until a few nights later…” In French, but even more seductively, he describes watching Louis pull a knife on his brother. Then he switches back to English, “…that I said to myself, ‘Lestat, unpack your trunks, you’re home.”
As he says “Lestat”, he bangs the table, breaking
his glamour the spell. His roaming hands kept Lily occupied while he told Louis who he really wants. And the scene was calculated to leave Louis wanting more- to picture himself as Lestat or as Lily and to wonder where the evening might progress from there.
Oh my stars. 🔥🎇☄️
But wondering those things also made Louis confront his own hidden desires. For the moment, Lestat lets him hide behind his feelings of anger and competition over a usurper belittling him and touching the woman he’d intended to be with that evening. No one but Lestat has grasped Louis’ competing thoughts so fully.
Lily asks what Lestat said when he spoke in French a moment ago. Louis says it was more than he should have.
Lestat: “I had planned to make a new life for myself in St Louis. That was to be my destiny. And now I know I was right. And now it turns out the saint is not a city, but a handsome man with a most agreeable disposition.”
Lily: “You’re his destiny, Louis.”
Lestat: “Destined to be very good friends.”
When Lestat says “make a new life for himself”, he means it literally- a new vampire life. Lestat has seen Louis argue with and threaten his brother and now he and Louis have done nothing but argue. This is his idea of “a most agreeable disposition.”
Miss Carroll informs Lily that the Orient Room is available for her use. Lily tells her that the gentlemen are still deciding who will be joining her there. The gentlemen speed up the negotiations by putting piles of cash on the table, trying to outbid each other as if Lily were a painting at auction. They stare into each other’s eyes as they throw down their cash. Lestat wins with his signet ring, then turns the room over to Louis, wishing him well as he exits.
Present day Louis: “Emasculation and admiration in equal measure. I wanted to murder the man, and I wanted to be the man. I had come for Lily, but I left thinking of only him.”
In a back alley, Lestat briefly toys with a lamplighter extinguishing the gaslights for the night, before attacking and feeding from him.
The story jumps to the Friday night poker game at the Fairplay. Lestat, Alderman Fenwick and Tom Anderson are among the players who discuss a new fever which plagues those who venture into the wrong parts of town, down near the wharfs. They have small wounds on their bodies and their blood has dried up inside them. The officials believe rats coming off of ships are spreading the illness.
Louis arrives and is reintroduced to Lestat, who makes a veiled reference to their first meeting. Tom asks if Louis plans to bring up Fenwick’s head wound. Louis wonders why he would do that. The white men at the table praise his discretion. Louis throws a couple of “sirs” into each sentence to make it completely clear that he knows his place in this racist gathering which only appears friendly.
Lestat, who is 200 years old, loses the next round spectacularly and tells the assemblage that he’s terrible at cards. Then he buys more “money chips”.
Anderson tells Louis about his proposal that Fenwick start a new brothel with Louis’ help. Fenwick would own the house but Louis would manage it. Louis again shows his business acumen as he assesses how to make the house a success. Drawn to both beauty and talent, Lestat listens with rapt attention. Then Anderson says Louis will earn 10% of the take. Louis politely counters with 15%. Anderson asks Lestat what he thinks is fair. Lestat says France is run differently.
There were no Jim Crow laws.
He continues speaking out loud to the town officials, telling them what they want to hear, while he speaks telepathically to Louis, expressing his real feelings. He’s appalled by the racism he’s witnessed in this country and by the way Louis allows himself to be used by men who aren’t worthy of his time.
As he speaks, it appears to Louis that he stops time. In reality, he’s probably moving at maximum vampire speed and somehow bringing Louis’ perceptions along with him, maybe through the use of a glamour (a vampire’s ability to induce a hypnotic compulsion or influence), since they’re looking into each other’s eyes.
I can’t remember if glamours technically exist as a separate power in this universe, but something like a glamour would logically seem possible if a powerful vampire has telekinesis and can use telepathy for silent conversations. If you can zero in on human thoughts and make your own heard, why not zero in on the Will and make your own felt?
Using telepathy, Lestat asks Louis, “10%, 15%. Do you not know your value? Do you suffer these indignities for some larger purpose? And do you think two pair will win the hour? [out loud] I believe there is great opportunity in this city, but to seize it, I’ll need protection from the wolves.”
With time still stopped, he reaches over to take a jack from Anderson’s hand, passing it over to Louis, who is confused, but accepts the offer and passes the offending 6 card from his own hand to Lestat. Now Luis has a full house, a poker hand that’s hard to beat, but not the best, since that might raise suspicions. Lestat was playing the fool earlier when he said he didn’t understand the game. Now, he shows Louis that he could be an asset to his businesses, as well as his personal life. In return, he wants Louis to serve as “protection from the wolves”. Louis’ businesses attract enough transients and create enough disorder to cover up Lestat’s murders. By accepting the jack, Louis unknowingly accepts the bargain.
Lestat bangs the table again to break the spell. He finishes his outward defense of the wealthy, explaining to Louis that without the investors there is no business, so he has to side with them. Louis wins the hand and a huge pot of money.
Louis and Lestat begin spending time together, but Lestat refuses to explain how he stopped time, always saying he’ll tell Louis later. Louis still hasn’t learned that he’s a vampire. Meeting only at night isn’t unusual in a city known for its nightlife like New Orleans. Louis is seduced by Lestat’s charms, but he also influences the other man, helping him pick out a more fashionable wardrobe and shopping together to decorate Lestat’s new home.
Louis: “It was a cold winter that year, and Lestat was my coal fire. And I found my self for the very first time, to anyone other than Paul, confiding my struggles to another man. I was being hunted. And I was completely unaware it was happening.”
In the dark of the opera house, Lestat stares longingly at Louis’ neck.
Louis spends an afternoon with his sister, Grace, the most sensible person in the family. She scolds him for spending most of his time in town lately and she’s heard rumors that he’s carousing with a white man. Louis protests that Lestat isn’t white, he’s French. Grace gives him the side eye, but understands he means that in 1911, European whites don’t have the same attitudes as whites from the American South. She suggests he invite Lestat home to meet their mother, who loves Europeans. Louis teases that she’s looking to land the rich Frenchman for herself, but she gets serious and tells him she wants to meet the man he’s been spending so much time with.
Grace may understand more about Louis than he gives her credit for.
Paul appears on a nearby balcony, preaching and conversing with the birds (as did St Francis of Assisi). Louis confides that Paul got into bed with him the night before and cried for an hour about Grace getting married. Grace suggests they look into a hospital in Gretna for Paul that Levi, her fiance, told her about. Louis won’t even consider sending Paul away again. Louis is worried about the hospital making Paul worse and Grace is worried about what will happen if he isn’t hospitalized.
Louis tells her to worry about herself and her wedding. He hands her two tickets for a tour of the world as her wedding gift and honeymoon. She runs inside to show them to her mother.
They discuss the trip later, when Lestat comes to dinner. Levi thanks Florence for the trip and she accepts his thanks without acknowledging that Louis paid for them. She says that every young couple deserves adventure and draws Lestat into the conversation. He agrees, noting that his mother gave him the best start in life that she could, providing gifts which helped develop many of his tastes.
Paul reminds them that Louis bought the tickets and controls the family’s money. He tells Levi not to think of their mother as his own mother, since she’s not his scientific parent. He’s not going to give any breaks to the man who’s bringing more change to his family and taking his sister away.
Louis tries to change the subject, expressing how much he enjoys the bouillabaisse. Florence corrects him- in Louisiana, they call it gumbo. Lestat recalls a gumbo he and Louis shared after the opera a few nights ago. Grace is surprised Louis sat through the opera. Lestat says it was “Iolanta”. Louis explains that it was about a blind princess. He pretends that he got bored halfway through. The look on Lestat’s face says that this is not true.
Paul goes back to acting as the strict father, asking Lestat’s intentions toward Louis. Lestat replies that they’ve been discussing business opportunities. Paul clarifies that he didn’t intend any offense; he was asking for the birds in his head.
Like Grace, he seems to understand the true nature of their relationship on some level, which means Florence probably does as well. Her disapproval of Louis may, on an unspoken level, be aimed at his sexuality, while she overtly complains about his businesses.
Lestat turns back to Levi and suggests he tell the story of how he proposed to Grace. Paul asks if Lestat is one with Christ.
Louis tells him to shut his mouth- the embarrassment is getting to him. Florence admonishes Louis to calm down. She’s basically ignored Paul’s rudeness all evening.
Lestat tells Louis and Florence that it fine, “the birds speak for him.” Then he tells them a little of his personal history. When he was young, he wanted to be a priest and studied religion in a monastery. He studied the Old and the New Testaments, the writings of the saints, the scholars and the prophets. But his father was an uneducated man who pulled him out of the monastery and, along with his brothers, locked him away, then subjected him to beatings and starvation. He eventually forgot the Christian teachings he’d learned in the monastery. In answer to Paul’s question, there is an ocean between Christ and himself.
As he speaks, Lestat’s anger grows. He has Paul locked in his glare. Louis tells him to stop and when Lestat doesn’t listen, he bangs the table to snap the vampire out of his trance. “Don’t do that shit here. Not with my family. You understand?”
Oh, but he does, maybe too well. Who knows what he’s seeing in the minds of the rest of the family. Whatever it is, it’s made him angry. He’s possessive of Louis, but he’s also already positioned himself as Louis’ defender. Lestat is silent for a long moment before he apologizes, telling them that he inherited his father’s temper but the rudeness is all his own. Florence blames the humidity, calls for some chilled wine and asks Levi to “tell the story of how he won my joychild’s heart.”
She’s polite, but she makes known her position on the three men at the other end of the table versus the only child currently living up to her expectations, her daughter. Though she looks favorably on European men, Lestat just insulted her religion and her mentally ill son. She’s not impressed with his behavior as a guest in her home or as an influential companion for her other son.
Lestat is dismayed by how attached Louis still is to his family, despite their disapproval. He’s ready to come first in Louis’ life. Well, HE was ready the moment Louis pulled the knife on Paul. In his mind, he’s shown admirable patience. He will now execute the narcissist’s trick of separating the object of his obsession from the rest of the people who care about them, aided by the du Lac’s judgmentalism. This version of Lestat may be fun to watch (and I am having fun), but he’s still a category 5 hurricane who doesn’t care at all about the devastation he leaves in his path (and he does leave devastation, whether we’re shown it or not).
Later that evening, as they stroll down a dark street in town, Lestat confesses that he’s worried Louis’ family doesn’t like him. Louis comforts him that it wasn’t his fault. Paul and the birds in his head frequently start arguments. Louis doesn’t blame his friend for giving in to temptation and using his
Lestat wonders if Louis envies Paul’s freedom to speak his mind, despite the other limits Paul faces because of his mental illness. He noticed that with his family, Louis pretended he didn’t enjoy the opera they saw together, when in fact he was moved to tears by the end. “Why hide that from your family?”
Louis tells Lestat that he’s learned to hide parts of himself from his family’s judgement. In addition to their disapproval of his sensitive nature, they judge him for his business decisions. He reveals that when his father died, the family was only four months away from bankruptcy. He had to do something fast.
Two comments: When Louis mentions that he hides things from his family, Lestat says, “Dishonesty breeds dishonesty,” which book readers will know is both the height of hypocrisy coming from him and a prediction of the future. Also, the desperate state of the family’s finances so close to his father’s death makes me wonder if his father took his own life rather than face financial ruin.
Lestat says that he knows how hard Louis works to keep his family in their comfortable lifestyle while letting them continue to live in financial ignorance. Louis agrees and says his work is so much harder than he lets his family know. He’s surrounded by broken and greedy souls. Lestat tells him, “The Earth’s a savage garden.” Louis says Lestat made the right choice when he decided to settle in New Orleans. St Louis is too dull.
Louis has been drinking from a flask as they walk and is now very drunk. Lestat invites him upstairs for another drink now that they’ve reached his house but Louis declines- he needs to check in at work. Lestat insists that he has to come upstairs since there’s a gift waiting. Lily emerges onto the veranda above them. Louis gives in and follows Lestat upstairs.
Once they are all in Lestat’s living room, Lily slowly undresses while admiring a music box he brought with him from Europe. He says he composed the music himself for a sensitive and beautiful violinist he knew once. Louis asks about the business arrangements for Lily’s presence tonight and Lestat tells him the Fairplay has been paid for her services for the entire evening. Lily was thrilled that Lestat sent a fancy carriage to pick her up.
Softly, she tells Louis that she’s already informed Lestat that the two of them usually just talk when they are alone, revealing she is more confidante than lover. Lestat asks how he could waste Lily’s beauty on conversation. Lily says it means he’s a beautiful man. She sits on Louis’ lap and unbuttons his buttons. Lestat sits opposite them and starts on his own buttons. He tells Louis not to be nervous, since they have complete privacy. The servants have been sent home. “Even the planets and stars are blindfolded.”
Louis asks if he plans to watch, if that’s his kink. Lestat answers telepathically as he continues to undress and Lily kisses her way down Louis’ body.
Lestat: “I’ve been watching you for some time now, Louis. From river to lake, lake back to river, looking for my companion heart.”
First, let me swoon at the line delivery. Sure, in a Gothic Romance everyone is mentally unstable and they make terrible choices, but they aren’t afraid to live life and feel emotions at their most extreme, consequences be damned.
Now, let’s notice Lestat’s imagery of water flowing in and out of a stationary body, the metaphor for a routine human life. At the end of his little poem, Lestat substitutes his heart for the lake and turns the water into blood. For Christians, there is a similarity to the Christ the Savior turning water into wine. Without saying it, Lestat sets himself and his flowing blood up as what will save Louis, tangling that redemption together with sex and love. Louis made a similar comparison earlier in the street when he said St Louis was dull but New Orleans is exciting. He was referring to the vibrancy Lestat has brought to his own life.
Understandably, since he doesn’t know yet that Lestat is a vampire, Louis misses the implications of the poetry and demands to know how his telepathy works. He’s using mundane conversation to separate himself from the action, but he can’t hold out for long.
Lily and Lestat both say, “Do what?” And the boys take their shirts off. Lily’s already mostly naked. As with their earlier three way encounter, the actions and talk are designed to disorient Louis so he forgets to lust after Lily instead of Lestat. Since he’s drunk and emotionally exhausted in addition to being in a safe place, this time it’s much easier for Lestat to breach his defenses.
Miss Lily works on Louis for a minute, then Lestat joins them, sitting on her other side for a group make out. Louis kisses Lestat’s arm until he realizes what he’s doing and swats it away. Lily tells him it’s okay. Lestat telepathically (and in French) tells Lily to have a good sleep. But first she has quite a satisfying orgasm (not sure it that was courtesy of Lestat, Louis or both).
Once she’s out, Louis leans back and gives Lestat a long look. He makes his decision, they throw themselves at each other and go for broke. No tame couches for these two. Making love becomes a dance, probably a tango, with Lestat’s back hitting the far wall of room. Then he takes control, using one of his extra sharp vampire finger nails to lightly puncture Louis’ neck. They move so that Louis’ back is to Lestat’s front and he drinks, so ecstatic that they float a few feet into the air.
Somewhere in all of this, sex happens, but the show cuts to the present day. It’s book canon that Lestat can fly and I’m not going to sweat the details of other people’s sex lives, especially supernaturals. For those who might take issue with flying sex scenes, let me refer you to the pilot of The Expanse, much beloved by hard scifi nerds. If The Expanse can do it, so can Interview with the Vampire. And if you’re going to do flying sex, I say just own it like Lestat would.
In 2022, Louis reminds Daniel that at the time he didn’t consider himself gay. He’d had some drunken experiences with men (maybe at first he thought this one would be another). Eventually he accepted who he is, but Daniel already knows that, since they met at a gay bar. The last part is a taunt toward Daniel, who’s been married to women twice since they met in the 70s.
Hmm, that may have been a jab at Louis’ maker, if he’s within hearing range. Since bisexuality exists, maybe Louis still has difficulty accepting of the breadth of Lestat’s appetites and/or still harbors some jealousy of his extracurricular experiences. Did Daniel ask who the other tenants in the building are? One can only imagine Lestat’s jealousy over Louis spending days revealing his secrets to another man. No wonder Rashid is hovering.
Daniel insists that he only went to the gay bar to buy drugs and that they aren’t there to dissect his life. Louis asks another question anyway. What was the best drug high he ever had? Daniel doesn’t even have to think about it. It was in Berkeley, 1978, some Mexican stuff he got from Carly and Pedro (told you, bisexual).
Louis: “So, imagine that flowing inside your veins again. Now, multiply it by miles, to the rings of Saturn and back. He had taken what he called “un petit coup”- the little drink. Not enough to kill me, but just enough to keep him fit. It takes an enormous amount of restraint for us, the little drink…”
That’s how good in bed Lestat is, kids- you feel like he took you to Saturn and back, like he’s inside your veins. Or maybe that second part is for Louis alone- it was the combination of the two of them that made the magic. And Louis didn’t even get a taste of vampire blood that night, except a smidge to close his wound.
He mentions the enormous restraint it took for Lestat to drink only a little, especially in the throes of passion. Lestat, the poster boy for lack of self-restraint. Whatever else happens, never doubt the depth of their feelings.
Lestat barreled into Louis’ life and broke down every barrier, making him question everything about himself. Louis was blindsided and didn’t know what to do with everything that Lestat is. Even in this second interview, Louis isn’t completely honest with himself or us. He frames Lestat as a force of nature, which he is, but not as someone whose love and pain could be equal to Louis’ own, which he also is. We need to remember both of those truths at once for the story to have its full impact. Lestat is a monster who loves and suffers, just as Louis is.
Louis: “For a human, experiencing it for the first time, it was… unsettling. And not for the physical toll on my body, which was significant, but for the feelings of intimacy it awoke within me. I had never allowed myself to feel emotionally close to anyone, much less a man. I had no room for feelings like these in my life. You could be a lot of things in New Orleans, but an openly gay Negro man was not one of them. I vowed never to return again. I shut that night out of my mind and turned my attentions back to life as it was before.”
He means life before he met Lestat, not before they slept together. They’ve been close friends for months and Lestat didn’t ask for an openly gay relationship. He made sure this meeting was a very private threesome including a woman rather than a strictly gay experience, giving Louis the choice to continue the charade he’d already created with Miss Lily.
After they finished, but were still naked, Louis and Lestat touched and held each other gently, staring into each other’s eyes as equals in love rather than as a vampire controlling a human or thrall*. Lestat was as emotionally vulnerable as Louis, which is as difficult for him as it is for Louis.
When Louis says he vowed never to return, you have to wonder which part of his life he was really ready to give up.
Louis dresses before dawn, his clothing becoming his emotional armor against any further vulnerability to Lestat. Lestat senses what Louis is thinking as he silently watches him and Miss Lily leave.
Fast forward to Grace and Levi jumping over the broom at the end of their wedding ceremony. The crowd cheers for them while Paul sits in stony silence, but afterward he takes his place in the family photo. It’s the broom tradition he doesn’t like, not Grace and Levi as a couple.
Later on at the reception, Grace tells everyone that since her father isn’t there to dance with her, she’s going to have her brothers dance instead. When they were kids, Paul and Louis would collect money for the church as the ABCDEFGs- Altar Boys Come Dancing Every day For God. Father Matthias recalls that the money didn’t always make it to the collection plate. Paul needs some coaxing, but soon the brothers put on their old tap shoes and take to the dance floor. They have fun egging each other on and showing off for the crowd, who throw dollar bills meant for the happy couple.
As dawn approaches, Louis and Paul climb up to the roof top to watch the sunrise. Paul exclaims over how much food he ate at the wedding, particularly the checker cake, and lists everything he ate. They watch as the sky brightens and Paul tells Louis they’ve lived in the house for 9,517 days. He asks if Louis remembers the single, amazing month when Paul was the taller brother. Then he says Louis should get married next and should marry Hazel, the girl he slow danced with at the wedding. Louis didn’t even catch her name and isn’t considering marriage.
Next Paul asks if Louis is still involved with Lestat. Louis replies that they had a falling out.
Paul: “That’s good, ’cause he the Devil… He’s here to take souls. He told me so. He spoke to me without moving his lips.”
Louis: “You think everyone’s the Devil… He got tricks is all.”
Paul: “Mortal sins must be confessed, Louis.”
Louis: “Ain’t never goin’ see him again, Paul.”
Paul nods his head and moves on to thinking about Grace. He asks if Louis thinks Levi loves Grace enough, since she needs a lot of love. Louis does. Paul comments that Florence gave Grace a good wedding. Then he takes a long look at Louis and says, “I love you, Louis.” Louis responds in kind, but continues watching the sunrise. Paul, who is standing on the peak, says, “I ate too much checkered cake,” as he turns and calmly walks straight toward the edge. By the time Louis realizes that he isn’t slowing as he nears the edge, it’s too late. Paul deliberately walks off the rooftop and falls to his death on the flagstone patio below. Louis reaches the edge and looks down at his brother’s body, lying in a pool of blood, while screaming his brother’s name.
In 2022, Louis tells Daniel that he’s never seen another sunrise and he doesn’t miss them or the sun. They carry too many memories.
The sun is setting, so Rashid returns to open the windows to the Dubai night. Louis stands in the doorway, watching the the changing colors of twilight. He may have given up sunrises, but he still observes an echo of the tradition he shared with Paul. Louis and Daniel step out onto the balcony to take in the view. Louis says that he’s now seen so much death that he’s bored by it. Daniel isn’t impressed by his cold attitude (which is likely another lie). Louis clarifies that as a century and a half old vampire, he’s bored by death. As a young human, Paul’s death ruined him.
The family sits with Father Matthias planning Paul’s burial. Florence interrupts to blame Louis for causing Paul’s death. Father Matthias tells her that it was an accident- officially, Paul slipped and fell- but she ignores him. She says Paul was fragile and Louis always insisted on winning their arguments. He must have said something that sent Paul over the edge. Since those who take their own lives can’t get into heaven, she thinks Paul is in Hell because of Louis.
On the day of Paul’s funeral, business continues as usual in Storyville, the place where Louis has spent so much of his time and worked hard to build up his establishments. While the funeral march passes through, they take only minimal notice of his brother’s death and pay Louis only minimal respect. Louis is left alone and adrift as he walks behind Paul’s casket.
Lestat notices Louis’ despair. He’s done waiting for Louis and maybe done letting his boyfriend feel like he doesn’t matter to anyone. He joins Louis in the street to walk behind Paul’s casket. By choosing this moment to approach Louis, Lestat forces him to make their relationship public again. Louis is busy feeling like his entire life has been a failure. Because they are them, Lestat’s condolences turn into failed flirting about coffins, which turns into a loud argument. Lestat tells him that Paul was thinking about suicide for some time. Finn pulls Lestat away, but Lestat snaps Finn’s arm and breaks free. He doesn’t try to catch up to Louis again.
It’s significant that Louis controls his emotions with everyone else in his life, no matter how hurtful they are, yet as soon as Lestat shows up and offers his condolences, Louis blows up at him. Louis is worried that he destroys whatever he touches, which his mother implied and no one, not even the priest, contradicted. Deep inside, Louis understands that he won’t loose Lestat over this. Lestat has the strength to take whatever Louis throws at him. He accepts all of Louis- his temper, his sensitivity, his sexuality and his ambition.
Louis is distracted during the rest of the funeral and gains no comfort from it. As soon as it ends, Lestat is in his head, demanding “come to me” over and over. Louis ignores him and asks to escort his mother home. She shuns his offer and asks Levi, her new son-in-law, to escort her instead. Levi accepts without hesitation, taking the opportunity to raise himself further above Louis in Florence’s esteem rather than encouraging her to reconcile with her son and promote family harmony at the same time.
Piling on the betrayal, Grace tells Louis that Florence didn’t really mean it. She just needs someone to blame for Paul’s death and he shouldn’t let it bother him. Grace wants him to come to the wake and act as though nothing is wrong between them, as if his feelings about having his mother publicly shun and blame him for his brother’s death are some petty grievance he might exploit to tear the family apart. In reality, Grace subtly takes advantage of both of her brothers’ misfortunes to position herself and her husband as her mother’s favorites. But she fails to take into account who controls the family’s money.
Obviously Louis doesn’t go to the wake. In voiceover, he says he wanted to grieve alone, but Lestat wouldn’t allow it. On screen, it’s pouring rain. Louis drinks from a flask while crossing the street. Lestat looks worried and it almost feels like he’s begging as much as demanding “come to me,” hoping to intervene before Louis runs into the wrong person and says the wrong thing. Blind drunk, Louis stumbles into the Fairplay and asks for Lily. Miss Carroll tells him that Lily was found dead under the docks two weeks ago, her blood dried up inside her.
Lestat’s commands become even more insistent. Present day Louis doesn’t admit that he was looking for trouble in the part of town where finding it could have gotten him killed. Lestat deflected Louis’ anger and resentment toward himself and away from Louis’ family and the people of Storyville who didn’t share his pain.
Lestat: “Viens à moi.”
Fully distracted by Lestat’s desire and nearly out of his mind, Louis runs to his last hope, the church. He’s hoping the legends about vampires are true and it will provide sanctuary. He and Father Matthias head straight to the confessional, where Louis pours out every sin he can remember- lying, stealing, drinking, pimping. He confesses to understanding that he’s been party to horrific sexual assaults on women by being the man in charge of back street brothels patronized by men he can’t control- glad to see the show understands that. Finally, Louis confesses to bringing shame and ruin to his family because he committed sodomy not just with a man, but with a devil, whose roots have dug so deep into him that in his weakness he’s consumed by them. He wants to die.
I don’t know about you, Dear Reader, but that sounded to me like “I’m so crazy in love with Lestat and the life he showed me we could have together that I don’t know who I am anymore. But I wonder if I should escape through death or find out what it would be like to be monsters together.” That’s definitely what Lestat hears and he’s definitely not going to let the priest ruin this for him with some fire and brimstone judgement. Louis’ family has already done enough damage. Also, Lestat can help Louis with the dying part. And after that, it gets better.
As Louis cries and begs for help and death, the confessional shakes and Lestat drags Father Matthias out of the booth. When Louis finds them seconds later, the church sanctuary is on fire and Lestat is on the floor, brutally feasting on Matthias’ blood. Matthias must have had some terrible thoughts about Louis. Or Lestat hates priests with everything he’s got. Or both. Lestat purposely goes for blasphemy, shock and awe this time, rather than pretending to stumble through irritating miscommunications.
All Louis sees is an evil stalker vampire burning his church and killing his beloved family priest.
Lestat does love to make a grand entrance. That part should never be discounted.
Louis pulls out his walking stick knife and stabs Lestat in the chest several times. Lestat bleeds but is otherwise unaffected by the knife. Instead, he looks up at Louis and asks if he thinks God took notice of his confession, made through such an unworthy charlatan pig vessel. He yells, “How can you humiliate yourself like this?” Then he tosses Louis across the room. Louis accuses him of killing Lily and the others who died from the fever. (Louis is much slower on the uptake than I thought.) Lestat says he brings death to those who deserve it, but he’s not the Devil. “You were wrong about that. But I can give you death.”
Murder isn’t a unique talent, Lestat. You’re going to have to try harder to win Louis over.
The second priest scurries into view, then makes a run for the front door. We watch through vampire eyes as the priest moves in slow motion while Lestat appears to move normally, but is actually moving at vampire speed. He closes the gates using telekinesis, then hits the priest in the head so hard his fist comes out the other side.
The break from the argument helps Lestat calm down and remember who he’s there for. Louis gets up and backs toward the altar. Lestat takes off his bloody coat and wipes the blood off his face. This next part requires a little more finesse.
Lestat: “This primitive country has picked you clean. It has shackled you in permanent exile. Every room you enter, every hat you are forced to wear- the stern landlord, the deferential businessman, the loyal son- all these roles you conform to and none of them your true nature. [Louis stumbles and falls backward onto the altar steps so that now he reclining in front of the crucifix. Lestat kneels down in front of him.] What rage you must feel as you choke on your sorrow. The first time I laid eyes on you, your beautiful face, I saw that sorrow. I did not know how it got there or why it was so voluminous. I can take away that sorrow, Louis. I can give you that death you begged your feeble, blind, degenerate, nonexistent god for. But I can do it joyfully. I can swap this life of shame, swap it out for a dark gift and a power you can’t begin to imagine. You just have to ask me for it. You just have to nod your beautiful head and say yes. I love you, Louis. You are loved. I send my love to you and you send it back round to me. And this circle, this home we barely had a glimpse of, know it frightens me as much as it does you.”
Lestat isn’t done presenting his epic proposal, decorated with all the trappings of a Gothic Romance, but Modern Louis breaks in to summarize, leaving part of Lestat’s speech private, just for them. Modern Louis explains that he was once again consumed and engulfed by Lestat, so that while he was speaking, there wasn’t room for anything else in Louis’ mind, not even his guilt or his wish to die. “For the first time in my life, I was seen.”
Lestat finally makes his offer official.
“Be my companion, Louis. Be all the beautiful things you are, and be them without apology. For all eternity.”
Louis nods his head yes and kisses Lestat. We’re having a vampire wedding! Wait, no, we’re turning Louis into a vampire, right here and now in front of Jesus, Mary and all the saints. Lestat drains almost all of Louis’ blood, then bites his own wrist and lets Louis drink his fill of vampire blood.
Modern Louis tells Daniel that as he drank Lestat’s blood, he heard roaring, then the pounding of a drum. Eventually the drum separated into two drums. One of the drums was inside him, its rhythm spreading into every part of his body.
When he was finished with Lestat’s blood, he opened his eyes and realized the drums were their hearts.
Two hearts, combining into one, then separating, better for having mingled, forever linked.
Lestat lies on the floor, in as much ecstasy as Louis. Louis has vampire eyes already.
Modern Louis, with tears in his eyes: “I saw him sitting a length away from me, radiant. And we sat there for some time, in throes of increasing wonder. The end. The beginning.”
They were in a church, promised each other eternity, their hearts beat as one and they kissed. Sounds like a wedding ceremony to me. I’m calling them vampire husbands from now on.
However, Lestat also used a whole lot of vampire coercion on a man who was in no state to be making life altering decisions, so outside of Gothic Romance, I’d say Louis has grounds for an annulment. On the other hand, huge disasters and arguments surrounding important ceremonies seem pretty common, so was this really all that unusual? Lestat’s brutal murders of the priests and Louis’ attempted murder of Lestat seem like fitting parts of their wedding ceremony, those little touches that make it uniquely them.
To be Gothic, at least one large building needs to burn, so why not use a burning church to symbolize vampire passion? All of that water and rain and fog symbolized the supposed “life” that was theoretically the correct choice for Louis, but was slowly, then quickly drowning him. By the end, the living were shadows to him, as they are to vampires, and Lestat was so alive that even Louis the Destroyer, who kills everything he touches, couldn’t harm him despite his best effort. Lestat got up and burned bright red, giving immortal life to Louis instead.
This is reminding me so much of True Blood, only Anne Rice came first.
- *I don’t like that the gender neutral term “thrall” has been subsumed by the male-oriented term “Renfield“, but that’s where we are, so that’s the link I used until I find a better one. Vampire thralls, who act as servants, companions or slaves to the vampire, are a common trope in vampire lore. Traditionally, they are humans who are under the vampire’s control and unable to leave them of their own volition. The vampire’s hold on the thrall may be telepathic and exerted through their supernatural powers, such as a glamor, or the thrall may be addicted to vampire blood but they aren’t a vampire. Sometimes the vampire feeds from the thrall a little at a time until the thrall either dies or the vampire fulfills their promise to turn them. Sometimes the vampire’s hold on the thrall destroys their mind. Vampire’s are often possessive of their thralls, though they might publicly appear to treat them badly. Interview with the Vampire doesn’t overtly have thralls, but the humans who spend time with vampires inevitably fall under their spell and take on aspects of thralls, including Louis.
I would very much love to watch Lestat verbally eviscerate Daniel Molloy’s hypocrisy. Maybe in the present day, Lestat is asleep down the hall and will make a grand entrance when they get to the end of Louis’ interview/book. The next book is The Vampire Lestat, so it will be his turn to narrate the story. At least I hope we go through the various first person narrators of the books, with each taking over their own seasons or series, telling their story to Daniel with the goal of recording vampire history for posterity. Rolin Jones suggested as much in one of the behind the scenes shorts.
Given his disdain for the subject matter, I’m glad this version of Daniel didn’t get to publish the original interview, then become a vampire when he was young. I have a feeling they might have aged him up so they can combine him with another character who serves as a crossover character between the witches, vampires, etc, but we’ll have to wait a while to see if I’m correct (we should take bets on when the first mention of the Talamasca will pop up). In this episode, even though he’s sober, Daniel still exhibits the lack of the respect for the subject matter that made Louis confiscate the tapes the first time around. He needs a modern taste of the dangerous side of vampire reality- not another bite, but maybe a little menace or show of power in addition to Louis’ show of vulnerability.
If Louis’ place in Dubai has a pool, I’m ready to move in. At the very least, I’d like to know where he buys his window filters and his art. Willing to trade small quantities of A- blood for vampire secrets to living the good life in the desert with severe light sensitivity.
Louis’ family probably isn’t completely wrong that his choice to relocate their business interests to Storyville also serves his own purposes. While it makes sense that it was necessary for him to shift his business focus to the disreputable vices that Jim Crow laws still allowed him to participate in, he also benefitted from spending less time with his disapproving family and being able to clandestinely indulge in his own forbidden interests at will. He’s deep in the closet in the beginning of the series but in the red-light district he can be a little more openly himself regarding his tastes (such as his flashy clothing and car), rather than submitting to his mother’s strict adherence to the stifling rules of religion and high society.
If he’s a bit disreputable and frequently stays in town, he’s also not subjected to the marriage market with as much enthusiasm. And he can can slip over to visit Lily, the woman he has an understanding with, when he needs to without drawing the attention of his family. In the book, Louis shows no interest in marriage, though he’s the head of the household and an eligible bachelor. There are local women of his class who desperately need husbands, but he never mentions any pressure for him to choose one. As an aristocrat the societal expectation would have been for him to marry and produce heirs. The local mamas and matchmakers would have been hunting him down with as much intensity as Lestat. Is he an unreliable narrator in this instance, bizarrely oblivious to or purposely avoiding the marriage market? Or is it an open secret to all but him that he’s a confirmed bachelor (one of the polite terms for gay before it was acceptable to come out)?
From the start, Lestat and Louis establish that they will speak plainly with each other. Despite that, miscommunication will be the rule between them. Among other issues, their arguments are compounded by Lestat’s classist snobbery, which leads to his view that all Americans are colonial peasants. He is frequently insensitive to the struggles Louis faces. And racism is so ubiquitous in Louis’ life that he automatically assumes it of Lestat.
Florence is the counterpoint to Lestat’s attitude about religion. Her beliefs are hereditary and laced with superstition. She uses her religion to hide from difficult truths and to support her comfortable delusions. She will cling to her beliefs no matter what and dig deeper rather than change. Her religion clouds her judgement rather than providing wisdom.
Paul’s religious leanings are more like young Lestat’s were, in that he is a true believer with a personal relationship with the divine, actually engaging with the words of the Bible. Unlike Lestat, for the most part Paul’s belief has been supported by his family and he’s found what he was looking for in Christianity. He hopes that the Bible verses he recites will open other’s eyes to the truth, realizing his own words wouldn’t carry the same power.
He sees more of the truth than many and can’t help it when his illness skews his vision. If you examine his words closely, there are times when he appears a bit psychic, but it’s hard to tell for sure when Lestat is nearby. His mental illness may give him access to foresight- those visions may not all be nonsense. (Birds are powerful symbols.) He doesn’t turn away from anyone in judgement, rather he tries to bring them to the truth as he knows it. That’s why he and Louis are still close despite their differences.
Lestat uses culture, hunting and sex as distractions to help him avoid certain kinds of unpleasantness, while Louis is a workaholic who buries himself in his businesses to avoid his family’s disapproval and certain parts of himself. We’re given the sense that Louis has always been casually religious, fulfilling the basic expectations of his religion during normal times, then turning to God for help as a last resort when he’s unable to solve his own problems. Lestat, on the other hand, developed an intense personal relationship with the divine when he was young and had expectations that his belief would bring him an equal measure of favor with God. When God seemed to throw him to the wolves, then leave him to his fate, Lestat severed all ties with his God.
His anger at the du Lac dinner table may include jealousy that Paul has everything he wished for in his youth, minus the mental illness- the saintliness and austerity of Assisi and Augustine, a supportive family and brother and the ability to spend his days in a holy refuge with priests for company.
Lestat and Louis spent months as friends rather than lovers before Louis became a vampire. They shared a deepening companionship that Louis had only experienced before with his brother. Lestat didn’t take from Louis’ life, he added warmth and acceptance to it during a time when Louis faced increased loneliness and change.
Louis was already losing the relationship he’d once had with Paul, as his brother gradually lost his grip on reality. He was losing his sister to marriage to a man his mother viewed as more respectable than either of her sons. His mother was growing older and possibly developing a touch of dementia.
The powerful men of the town were already targeting him as someone who needed to be brought down a peg, as evidenced by their offer of an insulting business deal during the poker game after Louis witnessed the humiliation of Alderman Fenwick at the hands of a Black prostitute. It matters that while he was cleaning up the mess between Bricks and Fenwick, Louis took issue with the way Fenwick treated him, but didn’t punish Bricks for her retaliation toward Fenwick. While modern viewers applaud Louis’ respect for the women in his employ, Fenwick would have been seething after he sobered up.
Without Lestat, maybe Louis wouldn’t have been alone right away, and he might not have become as estranged from his family. But he would still have faced increasing isolation and alienation due to his sexuality and the need to keep the family afloat financially at a time when the government meant to keep Black men from long-term financial success.
Of course, Lestat probably sped up the process of isolating Louis. He’s not a saint. Left to his own devices, Louis may even have found another way to keep the family together. But with Louis, Lestat found a piece of himself that he’d left behind when he renounced his religion. Louis is not overly religious, but he’s innately soulful and philosophical. While Louis’ morality may not fit the early 20th century, he has his own deeply rooted standards. By being himself, he pulls Lestat back from the edge of immersion in decadence and carnality, back into the life of the mind and spirit. This is a change Lestat instinctively recognizes he needs, but consciously fights. In turn, Lestat helps Louis transition into accepting his sexuality and desires, helping him settle more fully into his true self.
That’s not to say Lestat is Louis’ savior.
It’s all fun and games until somebody has to clean up the charismatic monster’s mess. Or worse, live with the results of their destruction long after they’re gone. Maybe they’ll even pop back in periodically to ask why their victims are all so boring and poor. But I’m getting ahead of myself.
In the family wedding portrait Levi is seated in front, positioned as the patriarch. This was probably normal for a wedding photo, even though Louis is actually the head of the family, which is why he sat at the head of the table when Lestat came to dinner. In the normal course of events, Louis would marry and have his own photo taken, which would be given pride of place over Grace’s wedding photo. Louis would live with his wife and children in the family home as the patriarch. If there was room, Grace and her family might also stay, but it would be with Louis’ permission.
Instead, Grace has figured out that Louis is unlikely to ever marry, so she’s making a play for Levi to replace Louis as the patriarch of the family and for them to inherit the house. It’s not clear who owns what within the family trust or how much control Florence has. Grace is counting on Louis being passive and weak, as she would think of his kindness and generosity. In reality, I doubt he would want to live in that house, with the memories it holds. He has enough of his own money to buy his own place, so he’d probably hand his share of the house over to Grace and Florence.
There are clues that Paul planned his suicide. He lists all of the foods he ate that day, a long list which sounds like a last meal before an execution. He puts his affairs in order, going through a checklist of items with Louis that he needs settled before he leaves this world, as well as remembering his best days. He waits to end it all until Grace is married and he’s found a suitable bride for Louis, trying to make sure his loved ones will be in good hands once he’s gone.
He’s not nervous or agitated on the roof. When he’s ready, he takes action calmly. We don’t know why he chose the morning after Grace’s wedding, but I wonder if she and Levi continued to push to have him committed again. With their influence over Florence growing and Louis drifting away from the family, Paul might have viewed his death as setting both brothers free.
On first viewing, Lestat seemed rudely impatient when he approached Louis during the funeral procession, then wouldn’t get out of his head for the rest of the night, until finally Louis gives in to him completely. But the more I’ve rewatched the episode, starting at Grace’s wedding, the more I think Lestat was desperately trying to save Louis from himself. He could hear the thoughts of the entire du Lac clan, the priests and the town officials who weren’t showing Louis the proper respect as patriarch of his family, a landowner and a successful businessman.
I think Louis was about to be taken down, the way Babbette’s family is targeted in the book because the unmarried women are viewed as weak. As an unmarried Black man who lived an unconventional lifestyle and made more money than most, Louis was a target for the greed and jealousy of others. In time, his family would have become targets as well. Florence and Grace may have heard rumors or watched it happen to others. Forcing him out as the public face of the family and replacing him with the respectable Levi was their way of maintaining their position in society.
But it’s devastating for Louis so soon after losing Paul. Louis is so skilled at hiding most of his emotions that it probably didn’t occur to Grace or Florence that their betrayal could break him and they’d lose him too. He’s their meal ticket and Hero/Scapegoat, the one who will do and be whatever the family needs, and will do it quietly, with minimal complaint, no matter how it affects him. They don’t consider his needs at all, so it’s a shock when he reaches his limit and they’re forced to take him seriously until they find a way to cut him out. In other words, they are are couple of steel magnolias who use up Paul and Louis, then toss them aside in favor of Levi.
The First Time Ever I Saw Your… Knife
The first time we see Lestat, he’s browsing the pages of the Storyville Blue Book, a real life, popular directory of brothels and prostitutes that was published annually and distributed widely in New Orleans from 1898 to 1917. The first time he sees Louis is also our first glimpse of Louis in the past, providing the sense that Lestat is adding his point of view even if he’s not in the room with Modern Louis and Daniel. Past Louis is driving his car and Lestat finds him attractive and successful enough to follow and research, perhaps hoping to use his businesses as a source of men and prostitutes to eat.
But it’s the knife and the character of Louis’ argument with Paul that makes him fall in love with Louis. He sees a capacity for heightened emotions and an intelligence that match his own- not to mention the appreciation for beauty combined with practicality in that weapon and the panache Louis shows when he wields it.
It’s only fitting that we see Lestat in the past before Louis, since Lestat is older, lonelier and searching for a companion. Louis’ life is full and he’s not consciously looking to change it. But again, this makes me wonder if Lestat is somewhere in the building in Dubai, adding his influence to these recollections.
At times they feel like a conversation between Louis and Lestat, searching for the truth and reconciliation in their origin story that Louis mentioned to Daniel during their negotiations. Maybe without knowing it, Daniel is acting as a mediator between the two so they can sort through these memories together, memories of a time when they were intensely in love but neither of them understood themselves, each other or the bond they shared.
In the very first shot we see of Lestat, his back is to the camera and the only part of him we actually see is his bright strawberry blonde hair. He’s wearing old-fashioned, 19th century clothing and looking for a brothel using the guidebook. This tells us so much about Lestat, before we even see his face. He’s stuck in the past and his flashy exterior hides his damage. He hides, keeps secrets and doesn’t ask for help- the man has huge, major trust issues. He doesn’t plan to trust anyone in New Orleans, either. Companion does not mean “soulmate that I share every detail of the last 200 years with.”
But he’s also not afraid of the new century. When Louis drives around the corner in his fancy car, sparks literally fly between them. Louis is used to being surrounded by high energy, sex and sparks and doesn’t even notice Lestat standing in the distance. Louis represents the present; openness to new ideas and the future; and the contradictions inherent in the 20th century. But he’s also part of Storyville and New Orleans, so for Lestat, a French aristocrat (notice the signet ring), at the beginning of their story Louis is a backwards colonial and a prostitute just as surely as the girls who work the streets.
Both men are not what they appear to be at first glance, but also exactly what they seem. Louis is selling his soul, but he’s doing it for his loved ones and for a better future. Lestat is caught up in the sins of the past and they color everything about his present, but he’s also so much more than his grudges.
It’s not quite a meet cute yet.
By the time they meet for real in Fairplay, Lestat has learned whatever he can about Louis, including his sexual habits. That meeting is no accident, but it is a fishing expedition. By their third encounter, Lestat has figured out what he has that Louis needs- the ability to do an end run around the wealthy white men who run Storyville. In addition to his looks, charm and wit, obviously.
The back cover of Hate and Ashbury also lists Veto Proof and Homelandia, books that sound like they go after 21st century Republican policies. If so, Daniel may have experienced some payback. Though he wrote about AIDS and acid rain, he doesn’t seem to be writing about the similar crises of the present day, Covid 19 and climate change. The switch to memoir for his most recent book might be a hint that no one on will pay him for the in depth research that more objective subjects would require, whereas Baby Boomers love books about their youth.
It’s not clear is what editor he told that he was visiting the world’s most dangerous man. Was that a bluff to make Louis think someone would come looking for him if he disappears? Given Lestat’s favored method of toying with prey for months or years before killing them, it wouldn’t shock me to find out that Louis has decided to let Daniel do the interview so that an updated version of his life story exists, but then he plans to kill Daniel before his illness traps him in a disabled body.
Louis didn’t turn Daniel in the original and I don’t think he’d be the one to turn him in the series, unless the experience of listening to Louis’ story changes Daniel for the better this time. But nothing about Daniel so far suggests self-awareness or an ability to grow. All of his analytical energy is pointed outward at criticizing the world and toward defending his own boundaries, not toward examining where he might have gone wrong, other than the cursory thought that he’s not good at his job when he’s high.
My one caveat is that he could be part of the Talamasca, Anne Rice’s fictional secret society which researches the supernatural. In that case, his fading career and cranky skepticism could be cover stories for his real work. The Talamasca figure heavily in later vampire books and in the Mayfair Witches books, so I don’t want to speculate more and give away potential spoilers.
Images courtesy of AMC+.