The following contains spoilers for Reginald the Vampire S1E5: “Fools in Love” (written by Priscilla White, based on the books by Johnny B. Truant and directed by Lee Rose)
Reginald the Vampire S1E5 (“Fools in Love”) pulls storylines up to speed and delivers the promised silliness. After last week’s filler episode, “All the Time in the World,” where there was barely any story progress besides Maurice (Mandela Van Peebles) and Angela’s (Savannah Basley) backstory, Reginald the Vampire S1E5 carries more weight for the overall season arc—GOOD!
Reginald the FAT Vampire
Maurice has returned! And with him comes his paternal instincts towards Reginald (Jacob Batalon). Sometimes it’s cute seeing Maurice fuss over Reginald, and sometimes it’s overkill. This time it was both. Reg’s repetitive feedings on Todd (Aren Buchholz) took a toll on Todd’s body, but that wasn’t the only issue Maurice raised. Apparently, Reginald is binge-feeding. And as the resident ED-vampire specialist, Maurice has instructed Reginald to listen to his body and only feed when he’s hungry, aka intuitive eating, or should I say intuitive feeding.
The implications of this are horrifying!
Mandela Van Peebles’s character has just moralised an eating disorder. Through the lens of a vampire, repeatedly feeding (binging) on one human is morally wrong because it is dehumanising, it turns the human into cattle or a blood bag rather than a person, and it is also detrimental to their health to keep feeding. Okay, but not okay; portraying Reginald—a fat vampire—as having a binge-feeding problem that effectively villainises his habit comes across, to me, as fatphobic. This thirst for blood, this “want”, as Maurice calls it, is so prevalent in Reginald because traits from human lives become amplified when turned vampire—implying that Reginald was a binge-eater before becoming a vampire: fine—accusing Reginald of being unfeeling for not dealing with his ED sooner: not fine.
Body politics surrounding fatness have grown significantly more complex in recent years due in part to the body positivity movement started by black women, coopted by white women, and skewed by the media to appear accepted. Fatness is not accepted. Not yet, not truly. Reginald the Vampire has an incredible opportunity to explore and play in a fantasy world with a fat lead previously unseen (to my understanding). Yet, they’re fumbling the bag by utilising dated fatness tropes, moralising consumption, etc.
From a vaguer perspective, Reginald the Vampire offers a fantasy allegory for what it’s like living as a fat person in society where people are offended by your presence just for having the audacity to exist. Fat people on the internet will mind their business, feeling themselves in an outfit or geeking out about a hobby, and random people will comment to tell them how disgusting they think they are. Just for existing, fat people are disregarded, harassed, and ignored. The foundational risk to Reginald the Vampire is Reginald’s fatness. Angela’s whole reason to kill Reginald is that he’s fat, because that doesn’t fit the vampiric beauty standard. It makes a clear, almost obnoxiously obvious, allegory to real life for fat people, which I can commend. However, its handling of Reginald’s fatness, the relative 2-dimensional traits to Reginald’s personality, is what I take issue with.
By Episode 5, I was really hoping that these things would have been sorted out; the characters settled into a groove that makes sense, but we are certainly not there yet, and it’s disappointing.
Love is in the air!
I guess I also like that Sarah (Em Haine) and Reginald’s relationship is so easy. Their chemistry is still strong; every time we see them on screen together, the two light up—they’re adorable. And that’s another positive; it’s telling that even though Reginald is fat, he is still deserving of love and admiration, and hopefully lust.
And now that Angela’s hired assassin, Nikki (Christin Park), has arrived, plenty of action is sure to take place, right? Or so we thought. Another curveball has been thrown to evade Angela’s plans: Nikki has seemingly fallen in love with Reginald (Jacob Batalon) at first sight… in a karaoke bar. Maybe it’s not love, but seeing Reginald and hearing him sing “Total Eclipse of the Heart” clearly raised emotions in the violent woman. It will be interesting to see where they go with Nikki’s storyline now. It’s also hopeful that it’s not only Sarah who can see the attraction and charm of Reginald, aka Jacob Batalon.REGINALD THE VAMPIRE — “Fools in Love” Episode 105 — Pictured: (l-r) Em Haine as Sarah, Jacob Batalon as Reginald, Christin Park as Nikki — (Photo by: James Dittiger/SYFY)
She also had a run-in with Ashley (Marguerite Hanna) earlier in the episode when she was stalking Todd, and Reginald also happened to be stalking Todd, which meant Nikki was stalking Reginald. Quite the occasion for a meet-cute. Alas, Ashley tripped and fell right into Nikki’s arms, and they hit on one another. Hot. However, what comes of this if Nikki might now be enamoured with Reginald?
Dear writers’ room, please don’t take the sapphic love story away from me. We’ve lost too many fighters already.
Screw the church!
Reginald the Vampire S1E5 introduces a character from Sarah’s backstory, her brother, Levi (Sean Depner). His storyline is a little convoluted; he shows up and leaves in one episode, claiming he left the church, and then not having left the church, but was there to kidnap Sarah to take her back to wherever she’s from. It’s a pretty wild B-plot for the episode; it shows how hardcore this church she came from was. It also included a moment where Reginald glamoured Levi to stay away in front of Sarah; she picked up on it but not entirely. This lapse in judgment may come back to bite Reginald, especially if Ashley tells her about her investigation again; it may flag some curiosity and hidden memories of being glamoured by Maurice. I see the vision, but the execution was only so-so. I think it’s fun that Sarah has this religious past; it gives her character a believable childlike naivety that the show plays in for its silliness. It could also offer up darker plotlines and risks for their relationship.
Lies & Betrayal; How Relatable
Mike (Ryan Jinn) finally tells Maurice he was spying on him for Angela. The confession is prefaced by a story about a vampire starved and rotting chained up in a “House of Horrors” in New Orleans in … get this! In the 1980s! That is some underground sh*t! A late 20th-century “Freak Show”! Incredible! The world-building! Unbelievable. Anyway, Mike swore an oath to the vampire who broke him out of his cage; guess who. Yup, Angela. A longwinded explanation for Mike’s exploitation of Maurice’s hospitality.
Nevertheless, I’m still in awe at the creativity of this backstory. What other horrifying things do people do to vampires in this world? I want to know! Tell me more! Show me, even! I want to see!
As expected, Maurice kicks Mike to the curb! Good for him! However, I feel a little bad for Mike, he’s clearly soft on Maurice and Reginald, and that’s why he came clean. I also liked Maurice and his pairing. The unbashful queerness of so many of these characters is so fun and exciting to see. You never know who’ll hit on whom or whose relationship is safe; I like that.
AGAIN: Reginald the Vampire has so much Potential!
I want, so desperately, to keep rooting for this show. To come back every week excited to see what happens next. I want it to succeed because, in all reality, it has so many aspects of what I like in a show. It’s no House of the Dragon, and I know that, but it’s fun and lighthearted—not all fantasy has to be dark to be good. Suppose the dialogue was just a bit tighter and the show’s tone mastered so the actors would understand what kind of performance to uniformly deliver. In that case, this show could become a modern Buffy the Vampire Slayer or a cult show.
But, alas, Reginald the Vampire: the Masterpiece has not yet emerged and therefore I am left feeling teased, hoodwinked, and thus far disappointed.