Dark Tourist season 1, episode 3 recap: ‘United States’


In episode 3 of Netflix series Dark Tourist, David Farrier visits America for a serial killer tour, takes JFK’s motorcade route and meets self-proclaimed vampires.

America’s often called “The greatest country in the world.” While that may seem arrogant to some, being boastful and proud is part of the American tradition. “Love it or leave it” isn’t just for patriotic bumper stickers.

It’s how a lot of us feel, knowing we should stick by our home and take the good with the bad. Dark Tourist dives deeper into some of the darker histories within this country.

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What kind of bad is there in these United States? Well, as David Farrier shows us in Dark Tourist, some of the bad to be had involves serial killers.

The United States is rather notorious for this phenomenon, and one of the leading figures in American serial killer legend is Milwaukee, Wisconsin’s own, Jeffrey Dahmer. In fact, as Farrier suggests, Dahmer is about as noteworthy as Milwaukee’s beer and cheese (2 staples of the stereotypical American diet).

Farrier wants to attend a Jeffrey Dahmer tour, so he can learn more about the notorious killer, and see what all the fuss is about.

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Jeffrey Dahmer – Cannibal, Tourist Attraction…Heartthrob?

It turns out that Dahmer has people who are basically fans. David meets Natalie, who is basically a Dahmer fanatic. She notes some things that make him unique, even among serial killers. He not only was a cannibal but also attempted lobotomies to change men into mindless sex-zombies. According to Natalie, Dahmer was not a sadist, because he drugged his victims (what a relief!). Quite randomly, Natalie shares that she keeps a skull in her bag, named “Juan Diego.” She assures us that it was legally acquired and that she’s not a murderer herself (again, what a relief!).

Next, Natalie and Farrier head out to Shaker’s bar considered a “hub of the Dahmer tour.” When asked about Dahmer, some women seem attracted to him, despite his being a gay serial killer. Why? Because, as some women say, “serial killers are definitely bad boys,” and women supposedly want to help everybody change (or die trying, perhaps).

In fact, quite interestingly, the Dahmer segment of this episode is dominated by women. It’s almost as though they have a unique insight into his character — which is weird, given that, statistically, women are far less likely to be violent themselves. Whatever the reason, the so-called “Cream City Cannibal Tour” actually provides bachelorette parties.

David then heads to Club 219, a club frequented by Dahmer. This is where David and Natalie hit a snag, as they’re annoyed by a corny psychic who claims to speak to Dahmer as she waves metal “divining rods” around. In fact, it seems to drive the two away from the tour, as they go to meet Wendy A. Patrickus, Dahmer’s actual Lawyer (from when he was alive, obviously). Much more real than a psychic street performance, Wendy provides some actual insight into Dahmer as he really was.

She specifies that, in preparing his ghoulish meals, Dahmer got a meat tenderizer from Sears and treated people just as we would steaks. She even shows Dahmer’s “shrine drawings” — childish sketches of skulls and other freakish things, intended as a monument to Dahmer’s greatness, to be built in his own apartment. Wendy also plays portions of a Dahmer interview, as further proof that she means business.

How American is Jeffrey Dahmer? Well, he’s proof that we live in a small world, and such ghoulish phenomena can happen even in our own Midwest. In fact, one of my own cousins (who I won’t name here) claims he was almost a Dahmer victim. I believe him, too, as he lived in West Allis, Wisconsin at the time, which is more specifically within Dahmer’s field of operations. In other words, some of us probably dodge bullets without fully realizing it. As David Farrier says, “We’re all sickos.”

Dallas, TX: JFK Tours

Texas is a unique place. Some say it’s almost like its own country. It’ also where JFK — often called one of our greatest Presidents — famously got assassinated. It was a key moment in American history, and David Farrier wants to “re-live” JFK’s motorcade route. Honestly, though, who could blame him? It is certainly a piece of our history and as famous a location as any on this earth.

However, David’s tour guide, Robin, complicates the narrative a little. Like many Americans, he has his own theories on what happened that fateful day. He believes multiple people tried to kill the President, and that it wasn’t just Lee Harvey Oswald. Robin takes the assassination pretty seriously. In fact, David calls him a “walking, talking Wikipedia page.”

He also says he feels like he’s stuck in a car with his eccentric uncle. In a possible breach of etiquette, David even asks Robin if he started the tours because his family’s sick of hearing his conspiracy theories. Fortunately, Robin is a good-humored man and takes no detectable offense.

What does Robin specifically believe? He thinks the plot was perpetrated by the CIA and the Mafia. David is respectful of Robin, noting that he’s “not in it for the money.” Nevertheless, he eventually has enough and quietly slipped away from the tour. Interestingly, Robin is also a funeral home director, in case you didn’t feel this “Dark Tourist” episode was dark enough.

David also gets a JFK tour from a guy named Ricardo, whose interest is more in entertaining than informing the participants. It has its share of darkness, too. For example, Ricardo notes how Jackie Kennedy (played by an actress) is afraid to move her head for fear that more brain matter will spill out. It’s a potentially offensive scene, but what can one say? That’s the nature of dark tourism and Dark Tourist. They don’t call it “Light Tourist,” right?

New Orleans Vampires

Renowned for Jazz music, Cajun cooking, and Mardi Gras, New Orleans also has vampire tours.

In fact, David Farrier meets a guy named Maven (or who at least calls himself that), who sells fangs for a living — a “fangsmith.” When Farrier asked Maven if he’s a vampire, Maven answers: “Would a predator tell its prey what it is?” Touché, Mayven! Touché!

Being a good sport, David acquires fangs himself, then attends what he calls “a real vampire wedding” between Logan and Daley. The couple is attractive enough, looking very much like something out of a conventional, romantic vampire movie.

David Farrier with Donovan and Zar in Dark Tourist (2018)

Still, David wants to get to the gritty truth: Do they actually drink human blood? It turns out that, yes, they sometimes do. Logan actually does drink a willing woman’s blood, which Daley has no problem with. In fact, they both seem to be into it. That’s just the thing, though.

David doesn’t feel they actually need to drink blood to survive, and that it’s more of a sexual thing. While he doesn’t feel betrayed, he seems a bit let down, as he wants to see people who are unquestionably genuine vampires — as opposed to attractive couples doing it for kicks.

So, David sets out to find other, more plausible vampires. When he finds such a habitat, he’s similarly struck by how human they seem. For example, he notes how, “Despite living forever, apparently vampires still celebrate birthdays.” Indeed, these vampires seem less like showoffs, and a little more authentic in what they do. If anything, they may try to look more normal.

Still, they take on some unique names. One is named “Zar,” for example. While it may seem a stylized name, it does remind me of a character from the 1980s movie Mask, starring Cher, Eric Stoltz, and Sam Elliott as a biker dude named “Gar.” In any case, Zar seems normal enough.

As David puts it: “It’s surprisingly stress-free hanging out with vampires.” That doesn’t mean it’s 100% normal, though. At one point, Zar chants and spits alcohol out of his front door to ward off spirits, in what he calls an authentic Voodoo ritual.

We also get to meet a young man named Donovan — a first-time donor to Zar. When asked if there’s a sexual component to the blood-drinking, or if it’s a game, Zar assures us that it isn’t. While he happens to be homosexual, Donovan is not. It’s no game.

The blood is said to have some life-sustaining (or at least life-enhancing) properties. In fact, Zar claims he needs 6 ounces of blood sometimes!  David is there to catch the action, because no one ever said, “6 ounces a day keep a dark tourist away.”

If Zar goes too long without the red stuff, he claims his hair will be “dull and lifeless,” his eyes will glaze over, it will be hard for him to focus.

While some might try a new shampoo or certain vitamins, Zar finds blood more suitable. In addressing the strangeness of it all, Zar quotes Anjelica Huston from the Addams Family: “What’s normal for the spider is chaos to the fly.” So, as David reflects on blood and ice cream cake, he notes that these vampires are all outsiders.

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Fortunately, they don’t burst into flame during the sunrise. That’s presumably more of a vampire stereotype.

That’s it for this Dark Tourist recap! What do you think about Jeffrey Dahmer, JFK, and vampires? Let us know in the comments!