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Castlevania (Season 2)

With the newly formed team of Trevor Belmont, Sypha and Alucard, things are looking up for the terrorized people of Wallachia. But as members of Dracula's court gathers to enact his war, the fight for humanity just got a lot more complicated. The intrepid team of monster hunters must find a way to stop the ever vanishing castle of Dracula in order to corner the mad vampire and stop him and his court of the night.

Last year, Netflix's adaptation of Castlevania Dracula's Curse started with quite a bang. With wonderful animation, a sympathetic portrayal of the primary antagonist, and a fairly decent set up of the three heroes of the story, I was very intrigued to see how the show would evolve in its second season. Now, released in time for the Halloween, the lead up to and execution of the final clash with Dracula has arrived.

So how was it?

The most outspoken vampire of Dracula's Court, Godbrand (Peter Stormare), goes on a bloody rampage. 

After watching all eight episodes of season 2, I was both adequately satisfied and confused at the same time. Castlevania maintains its gruesome violence and grim/down to earth tone that is set in the first season and remains consistent throughout. However, a large part of my confusion was mainly a result of the strange set up of each episode and the overall pacing. Which was heavily split between the story's protagonists and its antagonists.

I had expected, going into this season that we would see a great deal more of the protagonists traveling the country, fighting vampires of Dracula's court and saving the good people being terrorized. Proving that despite the actions of so many awful people, that there are still those that are worth saving. What we do get is a great deal time spent with our antagonists, Dracula who is slowly slipping into a debilitating depression due to his loss, and the machinations of his court of vampires who see their lord's decay as an opportunity to seize power. A great deal of time is dedicated to developing two new human characters in Dracula's court, the Forge Masters Hector and Issac. Painting the tragic story of how they to have been disillusioned by humanity and seek to help Dracula in his war.

Dracula (Graham McTavish) meets with his two human Forge Masters, Hector (Theo James) and Issac (Adetokumboh M'Cormack)

While developing these antagonist characters to such a degree isn't bad, in fact it's quite good, it did not leave much of an impact on me. Neither Issac or Hector's respective character arcs had any real pay off this season, having been set up to continue into a third season. Camilla (voiced by Jaime Murray), while a conniving and vicious schemer, her plans did not amount to much. Other than, again, setting up to be a future antagonist now that the immediate conflict with Dracula has been resolved. None of the other vampires in Dracula's court, aside from Godbrand, received any characterization or even a single line. Which is a shame since they could have their own quirks, arcs or devilishly vile characterization that could have made the court dynamic more intriguing. Instead, we spend so much time with Issac and Hector, made to feel sorry for them but not so sorry that we don't want to see them stopped, which is ultimately a double edge sword for this season.

By the end of the season, we are supposed to believe that the conflict has forged Trevor, Sypha, and Alucard into true companions, but we barely spend any time with them at all to feel like this has been earned. Which is a shame since you can see glimmers of this in their interactions with each other. But when offset with all of the scheming and cruelty with antagonists, the experience can feel kind of hollow.

That being said, there was still plenty of memorable scenes and stand out animated sequences. The climactic confrontation with Dracula being the definite highlight of the entire season. It had great build up, exciting and fast-paced action and plenty of emotion to really sell the conclusion of Alucard and Dracula's tragic conflict. As good as it was though, I still couldn't shake the feeling that something was missing from this season.

Again it is truly a shame since I still enjoyed the series look and fight choreography, but ultimately I am left disappointed by the constant back and forth pacing and focusing on characters that I didn't know or really end up caring about that much. Perhaps there is video game context I am missing but the point of an adaptation is to make the series palatable for a different medium, without prior knowledge of the games.

Trevor Belmont (Richard Armitage) and Sypha (Alejandra Reynoso) contemplate the future.

Still, video game adaptations are a substantial challenge in the world of film/television so I will give the Castlevania crew credit for crafting an enjoyable, grim. vampire adventure that balances intense medieval violence with Shakespearean-esque tragedy. Though I am not certain I am as excited to see what a possible third season will bring, I am glad I watched the show and I'm sure curious viewers willing to give it a try will find more enjoyment out of it than I did.


IN A NUTSHELL: The Tragic tale of Dracula comes to an epic conclusion.