Castlevania (Season 4): Out with a BANG – Netflix Review

The show, defying all odds, manages to wrap up everything pretty well in ten episodes.

SUMMARY (Spoilers)

Trevor Belmont (Richard Armitage) is the last surviving member of the Belmont family, legendary monster hunters. He is brought out of semi-retirement and full-on alcoholism by the reappearance of Dracula (Graham McTavish), the most powerful vampire lord, who has now dedicated all of his resources to destroying humanity after they killed his wife, Lisa (Emily Swallow). Together with the magician Sypha Belnades (Alejandra Reynoso) and Dracula’s half-vampire son Alucard (James Callis), Trevor manages to kill Dracula and supposedly break up his army. Unfortunately, it turns out that many of Dracula’s followers have plans of their own, ranging from the scheming vampiress Carmilla (Jaime Murray) to the demon-conjuring forgemasters Isaac and Hector (Adetokumboh M’Cormack and Theo James). Trevor and Sypha manage to stop a group of evil monks from resurrecting Dracula with the help of the reality-hopping Count of Saint Germain (Bill Nighy). Unfortunately, it seems that a lot more people are trying to do the same thing and it’s up to Trevor, Sypha, and Alucard to finally put an end to the possibility of bringing back the lord of the dead as well as stopping Dracula’s agent Varney (Malcolm McDowell). 

These three show up together and it’s instantly a part.

END SUMMARY

At the end of Season 2 of Castlevania, Dracula is dead. Now, if you’ve played Castlevania games, you’d probably know that Dracula being dead never really stops him from being the villain. In fact, it’s canon that Dracula automatically comes back from Hell every 100 years even if nothing else brings him back in the interim. Only Ganondorf pulls off sequels with a greater level of regularity. However, the third season did a good job of establishing that there are other threats than Dracula in this world, particularly since a number of other vampires have been united via Dracula’s army and many of them have ambitions on a large scale. 

Dracula just giving 0 f*cks. For eternity.

It’s interesting that the show points out that, even though vampires often find different ways to justify it, almost all of them want to take over the world in order to control it and keep it from changing. Vampires are like everyone, they are born into a world that, three generations later, seems almost completely alien to them. While humans who live to 80 might feel like the world moved on, Vampires can live forever, so the feelings get even greater and the fear of change increases even more. It’s also interesting that Dracula is largely the exception to that rule, because he did try to change himself rather than stopping change, until the church killed his wife. I think it’s part of what makes him the head vampire, since he never stops acquiring new skills. 

Carmilla wants to overturn the gender balance, but then just imprison humanity forever.

After spending a season setting up so many other threats, primarily Isaac and Carmilla, the show manages to believably resolve all of the secondary antagonist’s arcs believably, mostly through character growth or self-sabotage, in order to bring us back to the thing that everyone wants to see… an attempt to bring back Dracula. This time, it seems like almost every group has some level of involvement in it. Throughout the series, there has been one Castlevania mainstay which has been conspicuously absent, and their reveal in connection with this revival is nothing short of amazing. 

No, not Varney (named after a cheap British vampire story that predates Dracula).

It helps that the season also focuses on making us more in tune with how Sypha, Trevor, and Alucard are feeling about their places in the world and how much they want to finally bring some level of peace to humanity, meaning when we see them back together again, we know they’re united in their cause. The show also kicks the action sequences up several notches, with a number of them being among the best animated fights I’ve seen in a long while. Creative, fast paced, and intensely focused, it’s clear that there was a lot of effort put into these and the last two are probably the best two, so it really feels like the show builds up as it goes.

It’s. A. Party.

Overall, just a great way to finish a series. 

If you want to check out some more by the Joker on the Sofa, check out the 100 Greatest TV Episodes of All TimeCollection of TV EpisodesCollection of Movie Reviews, or the Joker on the Sofa Reviews.

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Netflix Mini-Review – Castlevania (Season 3): What Happens Between Draculas

Dracula got killed at the end of last season, but that just means the forces of Hell aren’t organized, not that they’re gone.

SUMMARY (Spoiler-Free)

Trevor Belmont (Richard Armitage) managed to finally kill Dracula (Graham McTavish) with the help of Dracula’s son Alucard (James Callis) and the magician Sypha Belnades (Alejandra Reynoso). While Alucard decides to watch over his father’s castle and the Belmont library, Trevor and Sypha head out to start working on killing monsters together as a couple. Following Dracula’s demise, his forces are separated. Isaac (Adetokumboh M’Cormack), one of Dracula’s two devil forgemasters capable of turning corpses into demons, starts assembling an army of his creations. The other forgemaster, Hector (Theo James), is held captive by four female vampires: Carmilla (Jaime Murray), Lenore (Jessica Brown Findlay), Morana (Yasmine Al Massri), and Striga (Ivana Milicevic). They want his powers for their own uses. Alucard gets two students in vampire slaying by the names of Taka and Sumi (Toru Uchikado and Rila Fukushima). Trevor and Sypha find a city run by a very strict Judge (Jason Isaacs) and populated by the mysterious Baron St. Germain (Bill Nighy) and the insane priest Sala (Navid Negahban). The two are tasked by the Judge to find out why devil marks are appearing around the town. 

Castlevania3 - 1Trio
They’re a very attractive crew of badasses. 

END SUMMARY

So, for those of you who played the games, the end of last season corresponded roughly with the end of Castlevania III: Dracula’s Curse and this season takes place between that and Castlevania: Curse of Darkness and may potentially be setting up for that storyline in the next season. Dracula is gone this season, but many characters point out that it definitely doesn’t make the world much better. Dracula, while he did eventually hate humanity to the point of wanting to exterminate them all for the loss of his wife, typically kept all of the demons, vampires, and monsters under his control, reducing their overall threat. Now, the forces of Hell are all competing against each other for territory and trying to expand as fast as possible. No matter who wins, humanity loses. 

Castlevania3 - 3Isaac
Isaac, the human, is the biggest threat, because he was the most abused.

This season does suffer a bit from being kind of a transitional story. We see Trevor and Sypha facing off against a different kind of opponent than the previous fare, but it’s a slower burn. Their plot is mostly kept interesting by the presence of good supporting characters, particularly the Baron St. Germain who is based off of both his video game and real-life counterparts. In real life, the Count of Saint Germain was a rich man who constantly made absurd assertions such as time-travel and immortality and this version is much the same, except possibly telling the truth. Bill Nighy is excellent at selling his naturally unusual dialogue. 

Castlevania3 - 5StGermain
Also, he’s a straight-up pimp.

Meanwhile, we’re following Isaac’s attempt to find his own place in the world when he no longer works for Dracula. It’s interesting to follow a villain during his own refusal of the call period, but it plays out really well. Hector’s story consists mostly of him interacting with the vampire Lenore, who is part of a cabal of female vampires who want both equality for women and dominance for vampires, which is kind of an interesting dichotomy. Alucard doesn’t have a villain, instead focusing on dealing with training two human students in monster hunting as a way to deal with his own loneliness. 

Castlevania3 - 4Sisters
#Feminism? 

While the season doesn’t have a cohesive plot, it makes up for it by spending more time exploring the characters and the world, as well as having some excellent action sequences. It’s a lot darker in tone, particularly towards humanity, and that’s saying something. 

Overall, the show is still going strong and I can’t wait to see the next part (please don’t cancel it, Netflix).

If you want to check out some more by the Joker on the Sofa, check out the 100 Greatest TV Episodes of All TimeCollection of TV EpisodesCollection of Movie Reviews, or the Joker on the Sofa Reviews.

If you enjoy these, please, like, share, tell your friends, like the Facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/JokerOnTheSofa/), follow on Twitter @JokerOnTheSofa, and just generally give me a little bump. I’m not getting paid, but I like to get feedback.

50) The British Invasion (Dexter)

Dexter Morgan (Michael C. Hall) is a serial killer on the side of “good.” He kills other serial killers and manages to escape detection, because he was trained to do so by his father in order to harness his violent instincts. To be fair, Dexter isn’t really that good at getting away with killing people, it’s more that the rest of the Miami Metro police force is unbelievably incompetent. As the show went on, that became sadly more apparent. But, however he keeps it going, Dexter makes for good television… for 5 seasons.

Dexter-2FinalSeason.jpg

Just stab him and save us the pain, please.

SUMMARY

The story so far: Dexter has a method for his hunting. He finds the serial killer, abducts them, confronts them with their crimes, and then “dispatches” them. He does not consider himself human, but merely a thing pretending to be a person. He fakes all of his emotions and acts of conscience, beyond his desire to kill. Despite this, he’s our protagonist, because the people he kills are still worse than him. He also has a girlfriend (later wife), Rita (Julie Benz), whom he considers part of his human disguise. Recently, Dexter had claimed to be a heroin addict to Rita, causing strain in their relationship.

Dexter-3KillRoom
His “Kill Rooms” are not great decor, but impressive.

“The British Invasion” is the episode where Dexter first really takes a turn for the worse. Having been caught in the episode beforehand by the technically-a-nemesis-but-objectively-more-heroic, Det. James Doakes (Erik King), the only person who ever really suspects Dexter of being a killer, Dexter imprisons Doakes in a cabin and decides to frame him for all of his murders. Despite the fact that he has no classical emotions, however, Dexter still seems hesitant towards the plan, as Doakes is an innocent.

Dexter-4Doakes.jpg
Bad ass, mean, and occasionally a little trigger-happy, but still “innocent.”

At the same time as Dexter is arranging to frame Doakes for the FBI, Dexter’s self-imposed “love interest” (i.e. stalker), Lila (Jaime Murray), shows up and finds Doakes at the cabin. Rather than releasing him, she decides that she has to protect her “soul mate” and sets the cabin on fire. When the fire is put out, all of the evidence gathered at the scene now points to Doakes being responsible for Dexter’s killings. Dexter rejoices, or the equivalent act with no emotions, in his newfound presumed innocence by reconciling with Rita. Later, he discovers that, given the circumstances of the fire, Lila must have been the cause and vows to kill her, only to find that she has abducted Rita’s children. Dexter arrives in time to find her, only for her to set the room on fire and lock him in with the children. Dexter helps the children escape, then knocks down a wall to safety. Dexter then tracks Lila to Paris and kills her, before heading back to Miami to attend Doakes’s funeral, being one of the only people who knows Doakes wasn’t a killer.

Dexter-5Lila
Dexter is a serial killer, and she still out-crazies him.

This episode shows both the heroic and villainous aspects of Dexter’s character to their fullest. At the end of this episode, all the traces leading to Dexter as a serial killer have been eliminated, but Dexter himself has been tainted by the experience, because he was preparing to kill an innocent, the one thing he isn’t supposed to indulge in. To Hall’s credit, he manages to make Dexter’s consideration of the task seem someone conflicted, but in a manner that seems more like trying to enter the wrong program into a computer, rather than how an organic mind processes it. The distinction is subtle, but it definitely sets the show apart.

PREVIOUS – 51: Mystery Science Theater 3000

NEXT – 49: Cheers

If you want to check out some more by the Joker on the Sofa, check out the 100 Greatest TV Episodes of All Time or the Joker on the Sofa Reviews.

If you enjoy these, please, like, share, tell your friends, like the Facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/JokerOnTheSofa/), follow on Twitter @JokerOnTheSofa, and just generally give me a little bump. I’m not getting paid, but I like to get feedback.