It’s time to get that whip cracking and brew up some holy water, because Netflix’s Castlevania is back for a second season and just in time for Halloween itself! This season is twice as long as season one and focuses more on exposition and character-building, with a healthy dose of action. We’ll try to keep this relatively spoiler-free.
After reminding viewers of the death of Dracula’s wife at the hands humanity, the show takes us to Castlevania itself, where a an angry, grieving Dracula convenes a meeting with numerous other vampires and monsters. There’s also two humans present!
There’s a surprising amount of comic relief involving a vampire viking after we meet infamous devil forgemasters Hector and Isaac (coming to us from the PlayStation 2/Xbox title Castlevania: Curse of Darkness — a game that also takes place during Dracula’s Curse). There’s an uproar over Dracula choosing two humans to lead his attack on humanity. His reasoning serves as a plot device (they hate their own kind!) and we see the beginnings of Hector’s inner turmoil that was so prevalent in that game that came before (it was one of the few 3-D Castlevanias I played through).
Animation is just as spectacular as the previous season, while the music continues to support the on-screen action appropriately. There certainly seems to be a bit more gore than I remember from the first season, but it makes sense given the context — especially when showing the devastation of war and the creation of Hector’s monsters.
In episode one, “War Council” is all about Dracula’s war effort and his generals. There’s very little going on with the main trio of Trevor Belmont, Sypha Belnades and Alucard, other than helping a village recover from the aftermath of the previous battle.
Episode two, “Old Homes,” shows some dissent in the ranks of Dracula’s army, while the trio seek out the Belmont estate. Introduced in this episode are some fan favorite characters and there are plenty of nods to other games in the series that fans will enjoy.
Episode three, “Shadow Battles” introduces some intrigue into Dracula’s court, while the heroes seek knowledge and reveal the past of the Belmont Clan. We learn some history and see something interesting — a special weapon of great power (you’ll have to watch to see what it is).
“Broken Mast” continues the intrigue, along with giving us some back story on Isaac and Dracula’s relationship. It also gets into a bit deeper territory with some of the character motivations and delusions involving humanity. Then, it throws viewers for a loop with an unexpected twist.
Watch out, here comes Carmilla! pic.twitter.com/Jw5rGtQJlC
— Adrian Fahrenheit Ţepeş (@Castlevania) August 14, 2018
“Last Spell” sees Carmilla bring out her fangs and set forth plans of mutiny, while … Trevor and company are still in their library. Hey, research is important when you’re battling supernatural evil. There’s a fantastic cliffhanger on this one, with some humorous banter between Sypha and Alucard.
Next up is “The River,” where Trevor must make an important decision and step into his own as the leader of the crew. There are also cameos by a few famous Castlevania boss monsters. This episode is riveting, nonstop action at its finest — along with a super-cool scene involving a river (go figure) that we won’t spoil for you here.
Episode seven, “For Love” takes the action up even further. Against the backdrop of a spectacular symphonic version of the classic “Bloody Tears” theme, several boss fights occur. The big showdown between Dracula, Trevor, Sypha and Alucard happens here with riveting results. The entire episode kept me on the edge of my seat and I enjoyed the payoff.
The final episode of the season is called “End Times,” but it’s really only the beginning as it sets up story arcs for the following season. It’s a good way to end the season, but the series still feels like a long movie, rather than a serialized story.
The show is gripping, suspenseful and gruesome, but it ends up working well with the source material and furthering the lore of the game series. The rivalry between Trevor and Alucard is well played, with a humorous conclusion
The portrayal of Dracula is interesting. He’s more of an emotional wreck, with occasional moments anger. It’s interesting to see him as more than the “big bad evil guy” and more of a lost figure.
The music in the series is just as good as the first, with some delightful snippets of series songs and there’s plenty of nods and references to the games. Alucard’s movement during battle is just like Symphony of the Night and Sypha’s spells largely resemble those she uses during Dracula’s Curse. The entire season is better fleshed out, with more action and plot than the first season an I look forward to seeing the direction for the next season.
The only downside? Still no Grant DaNasty … but overall I enjoyed the series and highly recommend it for fans of Castlevania.