Why I was let down by season 2 of Netflix’s CASTLEVANIA

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WARNING: SPOILERS. This is a rant more so than a review, I summarize the entire second season of the show. Do not read this if you care about spoilers.

Are you guys ready to get out your torches and pitchforks? Splatter my blood against the wall as I spill my guts about season 2 of Netflix’s original series, Castlevania.

First off, I love Castlevania, particularly for Nintendo DS and PlayStation 1. However, I won’t turn my nose up at the original Nintendo version for NES. The music is always great, I love the pixel art, and it’s generally a great time. So imagine my glee when I heard that they were making a Netflix series and the art looked great!

When season 1 came out I binged it, but that isn’t anything new for a Netflix series. I made all my friends watch it, so in total I’ve seen the first series 5 times all the way through, and that doesn’t sound like a lot until you realize how boring the series actually is after you get over the wanderlust of gory battles. However, it was worth it knowing that you were in for a huge treat (season 2) where you assume that the build up of the first season would set the tone for the next season.

Wrong. Castlevania season 2 basically shows off how terrible the writing is for the show. Like cringeworthy bad that it became funny because you can’t help but notice every single thing wrong with the episodes.

Castlevania, Dracula, netflix, Streaming, tv review, warren ellis

So season 2 starts off where the last season ended. We now have Alucard, Trevor, and Sypha together ready to kick Dracula’s ass, but they need to gather the tools and know-how to go up against the most powerful villain in the entire show. So the gang head’s to the remains of Belmont’s house searching for the the famed library and weapons trove of the Belmont family.

We’re also now aware that Dracula has called his vampire generals to his castle so that they can take their undead troops and cause the human race’s genocide. I would like to point out that one major issue with this second season is that the timing is confusing. Dracula had gone around enlisting people for his crusade one year ago, but now everyone is fighting among each other because they don’t understand the whole point of wiping out human kind.

It just seems weird that it’s been a whole year and just now we’re getting conflict within the circle.

Along with his vampire brothers and sisters, Dracula enlists the help of two humans (Hector, a Devil Forgemaster and Isaac, the other Devil Forgemaster.) This brings in a new element of the series that opens the door for you to wonder what other mysterious magical beings exist in the human world, which given that we have very little information on why forgemaster’s exist, you have to wonder why the writers created this scenario.

Castlevania, Dracula, netflix, Streaming, tv review, warren ellis

Now get ready for the Dracula killing gang to have zero sense of urgency, and to have a lot of runtime for the show dedicated to pointless tasks, like my personal favorites: Sypha magically opening the door to Trevor’s library (why waste budget on animating that scene to look cool?), or Trevor discovering a chest with his family’s special whip (that took like over 30 seconds to reveal a weapon that had zero build up until that point?.)

Before we continue with the DK Gang, let’s see how Dracula is doing on his quest to end humanity… Oops, he’s not doing anything, he’s sulking and letting his underlings argue with each other.  While this is going on, Carmilla is brought in to be a random villainess, she hates men and is super critical of Dracula’s plans, which is fair, but instead of dealing with her, Dracula just lets her run the place (she somehow thinks she’s sneaky, even when she literally talks to all the generals so that she can plot against Dracula.)

Castlevania, Dracula, netflix, Streaming, tv review, warren ellis

You may be thinking, this doesn’t sound too bad. It wouldn’t have been if there had been any sense of urgency. But there isn’t. It feels like this is all taking place for months but in reality I think it was only within a couple of days. Three episodes in and nothing actually happens in the show, instead it feels like they’re trying to give you context of what is going on by giving you pointless character arcs, and explaining why Dracula is so heart broken. We already sat through four episodes last season getting buildup and character backgrounds, why did we need to re-establish what we already know? 

Dracula is heartbroken, he wants to kill all humans.

Not a difficult concept.

They also don’t give the three main characters anything to build off of, they had very little screen time, and the moments that they did have were hollow.

For example, Sypha is complaining that Trevor is always bickering with Dio (oops I mean Alucard), but in the next scene that we see them, they’re suddenly acting like old time friends. Also, they decided to hint that Alucard wanted to get that booty from Sypha, but in another episode suddenly she’s cuddling up to Trevor, and they have a 3-minute scene of her telling Trevor that he’s sad. Then Alucard acts like Sypha and him are dating because he’s weirdly possessive of her in front of Trevor. The whole dynamic was like a kindergartner tried to draw a triangle for the first time. Misshapen to high hell.

Castlevania, Dracula, netflix, Streaming, tv review, warren ellis

I could understand this if we had any scenes of the trio together building up a bond but everytime we see them they’re in the library making very little progress, and again I’m assuming it’s only been a couple of days, despite the show’s weird ambiguous timing. But a failed ship isn’t as annoying as having new boring characters shoved into your face for most of the season, only to get the most “called it” ending to a once loved series.

They spent all of this time setting up this story because they wanted to redeem Dracula. Why was there a need to redeem him in the first place? We were originally introduced to Dracula as a doting and loving husband who is mourning the loss of his wife, that’s all the empathy we need. Yes, we feel bad for him, so why did the writer’s feel the need to waste a ton of time establishing that Dracula is “alone” and pitiful? Because they suck, thats why.

Now I’m going to get to the one good character that came from this giant mess of boring and badly thought out story; Isaac. Isaac is the only badass in this entire season and he got the screen time he deserved. It’s just weird because he is so out of place.

He has motivation (unlike Hector, who literally only loves Dracula because they “talked for hours”?), which was that he wanted to cleanse the humans because he was a slave who loved his master but his master beat him “out of love” (super messed up). They were ambiguous on if he is homosexual, we only have his questionable relationships of the past, and his undying loyalty to Dracula to hint that he may be gay.

Castlevania, Dracula, netflix, Streaming, tv review, warren ellis

Isaac is creepy, he’s super intense, but he makes a great villain. I think the best part of the show for me was when he killed Dracula’s disloyal general, the scene was intense, and eerie. He was a complete bad ass, and they should have had him interacting with more of the characters, I think that would have been way more compelling than watching people walk around Dracula’s castle.

I guess I’ll take this time to talk about Godbrand, the vampire that Isaac killed. He was boring, he had way too much screen time, and he was only good at barking at the other characters. He plotted against Dracula because he liked eating humans and wanted to go on killing crusades… boring. They shouldn’t have wasted so much time on him, especially since he dies.

Also, this makes me aware that all of these generals never even got a slap on the wrist despite wasting time and being treacherous towards Dracula. At least Carmilla was somewhat interesting even if she was useless.

For the sake of moving on, I’ll also mention that Hector was a useless character. He’s not worth mentioning, he just happens to play a role in the show, but they could have easily cut him out completely.

So, we are 5 episodes in, and the plot finally starts to move again. Carmilla set forth her plans to overthrow Dracula by trapping him around running holy water. Which is great for getting rid of the nameless general vampires but she must have forgotten that Dracula can just move his castle. That’s not how the problem was solved though, instead Sypha discovered she’s able to move the castle using her OP magical abilities.

Hector is also kidnapped by Carmilla, which no one was sad about since his character was never relatable to begin with.

Castlevania, Dracula, netflix, Streaming, tv review, warren ellis

Now we are almost to Dracula’s huge fight, but we had to deal with the team taking their sweet time getting to the castle. They literally spent a minute taking an ice elevator, in complete awkward silence and the writer’s thought that we were going to think it was the funniest moment ever after revealing that Sypha could have made it go way faster. I wasn’t laughing, my friends weren’t laughing. Please stop subjecting me to these terribly timed jokes and awkward banter.

Finally, we’re in the castle, the trio starts battling the vampire generals and the random vampire knights from Carmilla’s crusade against the castle. We’re reminded that Alucard is actually the second in power to Dracula (despite flinching in fear to a random demon that attacked the Library and needed Trevor to kill it at the last moment.)

After the only interesting fight scene featuring the trio, we learn that Dracula throws Isaac into the desert to prevent him from dying. Isaac is super upset that the “Pure” Dracula facing the fight without him and most likely dying. He was basically the only character that understood the gravity of the situation.

Castlevania, Dracula, netflix, Streaming, tv review, warren ellis

Alucard gets his butt kicked, then Dracula gets upset that he was trying to kill his son long enough for Alucard to stake Dracula. This was actually a pretty good scene because it was disturbing watching Dracula die at the hands of his son. Then we get a shocked Alucard realizing that he killed his dad, which ruined the moment because “Duh, you literally spent 7 episodes and possibly a year in the show to go kill your dad.” It’s okay for them to make him sad, but instead it was awkwardly “shocking.” Doesn’t help that the character’s in the show don’t have emotions drawn on their faces very well.

So Dracula is dead, we get another set of awkward jokes from the trio as if they’ve been longtime friends and the show is over… sike! We have an entire episode of pointless wrap up after Dracula has already died. Not even Isaac could save that episode from being boring as we jump around between characters and how things are going after Dracula has died.

Castlevania, Dracula, netflix, Streaming, tv review, warren ellis

Throughout the series we were met with inconsistent animation (hundreds of troops storming the castle, only to show maybe twelve of them fighting in the castle, blood filling the room mid-shin deep, but somehow in the next couple frames it’s gone, weird gravity mistakes during fight scenes that were not consistent with the overall styling of fight scenes, etc.) Terrible delivery of jokes, having to watch characters walk around and do nothing, and wasting production on pointless tasks.

They didn’t even have a ton of cool gory horror moments that you would have expected from the series. Overall it fell flat compared to the coherent first season. It was a huge let down.

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