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GLOW Finally Shakes Off The Ring Rust

Dan

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Jenji Kohan’s GLOW may be one of the most underrated programs on Netflix. Partially, I think, because of its premise as a wrestling show, partially due to its neon-80’s pop aesthetic. But I love it. Much like Stranger Things, I’m not someone who’s watching this for the nostalgia. Hell, I’m still pretty casual in my following of wrestling. But you don’t need either of those to enjoy GLOW, and Season One proved that they could milk a good story out of a silly sounding premise. And Season Two doubles down.

Unfettered by a need to justify itself as a wrestling show, and with the rules of wrestling explained well enough, GLOW spent its second season transitioning into a fantastic little ensemble comedy/drama. It was touching, funny, and a little bit weird in the best possible way. While some of the running plots are a little mishandled, and some of the characters still erratic, altogether GLOW accomplished something few Netflix shows have done: surpassed itself.

Let me tell ya something, brother. If you haven’t seen GLOW Season 2 yet, well then you’d best head back to where you came from, ya jabroni, because there’s going to be spoilers.

The Good

There’s a lot of really good stuff happening in GLOW, and honestly, I don’t think I can hit them all. But these are the high points that really stuck out this season.

Workplace Comedy

A workplace wrestling comedy. How has this not happened before? While the first season drew a lot of laughs in outlandish characters and the silliness of wrestling (something this season still relies on), it still had the sort of big “let’s put on a show” feel that works well in movies but can run out of steam in a prolonged format. Season Two, by comparison, lets the show breathe as it becomes more about the trials and tribulations of a struggling company. Think of the first season as The Muppet Movie and the second as The Muppet Show. The characters get to bounce off of one another, Murphy’s law happens frequently, and there’s more time doing what Jenji Kohan shows do best: make you cry when you least expect it. Speaking of…

Mother of All Matches

The whole of Season One, Welfare Queen stood out as one of those “man things were racist back in the day” jokes throwback shows love to use. However, in this episode, we finally got to see the actual effect those stereotypes can have on people.  Tammé is a hard worker who puts her family first, yet is mocked in-ring as a lazy moocher. Her foil is an All-American face the crowd knows is a good mother even as Debbie sells most of her furniture and barely sees her own son.

Bettie Gilpin does a good job in this episode as her character slowly breaks down, and you really feel for her in her crisis as a mother. But this is Kia Stevens’s episode. Many critics were shocked that Stevens, the former dominant monster heel Awesome Kong in TNA and Kharma in WWE, could play a character so well in the last season. But I think she ought to get an Emmy for this episode. She’s giddy, proud, nervous, caring. The pain she’s hiding is clear throughout the episode. When it finally bubbles up at the end of the match, the air is sucked out of the room. The transition from goofy clown Welfare Queen to heartbroken mother Tammé is seamless and incredibly powerful. In an ensemble filled with talented and often more experienced actresses, Stevens may have done the best acting all season.

It’s Gay, Fam

You can’t show wrestling, of either gender, to the uninitiated without the inevitable comments on the…subtext behind all the gropes and grabbing done in spandex. GLOW has avoided these jokes, thank goodness, but did finally add an LGBT character to the cast this season. Yolanda, the new Junkchain aka “Cholo Junkchain” just starts out as an unwelcome ex-stripper replacing Cherry. But she turns out to be an intelligent and well-adjusted young woman with almost none of the hang-ups of most of the other GLOW girls. Oh, and she’s super, DUPER gay. It’s never fetishized or mocked, however, and is as much a part of her character as Melrose’s obsession with her GLOW-induced dry spell. Not only that, but Yolanda plays a large part in helping Arthie (Beirut the Mad Bomber) learn to make herself happy for once. The two grow close, have an adorable dance sequence (with Yolanda in a tux), and are heavily implied to be together by the end of the season. LET THEM KISS YOU COWARDS

Screw Your Nostalgia

Dude, the 80’s fucking sucked. Reagan was in charge, the American welfare state was getting cut, and people were dying of AIDS. The 80’s gave us Trump for god’s sake. People were racist, drugged up, and just as dumb as ever. And thank god GLOW knows that.

GLOW could have easily banked on its settings for a cheap nostalgia pop, showing off the neon colors and weird mustaches of days gone by. It could emulate the Steven Spielberg and John Hughes movies that Stranger Things mines to tickle the brains of Gen-X viewers and their kids. But GLOW exists beneath the synth-pop and pink flamingos. It has creepy producers raping talent in exchange for promotion, racist caricatures, an unforgiving immigration system, and suburban lives that break down at the drop of a hat. While it does venture into the nostalgia here and there, its usually in the context of the in-universe show, such as when they film the opening in the candy-coated corridors of the local mall. It’s just incredibly refreshing to see a show that looks back and rubs a little mud on the rose-colored glasses.

The Bad

Ruth Fades

Ruth in Season One came close to being a re-hash of Piper Chapman: a bland, fairly unlikable white girl to bounce the more interesting side characters off of. But thanks to Alison Brie’s sheer earnestness, the real heart of Ruth came out at the end. Defined by trying to get out of ex-friend Debbie’s shadow, Ruth finally seemed to be looking ahead at the finish of Season One. But then the show just kind of…forgot her.

That’s not to say that Ruth isn’t around. She’s still the viewpoint character, the eyes and ears of the viewer for many of the goings on in and around the GLOW production. But the show doesn’t have a whole lot for her this season other than constant, heartbreaking punishment. They took a person who was in some ways the heart of GLOW and broke her ankle, doubled down on the negging from Sam, and even put her in a position to get raped. And as it does so, it doesn’t quite put in the emotional work that all of that piling up would necessitate. To boot, they’ve tried to complicate the surrogate daughter dynamic she has with Sam by having him maybe, sort of fall for her? And she might, kinda reciprocate? I don’t really know what’s up with that, but it’s REALLY creepy and comes way too soon after Ruth escapes a sexual assault. While she eventually is made a co-director and earns some respect, it’s after she’s gone through a trauma conga line and been pushed aside to act as a punching bag for Debbie’s divorce angst. Which…

Boo Freakin’ Hoo

It’s a testament to the quality of GLOW’s storytelling that it can fumble its two ostensible leads this season and still come out stronger. Debbie’s divorce narrative is probably the biggest side-plot in the show. Every episode she’s dealing with her kid, her asshole husband, her asshole husband’s mistress, proving herself as a mother, as a woman, as a producer. But she’s never as consistent a character as in Season One, where her animosity towards Ruth is understandable even as it gets more and more overblown. Sometimes she’s conniving, getting a good deal and a producer gig out of her contract over the heads of the other woman. Sometimes she’s pitiful, a victim of sexism at the hands of Sam or her husband. And sometimes she’s a caring mother, sometimes she’s not. She does coke, once. She breaks Ruth’s ankle and knocks a big part of the show out. And never once is Debbie treated as anything but sympathetic.

Even when she lashes out, at Ruth or her husband (but it’s usually Ruth), the show seems to go out of its way to cushion it by showing us just how much Debbie is trying and how much pain she’s in. The only time that she comes close to being wrong, her badgering Ruth for not getting raped, she’s easily forgiven within a couple episode and STILL manages to pin some guilt on Ruth. Debbie is pretty close to an antagonist in this piece, but the show refuses to acknowledge it.

Wait, Who Has AIDS?

Remember what I said up there about handling the dark side of the 80’s? GLOW does a pretty good job of that, but there was a big ol’ blind spot this season: the AIDS crisis. To start, props to the show for even discussing it. While it would have been ahistorical to ignore the subject on a show set in California, they could have easily avoided a very difficult topic, the visibility of which remains a raw nerve in the gay community. But the way they did handle it was…strange.

First of all, the person who dies of AIDS was a fairly inconsequential character, Bash’s butler Florian. In Season One, the show danced around the sexuality of both these men. Were these two well-dressed bachelors secretly an item, or just very good friends? Is Bash interested in wrestling as an outlet for his repressed sexuality? Who knows! Because they shipped Florian right out of the door after the first season and he’s never heard from again. Except when he dies. Of AIDS. And yes, he was gay. Our only real confirmation of this comes from a visit by Bash, Carmen, and Rhonda to an incredibly stereotypical gay club that Florian frequented. We never see him on screen, just Bash’s reaction to his friend’s death and the hamfisted way everyone from the crematorium to the house cleaners allude to the disease as obtusely as possible. Yet the actual victim, the gay character afflicted by this horrifying illness, is neither seen nor heard from all season.  And unlike the sexism or racism discussed this season, the show chooses to hide the real victims of AIDS, even as it moralizes about the tragedy of their plight.

Conclusion

Much like Orange Is The New Black, GLOW is rapidly transitioning out of a drama centered on two core characters into a broad ensemble held up by a whole stable of talented women who balance the comedy and drama that feel so close to real life. But even as the ensemble takes shape, the show shouldn’t just let its leads melt away with nonexistent stories and inconsistent characterization (they can save that for real wrestling). There’s not been too much info released on if Season 3 is happening, but if it does, it’s going to be big. Nothing says excess like Las Vegas in the 1980’s, and I can’t wait for a chance to see the Gorgeous Ladies Of Wrestling take on Sin City.


All images via Netflix

Dan

Author, Editor, Podcaster, Media Junkie. Currently working towards an MFA and trying to get a sci-fi novel published. If you have a dog, I'd very much like to pet it. Operating out of Wichita and Indianapolis.

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Kris
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Kris

“LET THEM KISS YOU COWARDS”
They did.

Matthew
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Matthew

Love this piece, but I just wanted to point out that Jenji Kohan is an executive producer whereas the creators are Liz Flahive and Carly Mensch.

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Schemes, Plots, and Adorable Things as Castlevania Approaches Mid Season

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As the second season of Castlevania progresses, we begin to grasp just how well the writers are doing taking a simple story and weaving it into something with incredible depth and so many moving parts that it almost becomes as complicated as the clock tower in Dracula’s castle. On a side note, screw that clock tower and its stupid cogs. Back to the show, in the first two episodes you could sense that many in Dracula’s court had their own agendas, especially a certain femme fatale named Carmilla who is fast becoming one of my favorite characters on the show.

I thought this game was supposed to be fun.

The third and fourth episode of this season definitely showcase the interweaving of several plots, schemes, and a decent amount of lore and fan service (internally screams….LEON BELMONT!) with the excellent writing to create something truly special to behold. If my faith was ever rekindled in video game adaptations, it was with this series. While we approach mid season, and the announcement of a third season, video game fans can only predict what the final four episodes will contain both in retrospect to the plot of Castlevania 3 and original ideas that the writers will include. But now, let’s get into these two great episodes.

Shadow Battles

Hector is the main focus at the start of this episode, and we see the start of his morbid obsession with reanimating the dead. It’s disturbing but at the same time almost innocent in intention. In a flashback, we see him happen upon a dead and slightly decayed dog. Using his two magical coins, he sparks life back into it. Of course, this light-hearted scene turns once he decides to bring the undead dog to his home just judging by his mother’s unseen reaction.

We return to the present as he’s is bringing a demon back to life and Carmilla intrudes. She comes to offer praise and Hector gives a short history lesson on Devil Forgers. Apparently there are not many and most of them are in hiding due to the nature of their craft. Carmilla shows her admiration even more, especially because Dracula seems to trust Hector and Issac in ways that make the rest of his army feel uneasy. It’s clear this show of admiration on Carmilla’s part is a ploy to influence others to her will.

She begins to play more on his emotions and his care for Dracula and shares his worry for Dracula’s mental state. Like in the previous episode, she brings up attacking the Belmont state, to which Hector agrees but he still wants Dracula’s permission. Loyal to a fault it would seem. When she realizes the brute force tactic wouldn’t work, Carmilla switches it up to a more emotional oriented ploy.

A flash back of Dracula and Hectors first meeting gives a lot of insight into the way Hector feels about his current master. A somber Dracula calls upon Hector to raise him an army for killing Lisa. The two bond over their hatred of humanity; Dracula’s wants a culling, but Hector wants them to remain livestock. He does not believe in suffering, only effective population control to keep humans from harming the world. Carmilla uses the seeds of doubt in his mind to convince Hector to create a personal army to attack Braila, another goal she is hell bent on attaining.

Back with our trio of Alucard, Trevor, and Sypha, Trevor is as poetic as ever when he sees a tree he played on when he was a child, obviously signaling that they are close to the Belmont estate. What I love most about these three is the dialogue between them all. The sass of Alucard, the unintentional hilarity of Trevor’s grim disposition, and the pure yet wise and funny attitude of Sypha. As they enter the grounds of the derelict and decaying estate, Trevor goes on about his teenage years and we get more bromance between him and Alucard. Apparently Alucard had the better childhood.

Alucard doesn’t let up with the sass as they find the secret entrance to the underground of the estate. Turns out it was sealed by dark magic thanks to Sypha, to which Alucard is happy to make fun of. Honestly he’s my patronus at this point.

To be fair I ship them just as much as with Sypha.

Inside the keep, Trevor continues with the history of the Belmonts. Their origins in France, but they moved on with the dark creatures to the east with Leon Belmont as the patriarch. Deeper in the library is a plethora of books, weapons, scrolls, and countless artifacts or as Alucard would call it, an episode of Hoarders.

We get another piece of lore as Sypha asks what Leon Belmont was doing in Wallachia. For those of you who played Castlevania: Lament of Innocence, you’ll know that he was searching for the man who would one day become Dracula, more or less anyway. Even more exciting is that Trevor finds the most iconic artifact of the game series: the famous Belmont maced whip Vampire Killer, or as they call it in the show, Morning Star, which in game is the highest power upgraded version of the former. Alucard is less impressed at the fact that he’s in a museum dedicated to the art of killing his kind.

*SCREAMS IN NERD*

The episode ends with Godbrand approaching Dracula about killing all of humanity and what they will eat after they run out of rations. It seems Dracula is in no mood as he puts Godbrand in his place in a truly horrifying way. On his way out, Godbrand runs into Carmilla and lets her know his worries as well as the fact that he thinks their master hasn’t fed in some time. She lets us in on her past as well after Godbrand tries to storm off, and suddenly her motivations become a little clearer. Old, mad men will not control her destiny, it seems, and she will make sure of it.

Broken Mast

The next episode offers more in terms of action as Godbrand begins a reign of bloody terror, taking a handful of vampires and inflicting a bloody retribution on the local armies. Body parts litter the snow as blood stains the open woods in a vicious spectacle. Sadly for Godbrand, it is only a memory destroyed by a pig given to him to feed on. Back with the heroes, even more sarcasm and sass flow as Trevor finds a magical mirror that no longer works. Sypha does her best to make Trevor and Alucard two work better without fighting.

Back in Dracula’s castle, Carmilla works on Hector even more than she did in the previous episode, bringing up Dracula not turning Lisa. She questions Dracula’s sanity and Hector’s loyalty, saying if Dracula kills all humans, where will that leave him? If he refused to turn Lisa, whom he loved, why would he allow others to live? It is here that the basis of Hector’s future betrayal begins to take root. Braila again comes up. Her plan is to have Dracula’s forces take Braila and while away, a personal army made by Hector for her will usurp Dracula. Hector does not disagree at this point.

As with Hector, we get a flashback to when Dracula recruited Issac. The dialogue is almost Tarantino-like in style, with the exposition told through tales between the two. It seems Issac’s insanity is more in league with Dracula’s motives than Hector’s. This foreshadows the fact that he will not join Hector in Carmilla’s plan, though this is not the only time we will see it portrayed. Back in the present Godbrand losses all sense and takes a pack of Vampires to a local village to feed as they will, against Dracula’s wishes. This doesn’t help with Dracula’s already growing sense that he feels like he is losing the loyalty of his generals.

As Dracula and Issac ponder Hector’s supposed immaturity, Godbrand and his company inflict the bloody massacre upon a nearby town. Slaughtering with no hesitation and with no mercy. This is the series at its goriest, and we can’t even imagine what this would be like in live action—certainly not for the feint of heart. It seems the only light within this dark episode is a moment of tenderness between Trevor and Sypha as the two share a blanket. She talks about the difference between loneliness and sadness. Where Alucard is a lonely soul, cold and distant, Trevor has a melancholy to him that to her, drowns everything around him. I ship them so hard.

I’m not blushing, you are.

The episode ends with the aftermath of Godbrands rampage. He goes to see Issac to insult his self-flagellation, and we learn Isaac’s motivation and demented thought process about purifying the human race through extermination. Godbrand makes the fatal mistake of mentioning Carmilla’s doubts to one so loyal. He even brings up the fact that Alucard presents a very real threat to their war. The final costly sentence hints at his plan to usurp the castle, which in the end causes Issac to violently and mercilessly kill Godbrand in a most bloody fashion. With Issac now knowing about the coming coup, who knows what’s in store for his war now?


Images Courtesy of Netflix and Konami 

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Chilling Adventures of Sabrina Has Plenty of Charm to Suck You In

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On her 16th birthday, a half-human, half-witch Sabrina Spellman must sign the book of the Dark Lord Satan himself and finally join her family’s coven. It will grant her prolonged youth and enormous power among other things, but there is a great price to be paid: if she signs the book, Sabrina must renounce her human part, and that includes her school, friends, and her boyfriend.

Confused as to why she has to deny an entire part of herself, Sabrina is determined to get some answers before making the most important decision of her life. She refuses to blindly follow the rules she doesn’t understand and/or agree with and challenges the old order at every turn.

The show, among other things, explores themes of agency and personal choice. Sabrina’s biggest concern about signing the book is the loss of her freedom. She doesn’t want to be at the Dark Lord’s command. So instead of just accepting everything at face value, she asks questions and demands answers.

Sabrina’s Dark Baptism

Apart from its titular heroine, Chilling Adventures of Sabrina (CAOS) has plenty of great characters to go around: there’s Sabrina’s family, aunties Zelda and Hilda, who are very different in their approach to both life and witchcraft. Zelda is a strong-willed and traditional, fiercely loyal to her coven and its High Priest. Hilda is a more gentle, open-minded soul, but not without a strong core. There’s also Ambrose, Sabrina’s charming pansexual cousin who isn’t allowed to leave the Spellman house as a punishment for a crime (no spoilers, but it’s a fun one).

Ros and Susie, Sabrina’s schoolmates and best friends, aren’t there to just be background props. Sure, Sabrina is understandably the focus of the show, but they’re still allowed to be their own people, with their own adventures and struggles. Ros is a vibrant and outspoken daughter of a minister. Susie is a non-binary teen, struggling with self-identity and bullying and looking for a place to belong.

Then there’s, of course, Harvey Kinkle, Sabrina’s boyfriend. He is sweet and supportive, with a passion for drawing. When he’s not making googly eyes at Sabrina, he’s dealing with his brute of a father shoving that good ol’ toxic masculinity down his throat. Thankfully, Harvey has an older brother Tommy who is nothing but supportive of Harvey’s hopes and dreams.

The magic part of Sabrina’s life includes a strict High Priest of the Church of Night (Spellmans’ coven), antagonistic young witches aka Weird Sisters with the absolutely fabulous Prudence Night as their leader, a seductive warlock classmate Nick Scratch, and a cunning teacher with a secret agenda, Ms. Wardwell.

One of my favorite things about the show is Sabrina’s relationships with her witch side. Her magic isn’t a burden, she isn’t scared or embarrassed by it. Sabrina enjoys having powers, and she fully embraces them. She also isn’t afraid to get her hands dirty, when the situation calls for it. If helping her friends calls involves a murder, then so be it!

Weird Sisters

But of course, like everything in life, CAOS also has its flaws. The overall feminist message of the show is pretty basic; they didn’t exactly move any mountains. The Harry Potter-like parallels between fictional and real-life oppression also gained some attention, mostly because white Sabrina is the one being prejudiced against, while a mixed woc is the antagonist (at least in the beginning). There are definitely things that could’ve been handled with more consideration, but for what it’s worth, Tati Gabrielle’s Prudence remains of the most interesting and memorable characters of the series. Here’s hoping for more of her side of the story in S2.

On a personal note, I would’ve loved if the show was a little more tongue-in-cheek, a little goofier maybe. But on the other hand, I do appreciate how dark they were willing to go at times.

Chilling Adventures of Sabrina is a visually beautiful, cozy tale of spells and womanhood, perfect for the Halloween season. The show’s main driving force is its many diverse female characters, full of their individual strengths and weaknesses. It has plenty of fun to offer but also has a place to grow. So if you’re in a mood for some hellraising, literal or otherwise, give a try!


Images Courtesy of Netflix

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Castlevania Enjoys a Triumphant Return

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Has it really been a year since we last saw an episode of the surprisingly great anime that is Castlevania? I know it’s hard to believe but with so many great additions to Netflix it is truly hard to prioritize what you should watch during this Halloween season. For those like me were eagerly awaiting the second season to this fantastic series, you will not be disappointed. After the debut series, I was left with the bitter taste of having such a quality video game adaptation be on the short side. At an average of just under half an hour runtime and with only 4 episodes, the first season felt like episodic film but this time around the creators opted for double the episodes which I’m sure no one is complaining about.

With the second season comes more fan service to those who loved the game it is based on: Castlevania 3. Not only that, but similar to certain elements of the first season, we see more brought into the continuity from other games in the series, including certain well loved spin-off’s such as Castlevania: Curse of Darkness. All in all, the creators really took a love for this classic series once again, and made something veterans of the series and newcomers a like can enjoy.

For those who need a reminder of what happened last season, here’s a short recap. After falling in love with a Wallachian woman named Lisa, Dracula slowly learns the ways of humanity, until she is burned as a witch for unknown reasons. In his despair, he declares war on the city of Gresit. The church blames a group of Seekers in the area for the demon slaughter that is now destroying their city. Trevor Belmont, drunk and disgraced, is convinced to make them leave but it comes at a price. The elder of the order asks him to seek out his granddaughter who went into the catacombs of Dracula’s mobile castle in order to find a hero who would end Dracula’s reign of terror. When Trevor happens upon Sypha’s petrified body he fights a Cyclopes in order to restore her.

After their return, Trevor is abducted by the Bishop of Gresit and learns he plans to incite the remainder or the city’s town folk against the Seeker’s in order to expel them from the city. Trevor returns to the Seeker’s to warn them and eventually help with their defense. Not long after, the city is upon them and the fight is grand and bloody—even more so when the demons arrive. Before the fight reaches its end, the floor beneath Trevor and Sypha gives way and fall to the Catacoombs where the lonely tomb of Dracula’s son, Alucard, slumbers. He is awakened and fights with Trevor until ultimately being convinced to join our hero’s in taking him down. Now I left out a lot but if you want to see more detail feel free to read my reviews of the previous season.

War Council

In the first episode of the second season, we get a much more intimate look as to why Lisa Tepes was burned alive at the stake, for all accounts the one event that caused Dracula’s current insanity. As we know from the first season, the whole reason Lisa sought out Dracula in the first was to gain more knowledge and understanding of medicine and the healing arts. Instead, it seems that what he taught was the powers of the old world…of natural remedies and cures that were long since condemned by the church as witchcraft and alchemy. It seems her jealous predecessor, the elder healer of the city of Gresit, sold her out to the Bishop and he immediately took action.

As Lisa convinced her husband to see the world to better understand humans and their culture; he was not there to protect. She gave as much warning to the clergy of the fury of his wroth, but they had fallen upon deaf ears and they ultimately sealed the entire fate of Gresit. In his sorrow, Dracula summoned vampire leaders from around the world and an army of darkness to fulfill his plans of first, taking Wallachia, then the world. Among his elite are two Demon Forgers who fans of Castlevania: Curse of Darkness will immediately recognize. Hector and Issac are given the paramount responsibility of planning the strategies Dracula will use to conquer Wallachia. Many of the vampire generals, notably Godbrand a viking vampire, are not keen to follow humans orders and are quite vocal about it.

Dracula in private gives these two humans his motives for trusting them more than the entirety of his vampire generals as they are not driven the thirst of blood or the destruction of humans. Rather their hatred for their own species takes center stage and their lord see’s this as better suited for destroying the human race as a whole rather than seeing them enslaved or farmed. In this scene we get a glimpse of Hectors past in the form of mental voices. His mother saying he sickens her and that she never wanted him. Clearly he was taught alchemy in order to defend himself, but it was not out of love from his parents as we can hear. Apparently he caused a fire that led to their demise as well, it was clear it was intentional.

Back in Gresit, the survivors are doing their best to tend the wounded and rebuild what little remains after the last night horde attack. The Seekers also leave the city to help other cities. Only Sypha remains to aid Trevor and Alucard in their coming fight. The relationship between Trevor and Sypha is quite strained and adorable as the two are so different that it makes perfect for one another. As fans of the game know what happens after the game, but my lips are sealed.

The final scenes of the first episode are dedicated to showing the viewer the art of devil forging and how Dracula’s army is made up of demons, the undead, and the reanimated dead. As their art suggests they are tasked with creating new demons from dead ones. Godbrand comes into also offer his apologies, though it is clear they are not sincere. In the final moment we see the relic that gives Dracula’s castle the ability to transport itself, as it does so to middle of the woods. A setting all too familiar to any fan of the game series.

Old Homes

In the start of this episode, we are treated more delightfully adorable dialogue between Trevor and Sypha about him being just in general an angry person who doesn’t know how to play nice. Duh, he’s no Richter Belmont… The two make their way to Alucard who apparently knows more than Trevor how to be nice. Their first order of bushiness is to find the castle and keep it from moving on them. Yet, Trevor has other plans. He wants the group to return the Belmont Estate, where the library survives and includes generations of knowledge of how to fight vampires. Perhaps in one of the tomes, lies the answer to destroying Dracula. Then we get some wholesome bromance between the two and I honestly couldn’t be happier about it.

Oh, children

As the group departs Gresit, Dracula’s generals continue to disobey Hector and Issac. That is until Carmilla arrives and makes things infinitely worse. Not only does she remark on the fact that he failed to destroy Gresit, but that his generals are a muck, and the most controversial of all: why did Dracula never turn Lisa into a vampire? If it was her plan to piss him off, it certainly worked. Yet she gives reasons to all her outcries. Her first being to basically unsettle all the men there, giving her the position of power and dominance.

Back with our trio of heroes. Alucard reflects on the life of his mother, Lisa Tepes. Most importantly, her role in influencing his father. To Alucard, the centuries that Dracula lived act as a reservoir for all knowledge unlearned and forgotten. The little he showed to his wife was nothing compared to what he could have shown the world. Of course, Trevor is disgusted by this idea and is quick to brand him monster. Now he goes on to his insanity and we see the truth of the transformation of Dracula.

Not soon after they are attacked by yet another famous series boss. The duo Gaibon and Slogra, amongst a group of lesser demons. The fight is both bloody and exciting. We get to see Alucard and Trevor in action with whip and sword. We also get to see some part of Sypha’s true potential as she calls upon great storms of fire and burns the demons to ash. Leaving only one to escape.

Back in the Castle we see some of Issac’s past. He flagellates himself as a vision of his past appears before us. He was a slave of sorts and was being brutalized by what looked like a Knight he was serving, for the crime of reading his books. His cries and pleas were that he was only trying to help and learn in order to assist his master. When asked why, he replies because he loves him. At this point it’s easy to see where his hatred is rooted. He master claims he loves him too and this is why he is punishing him so severely. That is until Issac counters and ends the Knights life. Godbrand appears to give Issac the body of the demon who returned from the fight, so that Issac could help it live again. In these scenes we see the insanity of Issac and the plans he has to see the world purified once more.

Another council follows this scene as the two devil forgers argue over which city they should have attacked. Arges was highly populated and would take the most toll on human life, yet it would cause nearby settlements to empty. Braila on the other hand was the major port city of Wallachia and if taken could prevent anyone from leaving the country. Braila presents an issue though due to running water, which Vampires cannot cross. Issac also gives the news that a Belmont- Alucard alliance has been forged, Carmilla intelligently suggests they attack the Belmont estate and destroy it once and for all. In a heated and passion filled monologue, it seems that the ultimate power in this room is she, which begs the question of what her endgame is?

My name is Carmilla and I’m here to ruin every mans day. I love her honestly

The first two episode we’re both well balanced with story telling and action. The dialogue was excellent and the chemistry of actors was on point. Between Alucard and Trevor we see a sort of respect and also some animosity on both ends. Yet that bromance better endure. Hector and Issac came as much of a surprise to me. As they are never mentioned outside of their game we do know that they were among Dracula’s elite generals. Fans of the game also know that (spoiler alert!) Hector eventually betrays Dracula.

Will we see that in this season? Other questions remain as well, like what is Carmilla up to, what will the state of Dracula’s generals mean for his war as a whole? How surprised are we that Peter Stormare is actually playing a Scandinavian and not a Russian for once?! Okay, maybe that last one is just me.

I am really looking forward to the rest of this season, and I’ll see you all next week for a review of the following two episodes!


Images Courtesy of Netflix

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