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Netflix’s Dark a Gorgeously Sinister Thriller

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A child from a small town disappears under less than normal circumstances and the lives of the townsfolk will never be the same. No, not Stranger Things. I’m talking about Netflix’s other sci-fi thriller about a missing boy, strange goings on near secretive government facilities, and families who don’t know how to deal with it: Dark.

Netflix’s first German-language original series, created by Baran bo Odar, Dark has been called “the German Stranger Things” or “Stranger Things for grown-ups” given its much more adult tone. But that’s not entirely accurate. For one, the shows were announced 6 months apart, with very few details about Stranger Things being known when Dark was announced and the premise already pitched, so I don’t think it’s entirely fair to call Dark a rip-off.

More importantly, while they have superficial similarities, Dark brings something new and different to the paranormal drama genre. The ‘bad guys’ are less straightforward, the dynamic between and among families more complicated, and the ambiance less a fun 80s nostalgia and more a sinister sense of déjà vu.

Poor Mikkel.

From the first moments of the show, Dark presents itself differently. It’s darker, more violent, and has a list of content warnings to go along with it. While I won’t get into spoiler territory or details in this review, for the sake of fairness, I’ll list the warnings now. That way, you can opt out of reading any further into this review and/or skip the show entirely.

Content warning for suicide, child endangerment, physical abuse, rape accusations, self-harm, and police brutality, as depicted on the show.

Suffice to say, we’re not in Hawkins anymore; Winden is a much darker place (badum tss).

Just A Boy, A Small Town, and A Wormhole

“The distinction between past, present, and future is only a stubbornly persistent illusion.”—Albert Einstein

Dark begins with a gravelly voice telling us about the illusion of time overtop a creepy, brooding score that perfectly sets the tone leading into the establishing shot of the cold open: a man’s suicide. Following the opening sequence—at once trippy and gorgeous—we meet up with Jonas, the son of the man who committed suicide. He struggles to fit into ‘normal’ life in the small town of Winden following the tragedy. Yet his isn’t the only tragedy, one of his schoolmates has gone missing and the police have no leads.

Everyone’s life gets even more complicated when Jonas and his friends head to the caves outside of town to hunt down the missing boy’s stash of weed. On the way home, Mikkel Nielson, the younger brother of Jonas’ friend Magnus and one-time girlfriend Martha, vanishes without a trace.

When we learn that Mikkel has been transported back in time to 1986, the voiceover and quote from Einstein begin to make sense. Stick with me here, this isn’t wibbly wobbly, timey wimey absurdity. This is where Dark gets simultaneously more thrilling and more terrifying. As events unfold across three different timelines (2019, 1986, and 9153), we begin to wonder if, as other characters posit, time is a prison and people have no freedom whatsoever. Are all actions and reactions nothing but links in a causal chain over which humanity has absolutely zero control? Can we free ourselves from our situatedness in time and space? Or are we merely pawns for greater powers we cannot fully understand? Is time an illusion, or something more dangerous?

Thanks, Noah.

A Time-Warped Whodunnit

Dark asks a lot of philosophical questions outright, but don’t let that put you off. It’s less up its own ass than it sounds. For a series about time travel, black holes, and paradoxes, significantly more space is devoted to the characters themselves and watching the web of interconnections unfold. Where Stranger Things falls more on the supernatural end of the sci-fi spectrum, the straight-up sci-fi elements in Dark are the plot devices for a character and family drama.

I watch a lot of European crime dramas, and to my mind, Dark has much in common with shows like The Tunnel and Broadchurch. The entire season is a mystery the characters are trying to unravel, a maze they’re trying to find the center to and then work their way out of. We’re along for the ride as we, too, get caught up in the web of connections. We, too, are left in the dark (heh) about some of the core motivations and identities of some of the key players. Like the mythical Theseus, and Jonas himself, we’re just trying to find our way out of the labyrinth. And it’s a damn good labyrinth. Full of twists, turns, and a creeping sense of doom.

Yet even that isn’t the best way to explain the maturity of tone and overall sense of deep foreboding that permeates the show. Dark takes its time. It’s somber, lingering, and downright meditative sometimes. But it never loses sight of the deep sense of wrongness about everything and everyone in Winden. It’s one of those shows that’s much easier to experience than describe.

Everything is Connected

No really. It is.

Dark weaves together past, present, and future into one giant web of connections. Everything is a knot Alexander the Great himself would want to cut just by looking at it. But the web is what gives the story it’s depth. Not just everything, but everyone is connected. The connections between families and across time move the knotty time paradoxes from the theoretical to the deeply personal. Theories, and the choices made based on them, have consequences for living people (living within the world of the show, that is). And everyone has to live with those consequences.

If you thought one complicated family dynamic was compelling, get ready for four complicated family dynamics and the one giant dynamic born of their inextricable bonds to each other. The giant mess that is the Kahnwald, Nielson, Doppler, and Tiedemann history is gloriously broken and all kinds of fucked up.

That’s one of the things I love about Dark. It’s about people and the ways they hurt each other, both intentionally and accidentally. Very few of the characters come out without at least a bit of egg on their face. Others have egg everywhere. This isn’t a show about scrappy kids learning about the power of friendship or well-intentioned adults learning how to listen and think beyond the literal world to something more fantastical. (Though that is a really good thing and I adore Stranger Things, too, just for different reasons.)

This is a show where at least every character is an asshole to someone else at some point. Everyone is hurting, grieving, and anxious in their own way, some in healthier and more effective ways than others. Everyone is a bit self-absorbed, but it’s understandable because sorrow and fear do that to people. Everyone has a shitty moment, but the shittiness feels real, human. And some of that shittiness is really, really shitty. I’m not going to paint it otherwise or make excuses. Hurting people do awful things to each other. The difference between who gets my sympathy and who is just an asshole is in what they do afterward and how much they let that awfulness define them.

And you won’t have sympathy for everyone. Ulrich and Hannah can be downright repulsive, and even Franziska, who I like overall, has some awful moments with her younger sister. At the same time, it’s hard not to have sympathy for at least one, if not multiple characters. I latched onto teenage Martha early on and her story breaks my heart. Charlotte was an early and consistent favorite. Old Claudia, on the other hand, became a favorite of mine toward the end of the series after not making a strong impression on me early on.

Charlotte is the best.

The 1986 and 1953 timelines gave me a lot of sympathy for characters whose older presentations turned me off, like Regina, Egon, Alexander, and Katharina. That’s part of the beauty of using time travel, we get to see how people came to be who they are in the ‘present,’ which is a great way to generate pathos.

I will mildly spoil you and say there’s a delightful background woman loving woman romance in the 1953 storyline that gives me all the feels. Because fuck heteronormativity. I hope [edited for spoilers] have a long and happy life away from Winden.

Yet no matter how sympathetic or unsympathetic you might find one or all of the characters, you can’t fault them for being flat. Hannah might be the literal worst, but she’s a well-rounded worst. She’s a horrible person, but a person nonetheless. She’s complex and dynamic in her terribleness. Same with Ulrich, who manages to be both awful and pitiful, sometimes in the span of a second.

And the acting is superb. This is one of the best casts I’ve seen and every single one of them sells their role. Louis Hofmann, who plays Jonas, carries the tragedy of his story with such elegance and heartbreak that you can’t look away. The acting required of his role is impressive at any age, and he nails it at 20 years old. Color me gobsmacked.

Oh, and the casting of different actors to play the younger and older versions of the same character is eerily spot on. I truly haven’t seen it’s like.

Ulrich in all his douchebaggy glory. I don’t know how they did it without casting people who are literally related. It’s uncanny.

The all white cast may be jarring to American fans used to racial diversity. I hesitate to call it out because I don’t know how accurately this reflects life in small town Germany. Finding racial demographics in European countries like Germany is notoriously difficult, as the government does not collect racial statistics in census data like we do here in the US.

So if there are any German Fandomental fans out there, feel free to chime in with details, either positive or negative. I don’t want to be inaccurate. All I can say is that it does feel odd to watch a show with an almost entirely white cast given how diverse so much of the media I typically consume is. Just something to be aware of.

It’s All in the Details

Dark wouldn’t be the show it is without the music and cinematography. For me, music in visual media like film and television falls into three categories: so bad I notice that it’s out of place, so good that I hardly notice it at all it’s so seamless, and so amazing that I think about how much it is enhancing my experience of what I’m watching. Dark falls firmly into the latter category. It’s beautiful, haunting, and will stick with you long after you finish an episode. It sets the tone impeccably and never feels out of place or unnecessary. As with the visual style, it’s integral to fully appreciating what the show is doing.

The symbolism and visual metaphor add so many layers that I feel like I need to rewatch it in order to truly appreciate everything. Symbolism is my jam, and Dark more than scratched that itch; it was the reason I watched Dark in the first place. Like Stranger Things, Dark truly understands its chosen medium and makes effective use of the showing vs telling potential of visual juxtaposition. It’s the kind of show you can’t watch while doing something else or you’ll miss important clues and foreshadowing. If you like ambiance, symbolism, visual metaphor, and intricate puzzles, Dark is the show for you.

A Note on Subs v. Dubs

Ah, the age old debate. Do I watch it in the original language with subtitles or in my native tongue? I typically prefer subs. It means I can’t get work with my hands while I watch, but given how intricate the symbolism is with Dark, I wouldn’t want to do that anyway. Mostly, I just prefer hearing the original actors and language. Plus, I find lack of synchronicity between lip/facial movements and sound quite distracting.

I did listen to the English dub for part of the first episode, though, and it’s well done. So, if that’s your preference, I don’t think you’ll miss much. I’ve seen criticisms of the subtitles being inconsistently placed on screen, but I didn’t have that problem. That may have been an early issue that has been fixed.

All that to say, it comes down to personal preference. Whatever is the easiest way for you to watch, do it and don’t let anyone judge you for it.

The End is In the Beginning

I found Dark tremendously engaging. Calling it the German Stranger Things may not be entirely accurate, but I do think fans of the former will enjoy a lot about Dark. It has a darker tone and the characters are less straightforwardly sympathetic, but that’s not a bad thing. Dark is a show about messed up people doing messed up things to each other when they’re hurting. With black holes, time paradoxes, and philosophical questions about the nature of human choice and freedom thrown in. Plus lots of visual metaphor, symbolism, and amazing music.

Nurse Ines is another favorite. Did I mention how fascinating and different all the female characters are?

Everything is well written, perfectly paced for the story it wants to tell, and the acting is on point. I have a hard time finding anything to gripe about. My only caveat is the content warning I gave at the outset. It’s not gory or exploitative, but what violence we do see can be deeply disturbing, so it’s not for everyone.

Dark has been greenlit for a second season, though there are currently no details regarding when that will air. Hopefully soon! When it comes on, you can be sure that I’ll watch and review it. I literally just finished watching it, and I already want to watch it again. I think I’m going to make my partner watch it with me. He’ll thank me.


Images courtesy of Netflix

Bi, she/her. Gretchen is a Managing Editor for the Fandomentals. An unabashed nerdy fangirl and aspiring sci/fi and fantasy author, she has opinions about things like media, representation, and ethics in storytelling.

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Mrs. Maisel Remains Marvelous

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Very few shows have ever made me fall immediately in love like I did with season 1 of The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel. By the time the police escorted a drunken Midge off the stage of the Gaslight near the end of the first episode, this show had me. Heart, mind, and soul. The rest of the first season only deepened love. By the end, it was not only possibly my favorite show of last year, but my favorite show out right now, period.

Clearly I had high expectations going into season 2. Perhaps unfairly so. Can I really expect a show that drew me in so strongly to replicate that feeling again? Even if it remained as excellent as before, could it make me love so hard a second time? The short answer is yes. Yes and then some.

Landing the Joke

What stood out to me about this second season of Mrs. Maisel was the bold confidence Amy Sherman-Palladino, her fellow writers, the cast, and the rest of the crew have in their vision of this show. Everything wonderful about the first season not only remains, but cranks up another level. The dialogue moves as fast and wittily as ever. The actors have settled confidently into their characters. Side characters receive much-appreciated focus. The direction, cinematography, and costumes of the show remains stunning, easily ranking Mrs. Maisel among the best looking shows out right now.

Even better, the story managed to push a bit outside of the first season’s comfort zone and prove how its formula works in a variety of settings and scenarios. Where the first season found comfort in the Upper West Side of New York City, season 2 immediately moves Mrs. Maisel to Paris for the first two episodes. A later story arc takes the Maisels and Weissmans to the “wilderness” of the Catskills. Midge and Susie eventually go on tour around the northeast United States.

Not only does the show (and Midge) lose none of the charm navigating all these new settings, it only proves the true quality of both. Midge’s impromptu stand-up sets are as funny as ever, even when they require a surprised translator for a French audience. I shared Susie’s fear about the Catskills trip breaking the momentum of the season to date like it might stall Midge’s career. Then it turned into a wonderful multi-episode arc.

Mrs. Maisel plunges fearlessly into different settings and drags its characters along with them, forcing them all to adapt to the changing circumstances of their lives. The first season certainly focused a great deal on change, and season 2 takes it even further. Everyone has their life uprooted in some way. Some major, some minor, but no one escapes the season unscathed.

Midge, of course, is the star. Her comedy career continues on an upward trajectory, ending the season with her biggest step forward yet. The big change comes in the effect her comedy career has on those around her. The first season certainly sees major change in her life but most of it sees her charm her way upwards in Manic Pixie Dream Girl style, minus the man viewing her as such. Season 2 sees her comedy career take a serious effect on her life. Friends are left behind and relationships suffer. Her comedy dreams begin demanding sacrifices, forcing Midge to make hard choices in her life.

While Midge remains eminently likable and perseverant, she comes across appreciatively more flawed than in season 1. There’s a shade of reckless selfishness to Midge this season. She chases her comedy dreams with an almost single-minded focus disregarding those around her. Where everyone just kind of shrugged and said, “that’s Midge” during season 1, the same cannot be said this time around. Her perseverance alienates sometimes.

In the hands of a worse actor or writers, she would come across poorly. Rachel Brosnahan just remains so damn charismatic and fun, though. The writing also knows exactly when to stop at the line between endearing and annoying. It’s a truly remarkable balance combined with a performance that deserves every award Brosnahan will get while this show airs.

And speaking of the acting; Tony Schalhoub is even better this season. The Catskills episodes are him at his very best.

Midge’s parents receive a large focus this season. Midge’s mother Rose quasi-leaves Abe and moves to Paris, triggering the Paris arc to start the season. Both find out about Midge’s career this season as well. Abe, in particular, undergoes an arc much like Rose did last season, as everything he thought he knew about his children falls apart beneath his feet. This includes a revelation about Midge’s brother Noah that expands his character.

However, if I do have a major complaint about this season, it involves Midge’s parents. Rose, especially, is done a disservice. The first 3 episodes of the season focus greatly on her dissatisfaction with her life in New York. When she returns home, however, she quickly falls back into her old socialite lifestyle without further comment. Abe goes to great lengths to be different for her in the first half of the season. Over the second half, though, he also returns to the same habits that caused their problems to begin with. It’s a shame to see the good work done in the beginning of the season vanish like it does.

Susie also has a pretty wonderful season expanding on her life and personality. It’s no surprise to say Alex Borstein is absolutely wonderful; she’s funny, vulnerable, and possesses a fierce loyalty to Midge. She’s also understatedly charismatic. Season 1 established Susie as a loner with trouble making people like her. Season 2 flips this on its head multiple times, showing how Susie can create connections with people besides Midge. Her loyalty and charisma even lead to a huge opportunity for her management career heading into season 3.

She also gets to be really, really funny. Susie was obviously funny in season 1, but most of her humor revolved around Midge, like everyone else. Season 2 gives her a spotlight all her own leading to some of the funniest moments all season. There’s a multi-episode gag involving a plunger that might be my favorite joke all season.

In the end, it is still the Midge/Susie dynamic driving this show, and it was undoubtedly improved upon.

Mrs. Maisel’s bold confidence in itself really shines through in the skill with which season 2 expanded on all these side characters and introduced others, all without even the slightest hiccup in the show’s quality. Midge even gets a new love interest, a doctor named Benjamin, who blows Joel out of the water. There’s an immediate chemistry between the two despite Benjamin’s initial indifference. An indifference that, to be honest, made me worry about the subplot. Things weren’t helped by the massive Not Like Other Girls angle that makes Benjamin interested in Midge.

An episode later, I loved it. That’s just what Maisel does, and it earned a great deal of trust from me moving forward. Seriously, the Catskills was wonderful.

Speaking of Joel…I have to say I dislike him even more this season than I did in season 1. I know his character comes down to personal preference. My personal preference is that his character needs to change.

He’s so toxically masculine and pathetically insecure, even more than the first season, and it stands out poorly to me among so many other wonderful characters. At least in season 1 he was a guy who made a really stupid mistake and tried to rehab from it. I didn’t mind him. This time around he doubles down on both his mistake and his sense of entitlement regarding Midge. He wants to live a womanizing bachelor life yet throws hissy fits at the idea of Midge having anything without him.

However, Joel and the vanishing character growth of Rose do little to detract from a fantastic season for the entire cast. Mrs. Maisel did exactly what you want to see with a cast of characters in a second season; they grew them, expanded them, and continued endearing you to them.

Was that Political? It Sounded Political!

Mrs. Maisel also continues and grows its political streak in season 2. The main obstacle to Midge’s career is never her own ability or Susie’s ability to find gigs. No, in the end, it always comes down to sexism. Everywhere Midge goes, bookers think she’s a singer or don’t want to put her on because she’s a woman. Susie has to use fake pictures to sell her sometimes. Fellow comedians mock her on stage, but when she mocks them back, she gets in trouble.

There’s also a moment where Midge bases a set around pregnancy jokes and is rushed off stage for saying the word “pregnant.” Of course, this comes directly after a man who told jokes about penis growths.

I’d say your mileage here may vary. Perhaps Mrs. Maisel is too blunt with its feminism and will make you groan. The combination of Midge’s exceptionalism and the lack of subtlety won’t appeal to everyone. Personally, I think it straddles the line effectively and falls in balance with the style of the show. Mrs. Maisel isn’t trying to tell a story focused on rising feminism during 1950s America. The politics are an added source for jokes and conflict. Personally, I find those jokes hilarious.

The politics also extended beyond Midge and her career with some hints at Abe’s activist past, which has been set up as a major plotline for season 3. Ultimately, this is a show about a Jewish woman breaking into comedy in America during the 1950s-1960s. To ignore politics and the patriarchy entirely would feel inauthentic.

Regardless of time period, Mrs. Maisel is telling a story about a woman escaping expected gender roles to be the person she wants to be. It can’t help but be political. I think they do a pretty great job in that regard.

More deftly handled throughout season 2 was the issue of wealth and social class. Comparisons often arise regarding the difference in wealth between Midge and Susie. Sometimes this comes from giant confrontations, and sometimes the point is made more quietly, such as the differences in living quarters during the Catskills trip. Joel and his family exist somewhere between, well off enough to live close to the Weissmans but still struggling to keep a business afloat.

Like everything else, this tends to exist as a source of growth and character jokes. Mrs. Maisel clearly isn’t trying to make a larger point about wealth inequality or the privilege of the Midge and her parents. Conflicts pop up because circumstances demand it.

Overall, it all works. It also adds needed depth to a show that could have ignored these circumstances entirely. In many ways, season 1 did ignore much of this. Midge faced sexism, but not quite to the extreme she does in season 2. Midge’s wealth and privilege stood out, but was not directly addressed compared to Susie’s poverty. Like everything else about season 2, Mrs. Maisel expanded the realities of the world around Midge, Susie, and their friends and family. I think they did a fine job.

There’s so much depth here I can’t even comment on. Elements of the existence of women, the impact of being Jewish, of possible LGBTQ elements that may or may not exist. Mrs. Maisel is, at its core, a show trying to be funny. It’s a comedy. However, it has a lot there to dig into. More than I can get into here, and more than I could even recognize. Season 2 made these characters and their world so much bigger and more meaningful, and I love both the effort and execution.

Marvelous

I admit to a bit of bias when it comes to Mrs. Maisel. As I said to begin this review, I fell deeply in love in the very first episode and it’s possible my ability to recognize deep flaws has vanished. This show hits on just about every level for me. The jokes almost always land, the drama hits its mark, and anyone not named Joel has my undying devotion. I have zero practical knowledge of fashion and yet I deeply admire the clothing choices for every character.

There’s a reason season 2 of Mrs. Maisel will end up on a lot of Best Of lists for 2018. It’s funny, smart, beautiful, dramatic, and makes you care for its characters. It absolutely deserved an Emmy over the incredible second season of Atlanta, and it only got better this season. I’m left with the same question I had after the first season; can Mrs. Maisel replicate this quality? Can they possibly make me love another season as much as I did the first two?

I have a feeling they will.


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Castlevania’s Final Two Episodes Are Heartbreaking and Perfect

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It’s very rare that I call anything, especially a series completely flawless, but in the case of both the final two episodes of Castlevania and the series as a whole, they’re something truly without equal in the world of video game adaptations. Not only did the second season improve on the first, it completely perfected it to please both new comers and gaming veterans alike for an experience that is unmatched in quality story telling, faith to the source material, and just an overall thrill ride with tons of drama and excitement.

In keeping the essence of a perfect season it is only natural that both the climax and concluding episodes be the best of the entire season. The last two episodes are equally action packed and emotional spectacle, as well as a cathartic and bitter sweet farewell as we say goodbye to some of our favorite characters. Though only for a bit, as season 3 was already announced.

Now, the big question about season 3 for me is, which game will it be based on, 0r will Warren Ellis decide to go with something completely original? If he goes the game route, he’s got a few choices to pick from. Castlevania: Curse of Darkness would be the most logical, as it takes place only a few years after the third game and follows the rivalry between Hector and Issac. He could also the show take back to the original Castlevania and introduce Simon Belmont.

Finally, he could skip ahead a few hundred years and bring us the most beloved stories in the series and introduce Richter Belmont, Maria Renard, and the return of Alucard in Rondo of Blood and Symphony of the night. Both are considered the epitome of the series experience. He could also turn the clock and return to days of Leon Belmont, as the character was mentioned several times this season. If he decides to go for original content, no doubt we will see more Carmilla, which I’m totally on board with.

With all that in mind, I love what I’ve seen with this series: the characters, the gorgeous animation, the powerful story telling, and the love for the game that’s clear among everyone involved. I’m excited for the future of the series. While it is a shame that the game’s original developer Konami decided to squander one of many of their best game series, we can at least find solace that it will live on in this anime.

For Love

This is it, the final battle, and it begins where we left off: Dracula’s castle is now on top of the Belmont estate and his generals are still locked in a battle with the remainder of Carmilla’s forces that were transported with the castle. The moon becomes blood red, and it seems that Dracula is no longer amused by this betrayal. Our trio rises from the library as Sypha uses an ice pillar to help them ascend the broken staircase in front of the castle. On their way up, we get a nice portrait of Leon Belmont, hopefully a foreshadowing for the series. Sypha cleverly tosses the ice pillar away as she doesn’t want to flood the basement and destroy the library. We need more people like her in the world.

The three make their way into the great hall of the castle and suddenly all vampires’ attention is on them. In this fight, we get to see Sypha unleash her magical potential, Trevor’s fighting prowess and whip work, and even a nod to the many familiars and forms Alucard controls in Symphony of the Night. In the background, we are treated to fan delight as one of the best versions of a recurrent theme from the soundtracks of the games, Bloody Tears, plays triumphantly in background. Everything about this scene, which takes up half of the episode, is amazing and exciting. The three work as a single force: Sypha distracts them with magic, Trevor takes them on one by one, and Alucard overwhelms with sheer might. This maybe the last time we see them fight together but damn if it isn’t the best. Did I mention how awesome this rendition of Bloody Tears was?

If I had to choose a favorite part of this battle it would have to be Sypha’s duel with the Indian vampire. Her constant, fluid adaptability with her ice magic was impressive to behold. As was Alucard’s duel with the Geisha-esque vampire and the moment when Sypha saves him. I love Sypha, and I’ll just stop myself there. While the three are battling to get to Dracula, Issac is doing his best to defend his master from the armor clad vampires. It is this moment that we see the tragedy of Dracula, as Issac prepares to give his life for what Dracula represents. Instead, he transports Issac using the mirror to a distant desert, to spare him from a cruel fate.

The rest of the episode follows the fight against Dracula. All three play a part in it, but Alucard does most of the heavy fighting, including the eventual death blow. The fight is actually quite one sided as neither Trevor or Sypha can do much to damage Dracula, still their efforts are not in vain and make for some amazing fight sequences. Even the scene where Trevor’s punch to Dracula in the face was like hitting a wall is pretty hilarious. Yet it seems only the morningstar whip can really do any damage. There’s a couple of nods to previous Dracula fights in the game as well, like that giant meteor that appears in several fights.

Eventually the one on one fight between Alucard and Dracula leads to his childhood room, filled with toys, drawings, and children’s things. It is here that we at last see what humanity remains in Vlad Dracula Tepes and are treated to one of the most heartbreaking scenes in anything I’ve watched in a long while. “It’s your room. My boy. I’m-I’m killing my boy. Lisa, I’m killing our boy…We painted this room, we made these toys. Your greatest gift to me, and I’m killing him. I must already be dead.” Our hearts are filled with the pain of Dracula’s final realization of what grief has done to him, what monsters we are all capable of becoming.

I came here to have a good time and I’m feeling so attacked right now.

It’s in this moment that Alucard drives a stake into his father’s heart. Trevor removes his head and Sypha burns the ashes once and for all. We mourn the passing of one of gamings greatest foes, but we also mourn a son killing a father who indeed loved him. In the end, what little humanity was left in Dracula shined out. A perfect end to a perfect episode.

End Times

Most of this episode serves as an epilogue and a view of things to come for the series. Alucard wanders the castle, witnessing the damage the assault had caused, especially Sypha’s spell wreaking havoc in the clock tower gear room. Apparently Alucard was going to return to sleep but not while the castle is abandoned with all of the science and knowledge of the centuries. He plans now to stay and watch the castle since Sypha, you know, broke it. Trevor gives him the Belmont library; as above so below, it is all Alucard’s to guard, a home. The two share a beautiful moment of real friendship and a hope for better days.

Next up is Issac, who is confined to wander a new desert. He frequents an oasis nearby and is quickly harassed by several horsemen led by a scarred man. They plan to either sell or eat him which prompts Issac to attack them, flaying them bit by bit in violent fashion. The significance of this sequence is a new madness in Issac. After realizing he could have an army of undead now at his disposal by using his forge master skills, he begins to make one.

We return to Sypha and Trevor and their plans for the future. Sypha plans to return to her people but only for a short while. Life with Trevor was far too exciting for her to stay with them. There’s more evil to be destroyed, the night hordes remains, as well as Carmilla and the corrupted church. Their adventures are not over. Especially the big one that we see coming, a marriage between the two.

Hector and Carmilla appear next in Breila with her surviving order. It’s clear now that once she gets back on her feet she will raise another army. With Hector now her slave, she has an unlimited supply of reborn demons. Poor Hector gets a glimpse of the punishment he will pay should he disobey her.

The final goodbye between our trio is sweet and heartfelt. It may not be in the stars that they meet again but surely the memory of their fights will keep the friendship going for eternity. As we know, Alucard is always on a friendly basis with the Belmonts in the future. What kills me is the final scene. Alucard, now alone, explores the castle that is now his. Full of life and memories but now, like his father, dead and hollow. He returns to his father’s study and is plagued by the ghosts of a happy childhood. The season ends with him weeping, mourning his family.

I hope you all enjoyed this season of Castlevania, and hope to see you all when season 3 rolls around!


Images Courtesy of Netflix

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It’s All About She-Ra!

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Elizabeth and Kori take a look at the rebooted Netflix series, She-Ra and the Princesses of Power.

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