In the words of the late, great Tom Petty, “Oh, my my. Oh hell, yes.Castlevania returned this past October on Netflix for its second season. It keeps the ball rolling from Season 1, respecting the source material, all the while taking just enough liberties to keep it fresh and unpredictable (points added for coming out in October and not summer this time around).

A passion project of writer Warren Ellis since 2007, what was originally intended to be an animated movie of Castlevania 3: Dracula’s Curse finally culminated last year through Netflix as Castlevania, a short 4-episode season that was immediately renewed for this long-awaited second season, which is double the size at 8 episodes with a 3rd season already in the works.

With no poetic embroidery, this season is simply “Castlevania: Season 2.” You may expect some dark, gothic subtitles added in as all the games do for every new entry in the series, but Netflix is keeping it short and sweet. On a side note, I’ve always wondered when the games will run out of dramatic subtitles to use and begin scraping the barrel…

Help yourself, Konami.

We pick up right where last season left off with Trevor Belmont and Sypha Belnades recruiting Dracula’s son Alucard to form a shaky alliance to thwart Dracula’s war against the people of Wallachia and humanity in general. In past articles, I’ve sung the praises of games like Breath of Fire and Wild Arms for employing a heavy roster of well-developed, strong villains and this season of Castlevania tacks on quite a few for Dracula’s side, while developing the current relationships the good guys established at the end of season 1.

Here goes! – Spoilers, naturally…

Episode 1

So what’s Dracula been up to since the events of last season? Is he riding around on a giant piece of Hot Topic jewelry?

Maybe hitting the gym and trying out some Speedos?

Possibly standing around perfectly still and getting the crap kicked out of himself?

Nope, he’s doing what all good pop-culture vampires do – he broods. And he broods like a boss.

Drac’s a wreck as he tries in vain to process his grief over the loss of his wife Lisa. He’s still full of blinding rage, sure, but without Lisa as his mentor to understanding humanity, he’s utterly alone and pretty unstable. The impact Lisa had on his life (unlife?) seems to be in conflict with his renewed love of mass murder and impaling people on large sticks, so it all sort of boggles around in his head and he sits in his study, staring at the fire. Realizing his need for downtime, Dracula announces that his human forge-masters (necromancers, basically) Isaac and Hector will now be running the war against humanity, with an endgame of genocide.

Devil’s advocate: there are simpler, more “Castlevania-esque” ways to make life miserable for the peasants…

As mentioned above, there are new villains added to his ranks and aside from the nameless, but awesome looking captains, there’s the blunt vampire lord Godbrand, the show-stealing vampiress Carmilla, and the aforementioned Curse of Darkness mains Hector and Issac. There’s a lot of distrust and paranoia within this group as they’re all waiting to see who’s going to get stabbed in the back (figuratively, as well). Hector and Isaac originate from Castlevania: Curse of Darkness and chronologically, their stories take place right around the same time as the events of Castlevania 3.

This episode also includes a great flashback of Lisa’s humanitarian work, utilizing what she’s learned from Dracula involving medicine and science. It shows what exactly went down during her capture by the fanatical sect that ultimately burned her at the stake, getting this whole crapstorm a’rollin’.

No one expects the Wallachian Inquisition!

Episode 2

You can call the series is made by a fan for the fans due to it being peppered with references. Introducing Carmilla into the cast was brilliant and she wastes no time playing everyone like Stradivari. A fight scene near the end includes the enduring duo of Slogra and Gaibon which was a treat. And basically, the good guys bicker.

Everyone’s favorite workplace bromance – going strong since 1991

A neat addition – the castle itself can be teleport to different locations by Dracula via what looks like a save room box from Symphony of the Night – one of those 24-sided dice looking things. When needed, Drac can just work his magic and make the castle like an old RV and park it just about anywhere.

Other than that, this episode is mostly Dracula’s war counsel arguing about the plights of crossing running water. They also bicker as much as the good guys do.

Episode 3

You may notice there’s quite a bit of dialogue up to this point and, in its defense, it’s great for character development, and helps the series go easy on mindless action, as it could easily go that route and end up “Michael Bay-ing” all over the place. You won’t get bored though, as all the talking is offset by the squeal-inducing glee of Easter eggs. Trevor, Sypha, and Alucard go to the ruined Belmont estate and down into an underground trove that’s mostly a library, but does contain a vast collection of relics and artifacts, like a bone dragon mounted for decoration, the morning star, and numerous other blink-and-you’ll-miss-it items. One brief clip has a cataloged set of numbered shelves with a slew of easter eggs that coincide with the bestiary catalog from Symphony of the Night.

Geek out on this slice of fried gold!

Episode 4

We learn that Godbrand loves yelling his name a lot and “Viking-ing out” everywhere (a welcome action scene to mix with the extensive dialogue). Speaking of which, Trevor tells Sypha and Alucard a bit of his family history and how he’s of French origin. In the trove, the good guys find a damaged transporter mirror that may be the key to winning the battle. Sypha also takes a liking to Trevor in spite of his admitted smelliness.

To be concluded next time. Till then…

…Rock on!

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Michael A. Jones     nerdsintheburbs@gmail.com     www.nerdsintheburbs.com

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