Castlevania

The third season of the Netflix original animated series “Castlevania” is now available on the streaming platform. Based on the 1989 classic video game “Castlevania III: Dracula’s Curse,” the show is a mature, fantasy horror that follows the adventures of the monster hunter Trevor Belmont and his partner Sypha Belnades, a magician. Other characters include Alucard, son of Dracula, as well as Hector and Isaac, the Devil Forgemasters. “Castlevania” explores many dark, adult themes, such as religion, bondage, betrayal and humanity.

The second season left the audience wondering — what is the next great threat to humanity? Dracula is dead, Isaac was thrown to Africa, Hector was enslaved by Carmilla, Alucard was left to live in the castle guarding the Belmont Hold and Trevor and Sypha began traveling together. The only loose ends were the fates of Hector and Isaac. 

The season begins with Alucard’s daily routine of gathering ingredients from the forest and cooking dinner. 

Alucard’s loneliness comes to a head during his time guarding the secrets of Dracula’s castle and the Belmont Hold. He is eating dinner alone at a long table and begins talking to ragdolls made to look like his adventuring friends, Trevor and Sypha. When the audience sees those two again, their opening scene is a gruesome slaughter of night creatures that tried to ambush their wagon. The action sequences in “Castlevania” have always been gory, colorful and full of explosions — this fight was no different. However, this is the only significant fight that occurs until the end of the season.

After betraying Dracula, Hector is once again being used for his magic, but now in servitude to the vampire Carmilla, ruler of Striga. Isaac’s quest is to continue Dracula’s mission: grow the army of the night and kill Hector for his betrayal.

This season, both Hector and Isaac’s characters experience growth through intimate discussion and self-questioning of their ideologies. Isaac discusses the philosophy behind faith and hate — with strong anti-Christianity themes weaved throughout the series. Hector’s hate for humanity and vampires slowly changes as he is treated humanely in his imprisonment, realizing his betrayal of Dracula is justified. However, these philosophical scenes are not usually worth the screen time because they have no effect on character development.

Trevor and Sypha’s adventures in the village of Lindenfield play out similarly to the plotline of “Stranger Things,'' as there is something going bump at night, the authorities don’t know what it is and the gang has to solve the mystery. However, instead of a government conspiracy, the bad guys are devil-worshipping Christian monks. The tricky and scheming scholar Saint Germain and The Judge add an air of mystery to the plot that keeps you questioning whether they are friend or foe.

What about Alucard? Two monster hunters from Japan show up, looking for his aid in learning to slay vampires and save their people. That’s basically it for Alucard for most of the season. Alucard’s character seems extremely unimportant the entire season, until the last episode, where the unexpected plot twist spirals him in the polar opposite direction of what his character has been.

The four completely separate storylines are complex, full of dialogue and hard to follow — basically any season of “Game of Thrones.” Isaac’s story is extremely uninteresting as he continues to whine about the cruelty of humans for the third season in a row. Almost all of season three is a slow crawl of exposition — until episode nine. Every little moment had been building to an insanely climactic payoff.

From this point on, beware spoilers to the final two episodes.

The ninth episode comes completely out of left field. The animation for the fight scenes is remarkably rough yet precise, representing the chaos full of explosions, dead bodies being flung everywhere, and swords making clean slices. At the same time as the two fight scenes, there are also two extremely intimate and detailed sex scenes that even showed nudity, something previously not depicted on the show. It was astounding how well the show immersed the viewer in four completely different settings at once. Even switching from fight to sex to fight, not a second felt missed.

The final moments of the last episode come full circle and repeat the opening of episode one  — except with a dark twist. Hector is now enslaved, continuing his ongoing theme of bondage and abuse at the hands of those he trusts. Trevor and Sypha leave the town full of hate and frustration. The last scene shows Alucard returning from the forest with his basket of food and a look of hate in his eyes. He ends the season appearing just like Dracula at the opening of the first season, with his first human kills impaled gruesomely in front of the castle. There is an overall air of hopelessness and loss that leaves one wanting more as the screen cuts to credits. 

culture@dailynebraskan.com