The following review contains spoilers for Castlevania season 3, episode 5, “A Seat of Civilisation and Refinement.”
After last episode’s oversaturation of content, with the show focusing on advancing all of its major narratives marginally, “A Seat of Civilisation and Refinement” takes the polar opposite approach. We only catch up with two of our long-running plots, though even that’s a bit misleading given how 80% of the episode is dedicated to following Trevor (Richard Armitage) and Sypha’s (Alejandra Reynosa) escapades in Lindenfeld, while the other 20% briefly touches on Alucard’s (James Callis) antics with his newfound apprentices. Of the two approaches to crafting a Castlevania episode, “A Seat of Civilisation and Refinement” is by far the stronger.
However, Alucard’s training is still nothing to write home about. While I do like the idea of Alucard teaching a new generation of vampire hunters, there’s not much actual character development occurring. He tells Sumi (Rila Fukushima) and Taka (Toru Uchikado) to keep their distance from vampires in fights while still working on their close-quarters combat. It’s a good lesson to teach, since Alucard points out that Taka, despite being an archer, may eventually run out of arrows in a fight, but that’s about it for interesting interactions. The training sequence yields some choppy animation as well.
Fortunately, Trevor and Sypha’s investigation into Sala’s (Navid Negahban) cult balances itself better with quiet moments to build character for nearly everyone. “A Seat of Civilisation and Refinement” starts with Trevor going alone in the woods to be alone with his thoughts on Sypha. It’s clear that he loves her, and a man like Trevor has never really felt like that before, being a drifter who travels from town to town to defeat monsters. Yet Trevor, reluctant as he is to admit it, has been loving being partners with Sypha for the past month. The bickering, teamwork, and banter just further the idea that he really does love her.
The Judge (Jason Isaacs) reinforces this in his conversation with Trevor after following him into the woods. We really do get a sense for his character and how, despite being the leader of Lindenfeld, he feels both connected and separate from the town. For being a minor village far removed from any of the chaotic events of the last two seasons, it still stands out as significant. It’s a quaint little town where every story feels important — someone getting sick, going missing, or dying — but that’s exactly what the Judge likes about it. Everyone knows everyone and there’s a real sense of community where even outsiders like Trevor and Sypha are huge pieces of news for the villagers.
The Judge may be a bit of a cynical prude, but his heart-to-heart with Trevor shows that he truly cares about the town and doesn’t want to see it fall into ruin. To the Judge, even the sight of mysterious symbols at the gates of his town can be construed as a threat, furthering his desire to protect everyone within the town’s walls from whatever Sala is cooking up in the priory.
But the real meat of the Castlevania plot today is finally explaining what’s up with Saint Germain (Bill Nighy) and his reasons for being in Lindenfeld. He’s more bold at trying to explore the priory without Sala’s knowledge, and his excuses are flimsier than they’ve ever been. We even see Germain act rudely toward Sypha, Trevor, and a random worker at a bar. Sure, Germain may not have been the most magnanimous character up until this point, but this was the first real time I thought he acted like a jerk. But now we know the truth behind his presence in Lindenfeld is to find something called the Infinite Corridor, a fact that Germain plays up to Sypha and Trevor only for them to be unimpressed at his dark and serious demeanor.
The way that Saint Germain phrases the Infinite Corridor lends credence to the idea that he’s still a time traveler like in Curse of Darkness. While we don’t know if Germain himself has traveled through to those parallel worlds or realities, he definitely lost someone in the Infinite Corridor and has been searching for them ever since. Germain is clearly frustrated that he’s this close to accessing the portal, which he confirmed is indeed in Sala’s priory, but he just can’t get to it because of Sala’s horde and the constant pestering of people in a backwater town stopping him. So of course, Germain is going to be curt with everyone he talks with when they’re just an inconvenience to him.
To remove ourselves from the lore and story of Castlevania, the Infinite Corridor is a fascinating prospect not just for the series, but for Adi Shankar’s overall plans. The man hasn’t been subtle at all in his intention to create what he calls the “Bootleg Multiverse,” which is different from his “Bootleg Universe” imprint on YouTube, and that Castlevania fits firmly into that plan. His upcoming Devil May Cry, Assassin’s Creed, and Hyper Light Drifter series for Netflix all fall under this multiverse, so it’s possible that this could be a doorway to that crossover. Trevor does say that the Infinite Corridor, according to one of his female ancestors (Sonia Belmont?), is a portal to Hell, so who’s to say that we won’t run into monsters from the Devil May Cry series in later installments? Is there the threat of Mundus invading Wallachia in future seasons, supplanting Carmilla as the ultimate antagonist?
It’s purely hypothetical I know, but it’s this kind of world-building that excites me. “A Seat of Civilisation and Refinement” gave us crystallization on what to expect from Castlevania looking forward and maybe even a glimpse at the rest of Shankar’s animated upcoming animated series. Our main characters are now far more defined, and there are clear stakes for what’s happening in Lindenfeld. Color me very impressed.