The following review contains spoilers for Castlevania season 3, episode 1, “Bless Your Dead Little Hearts” as well as for previous Castlevania seasons.
While Konami may be content with letting Castlevania wither away except for the occasional compilation or individual re-release, showrunner Adi Shankar, writer Warren Ellis, and directors Sam and Adam Deats have been keeping the series alive with a Netflix adaptation that told a fleshed out rendition of Castlevania III: Dracula’s Curse. Season 3 takes things in a new direction with an episode count increased from 8 to 10.
“Bless Your Dead Little Hearts” wastes no time in reminding you exactly what the show is about. Taking place one month after Dracula’s death at the end of season 2, Alucard (James Callis from Battlestar Galactica) is living a quiet life as a hermit in his father’s old palace. He hunts for fish, gardens, and shows off how great of a cook he is, all while the quiet ambience of the peaceful forest and once-bustling castle take center stage. And then Alucard decides to open his mouth and gives a surly impression of his former compatriots filled with plenty of curses and foul humor that had me in stitches, all while he wonders, then confirms, that he’s lost his mind.
Castlevania’s humor has and always will be bizarre to say the least, but I mean that in the best way possible. It’s almost like what a child would think badass adults sound like, cursing and insulting each other at every point, but it’s taken so seriously in a world full of misery and woe that it’s completely endearing. With Alucard’s impressions, Sypha Belnades’ (Alejandra Reynoso from Winx Club) witty insults, or Carmilla’s (Jaime Murray from Defiance) woeful description of her journey back, this show is crass and foul-mouthed and I love it with all of my heart. Make no mistake — Castlevania continues to be a funny show, though I would be lying if I didn’t have any concerns moving forward with the season.
The first two season were hit-and-miss when it came to expanding upon the narrative of the video game. Sometimes it worked, like when the show developed the relationship between Dracula (Graham McTavish from Preacher) and his dead wife, or when it added more context to the partnership between Forgemasters Hector (Theo James from Divergent) and Isaac (Adetokumboh M’Cormack). But then there were things like the trio of heroes spending a significant portion of a season hanging around in a library, which wasn’t engaging. It’s clear that the creators felt they needed to pad some story beats to reach the specified episode count.
I bring this up because it’s hard to see where the show goes from here. The central plot of the games, for the most part, has always been focused on the destruction of Dracula and his army of the night. Games have existed with him barely making an appearance, like in Order of Ecclesia, or games where he kind of never showed up like in the Sorrow duology, but what will the show do now that arguably its best character has been killed? The answer to that question, for now, seems to be framing Carmilla as the new villain, raising her from a supporting role last season. While her plans are shrouded in mystery, she still does have a very impressive army, her vampire sisters, and a still imprisoned Hector who is left to eat moldy bread and get doused in ice cold water on a daily basis.
But regardless of where the plot may go from here, the world is still classic Castlevania. Monsters roam the countryside, townsfolk range from being helpful to shady, and the bloodshed is still a glorious time. Within the first five minutes, we’re treated to impalement, decapitation, neck snapping, jaw breaking, and setting monsters ablaze, all thanks to the lovely pairing of Trevor Belmont (Richard Armitage from The Hobbit) and Sypha. With the past two seasons focused more on action rather than character development for our heroes, it was nice to spend a bit of time this episode just seeing Trevor and Sypha interact with each other and fire off insults at one another.
In truth, “Bless Your Dead Little Hearts” is carried by these two and gives us a real emotional core for the series. With Dracula dead, as well as his sympathetic motives, now we can see our heroes unwind and take things a bit easier. That still spells death for the monsters, but now there’s a true sense of camaraderie between Trevor and Sypha. Sypha’s reaction when Trevor said that beer was “better than sex” let us know more about her character and her relationship with Trevor than I thought was possible while simultaneously being hysterical.
While my fears about the future of the show haven’t been completely dissuaded yet, “Bless Your Dead Little Hearts” is a great start for the series. The jury is still out on whether the post-Dracula conflict can sustain itself, or even if the show will fall victim to the infamous “Netflix bloat,” but getting just a modicum of classic Castlevania action, gore, and humor was enough to make me grin like a giddy teenager. Welcome back, you depraved, wonderful little show.