Netflix’s Castlevania Final Season Review
Since its debut in 2017, Netflix’s Castlevania has gained a significant following between both fans of the classic Konami franchise of video games and the mature genre of adult animation. Whether it was taking its time to completely revitalize some of its one-sided characters from the games, forging fantastical set pieces, or whipping its way through some spectacular action, Castlevania was constantly on its way to the top. For many it conquered the pedestal of being the best video game adaptation there is for television and film, and there really is no reason to explain why. With its highly anticipated fourth season, Netflix’s grand finale for Wallachia and its inhabitants was bound to face the reality of coming to terms with closure in such a short amount of time. The final season of Castlevania is the same familiar bloodbath of incredible action, loveable characters, and gorgeous animation audiences look forward to, but it disappointingly also carries over many of the show’s previous problems when it comes to keeping a tight focus and a clean pacing.
“Let’s give it one last go, shall we?”
Taking place six weeks after the immoral mess brought upon by season three’s thrillingly catastrophe, Wallachia is on the verge of collapse as alchemists, night creatures, sinners, and the lot all attempt to revive Vlad Dracula Ţepeş from hell itself when word of his sudden demise spreads across Europe. As Trevor Belmont and Sypha Belnades continue their escapades across the country to eliminate any rising threats who are never seemingly on the verge of reviving the vampire warlord, Carmilla and her army prepare to wage war on humanity all while Alucard and Issac cope with the existential crisis they have faced since audiences last saw them. With Saint Germain’s continual grasp tightening on the infinite corridor and Hector plotting revenge on his masters, the former surviving cast of last season are all back to take a bow with one wicked finale.
The final season’s theme appropriately spotlights redemption, reformation, and of course inevitability as it attempts to close the doors on every character’s journey coherently and faithfully to the games and its own mythology. The result is a season that always feels like the end, yet comes off in a way as a new beginning — something that will definitely be frustrating for some fans, yet promising for the franchise’s possible future. Castlevania’s final episodes are packed with too much to cover and not enough time as it continues to pierce and expand upon its growing world. It still manages to accomplish its goals as it puts each character on track for their futures, but it no doubt has too many aspirations.
Trevor and Sypha are once again at the forefront of the narrative as the two play crucial roles in advancing the story forward, but they more or less do not get to do anything new this time around. As usual, their banter and action are always delightful as they continue to develop their own personal relationship and help those in need within a world of demon spawn and constant danger. The characters they encounter are nowhere near as notable as the Judge or Saint Germain, but (without spoilers) they certainly provide some interesting perspective into how Wallachia has coped without rulership. Whereas Trevor and Sypha are still stepping into their own hunting grounds, the third hero of the trio Alucard along with that aforementioned other key player get some rather notable upgrades to put them on par with the original leads.
For those who were disappointed in Alucard last season, his final arc will definitely leave you satisfied as he returns with far more screentime and objectives to complete since the second season. He may not perhaps be as vital to the narrative as Trevor and Sypha, but he still offers a substantial role as he acts as the show’s heart with his charismatic edgy though reasonable attitude. As to be expected after his last rightful killing spree, Alucard is the center point of the show’s humanity as the final season delves into his post-Dracula depression and attempts to understand others. After not being assisted by Belmont and Belnades last season though, it was only natural that Saint Germain would finally get to encounter Alucard. For the sake of spoilers I will not go too deep into anything around Saint Germain, but what I will say is that the character is given by far the oddest role of the final season. Saint Germain has one of the best arcs yet as he presents the most unexpected endgame from the cast that helps provide the Netflix series with some of its finest moments.
Sticking with the mortals and their human magics, in comparison to last season, Issac and Hector of all characters oddly do not receive a lot of screentime despite both being in crucial roles. A lack of screentime for the two is what inevitably causes their largest issues, but if there is one aspect of Issac’s story in particular that really falls short in the final season it has to upsettingly be on the philosophy side. Issac was a spiritual bridge for Castlevania last season and while he does still have some incredibly thought-provoking moments here, they are sadly not as prominent as before — despite him also living through what is arguably his peak moments of wisdom. Every moment Issac is present he is shining in all his glory and the same goes for Hector who is now deceiving those who previously played him. It is just a shame that the show fleshed out these two only to not exactly utilize them by the end.
On the topic of being underutilized, finally, there are the vampire sisters Carmilla, Lenore, Striga, and Morana. In the same vein as the main cast, the council is split up in two pairs this time around with Carmilla and Lenore staying put at the fortress while Striga and Morana are out hunting humans. As to be expected, the consequences of splitting the cast hold some rather visible consequences. Of all the characters you would have expected to be prominent throughout the final season, the vampire sisters have been surprisingly sidelined. The four are left to fight for the short screentime they have as they share a common theme: desire. Carmilla’s gluttony for power and Lenore’s internal struggle to find happiness take up the majority of the sisterhood’s appearances. They are the more engaging half of the vampire sisters, but that is not to say Striga and Morana are boring or inconsequential by any means. The two add depth to the family, but as stated before, not having a lot of screentime has its consequences and the pair were definitely in need of more.
Pacing has always been troublesome for the show, but the final season takes the worst beating from it.
Castlevania has been quite prominent in the animation scene thanks to its visuals and voice acting, and season four no doubt adds another spectacular set of entries in its acclaimed lineup. The action and overall visuals are still exactly what you would expect from the folks over at Powerhouse Animation. The art style continues to take several pages out of Castlevania’s history as it blends gothic horror with phantasmagoric visuals. Meanwhile, the voice cast is still giving it their all as everyone from Richard Armitage and Alejandra Reynoso to Bill Nighy and Jaime Murray is just having a blast in their roles. With all praise for its storytelling, visuals, and soundtrack, Castlevania is doing as fine as usual, however, there is one department where the show absolutely struggles in the final season. The largest hindrance of its concluding days is truly the pacing that is just all over the place — something the series has overall gotten worse at as it has pushed forward.
From odd scene placements to particular storylines that feel as if they never received a proper conclusion — even though they do, just too soon in the story — the last batch of episodes for Castlevania are rather shaky in terms of pacing. Similar to the prior two seasons, the story flip flops between massive bulks of focus and story hopping between multiple character arcs, but in its final outing using this strategy was when it was sadly at its worst. Unlike those aforementioned years, the fourth season is dealing with a ton of extra baggage as it not only deals with season three’s entire main cast but a few extra additions through both original newcomers and expanded minor stories. Main players are once again practically sidelined at various points of the show, while others receive too much of a spotlight. This especially rings true once again when it comes to Trevor and Sypha as the duo practically go abruptly missing in action during the middle two episodes of the season. Some scenes are being pushed into the story too soon while others too late. It is a rocky road, but one that is certainly not incomprehensible by any means.
The main focus of the final season should have been on the same eight key players from the third entry’s finale — being the trio of main heroes, Hector, Lenore, Carmilla, Issac, and Saint Germain. However, for some odd reason, the writers decide to expand upon minor roles while trying to flesh out more new additions. The end result just comes off as being too packed for its own good. Striga and Morana were intimidating as the other vampire sisters, yet they were never in need of their own adventures, and the new additions outside of Death and Alucard’s female friend do not add much to the story. No one’s arc ever drags the entire narrative down, but it is a shame that the final season’s story is a whole lot less consolidated than it previously has been despite dealing with practically the same amount of characters. Perhaps that was all to be expected though from a show that had to finish off five different stories in a matter of ten episodes lasting between twenty and thirty minutes.
Despite its flaws, Netflix’s Castlevania stays true to its success and throws one last thrilling bloodbath.
It may not be the high note of the series itself, but Netflix’s Castlevania still manages to hang tight to its high expectations as it comes to a close on a mildly disappointing though fitting and satisfying note. It foresees a future of more stories from the Castlevania mythology Warren Ellis initially spearheaded for the streaming platform, yet it stays focused on accomplishing what needs to be done at the forefront as it goes out in style. Castlevania never felt as if it were overstaying its welcome, but the evident goal to elongate the adventures of specific cast members certainly seeped into its final season. Hopefully with Netflix eyeing a possible spinoff soon, the legacies of the Belmont and Tepes family will continue for years to come. Netflix’s Castlevania holds a lot of promise, but as it stands perhaps the show is best to be let go and dive into different eras of the Belmont family in the future. It is a shame that the series came to an end on such short notice, yet for years to come it will be regarded as an important standard for what audiences expect from a video game adaptation.