One of my favourite feelings, hands down, is the feeling of getting lost in a new TV show. I don’t know about you, but when I fall for a show, I fall hard. I’ll rush out and buy whatever book or game the show is based on, and for three to four weeks, it becomes my favourite topic of conversation with just about everyone I come across. It’s probably why I’m so selective with the shows I watch. Rarely do I have the time or energy for that level of commitment, but I cherish it whenever it does happen. From the moment the credits rolled on the very first episode of Netflix’s Castlevania, I knew that it was about to become my latest obsession.
Castlevania had just about everything I could ever want in a fantasy series; stunning animation, strong character work, philosophical and political undertones, gothic horror, and of course, plenty of bloody action sequences. Based on the popular series of video games, Castlevania tells the story of Dracula’s half-mortal son, a sharp-tongued magician, and the last surviving descendant of a legendary family of monster hunters, as they join forces to protect 15th century Wallachia from vampires and other creatures of the night.
And now Castlevania’s fourth and final season is here. I always get a little worried whenever a show announces that its coming to an end, especially since I’m still coping with trust issues instilled in me by the eighth season of Game of Thrones. The main purpose of any show’s final season should be to give its characters a satisfying ending, and tie together everything that the series has been building towards since its very first episode. Needless to say, the pressure was on for Castlevania, since it recently overtook Game of Thrones as my current favourite fantasy series.
The reason behind Castlevania’s abrupt end comes from Netflix wanting to make way for a series of spin-offs, and with an abundance of storylines spanning different generations from the game series, it’s no surprise that Netflix would want to expand the Castlevania universe. While this doesn’t spell the end of Castlevania, it does mean that we have to say goodbye to the characters that we’ve followed for four whole seasons. The question is: Do they get a satisfying ending? Not only will I be discussing the final season of Castlevania, but I’ll be going over elements from the entire show, so if you don’t want MASSIVE SPOILERS, stop reading now.
What drew me most to Castlevania was the show’s depiction of Dracula. As a massive fan of the character, I find myself in constant search of good Dracula content. Unfortunately, the iconic vampire has been severely misrepresented in most media, which is why I was hooked on Castlevania after just one episode. Castlevania’s first episode, “Witchbottle”, begins with Dracula meeting his human wife Lisa for the first time, only for her to be burned at the stake for witchcraft 20 years later. Lisa represents the last of Dracula’s humanity, so her death unleashes his wrath on all of humankind, starting with the town of Targoviste. The episode depicts Dracula as a force of Hell itself, equipped with centuries of knowledge and an army of nightmarish creatures. It’s definitely my favourite portrayal of the character I’ve ever seen before, and I just wish we’d gotten more of him. Season 2 tones things down a bit and introduces us to a more grief-stricken Dracula, illustrating that the death and destruction he’s wreaking on Wallachia isn’t because he’s inherently evil – just broken, and alone. And while I was not expecting the season to end with Dracula’s death at the hands of his son Alucard, it did allow for the third season of Castlevania to branch off in refreshing new directions.
My love of Dracula aside, Castlevania has so many other well-crafted characters to offer – particularly female ones – and Season 4 goes to great lengths to finish developing them. There wasn’t a single character I didn’t like or understand by the time the finale rolled around, which just goes to show that Castlevania’s true strength lies in strong character development. One character I did not expect to end up loving as much as I did was Striga, Carmilla’s war general, who shot straight to the top of my favourites list after one of the goriest and most badass fight sequences in the season’s third episode.
However, Castlevania’s main characters are of course, Alucard, Sypha, and Trevor Bellmont, who all get mostly satisfying ends. Castlevania’s final season begins with just about every vampire and night creature in Wallachia trying to bring their fallen master, Dracula, back from the dead. As Trevor and Sypha do everything in their power to stop Dracula from rising, Alucard opens his castle to a nearby town being plagued by night creatures. While their storylines do take a bit of a backseat this season as opposed to other characters’ like Isaac, Carmilla, Hector, Lenore, and even Saint Germain, it’s more than made up for in the show’s climactic final few episodes. Our heroes are finally reunited as they come face-to-face with an enemy that has loomed over them since the first season – Death himself.
In the final moments of Castlevania’s last episode, “It’s Been a Strange Ride,” it’s revealed that Dracula and Lisa have been successfully resurrected, as they set off to live a peaceful life together. It’s only fitting that the series that began with their love, should end with it too. I found this to be a beautiful note to end the show on.
To summarize, Castlevania is a brilliant piece of dark fantasy, and its final season doubles down on everything that made me fall in love with it in the first place. With animation that looks better than ever, a sharper focus on its central characters, and enough blood and gore to give Game of Thrones a run for its money, Season 4 of Castlevania gives a near-perfect ending to a damned near-perfect series.