[Series Review] Castlevania (Episode 2, 2017)

That was a surprise! Maybe Castlevania web series writer Warren Ellis found himself a ghost writer for this second episode? More likely, everyone working on the abysmal failure that was the first episode collectively told him to get his head together to write something that wasn’t terrible. Flaws in execution and writing do prevent this from truly recovering. Still, it’s a better story this time, if only because it is coherently told. Now, if only…

Agent Bon’s Rating: 3.5/5.0
Zombiepaper’s Rating: ★★★☆☆ [3/5]
There will be spoilers uncensored below.

If only the story were less cluttered.

Events that happen in one scene don’t impact any events or characters later on. No implied foreshadowing. Other than watching events unfold sequentially over the course of roughly one day, each scene is independent of the next, so any scene could be significantly cropped or removed without interrupting the pacing.

The audience is never invited to attach ourselves to anything.

If a stock character is introduced in one scene, why not reuse the character in another scene requiring a stock character? Gory violence is still surface level without any emotional impact. If a stock character is killed off, we cringe, then move on. If a character we’ve met is killed…?

Any consequence works better after we get to know the character.

A better executed story could use these inconsequential scenes to inform us about the character. Is he a “fallen from grace” character that’s now apathetic to the world? Show it! Other than an introductory quip about family honor, “being the main character,” and concluding declaration, Trevor Belmont is a nobody.

That said: this second episode isn’t as abysmal as the first episode.

Mainly because, although flawed, there is a coherent story this time around. The story is framed through Belmont’s eyes as he observes the aftermath of Dracula’s angst. Other than general self-preservation, he chooses to remain apathetic to any situation he encounters, until he must decide to continue observing or act.

Belmont takes the path of least resistance for a hero.

It’s doubtful that the series will suddenly take a mature look at anything other than gore. There probably won’t be any sophistication, character pathos, or inspiration to think about past the ending. Still, it has more potential now than the first episode implied to be decent and maybe even worthwhile?

Two more episodes to go (or gamble).

Zombiepaper
This series is an interesting study in the poor execution of a potentially decent story. Without these reviews, I would have stopped watching after the first episode, and this is merely good enough. Maybe if Ellis had the same sprawling space he had with Transmetropolitan, Castlevania could have been great?

Agent Bon
Episode two finally covers main hero Trevor Belmont, initially as an apathetic drunk and putting him into situations where he starts to care again. More historically accurate old church behaviors, anti-censorship filler content, and missed opportunities to make it significantly better. No more awkward “whoa.” Encouragingly improved, more interesting overall.

“Hey, this wasn’t terrible!”

Collaborative review between Agent Bon (guest contributor) and Zombiepaper (primary writer). When our opinions are similar, I'll write a majority of the review. When our opinions differ vastly, we'll split it up, or maybe take turns expressing our opinions.