Creator: Warren Ellis
Cast: Richard Armitage, James Callis, Alejandra Reynoso
Streaming on: Netflix
The first episode of Castlevania's final season starts off with a frantic flashback. We see protagonists Trevor Belmont and Sypha Belnades fight through hordes of demons and humans, week after week as the villains try to resurrect Dracula. This segment is a particular favourite. It lets the audience experience the exhaustion that comes from constant demon slaying, the physical and mental toll it takes. We are used to our fantasy and video game heroes being above common human limitations – aching bones, a lack of sleep, frayed tempers, and strained relationships. Therefore, it is refreshing to see the reverse woven into a series about vampires and wizards.
Based on Konami's video game series, the Netflix adaptation of Castlevania follows Trevor Belmont, a drunk vampire hunter squandering his family's legacy, Alucard, Dracula's half human, half vampire son and Sypha Belnades, a seasoned magician – as they defend Wallachia from Dracula and his army. With Warren Ellis and Adi Shankar behind the wheel, Castlevania was a standout original from the house of Netflix from the get-go. Boasting a strong voice cast including Richard Armitrage, Bill Nighy and Jessica Brown Findlay, inventive character design, strong action, and fantastic storytelling, Castlevania remained consistently entertaining and imaginative.
Moving beyond the Dracula storyline in its subsequent seasons and elevating secondary characters like Forgemasters Hector and Isaac, vampire sisters Lenore and Carmilla, as well as Saint Germain – the show managed to open up different dimensions, literally and figuratively. Combining great pacing and visuals and a well-defined season-to-season story, Castlevania delivered the goods in its first three seasons. That is why there was a lot riding on the final one.
Castlevania's fourth and final season is a fitting finale, with the series at its peak. There are multiple storylines to be done justice to – from Hector and Lenore's relationship, Isaac's transition from revenge and conquest to being a builder, Saint Germain's obsessive search for his lost love in the Infinite Corridors, Belmont and Sypha's search for a new life and finally Alucard's closure and understanding of his father Dracula's legacy. Season four manages to resolve most of these with effective action, visual and emotional pay-off.
The show's fourth season is a near-perfect send off to its core characters, and, in many ways, elevates the benchmark for its genre
While the 10-episode run does mean that some of the dialogue/exposition tends to repeat itself and the action in parts is stretched, it also allows the show to deliver some of its finest moments yet – Isaac philosophizing on the nature of humanity with one of his monsters with a berry as a metaphor for humanity, St. Germain screaming about getting laid as he resurrects Dracula Tepes, Lenore's dismissing a sunrise as overrated, and Belmont's final stand against the season's villain represent the show at its finest. However, Hector and Isaac's overcooked exposition, and the half-baked, Palpatine-esque resurrections at the season's end represent some of its excesses.
All said and done, Castlevania firmly establishes itself as Netflix's finest animated offerings – a definitive representation of what "binge-worthy" means. It is a near-perfect send off to its core characters, and, in many ways, elevates the benchmark for its genre. It left me deeply satisfied, and yet wanting more – which is as good a compliment as any.