Castlevania (the show)

I’d really recommend this. I found it really enjoyable, though not without its flaws.

The choreography and animation in general is amazing. It manages a reasonably nuanced take on religion, which is rare in itself and extremely rare coexisting with evil priests murdering innocent people. The overall structure is…unique, let’s say. This is by a comics author (relatedly, it is extremely gory) and although I do not make comics or animation, you can really feel that this is plotted using comic beats instead of film ones. And the dialogue is at once extremely clever and astoundingly stupid.

I actually watched Castlevania after watching many images pop up on Tumblr with what I assumed were joke captioned, then I watched a short and ridiculous animation that did not seem like it could’ve been easily edited, then I saw a clip that involved the characters saying the words out loud and realized it was marginally more likely that this was the actual unedited show than that people were willing to fandub for the sake of a joke.

Now, I discussed how despite enjoying Dororo, it still conforms to standard tropes about women’s deaths and being there to motivate the men around them.

Castlevania straight up opens with Dracula’s wife getting murdered, leading to him flipping out and setting off the events of the rest of the series. Everything revolves around this dead woman.

What made the this-isn’t-technically-anime-but-if-I-say-adult-cartoon-you’ll-grossly-misinterpret-anime so strangely charming to me is the sincerity that it brings this trope. Part of the bitterness of fridging is that, for all the man claims to be motivated by it, we know he gets over it. Her death is an excuse and he’ll feel better afterward.

Not here. This is a story about people desperately trying to cling to the last dregs of anger to finish what they were doing when they just want to die already. The conflict is between Dracula, who’s going to kill everyone and then himself because she was so great and it hurts so much, and her son, who is pretty sure she said, “Dracula, honor my memory by not killing everyone in retaliation, I do not want everyone dead, don’t kill everyone, I became a doctor to not kill everyone, seriously don’t kill them all in my name when I am explicitly telling you I don’t want that.” so instead he’s going to kill his dad and then himself because she was so great and it hurts so much.

The depressed child is aided by the last remaining vampire-hunting Belmont, who’s more directionlessly depressed and so willing to obey whatever woman starts telling him to shut up and go on the damn quest, and a magic using Speaker, who’s female and so a functional human being. “Is that feminist, Farla?” Oh my no. But like with the fridging, it’s rare you see media actually go, “And the woman was competent and not a neurotic mess…so we have put her in charge.”

(I am really excited for season three and finding out if the current guy who’s sad and angry has more discipline than everybody else or if he too runs out of angry halfway through. On the one hand he seems the most together of anyone, on the other hand he also seems worryingly low on angry already. Possibly denial will fill the gap? Looking forward to watching more people fall apart for my viewing pleasure!)

75 Comments

  1. Roarke says:

    I agree with everything stated here. Also, the brief “It endures in the name of your mother” exchange between Alucard and Dracula was so awesome. Dracula’s voice actor was one of the best parts of the series.

     

    I think it’s funny that the fridging worked because, indeed, it was an actual character death that serves as the bedrock of other characters’ motivations. The bar has fallen so pathetically low that it’s easy to forget how it feels to see it pulled off.

    I really loved the trio’s dynamic, and Sypha was goddamn carrying that crew. She’s like Katara and Azula put together, and not just in terms of her powers.

    I also liked the emerging villains of the next season, though nobody’s going to replace Dracula in my heart.

    1. Farla says:

      though nobody’s going to replace Dracula in my heart.

      I’m betting Issac agrees with you and will be doing something to fix it.

      (We know Dracula’s gotta keep showing up somehow.)

      1. Roarke says:

        I’m betting Issac agrees with you and will be doing something to fix it.

        Hehehehe. You may be right about that, and Dracula possibly returning. I mean, Castlevania the series is sort of built on the premise that you can’t keep that jerk down. Still, I do think that his death scene was fulfilling enough that his return would feel somewhat unsatisfying.

        I thought Dracula’s dynamic with Isaac was really interesting since, on the one hand, Dracula wanted to kill everyone and then himself, but on the other, clearly valued Isaac’s life and wanted him to live on. I do find it sad and sweet that one of Dracula’s last expressions of fatalism is to decide that he’s not going to let a friend die for him. Then he puts the angry mask back on for the showdown.

        1. Farla says:

          Still, I do think that his death scene was fulfilling enough that his return would feel somewhat unsatisfying.

          Yeah, I was pondering that. It’s Castlevania canon that sometimes Dracula shows up again to be like “ugh, you think this way my idea? I’m just as upset as you.” and the story’s been….nontraditional….enough that I wouldn’t rule out the possibility that after a lot of hype about oh no his loyal servants or some other random idiots arae bringing back the ultimate vampire!!! Dracula shows up just to remind everyone he was trying to die last time and this is just depressing him even further, he’s going to just sulk on his chair for the next few hundred years.

          For Dracula to actually do anything ever again, maybe some sort of botched resurrection where they get back Younger Dracula who doesn’t remember the last couple decades.

          I do find it sad and sweet that one of Dracula’s last expressions of fatalism is to decide that he’s not going to let a friend die for him.

          I know! And right after his friend is all, “Boy I sure appreciate using my free will to die for your sake, have I mentioned recently how my life revolves around you and you are the only good thing in the entire world and also minor but I really love being here and not in the desert because that’s just the worst place ever.” It was so kind and so horribly cruel.

          (…well, the desert thing in particular seemed rather wtf, like trying to return a caught spider to where you originally found it in the hopes that’s its preferred habitat. But maybe he figured that if his final act was dumping him in a bunch of sand, Issac would be mad at him instead of continuing the suicide cycle.)

          1. Roarke says:

            The ultimate… nontraditional… Dracula resurrection would be him coming back, learning Alucard (somehow) has a child, and becoming a doting grandfather. I’m 237% certain this has already happened in fanfic.

            Dracula dumping Isaac’s loyal ass back in the desert was a fantastic dick move. That’s the absolute intersection between cruelty and laziness. Isaac’s not even like, at the edge of a desert town. He’s in Bumfuck McNowhere. Maybe, like you said, his intention was to make Isaac mad at him so he wouldn’t want to come back. I think, judging by Isaac’s last scene, he also wanted to spare Isaac from human interaction.

             

            1. Farla says:

              That’s what I don’t get. If he just wanted to send him to some human-free place, he could’ve dumped him off at Hector’s farm since that’s somehow far enough from people nobody managed a lynching. The only chance Isaac had to survive the desert was to find people – even lucking into an oasis, there’s no food, he had to rely on idiots walking up to him. (Mildly peeved he ate one of the horses, incidentally. He already had perfectly good meat without needing to kill any of the animals. That’s just wasteful, Isaac!)

              Maybe Dracula didn’t grasp just how much Isaac didn’t want to interact with his own kind given he hoped Isaac would be friends with Hector? And also didn’t get Isaac’s outfit is not desert appropriate and he was probably just going to broil on the sand.

              Reply
            2. Roarke says:

              Yeah, it makes less sense when you put it like that.

              That’s just wasteful, Isaac!

              Indeed, especially since the horses proved themselves just as capable of ferrying undead idiots as living ones. Strictly superior to humans as living collaborators go!

              Reply
  2. Just commenting to add that I LOVE SYPHA’S FIGHT SCENES SO MUCH. Not only is she a hands-only wizard (the best kind), her casting is so kinetic and visceral, making her just as exciting to watch as the fighters even aside from the magic lightshows. It’s so rare to see a caster get so brutal and up in peoples’ business like that.

    1. Roarke says:

      That’s what made Avatar TLA so great, to be honest. I still haven’t seen that kind of combat mage replicated in any kind of animated series save Castlevania.

    2. SpoonyViking says:

      Yeah, those were great. At the same time, though, they didn’t feel very fitting for the character as presented. I mean, show!Sypha is a Speaker, not a battlemage or something similar.

      1. Farla says:

        As someone who doesn’t know the lore, the impression I got was that she was a ethnically a Speaker and vocationally a battle mage, with the only connection that Speakers have wider access to stuff like that due to the rest of society being kept ignorant.

        1. Roarke says:

          Dracula calls her a ‘Speaker magician’, which he wouldn’t need to do if they were one and the same, so I’m with you on that one. It seems in-character for Sypha to go for the most powerful knowledge available to her, given the opportunity. Given that she was already really accomplished at reading multilingual/ancient tomes, she may not have learned it from her people.

        2. SpoonyViking says:

          Oh, the Speakers were created for the series, so there’s no lore issue here. Ironically enough, game!Sypha was a sorceress working for the Church.

          It’s possible she was a battlemage or similar by vocation, but I never got the impression the Speakers even had such roles, and the implication seems to be that she’s lived with her people her whole life.

          It’s honestly a minor thing, really, because her moves were really cool – in fact, the fight scenes in general were very good -, but it did strike me as odd when first watching.

  3. SpoonyViking says:

    Eh. Personally, I felt it had too many flaws. It was enjoyable, yes, but I mostly lament all the wasted potential. The writing was very shoddy at times,* there were both too many and not enough changes from the source material, Trevor felt very lacklustre as a protagonist – or heck, even as a character – in season 2,  and overall, it felt very trope-ish (I might even say clichéd).

    * “Humans! You have one year to leave Wallachia, or I’m going to kill you all.” Three seconds later: “Damn it, I can’t believe it will take me a year to raise an army to kill all humans! …Maybe I shouldn’t have given them a warning in advance.”

    I also have to disagree with the series being nuanced – I mean, even leaving aside everything in season 1, we have the undead bishop performing a bonafide sacrament, it’s not easy to be less respectful of religious belief than that.

    Basically, I think this could have been a great show if someone other than Warren Ellis had written it.

    One change from the games I did like is that the heroes are less “people who are born special” and more “people armed with proper knowledge”. Trevor, for instance, is quite the fighter, but he’s not superhuman, and the reason he’s so good at fighting monsters is because he has his family’s cumulative knowledge and consecrated weapons, not because the Belmont bloodline is just special.

    1. Farla says:

      There’s definitely…many, many issues with S2, though I’m inclined to be forgiving given it apparently was only supposed to be half as long.

      “Humans! You have one year to leave Wallachia, or I’m going to kill you all.” Three seconds later: “Damn it, I can’t believe it will take me a year to raise an army to kill all humans! …Maybe I shouldn’t have given them a warning in advance.”

      That, though, was hilarious! Which, yeah, I see the issue, but, Dracula doing his whole dramatic screaming head about how I GIVE YOU WARNING and then going home and saying, “Yeah I actually had no choice but to wait a year but like hell I’m going to admit that, if anyone asks it’s totally just because I wanted to dramatically attack on the anniversary.”

      we have the undead bishop performing a bonafide sacrament, it’s not easy to be less respectful of religious belief than that.

      Christianity has a long history of saying dead bodies have magic powers!

      That was definitely wonky given S1 not only established you have to be decent enough for God to empower you but that the specific dude was on God’s shitlist so hard it undid the consecration of the entire church he was in. On the other hand, if there was anything left of him in that corpse – and we know you can bring back puppies as puppies – it could be that he repented and burning himself up blessing a river was something of an atonement. (It could also be that Hector is not on God’s shitlist and that’s why it went through. I could see that in order to do a blessing you need someone who’s been physically ordained to be able to do it and someone who’s not a total asshole directing it for God to answer and zombies allow for an edge case where those aren’t the same person. If so, we know that God has some pretty low standards if Hector passes.)

      1. SpoonyViking says:

        Christianity has a long history of saying dead bodies have magic powers!

        Sure, but there’s a huge conceptual difference between “this person was so holy in life that their corpse continues to perform miracles” to “this complete waste of a human being was reanimated by dark forces and successfully invokes the power of God”.

        I’ve seen the theory floating around that since the holy water only harmed the forces of darkness – both Dracula’s army and Carmilla’s -, that ultimately it was God’s will all along, but that doesn’t really explain why Carmilla was so sure that would even work.

        […] If so, we know that God has some pretty low standards if Hector passes.)

        Poor Hector. I’m not a fan of either Curse of Darkness generally or Hector specifically – both feel too derivative, both in terms of story and gameplay -, but he definitely got the shaft in this adaptation. Isaac was great, though.

        1. Farla says:

          Sure, but there’s a huge conceptual difference between “this person was so holy in life that their corpse continues to perform miracles” to “this complete waste of a human being was reanimated by dark forces and successfully invokes the power of God”.

          But it applies to more than just saints.

          Ordaining someone, across multiple branches of Christianity, has a very physical component where the idea is that the person must have hands laid upon them from a person who had hands laid upon them from a person who…all the way back to the apostles who got it from Jesus.

          And we also know there’s also the early Christian belief that the profane could be made holy but the holy could not be made profane, which means an ordained priest’s corpse should stay ordained, it just can’t do anything with those powers because it’s dead and all. And I believe the whole thing where the Catholic church auto-excommunicates women for getting ordained while simultaneously arguing they never were ordained in the first place can be argued as solid evidence that people aren’t un-ordain-able, you can kick them out but you can’t take it back. And this would certainly be in keeping with the fact that you can ninja baptize people and it totally counts because all that matters is physically getting the magically powered water on their head.

          Therefore! God might refuse to send through the blessing if he’s mad at someone who was ordained, BUT the connection itself formed by the laying-on-hands chain is a no-takebacks one, just as no matter how virtuous and loved by God a person might be, they can’t do ordained-stuff without someone else laying on hands and passing on the connection. Either the bodies are always capable of counting as holy objects and successfully performing the required rituals in absence of a mind to hold sin that would make God refuse, or Hector counts as the body’s mind because he’s giving the orders – and he is less of a dick than the original guy, so that’s consistent enough. This also allows for other shenanigans  – run out of bishops? Dig up some old ones and bap people with their fingerbones to keep the line unbroken.

          I’ve seen the theory floating around that since the holy water only harmed the forces of darkness – both Dracula’s army and Carmilla’s -, that ultimately it was God’s will all along, but that doesn’t really explain why Carmilla was so sure that would even work.

          I’d also say there’s no way Carmilla knew they had a dud priest and may not even be religious enough to know dud priests are possible. She may class it just as magic the church happens to know.

          But yeah, the fact the corpse was being used for ‘good’ and also self-immolating in the process may have counted in favor of the blessing going through. My personal guess would be zombie atonement given they’ve got it collared and we’ve seen the undead have some will of their own but it’s very muted, I’m just willing to argue for the elaborate rules lawyer interpretation too.

          1
          1. SpoonyViking says:

            But it applies to more than just saints.

            Yeah, medieval thinking is that body and soul were so closely linked that one reflected the other. I’ll be honest, though, your line of thought is very compelling, but also feels very rules-lawyer-y, like you admit yourself. :-P

    2. Act says:

      Hearing that it’s stupid-clever and written by Warren Ellis actually makes me want to watch it, that tone is something he’s really good at. Then again, I have no attachment to the IP so the idea of a tongue in cheek take doesn’t bother me.

      1
      1. SpoonyViking says:

        It’s not tongue-in-cheek, though.

        1. Farla says:

          I mean, you may be right but I don’t think it’s possible to tell.

          1. Act says:

            Just watched the first one and it’s definitely written with a nod and wink, it’s exactly the same style and tone as his satirical novels.

            1. SpoonyViking says:

              It’s often irreverent, yes, and everyone is very snarky, but it takes itself too seriously and plays its premise too straight. The example I gave above, for instance, isn’t intentionally played for laughs.

              Reply
          2. SpoonyViking says:

            […] but I don’t think it’s possible to tell.

            Hm! Can you please elaborate?

      2. Roarke says:

        Watch iiiiit! It’s very good and so short as to be easily binged. Season 1 is less than 2 hours of content, and S2 is maybe a little more than double that.

        1. SpoonyViking says:

          Yeah, for all my criticism, it’s worth watching at least season 1.

          1. Roarke says:

            Personally I’d vouch for S2 just for the amazing fight scenes. It’s not going to kill someone to just tune out the annoying bits.

            1. Spoony Viking says:
              But you can find those on YouTube!

              I think, at least.

              Reply
  4. Cosmogone says:
    Thanks for this recommendation! The show sounds interesting, albeit I have some reservations about Sypha’s potrayal. People told me that she’s basically your generic Wise Female Character with no personality. Is it really true or is there more to her?

    >>Part of the bitterness of fridging is that, for all the man claims to be motivated by it, we know he gets over it. Her death is an excuse and he’ll feel better afterward
    Hm, that’s an interesting way to put it, though I’m not sure I fully agree. My personal standard of fridging/not fridging has always been based on whether a) the female character in question is an actual character and b) was her death necessary or could it have been replaced with any random inconvenience. Not sure if this standard is particularly good, either.
    (Offtop-ish: incidentally, I’m in the middle of a God of War 4-related discussion re: “Is fridging Actually Feminist?” which made me realise that the general public has no idea what the original complaint was about)

    1. Act says:

      I honestly think that it really just comes down to the fact that tropes are value-neutral. This particular trope is so overwhelmingly handled in a terrible way, though, that it’s become an Inherently Bad Trope (TM) to a lot of people. I think what Castlevania shows is that no, when you actually treat the woman like a human, it actually can be quite effective, it’s just most people don’t do that.

       

      Spoilers:

      I actually really loved the framing of Lisa’s death, narratively, because ‘witchcraft’ and similar women’s culture really were early forms of medicine, and ‘burning witches’ was a way of punishing women for knowing too much and being too independent. I thought having it explicitly be ‘the church is killing this woman for being a scientist’ was a really good commentary on what actually happened as well as a more subtle allusion to how women are still chased out of the sciences and their knowledge is still constructed as inferior. It made her death have value in and of itself, and that it (apparently) goes on to actually matter when usually it actually doesn’t just seems to further demonstrate that the trope can be used for, if not good, at least not-evil. I also can’t emphasize how much I appreciated that the camera did not linger lovingly on her agony while she made sex noises like video games so enjoy.

      Also, this is a TOTAL digression, but I live near Salem, MA, and can never decide if women in Salem selling ‘witchcraft’ is a really creepy monetizing of a tragedy or kind of a fuck-you to the patriarchy inasmuch as women benefit from the tourists almost exclusively. Or both.

      3
      1. Cosmogone says:
        >>I think what Castlevania shows is that no, when you actually treat the woman like a human, it actually can be quite effective, it’s just most people don’t do that.

        This. Also, your bit about witch hunts made me think of something: maybe the key element that a character death should have and that fridging doesn’t is simply dignity.

        P.S. I haven’t been to this site for a long while and I’m just really glad to see you, Act.

        1. Act says:

          <3333

          I too have not been here in a while. My hands are basically nonfunctional because of chemo side effects and typing is painful so I can’t really go on the computer :( But! My last chemo appt is Tuesday, so hopefully soon things will be normalish.

          I hope you’re well! Or at least better than me, lol

          1. Cosmogone says:
            <3 Get better soon. My thoughts are with you.
    2. Roarke says:

      Sypha’s a generic wise and down-to-earth woman saddled with a generic depressed asocial slob and a generic sarcastic teenager with an Oedipus complex.

      It’s a great show. I think you’ll enjoy it.

      1
      1. Cosmogone says:
        OH this sounds much better than what I was picturing. Okay, I’ll watch it. :)
  5. Nerem says:
    I really want an adaptation of the Soma arc or the DS games in general. Because Soma is cool, Shanoa is super cool, and it’d be neat to see Jonathan and Charlotte fighting together.

    Also at least in Lisa’s death even in Castlevania itself it wasn’t really protrayed as a fridging either, and is kinda nicely handled in the final battle between Alucard and Dracula where Lisa becomes his motivation to become the Dark Lord, but also the motivation to stop.

     

    Which is why pretty much all the games after portrays Dracula as being forcefully revived by others who use his power.

    1. The Sorrow games would be really cool to see, but it’ll likely be a long time before we get there, if at all.

      I’d actually like to see an adaptation of Harmony of Dissonance, even if it’d delay Symphony of the Night and the Sorrow games. It’s often regarded as a forgettable entry, but I actually thought it had one of the better storylines. They could get a lot out of the mystery and the Silent Hill-esque reality shifting.

      1. SpoonyViking says:

        “Harmony of Dissonance” one of the better storylines, really?

        Personally, I (futilely) hope they never even consider adapting Symphony of the Night. Great gameplay, worse-than-terrible story.

        That said, it seems like they’ll go for something mostly new. Isaac avenging Dracula is reminiscent of Curse of Darkness, but then we also have Carmilla appearing much earlier than she should in the chronology, and both of them are basically completely different characters anyway (particularly Carmilla).

        1. “Harmony of Dissonance” one of the better storylines, really?

          It’s a low bar, but yeah. There’s an actual mystery going on with Maxim, they purposefully mess with you to make the two-castle thing less obvious at first, and I found the areas nicely atmospheric. I found it to overall have the most pathos of the Castlevanias I’ve played, and Juste is a cool character and a genuinely nice guy (even if he’s pretty obvious the designers were just copying Alucard).

          And yeah, Symphony of the Night is pretty much just going to be rehashing the storyline we already got for Alucard in season 2, but there’s no way they aren’t adapting it given its popularity. Some are theorizing they’ll weight the story heavily towards Rondo of Blood and those characters, with the Symphony storyline as a short coda, which could work.

          1. SpoonyViking says:

            Hm. I see what you’re saying, but I felt the plot was more than a bit derivative of both Richter’s and Hugh’s plotlines from Symphony and Circle of the Moon.

            Some are theorizing they’ll weight the story heavily towards Rondo of Blood […]

            That would be awesome! Hopefully, they’ll do Richter justice, in that case; I’ve always felt he was shortchanged by the Igavanias.

            1. Nerem says:
              How was he shortchanged by the Igavanias? I mean, Iga hasn’t made any games anywhere near Richter in the timeline and his story already played out by the time Iga was in charge.
              Reply
    2. I return after having played the DS games to say: agreed 100%, Portrait of Ruin was awesome and I’d love to see Jonathan and Charlotte’s tag-teaming in anime.

      Order of Ecclesia felt a little melodramatic to me, but I thought it actually had a nice subversion of “I must save the woman from herself” and related tropes, and the plot is different enough that they could probably get a good adaptation out of it.

      Of course, this is all presuming they’ll continue beyond season 3. We’ll have to see how that shakes out.

  6. GeniusLemur says:
    “Dracula, honor my memory by not killing everyone in retaliation”

    Reminds me of

    But vengeance I never did wreak,
    When pow’r was in my hand,
    And you, dear friends, no vengeance seek,
    It is my last command.

    Forgive the man whose rage betray’d
    Macpherson’s worthless life;
    When I am gone, be it not said,
    My legacy was strife.

  7. SpoonyViking says:

    Symphony of the Night, though, where in order to justify having Alucard as the main character, Shaft is somehow brought back (even though he was killed twice in Rondo, one of those as an evil spirit) and somehow takes control of Richter. Kind of an inglorious end for a Belmont, no?

    ETA: What the hell, why did the reply go here?!

    1. Nerem says:
      Eh, it was just to tie in Rondo of Blood to Symphony. They really could have just not even have Richter. I think he was just there ‘cuz they wanted Maria as the new Belmont, so having Richter there was a good way to do it. Of course, that wasn’t even the first time a Belmont had been taken over by Dracula. It happened in a couple of prior games too. Ones who didn’t even get the benefit of being a protagonist ever!
  8. Spoony Viking says:
    Yeah, but a Soleil was a child when that happened, not a grown man who had already taken Dracula down.
  9. Indiscretion says:
    What the fuck was season 3?

    Trevor and Sypha’s arc is a b rated alien satanist horror flick, Carmilla does nothing, Hector’s is completely pointless yet lovingly detailed torture porn, literal porn halfway through, nonsensical bizarre betrayal twist with Alucard, Trevor slowly breaks a guy’s leg for fun, there’s literally no interaction between Trevor and Sypha and Alucard and there’s barely anything to do with what happened in previous seasons.

    1. Farla says:

      I HAVE SPENT THE LAST TWO MONTHS SCREAMING THAT I CAN’T WAIT BECAUSE WHATEVER THEY HAVE IN STORE IS GOING TO BE FUCKING INSANE IN TERMS OF STORY PACING AND THEY DID NOT DISAPPOINT A++++++++++++++++++++++

      Also characterizationwise it completely works with my fanfic which I was very anxious about. In fact it validated it far further than I could dare dream!

      1. Indiscretion says:
        [In fact it validated it far further than I could dare dream!]

        How so?

        1. Farla says:

          Well, my read of Alucard was he’s never had friends but he’s never been alone before either, that he’s also pretty lacking in self-preservation/fear, and that taken together he’s a complete doormat of a person. (And that he’d favor the Belmont hold over the castle.) I really wasn’t expecting so so much confirmation on all that. Also there’s a simmering plot point I have regarding that as a dhampir Alucard eats solid food and look at him, he does!

          And my guess for Hector was one of the vampires in Carmilla’s castle would be thrilled that Carmilla brought home a guy she’s not going to kill within five minutes and decide they’re in a relationship now.

          I am all (╯°□°)╯︵ ┻━┻ that the show finally gave one (1) entire vampire fact and THAT contradicts my plan but even that still works because I can say Lenore was lying for effect.

          (Oh, and also Sypha not actually meeting back up with her caravan…)

  10. Indiscretion says:
    Also, Isaac’s arc is probably the best because things happen, but it’s this:

    Person, end of season 2: I will literally kill and eat you for fun.

    Isaac: This is humanity and why it’s worth destroying.

    Someone: But sometimes people do nice things?

    1. Farla says:

      Isaac, I found pingponging back and forth with “someone was mean, I kill everyone, no wait this person wasn’t mean I leave everyone alive, wait no now someone’s being mean again it’s almost like one person is different than another??? how am I supposed to deal with this” worked with just how Extra he is. I love him and support whatever he does next.

      Also I feel like the fact Lisa is in Hell really validates plan “fuck it pull everyone out of Hell” because I’m pretty sure at this point literally everyone goes there.

      1. Roarke says:

        The show really hammered in just how few of the characters have ever had, like, normal contact with normal people. They all have narrow, defined ways to deal with people and new situations as a result. It leads to some hilarity.

        I loved the sailor captain dude calmly pointing out Isaac’s own weirdness to him and refusing to get barreled over by someone threatening violence. His general worldliness was quite refreshing.

        1. Farla says:

          I know! Isaac seemed like one of the more together people but then he spends this entire season just baffled at normal human behavior. It’s really just that he’s too emotionally dead to react strongly to being endlessly wrongfooted in conversation so he comes off like he’s handling it well.

          [I loved the sailor captain dude calmly pointing out Isaac’s own weirdness to him and refusing to get barreled over by someone threatening violence. His general worldliness was quite refreshing.]

          Come to think of it, it seems like Isaac gets along well with older, experienced people. He’s not really that complex or dangerous in conversation, and even when he has decided on murder he’s slow enough to actually act on that you can talk him back down pretty easily, but you have to pay attention to him and not the very distracting swarm of giant demons behind him.

          Quite possibly Dracula was the first person who’d actually talked to him.

  11. Roarke says:

    So, Castlevania Season 3! I waited until I could host 3-4 friends for it, and it did not disappoint to have friends around while Netflix got a little horny and lost in the sauce. Goddamn I enjoyed all of that. I think there was a bit of awkwardness in the beginning – Trevor and Sypha’s interactions felt kind of stilted, Carmilla’s posse was 1000x more interesting and she became a caricature – but goddamn I give this season a high grade. I hope they don’t feel like they have to escalate too hard from here. That’s always a danger for long-runners around this point.

    1. Roarke says:

      On second thought, Carmilla reminds me of nobody so much as Tarquin from OOTS. Like him, she inflates her contribution to the group as a way to keep up her ego. She seems to have a lot more goodwill with her group, so they actually play along, but that’s how the basic dynamic feels. My guess would be that she’s coasting on her original coup, and the others indulge her to varying degrees.

      1. Farla says:

        I think it’s similar, though I think the vampires are more chummy. Tarquin and Malack, where they indulge each other’s quirks, rather than Tarquin and the rest who seem much more about favor-trading.

        Also, I’d assume part of why Carmilla is so off this season is she’s unwinding from all the bullshit she’s been through. She was competent enough in S2 (and able to make it back after everything went to hell) and she was /thought/ competent enough that she was the one the rest of the group sent to pull the plan off all by herself. (…which also suggests she might actually be the most stable/generalist of the group, where they may be really good in their specialty but she does better on her own than any of the others. Lenore the diplomat wasn’t sent because Lenore would try to solve the problem by starting at “oh no, Dracula’s very sad!”)

        1. Roarke says:

          I think you bring up a good point. Being the front for their S2 scheme is not a small contribution at all, and she visibly exhausted herself retreating. So I can see her just spending 10 episodes recouping with virgin blood and orgies. Here’s hoping she does things in S4.

          Lenore the diplomat wasn’t sent because Lenore would try to solve the problem by starting at “oh no, Dracula’s very sad!”

          That would be hilarious. I guess you’d probably think of her as the field agent of the three, who best operates on a solo basis in enemy territory. Striga and Morana clearly rely on each other to be at their best, and Lenore, yeah, maybe also best applied on her bed home turf.

          1. Farla says:

            Oh, and also this season confirmed that yeah, Carmilla’s still got scars from her old sire’s behavior so when she drew a direct connection between him and Dracula’s instability, she was taking it as Dracula being a time bomb ticking down to similar abuse if she couldn’t kill him in time. Which does fit with how she’s handling herself very carefully around Dracula but is getting violent towards others as time keeps passing and no one seems to understand they need to get this done already.

            [Lenore, yeah, maybe also best applied on her bed home turf.]

            In fairness she does do an absolutely bang-up job of that!

    2. Farla says:

      [ I hope they don’t feel like they have to escalate too hard from here. That’s always a danger for long-runners around this point.]

      Yeah, I liked it but amid the people screaming YES GREAT and NO HORRIBLE, there’s a bunch of of “okay that was a cool darkest-before-dawn thing, great job putting them through the wringer as setup for S4, but uh, the point is Alucard’s having a very bad time and oh no poor baby, not that he’s actually gonna go evil and then get murdered by his friends next season, right?” And I mean, I feel the narrative weight is very much in favor of the correct choice there, but there’s also that my main delighted screaming about the cartoon is that it is batshit, so it is possible it will do an unpredictable thing but in a bad way.

      I do think that pretty much the only thing COMICS is actually reliably good at, at least when we’re talking an ongoing story by a single author, is raising stakes, addressing them, then moving on to a new plot, rather than just endless up up up up.

      1. Roarke says:

        People were having pretty wildly swinging opinions on that, haha. I definitely come down on the positive side, with some reservations about S4 like I said about the escalation. You know comics more than I do, so I’ll be hopeful on your say-so. I do totally see a possible Alucard as the final villain, but right now he’s definitely on the side of ‘okay just don’t bother me I have abandonment issues and I’ve lost all trust for strangers’.

        1. Farla says:

          And also, it’s not even that they tried to kill him so he killed them first, he tries to talk them down even though they bound him in torture-wire and then even in his crazy rambling afterward he’s talking about this in place of a sign saying danger of death, so he’s not even committing to killing the next people who come by and may actually be meaning more like, “I can’t be around people apparently so they need to stay away.” If it goes evil Alucard over the most justified self-defense killings ever I will riot.

          Honestly I also can’t see the higher-ups giving a go-ahead on evil Alucard when they’re so protective they won’t even let him swing his sword with the wrong hand. (Also, Warren Ellis’s stuff is the actually good comics. He’s a stranger and he could betray us all, but his track record is trustworthy, both in the good writing and the “dark but not unending ceaseless misery” sense.)

          1. Roarke says:

            Yeah, like, Dracula had acres of stakes and still ended up marrying the first woman to visit him in however long. It doesn’t make a ton of sense to go “oh noes, Alucard is acting like Dracula so he’ll be evil now!” when Dracula was absolutely just living the family life when left to his own devices.

            Maybe Isaac’s travels eventually take him to the castle and he busts in assuming it’ll be a fight, but instead he and Alucard become pals due to being #1 and #2 at awkward human relations. (I leave the order to your imagination)

            1. Cigi says:
              Honestly, I think having Alucard and Isaac interact in S4 would make a lot of sense. They’re set up as quite similar-but-opposite, being the ones most affected by Dracula’s death; they’re also the only characters who are truly alone (Hector’s with Lenore and the rest of her coven, though he probably doesn’t want to be; Sypha and Trevor were put through the wringer, but they still have a healthy, loving, supportive relationship with one another) and they’re both lonely, and even outright state as much. They’re also the only ones who were personally hurt by humans in S3 (the judge never hurt Sypha and Trevor personally; his betrayal was posthumous, when they realised what kind of man he was), but react to it in completely opposite ways, which I think would make for an interesting dynamic.

              Besides, as of the finale, Isaac is posed to invade Carmilla’s castle at the start of S4, so there has to be a spanner in the works somewhere. There’s no point in having Isaac defeated and eliminated from the story (I guess he could get captured, but they don’t need him when they have Hector and Isaac is far too loyal to Dracula to even consider working alongside Carmilla and her sisters), but there’s also no point in building up the Styrian vampires and setting up their plans only to take them out at the beginning of S4. Perhaps he’ll have to beat a hasty retreat and ends up in Dracula’s castle?

              (Also, if they really want to do an ‘evil Alucard’ fakeout, having Isaac and his night creatures hang out around Dracula’s castle alongside Alucard’s new lawn decorations would be one way to do it.)

              Reply
            2. Farla says:

              Hm. Also Isaac and Alucard are the ones who shared the look in S2, and may have already known about each other.

              (And it would be a big deal for Isaac to hold off on killing Alucard, given his bit with Hector made it clear how badly he takes people betraying Dracula.)

              [Besides, as of the finale, Isaac is posed to invade Carmilla’s castle at the start of S4, so there has to be a spanner in the works somewhere.]

              Ooh, right, I actually forgot about that.

              We do know he needs an army and we saw during the fight that he can’t transform people indefinitely, so he’ll need a couple days at least. But unless someone else shows up to the middle of nowhere in an area explicitly stated to be depopulated, there’s also nothing to make him change plans in that time, and I don’t think S4 will be starting five minutes after S3 so yeah, it does seem like he’ll be ready to go at S4’s start.

              Carmilla’s castle might be warded against teleportation, since not much point in castle walls without that, in which case after he gets his army he’s still going to have to plot how to best attack.

              It’s not warded against spying, evidently, so Isaac would know what he’s up against (and that Hector’s making reinforcements) but we did just see Isaac just blindly charge in to face the other magician, so he may not have a good idea of his capabilities. And attacking and getting driven off…then Hector would know Isaac is alive and nearby and we’d see how he felt about that. Would he think it was rescue, or know Isaac was there to kill him? (And would that convince him to help the vampires or would he be all fuck yeah the sweet embrace of death?)

              …yes, I think you’re right about a botched attack and hasty retreat. The night creatures don’t seem very durable if you know how to fight them. And Isaac knows for a fact Alucard is good at killing vampires…

              Reply
            3. Cigi says:

              I suppose they must’ve met; when Sumi and Taka tell Alucard about Cho, he doesn’t know her by name and keeps saying ‘if’ she was in the castle even though he fought her, so he probably didn’t know any of the generals. But like you said, they share that look during the final fight. Isaac also recognises Alucard and refers to him by name to Dracula during the fight, so they probably have met. It must’ve been when Alucard was younger though, because I’m pretty sure Dracula wounded Alucard immediately after Dracula manifested in Lisa’s pyre, and I think Dracula delivered his ultimatum before recruiting Hector and Isaac and the other generals. (Could make for a very interesting dynamic though, if Isaac knew Alucard as a child.)

              (And it would be a big deal for Isaac to hold off on killing Alucard, given his bit with Hector made it clear how badly he takes people betraying Dracula.)

              Hm, yeah, that’s a thing. The way he took out Godbrand in S2 as well as his glee at seeing Hector suffer and the way he immediately set his sights on Styria in S3 does make it seem like he’s not inclined to forgive traitors. On the other hand, he made no mention of going after Trevor, Sypha, or Alucard, even though he knows they’re the ones who killed Dracula — Alucard openly opposing Dracula might not qualify as a betrayal. Given all that, Isaac might actually listen to Alucard, and S3 does establish that it’s pretty easy to talk Isaac out of killing you so long as you’re nice to him.

              Carmilla’s castle might be warded against teleportation

              Would it be, though? Teleportation doesn’t seem like it’s very common; Dracula could personally teleport and Alucard can flash-step short distances, but beyond that, there’s only Dracula’s castle itself (which is considered unique in-universe) and certain Carpathian mirrors, which are apparently rare (there’s only three mentioned; Dracula has one, the wizard has another, and the Tunisian merchant sold the third to a pair of vampires from Carthage). It might be that Carmilla’s castle isn’t warded at all and that Isaac can just bust in whenever he feels like it.

              Also, an attack on Carmilla’s castle, even an unsuccessful one, would deplete her forces and might make her rely more on night creatures than originally planned — the biggest issue with Carmilla’s plan in S3 is their lack of soldiers; if they currently have just enough forces and funds that bulking up their army with mercenaries will give them enough manpower to take Dracula’s old territories, depleting their standing forces means they’d have to either buy more mercenaries or rely more on night creatures. If the latter, it would also put more pressure on them, since they’re in danger of running out of food and might force them to be more aggressive and less careful than they’re currently planning to be. Also, that could hopefully give Hector a little more agency during S4.

              but we did just see Isaac just blindly charge in to face the other magician, so he may not have a good idea of his capabilities

              Isaac doesn’t really strike me as a plans kind of guy. He’s an extremely powerful magician (when we see Hector forge night creatures, it takes a long time; Isaac can make an army on the fly) and he’s skilled enough at hand-to-hand combat to take multiple opponents, including vampires, and even vampire generals, without breaking a sweat. He also has an army. All throughout S3 his plan seems to be to go in a straight line towards the place he needs to be and if anyone raises any objections to that, he’ll just kill them. He doesn’t really need strategy. Hell, even against the wizard, even knowing that the wizard could mind-control people, his plan is still to run up and stab.

              then Hector would know Isaac is alive and nearby and we’d see how he felt about that. Would he think it was rescue, or know Isaac was there to kill him?

              I mean, did Hector even realise that Isaac didn’t like him much back in S2? He really doesn’t seem to be able to read people. He’ll probably intially think it’s a rescue, then one of the vampires will point out to him that no, you betrayed Dracula you numpty, of course Isaac’s here to murder you horribly, wtf were you expecting?, and use that to drive Hector further into their clutches. I hope I’m wrong though, but the plot’s missed precisely zero opportunities to shit all over Hector, so.

              (But, man, what the fuck even is Hector’s storyline anymore. Whatever happens, I just hope he gets more agency during S4, because at this point he’s pathetically passive and the plot’s verging on misery porn (when it’s not just straight-up porn, I mean). The priory storyline in S3 does establish that night creatures can act of their own volition, so hopefully, even though Hector is bound to Lenore, his night creatures can get up to some kind of shenanigans even if they can’t free him outright. He’s technically not disloyal to Lenore so long as he’s not telling them to get up to mischief, right?)

              Reply
            4. Farla says:

              We know Dracula met Isaac while he was traveling, which I think he was only doing for about a year or two. And we now know Alucard cracks like an egg if he’s left alone, so there’s no way he was out of contact with his parents during that time. I’m assuming now that he was probably popping back and forth with the mirror himself. So, he could’ve met Isaac when they were hanging out post-rescue and it’s outright likely given Dracula stuck around long enough that Isaac seemed to know him pretty well when he showed up again.

              (Also the fact that apparently Alucard had no fucking clue who anyone was is hilarious while making complete sense – if Carmilla had never even met Dracula in all the centuries he’d been around, of course nobody knows Alucard.)

              [Alucard openly opposing Dracula might not qualify as a betrayal.]

              Definitely a point in his favor. Maybe Alucard also gets a bonus for fillial virtue, in that he was opposing Dracula over a legitimate disagreement over how best to honor Lisa’s memory. The other betrayals were out of self-interest, which would particularly disgust Isaac. I would like to know his feelings on Dracula’s killers, thoufg…as you say he hasn’t even mentioned them. The fact he’s going after Hector before Carmilla suggests he’s definitely more focused on the degree of betrayal over who’s to blame for Dracula’s death, so it might be that the trio are below Carmilla in importance or it might be that he doesn’t hold a grudge at all because he sees them as acting honorably – at the least, you really can’t say anyone involved was confused in the slightest about where Trevor Belmont, House of Belmont, The Vampire Hunters Who Particularly Hate Dracula, stood. I do feel like even if you’re very forgiving, Dracula’s own son killing him constitutes some degree of betrayal.

              [It might be that Carmilla’s castle isn’t warded at all and that Isaac can just bust in whenever he feels like it.]

              The problem is, if it’s not warded, Isaac can just throw monsters through anytime he wants. Any time a vampire’s alone? SUDDENLY MONSTERS. During the day, trying to sleep? SUDDENLY MONSTERS. Etc.

              And even ignoring Dracula’s mirror because of course Dracula would have rare cool stuff, the fact they’re even on the market to be bought and that wandering around at random lets him hear about another one that’s even unusually large suggests that the bigger players may not have one of their own but do need to worry about one being used against them.

              Plus Carmilla’s castle is high walls on higher icy peaks, suggesting the location was very much chosen for defensibility and the assumption anyone challenging you would have to travel the terrain. I think there’s good odds that we’ll get to see that in action, where it’s Isaac and demons trying to smash their way through the walls and the issue of splitting his forces between the tougher landbound demons and flyers who can bypass walls but are a lot more fragile.

              [if they currently have just enough forces and funds that bulking up their army with mercenaries will give them enough manpower to take Dracula’s old territories, depleting their standing forces means they’d have to either buy more mercenaries or rely more on night creatures.]

              I actually suspect the plan there is really two-pronged. Although Lenore is claiming it means they don’t need Hector, the original idea came about as a way to deal with the problem that they needed corpses and didn’t want to deplete their own territory. But using living mercenaries to fight the living armies of their opponents is a great way of generating corpses without dipping into the Wallachian stock, and it means we don’t have to wonder why, if the solution was just to pay people, they never tried this before. Poaching other people’s mercenaries by outbidding them is probably not something they can keep up indefinitely, but if they’re just a stopgap and corpse-collection system, then it’d make sense.

              But you’re right that Isaac will be a different pressure. If he’s attacking the castle after they’ve committed to using human mercenaries elsewhere instead of their usual vampire army tactics, he’ll be gutting what’s left of the vampire forces they have and might mean they have to shift to using night creature personal guards.

              …and come to think of it, there’s only four master rings, so Hector’s creatures can probably still attack the rest of the vampires. So he might be able to create a situation where pretty soon it’s just him, four people he can’t directly hurt, and a whole lot of monsters he controls.

              (And if the ring is basically a super shock collar, it’s possible that if he times it right, he could kill them all simultaneously and just accept he’ll have to spend a bit balled up in agony in return for freedom.)

              [Isaac doesn’t really strike me as a plans kind of guy. ]

              The question is if he can’t use tactics or if he just thought he didn’t need to. I get the impression he’s overconfident because of how easily he’d been handling things before that point and also rushing due to the depression and rage, but he might be willing to do things smarter if he realizes he’s behaving recklessly and might fail to get to Hector at this rate.

              [I mean, did Hector even realise that Isaac didn’t like him much back in S2? He really doesn’t seem to be able to read people.]

              He doesn’t, but if anything I think he defaults to assuming dislike. We know he assumed Isaac’s comment about kissing was a joke, and Carmilla really didn’t get anywhere trying to be nice or flirty with him. And someone bad at understanding people probably isn’t going to be thinking about if Isaac knows he betrayed Dracula or not when he could just take it as given that everyone involved knows all the facts of the matter. I think the biggest issue is if Hector assumes his current misery is bad enough that Isaac would only show up if he meant to help. Or if he thinks Dracula lied to Isaac and that he’ll be able to reason with Isaac by saying it wasn’t the promised cull. But if they get within speaking distance and that’s all Hector brings to the table I’d bet he gets a knife through the heart mid-sentence. (Unless maybe Isaac suddenly has the revelation that it’s a bit dickish to be throwing a fit about Hector betraying Dracula if Dracula betrayed Hector’s trust first.)

              [Whatever happens, I just hope he gets more agency during S4, because at this point he’s pathetically passive ]

              I will say in Hector’s defense, I don’t know if he’s actually a total moron or if he was going along with it because he saw no better option. We know in the early interaction he plays along and uses that to get a chance to attack her. It’s possible that the rest of S3 was him playing up what a pathetic loser he is because he realized he wasn’t getting out until he forged some backup. And she did give him that book on vampire magic and then explicitly say in her explanation of the ring that it’s vampire magic…

              Reply
            5. Cigi says:

              That makes sense, yeah. Even assuming that Lisa only opened her practice in Lupu village after Dracula had left on his walkabout, the villagers didn’t know she was married or had a kid, so Alucard couldn’t have been spending much of his time with her. Since he clearly wasn’t spending his time alone, yeah, he was probably hanging out with Dracula and his mates. And the idea that Dracula spent a long time hanging out with Isaac makes a lot of sense; the degree of mutual trust and respect between the pair of them in S2 implies that they’ve known each other for a lot longer than just the year they’ve been working together, and Isaac saw straight through Dracula’s bullshit when he first came round to recruit Isaac after Lisa’s execution. 

              (Also! Alucard knows what a bar fight is, implying he’s either been in one or witnessed one. If he really was popping in to say hi to his dad every once in a while whilst Dracula off was travelling, then it stands to reason that this’d be the time when Alucard and/or Dracula got caught up in a pub brawl. I realise I’m jumping to a lot of conclusions and we’re almost entering the realm of fanfic here but I really, really hope this means that someone, somewhere, attempted to kick Dracula in the nads.)

              I would like to know his feelings on Dracula’s killers, thoufg…as you say he hasn’t even mentioned them. The fact he’s going after Hector before Carmilla suggests he’s definitely more focused on the degree of betrayal over who’s to blame for Dracula’s death, so it might be that the trio are below Carmilla in importance or it might be that he doesn’t hold a grudge at all because he sees them as acting honorably

              See, that’s the thing I really don’t get. He doesn’t seem to want to avenge Dracula’s death as much as avenge Dracula’s betrayal, and he’s not even the one to try to resurrect Dracula (and I’m pretty sure that night creature was acting of its own volition). I initially thought that maybe Trevor and Sypha would be taken care of under the Rocks Fall, Humanity Dies clause but I don’t think he even had the idea of taking up Dracula’s cause until the captain pointed it out to him as an option. (And indeed, when he’s visiting the merchant in Tunis, he tells his night creatures to wait peacefully outside and only attacks once the guards start antagonising him.) So honourably opposing Dracula might not be enough to get on his shitlist. He’d probably attack Trevor and Sypha if he crossed paths with them, but I don’t think he’d actively hunt them down.

              But if that’s the case, then the problem with Alucard is that he was acting with honour and integrity but he was also disloyal to Dracula, and I’m not sure which one of those Isaac cares most about. Alucard was acting against his own self-interest and doing what he thought was right regardless of how much he’d suffer as a consequence of his own actions and Isaac might respect that, even if he disagrees with Alucard’s actions. On the other hand, Alucard killed Dracula, so…

              (Also, when the generals were discussing Alucard, Isaac dismisses him as just a ‘spoilt child’ and I wonder if it’s worth reading into that. It might’ve just been for the generals’ benefit to stop them from siding with Carmilla, but I wonder if he actually meant anything by it?)

              The fact he’s going after Hector before Carmilla suggests he’s definitely more focused on the degree of betrayal over who’s to blame for Dracula’s death

              Come to think of it, maybe the reason he’s going after Hector specifically is because Isaac himself feels guilty? In S2, when Isaac and Dracula discuss moving the castle to Braila, Dracula asks if Isaac thinks Hector’s loyalty is compromised and Isaac says no. I wonder how much of Isaac’s rage is actually directed at himself for making the wrong call. Maybe subconsciously that’s why he ranks ‘degree of betrayal’ above ‘cause of death’ if he, on some level, blames himself for what happened.

              The problem is, if it’s not warded, Isaac can just throw monsters through anytime he wants. Any time a vampire’s alone? SUDDENLY MONSTERS.

              I realise a big ol’ cinematic climactic battle looks better onscreen and would suit Isaac’s personality better (and also, the writers gave him a massive fuckoff army for a reason), but having him chuck smaller troops of monsters into the castle to harass and sabotage the enemy guerilla-style would be pretty cool. Maybe in another storyline.

              And even ignoring Dracula’s mirror because of course Dracula would have rare cool stuff, the fact they’re even on the market to be bought and that wandering around at random lets him hear about another one that’s even unusually large suggests that the bigger players may not have one of their own but do need to worry about one being used against them.

              Right, yeah, good point. Teleportation might not be thick on the ground but stands to reason it’s still a thing you’d need to plan for.

              Plus Carmilla’s castle is high walls on higher icy peaks, suggesting the location was very much chosen for defensibility and the assumption anyone challenging you would have to travel the terrain

              I wonder if this has the potential to turn into a siege situation. I mean, Isaac now has an entire city’s worth of night creatures; that might be enough to try to starve the vampires out. An army of night creatures doesn’t need supplies the way human or vampire armies do. Or he could use it as a distraction and try to sneak his way in and murder Hector and/or Carmilla.

              (Also, fun fact — the real-life Styria is a lot more valleys and vineyards than frigid frozen mountaintops. It is a mountainous region, but the peaks aren’t all that tall. Carmilla’s castle looks more like it belongs in the Alps or in the Carpathians.)

              Poaching other people’s mercenaries by outbidding them is probably not something they can keep up indefinitely, but if they’re just a stopgap and corpse-collection system, then it’d make sense.

              That’s the thing though, their funds are finite, their standing forces are finite, and the amount of mercenaries in Central Europe is finite. If they lose too many soldiers, they’ll either need more mercenaries or more night creatures. If they can’t afford to keep outbidding on mercenaries to fill in the gaps in their army, they’ll have to dip into their feeding stock eventually. And relying more on night creatures means relying more on Hector.

              So he might be able to create a situation where pretty soon it’s just him, four people he can’t directly hurt, and a whole lot of monsters he controls.

              Yesssss. This is precisely the kind of thing I’m hoping will happen. Hector’s spent the last season-and-a-half getting kicked about by Carmilla and her crew, I really hope he gets to bite back in season 4.

              (Of course, the problem with this is that the night creatures are magically bound to follow his commands, and he’s magically bound to follow theirs; they could just make him make the creatures stop attacking vampires. Maybe he’ll be able to use Isaac’s attack on Carmilla’s castle as a way to disguise his own night creatures among Isaac’s? I don’t think they can tell the difference between Hector’s night creatures and Isaac’s, so he might be able to do some serious damage to Carmilla’s forces before it’s discovered.)

              The question is if he can’t use tactics or if he just thought he didn’t need to

              That’s a good point. He’s clearly intelligent and he’s a lot more skilled at social manipulation than you’d expect from an emotionally stunted misanthropic hermit if S2 is anything to go by, so it’s probably more that he doesn’t need to think about strategy than that he can’t. On the other hand, I doubt he’s got much experience commanding an army, especially from the front lines; Dracula’s strategy in S2 seemed to mostly consist of pointing night creatures towards major human settlements and going, “Hey, fuck them up” and we never see the vampires or the forgemasters personally lead an attack. He’s clever enough to think of various strategies, but I don’t think he’s ever had to implement them practically.

              There’s also the fact that he doesn’t really seem to have a plan for what comes after killing Hector and Carmilla. He might be happy to just rush in, assassinate the pair of them, and then let whatever happens, happen. I don’t think he’d just let himself be killed, but I don’t think he’d be averse to dying so long as Hector and Carmilla also die. I can definitely see him being a bit more reckless than he ought to be.

              if anything I think he defaults to assuming dislike

              I think the biggest issue is if Hector assumes his current misery is bad enough that Isaac would only show up if he meant to help

              But if he assumes instant dislike, then he’s got no reason to assume Isaac’s there to help him. He might think Isaac doesn’t know the truth and try to tell him that Dracula’s plan wasn’t a cull at all, in which case he’ll get knifed, or he might think Dracula’s miraculously still alive, in which case he’ll get knifed for bringing it up. (Also, just the fact that Hector’ll be living in the lap of luxury from now on is probably enough to get him knifed — Isaac clearly wants him to suffer, and Isaac probably wouldn’t hold himself back from stabbing for long enough that Hector can tell him about Lenore.)

              And even if Hector’s in such a state that he’s willing to consider a knife to the gizzards as ‘help’, there’s nothing stopping him from forging a night creature, waiting for the guards to get distracted, and committing suicide by hellspawn. So I can’t see Hector going all ‘fuck yeah sweet embrace of death’ when Isaac shows up for righteous stabbings, so I suspect he’s more likely to try to earnestly explain to Isaac that he didn’t mean to betray Dracula it just kind of… happened. Which is true; he was manipulated, though I’m not sure if that’s a point in his favour or against him.

              (Unless maybe Isaac suddenly has the revelation that it’s a bit dickish to be throwing a fit about Hector betraying Dracula if Dracula betrayed Hector’s trust first.)

              Heh. While it’d be amusing to see Isaac’s mind try to shift gears without the clutch, I don’t think he’d ever see it like that. He knew from S2 that Dracula lied to Hector about his plans and it never seemed to factor into his S3 plans at all; I think anyone pointing out that Dracula technically betrayed Hector first is going to get knifed in the eyeball in principle.

              Also, hm, maybe I didn’t express myself right. It’s not Hector’s character as such that I have a problem with, it’s just that it’s not very fun seeing endless piles of misery heaped on a character who, for all intents and purposes, isn’t even a bad guy. He didn’t betray Dracula out of malice, he was just naïve and gullible and didn’t realise that trusting Carmilla was a bad thing to do. Hell, he’s explicitly compared to a child by Dracula, and even Isaac, who’s hardly Mr Emotional Intelligence himself, recognises that Hector has no idea how to relate to human beings. It’s just not very fun to have awful things happen to Hector, especially since he’s had no way to defend himself since basically the latter half of S2, and particularly now that he’s literally enslaved.

              It’s kind of the same issue I had with Alucard’s S3 storyline; he’s already at such a low point following the end of S2 that kicking him even further down isn’t satisfying, it’s just sad. At least when things went tits up (literally) for Alucard, it was right at the end of the season*; Hector’s storyline’s been a shitshow free-for-all since the end of S2. (They’ve also both also got a tendency to just kind of lie down and take it (literally) which also makes their suffering much less amusing. Alucard’s at least interestingly fucked up, so his suffering is used to show us different facets of his personality, but Hector’s been gormlessly naïve since he was first introduced aside from that brief blip of sense in early S3 when he realised that Lenore was trying to manipulate him.)

              *I mean, yeah, Alucard’s been lonely and isolated since… basically since the start of S1, but especially after the end of S2, and he’s clearly not dealt with the trauma of losing both his parents and then having his new friends fuck off into the sunset and leave him alone as the cryptkeeper to two tombs, but the faith-shatteringly awful thing doesn’t happen until right at the end of S3 and he at least gets to play happy families with Sumi and Taka in the meanwhile.

              It’s possible that the rest of S3 was him playing up what a pathetic loser he is because he realized he wasn’t getting out until he forged some backup

              Eh, in that case, he shouldn’t have sworn loyalty to Lenore. He had the vampire magic book before she had the ring, and even if there’s nothing about slave rings in the book, he still should’ve known better than to pledge himself to a vampire, especially since she was very insistent about him saying it in his own words rather than just gasping out a couple of yeses whilst balls deep.

              I mean, I can definitely see him playing up his own weakness during S4 and using that to give himself opportunities to subvert the vampires’ plans, but I don’t think he had that much control during S3. He might’ve played along initially because it’d get him food and clothes, but by the end of S3, I think he really did trust Lenore. We know he’s gullible, we know Lenore’s manipulative, and while I can believe that an otherwise intelligent man might shag the (very pretty) bloodthirsty monster that beat the shit out of him roughly a week prior, it is not intelligent to then swear fealty to her during a moment of passion.

              (I do love how fucking smug Lenore looks in that scene though. She’s horrible, but she’s entertainingly horrible.)

              Reply
            6. Farla says:

              [(Also! Alucard knows what a bar fight is, implying he’s either been in one or witnessed one. If he really was popping in to say hi to his dad every once in a while whilst Dracula off was travelling, then it stands to reason that this’d be the time when Alucard and/or Dracula got caught up in a pub brawl. I realise I’m jumping to a lot of conclusions and we’re almost entering the realm of fanfic here but I really, really hope this means that someone, somewhere, attempted to kick Dracula in the nads.)]

              The fanficcability is at least half of what appeals to me about the show!

              Technically, Alucard and Dracula could’ve just observed a bar fight, but given it seems to be a law of the Castlevania universe that people pick massively unadvised fights, yeah, someone probably broke their foot taking a shot at Dracula’s testicles and he decided to make it a teaching moment for Alucard about proper decorum during a fight as he tore the guy’s liver out.

              [He doesn’t seem to want to avenge Dracula’s death as much as avenge Dracula’s betrayal, and he’s not even the one to try to resurrect Dracula (and I’m pretty sure that night creature was acting of its own volition).]

              So I was looking back at the scripts trying to be sure I remembered what Isaac said about their first meeting and I was reminded that Dracula made it clear he would die when this was over and his last dregs of emotional capability were spent wishing that could happen faster. In that case, it makes complete sense he’d take issue with betraying Dracula and getting in the way of the guy’s plans.

              I think what was going on with the night creature was an echo of what Lenore says about the slave ring, where if the forgemaster is loyal to someone else, then their creatures are too. Dracula’s explosive death looked like a reference to him containing multiple souls and then this season canonized that’s what soul blobs look like, so my guess was a soul chunk bumped into the creature and it took that as an order because Isaac’s orders are to do whatever Dracula wants.

              (It’s confused by the fact it doesn’t seem like Dracula actually does want to leave, but I could see an initial panic at the idea Lisa’s in hell making him order something to open a gate and let her out.)

              [(Also, when the generals were discussing Alucard, Isaac dismisses him as just a ‘spoilt child’ and I wonder if it’s worth reading into that. It might’ve just been for the generals’ benefit to stop them from siding with Carmilla, but I wonder if he actually meant anything by it?)]

              Ooh, that’s an interesting point.

              By all appearances Isaac has no framework for understanding children or families or humans in general, so god only knows what he thinks a “spoilt child” even is.

              He’s dismissing Alucard as a threat even though, as Godbrand points out, Alucard is both powerful and trained by Dracula, but doesn’t seem like it’s protecting Alucard, since Godbrand is complaining they should’ve avoided Gresit due to Alucard being there.

              It’s probably mostly just about shutting down any question of Dracula’s plan – hm, actually, it’s also another instance where it’s clear Dracula is lying to someone only for Isaac to get upset that they’re daring to second-guess Dracula’s lies. So we know Isaac doesn’t care about lying to make people do what Dracula wants, but it also suggests Isaac doesn’t care about anyone else’s reasoning for disobeying Dracula.

              …which doesn’t really give much to work with. Either he thinks Alucard is dumb for not appreciating how his dad is the best and only important person in the world, or he’s just saying whatever comes to mind as an excuse, and he has good reason for either one.

              I do feel like it’s an odd thing to say if you’re respecting Dracula’s motive of burning the world for Lisa to think Alucard is spoiled for acting in Lisa’s name, but I could see the argument he means more in the sense of Alucard being sheltered and stupid.

              [Dracula asks if Isaac thinks Hector’s loyalty is compromised and Isaac says no. I wonder how much of Isaac’s rage is actually directed at himself for making the wrong call. Maybe subconsciously that’s why he ranks ‘degree of betrayal’ above ‘cause of death’ if he, on some level, blames himself for what happened.]

              Ah, and that might explain why he doesn’t seem to have a list. Maybe his opening motivation is kill Hector and then himself.

              [Also, fun fact — the real-life Styria is a lot more valleys and vineyards than frigid frozen mountaintops. It is a mountainous region, but the peaks aren’t all that tall.]

              …well, maybe not in our present, after Isaac vs Carmilla vs Hector happens to that innocent mountain.

              [That’s the thing though, their funds are finite, their standing forces are finite, and the amount of mercenaries in Central Europe is finite. If they lose too many soldiers, they’ll either need more mercenaries or more night creatures.]

              But the dead mercenaries can become night creatures, as does everyone they kill. Hiring mercenaries is just a roundabout way of buying corpses from outside their territory.

              Lenore tells Hector the mercenaries replace him, but the problem in the original conversation is that they don’t have enough bodies to turn into night creatures and the mercenaries were the solution to that. They don’t even need to be able to buy all the mercenaries, just enough to stalemate long enough for the demons to build up.

              [Of course, the problem with this is that the night creatures are magically bound to follow his commands, and he’s magically bound to follow theirs]

              I don’t think so, actually!

              We’ve been consistently told that the night creatures are “loyal”, which people largely took to just mean “obeys orders” but we also know the night creatures are independent. If they were slaves to orders, they could still subvert them, and while the night creatures were largely nonentities in S2, S3 has returned to them being intelligent and capable of speech as well as the priory night creature taking actions completely unrelated to any direct command Isaac gave. It seems the night creatures are compelled to love the forgemasters so they want to obey anything they’re told, not directly compelled to just obey.

              And we know the ring itself can’t compel Hector.

              “when Hector forges a night creature, they are loyal to him. But now! He is bound to me through the spell on these rings. When he makes a night creature, they’re loyal to him, and he swore loyalty to me, so they’re loyal to me, too. All these rings are linked. Wear the ring, and his night creatures will be loyal to you, too. And if Hector ever tries to harm us, or take it off, or run away, his ring will cause him so much pain that he’ll think he shat out his own heart.”

              So, you can’t just tell Hector to behave, it has a shock collar function instead. And I think the fact it’s keyed to punish him if he tries harming them tells us he’s got the capability to do so.

              The key is how “loyalty” works, which hasn’t been explained. Lenore may have made this so that the loyalty to the vampires supersedes loyalty to Hector, but I really doubt it could be done. At best, it might be splitting that loyalty five ways, and even that’s dubious given it works based on a verbal oath while the forgemaster/night creature link seems far stronger. I think it’s a matter of the night creatures functioning as if Hector gave them the order of being loyal to the vampires. And even if it did actually split the loyalty evenly, you can’t have both perfect loyalty and conflicting loyalty.

              If Hector and Carmilla ordered a night creature to kill the other, whose command gets priority? I think at best Hector might not be able to order the night creatures to attack without reason, but it’s unlikely they consider the vampire’s commands to have the same priority let alone will listen to the vampires over Hector. Lenore wants him to have a nice doghouse anyway, so that kind of an exploit wouldn’t bother her.

              So they might be able to tell individual night creatures to stop killing their soldiers, but Hector could probably just tell them to start doing that again (and certainly make it the first order each new creature he makes hears), and I think if they smack him around to get him to stop, there’s a good chance they’ll bait the night creatures into defending him.

              [But if he assumes instant dislike, then he’s got no reason to assume Isaac’s there to help him.]

              The problem would be if he assumes Isaac going through so much trouble means it must be a rescue. Pretty much everyone in fandom was assuming Isaac would show up in a helpful capacity, for example, though of course pretty much everyone in fandom is way more willing to believe humans care about other humans than Hector. The combination of such a weird situation and such weird people means it’s really hard to tell what direction Hector would go in.

              [So I can’t see Hector going all ‘fuck yeah sweet embrace of death’ when Isaac shows up for righteous stabbings]

              Oh yeah, I very much doubt that option just because Hector has so consistently tried to stay alive. But he did seem deeply freaked out about the slave ring, and it could be things get worse.

              [so I suspect he’s more likely to try to earnestly explain to Isaac that he didn’t mean to betray Dracula it just kind of… happened. Which is true; he was manipulated, though I’m not sure if that’s a point in his favour or against him.]

              I mean, the one thing Hector has going for him is that “I’m a fucking moron” is not a hard sell. And if you’re right that Isaac feels terrible about telling Dracula that Hector was still loyal, he would actually have reason to want to believe Hector was tricked into it.

              [Also, hm, maybe I didn’t express myself right. It’s not Hector’s character as such that I have a problem with, it’s just that it’s not very fun seeing endless piles of misery heaped on a character who, for all intents and purposes, isn’t even a bad guy.]

              I mean, he was fine with killing half of us and herding the other half into livestock pens. He can’t even really claim he thought the vampires would be kind about it since he compared it to cats playing with their food and how that was okay because the cats were so happy torturing the mice.

              [It’s just not very fun to have awful things happen to Hector, especially since he’s had no way to defend himself since basically the latter half of S2, and particularly now that he’s literally enslaved.]

              That said, yeah, I wasn’t exactly thrilled with his side of thing just being misery porn with a side of regular porn. I’m forgiving of it because I think it’s a matter of the season being long and not wanting Hector to be just missing from most of the episodes, but even still it seemed excessive.

              [Eh, in that case, he shouldn’t have sworn loyalty to Lenore. He had the vampire magic book before she had the ring, and even if there’s nothing about slave rings in the book, he still should’ve known better than to pledge himself to a vampire, especially since she was very insistent about him saying it in his own words rather than just gasping out a couple of yeses whilst balls deep.]

              I mean, she’d already done weird stuff like telling him to hand her his leash, she’s also made it clear that she was into him and wanted him to act out her weird ownership fantasies, and she already had so much power over him that he probably didn’t think she was going to try to add more. It’s easy from outside to know that this is all coming to a head and also that we wouldn’t be focusing on it if it wasn’t a big deal, but I really don’t think Hector thought this was the one time in human history that shit you say during sex would actually be binding.

              [I think he really did trust Lenore. We know he’s gullible, we know Lenore’s manipulative]

              The more I look at it the more I don’t think so. His final lines are just upset at what she did to him in the same way he’s upset at what Carmilla did to him. He’s not gullible in the normal sense. Carmilla tricked him not because she acted nice to him – he was nonstop suspicious of that – but because he couldn’t figure out what other motive she had, so she just badgered him into doing stuff that sounded reasonable because he’s bad at understanding why people do things.

              I suspect we have a neurotypical/neurodivergent conflict, where a lot of Lenore’s manipulations are just completely going over Hector’s head.

              [(I do love how fucking smug Lenore looks in that scene though. She’s horrible, but she’s entertainingly horrible.)]

              I love her! But then, like Hector, I also love cats. And the way she can love without in any way considering the other party a person is wonderfully creepy.

              Also, of all the fates to befall Hector, a vampire into noncon puppyplay has a degree of karma to it. Maybe he’ll come out of this with a new understanding that his plan to make us all vampire pets was bad and he should feel bad.

              Reply
            7. Cigi says:

              Dracula made it clear he would die when this was over and his last dregs of emotional capability were spent wishing that could happen faster. In that case, it makes complete sense he’d take issue with betraying Dracula and getting in the way of the guy’s plans.

              Good point! Actually, I’m reminded of that line he tells Hector in S2, somewhat paraphrased, “it’s disloyal if it benefits you [rather than Dracula]”. So it’s more about people betraying and parasitising Dracula for their own benefit than it is about Dracula actually dying, since that’s what he intended.

              where if the forgemaster is loyal to someone else, then their creatures are too

              Mmm, yes, but it could also just be that Isaac’s creatures like Isaac. You touch on it when talking about Hector; if the creatures want to obey their master because they are born loving him, then that’s all that’s needed. ‘Our forgemaster, whom we love, really loved this bloke. Let’s make our beloved forgemaster happy by bringing him back!!’ They’re intelligent and have been shown to act independently, so why not? They weren’t explicitly ordered not to bring Dracula back from hell.

              By all appearances Isaac has no framework for understanding children or families or humans in general, so god only knows what he thinks a “spoilt child” even is.

              Well, judging by how blasé he is about Hector (possibly) being beaten for keeping undead pets, his idea of a spoilt child might just be ‘kid who’s not been beaten into obedience’. He also refers to himself as ‘spoilt by a single act of kindness’ in Tunis (which, okay, may just be a turn of phrase) so there is some grounds for arguing that his idea of spoilt = not beaten down enough and thus stupidly not expecting the worst from everything and everyone. Either of those could apply to Alucard.

              it’s also another instance where it’s clear Dracula is lying to someone only for Isaac to get upset that they’re daring to second-guess Dracula’s lies. So we know Isaac doesn’t care about lying to make people do what Dracula wants, but it also suggests Isaac doesn’t care about anyone else’s reasoning for disobeying Dracula.

              That’s straight-up canon though! He even says as much back in S2:

              “You’re Dracula. No one has a right to your true beliefs.”

              “Not even you?”

              “Not even me. You’ve given me purpose and treated me with respect. A lie wouldn’t change that. You are unique. You don’t owe anybody anything.”

              So, yeah, Dracula is above reproach in any and every way, and anyone taking umbrage at being lied to, mislead, or otherwise used by Dracula is WRONG and also gonna get stabbed.

              It’s a bit funny, though, how he tells Godbrand, “Thank you for revealing to me how the corruption of the world has made its way into Dracula’s court,” with the ‘corruption’ in question being disloyalty, betrayal, self-interest, etc., yet he’s still loyal to Dracula — the man who regularly lied to his own generals in order to enact his murder-suicide upon the entire sodding world. It’s funny how the only way he can justify this to himself is to go, nope nope nope doesn’t count it’s Dracula!!

              I mean, the whole ‘killing the entire wold as a method of protracted suicide’ thing could be justified by saying that, no, it’s not done out of self-interest, it’s done to honour Lisa’s memory. In that case though, as you say, he should be more respectful of Alucard’s motivations. I think Isaac’s sense of morality is firmly Dracula-centred. I mean, he clearly has some ideals about honour and the ways people ought to behave, but Dracula is clearly exempt from those. I’m not sure if he doesn’t realise the contradiction or if he just doesn’t care.

              Maybe his opening motivation is kill Hector and then himself.

              Kind of seems like it, actually. His whole ‘world without love’ speech in S2 makes it sound like he’d be happy to martyr himself in Dracula’s name. The captain in S3 also points out that helping Dracula kill all of humanity is essentially a drawn-out suicide, and Isaac didn’t seem to have any plans for after he’d killed Hector. So while I don’t think he’d kill himself, I also don’t think he’s got any plans to keep living after avenging Dracula, if that makes sense. I think he just takes his death as an inevitability without thinking about the particulars.

              …well, maybe not in our present, after Isaac vs Carmilla vs Hector happens to that innocent mountain.

              Hee. Poor mountaintop.

              the problem in the original conversation is that they don’t have enough bodies to turn into night creatures and the mercenaries were the solution to that

              You’re completely right and I agree with you! My point is that, if they have X amount of soldiers and they buy Y amount of mercenaries in order to get Z amount of people in their army, then, after Isaac’s attack, they’d have X-n amount of soldiers and will need to buy Y+n mercenaries to get Z amount of people in their army. They might not have enough money to buy n amount of mercenaries. And if they can’t buy enough mercenaries, they’ll need to make n amount of night creatures. Vampires can’t be turned into night creatures, so this means dipping into their feeding stock. (They also say at the beginning of S3 that they barely have any forces left after Carmilla’s failed coup, so they’ll probably have to divert a lot of funds into buying mercenaries.)

              It seems the night creatures are compelled to love the forgemasters so they want to obey anything they’re told, not directly compelled to just obey.

              Oh, right, that makes more sense! I assumed it was a compel, but, thinking about it, that doesn’t make much sense when we’re also shown the night creatures as capable of independent thought and even teamwork.

              I think it’s a matter of the night creatures functioning as if Hector gave them the order of being loyal to the vampires.

              Yeah, you’re probably right. But that would technically mean the night creatures’ loyalty to the vampires is split four ways, right? Presumably the rings are identical. So, say, if tensions start running high and the four vampires have different plans on how to proceed…

              I think at best Hector might not be able to order the night creatures to attack without reason

              Well, why not? Like you said, there’s no reason to have a way to deter him from harming them without him actually having a way to harm them. Presumably that’s why he has the shock-collar ring — if he ever tries to command one of his creatures to attack the vampires, it’ll activate.

              The problem would be if he assumes Isaac going through so much trouble means it must be a rescue.

              But he’s got no reason to believe that. First of all, he’s got a low enough opinion of humanity to assume murder (albeit controlled murder) is the best option; secondly, he’s got absolutely no reason to assume Isaac likes him enough to mount a rescue (he correctly recognises back in S2 that they’re not friends; his one attempt at physical closeness has Isaac shrug his hand off and move away from him); third of all, he knows Dracula is dead and he knows Isaac was very, very loyal to Dracula. If he’s clever enough to read Lenore, he’s clever enough to realise that Isaac isn’t there to help him. He might assume Isaac’s there to kill Carmilla though, rather than him. (I’m also not sure if Hector even considers himself important enough to kill — it wasn’t his idea, he just got roped in to it, and it makes more intuitive sense to go after the perpetrator of the crime rather than the accessory to it.) Basically, I don’t think Hector would assume Isaac is there to help him, but I don’t think he’d immediately assume Isaac was there to kill him.

              he would actually have reason to want to believe Hector was tricked into it.

              Yes, but would that matter? Hector betrayed Dracula. And if Isaac does feel guilty about it, killing Hector is a very good way to externalise that guilt.

              I mean, he was fine with killing half of us and herding the other half into livestock pens. He can’t even really claim he thought the vampires would be kind about it since he compared it to cats playing with their food and how that was okay because the cats were so happy torturing the mice.

              Oh, no, he’s not a good person by any stretch of the imagination! But regardless of whether one considers killing half of humanity and enslaving the other half as morally better or morally worse than outright killing all of humanity, the fact of the matter remains that he has more shit piled upon him than any other character throughout S3. I mean, yeah, Dracula’s dead and in hell, but that’s precisely what he wanted as of S2, so it’s hardly punishment. Isaac is, I think, too emotionally fucked up to realise how depressed he actually is, but he nominally achieves his goals and ends the season better off than when he started it. Hector starts S3 as an abused prisoner and ends it enslaved to a vampire coven, with one of them literally treating him as a novelty sex-toy-cum-pet. He’s not any more despicable than the other villains of S2, but he’s still notably worse off than they are.

              I think part of the reason I don’t like Hector’s storyline so much is because it smacks of rape-as-punishment. The sexual component of it was just so unnecessary; Lenore could easily have tricked the ring onto his finger some other way, by playing up the romantic angle or the friendship angle or whatever. Even if we must keep the sex scene*, to follow it up by establishing that she’ll be raping him regularly form here on out just seems egregious. There were ways to establish the parallels between what he wanted to do to humanity and what’s now been done to him without also bringing sexual slavery into the mix.

              *Must we? I mean, yeah, it was set up to parallel Alucard’s scene (and wow do I have opinions on that), and using the structure of one villain has a sex scene x one hero has a sex scene / one villain has a fight scene x one hero has a fight scene to tie together the climaxes of the season’s storylines was quite clever! On the other hand, it did feel like someone had accidentally spliced in hentai halfway through the episode. Alucard’s, in particular, wasn’t set up well enough beforehand to sell me on it.

              (It occurs to me that maybe the point was to set up a parallel between Hector/Lenore and Trevor/Sypha and between Isaac and Alucard? This goes back to what I was saying initially, about how Isaac and Alucard are similar-but-opposite (and even display opposite manifestations of depression in the wake of Dracula’s death — Isaac, self-destructive and on his way to killing himself, contra Alucard, who can’t even manage that); Hector/Lenore and Trevor/Sypha are also set up to parallel one another. They’re both romantic couples (in very specific senses of both words, anyway),  but whereas Hetor/Lenore is a one-sided affair where Hector is objectively worse off for it, Trevor and Sypha have a mutual, supportive, consensual relationship. I do realise I may be reaching though.)

              I’m forgiving of it because I think it’s a matter of the season being long and not wanting Hector to be just missing from most of the episodes

              Absolutely; I still love S3 as a whole and I don’t hate Hector’s storyline, I just wish it were a bit different. I do appreciate how deliciously fitting it is that the guy who wanted humanity to be kept as pets by vampires is now himself a vampire’s pet.

              And yeah, it was almost certainly done to set up Hector’s role for S4. I just hope it’s the sort wherein he gets to actually do stuff, rather than just have other characters do stuff to him.

              I mean, she’d already done weird stuff like telling him to hand her his leash, she’s also made it clear that she was into him and wanted him to act out her weird ownership fantasies, and she already had so much power over him that he probably didn’t think she was going to try to add more.

              Would he be to read her well enough to get it, though? He’s not stupid and she’s not exactly subtle about it, so it’s not inconceivable that he’s just playing along for the sake of food and clothes. I just feel like, if he could tell that she was up to something, even if he didn’t know what, he shouldn’t have blundered into swearing an oath of loyalty like that. It just feels a bit too careless.

              But I do see your point. Maybe it’s like you said, it’s easy to see it coming when you’re looking from the outside. (I mean, any scene scored to ominous Latin chanting is probably not going to end well.) And also, magic in the Netflixvania universe doesn’t really use magical incantations/words and we’ve never seen magically binding oaths onscreen, so he might not have known that was even a thing. Yeah, the more I think about it, the more your reading makes sense.

              I love her! But then, like Hector, I also love cats. And the way she can love without in any way considering the other party a person is wonderfully creepy.

              Yes!!! It’s so nice seeing inhuman monsters with properly inhuman emotions and morality.

              Reply
            8. Farla says:

              [‘Our forgemaster, whom we love, really loved this bloke. Let’s make our beloved forgemaster happy by bringing him back!!’ They’re intelligent and have been shown to act independently, so why not? They weren’t explicitly ordered not to bring Dracula back from hell.]

              Oh god that is such an adorable idea.

              [judging by how blasé he is about Hector (possibly) being beaten for keeping undead pets, his idea of a spoilt child might just be ‘kid who’s not been beaten into obedience’. He also refers to himself as ‘spoilt by a single act of kindness’ in Tunis (which, okay, may just be a turn of phrase) so there is some grounds for arguing that his idea of spoilt = not beaten down enough and thus stupidly not expecting the worst from everything and everyone. Either of those could apply to Alucard.]

              Ooh, good catch.

              So, Alucard is spoiled for believing it’s possible there’s any good left in the world besides Dracula. (And also, Isaac may be aware that’s because he’s been around Dracula more than the rest of the world and so doesn’t understand just how much everything else sucks, because Isaac sure feels more positive about the world in general when the world in general is just Dracula and Dracula’s castle.) And that would fit pretty well with how he doesn’t seem to have much of an opinion on Alucard otherwise – Alucard’s objectively wrong, but it’s an objectively wrong that applies to everyone in the world as far as Isaac’s concerned. I just rewatched the end of S2 and Isaac identifies him to Dracula as “your son” and nothing more, and maybe he just doesn’t want to badmouth him to Dracula but he overall just didn’t seem to have much reaction beyond the practical fact that Alucard was a danger.

              (Also the tie of Hector’s pets and spoilt/kindness might mean he thinks relatively well of that. It’s tragic that Alucard and Hector delude themselves into thinking this world has anything of value, but their desires are within the same zip code as Isaac unlike Godbrand’s.)

              [So, yeah, Dracula is above reproach in any and every way, and anyone taking umbrage at being lied to, mislead, or otherwise used by Dracula is WRONG and also gonna get stabbed.]

              Another good catch. He just loves Dracula so, so much.

              [I think Isaac’s sense of morality is firmly Dracula-centred. I mean, he clearly has some ideals about honour and the ways people ought to behave, but Dracula is clearly exempt from those. I’m not sure if he doesn’t realise the contradiction or if he just doesn’t care.]

              I think that’s just normal for him. In the flashback, he’s being abused by the guy and yet all he wants to do is be helpful, and it’s only the rejection of his devotion that gets him to defend himself. He’s really calm and well-spoken but none of this is really about logic.

              Maybe it’s not so much Dracula’s /exempt/ as that all those things are supposed to be about how to relate to Dracula, so of course they have nothing to do with how Dracula wants to act if they’re about treating Dracula with respect.

              [So while I don’t think he’d kill himself, I also don’t think he’s got any plans to keep living after avenging Dracula, if that makes sense. I think he just takes his death as an inevitability without thinking about the particulars.]

              I actually realized a weird thing – Isaac wants to die to defend Dracula and waxes poetic about how wonderful and much better he is than any mortal, as if he just hasn’t accepted that Dracula was planning to die one way or another. And that’d be a mirror to how Dracula clearly intends Isaac to survive/outlive him in their earlier conversation but Isaac seems to have scrubbed that information out of his brain.

              Oh god, what if Isaac didn’t realize Dracula was going to kill himself and thought the reason he was talking about Isaac and Hector being friends is Isaac would be thrown out of the castle as soon as Dracula no longer had a use for him…

              Because that definitely fits with him telling Dracula that he’s cool being lied to or mistreated or anything else and Dracula owes him nothing whatsoever.

              [Yeah, you’re probably right. But that would technically mean the night creatures’ loyalty to the vampires is split four ways, right? Presumably the rings are identical. So, say, if tensions start running high and the four vampires have different plans on how to proceed…]

              ;_; I am really hoping they stay friends. They love each other so much! I can accept they’re going to have to be killed because they’re all super, super evil but I don’t want them to die mad at each other.

              [Well, why not? Like you said, there’s no reason to have a way to deter him from harming them without him actually having a way to harm them. Presumably that’s why he has the shock-collar ring — if he ever tries to command one of his creatures to attack the vampires, it’ll activate.]

              The thing is, the shock collar is going to make it real hard to stab them himself but if he can give an order to someone else, then being incapacitated with pain wouldn’t actually stop the other person from carrying it out. Possibly “tries to harm” means he won’t even be able to get the words out, but it seems more likely it triggers when the harm actually starts. So I think it’s more likely the rings also generally prevent his monsters from wanting to hurt the other wearers.

              It’s possible Lenore just thinks Hector’s too wussy to accept hideous agony in return for freedom, though. In that case S4 is just Hector grouchily making a fuckton of monsters while Lenore goes :3 in the background and then the final episode is him telling them to kill everyone but him and then writhing on the floor for twenty minutes until it’s done.

              [If he’s clever enough to read Lenore, he’s clever enough to realise that Isaac isn’t there to help him. He might assume Isaac’s there to kill Carmilla though, rather than him.]

              I doubt he actually had much clue what Lenore was doing beyond “definitely trying to get me to make an army but not order that army to kill them all”. But yeah, killing Carmilla actually makes a ton of sense, especially if you’re not aware that Isaac is way crankier about disrespect than who actually was masterminding the plan. Also, if he assumes Isaac doesn’t like him he might just assume he’s irrelevant to Isaac… He seriously thought Carmilla was going to just let him walk off at the end of S2. He seems to assume that other people have as little interest in him as he does in them. Maybe he wouldn’t even think Isaac knew he was there.

              …which might lead to him aiding Isaac’s attack and then being surprised pikachu when it’s over and Isaac turns on him.

              [Yes, but would that matter? Hector betrayed Dracula.]

              I think intent very much matters. Isaac is all about emotional reasoning, so it’d have to be a betrayal and not “I thought I was helping Dracula, she tricked me D:”

              Now, would Hector be smart enough to lie that he was completely rather than partly hoodwinked…probably not. I don’t think he’d manage that even if he understood Isaac enough to know where Isaac was coming from. But he does feel put-upon enough that his first description of events would be “Carmilla tricked me and I had no idea all this would happen!” at which point it comes down to, is Isaac dumb enough to just accept Hector’s dumb enough for that without followup questions. Or at least willing to not stab him immediately and decide he’ll follow up on that afterward.

              ………..hm. So, going by this season and the chatter in interviews, they’re really not paying much attention to the game plots, but Isaac leaving Hector alive long enough to deal with the vampires, then talking, then with both of them on their last legs from the vampire fight getting into a fight that leaves Isaac staggering off with Hector left for dead on the ground would be a good setup to prequel comic of Curse of Darkness.

              [I think part of the reason I don’t like Hector’s storyline so much is because it smacks of rape-as-punishment. The sexual component of it was just so unnecessary; Lenore could easily have tricked the ring onto his finger some other way, by playing up the romantic angle or the friendship angle or whatever. Even if we must keep the sex scene*, to follow it up by establishing that she’ll be raping him regularly form here on out just seems egregious. There were ways to establish the parallels between what he wanted to do to humanity and what’s now been done to him without also bringing sexual slavery into the mix.]

              Yeah, the sex stuff definitely kicks it into decidedly uncomfortable territory. It’s staying just on the side of tolerable for me because Hector seems disgruntled rather than traumatized but…yeah Lenore’s final lines are really terrifyingly awful. At least she does seem to want him happy so she’s hopefully not going to just do whatever she feels like to him.

              (Also, you don’t fuck pets. So that aspect isn’t really needed for explaining to Hector why being a vampire’s pet is bad.)

              [Isaac and Alucard are similar-but-opposite (and even display opposite manifestations of depression in the wake of Dracula’s death — Isaac, self-destructive and on his way to killing himself, contra Alucard, who can’t even manage that); Hector/Lenore and Trevor/Sypha are also set up to parallel one another. They’re both romantic couples (in very specific senses of both words, anyway), but whereas Hetor/Lenore is a one-sided affair where Hector is objectively worse off for it, Trevor and Sypha have a mutual, supportive, consensual relationship. I do realise I may be reaching though.]

              Hm…

              Alucard stays in one place as Isaac travels, gloms onto people at the first chance while Isaac has to be forcably befriended while he’s rambling about killing all humans, ends by shutting down while Isaac is finally considering the future.

              Trevor legitimately cares about Sypha’s opinion and listens to her out of respect, whereas Hector is literally dragged about on a chain. Trevor feels anxiety about how he’s willingly staying with Sypha due to an emotional connection, Hector needs a shock collar to keep from bolting. Sypha and Trevor largely let the other person do their thing confident they can handle themselves and have each other’s back, Lenore wants Hector’s ability under her complete control. And we end with Sypha and Trevor clinging together in the wake of tragedy, while Hector just got a reason to personally hate Lenore on top of his general hatred for all of them.

              Does seem to check out!

              [And yeah, it was almost certainly done to set up Hector’s role for S4. I just hope it’s the sort wherein he gets to actually do stuff, rather than just have other characters do stuff to him.]

              I’m reasonably sure S4 will be the Doing Things season, if only because I don’t think they can traumatize Hector and Alucard further. Also we do end with Hector given free run of the castle, his own private(ish…) area, and the ability to forge an army. And honestly, I’d argue his attack on Lenore early on was still more agency that we’ve ever seen from him before, even if it didn’t accomplish anything at the time.

              (…..free run of the castle including the room no one else is allowed to go into where the quartet keep snacks. And we established last season that zombie priests can still make holy water. HM.)

              [Would he be to read her well enough to get it, though?]

              My kingdom for Hector’s internal monologue. It’s so hard to tell.

              He definitely notices at least some of what she’s doing, but even then it’s not clear how he’s taking it. The “you think I’m pretty” bit is particularly bad because there’s too many reasons to say it – is he trying to play along and being kind of over the top, does he know it’s a manipulation but he’s relieved at least he picked up on that for once, is he going ??? oh she wants to fuck me, okay just glad to have some idea what the fuck’s going on for one, is he actually taking it as a compliment WE JUST DON’T KNOW.

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            9. Roarke says:

              The night creatures understand Isaac better than he does. ‘Our forgemaster really needs someone to devote himself to, but the only guy he likes is dead. Let’s bring him back!’ That’s awesome. Best minions.

              Reply
            10. Farla says:

              Night creature 1: We have to get Dracula back for Isaac!
              Night creature 2: We should get a cult to rip a hole into hell!
              Night creature 3: The only problem with that is what if Dracula doesn’t want to come back? We have to respect Dracula’s wishes or Isaac will be sad.
              Night creature 4: I know! We resurrect Dracula AND Lisa!

              Reply
            11. Roarke says:

              I do find it interesting that Isaac has a crisis of his own Muslim faith at the same time as he works through his grief for Dracula. There was also his framing of self-flagellation and necromancy as a way to ‘perfect my devotion’. For someone who is all-too happy to jump on the Kill All Humans train, he seems to have a deep-seated need for other people’s… not approval, exactly, but recognition of some kind. 

              Reply

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