Movie Reviews

The Morning Sun Has Vanquished The Horrible Night  | “Castlevania” Season 4 (2021) Netflix Series Review

Ending a great series is no small task, as even a minor glitch in landing a well-regarded series can ruin the whole thing in the eyes of many fans. Thankfully, Netflix’s “Castelvania” seems to have stuck its landing with its fourth and final season. 

Season 4 is unique in the regard that the overall series villain, Vlad Tepes/Dracula (Graham McTavish) has been dead for a while, with Season 3 focusing largely on the aftermath and power vacuum his death caused, ultimately resulting in a failed attempt to resurrect him from hell. 

Our dynamic trio of Trevor Belmont, Sypha Belnades and Alucard.

Going into Season 4, it seems that many other people had the same idea, as Episode 1 of the series starts with series protagonists Trevor Belmont (Richard Armitage), the last in a long line of famous monster hunters, and Sypha Belnades (Alejandra Reynoso) a powerful Speaker Magician, foil quite a few schemes to resurrect Dracula. Their work eventually leads them to the ruined city of Târgoviște, which is where Dracula’s wife was murdered, and his campaign to wipe out humanity began. They meet Zamfir (Toks Olagundoye) head of Târgoviște’s Underground Court, who is pretty effective at fighting night creatures, but is delusional in her role in the fight. It’s also here where we meet Varney (Malcolm McDowell) and Ratko (Titus Welliver), British and Slavic vampires respectively, that were originally out to claim Târgoviște for Dracula, but are scheming, along with the scholar Saint Germain (Bill Nighy), to resurrect the vampire king for real this time. 

At the end of Season 3, Saint Germain entered a realm in between realms called the Infinite Corridor, in hopes of finding the woman he loves, who has been trapped there for centuries. And it was assumed his arc was over last season, having found the one thing he’s been searching for all the years he’s been alive, but it turns out the Corridor is extremely volatile, and he can’t control it, but if he resurrected Dracula and molds his soul into some sort of abominable thing, he’ll be able to use it to control the Corridor, but he needs human souls to do it (at least that’s what some mysterious Alchemist Woman he met in the Corridor told him). This then leads him to the town of Danesti, where Saint Germain is a sort of man on the inside, as he collaborates with the vampire Dragan (Matthew Waterson) to slaughter the town.

This also leads us to Alucard’s (James Callis) arc. In Season 3, he was left by himself to defend both his father’s (Dracula’s) castle and the Belmont Hold, which hold some of the most valuable knowledge in the world. He ended up getting a boyfriend and girlfriend in two monster hunters who hoped to learn under Alucard to liberate their home of Japan from vampires, but their relationship turned sour when they tried to kill Alucard in bed, suspecting that he was holding information from them. Alucard killed them both, shocked by their betrayal, and mounted their corpses on sticks outside his castle as a warning for potential intruders. 

Alucard takes a step back from this in Season 4, shameful of what he had done. When nearby Danesti asks for his help fighting off Dragan’s night creatures, he obliges, and forms a bond with the town’s leader, Greta (Marsha Thomason), while being skeptical of Saint Germain’s involvement. He eventually agrees for them to use his castle to seek refuge, which sets up the final battle of the series. 

Meanwhile, we also have the arcs of Dracula’s former forgemasters, Isaac (Adetokumboh M’Cormack) and Hector (Theo James). Isaac has largely become his own man, freeing himself of Dracula’s poisonous influence to destroy, realizing that he can use his abilities to create a better world, and he did so on a micro level in Season 3, as he used his abilities to liberate a city from a magician who had been mind-controlling the population. The city also houses a transmission mirror, which can transport Isaac to Styria, where Hector is being held. Isaac started his quest after Dracula’s death bent on getting revenge on Hector, but over the course of the last two seasons, he’s gotten much wiser, learning to live life for himself, not being content with being a pawn in someone else’s plan. He even questions the role and nature of night creatures, remarking that they have only been agents of destruction because that is all they’ve been used for, though their true nature is whatever their forgemaster wants them to be. 

Carmilla’s last stand.

Hector, meanwhile, has been relegated to a tool to be used by Styria’s Carmilla (Jaime Murray), who wants to create a giant vampire empire by claiming the lands whose vampire leader perished a few seasons ago fighting for Dracula. At first, it was to make Styria sustainable, as it’s a chilly, barren kingdom in need of a stable supply of humans, but she gets drunk with power, pitching plans too ambitious for her fellow sister rulers Morana (Yasmine Al Massri), the kingdom’s strategist, and Striga (Ivana Miličević), the head of military (Morana and Striga are also lovers), to maintain. Hector’s love interest, Lenore (Jessica Brown Findlay) also fears that Carmilla’s bloodthirsty greed will make her obsolete as the ruling sisters’ chief diplomat. This ambition, paired with their capture of Hector, draws the attention of Isaac, who believes the world would be better off without Carmilla. 

Spoilers beyond this point. 

All of these arcs eventually crash into each other into a few huge and momentous final battles. Trevor and Sypha via transmission mirror, eventually get transported to Dracula’s Castle to help Alucard after Varney and Ratko’s forces overrun Târgoviște, with Varney later revealed to be Death himself — or at least a creature that feasts on death, who has been manipulating Saint Germain to bring Dracula back, who was poised to bring unprecedented death to the world, making Death the strongest creature on the planet. Meanwhile, Isaac takes out Carmilla, but chooses to spare Hector, and is greatly rewarded by it, realizing just like himself, he also was brainwashed by Dracula. 

Trevor vs. Death

Trevor and company defeat death, with Trevor nearly dying, and in the aftermath of the fight, Alucard decides to let the people of Danesti build a town around Dracula’s Castle and the Belmont hold. The show ends with the age of destroyers done with, as the reigns of power pass to people like Isaac and Alucard, who want to build something better than there was before. 

Spoilers end. 

“Castlevania” Season 4 is a truly great ending to an amazing show, giving just about everyone a fantastic, natural ending to their character journeys while providing top-notch action and animation. It also gives our characters key moments to breathe and reflect upon ideas and themes established last season, particularly: Is this what I want? Why am I doing this? What is the end game to all this? And as a result, it really feels like all those that survived this series finally became their own people, free from revenge, hate, family grudges, the influence of those who were using them as tools, and the overwhelming threat of destruction. At the end of the show, many characters wondered something along the lines of: “For the first time in a while, I don’t know what happens next!” Which is a great note to end on, as for the first time in their lives, their destinies are in their own hands. They are free to pursue their own dreams and live their own lives.

Isaac becomes a much fuller character.

I think it’s also interesting that the major characters that passed away really had no way of growing or changing — they were doomed to be stuck where they are, chasing unattainable goals. Even if they survived the series finale, their ultimate character journeys had dead ends.

“The morning sun has vanquished the horrible night”, a phrase that appeared in “Castlevania II: Simon’s Quest”, is a good way to sum up the ending to Castlevania the Netflix show. The show wasn’t given much of a chance to shine when it debuted, given on a micro 4-episode first season in 2017, but it has grown and expanded into something wonderful for the viewer but terrible for the characters involved, documenting an epic, bloody and savage conflict that the show examines in great length from a motivational and logistical point of view, making great commentary on the nature of war and the often flimsy, narrow-minded reasons for large scale conflicts. It also has great commentary on the dangers of following authoritarian figures, especially those with less than altruistic intentions, like Dracula or Carmilla.

In the end, the show concludes that, despite how horrible the world is, it’s always better to build than to destroy. And no matter how dark and terrible the night can be, it’s always followed by the morning sun.

“Castlevania” Season 4 gets a 9/10

Rating: 4.5 out of 5.

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