31 Days of Reviews: Hemlock Grove (season 3)

This review will attempt to go over the final chapter of Netflix’s Hemlock Grove. I’ll talk specifically about this season, and I’ll compare it to the first and second seasons as well.

If you’ve ever watched Hemlock Grove, you know that the show is normally chaotic. It never seems quite cohesive in its tangle of drama, violence, and sex. Still, I have considered myself somewhat of a fan of the series, and it was bittersweet to go into the final chapter. As I said, Hemlock Grove is normally chaotic, so it was only fitting that its last season would be filled with darkness and a storm of death.

In comparison to the other two, I would say that this third season is probably the best. It’s not as outrageous as the second season, and it has more focus, similar to how I saw the first season. It has a darkness to it, as we see our main characters start to really become monsters. It’s tragic in its inevitability. While there are plenty of other threats that we see throughout the season, the main question is really about who the monsters are and how they become that way.

This season sees the return of our main duo, Peter Rumancek (Landon Liboiron) and Roman Godfrey (Bill Skarsgård). Their story picks up almost immediately where season two left them, searching for Miranda and Nadia after they were kidnapped by Dr. Spivak. Their relationship at the beginning of the season is incredibly close, brought together by the bond they built throughout the previous season, but we soon see that dissolve as the season progresses.

Of course, Olivia (Famke Jansson) returns as well, still recovering from her brush with death in season two, only to find that she still hasn’t fully escaped. She’s at the top of her evil game, almost making it impossible to empathize with her. After seeing all of her past transgressions, we know that she will stop at nothing to preserve herself. There are definitely plenty of instances of that here.

Other characters which had smaller roles in previous seasons step up to the plate in this final chapter. Shelley (Madeleine Martin) becomes one of the main characters and has one of the best character arcs of the series. She begins the season dazed and confused, yet she manages to come into her own, stand up for herself, and do what’s best for her. It’s a joy to watch. Dr. Johann Pryce (Joel de la Fuente), while not new to the main storylines, gets more characterization and backstory in this final chapter. I definitely enjoyed his role in the season as he works to regain his humanity while juggling what the Godfrey family throws at him.

Also returning is Destiny Rumancek (Tiio Horn), Peter’s psychic cousin and a character that I adored. While she takes a step back in a way during this season, her role is still very prominent and cataclysmic for the end of the series. Needless to say, her story was very painful for me to see play out.

There are several storylines that converge in this season. Destiny gets engaged. Peter starts running with a new gang who get into some risky business ventures. Roman meets an upir named Annie (Camille de Pazzis) who has ties to the Godfrey family. A strange illness starts affecting upir, turning them into zombie like creatures who can only feed on their own. Shelley leaves home to live with the homeless. Olivia hires a private investigator (Alex Hernandez) to spy on Roman. With all of these storylines spinning about, it’s hard to remember that the main problem in this season is supposed to be finding Miranda and Nadia.

In fact, it seems like the show doesn’t remember either. Finding Nadia is really only addressed in the first few and last few episodes. For me, it felt like the diseased upir were a much bigger threat throughout the season. To make matters worse, this storyline with Nadia and Dr. Spivak, in addition to practically being a footnote, is resolved so quickly that I was completely let down. I was expecting so much more.

Even the ending of the series seems to progress too quickly for my tastes. Hemlock Grove is pretty notorious for its slow pacing that many find dull. I was flabbergasted that the show didn’t spend more time to prepare viewers for Peter and Roman’s last moments in the show. After watching all 10 episodes, their fate is decided and done within the last 5 minutes of the final episode. That’s hard for me to swallow.

I’ve seen a lot of people saying that the end of the show let them down, calling it a terrible finale. While I’m upset with how quickly the end came to be, I can’t argue that it wasn’t fitting. The actions of the characters throughout the series definitely gave enough proof that the end would be something like how it was. I’m just upset that it was handled the way that it was. I’ve seen some pretty terrible series finales, and I personally don’t consider Hemlock Grove to be one of them.

Overall, Hemlock Grove was a short lived show, but I couldn’t see it going on any longer than it did. In its three seasons, it definitely had its fair share of problems. It wasn’t a perfect show by any means. It covers some really risky topics. I reviewed the first two seasons previously and pointed out some of the more prominent problems I had. A lot of these do continue into this third season.

My initial thoughts about the show still stand as they did when I was first introduced to it. Hemlock Grove seems to pride itself on being a groundbreaking and risqué series, but all this does is create a large jumble of things that not everyone can sit through.


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