Hemlock Grove Season 2 Review – You Should Probably Just Watch True Blood
Here we are, a year and a few months since my review of the first season of Netflix’s original horror/crime series Hemlock Grove and I’m back reviewing season 2. Sadly my taste for trashy cable/pay TV has changed dramatically and my enjoyment for this show suffered because of it.
Season 1 managed to wrap up a few loose ends – we learned what Olivia Godfrey – played with multiple accents by Famke Janssen – is (kind of) and how her son, Roman - Bill Skarsgård, has inherited the same life-extending condition.
SPOILER ALERT: it’s not technically vampirism.
Roman Godfrey/Bill Skarsgård chewing the scenery
We saw the deformed Godfrey Daughter fend off an evil werewolf, saving the shows leads, or at least most of them. (Don’t worry, she plays a key role in the second season, so she’s back. Though how she’s brought back is never explained.)
And all of this set up the season two opener for Hemlock Grove, but honestly the plot here continues to be vapor thin. The show makes rules and almost immediately breaks them. Frequently.
A stand out example of this “hey loyal viewer, go fuck yourself!” is Peter Rumancek, played by Landon Liboiron, being threatened with “If you turn into a werewolf one more time, you’ll never turn back!” they manage to find a particularly brutal way to break that rule.
The entire Godfrey not-vampirism plot, a much larger piece this season, is as see-through as a go-go dancer’s mesh tank top.
Doctor Dr. Johann Pryce, played as stiff as a statue by Joel de la Fuente, creates a machine to feed the not-vampires not-human blood to stop them from feeding on people in the community. But the build up to the feeding machine reveal leads to a brick wall and the writers just as quickly change gears and move on to the next plot point.
Dr. Price, a season 2 heel
The entire Hemlock Grove experience is marred by a few things and a good friend of mine put it best: It’s a network quality show with pay-quality nudity, violence, and cuss words.
The plot and production are as half-assed and forced as a day time soap opera, but with visible nipples. This does appeal to the “fuck it, Netflix binge time!” in me, but when I binge-watch a show, I hope to at least gain something from it. Usually, all I gain is the knowledge to join in future conversations and jokes about the show with other people, but even that betters my ability to converse in a social situation.
Law and Order: SVU, Lost, Orange is the New Black, and Breaking Bad are all great examples of this. You watch them, then you get to participate in jokes and shared memories about them later with friends and family.
Sadly, I finished Hemlock Grove and realize I’m probably the only person I know who took the time to finish it. And I struggled to finish this crap fest. Even as I hit episode 9′s violent climax, I let loose a sigh of relief thinking “well, I’m glad that’s over.”
Honestly – and this is where my headline is coming from – if you’re looking for a pay-channel quality show about actual-vampires and werewolves, just watch HBO’s True Blood. The story is just as contrived, and the plot line just as thin, but at least the characters are developed and actors are nice to look at.
I burned through all of True Blood thanks to a recently acquired HBO Go membership. Now don’t be fooled, it takes a certain kind of audience member to enjoy True Blood, but if you’re looking for supernatural sexy/violent fun, look no further.
As for Hemlock Grove, there are some high points in between the lows. Olivia Godfrey goes from uncaring, stoic monster to loving and concerned mother in the campiest transition imaginable. I say this is a good thing because Janssen holds a special place in my heart since her role as Gene Gray in the X-Men movies.
Oliva Godfrey searching for plot points
The violence is quite brutal and done well. I usually enjoy my Netflix viewing while I’m eating dinner, but several scenes, especially Peter’s transitions into a werewolf, made me put my plate down for a bit as I was visibly disgusted.
Dr. Galina Zhelezhnova- Burdukovskaya, played well enough by Shauna MacDonald, is great as a former war-criminal-turned Godfrey scientist. But the best part of her character is whenever she is mentioned, it’s always by her full name – as if the cast members spent months in front of a mirror practicing for the tongue twister which awaited them.
It made me squeal every time I heard it.
It would be great if someone made a video montage of the cast saying her name in the show- like they have with Vampire Bill saying “Sookie” – but I’m guessing Hemlock Grove won’t gain enough traction for that kind of fandom.
If you manage to get through all 10 episodes, and there really is much worse content on Netflix, then you’ll see one of the most hard to understand cliff-hangers ever, so good luck deciphering the poor computer-generated what-ever-the-hell creature at the end.
Would I recommend Hemlock Grove season 2? Sadly no, and this is coming from a man who watches (and usually enjoys) A LOT of bad TV.
Steal or legally acquire a HBO Go password from a friend and get up-to-date on True Blood which is now in its last season.
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