Okay I admit it. I have an unreasonable love for Hemlock Grove season one. It was totally my favorite guilty pleasure show last year. Does it have the best acting? No. Did it have some pretty extreme pacing issues? Sure. Was it cheesy? Yes, but it was supposed to be! The campiness of the show is one of the things that made it so great! It knows that the subject matter is ridiculous, so why take itself to seriously? It’s what makes the show it is most often compared to, True Blood, so amazing. So at first glance, you may think that Hemlock Grove has horrible dialogue. But doesn’t it make you laugh often because it is so bad? This is done intentionally and it is great. And while the first season had horrible pacing problems, with the first two episodes being good and the next seven being mediocre, the last four episodes were amazing! It was one of the best run of episodes in all of TV last year. Nobody could predict all the twist and turns that were thrown at us.
So enter season two, and my expectations were high. I’ve now watched the first three episodes of the season and so far, it does not disappoint. It does however feel different though. The extreme intentional camp and cheese in the dialogue has been toned way back so far. Don’t get me wrong, it’s still there. It’s just not in your face with it every single second. I think this is a very good thing that well help draw in new viewers. While I constantly laughed at the ridiculous dialogue from season one, it wasn’t for everyone. The writers have done an excellent job of making the show seem much more serious in tone, while still not taking itself too seriously as a show.
The pacing issue so far has been considerably better. The gore and violence will always be a constant throughout the show, but you can only see so much without the story moving forward before you just don’t care. In season two, the story has moved along nicely and has greatly benefited from having a previous setup season. All the mysteries that we were left with at the end of season one have been touched on. Where did Peter go? What happens to Roman and Olivia now? How will Norman handle Letha’s death? What happened to Shelly? What the hell is Dr. Pryce up to?? Everything has been touched on already. I really liked that the story doesn’t pick up immediately, but several months later. So far am way more into the main storyline this year than I was last. The mystery of who was the killer wolf last season never grabbed me as much as the mystery of the characters themselves. There was too much time between killings last year and it definitely contributed to the pacing issue. This year we seem to be focused on some sort of murdering religious cult. They are randomly (we think) selecting families with children and killing them in ways that look like accidents. They wear really cool masks which adds to the appeal. I say religious because we see one of the murders flogging himself after the initial murder. Purification through pain is practiced by some extremist religious sects, like we saw in Dan Brown’s Angels and Demons. Each week there is a threat of a new murder and Roman and Peter are slowly getting pulled more and more into the mystery to try and stop it. Several new plot elements have already been introduced to keep the mysteries of the characters fresh. Why are Roman and Peter having their visions? Why have they been chosen to stop these murders. The Order of the Dragon is back and suspect that we will see much more of them. With all of this, they do a nice job of continuously moving the story along and still providing at least one or two “Oh Sh*t!!” moments each episode.
The acting pales in comparison to some of Netflix’s more well know shows like House of Cards and Orange is the New Black. Yet, with the type of show this is, it doesn’t have to be great. I do think that Bill Skarsgard as Roman is absolutely wonderful. Roman is such a unique character. He has to be creepy and cruel, but also seem cool. Skarsgard pulls this off wonderfully and still gives Roman the over the top feel that he had in season one that makes you love him and laugh often. It’s very well done. Landon Liboiron as Peter continues to be good not great, but that’s really all we need from him. It’s still a VAST improvement from what we saw from him in Terra Nova (R.I.P.). Dougray Scott and Joel de la Fuente are both still great as Norman and Dr. Pryce in limited roles. The biggest surprise so far has absolutely been Famke Janssen though. She was just AWFUL last year, and through three episodes so far this season, she really has been okay. I still wouldn’t call her performance great, but it doesn’t make you contemplate turning off the show anymore. Her fake accent last year was unintelligible and they have SUPER toned it down. I don’t even care that they haven’t explained it. My ears thank you.
Overall, I am a big fan of the beginning of season two of Hemlock Grove. If you enjoyed the first season, it doesn’t feel like the new season will disappoint. The best thing that I can say about it is that if you were on the fence about Hemlock Grove after the first season (you didn’t hate it but you didn’t love it either and didn’t know if you would continue), I would say that the slight changes to the show so far this season should absolutely win you over. But this type of show isn’t for everyone, and if you just flat out didn’t like season one, the new season hasn’t changed enough to change your mind. I for one am loving it. It’s a good violent mystery that never causes you to think too much and will provide you with some laughs. It’s some of the most fun you can have watching TV. Let the binge watching continue!