The cast, or their performances to be more specific, is one of the most noticeable differences between seasons one and two. I found myself having trouble distinguishing between poor acting and intentional camp many times in season one. But in season two it’s clear that while the plot is still over the top, the performances are less so. This turns out to be exactly what the show needed, allowing me to invest more in the characters, while still getting plenty of the “WFT moments” that I so very much enjoy. Bill Skarsgård (Simple Simon) is easily the stand out for me though, making the character of Roman a perfect blend of sympathetic and egomaniacal. It is also worth noting that Famke Janssen (X-Men), who was easily the worst part of season one, drops her headache inducing accent and becomes, if nothing else, tolerable.
Hemlock Groove is a show that tends to save the best for last, or so it would seem. Season one had a lot of pacing issues, but the end was incredible, and is what convinced me to look forward to its second season. While the second season managed to even out the pacing extraordinarily well, we are still treated to an amazing last four episodes that really place an exclamation point on this season’s events. I was impressed in particular with the caliber of the action sequences in episode nine. The fight choreography is solid, and even more noteworthy when you consider that the show doesn’t get very action heavy all that often. The reveal and subsequent plot twist in episode ten are also wonderful to watch, and really sell the show as one where predictions are more of less pointless.
Overall, season two of Hemlock Grove is a drastic step up from its predecessor. Able to iron out almost ever issue it faced in its first 12 episodes, season two offers a better, more compelling story, pacing fixes that simply can’t be overstated, and much more defined performances. It takes a formula most widely associated with shows like HBO’s True Blood, and manages to add several nice surprises along the way. If you know anyone who gave up on season one, be a buddy, and get them to sit down a second time. I think you’ll find they’ll be better off, and you’ll look like a hero.