Hemlock Grove: Season 2 (2014)

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Overall Rating 70%
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Ranked #2,675
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Connections: Hemlock Grove

One cannot quench his all-consuming thirst. The other cannot tame the beast clawing its way out. In the sleepy Pennsylvania village of Hemlock Grove, two young men struggle to accept painful truths: about family, themselves, the mystery of the White Tower - and a terrifying new threat so powerful it will turn them from predators into prey. --TMDb
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Review by Crispy
Added: August 31, 2017
Before I dive into this review for Hemlock Grove's second season, be aware that it contains a lot of spoilers for the first. So if you haven't watched that yet, I'd advise putting this review on hold.

It's been about seven months since the events of the last season and our former best friends are both in a bit of a bind. After ostracizing himself from his mother, Roman is now the head of Godfrey Institute and butting heads with Dr. Pryce over the questionable funds that are being funneled into the latter's lab. Meanwhile, since his awakening as an upir, the hunger for blood has been driving him crazy and he's been fighting the need to kill. Speaking of, Dr. Pryce was able to save Olivia's life and re-attach her tongue, but the procedure has had quite an effect on her. Her accent has reverted to an American one, and the normally cold woman is overcome with emotions. Outside of Hemlock Grove, Peter and Lynda's life on the road has hit a serious snag; Lynda's gypsy life has caught up with her and she's been arrested for a life of criminal activity. Unable to escape that Pennsylvania town, she's being held in Hemlock County Jail, so Peter moves in with his cousin Destiny and begins trying to put together the twenty thousand dollars needed to hire his mother's lawyer. Still pissed at the werewolf abandoning him after Letha's death, Roman has no intentions of giving him a penny, so he's forced to resort to more unorthodox methods.

He invites a couple drug dealers over and has them try one of his gypsy concoctions; there's nothing special about it, but Peter transforms to make them think it's a powerful hallucinogenic. Unfortunately, this turn was outside of the full moon and comes with serious consequences. It effects him both physically and emotionally, and it's a werewolf's first steps toward becoming a vargulf. The outer-lunar-cycle changes are going to become a bit more regular however, as both Roman and Peter are beginning to have dreams about a mysterious cult that are systematically killing children. Though all of this, Roman has taken in a drifter named Miranda Kates that was driven off the road right in front of his house. She's begun something of a love triangle between him and Peter, and things get even more complicated when Roman's infant daughter begins having an effect on her.

Straight up, I didn't like this nearly as much as last season. The town of Hemlock Grove has some serious secrets hidden in that tower and I was looking forward to seeing a bit more light shed on them. What is the Oroboris, what business did Lynda Rumancek have with the Godfreys, and maybe even why Shelly's infant resurrection went so horribly wrong. All of these questions are simply ignored, and Season 2 follows a much more straight-forward approach centered on the mystery of that cult and Miranda's involvement with Roman and Peter. It's a shift away from the tone that practically defined the series and it certainly brought my enjoyment down a few notches. That was only a minor annoyance compared to how angry the closing moments made me however. It's the same thing that plagues the grand majority of shows involving vampires and werewolves recently; they just can't help but throw a few extra creatures in there, throwing the whole series off the rails.

That's not to say it didn't have its positives however. I absolutely loved Peter's sub-arc involving the effects of his out-of-phase changes. While it was still small enough in the mix that I don't feel bad about reviewing this in the Spring (a personal out-of-phase change, if you will), I would absolutely love to see a project centered around this concept. Plus, while I wasn't happy with the route the plot line took, that doesn't mean I didn't enjoy what I was given. The mystery behind the cult's mission and the dreams that are betraying them was an engaging story in its own right. It wasn't what I wanted, but it carried the season well enough and provided a vehicle to serve up more werewolf action than the last one did.

Much like last time, Bill SkarsgŚrd and Landon Liboiron were the weak links here, but by a smaller margin this time. Unfortunately, that's only partly due to them getting marginally better and more to do with their co-stars' average being worse. Famke Jansson wasn't done any favors with Olivia's retooling. Her portrayal of the emotionless character was a high point of the first season and this new version did not give her anywhere near the same opportunity. The role of Shelly sees Madeleine Martin replacing Nicole Boivin, which had mixed results. While the first season has been the only credit to Boivin's name, the more experienced Martin didn't bring the same body-language based characterization to her. However, the final few episodes contain a rather emotional arc that she handled beautifully. She was also dealt an uphill battle by the effects team, which made some unexplained physical changes to the character that irked me. Newcomer Madeline Brewer was about on the boys' level as Miranda Kates; she held up her end of the deal, but I certainly wouldn't trust her to shoulder an entire show on her own. On the other hand, Joel de la Fuente's character, the narcissistic Dr. Pryce was given a much bigger role in this season, and he certainly stepped up to the challenge.

Perhaps more of a damning statement on this season is not my direct opinion of it, but the fact that I don't have a whole lot of hope for the third and final season. The show seems to be going down a rather unfortunate route and to be honest, I'm not sure how they can salvage it. 5.5/10.
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