My TV

17 July 2014

Hemlock Grove

By // TV

Hemlock Grove 3Episode 1- 7:18pm

The pilot instantly sucks you into the world of Hemlock Grove, which is weird. Not just because of werewolves, but because while there are iPhones and other modern technology, downtown itself looks like it was frozen in the 1950’s. Same with about half the cars.

The only thing I didn’t like was the weird timelines. I don’t know why it was necessary to start with a gruesome murder then go to earlier in the summer. If you add to that the flashback to 13 years ago, it seems unnecessarily complicated.

The colors on the show are gorgeous. There’s a lot of oversaturation, especially in the shots of Peter’s house which is surrounded by a lot of vivid greens. It’s a nice contrast from the grayness of the flashbacks. There is also a constant ethereal glow, which was noticeable a lot in the Godfrey’s house, sourced by the lights coming in the windows. I’m already obsessed with the cinematography choices on the show.

The characters are all mysterious. But Olivia: “Do you see me as someone you can trust?” No. It’s episode one, but absolutely not.

Episode 2

The plot is slowly progressing.  Roman apparently can pull Jedi mind tricks to make people do what he wants. Except it makes his nose bleed, so I guess he’s still honing his control of the Force.

We got confirmation Peter is a werewolf. I appreciated the fact that he turned into a wolf, not a stupid looking wolf/human hybrid, because 95% of the time, werewolf makeup/prosthetics looks stupid. But his transformation was straight up disgusting. His eyeballs popped out, he scratched his face off…and then ate it. I would say it was the most horrifying instance of self-cannibalizing one’s face I’ve seen recently, but I think Hannibal still has them beat. Still, it was a new, disturbing take on an old horror genre trope, which I applaud.

Episode 3- 8:57 pm

Whenever Peter wants to include Roman in something, his mother or cousin write it off as he’s never had any real friends before. But does Roman have any friends? Because he is way excited to keep secrets for Peter and go on absolutely insane adventures with him.

I can’t figure out Dr. Chasseur. There’s more to her than meets the eye. I don’t know if I like her or not.

Olivia is absolutely horrible to Peter…and everyone. I kind of like to hate her.

Seriously, Roman is thrilled Peter finally agreed to go chase a demon wolf thing that’s mauling people. People should worry less about Peter, more about Roman.

What exactly is growing inside of Letha? Demon baby? Demon baby.

Episode 4- 9:52 pm

I just noticed how beautiful the hospital architecture is. I don’t understand this town. Why do parts of it look like an upscale New England suburb, with a 1950’s main street, but then it has a gigantic tower, and then Romanesque-ish interiors in its hospital. What is happening?

Shelley might be my favorite character. Even though most people isolate her (because she’s unusually tall, and has some kind of blue electrical current, and a misshapen eye), she’s really sweet. She sent a card to Christina (who is traumatized after discovering a corpse) and noticed she wasn’t at school, even though I’m almost positive Christina has never talked to her before.

Incidentally, some of my favorite scenes are when Roman sticks up for Shelley or takes care of her, or when Peter is nice to her. They’re big softies. Big grave-digging softies.

Gypsy funerals are hardcore. Sure, give the child some whisky and make him behead his grandfather’s corpse. Why not. I guess the good thing is it gave Peter the skills/constitution to be able to steal the dead girl’s intestines they needed.

Episode 5- 10:54 pm

FINALLY. Letha points out that Roman doesn’t have many friends. That’s what I’ve been saying.

The Godfrey Institute is going to have a 20th Anniversary Gala. It’s going to a disaster. I can’t wait.

Dr. Pryce and Dr. Chasseur face off. That was fun. More of that please.

I’m not on board with this having a grub eat the dead girl’s intestines, then Destiny eating the grub so she could be possessed by the dead girl’s spirit. I hope that lead was worth it, because that was disgusting.

We’re finally learning about Shelley’s backstory! Kind of. So apparently, she actually died. And then Pryce brought her back, and that’s why Norman hates her. Interesting.

We learn about Dr. Chasseur’s backstory. A little bit. She’s a member of the Order of the Dragon, which is important. I assume. She got initiated after hacking off her werewolf cell mate’s head. At least she felt remorse over that?

Honestly, I’m disappointed the Gala wasn’t a bigger disaster.

Episode 6- 11:44 pm

Olivia goes to an old mill she just happens to have. And vomits up what appears to be blood chunks. Bloody chunks. Chunky blood? But seriously, it’s episode 6…what the hell is an upir?

Kids cry at the sight of Shelley. I need everyone to be nice to be like 100% nicer to Shelley.

Why is Olivia going to the library? She’s checking out seriously weird books. She’s really rich, she should just Amazon those, and make an attempt at being discreet. Or is books on Romani people and witchcraft a normal thing to look up in Hemlock Grove.

Norman, what is this search engine you’re using? It’s like a bad rip off of Bing. Really? At least use a bad rip off of Google. I can’t trust characters who use bad search engines. I question their judgment. The Amazing Spiderman 2 had a lot of flaws, but at least Peter Parker stopped using Bing.

Christina’s white hair streak makes me think of Rogue from X-Men. Probably because Famke Janssen is in both.

Why are Peter and Roman splitting up in their search? Do they want to be horrifically murdered?

I’m struggling to figure out how Christina’s storyline is relevant, but I figured out who she reminds me of: the girl from Skins. With a little bit of Christina Ricci.

Peter: how did you miss the bloody wall/ceiling the first time you were looking around? Seriously?

Episode 7- 1:14 am

They’re really drawing out the storyline of the Godfrey’s first (dead) child. It feels like a lot of the storylines are taking forever. It’s not noticeable during the episodes themselves, until a storyline that was put on the back burner for a while returns, and it’s like, oh, right, that’s a thing that’s happening. Can we start tying up some of these arcs?

The difference in Peter and Roman’s moms after their escapade at the mill is great. Olivia’s reaction: I will disown you, don’t think I won’t. Lynda’s reaction: Oh, well, that was stupid, but you learned a lesson. Let’s hug.

Plot twist! Olivia can’t disown Peter. He’s the sole heir in his will. And unless she’s nicer to Shelley, he’ll kick her out. Oh how the tables have turned.

Peter dumps Roman. Roman does not take it well. I can’t blame him, since Peter was like literally his only friend.

Lynda and Destiny bond over how Peter is dumb and doesn’t listen to advice.

“Roman seemed weird today.” Really, Letha? Just today?

Roman really should see someone about his blood obsession/kink. THAT SHOULD NOT BE USED AS LIPSTICK!

Roman is having a meltdown, and goes to that girl who was in episode 2 or 3 for a whole 10 second’s house to cry on her shoulder. No, wait. He rapes her. #@&$ you, Roman.

Episode 8- 2:15 am

Roman’s meltdown gets worse. He breaks into the White Tower and runs into Dr. Pryce. Why is Dr. Pryce there? It’s the middle of the night. Does he live there? Does he sleep? Is he human? (I’m starting to have doubts).

Pryce tranqs Roman. Well and now Roman is in a coma and goes on a mental journey in his own brain looking for “the dragon”. Honestly, some introspection would do you some good, creep. (The way they shot his brain sequences is really cool though; it’s a balance of trippy dark tunnels with blue light, and trippy bright gardens with a dash of Oedipus complex).

Episode 9- 3:07 am

Oh hey, Christina. Haven’t seen you in a while. That’s another storyline I kind of forgot about. Stop doing that.

Norman, stop sleeping with Olivia. I feel bad that it seems the only psychologist in town can’t make good life choices.

This episode is so awkward. Olivia is being nice-ish to Peter. Or human towards Peter. It’s unnerving. And there’s an awkward father/daughter sex talk with Norman and Letha, and an awkward family dinner.

Families don’t have secrets, Norman claims. Are you kidding me? Really? The family that literally has its name on the giant white tower where they conduct secret experiments doesn’t have secrets?

Ashley is apologetic about Roman’s condition, because after he raped her, he wiped her memory, so now she feels bad for him. The way the rape storyline is being handled is quite frankly appalling.

Letha’s baby bump looks inconsistent. As in half the time, you can’t really tell she’s pregnant at all, and then the other half of the time it looks like she’s smuggling melons out of the grocery store.

“We’re all just people,” according to Letha. A few episodes, Dr. Chasseur said something along the lines of we’re all just animals. Interesting contrast; I guess we’ll have to wait until next episode to see who is right. Or the finale. That seems to be an overarching theme of the entire season, so we might have to wait longer to see this play out.

Letha doesn’t think she’s the one who needs protecting. I’m sorry, but the last I checked, Peter wasn’t the one carrying a potential demon baby.

Dr. Chasseur’s losing it. Peter lost it. Why is everyone losing it? Someone needs to help them find it.

Chapter 10- 4:22am

Roman finally wakes up from his coma and admits he made many mistakes. (You think?) And he proceeds to display more stupidity by ripping his IVs out. They are in there for a reason. Stop that! Why is that everyone on TV’s first instinct? Leave your IVs in. They’re important. Also, how is Roman able to walk and function 100% after being in a coma for 2 weeks? (It was probably magical IV drugs. That he ripped out. Idiot).

Note to self: see if Hemlock Grove has a Spotify account, because the music selection continues to be flawless.

So after a season of trying to find the vargulf, the result was anticlimactic. It was set up to be a huge face off, and Dr. Chasseur pretty much instantly tranqued Peter, and ended their chase. Kudos to the writers I guess for not giving the expected show down, but it was a little disappointing. I assume Dr. Chasseur is dead, because she tried to shoot Olivia, and the last time we saw someone do that, it was Olivia’s husband, who died.

The episode was so-so, but the big question is where do you go from here? The full moon is done, so that means Peter and Roman have to wait another month to try and catch the vargulf, right?

Chapter 11- 5:11am

The Sherriff’s daughters were murdered last episode, and he thinks it was Peter. Now the entire town decides to become a mob against the Rumancek. Honestly, this episode is dragging. I don’t know why we needed to go down the fire and pitchforks route. There was some discrimination against Peter (he got beat up a few episodes ago) but that seemed to be stupid high school bullies being…stupid high school bullies. There wasn’t an overwhelming sense of anger or paranoia from the townspeople/much focus in general on the townspeople. So to suddenly insert this storyline that Peter and his mom are being hunted down feels a little forced in and it’s slowing the show’s pace.

Roman, it is clearly winter. Why are you driving your convertible with the roof down?

Yellow lights appear through the church windows behind Roman. I am sure this is symbolic. It seems like redemption or glowing good stuff…check back with me after I’ve slept on it.

In order to break the laws of magic and turn into a wolf when the moon isn’t right, Peter will have to sacrifice something.

Not the cat. Not the cat.

Peter killed his cat, so screw Peter, he can go on his stupid mission. I don’t even care.

Dr. Chasseur is alive. That last minute made the episode so much better. Let’s go, round 2!

Episode 12- 6:30am

Dr. Chasseur is in a cage (karma?) and aliv- oh, wait, Dr. Pryce suffocates her. Well, that was a lot of build up to kill her off so quickly.

There’s a scene when Roman runs into a guy he almost got into a bar fight with, and he apologizes for being a spoiled brat. Good character moment, I guess, except it was really long and kind of threw off the pacing.

OH SNAP! Christina is the vargulf. I did not see that coming at all. Good job writers.

I don’t think I can root for a protagonist who is as dumb as Peter. I get that you want to transform so you can fight wolf to wolf, and that you need to sacrifice your human face to do the transformation. But you managed to have Christina literally tied up, and you have a giant fricking ax that Roman brought. It seems like a pretty simple solution. Oh, no? You’d rather rub bacon grease on your face and have a giant wolf nom it off so you can die and come back in canine form? Okay. Whatever floats your boat, idiot.

Christina very considerately just chewed off Peter’s face. There wasn’t really any other bodily damage done, and his skull seemed mostly intact. Is that how mauling works?

Episode 13- 7:16am

Flash back time! It’s weird how they skipped over Christina and Peter’s relationship. The way the show presented it was they met one time when she swung by his house, then she distanced herself and started spreading rumors about him at school. But this flashback shows they were actually friends for the summer. Why didn’t we know that earlier? To divert suspicion that she was the vargulf?

Everyone fails.  Letha, if the door is locked and Roman is busy fending off a wolf, maybe find another door. Repeatedly screaming his name is helpful to no one. Roman, you tried. I guess. I’ll give you that.  Peter, you tried too. But it seems like a waste of your transformation/face. Luckily for everyone, Shelley comes and saves the day. (Lucky for everyone but Christina).

Of course Tom comes only in time to see the end of the fight. So naturally all the killings get pinned on Shelley.

Letha goes into labor and dies. That was unexpected and horrible.

My brain is still trying to process the last 10 minutes. Way to jam in twists and set ups for next season. So Roman got Letha pregnant. What? And somehow impregnating his cousin/possible sister (if Norman is actually his dad) and going crazy is part of him achieving his destiny Olivia wants for him as an upir. Seriously what is an upir? But now there’s two people – Tom and Dr. Chasseur brother – who are going to raise hell next season. Peter and his mom are on the run. And Olivia is dead.

I don’t know if I necessarily liked the pacing of the last few episodes – it felt like the last three episodes could be condensed into two. But the overall, I liked the writing. The music was fabulous and the cinematography breathtaking. The characters are still interesting if not necessarily likable, and the world they built is fascinating, so onto the next season!

Season 2- episode 1 8:57am

Olivia has to relearn how to speak (after Roman ripped out her tongue last season) and she doesn’t have an English accent any more. And she’s wearing colors that are not white. Oooh, character development.

Roman has developed some kind of bloodlust and has resorted to eating leeches. That is not something I ever need to see again.

In order to raise money to get a lawyer for his mom, Peter had the brilliant idea to sell fake drugs to drug dealers. I’m sure that won’t come back and bite him in the ass.

The tone feels different from last season. Last season felt like a classic monster movie, with maulings and werewolves. This season looks like it’s going in a different direction with mad scientists (which okay, was there in Season 1, but it seems like Dr. Pryce and whatever he’s doing is going to have a bigger role this time around) and murder cults with the masked killer guy.

Episode 2- 9:42am

So Roman’s drinking people’s blood now. That’s….an interesting life choice

The town has a different aesthetic than last season. It seems rougher. The interior of Godfrey Tower is also different.

Why is Peter so grossed out Destiny drank his spit water? Last season she ate a corpse maggot and he was fine with it.

There are a lot of stories so far this season, and they’re all interesting, but it’s hard to see how they all tie together at this point.

Episode 3- 10:33am

Shelley is alive! And Christina temporarily came back from the dead, only to promptly killed by Shelley. Again. Good. We didn’t need a zombie werewolf running around. Now she’s squatting in an abandoned house with a kid. They are both too good to stay in Hemlock Grove and should move immediately.

It didn’t feel like a lot happened in this episode. It felt like a lot of set up. We found out Dr. Chasseur’s brother, Michael is now the Sherriff and that Tom, the old Sherriff actually blew himself up. And surprise, surprise. The drug dealers found out the drugs were crap, but the fallout from that hasn’t happened yet. Olivia did murder her Norman’s ex-wife, but Marie was barely in the show, and her death happened off screen, so it seems like the consequences of Olivia’s crime will have more drama than the death itself.

Episode 4- 11:51am

I really like Michael, the new Sherriff, because he’s not buying anyone’s bs, which is great, because most of these characters need someone to tell them what’s what.

*casually breaks off finger and gives it to a kid to keep* Um, okay Shelley.

The episode ends with Miranda finding Roman’s secret baby and breastfeeding it. No big deal. How is that a normal person thing to do?

Episode 5- 12: 42pm

Peter’s losing it. Roman’s losing it. Although I don’t know if they ever found ‘it’ in season 1, so maybe ‘it’ has just been lost for months and months. Get it together, boys. Stop yelling at people.

Pryce invented like a blood smoothie machine for upir. And he realized his dreams of opening a national smoothie chain were probably dead, because oh my gosh that disgusting.

Olivia might only have a mortal life-span now. Good.

Miranda is mad at Roman because it’s ‘selfish’ not to share information about his personal life. When he’s met her maybe a week ago and is letting her live in his house for free. Such selfishness. Clearly she’s entitled to know everything about his personal life.

Roman’s bloodlust makes him crack enough to go to Pryce’s apartment in the middle of the night and ask him to help. Now they’re going to do some shady experimental procedure. But I think we’re missing the most important thing to come out of this scene, nay, the entire episode: Pryce wears a sparkly blue sleep mask to bed.

Episode 6- 1:32pm

Pryce’s machines are unnecessarily whirly. I think it’s to intimidate people.

The Russian scientist lady is scary. And Norman’s private investigator is awesome. I feel they have equally poor chances of longevity.

Seriously, what is up with this murder club? They’re in like every episode, but we have no new information on them.

Destiny is not impressed with Miranda. Me either, Destiny. Me either. (Miranda, you can’t just take people’s babies for walks without permission. Or name other people’s babies. What is wrong with you?)

Episode 7- 2:28pm

Michael is unimpressed as usual by Peter. And also tells Norman and the PI about upirs. Norman is of course furious. Hemlock Grove lucked out with Michael, because in most TV shows, when there’s supernatural stuff going on, local law enforcement is clueless. Not Michael. Yeah…about your crazy girlfriend, Norman. Ever heard of an upir? Bam, next case.

The coloring and angles in the exterior shots of the red house are stunning.

Pryce does something way unethical and wipes his tube-grown human’s brain so he can implant Shelley’s. That is really messed up.

The final montage was amazing with gorgeous music choice, framing and colors.

Miranda. You cannot steal other people’s babies. You don’t know the whole situation. You’ve been living in Roman’s house because you have no place of your own. You’re broke and have no skills. And until like 2 weeks ago, you didn’t even like kids. Return the child immediately.

Episode 8- 3:55pm

Michael does his damn job, and that’s why I like him.

Olivia has cancer and has to face her own mortality, which after centuries of killing people seems fair.

Peter and Roman should not be left in charge of plan making. They’re terrible at making plans. And following plans. Stay away from the plans. Go get Destiny.

Why would you drive a tow truck when you’re trying to infiltrate a secret warehouse base? It’s a little conspicuous, don’t you think, Peter? Well, evidentially you didn’t think that, but you should have.

Episode 9- 4:48pm

The scary Russian scientist convinces Olivia to go through with their plan to kill Roman. I mean, if you want to take advice from someone who is literally quoting Stalin at you, I guess that’s your business.

Shelley decides to transfer her brain into another body, and I am furious it took me about twenty hours to realize Shelley’s name is a reference to Mary Shelley. (Right? It has to be. The way it’s spelled, the way she was ‘created’ by Dr. Pryce, Hemlock Grove’s resident mad scientist).

There’s a cool fight sequence at Roman’s house against baby snatchers. The baby is not snatched, and we’re done with the murder cult. It was a creepy concept- a group of fanatics trying to kill a baby, but it didn’t feel like the most pressing issue until the very end. There was a disconnect, because the victims weren’t directly related to the group, and they mostly only saw the cult members in dreams, so it’s good they resolved that storyline before the finale, so the plots that have been more personal the entire season can be hashed out then.

Episode 10- 5:35pm

How did they get all the blood out of the sofas? Tell me your fabric cleaning secrets.

Olivia’s redemption arc for the season was thrown out the window after she killed Shelley’s new body, and then ripped out Norman’s heart. It was interesting to Olivia struggle with humanity for the season, but evil Olivia is a little more fun than conflicted Olivia, so hopefully we’ll get more of that next season.

I’m so upset Shelley doesn’t get to be happy. Her reaction when she was resuscitated and found herself in her original body made me want to punch somebody. Mostly Olivia.

I spent second and third quarter of the episode thinking Miranda really stepped up. But then she jumped off the building with the baby. And then they were snatched up by their family doctor who is now a giant winged monster thing. That was unexpected.

The finale was awesome. I can’t think of a single scene that I found slow or unnecessary.  There were good character moments, but also a lot of action.

I was so pumped after episode 10 that I ready to start the next season. But then I realized there is no next season. And I also realized I’ve been awake for a really long time. Wake me up when season 3 premieres.

Thoughts after getting sleep:

I thoroughly enjoyed Hemlock Grove. It’s a great show to bingewatch, because the episodes all bleed together.  Sometimes it felt like not a lot happened in a single episode, but I think it’s because it’s designed for an entire season to be viewed as a story, not necessarily an entire episode. The people who create television understand how viewing TV is shifting, and Netflix (itself a nontraditional viewing platform) has produced a show that really reflects that.

Hemlock Grove isn’t a perfect show; it’s a horror TV show, which sometimes necessitates people making cringe-worth decisions (either because it’s an incredibly dumb decision, or because it’s an incredibly evil decision) but there is usually someone serving as the sound of reason or morality that balances that out.  Sometimes the pacing felt a little slow (again, I think it has to do with how the show was designed on a season rather than episodic level), and sometimes there were scenes that should have been cut. But overall, there’s a lot of action sequences, with some more character driven moments, and constant twists. The characters aren’t always likable, but they’re always interesting to watch. And the music and cinematography are consistently fabulous.

There are interesting societal and moral issues addressed as well. Economic and social tensions were brought forth as a response to the Godfrey’s extreme wealth and power, and the morality of certain scientific experiments were also questioned. Dr. Pryce’s experiments might be science fiction at this point, but a lot of the core issues, such as artificially created human bodies and their ethical uses exist and are debated with regards to pioneering science of today. One of the things the show does really well is it can be enjoyed on multiple levels. If you just want to kick back and watch a creepy/gross horror show, it’s really entertaining. But there’s also a lot of mythology/folk lore embedded in the show for people who are interested in that. Sadly I don’t know a whole lot about Eastern European mythology, so I can’t comment too much on that. (Though I am interested in learning more after the show). And there’s the aforementioned moral issues people can reflect on if that’s what they’re looking for. If any of those things are things that appeal to you, it’s worth a watch.

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