That’s not to say the show is without a handful of stumbles in its march to the finish line. One early episode features a lengthy flashback detailing a returning character’s recent history. That flashback winds up revealing too much about their motivations, ultimately robbing the show of a bit of added drama and a better reveal down the road. It’s also disappointing to see some characters basically shuffled off the table in the latter half of the season. Their stories may be wrapped up by that point, but it would still have been nice to see a bit more focus on the entire cast in the final episodes.
Somehow, the series even finds room to introduce several new faces alongside all the returning favorites. Malcolm McDowell is impeccably cast as the bumbling, self-important vampire Varney, while a barely recognizable Titus Welliver shines as his righthand man, the hulking Slavic vampire Ratko. Marsha Thomason’s Greta quickly becomes an entertaining and even necessary foil to Alucard, one who pokes fun at his never-ending parade of misery while also reawakening the hero within.As usual, the voice cast is impressive all-around, with Nighy, Reynoso, and M’Cormack also among the standouts in Season 4. Some episodes do seem to suffer from sound mixing issues, where the dialogue is overly muted. Presumably some, if not all, of the cast recorded their lines remotely during the pandemic, so that may be the culprit here. Regardless, the voice cast remains another strength of the series.
The same goes for the impressive visuals courtesy of Powerhouse Animation and director Sam Deats. The battle scenes rival anything else we’ve seen from the series in terms of scope and energy. The penultimate episode particularly stands out in that regard. There’s a real thrill seeing multiple characters unleash the full extent of their powers in a battle sequence that just keeps building and building. Picture The Raid: Redemption with vampires, ogres, and magic daggers. But the series also succeeds in those quieter, character-driven moments and those occasional bursts of pure psychedelia. Castlevania offers a very well-rounded package, visually and otherwise.
Again, the series reaches a fitting conclusion by the final episode. Regardless of who lives or dies in the end, all the major characters are given definitive, emotionally satisfying endings. The finale’s focus on tying up loose ends is actually pretty refreshing in a franchise so focused on a constant stream of sequels and Dracula’s never-ending, revolving door of death and resurrection. Fans may decry the fact that Season 4 isn’t very direct about setting up the previously announced spinoff series, but there’s a lot to be said for just picking a clear endpoint and leaving the future to sort itself out.
Netflix Spotlight: May 2021