When Netflix announced that the third season of Hemlock Grove would be its last, I was hardly surprised. Since its debut in 2013, Hemlock Grove has been an extremely polarizing show: you either absolutely love it, or your think it’s the worst thing on television in the history of television. Considering I started my Criminal Element career talking about this show, I guess I’m firmly on the “love”side of the fence. Is it a perfect show? Absolutely not. The plot meanders, loose threads abound, the acting is questionable, but what I like about it is how weird it is. Having finished Season 3, this writeup’s a little bittersweet for me.
Fans were wondering when, exactly, we were getting season three. Seasons 1 and 2 both premiered in July, but this July came and went without so much as a whisper. Rumors floated around that the show had been cancelled, that it would air in 2016, and then, a miracle: a teaser promising us there would be no happy endings.
There aren’t. Trust me.
Season 3 opens with our boy Peter (Landon Liboiron) running a grift with Andreas (Luke Camilleri) and a new crowd of Romani, Olivia (Famke Janssen) talking way to much, and Roman (Bill Skarsgard) trying to figure out where his daughter is while fighting for custody of Shelley (Madeleine Martin). That’s about as positive and happy as this season gets.
From there, you get a lot of battles of will, a private investigator, people bleeding to death in bathtubs…You know, the usual fare. A mysterious young woman named Annie (Camille De Pazzis) appears, opening a new world for Roman—a world full of other upirs. Peter’s cousin Destiny (Kaniehtiio Horn) continues to have visions of Dr. Arnold Spivak (J.C. MacKenzie) in reptoid form. It’s another episode or two before you see Spivak or the baby again. In fact, for being such a massive part of the second season, they barely factor into Season 3.
Spivak’s holed up in a cabin in the mountains, along with his receptionist, Miranda (Madeline Brewer), and the baby. Other than an attack of the ugly sweaters, Spivak didn’t do much for me. His was the most anticlimactic role of the season. I liked that we didn’t see him right off the bat, but I wish there had been more screen time for him and is sweater-loving brand of evil.
Thankfully, you get a lot more of Johann Pryce (Joel de la Funente), who’s slowly losing his mind post-Prycilla and attempting to perfect his consciousness transferal system. Over the last two seasons, Pryce quickly became one of my favorite characters. He’s certainly grown the most out of all of them (except maybe Shelley), and I love the direction they took him in. You get more backstory in addition to a closer look at him as a person, not just the science-savvy Godfrey lackey.
What really impressed me was how the show finally began tying up all the loose threads from Season 1. The Ouroboros comes back into play as a sort of upir boogeyman. It explains why Roman has to face it, why his daughter was taken, and reveals a lot about the upir culture. Spivak is one of these boogeymen, an Omul Negru, which looks far more like a stingray than a snake eating its own tail, but creative license. The writers even threw in some deadly diseases.
Season 3 delivers much of what we expected from previous seasons: drama, blood, sex, but I’m a bit disappointed they went with CGI instead real wolves. I wish a few things had been done differently. For me, the finale was a bit rushed, but if you’ve stuck with Hemlock Grove this long, I doubt you’ll be disappointed. It rounds out the story nicely, and for once there are few loose ends.
I’ve been asked a few times what mindset a new viewer should take when getting into this show. Hemlock Grove is a mixed bag, and it’s certainly not just for anyone. If you’ve been on the fence, my advice is to go in with zero expectations and just let it take you on the ride. It’s funny, bizarre, a little gross, and entertaining without being thought-provoking or trying to be deep. This is a prime opportunity to mainline the whole series. It might sit better with some of you who didn’t finish out Season 1, but want to give it another shot.
I’m sad it’s over, but I can live with what happened. As I’ve said in previous reviews, I knew it wasn’t going to last six seasons and a movie, but Hemlock Grove has been good to me, if no one else. I mean, you know there’s some kind of serial killer running around making girls look like wolf attack victims, right? I shudder to think.
Meghan Harker grew up in a small, awkwardly-named town in Georgia. She attended Brenau University, where she earned her BA in English and a minor in Graphic Design; she also attended the University of Cambridge, England, where she didn't quite master the perfect Oxbridge accent. She's an avid reader, writer, and fire spinner. She's currently working her first novel, a paranormal thriller. Visit her blog at ExquisitelyOdd.com.
Read all posts by Meghan Harker for Criminal Element.