We are back in a big way for the final season of Hemlock Grove. The season opener has the feel of season one’s charm; a combination of terrifying scenes and interesting characters with a rated-R edge we normally don’t get to see with shows centered around vampires and werewolves. That’s one of the things I’ve enjoyed while watching: Hemlock Grove’s ability to remain an adult show and not falling into campy tropes like Twilight.
Hemlock Grove kicked off this season with a one-sided conversation between a truck driver and his sex doll. This was both frightening and funny. We catch up quickly with Peter, who is running with a pack of wolves and stealing cars. The wolf transformations here rivaled season one, and luckily it was during a full moon so no Vargulf issues to worry about.
The premiere continued to flesh out Peter’s cousin, Destiny, who is dating one of the guys (Andreas) Peter runs with on car heists. Between the visions Destiny has of approaching monsters in a world of purity and the intimate looks we allowed into her relationship with Andreas, it only increases the feel of impending doom. Andreas seems like everything Peter would want for Destiny, and he gives his blessing via a ring from his mother and tells Andrea he can propose to Destiny. While Andreas seems perfect, seeing his need for more money throws up red flags, especially since whatever he does will most likely end up at the expense of his brothers and Peter.
Olivia Godfrey continues to do what she does best: make her children’s lives a living hell and take out any possible interferences. One in particular, Sheriff Chasseur, is being used as a meal replacement by Olivia, until not just his luck but his blood runs out. Olivia wastes no time getting back on top – she gets custody of Shelley (and her trust fund), sends Pryce to the edge of madness, and undercuts moves being made by Roman to locate Nadia and Miranda using a private investigator.
Roman is dealing as well as a vampire father who just had his daughter and her milk supply kidnapped by a winged monster (aka Dr. Spivak) can be expected to cope. He gets a blowjob in an alley while a mysterious dark-haired woman watches, but that aside, he is trying to have a modicum of self-control. He goes to confession, but does not receive the absolution he seeks. Hopefully, the introduction of the dark-haired girl (Annie) will show us a new side of Roman as we find out she’s very much like him.
Poor Shelley. After the events of last season (Olivia deciding to cure her cancer using the perfection that was to be new Shelley), she has suffered a psychotic break and Pryce cautions everyone to tread lightly around her. I’ve always felt that Shelley had an innate strength that those around her sometimes forgot. Yes, she repeatedly balks when Olivia is in the room (wouldn’t you?), but then there are times where she has a backbone like when she asks Olivia outright why she hates her.
Dr. Johann Pryce, Olivia’s favorite chew toy, had the worst go of it this episode. He looks on the verge of a breakdown himself. He was once a man without a crinkle in his suit; now he’s a man reduced to dishevelment due to his connection with the Godfreys. He lost his greatest creation: new Shelley and in just one episode Olivia takes the remainder of his research from him. She trolls him in the worst way possible way with the threat of the FBI at his doors with the implication that they know about his experiments, but we come to find out they’re simply there to perform an audit.
The fact that his hands did not immediately reach out and strangle Olivia was a testament to his control. We saw a human fetus-like genome experiment shredded due to her, and Roman’s meal source destroyed, in what was quite an effective scene. Joel de la Fuente continues to play the hell out of Pryce. After he uploads his consciousness into a human host, we learn a bit more about his personal proclivities. Who else was shocked by the revelation of Pryce’s sexuality? He has so much going on between Olivia threats, Shelley’s safety, and providing a meal replacement for the temperamental Roman it’s a wonder this man hasn’t thrown in the towel.
Most confusing scene
A wolf kills a man in the street, was it real or a vision?
Worst Olivia being a mommy scene
When Shelley gets blood poured on her as they leave the courthouse and Olivia is more concerned about a speck of blood on her gloves than her daughter.
Hemlock Grove S3E1
All in all this was a great opening to season three, it seems like the writers really thought about how to wrap up this series, and despite some bumps in season two, the often complicated drama is telling a cohesive story. The plot is entertaining and I love that we opened on the kind of action that hooked viewers the first season: a fucking amazing wolf transformation that makes you cringe and look away. Roman and Peter continue trying to find Nadia to no avail, but I do like that they are friends again.
Famke Janssen continues to bring her A game to the role of Olivia. I enjoyed seeing Destiny as part of the crew, but I get the feeling her fiancée might be too good to be true. Then again, I am a cynic. I do hope Shelley and Pryce have some kind of happy moment this season. But with a show with no clear good guy, you realize you’re rooting for a show of monsters – and that’s good too.