For as omnipresent a force that Netflix is in pop culture currently, it’s important to remember that it is still very early into its life as a provider of original content creator.
With that in mind, a lot of Hemlock Grove’s storytelling sins or inefficiencies make more sense. Netflix struck gold early on with House of Cards in establishing the “network’s” binge-watching style. Everything from the slick visual tones to the charismatic lead character is designed for binge-watching. The effect for House of Cards may feel clinical or even downright manipulative at times but it also just flat out works. Hemlock Grove, on the other hand, has an insistence on relying on mysteries to drive the plot that makes it a strange choice for the Netflix brand.
As TV-watching audiences have learned this year, mystery-relying plots can pay dividends. True Detective, aside from being an incredibly well done show, was a week-to-week scavenger hunt experience for the Internet in a way not seen since the salad day’s of Lost. A really good mystery lives in the space between action, where the watcher can take a moment to breathe and let his or her imagination run wild.
Having said that, It’s unclear if Hemlock Grove would still benefit much from a week off to let the mystery linger as season two’s central mystery is still been its weakest asset. Character rehabilitation has rightfully been a priority for Hemlock Grove in season two but it’s sadly been at the expense of the “dudes in white masks” plot.
Said “dude in white masks” plot finally reaches a semi-interesting place in episode six – more than halfway through the season. The presumably religious order trying to make deaths look like an accident has never made much sense to me. If anything, wouldn’t an ideologically-bent organization want deaths to be grand and make a point rather than covering them up? Still, the unnamed mask men attempting to kill a child, lacking the nerve and then cutting his legs (which was probably the most graphic image of the season for me. Keep in mind this is a season in which blood actually spews out a woman’s neck like a fountain) is a mystery befitting a season-long arc. This is the scene that should have marked the beginning of the “men in masks” season-long arc, however, not its midpoint. Everything up to his point has been useless repetition. And there’s still the issue that even now that there is a mystery worth talking about, there is no break between episodes to actually talk about it.
Anyway … there’s a threesome in this episode! It’s weird that I let myself prattle on about anything other than this for so long. As previously stated character rehabilitation has been an important part of this season and I’d even consider it a modest success.
Roman as a character is in an interesting place as a character finally while he desperately tries to lose what makes him special while his mom has it taken away from her against her will. Peter has been slightly less interesting as his “turning on a bad moon” issue has progressed not nearly as rapidly or interestingly as it could. But he still has an arc and an awesome cousin Destiny to bounce off of.
Now that their characters have been better established Roman and Peter have Hemlock Grove’s blessing to reunite. And they have my blessing to reunite in the manner that they do. Obviously a lot of the tension between Peter and Roman has been sexual. Not necessarily because Bill Skarsgard and Landon Liboiron have crackling chemistry but because that’s just sort of what happens on these kind of shows and it’s what the people want. While, this threesome is a bit perfunctory, I still welcome it as an engine for Roman and Peter to bury the hatchet is spectacularly as possible. Look at it this way: the consummation of sexual tension as a way to merge the Roman and Peter plotlines to the season one method of “hey, you’re a new kid in town and might be a werewolf so let’s be bros.”
And this is the first time where Miranda’s wet blanket-ness actually kind of works in the show’s favor as it makes it seem as though Roman and Peter are actually just far more interested in crawling into bed together with only this flimsy piece of human plywood between them.
It’s been a long arduous process getting to this point where Hemlock Grove is one TV show instead of a series of loosely-connected weirdos. And they did pull the rip-cord on exploiting unacknowledged sexual tension in the process*, but the rest of the season looks all the more promising for it, especially with Shelley back at The White Tower and Sherrif Chasseur further involved in the central mystery.
*By this I mean a threesome would have had a bigger impact the longer the writers let the sexual tension stew in the background. They wisely knew, however, that the show required it as an injection of energy and purpose right now.
On a superficial level, bravo to Netflix for claiming the threesome as its own sexual plot point. They were probably just bummed HBO got to incest first.
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