As much as Netflix has tried to throw a brick into the traditional ways we watch television, old habits persist. Hemlock Grove, like all of Netflix’s original programming was clearly designed to be binge-watched, having been dumped all at once at 12:01 a.m. PT on July 11 (why Netflix still chiefly operates on Pacific Time is a Gone Sis-style mystery).
But old habits of TV viewing die hard. While Hemlock Grove is clearly intended to be judged on the merits of its entire season, there is still the matter of it being broken up into 10 distinct parts that still cry out for criticism and analysis on their own merits. As season two enters into the middle of its overarcing story it’s hard to judge what is successful and what isn’t.
Case in point is the ongoing storyline of Hapless Drug Dealing Dudes and Farmer Beaumont. The drug dealers who bought the fake drugs from Peter return to his trailer to rough him up. In the process Peter, unable to control his wolf transformations, starts to change before getting a hold of himself while the dealers flee.
Later, the dealers return to Beaumont who strips them down, ties them up and removes one testicle each while a violent nature documentary conveniently plays on TV in the background. The implication here is an interesting one: that even in a world of werewolves and vampires and other monsters, plain old human beings still have the capacity to be the most violent. The problem is that what’s to say Beaumont is a human being? On a show like this, anyone could be a yet to be discovered supernatural creature, especially a character who has so randomly yet so prominently been thrown into the plot like Beaumont. If future episodes reveal that Beaumont is a literal monster in additional to a figurative one then: oh well, your neat implication means nothing, episode four.
Additionally, there is the matter of Christina Wendell’s corpse, which opens up the episode with some help from oblivious horny teenagers and ridiculously callous cops* If her mangled, maggot-infested corpse is the last we see of Christina Wendell then what gives? Was her resurrection in brief tussle with Shelley worth the space it took up in episode three and now “Bodily Fluids?” I’d say no. But maybe there’s something still yet to come in which case our grading is incomplete.
*Two lines uttered within mere seconds of each other: ““I’m supposed to be balls deep in my wife right now,” and “That girl’s grave got robbed yesterday.” PRIORITIES, HGPD, PRIORITIES.
So with a show as adamant with the big picture as Hemlock Grove, it’s best to focus on portions of episodes that move the plot forward with little ambiguity. This brings us back, as it usually does, to Roman and Peter.
Peter in “Body Fluids” is the closest the character has been to an actual action hero. Still motivated by the loss of Letha and with his “bad moon” physical issues not as pressing as Roman’s hunger, Peter has been able to some meaningful headway into the season’s mystery and even prevent a murder, something almost unprecedented for our Hemlock County heroes.
Peter is able to anticipate where white-mask people are going to run over a child on a tricycle and interferes with his Peter-Mobile/two-truck. Unfortunately, his adamant warning that the mother and her son leave town doesn’t please the HGPD. It’s hard to tell what Peter in prison will mean for future episodes narratively but at least the Hemlock Grove locals are starting to behave rationally. A crazy-eyed tow-truck driver screaming at a woman to leave town is the kind of behavior that should end in prison.
Speaking of rational behavior: it turns out that Godfrey Institute actually has a human resources department. Roman, in his increasing hunger-craziness, gets a timeout from the human resource head after lashing out at some employees. Instead of continuing to harass his employees, Roman and his hunger turn to the transients of Hemlock Grove.
Hemlock Grove posited in season one that the income inequality of the town was extreme. It’s hard to see how with the country’s “largest privately held health and biotech corporation” headquarters on the outskirts of town. Wouldn’t there be some employment opportunities if a major corporation’s skyscraper were plopped down in the middle of an Appalachian town? Regardless, the town’s homeless population gives Roman an opportunity to get a little weird.
Roman pulling out a wad of cash and asking to know who is the homeless person’s next of kin is a fascinating, ominous moment. He attacks the man before he can wait any longer but is interrupted by a shambling horde of other transients, all of which is witnessed by Sheriff Chasseur. Between this and his interview with Olivia regarding Marie’s disappearance, Michael Chasseur has good reason to keep an eye on the Godfreys.
In an episode filled with false starts, “Bodily Fluids” saves the best, and perhaps most “fluid-y” for last. Miranda, having been de-clothed by the writers for the second time in as many episodes, is mysteriously lactating. That maternal drive along with general curiosity leads her to find Roman’s stowed-away, secret baby. Roman discovers her there, breast-feeding the poor, neglected chap. It’s more than a little baffling. But its mysteries like this that add to the show it, not frustrate. A lot of the plots in “Bodily Fluids” restrict viewer imagination, while the last few minutes serve to expand it.
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