‘Hemlock Grove’ Season 2 Review: What A Comeback

Published 9 months ago by

Hemlock Grove Season 2 Review Hemlock Grove Season 2 Review: What A Comeback

[This is a review of THE ENTIRE season 2 of Hemlock Grove. There will be SPOILERS]


I can’t believe I’m saying this, but I’m really going to miss Hemlock Grove. After failing to make it through season 1 last year, I forced myself through all 13 episodes in preparation for season 2 and while I wasn’t too happy about it at the time, now I’m thrilled I did it. Hemlock Grove season 2 is so much fun it made the dull and nonsensical first season well worth sitting through.

There are still quite a few plot holes and logic issues, and at times, the narratives don’t flow particularly well, but overall, this is some highly engaging and entertaining material, and it’s largely due to the fact that many of the main characters are far more developed now.

Landon Liboiron Bill Skarsgard Hemlock Grove Season 2 Hemlock Grove Season 2 Review: What A Comeback

Likable Heroes

Roman and Peter got their stereotypes in season 1 and never really broke out of them. There were times when Bill Skarsgård and Landon Liboiron were challenged to emote, but often it just came across as melodrama and nothing you could really connect to. That’s definitely not the case by the end of season 2.

This time around, it’s not just about watching the guys deal with this surreal predicament. In addition to the masked villains, they’ve also got personal issues they’re struggling with, and surprisingly relatable ones at that. When Roman subjects himself to those treatments, you can’t help but to wonder, might I do the same if I were in his position? And the same goes for Peter. Would you willingly trap yourself in Vargulf form for the rest of your life to save someone you love? They’re extreme scenarios, but they’re rooted in ideals and feelings anyone can connect to and that really helps make both characters far more accessible.

Madeline Brewer Bill Skarsgard Tiio Horn Landon Liboiron Hemlock Grove Season 2 Hemlock Grove Season 2 Review: What A Comeback

A Likable Group of Heroes

This doesn’t really take form until the final three episodes, but when Roman, Peter, Destiny and Miranda all fight to save Nadia together, it’s exhilarating. Yes, Roman and Peter both have grown into far more likable and engaging characters by their own doing to a degree, but it’s also because of the effect Destiny and Miranda have on them as well and that instantly makes seeing them unite immensely appealing.

Similar to Skarsgård and Liboiron, Tiio Horn and Madeline Brewer also nail it as individuals this season. In fact, as I mentioned in our first season 2 review, Brewer’s character is a big reason newcomers can get into the new season and she’s also key to helping veteran viewers jump back in as well. She’s the kind of person who’s easy to connect to, so when she starts learning about all the crazy things that are happening in Hemlock Grove, you naturally go through it step-by-step with her. For some, it’s a solid introduction to the world and then for others, it’s a great way to reacquaint yourself with everything because it’s being done from a different perspective than season 1.

Miranda’s situation is also uniquely bizarre. It’s like a warped Rosemary’s Baby and every step of her progression throughout the season is both fascinating and unexpected, and Miranda’s a strong, independent character throughout most of it. She does start to get a little whiny and helpless towards the end, but who could blame her, I guess?

Destiny however, is resilient through and through. There’s bound to be something that’ll threaten to break her in the next season, but for now, she’s graduated from useful sidekick to an outright hero right alongside Peter and Roman. She’s a moral compass, a sage guardian of sorts, and also has no problem kicking some serious you-know-what all on her own. Horn’s also largely responsible for fixing one of season 1’s biggest problems – the guys were way too mopey. They are like that to a degree in season 2, but this time around, Horn brings so much life and energy to the show that it can support it.

Famke Janssen Hemlock Grove Season 2 Hemlock Grove Season 2 Review: What A Comeback

The Olivia/Norman Showdown

There’s a little part of me that wanted to see Olivia hug it out with her family and live happily ever after, but she’s just too much fun to watch as a full-blown villain. Famke Janssen did handle the back and forth extremely well though, and it’s a good thing because otherwise, this would have been one heck of a disjointed season for the character. But, that’s not the case and one minute, Janssen will have you rooting for Olivia to continue to tap into her humanity and beat the cancer, and then the next, she’s back to being the source of everyone’s misery that you love to hate.

Although I still take issue with much of Norman’s material throughout the new season, there’s no denying that Dougray Scott excels in the final two episodes and is partially responsible for one of the show’s biggest payoffs. It would have been nice if Scott wasn’t so stone-faced all the time, but regardless, he still manages to have Norman go out with a bang, albeit with a major assist from Janssen.

Their conversation at her cottage is easily one of the most tense and dramatic non-violent moments of the season, one in which you are hanging onto the characters’ every word trying to figure out who’s playing who and what could possibly be their next move. That same sensation carries over to their meet-up at the White Tower at the end of the final episode. The tension is there, but these are two main characters. One can’t kill the other, right? But then, in just seconds, Olivia ends it right there. The show is probably better off without Norman, but at least he did get to go out with a couple of stronger moments.

Famke Janssen Bill Skarsgard Dougray Scott Madeleine Martin Hemlock Grove Season 2 Hemlock Grove Season 2 Review: What A Comeback

Poor Shelley

All of that stuff with Shelley (Madeleine Martin) and the little boy wound up being throwaway material, but that is most certainly not the case with what happens to her during the second half of the season. Shelley’s situation is downright fascinating on multiple levels because it connects to so many other characters on the show. There’s Norman and Roman who both love her dearly and just want her to be happy. Then we’ve got Dr. Pryce who seems to share those sentiments, but is also responsible for her as her physician. When things go awry, Joel de la Fuente barely says a word yet the look on his face shows that he’s beating himself up over this on more than one level, as a doctor and scientist, but also as family as well. Then, of course, we’ve got Olivia. There’s no turning back for her now. Shelley will never forgive her, neither will Roman, perhaps not even Dr. Pryce and, on top of that, Norman’s gone. She’s on her way towards one lonely third season.

And then there’s also how all of this effects and will continue to effect Shelley. She went through quite a bit in the first season, but this is some especially life changing stuff. She took a couple of bullets and lived in a crummy basement, but she healed and eventually made her way home. Now however, the poor girl was given the hope of getting to live a normal life, had her mind downloaded and then uploaded into a new body, only to have that new body torn apart, and by her own mother nonetheless! Despite everything that’s happened to her, Shelley’s always been rather subdued, so when she absolutely loses it over Prycilla’s passing, boy do you feel it and get the sense that there’s some serious darkness on the way for the character.

Madeline Brewer Bill Skarsgard Tiio Horn Landon Liboiron Hemlock Grove Season 2 Hemlock Grove Season 2 Review: What A Comeback

Unresolved Issues

Let’s go for the elephant in the room first – that bat, or whatever you want to call it. First off, from a VFX standpoint, it looked a little silly, but by that point in the show, you’re too wrapped up in all of the characters and what’s happening to them for shoddy CG creature design to take you out of it and stop you from wondering, what it is exactly and where is it taking Miranda and the baby?

And what happened to Lynda (Lili Taylor)? We know she left the country and is in hiding, but is that it? Will she ever come back or will we get to see her in Romania? We’ve also got Andreas (Luke Camilleri). Just as Peter wondered in the 10th episode, why did his gun have a silencer on it? Will he join Roman, Peter and Destiny while they search for Miranda in season three?

No matter what we wind up getting in the next season of Hemlock Grove, it’s thrilling to be wondering at all. The team behind this show got me to go from someone who didn’t even want to watch another minute of it to coming to adore some of the characters and deeply care about what happens to them, and that’s one heck of an accomplishment.


There’s still no word on whether or not Hemlock Grove will return for a third season.

Follow Perri on Twitter @PNemiroff.

Follow Perri Nemiroff on Twitter @PNemiroff
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  1. So I only read about the first paragraph of this article to be honest (I’m only 3 episodes into season 2).

    But I’d be interested to know if people thought season 2 was a slow start. Because so far I’m just not that into it. Season 1 had a ton of problems, which got me to quit with just 2 episodes to go, but the beginning few episodes of that season were far more interesting and exciting to me than so far this season. Maybe that’s just because it was a new show at the time, IDK.

    I have seen a quite a few critics say that this season was an improvement though, so this should be the final thing I need to read in order to push through the whole season. Just wish it didn’t feel like I was pushing through.

    • I was questionable on it too, because yes it did have a slow start, but I watched to episode 3, and decided….. i want to keep watching, so I binge watched every single episode from 4 to 10, started in the afternooon, and then went late into the evening, and i couldn’t have been happier i continued, so if that tells you, yes it does get better, and keep watching.

  2. I enjoyed your article. I will say that I did struggle with season 1 but I had faith in it when it first came out. It took me like a month just to watch it, however it made me even more excited for season 2. It took me like three weeks to get through season 2 because I didn’t want it to end so soon. It was a wayyyyy better season and it was well worth the wait.

    • Agreed. Yes, there are still some issues but overall it’s a huge improvement from the first season

  3. how did it take you three weeks to watch the season thats only been out 11 days…?

    • “It took me like three weeks to get through season 2 because I didn’t want it to end so soon.” Is what I said. I said that because that’s what it felt like. It’s a simile and in case you don’t know what that is, the definition is shown below.
      A simile is a rhetorical figure expressing comparison or likeness that directly compares two objects through some connective word such as like, as, so, than, or a verb such as resembles.

      • Yeah, as someone who teaches English, even if it’s only to second graders, I’m gonna let you know that’s not a simile. Just because you use like or as doesn’t make it a simile. You need to compare two things as well. I’m sure it did feel like 3 weeks, but I have to correct you on your beliefs of what a simile is.

        • Cool.

  4. I hope there is a 3rd season I love this show!!

  5. My husband called the ending ruined by the Man-dactyl…because that is exactly what it looked like. I love the show though…its just so damn weird I can’t help not watching

  6. Great review but 1 note, Miranda wasn’t saved by the bat.

    • Yes she was he wrapped is tail around her and the baby because they need her..

  7. I just found Hemlock Grove on Netflix about a week ago. I watched two seasons in less than a week. Season One had its problems but I still became addicted. I really like Peter and something about Roman’s struggle drew me in. I think that’s what kept me watching Hemlock Grove. I have really been rooting for Roman to pull through and be the hero he wants to be. The second season got pretty weird. But I really got caught up in the characters and I couldn’t stop watching. The ending was so totally unexpected that I don’t know what to think. BUT I REALLY hope there is a Season 3. I need to know more about what happens to these people/monsters I have come to love

    • Agreed completely.

  8. A few suggestions for season 3 / ways season 2 could have been better:
    -Roman and Peter need to go full gay for at least 1 episode. If thats asking too much, at least more 3-somes are needed.
    -Olivia needs to stay evil and be sassy again. No more flat shoes. NO MORE KAREOKE. I mean, Famke’s singing is fine but the kareoke was way out of character. plus, who was filming her singing all close up like that???? Olivia should play cello or piano a-la Catherine Deneuve in “The Hunger”.
    -Shelly needs a new hot body. Having Olivia eat the blond girl was wrong. They need to try again. but after deformed shelly is gone, new hot blond Shelly needs to have a split personality and want to kill Dr Price.
    - The CGI dragon budget needs to be multiplied by about 10
    - Baby Nadias fake blue eyes look… just really fake.

    To the producers: GREAT JOB on: Romans house, the white tower and all the rooms in it, The creepy mask wearing killers, Destiny, Olivias wardrobe from SEASON 1

    • Agreed x 1,000,000

  9. Sorry. I thought the first season was better and the second season seemed low budget and pointless. If they had kept up the quality of the first season, they may have had a long-term winner. The creative team at HG really dropped the ball.