Discuss and Rate the Last Thing You Watched (non-movies)

Hawki

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Black Cockatoo (3/5)

This play...isn't really that good. It's a case of trying to do too much and too little at the same time.

The play mainly focuses on the story of the 1868 Aboriginal cricket team who toured England (the so-called "Black Eleven"), selling itself as a story that needs to be told. Fair enough, though while I can't speak for everyone, this wasn't some obscure piece of Australian history for me. I certainly knew of the tour in question, even though I wouldn't be able to tell you the date or names of the players off the top of my head. But hey, fair enough, always ready to learn more, right?

Well, here's the thing. The play is 90 minutes with no interval, and divides itself between some Indigenous activists breaking into a museum to get it to "tell the truth," and flashbacks to the tour in question, centered around John Mullagh (the lead player), and Charles Lawrence, the captain/coach. Not the worst setup in the world. However, both of these things feel way too haphazard. For starters, the activists each have an archtype, ranging from the guy who wants to burn it down (metaphorically), isn't afraid to voice his feelings on white people, resents the lack of monuments to massacres within Victoria, to the girl who's just there to get her picture in the paper when the police come round. Fair enough. By itself, this works - emotions are genuine, and you could argue that the play came out at the 'right time,' given the yearly debate about Australia Day. The problem is that the activist sideplot feels very tangental to the cricket team plot, even though their initial goal is to get the museum to "tell the truth" about the tour. This spirals into a wider discussion about indigenous affairs in Australia. And fair enough, there's plenty there you can make a story out of, but it's a story that's relegated to these characters occasionally showing up. It also doesn't help that one of the characters outright states (paraphrased) that "this play is a metaphor for First Nations people in Australia, cue symbology of bat and boomerang together." Y'know, I'm not a published playwright (but I will be a published author within the year barring any stuffups, so suck it Gradius), but I'm going to go out on a limb and suggest that if you need to state your theme to the audience via monologue, you either haven't successfully conveyed that theme, or you don't have enough faith in your audience and/or yourself. To draw upon a writing maxim...no, it's not "show, don't tell," it's the maxim of "showing and telling." And it's what the play does in this case.

That aside, the 'present' sections of the play are in the minority, so what we're left with is stuff that's decent, for the most part. We deal with John, who has to deal with his love of cricket on one hand, to everything from racism and unrequited love on the other. I'm going to say that I'm a bit dubious of the plot where he falls for a British dowager woman who's very feminist/progressive (well, for someone at the time), who's pushing him to read Das Kapital, and waxing lyrical about how with the US civil war having recently ended, America will soon be a land of racial harmony (I admit, I laughed there, and I wasn't the only one). If this actually happened, I'm going to take this criticism back, but if your play is selling itself as telling the true story, then it's dubious to include a story that's almost certainly not true. I did some research and couldn't find any mention of the woman in question, but maybe it is true. But then, the play does acknowledge through the 'present' sections as to what can't be verified, so either the romance stuff IS verified, or it's completely false. But that aside, John carries the play (or technically his actor does), for the reasons I described above. There's referenced racism, and he has to deal with the condascending manner of his coach/team captain, on top of losing a player to sickness, and being homesick. There's quite a few powerful moments in the play, such as his quiet comments of the moon looking the wrong way, or his shadow being on the wrong side, or how quiet the birds are compared to back home. You could argue that it's the noble savage archtype, but I disagree - Indigenous peoples generally have connection to nature (or Country as it's referred to in Oz, and yes, capitalized) via their culture, so while it isn't a cultrue clash that's going on per se, it is a...cultural manifestation, I guess you could call it? Like I said, there's powerful stuff, because on one hand, he's not only falling in love, but it's shown that there's a lot of things in England that he likes. But on the other hand, as he puts it, "I want to know what's supposedly so horrible about this country that people are so desparate to leave it and invade mine." The play doesn't pull any punches on the darker elements of the British Empire, but the 'past' sections are more succinct in it, and serve by focusing on the individual. It's just a shame that we have to keep cutting back to the 'present.'

So, that's that then. If I had to offer one piece of advice (as pretentious as this sounds), it would be to cut out or minimize the 'present' sections of the play so we could get more time with the cricket tour. But in the end, what we're left with is 60% of a play that's pretty decent, with 40% that drags that 60% down, give or take. Also, it has audience participation, so that's another black mark for me.
 

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Star Wars Rebels: Season 4 (3/5)

You might recall my review of season 3 of Rebels, how I didn't like it much. I will say that season 4 is better than season 3, but not as good as season 2. Yes, fun fact, I've now seen every season of Rebels except the first. But I mean, hey, it's better than Last Skywalker at least. Not that that's saying much.

Honestly, I don't have much to say about this season for good or ill. It's less a story at this point about the Rebellion and more about just a small group of rebels, with the majority of the plot taking place on Lothal. This is neither good or bad by itself - I mean, it does allow character focus I guess. And maybe it's a case of "doomed by canon," where the Rebellion can't score any major victories against the Empire before Scarif. Still, it does make the series feel small, and not in a good way. I've never been that enamored with the Clone Wars TV series, but that at least befit the franchise title of "Star Wars" and the sub-series of "Clone Wars." Rebels is a series where few people actually die, and when they do, it's hidden. I know, I know, child friendly, stormtroopers are human while droids aren't, but still...

Anyway, it's fine. I will admit that the ending got me in "the feels," though it's such an undignified way for Thrawn to go out, considering he's a pretty major character. Also, not sure how anyone could survive going into hyperspace with a shattered bridge, but whatever. Overall, Rebels is fine. It's average, but unlike Rise of Skywalker, not aggressively so. It benefits from more focus than season 3, but season 2 still comes up on top in that there was a constant sense of danger with the inquisitors constantly pursuing the cast, plus it had the showdown between Vader and Ashoka. So far, nothing in Rebels has topped that.
 

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Night on Earth: A good netflix nature documentary series on what goes on our world when the sun goes down.
 

Dreiko_v1legacy

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Dalisclock said:
Dreiko said:
Cursing is an interesting thing because in Japanese you don't really have cursing. You just have varied level of respect in your words. So you can just say hi in a way that makes it come off as "you *****!" but it still just means "hi".


Also about the worst thing you can say to someone is to go die, so when you hear very over the top villains screaming shineeeee you really are hearing them say fuck you lol.


So in a way, to be accurate to some things you will actually have to add curses when you translate something. But at the same time, you can easily overblow it or go for rank 10 cursing where it was more like rank 4 in Jp, which is what often happens in dubs.
I've heard Politeness is a very, very important quality in Japanese culture, being tied in with respect. That and being reserved is a virtue so over the top characters are meant to come off as crazy or unstable(thus all the NPCs in Dark Souls cackling for no particular reason).

Which makes me wonder if (MY! NAME! IS!)GYOUBU MASATAKA ONIWA(!)s increadibly hammy entrance in Sekiro is meant to show that he really, really hates you as opposed to "I'M REALLY EXCITED TO BE HERE FOR MY BOSS BATTLE" that it comes across in the english dub.
What you're describing applies to certain contexts, in a battlefield (and in a period piece, no less) you will have bravado and shouting aimed at intimidation because when you're shouting you're in essence projecting the power of the lord you're a vassal to and warding off anything that'd threaten them, so it's more like fervor rather than someone being unstable. Now, if someone was to speak like that to the actual lord they serve directly or even in their presence, yeah, that'd be disrespectful and the guy would be seen as having gone insane. You can see how Wolf is towards the little boy emperor for example.

In a more modern context, there's a whole lot of emphasis put on things like seniority, status and experience, and it's literally hard-coded into the language you speak. So for example, there's two words you can use to say "mother", one if you're speaking about your mother and one about any other mother but your mother, and the one for your mother is a more humble term, whereas the other one is more polite since you're trying to be respectful for other people's mothers. Being respectful about your own would come off as being arrogant or unduly proud of your mother and would rub people the wrong way...buuuuut if you're actually TALKING to your mother and you don't use the respectful word to speak to her but use the word you have to use when you refer to her in talks with other people that's rude too cause you gotta be nice to your mother. Having fun yet? XD

There's tons of little things like that, you don't even think about it in the context of the language since it's just all a blanket of "polite" and "correct" but when you sit and think about it it's very bizarre lol.

A very easy example is when someone calls themselves name-Sama, which is a honorific that means master or lord, and most people tend to not use it outside of specific contexts where people are being formal but don't really mean it, so if someone actually does mean it then yeah that guy is just being an asshole. (this is literally how they characterize Vegeta as being an arrogant asshole during the saiyan saga, just a little word and you know what you're dealing with lol)
 
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Just caught They Shall Not Grow Old on TV tonight. Peter Jackson put together film, colorized movie footage, and photographs with recordings of interviews with World War I veterans. It was an incredibly interesting way to describe the nature of trench warfare from the first "big one" and bring it home, using the emotion and memories of those who went through it. The down-to-earth viewpoint of the infantryman they interviewed is eye-opening. The choice of footage is extremely well chosen and the entire production is beautifully done.

Seriously, if you get a chance to watch this program, do so. It is a wonderful tribute, not only to Jackson's grandfather (to whom the program is dedicated), but to everyone who had ever served.
 

Hawki

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Black Sails: Season 1 (3/5)

Black Sails is a series I seemed to hear a lot about back in the day, but then abruptly stopped hearing about it. I knew vaguely it was something to do with characters from Treasure Island, and that's about it. Having actually seen the first season, well...well, first thing is to acknowledge is that this wasn't a 'proper watch,' and with a series that's heavy on episode-to-episode continuity, that's a bit of an issue. But, for what it's worth, my thoughts.

So, for starters, least as far as season 1 goes, any links to Treasure Island are pretty much name recognition only. We get James Flint, Billy Bones, Discount Will Turner (sorry, John Silver), and...that's it. This isn't a bad or good thing in of itself, but really, if you didn't have these three characters, you'd have no idea that this series is supposedly a prequel to the Stevenson book. Maybe the links become more evident later on, but as far as season 1 goes, again, name recognition only. But if I judge it as a series on its own right, it's a mixed bag. Like season 1 of Game of Thrones, Black Sails uses a lot of sex and a lot of nudity, presumably under the assumption that sex sells, or, "it's 18th Century Nassau, people fuck each other a lot." And look, maybe it did, but just as GoT Season 1 lagged here, sex in of itself isn't a turn on for me. If I want sex, I'll watch porn. And while I'm fine with sex in fiction, don't use it as a substitute. Because for a series named "Black Sails," we don't actually spend that much time at sea. Indeed, about 80% of the season is spent on land. And while I'm guessing that some of that is due to a limited budget, it's still a pirate show, and when I watch pirate shows, I expect the pirates to do piratey things. But nup. Sex, and serious discussions that aren't enough to carry the season.

So, average. Started season 2, but season 1? Average. And if I'm treating this as a Treasure Island adaptation, it ranks below pretty much every adaptation of Treasure Island that I've seen.
 

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The Expanse (Seasons 1 through 4)

It's a pretty good sci-fi show that despite having a sort-off generic set-up ends up feeling pretty fresh due to overall pretty well-written characters and surprisingly good political intrigue, the visual effects are also pretty well-done for a TV show, I don't know what else to say it kinda gives me vibes of what would be a Cyberpunk world (Mostly due to the state of Earth & Ceres Station) but set on the space part, like in Blade Runner when Roy talks about what happens in space, I kinda picture something like this.

I get that a lot of people might not like it especially since I can see them interpreting Holden as a Mary-Sue but considering how many mistakes he makes even if he's too idealistically nice they tend to have pretty severe consequences, most of the time unexpected, also Detective Miller is just like the best, I get that he's mostly just a trope but he's pretty well done and I'm a sucker for the gritty cynical detective types.

I will add that so far the first season has been my favourite and while some of it may be attributed to it being the only season in which Miller is a main character, everything else has been worthwhile but the worldbuilding has severely declined in most recent seasons, I guess it's mostly because they mainly take place in spaceships and stuff and that the groundwork was pretty well laid in the first 2 seasons that it's not as necessary, but they do feel considerably less alive, and the new characters especially the antagonists of the 4th seasons don't seem as dynamic and complex as in previous seasons, which really had you guessing as to who was in the right and were morally pretty grey, or at least appeared to be as the story was unfolding.
 

Hawki

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Kaleion said:
The Expanse (Seasons 1 through 4)

It's a pretty good sci-fi show that despite having a sort-off generic set-up ends up feeling pretty fresh due to overall pretty well-written characters and surprisingly good political intrigue, the visual effects are also pretty well-done for a TV show,

I don't know what else to say it kinda gives me vibes of what would be a Cyberpunk world (Mostly due to the state of Earth & Ceres Station)
Um, really?

I've only seen the first two seasons, but I wouldn't associate either of those settings with cyberpunk, since both are well maintained (Eros could be called cyberpunk though). If anything, I was a bit perturbed by how season 2 handled Earth, since it depicts Earth being far more pleasant than how it's portrayed in the books. Granted, later seasons might have accounted for how this is a planet with 30 billion people, before...

The Free Navy bombards the planet with asteroids, leading to a death count of 15 billion.


I get that a lot of people might not like it especially since I can see them interpreting Holden as a Mary-Sue but considering how many mistakes he makes even if he's too idealistically nice they tend to have pretty severe consequences,
I've never seen anyone call Holden a Mary-Sue. TBH, that he makes so many mistakes in the first book/season is part of what made me initially dislike his character. He never learns from his mistakes, and the Sol system suffers for it. He does mellow out in later books though, though on the other hand, this arguably contributes to his Stu status as the personal attack dog of Avasarala.

I will add that so far the first season has been my favourite and while some of it may be attributed to it being the only season in which Miller is a main character, everything else has been worthwhile but the worldbuilding has severely declined in most recent seasons,
Of the two seasons I've seen, I liked season 2 more - flowed much better, and I was more invested in the characters. Though it's funny you mention worldbuilding, because I have a similar problem with the novels. The worldbuilding is its greatest strength, but the characters populating that world aren't that interesting. So by its nature, each book is going to get 'diminishing returns' for worldbuilding, so ergo, I've liked each book less than the one before it with the exception of Nemesis Games (reading book 6 right now).
 

Elfgore

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I finally sat down and watched Community. Though it never shined as bright as the Office or Parks & Rec online, I heard good things about it. There is some interesting and funny moments, but it's probably one of the weaker comedy series I've watched. The first season is rough, even parts of the second. By the time it really gets going, Chevy Chase and Donald Glover have peaced out. The replacement for one of them doesn't work at all with the rest of the cast. Don't see me finishing this one.

Ah well, onto New Girl.
 

Johnny Novgorod

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Jack Ryan (Season 1)

It's 24 with Michael Bay money. Now about the title character.

I love John Krasinski. In my limited view of who would make a good Jack Ryan, he should be the perfect casting. He hits all the checkpoints as Jim Halpert: smart, sensible, by-the-book and has a boy scout morality. He was the perfect foil to The Office's wackiness, and kept the humor anchored with a realness that made everything around him so much more cringey. And even though he's physically buffed up to action hero standards, I just find him severely miscast as Jack Ryan.

One of the problems is that there's nothing to the character of Jack Ryan. I read a review that compared him to walking curriculum vitae, which about sums it up. He's a collection of degrees and awesome attributes. Top of his class, rowboat champ, has a degree in economics (so he can get called Doctor Ryan), served as a marine, came back with some sexy scars and mystery PTSD, works as a wunderkind analyst for the CIA where his hunches always prove him right. He's just so bloody awesome at everything. He walks into a room and everybody marvels at him. He enters another country and he's immediately the center of attention.

He's essentially a male Mary Sue. But he's also a blank slate. If the actor brought anything to the table he might be able to sell it, but to me Krasinski is a big flatline in this. He's cold and morose and comes across as someone who just wants every scene to be over, either because he's too focused on looking good or too scared of getting out-performed by the rest of the cast (which he is, routinely). He has little to no screen presence. And I never got to know the character, so I never liked him.

Some parting thoughts:

* There's a weird and totally unconnected subplot involving a drone pilot and his guilty conscience that basically kidnaps the show for a couple of episodes in the middle. It takes some very weird turns but ends up going nowhere.

* Abbie Cornish plays "the girlfriend character", who of course has to get roped into the plot at the last second in the most improbable way but mostly just furnishes Ryan with almost mandatory romantic squabbling. She's good but the writing sucks. In one episode she wants to dial things back to casual with Ryan, the next she's angry because he isn't upfront about his work. What? Oh yeah, we're 3/4 of the way there, which is where you schedule couples fighting.

* The CIA investigates a terrorist cell in Paris for a large part of the show, and the French police is depicted as almost suicidally inept. I'm talking shoot-each-other level of stupid, which happens on separate occasions involving SWAT and the gendarmerie. Jesus. Lucky for them Ryan is tagging along.
 

Hawki

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Johnny Novgorod said:
One of the problems is that there's nothing to the character of Jack Ryan. I read a review that compared him to walking curriculum vitae, which about sums it up. He's a collection of degrees and awesome attributes. Top of his class, rowboat champ, has a degree in economics (so he can get called Doctor Ryan), served as a marine, came back with some sexy scars and mystery PTSD, works as a wunderkind analyst for the CIA where his hunches always prove him right. He's just so bloody awesome at everything. He walks into a room and everybody marvels at him. He enters another country and he's immediately the center of attention.

He's essentially a male Mary Sue.
Just wait until he becomes president. 0_0
 

Johnny Novgorod

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Hawki said:
Johnny Novgorod said:
One of the problems is that there's nothing to the character of Jack Ryan. I read a review that compared him to walking curriculum vitae, which about sums it up. He's a collection of degrees and awesome attributes. Top of his class, rowboat champ, has a degree in economics (so he can get called Doctor Ryan), served as a marine, came back with some sexy scars and mystery PTSD, works as a wunderkind analyst for the CIA where his hunches always prove him right. He's just so bloody awesome at everything. He walks into a room and everybody marvels at him. He enters another country and he's immediately the center of attention.

He's essentially a male Mary Sue.
Just wait until he becomes president. 0_0
And then kills Palpatine!
 

Hawki

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Johnny Novgorod said:
And then kills Palpatine!
I think that's meant to be a reference, but if so, I'm not getting it...
 

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Lego Masters (7/10)

TV competition show hosted by Will Arnett where 2-person teams compete against one another in Lego build-offs; they?re given a theme and have a certain number of hours to create something that ?tells a story? in that theme from scratch.

I love Legos and the idea of this show, and I?ve enjoyed it quite a bit so far, but it just doesn?t seem fair at times. The big thing lately has been late-game twists that fly in the face of some really impressive builds. Last night, the task was to build a city block with a focus on height. The teams had 14 hours, and they built their asses off making some really impressive stuff. It came down to the wire, and when they were done? they were tasked to make it look like their city was under attack by a giant monster, and were given only an additional 4 hours to do so. The change ruined some initially great builds. Alas, that?s is the nature of the show, but I?d rather they just get 18 hours to perfect a singular vision. I guess that doesn?t make for that stock ?reality show competition tension? that?s sold innumerable song/dance/talent shows for a couple decades?
 

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Castlevania S3 - 7/10

So, seems this series has adopted a formula where most the season runs at a slow pace spent on character development and setup for the final two episodes, which is where pretty much all the action is. Keeping things (almost) spoiler free, I'd say it works. The returning cast is fun of course. Trevor and Sypha are a couple now, and they're honestly adorable and I will henceforth call them Trepha. The new additions offer something new and interesting too, with my favorite being on the villainous side (as usual). Settings still very much crapsack, like, Berserk/Warhammer Fantasy levels of crapsack, despite the events of the last season. Women and children getting ripped and torn, and such. Makes it nicely cathartic when Trepha come to lay the smack down in the action scenes, which again don't disappoint.

Also, there's sex in this. Never very explicit, but sex is not something that immediately comes to mind when talking Castlevania, so it kind of stands out. Trepha are of course banging, tho never shown. Some other also get some action, including one MMF threesome that could ruffle the jimmies of the more god-fearing folks (and possibly already has). I mean, it shows boob and pubes, and for about 5 seconds even penis (albeit from a distance).
 

Johnny Novgorod

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Jack Ryan (Season 2)

Season 2 is more preposterous than before, but also more enjoyable.

It involves an entire pi?ata of plot points: an upcoming fraudulent election in Venezuela, the assassination of a US senator, a Chinese satellite, illegal tantalum mining, a shady British shell company, South African mercs, Venezuelan militia, a 4-man jungle Black Ops squad, a German hitman and a Russian spy, all of which makes up for a preposterous plot but somehow feels more focused and cohesive than season one's single-minded war on terror. Season one is essentially one big manhunt, but because it often introduced and sorted out plot points within the same breath it felt too episodical and lacking inertia. Season two circumvents this by setting up everything within the first couple of episodes, so the plot builds on that and feels more tightly wound.

There's also a fair share of retconning at the beginning that had me chuckling/eyerolling.


*Cathy has been fridged without even a mention, I guess because she was already improbably shoehorned into the terrorist plot of season 1 and you can't have her as anything other than wife-is-worried-back-home in season 2 as Jack spends most of it fucking about (literally!) in Venezuela. The Female is now played instead by Noomi Rapace.

*Season 1 ended on a happy note as Greer unexpectedly offered Ryan to team up with him in his Moscow post. That was meant to wrap up the Ryan-Greer arc on a positive note. Come season 2 the showrunners have decided they want them to start with the wrong foot again, because what else can you do with them? So they rewrote Greer's offer as an insult to Ryan.

*Ryan now has a bestie from his Marine days. He was never shown, mentioned or even alluded to in the previous season, which featured plenty of pertinent flashbacks yet showed Ryan as having a vacuous social life. That this guy shows up out of nowhere and keeps getting hailed for his friendship tells you that he's not gonna make it past the first episode.

Finally, about that Venezuelan election - I didn't buy any of it. I don't buy that a stand-in for Nicol?s Maduro would tolerate any public defiance for a second. I don't buy that any one opponent could rise to any prominence within a single year of campaigning. I don't buy that either of them would spend more than a few seconds a day without a 12-person entourage, or that either of them could or would do any of the things they do without delegating them. All of this felt too simplistic and naive, maybe because I'm a little too familiar with them.
 

Hawki

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Johnny Novgorod said:
Jack Ryan (Season 2)
IIRC, in the trailer, doesn't Jack say that Venezuela is more of a threat to the US than North Korea, Russia, or China? Is that in it? Because if so, then, well...
 

Johnny Novgorod

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Hawki said:
Johnny Novgorod said:
Jack Ryan (Season 2)
IIRC, in the trailer, doesn't Jack say that Venezuela is more of a threat to the US than North Korea, Russia, or China? Is that in it? Because if so, then, well...
Yup, first episode.
 

Dalisclock

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Chimpzy said:
Also, there's sex in this. Never very explicit, but sex is not something that immediately comes to mind when talking Castlevania, so it kind of stands out. Trepha are of course banging, tho never shown. Some other also get some action, including one MMF threesome that could ruffle the jimmies of the more god-fearing folks (and possibly already has). I mean, it shows boob and pubes, and for about 5 seconds even penis (albeit from a distance).
I get the feeling the God Fearing Folk have long since abandoned this show. If it wasn't the guy talking about fucking a goat in the first episode, it was surely the Demon telling off the Bishop near the end of Season 1. I have a friend who is Catholic who was quite offended by how bad the church comes across in season 1(you know, because the Medieval church was all sunshine and rainbows IRL and due to Castlevanias high level of historical accuracy) though he ended up enjoying Season 2 and 3 a lot more once the church was out of focus.

I'm only like halfway through the season(the new season happened to drop on a weekend I haven't been able to watch the show much, because I can't watch it when my 2 year old is awake) but I'm digging it. It's strangely philosophical in it's musing why the villians do what they do, particularly Hector and Issac, and I would have never thought that from this show before it aired. It's something I might have expected from Metal Gear(in between the Men covered in Bees, the Clone arm possesed Russian Cowboys, and She who breathes through her skin because fanservice) but not from Castlevania.

I know it's a small thing but can anyone place The Captains Accent in episode 2? I keep defaulting to it sounding like a Caribbean accent and I know I have be wrong there because that's not possible in this era, so I guess it's a North African Accent of sound kind?

Also, totally dug Alucards little mocking impressions of his companions at the beginning. Both sad and hilarious.