The third season focused primarily on the rebuilding of Laura and Carmilla's relationship, considering all that happened last season, this also includes Laura reevaluating the way she views the world and goes about things. And since this was the last season, it was about concluding what they had started since the beginning: stopping the Dean and saving not just Silas University, but the entire world, which we learn a lot more of her involvement and what everything has been about all along. There was a lot happening this season in that regard, and it made the grand finale of this webseries quite epic.
One of the things that stood out for me during this season was the high production quality. Not that the second season didn't have amazing production value either, but there was something much different with this one, there was a lot more involvement with effects and changing of scenery, the latter moreso for the last few episodes more than anything, which seemed appropriate given that it was the end of the webseries and they needed it to be more theatrical. But I'll get to that particular bit in a moment. Basically, I remember them saying that they first two seasons were in actual houses while for this season the library was actually a set that was built, and it was built beautifully. In fact, I think the library is probably my favorite locations of the entire series. We hear so much of the many locations on Silas and the bizarre, inexplicable phenomenons that occur in that universe, but due to the limitations and vlog-style of the webseries it's all left to our imaginations. So I was incredibly happy that the third season was centered with them in the library, which is sentient and mystical and unpredictable, but helpful. There was still much left to our imaginations as to what the library actually holds within (a door that can lead to pretty much anywhere and everywhere, including a massive room of attacking knives, a live volcano, and a cyberpunk dystopia world), but because of the production value it gave us so much more than I could have ever anticipated.
As for the story itself, it definitely felt like a conclusion of everything we've been building up towards over the course of the series, from the relationships of characters to the main plot. The revelation that the Dean is actually the Goddess Inanna, and that everything that has happened was all part of her plan of unleashing Hell on Earth because she wants to get her love back, something the other gods banished and punished her for centuries ago. Because of this, she became cold, hard and bitter, and for thousands of years started planning for what was to come. But what's interesting about that was how this all parallels to Carmilla and Laura, which is what makes the ending so beautifully done because it's about releasing Inanna from her confined punishment and along with making sure Carmilla doesn't end up in that same fate.
(Someone wrote a beautifully written post explaining and summarizing everything about the history of what happened to Inanna and what happened in the finale with Laura and Carmilla, something that I didn't quite catch the first time around and was slightly confused by, but reading the condensed version makes much more sense especially upon rewatching.)
The relationship between Laura and Carmilla was dealt with beautifully over the course of the series. For three seasons we see the development of their relationship at different stages: the first season was about the infatuation and realizing feelings about the other, the second season was testing the boundaries and trust which led to problems and personal conflicts, and the third season was about overcoming those obstacles and reestablishing their relationship. Carmilla was the first to say how she loved Laura in the second season, and the third season is where Laura says it back. We see how deep in love they are with one another, the lengths they are willing to do for the other, and just seeing their whole dynamic this season was beautifully done. The finale of the third act really brought out the heartfelt emotional moments, and in the end they end up more than okay. Laura is alive, and Carmilla was made human, and they can now live their lives happily together. Which the importance of this is incredibly profound because when you consider the lack of respect mainstream media has for LGBT characters and relationships, this is such a massive blessing that both of them come out of the series alive and happy. Not only that, but they were given a fully explored and developed relationship. Not that I doubted the creators of ever giving us that, but it's still a relief seeing something like this in a time when the Bury Your Gays trope is still an unfortunate common occurrence.
Things I liked about the season:
** Carmilla and LaFontaine working together was such an interesting dynamic that I really enjoyed. We hardly saw Carmilla interacting with anyone else in the series unless it was Laura, Mattie, or all the characters in a group setting. So it was a pleasant surprise, but not unexpected, that Carmilla would be working and interacting a lot with someone who wasn't Laura, considering that Laura was, for a brief time, not partaking in any investigative research. I really want to hear more of their conversations, their planning and research moments, more of their little bickering session they had about what to do with the Dean.
** Meeting Laura's father, who was portrayed by the one and only Enrico Colantoni, which is perfectly fitting when you consider the Veronica Mars references in the series, including calling Laura Lauranica Mars. Throughout the series we've heard about her father, particularly his overprotective nature, a here we get to finally see him. But his helicopter parenting isn't as exaggerated as some would have thought to be; he does go overboard with wanting to protect her from the dangers of the world (even with the most smallest things) but his fears come from a real place. He acknowledges that Laura has always been strong-willed, stubborn and determined to Do The Right Thing even if it meant putting herself at risk to save someone else. And considering everything Laura has been dealing with at Silas, any parent would be concerned for their child's safety. But his appearance on the series, even for a brief number of episodes, was to accept that she's an adult now and that he cannot protect her from everything. She has to make mistakes, she has to live life, otherwise how can she survive the outside world without those experiences and hardships? And I think him seeing Laura in her element really made that reality clear to him. When he decided to leave, it was him accepting that he needed to let her go. It was hard, to but it was a necessary thing to do. Same with Laura, with her letting her father go. It was such a beautiful arc that I loved in this season. I also loved his nonchalant attitude with all the magical/mystical elements (he did have an adjustment period that we didn't see before getting to the library, after all), his wonderful reaction to LaFontaine's genderqueer identity, and his interaction with Carmilla was a nice development. I just loved Papa Hollis, and I'm sad that he didn't have more episodes, but the ones he was in were gold. Although, I'm curious about what happened with Laura's mother, since it was never explained.
** The music cues used in this season were outstanding, like my god. We've had some music in the previous two seasons, but never instrumental ones during pivotal moments. It added to the ambience of particular scenes.
** All the Harry Potter and Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Firefly references. ♥
** The fact that we heard from Betty was rather unexpected and a pleasant surprise.
** Annie Briggs was phenomenal as the Dean/Inanna. I mean seriously, I loved her as Perry but she really ups everything in her performance as the Dean. The way she speaks, it is completely and totally different, so chilling, and just everything she does with this role was perfection.
** Alternative Carmilla Universe. That was practically the best thing to ever happen. I mean, it was depressing and sad, especially Alt!Carmilla who was basically a broken shell when Alt!Laura died, and was such a clingy puppy when we see our Laura there. But still, just the possibilities of the "what if" in terms of scenarios, if things had been done differently, if something else happened in the timeline, how everything could have been altered drastically, from the fates of characters to how they would end up. It was brilliant.
** I mentioned that the grand finale was basically a huge theatrical production, and it truly was. It was at a different location, the filming technique was also different (not from Laura's laptop but with a camera that Kirsch was holding to document what was happening), and just the acting was so damn good, it was heavily emotional and raw and powerful. Even though I knew that everything would be okay, just the performance level from everyone was so amazing. Natasha especially gave me chills with the way she delivered her lines, demonstrating how desperate Carmilla was. We've always known that Carmilla loves Laura, but seeing how much in this way made it so much more heartbreaking and heartwarming at the same time.
** Carmilla becoming human. Now I was briefly saddened that she would no longer be a vampire, because I really liked that perk, but then I realized that it doesn't matter. Carmilla being a vampire was something the Dean did to her to further her plans, it was her curse, her burden, a punishment that would only end with heartbreak and despair. Inanna giving her back her mortality was lifting that curse, so she and Laura could finally be together for as long as they lived. It's truly beautiful and poetic and Carmilla deserves all that happiness in the world after centuries of darkness and heartache.
** The end credits. We see the actual Silas University yard as Laura and Carmilla climb out from the pit and start walking away together. ♥
Things I didn't really liked:
** Of course, even with a fantastic season/series there are going to be some downsides and criticisms. My biggest problem from this season was how the rest of the characters ended up getting underused or having no resolutions to their stories. We see Danny as a vampire, becoming one of the Dean's minions, but she didn't have much of a conclusion of her story. I felt like there was more to be told with her, since she was practically brainwashed by the Dean to think that everyone didn't care about her. Even when she brought Kirsch back in the end she felt like her previous heroism and her death was unacknowledged when it clearly was in the previous season. And then she just left. We had no other word about whether she survived or not. Her story felt unfinished. J.P.'s death was self-sacrificing since he was helping Laura and the rest of them, so it wasn't for naught, but at the same time I kinda wished that there was something more for him. I also wanted more with LaFontaine and Perry, at least once when Perry was returned after being possessed by a god. I don't know, I felt like even though we got a lot, there were still things left unresolved with other characters and I kinda wanted there to be a final finish with them after everything that had gone down.
The Final Season Overall: Fantastic. Utterly fantastic. I liked that it was separated into three acts, all which were released at different points so we could have time to catch up and digest everything we watched, which makes it much easier than releasing a couple of episodes every so often. Each act in themselves was a journey, as well. The acting was phenomenal, the comedic timing was impeccable, a good mixture of the humor and the dramatic moments was well done. The final season gave a proper way of concluding the story they were telling from the start. We see Laura learning and growing from her mistakes, we see the relationship between Laura and Carmilla develop even more, finally in the established way and moving forward.
The Series Overview: As a medium, web content hardly gets taken seriously or praised for how innovative it can be for storytelling without much of the restrictions traditional media has. Carmilla started off as a mere webseries that reimagined a 1871 Gothic novella and gave it a modernized twist, not only celebrating women's sexuality with a positive lesbian romance and other LGBT factors, but also a compelling story within a fascinating universe. Even though most wished we had more seasons, I believe three seasons was enough to tell the story they wanted to tell. It gave us a proper beginning, middle and end, amazing development of characters and a satisfactory conclusion. Ever since The Guild, I don't think I have been this immersed in a webseries as I have with Carmilla. It exceeded all my expectations when I first got introduced to it during its first season, and even though it's bittersweet that the series ended it made such a beautiful, touching story with a good, happy ending. I am impressed and pleased.
And probably the most exciting news that was announced recently at NYCC, they're officially making a Carmilla movie! It is set to premiere sometime later in 2017. So the series may be over, but the story itself isn't quite finished yet. To have something additional to everything, it makes me absolutely happy.