We jump right back into our recap of the first Act of the web series Carmilla. If you missed the first recap you can catch that here.
Episode 7 - By the Book
LaFontaine has taken over the camera, greeting Laura’s viewers with an update on their efforts to save Perry from the Dean’s body-napping. However, they’re quick to express their distress over Laura and Carmilla’s lack of concentration on finding the Dean. Why is Hollstein so distracted? They’re too wrapped up in unrequited squishy feelings for each other.
Ever the good scientist, LaF proves their hypothesis with a series of three clips. In the first, Carmilla is distracted from research by a sleeping Laura and reaches out to softly touch Laura’s hair. When LaF calls Carmilla on it, Carmilla gives the excuse that there were cobwebs. Sure, Carm.
The second moment is Laura and Carmilla meeting at the shower. After an awkward conversation about who is going to shower first to get ‘soapy and naked’, Laura panics and shouts the best line to date, “I bathe soapless and with my clothes on!” before scampering away.
Oh my sweet summer child.
Finally, their third moment of evidence for Hollstein’s lack of focus features Laura doing yoga while Carmilla and LaF try to work something out on the mystery board. Carmilla gets distracted by Laura in a, um, compromising position and drops the glasses. Then she steps on them, totally caught up in Laura.
The gay hit Carmilla pretty hard there.
When we zoom back to real time, LaF is working hard while Laura gives Carmilla some hot cocoa. ‘Accidental’ shoulder bumping ensues, almost ruining the book of lives. At this point, one almost has to feel sorry for LaF as they’ve effectively been stuck in the world’s worst team project group. Fitting for a university I suppose.
We’d probably feel sorrier for them if we weren’t caught up in cute Hollstein moments. But LaF has no interest in cute Hollstein moments and finally calls them out on their lack of focus, ordering them to sort their feelings out before storming out of the room.
So Laura decides to go for it.
Thank you LaF.
Laura opens by acknowledging that there are feelings that they have for each other but that it’s also really complicated for a number of reasons and would never work out. Her conclusion? They should try to be friends.
Oh Laura. She’s trying so hard. Carmilla gives the same reaction that the audience is having, a half smile and a disbelieving tone at the naive proposal. Still, Carmilla gives it to her and accepts her new title as ‘friend’. She takes the cocoa mug that Laura offers and goes to put it on the desk, suddenly noticing that Mattie’s locket is missing. Before we can get to the point where they realize someone took it, the Dean pops back in on the Silas ethernet for a personal chat to make sure that Carmilla got her message.
Incredible timing that woman.
Carmilla gives her mother some sarcasm and informs her that an ‘impromptu journalist roast’ wasn’t quite enough to convince her that they’d be safe taking the Dean’s truce. Chillingly, the Dean says that Carmilla missed the actual points to which Carmilla glosses it over it with more sarcasm.
Maybe not such a good idea when she’s got a tiny journalist of her own right next to her for potential roasting. Just saying.
The sarcasm continues as Carmilla mocks her mother for being unable to break into the library during the attack in episodes three and four, but again the Dean questions if that’s truly what happens. Laura begins to shiver as the Dean mentions that opening a book of prophecies is like sending up a flair for her to find. She then claims that she hasn’t attacked them because watching them grapple with real prophecy is amusing.
In a totally not bone-chilling moment, she asks what Carmilla would do if she found her own doom or Laura’s doom in the book. To which I say no. No thank you. No doom.
There’s no time to dwell on it as ice begins to form on the camera screen in the library. The Dean asks if someone left a door open and the next thing we know, Danny’s voice is asking to ‘borrow a book’.
Episode 8 - All the Rage
The Danny we knew is nowhere to be found. Not only does she waltz into view with dark brown hair and ripped black jeans but, when Laura runs to hug Danny, Carmilla quickly pulls her back because Danny doesn’t have a heartbeat.
Danny Lawrence. Vampire.
It’s easy to hear Laura’s regret as she tries to start an apology but Danny cuts her off immediately. She has more cutting words to say. In a tone more sadistic than any we’ve heard before, she starts by accusing Laura of surrendering the campus that Danny died for before her body was even cold. All to save Carmilla.
Not pulling any punches there. Not telling any lies either.
The ever calm Theo has come with our newest vampire and he uses his swarmy charm to tell Laura and Carmilla that the Book of Lives is the property of Corvae. He demands they hand it over or they’ll take it by force.
Carmilla just laughs and tells him that she can rip out his spleen. She barely finishes the sentence before Danny has Carmilla around the neck in a way reminiscent from season one. Clearly struggling, Carmilla can’t rip Danny’s hand free. Fortunately, Danny lets her go as Theo keeps talking and Danny moves to take the book. Laura tries to appeal to Danny’s better nature but it’s to no good.
Danny Lawrence isn’t upset about being a vampire. She calls it the best thing that’s ever happened to her and starts circling Laura and the book with only Carmilla standing in between them. She again accuses Laura of not caring for anyone but Carmilla.
Carmilla cuts in. She sits down almost casually, dropping her protective stance. She starts with the usual sarcasm but quickly drops into something that reeks of sympathy as she warns Danny that eternity is a long time to live with mistakes.
Danny laughs her off, breaking into a faux sympathetic tone at how pathetic Carmilla is now. The Dean has clearly been telling Danny stories about the former greatness of Carmilla because Danny talks of how Carmilla was once terrifying only to have turned into this fangless girl.
The vampire in love.
Love has always been a buzzword for Laura and she leaps up, exclaiming that she and Carmilla are just friends. Even in intense threatening scenes, there’s always time for an awkward Hollstein moment!
Danny’s grin is twisted as she grabs Laura and pulls her close. She offers Carmilla a deal: Laura for the book. A friend for the talisman. Carmilla stands, book in hand and walks towards Danny and Theo. Even when caught in Danny’s arms, Laura is shaking her head and telling Carmilla not to make the trade.
Carmilla doesn’t make the trade.
At the last second, she pulls the book away and leaves everyone from characters to viewers surprised.
Laura’s face falls for just a moment.
Danny goes in to take a bite from our cub reporter but suddenly the magical library door slams open and a man bursts into the room. He shouts, “Get away from my daughter” and sprays something in Danny and Theo’s face.
Well would you look at that. Deus ex Papa Hollis (Enrico Colantoni). I bet that’s bear spray.
Episode 9 - Meet the Parent
It’s bear spray. As Danny and Theo scream, Carmilla pushes them out the magical door and slams it behind them. She then lurks off to the side as Laura and her father start with a hug that quickly turns into him checking her neck for any vampire bites. Apparently satisfied, he lets her go. Naturally, Laura has questions.
She just wants to know how he got to the library.
Papa Hollis then proceeds to launch into the dad-est retelling of a story that I’ve ever heard, complete with rambling side plots, safety concerns, and complaints about the price of university tuition. It’s not hard to see where Laura gets her motor mouth from. Somewhere in this laugh out loud mess of a story, he reveals that he’s seen at least some of Laura’s videos.
Cue Laura’s slight moment of panic and vague excuses for everything from vampire bites to dean possession.
With a deep breath, he continues. Apparently he was rescued by a giant and they ran into the Styrian villagers from the Christmas special. Eventually, he got onto campus and heard Laura’s voice behind a door.
BOOM. Papa Hollis to the rescue.
All Laura can focus on is the fact that her dad has seen her videos. LaF bursts down the stairs and Papa Hollis almost busts a rib trying to get between Laura and the intruder. However, once LaF is deemed to not be a threat the two quickly have a conversation about pronoun choice. This doesn’t even phase Laura’s dad. He’s seen vampires and giants; pronouns, he can handle.
LaF and Carmilla leave so that Laura and her father can have a private chat. It quickly devolves into Papa’s Hollis’s mistrust of Carmilla for being a murderous vampire. While Laura tries to defend her, Papa Hollis reminds Laura that Laura’s life wouldn’t have needed saving if Carmilla wasn’t in it.
There’s a wonderful bit of dialogue where the show cleverly slips in the word ‘lesbian’ in relation to Laura while poking fun at the fact that it’s never explicitly used the word over 2.5 seasons.
The argue a little further on whether Carmilla deserves Laura but it quickly dissolves when Laura reveals that they’re no longer together. As an attempt to extend an olive branch, Papa Hollis gives his permission for Carmilla to come with them when they escape the campus.
Laura’s confused at his words. Papa Hollis’ next words are clear. He’s taking Laura home.
Episode 10 - Crossroads
Papa Hollis is on a quest to find a healthy vending machine. I salute you sir.
Meanwhile, Laura has apparently spent the rest of the day moping because when we come back, LaF is calling Laura out on her despondency. She quickly confesses that her father wants to take her home. LaF is unsurprised but assumes that Laura is going to stay anyway.
Laura isn’t so sure.
The more Laura talks, the more concerned LaF looks and they make the case that they all need to save Perry, JP, the students and keep the Dean from opening the gates of hell. They don’t know how Laura can even think about leaving.
Laura thinks she’ll just make everything worse again. LaF disagrees, giving a poignant punch where they remind Laura that is she hadn’t gotten involved then LaF would be Anglerfish food. The library trio is all the school has left and if they leave, then it’s over. The Dean wins.
We cut away to an empty, dark Silas library.
Mattie's back as she teleports in quickly finds a jar of blood, grins and starts drawing symbols on the mystery board. What is up with this girl? She couldn’t just pop in and say, “Hello. Not dead so Hollstein can stop angsting. Want help with our evil mother?” Instead, she just lurks around and leaves bloody symbols?
Probably has to keep her air of mystery or something.
Cut back to Laura and LaF staring at the blood symbol covered mystery board. They’re both rightfully concerned at the sudden symbols but Carmilla is no place to help them. She stomps in, Papa Hollis hot on her heels and the two continue their argument as though Laura and LaF aren’t even there.
Papa Hollis has apparently been trying to give the 300-year-old vampire life lessons. Which is cute but probably hazardous to his health. He’s still caught up on Carmilla biting Laura’s neck despite Carmilla’s frustrated reminder that she had to do it to save both their lives.
If Carmilla didn’t love Laura so much, his spleen would probably be in grave danger.
Then he spills the beans that he wants Laura to go home. Back in the role of facilitating, Laura tries to calm the pair by asking her Dad to hang out with LaF while Laura talks to Carm. Papa Hollis agrees but not without one last word. He accuses Carmilla of being too blase with violence and talks of his fears for Laura’s death. The image of Laura’s bleeding neck. The image of her bleeding and never getting up because of Silas.
Carmilla’s confrontational attitude flickers with uncomfort as he paints the image of Laura’s death for her. Seems like Laura’s not the only one with some fears about the death of her ‘friend’.
Cue another dramatic Hollstein conversation. This time about Laura leaving. While Laura’s dad wants to take her home, Laura still isn’t sure what she wants. In every sense of the phrase. The thought of going home where no-one wants to kill her is appealing but she doesn’t know how to forgive herself for leaving the campus. Leaving Carmilla.
In a mirror of Laura’s words in season two, Carmilla asks, “What do you want me to say?”
So Laura asks for Carmilla’s advice. Even as our eyes roll back into our heads when Laura calls Carmilla her ‘friend’, for the first time we see Laura ask what Carmilla thinks she should do about something.
A clearly conflicted Carmilla softly replies, “You should go.”
Carm. Your feelings are showing again.
Laura’s face falls.
Yet again before a Hollstein conversation can go further, the Dean’s voice cuts in. This time, it’s just her voice. No video. Laura and Carmilla are confused for a moment, looking around, when something does flicker up onscreen.
Episode 11 - What Fresh Intel is This
There’s no one more excited about this development than LaF. They run down the stairs, stutter through a hello and ask what happened. It’s not a pretty story. JP’s voice has taken on a computer quality as he explains that he was ambushed and tasered by Corvae and is now trapped somewhere dark with chains and pain.
He doesn’t let us dwell on this.
JP has managed to tap into surveillance equipment in the Dean’s office and broadcast her conversation straight to our library trio. He quickly starts the feed. For once, it’s not Carmilla getting chewed out by Mama Dean dearest.
It’s Danny and Theo’s turn to hear the wrath of Mama Dean. After another period one-liner, the Dean falls to the typical villain trope and explains her evil plan. Open the gates and it’s the Dean’s world. No more people. Except for those the Dean keeps as slaves. Let’s not get too crazy here and kill all of the potential workforce.
She also reveals that the only obstacle to her plan is Carmilla and her ‘doomed little paramore’ and the talismans. Clearly someone missed the ‘we’re just friends’ speech.
Then our missing frat bro pops in and that’s suddenly the only thing that matters. Kirsch is alive! He’s apparently in the Dean’s office with the evil conglomerate. He chimes in to ask Danny if, despite her ‘dark side thing’, hell on earth might be a little much.
D-Bear threatens to eat him. Kirsch asks for a hamburger.
The feed from JP finishes. They reaffirm that the Dean opening the gates means that they all die and then JP starts to flicker out. LaF tries to get any information from him on how to find and save him but JP doesn’t seem to think that they can save him. He promises to get back in touch when he can. Then disappears.
With hell on earth arriving quickly, Carmilla uses this moment to tell Laura that she and her Dad really need to go. Tiny Hollis agrees, stepping back to hug herself and saying, “What good could I do?”
Someone please give Laura a hug. Right now.
When we come back, Carmilla and LaF are back to their brOTP researching ways. Interestingly, Carmilla hasn't translated the bloody Sumerian symbols. All LaF has found is that they’re in the book of lives in relation to the second talisman. They try to use the glasses that Carmilla broke while staring at yoga-Laura but all they can get is “put away your toys.”
Way to break the magical glasses with your overwhelming gay, Carm.
More tragically, Laura is packed up and ready to go.
She starts to say goodbye but LaF gets awkward, just listing a bunch of things that still have to do. With clear resentment, they just tell her to enjoy her life and leave. This gives us more awkward Hollstein. Laura explains that their plan to leave is with Papa Hollis’ new giant friend and tells Carmilla that she could still come with them. She tries to paint a picture where the Dean doesn’t hunt Carmilla down but Carmilla quickly reminds her that hell on earth wouldn’t be confined to Silas. Hollstein is splitting up.
Laura just says that she didn’t imagine it ending like this. Me neither, Laura.
Except, Laura Hollis is Laura Hollis and starts launching into a speech on how she always imagined graduating, getting a crappy job and going to comic con with the girl she loved. After another awkward moment around the word ‘love’, this quickly turns into a speech of long-forgotten but achingly familiar moment of Hollis righteous anger. How dare the Dean take her dreams away from her.
Carmilla is watching this speech silently as Papa Hollis lurks in the background. Her only comment comes in another callback to season two when she asks Laura if she even cares. After all, Laura’s going home.
Cue Hollis speech 2.0. Laura can’t go home because hell on earth isn’t going to stop at the door of her bedroom. Her Dad is willing to try. This has Laura turning to him and saying that if the Dean is trying to end the world then she’s not safe anywhere. Not safe on the sidelines. She’ll only be safe if the Dean is gone.
Carmilla’s face cracks the smallest smile before it vanishes.
Her Dad tries again but Laura just points to her face and tells him to look at it. This is clearly her determined face. She’s not going anywhere. Her Dad agrees to put the conversation on hold but then points to his own face, reminding her that he has faces too.
Papa Hollis and Tiny Hollis everyone. Everything we wanted.
Carmilla isn’t even bothering to hold back her smile anymore. She leans back in her chair and looks almost gleeful as she asks Laura what her new plan is.
Episode 12 - Memory Lane
Praise the Anglerfish! We open with our Laura Hollis back in full form, sitting determinedly in front of her camera with a button-up shirt and recapping everything that’s happened in the first 11 episodes to all of Silas. The Laura Hollis investigative vlogs are back.
We do learn that the Dean now has four gates open.
Although still asking for magic wands and death star blueprints, this Laura has the weight of experience on her. Less overly-enthusiastic and more grounded, she asks the world for help and promises to update if she can. It’s our Laura Hollis but with the weight of her history behind her. She’s ‘a realist now’.
A fact that pleases her father. The dadiest Dad is here to establish some amazing ground rules. The first is logical, no more secrets. The second is that she can’t gallivant off on dangerous missions. Laura is a little less sure on this one. His third is that all plans must be run by him first.
For safety assessment. So that he can determine what safety gear is necessary.
Laura just shouts that she’s not “wearing a bio-hazard suit again” and stomps out. To which I say, that’s a story I’d like to hear.
Carmilla attempts to follow her and avoid being in a room alone with Papa Hollis but he starts talking to her before she can. He expresses a desire to lock is daughter, not in a tower, but at least in something with really high walls.
After a moment, Carmilla suggests they add a moat. Papa Hollis then considers a man-eating dragon to guard it but Carmilla reminds him that Laura has too much of a knack for trouble for that. He gets this exasperated look and mentions that once Laura tried to rally her kindergarten class against the evils of princess culture.
Pick my jaw off the floor. The over-protective Dad and the vampire ex-girlfriend are bonding.
He asks Carmilla why she got Laura to stay instead of letting her come home. Carmilla looks offended and quickly informs him that if Laura was listening to Carmilla, Laura would be on her way home.
Cue shocked Papa Hollis.
Carmilla gets a thank you.
Despite evil Deans and hell on earth, it’s apparently never a bad time to ask your ex’s father about her embarrassing moments. Carmilla asks for clarification on the kindergarten uprising story. Papa Hollis laughs.
When we cut back, he and Carmilla are sitting in chairs like a pair of old friends. He’s telling ‘adorable Laura stories’ while Carmilla sips blood from a waterbottle and looks at the pictures that Papa Hollis has pulled out of his wallet to show her.
Apparently Laura cracked a candygram embezzlement case in grade four.
The moment Laura discovers what’s happening she immediately goes full embarrassment and gets her dad out of there. Carmilla’s just giggling at Laura’s mortification. This lighthearted moment quickly takes a turn into Carmilla’s backstory as we learn her father only ‘saw her as an inconvenience until she was old enough to be traded as chattel.”
I now need ultimate-Dad Papa Hollis to adopt Carmilla as quickly as possible.
Laura apologizes even as Carmilla tells her not to bother. However, Laura insists she does because they’re ‘friends now’.
Carmilla agrees in a tone that indicates anything but agreement with this term. Laura uses this friends moment to tell Carmilla that she was hurt that Carmilla told her that she should leave. Carmilla insists that this was to keep Laura safe and that being safe has been all Laura wanted the entire time that they’ve been in the library.
This opens the door for Hollstein gets their bicker on and it’s beautiful. They’re sitting close to the camera, facing each other. Carmilla calls out Laura on not being an actual realist. Laura insists she is. Carmilla scoffs. Laura scoots closer. Carmilla says that Laura’s lying to herself. Laura says it's better than being… She trails off.
Carmilla asks Laura what she was going to say. Both girls on the edges of their chairs.
Laura says smug.
Carmilla calls her hypocritical.
The names go back and forth. Superior. Delusional. Condescending. Tightly-wound. With each word Laura and Carmilla move closer to each other until they’re barely a breath apart. Laura’s flailing hands so close to Carmilla’s face.
Come on Hollstein. Come on. You got this.
Narcissistic. Prissy. Uncaring. Nerdy. Nihilistics.
The viewers fist-pump the sky and squeal.
This isn’t the tearful tender kisses we saw at the end of season two. This is more, ‘I’m going to devour your face’ type kissing. After a moment, they break apart to just look at each other. Carmilla’s hands still twisted in Laura’s hair. Almost waiting.
It’s Laura who moves back in for something softer.
Hollstein is kissing. Everything is good with the world.
So something has to happen. The only surprise is that's not LaFontaine bursting into the room, instead the phone rings.
Laura answers it while Carmilla takes a moment to touch her lips. Don’t think we don’t see that smile behind your hand, you smitten vampire.
The biggest surprise is who is on the other end of the phone. Betty (Grace Glowicki). Laura’s missing roommate from season one who is now at Princeton and apparently full of sass. Just so much. She’s got the translation of the mysterious bloody symbols on their mystery board.
They mean shepherd and sword.
The second talisman is the Sword of Hastur. The one that almost killed Carmilla. The one dropped in the Anglerfish pit.
Well that’s not good.
Episodes 7 - 12 really took us for a ride and doesn’t show any sign of letting up. We’ve got Laura Hollis back on the case, albeit with a strong dose of ‘realism’ and some baggage. We met Laura’s father and he’s The Ultimate Dad. Carmilla has even managed to survive her ‘meet the parents’ experience intact. LaF is still working hard at their research but they’ve managed to confirm that JP is alive, albeit chained up and plugged into the ethernet. We finally saw Danny and she’s gone full on vampire. Theo is still swarmy. The Dean is going to unleash hell on earth and we have no way of knowing if Perry’s swimming around in her head.
Kirsch is alive at least. Betty’s back and sassy.
Plus don’t forget, Mattie is still doing her lurker thing and leaving creepy blood symbols around.
Four gates are open. One talisman found. Two identified.
An infinite use of the word ‘friends’. Multiple moments of awkward Hollstein. One long kiss. Adorable small Laura photos and stories for Carmilla to enjoy.
Basically, my emotions are in the blender and we’re not even through Act I yet.