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Hazbin Hotel crafted TV’s best villain ever

Alastor in Hazbin Hotel, which crafted TV's best villain ever

Despite its Disney-esque soundtrack and cute, cartoon feel, Hazbin Hotel has crafted one of TV’s best ever villains in the deliciously devilish Alastor.

When I went to see Spider-Man in the cinema as a small, doe-eyed six-year-old, I cried my eyes out the moment Willem Defoe’s Green Goblin met his grisly demise. My parents were urging me to be sad for Spidey, whose saga of strife is the primary thrust of the film, but no – the Green Goblin was my hero, and Spidey the diabolical villain. Ever since then, my sympathies have always leaned towards the antagonist; in video games I’ve empathized with Diablo 4’s Lilith and World of Warcraft’s Sylvanas Windrunner, and in film I’ve always appreciated the sheer might of the best villains ever – The Lord of the Rings’ Sauron, for example. Yet, TV has never quite managed to produce an antagonist that I’ve fallen head over heels in love with – until Hazbin Hotel’sAlastorstrutted onto the scene, smile flashing, oozing malice.   

For those who haven’t heard of Prime Video’s latest triumph (it currently holds the record for the largest global debut for a new animated series), Hazbin Hotel is the story of Charlie Morningstar (Erika Henningsen), the daughter of Lucifer Morningstar (Jeremy Jordan), ruler of hell. Her quest is to rehabilitate sinners in a dilapidated, 1920s-esque hotel that screams Disney’s Twilight Zone Tower of Terror, in turn helping them ascend to the pearly gates and, in turn, to heaven. As you can likely imagine, that’s not going very well for her.

She has a merry band of misfits by her side in the form of adult film star Angel Dust (Blake Roman), her long-suffering partner Vaggy (Stephanie Beatriz), as well as the hotel’s somewhat dysfunctional staff, including self-professed gambling addict Husk (Keith David) and the only vaguely terrifying Nifty (Kimiko Glenn). Yet, of all her allies, it’s Alastor (Amir Talai), the red-clad Radio Demon that has won the hearts of many oh so many. 

His voice is laced with static, reflecting that big, bold 1920s feel, and through a mass of red hair sprouts small deer-like antlers and huge black and red ears. What’s vaguely disconcerting, however, is the fact that he’s always wearing a wide, yellow-toothed grin – even as he brutally murders a squad of unfortunate loan sharks who just so happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time. TLDR: Alastor just gives you the creeps.

Hazbin Hotel Pilot (Vivziepop)

And yet, across our eight-episode journey, you’re left with this conflicting sense that, somehow, he’s the good guy. He helps Charlie with the angels, he rebuilds the hotel anytime someone blows up that one wall, and he’s slowly but surely managed to integrate with the hotel’s residents. In the final episode, we see him chat to Nifty ahead of the battle against Adam, stating “it’s been a surprising thrill to witness these wayward souls find connection, almost makes one sentimental, eh Nifty?” Following her revelation that she gets to “put on cockroach puppet shows” without negative feedback, he replies “an enjoyable collective to be around, I admit one could get accustomed.”

It’s a wholesome little moment that has left us all thinking “wait, is he actually looking for redemption all along?” Is Alastor the good guy our hearts silently hope he is all along? Looks like you – like me – have fallen for the Radio Demon’s plotting.

Alastor and Niffty are in their feelings (Prime Video)

Despite that cute little moment between genuine psychopaths, there’s strands throughout the final episodes that clearly mark Alastor as a continued threat. In ‘Hello Rosie,’ during the horrendously catchy ‘Ready for This’ he and the titular cannibal sing “like her daddy, she is madly powerful.” Alastor responds with “she’s filled with potential that I could guide,” with the segment ending “stick with her, you’ll be on the winning side.” 

It’s a thread that continues in ‘The Show Must Go On,’ where, following the events with Adam, he sings “I’m hungry for freedom like never before / Once I figure out how to unclip my wings / Guess who will be pulling all the strings.” While the others mourn the loss of the hotel and their scaly friend, Sir Pentious, Alastor’s mind is on power – and how to get it. Hazbin Hotel is an afterthought; a means to a potentially disastrous end. Some things, my friends, never change. 

Not only has Alastor duped Charlie and (most) of her friends, he’s duped us as an audience. There are flickers of a ‘good guy’ –  the “Alastor altruist that died for his friends” – but it’s all an elaborate facade. To quote him, “that’s not where this ends.”

Yet I’ve fallen for it, you’ve fallen for it; we’re still convinced that, somehow, Alastor is still the good guy. We’re rooting for him, we want him to get that power, no matter the cost and what he does with it. For the first time in my life, I’m ready to admit that there’s a TV villain that I am genuinely rooting for in the same way as Sylvanas and Lilith – in fact, maybe even more so.

Alastor in Hazbin Hotel, which crafted TV's best villain ever
Alastor in Hazbin Hotel, which crafted TV’s best villain ever – a still from the series (Amazon MGM Studios)

It’s a testament to Hazbin Hotel’s already stellar writing – as if the songs weren’t catchy enough. From day one of Hazbin Hotel – a long five years ago – we’ve known Alastor is bad, and we still know he’s bad, yet we trust him anyway. In a show about being redeemed, Alastor embodies the unredeemable. He’s Charlie’s antithesis, and will likely be the one thing that brings her dreams crashing down in tatters despite his outward attempts to elevate them. We should hate him, yet he and, by proxy, the writing team, have somehow convinced us to love him. 

If he does become the big endgame boss that Charlie has to face off with, who will we be rooting for – our lovable protagonist, or her enemy? It should be the former, yet I feel like, for many, it’d be the latter. Alastor’s very presence changes the dynamic of the show, but not in the way Suicide Squad or other movies do. Where Harley and co become lovable anti-heroes for a few hours, Alastor is a villain through and through, and Hazbin Hotel isn’t hiding it for convenience. 

I don’t know what he’s going to do next, and that’s why I’m so desperate to see more of him. It’s why I’m so desperate for season two. Hazbin Hotel has crafted the perfect villain in Alastor – one who is so blatantly amoral, yet somehow still likeable. 

Perhaps my fascination with him says a little too much about my psyche, but then again, when I was six years old I was crying over the Green Goblin. Fast forward twenty-something years, and now I’m crying over something that’s much, much worse – and, you guessed it, I’m okay with it – just don’t tell my parents.

Hazbin Hotel is now available to watch on Prime Video.

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