Dracula: Nearing the End

With only one more episode of Dracula left, which aired in the UK a few nights ago, let’s catch up on my TrekBBS posts on the series. (For those catching up, previous posts on Dracula are here (episodes 1 and 2) and here (episodes 4 through 7).

From January 11th, on episode 8, “Come to Die”:

I had strangely mixed feelings about last night’s episode. There were points where I was terribly disengaged by it, and parts where I was all, “Whoa.” It was very schizophrenic in that regard.

Part of what left me disengaged was Grayson losing — shunned by Harker, spurned by Mina, manipulated by Van Helsing, tossed out by Lady Jayne. (Yet, the look on Dracula’s face when Mina told him off was priceless; JRM conveys so much in the way his face falls.) Much of it, especially the scene with Lady Jayne, felt arbitrary and devoid of feeling.

The discovery of Dracula’s name, of course, is important. (I wondered how the fledgling vampires would have known that Dracula could walk in the sunlight, though.) Browning’s story about how Dracula was created was interesting, and we finally have an explanation for why Dracula is fighting an organization with whom he shares a name. I expect next week’s cliffhanger will be Lady Jayne’s realization that Alexander Grayson is Dracula.

Renfield continues to prove himself as the most important person in Dracula’s life. From laying it out for Dracula on the subject of Mina to actually resorting to physical violence to keep Dracula from doing something rash, he’s the glue that holds Dracula’s operation together.

I’m assuming that it was Van Helsing that moved against Browning. I have to admit it was disconcerting to see Browning share a quiet and joyous familial moment. This is a man who has no difficulty murdering people, and here we see him singing with his children.

In the last few weeks I’ve begun to entertain the idea that Van Helsing actually has a cure for Dracula’s vampirism (ever since it came up, actually), and I think it’s in the bottle that Mina stole last night. I know it’s unlikely, but I can see a conclusion where the Order is destroyed, Van Helsing gets his revenge, Dracula gets cured, and he and Mina live a long and happy life.

Speaking of Mina, I didn’t know quite how to take her conversation with her father, where he gives her permission to pursue Grayson. “Wait, am I actually hearing this?” I said to myself.

And, in light of Harker’s behavior this episode, Dracula, for all of his faults, starts to look good by comparison.

I spent the episode going, “No, Harker. Oh, please no, Harker. No, Harker!” Every decision Harker made was a really bad decision. I even thought Dracula was trying to talk Harker out of doing something rash in the wake of Mina’s attack, and I was gobsmacked when it turned out that Dracula had been manipulating him into eliminating Davenport. (But what does that mean for the Dresden Triptych? Harker obviously left it behind, but does anyone else know that it’s there?) And then he runs right to Lucy.

(Speaking of Lucy, Katie McGrath looked incredibly like Keira Knightly in the sex scene.)

Next week has a lot of noose-tightening to do on Dracula’s interests, and his identity will need to be blown, setting the stage for the apocalyptic final episode, which I imagine will not take place among the Carpathians. 🙂

I don’t think I really need to elaborate on anything there. Well, maybe one thing.

The Dresden Triptych, according to Renfield in the next episode, was recovered from Davenport’s home and would be in Dracula’s possession shortly. (The Dresden Triptych, by the way, is a painting of the woman Dracula loved long ago who has been reincarnated as Mina Murray.)

From this morning, on episode 9, “Four Roses”:

“If you insist on behaving like a monster, then I will make you one.”

That was not the ending I expected. I thought we’d see Dracula’s secret identity exposed and his empire under assault by the (other) forces of darkness. Instead, we had Dracula’s attack on Lucy

I don’t know if the pained expression on Dracula’s face as he left Mina’s hospital room the final time was a “Lucy, WTF?” or a “Lucy, who put you up to this?” I doubt that Dracula knows of the games that Lady Jayne was playing with Lucy, so I suppose it’s the former. But I can’t imagine a reason why Dracula fangs Lucy and turns her. Yes, it was pretty hot (I always thought Katie McGrath was a weak actress, but she managed a look of pure rapture when she turned), but I don’t see how vampire Lucy furthers any of Dracula’s schemes, especially now that he has his great work, the Resonator, back. Fanging her, yes, I can understand that. Lucy hurt Mina, and now Dracula’s going to hurt her. But turning her into a vampire? He’s leaving an unpredictable piece in play, especially if the Order (and Lady Layne in particular) comes across her. All I can imagine is that the creative decision on Lucy was, “Well, Lucy becomes a vampire in the book and her destruction leads to Dracula’s discovery,” but that’s a reason external to the story.

In general, I was surprised by how much material Lucy had this week. In retrospect, I shouldn’t have been — we needed Harker’s walk of shame and Lucy being caught, Lucy’s realization that she’s been played by Lady Jayne, and Lucy’s awkward attempt at making amends with Mina. On the first, as Greg said, we now know Lucy’s living arrangements. On the second, I have to wonder if vampire Lucy will take on Lady Jayne next week in revenge and that’s how Dracula’s dual identity gets blown. And on the third, that scene in the hospital could not have gone anything like Lucy imagined it would have gone.

I love how Renfield remains the voice of sanity in this series. He recognized that Davenport was running rogue ops, but I don’t know that anything would have happened differently had Dracula heeded Renfield’s words of warning. Actually, come to think of it, Dracula would have been in a worse position; the Order was already planning to move against Grayson, which would have had Dracula on the defensive on both fronts, whereas now he’s on the offensive on one front at least.

“Four Roses” struck an interesting balance — Dracula launched a frontal assault on the Order, yet he managed to remain sympathetic. His sense of triumph when he learned the Resonator was safe to use was palpable (even though we know it’s a set-up). His bedside vigil for Mina was touching, and their final conversation, where Mina has finally decided to listen to her heart, was lovely. Everything Dracula wants is in his grasp — the destruction of the Order, his gift of free energy, and his love for Mina. It’s hard not to root for him, and I hope he achieves at least two of the three next week.

So that’s what I want next week — the two love birds, Dracula and Mina, riding off into the sunset, leaving the wreckage of the Order and that skunk Harker behind them to start life anew.

And lots of explosions, too. Because you just know that Browning is going to get his “catastrophic.” Oh, and lots of bloodletting, because Dracula and Lady Jayne need a throwdown. Fortunately, the next time trailer showed us both.

This is completely not the series I thought it was going to be. It’s infinitely more fun. 🙂

This one, I think, does need some elaboration, because there were some interesting moments that I didn’t touch on.

The descent of Harker has been fascinating to watch. Harker exists to demonstrate the corrupting influence of Dracula (which Mina railed against in “Come to Die”), and his arc has been his fall from innocence to depravity. In a sense, he’s a bit like Renfield from Tod Browning’s Dracula — a man who loses himself due to Dracula’s influence. We see a man who has given up on the love of his life, slept with his fiancee’s best friend (and “ruined” her), and compromised his earlier idealism. Also in this episode, we see him give himself over to the Order of the Dragon. It’s clear that he’s being used — Browning only wants him because he has access to Alexander Grayson’s blueprints — and there seemed to be a momentary flash of recognition of that fact on Harker’s face when Browning reveals how utterly fanatical he is in his devotion to his “god.” I don’t know if Harker will get a redemptive moment in the final episode. Perhaps he will reconcile with Mina, perhaps he will see the Order for what they truly are.

Van Helsing and Dracula are no longer playing the same game. At the start of this episode, Van Helsing calmly tells Renfield that Dracula has failed and their partnership is at an end. And we see Van Helsing attempt to execute his revenge against Browning — and surprisingly fail to do so. Despite that momentary attack of conscience, Van Helsing still holds two drugged children captive, and he’ll use them as a bargaining chip for his revenge.

Also, I should mention Mina who, despite spending most of the episode in a hospital bed, shows some interesting development. She knows that it was Dracula who saved her from the acid attack. She has always dreamed of Dracula’s lost love. And she knows that Harker knows who her heart really belongs to — Dracula. Her final conversation with Dracula in the episode revealed that she’s starting to put the pieces together.

And about that last conversation. For a long time I’ve thought Dracula would end with Dracula and the Order destroying themselves in, basically, the narrative equivalent of Mutually Assured Destruction. It’s a Dracula series; you can’t have Dracula win. And the Order has been consistently shown to be monstrous themselves; they can’t win, either. Yet, the final conversation seems to be setting us up for, dare I say it?, a happy ending, with Dracula achieving his great work (the destruction of the Order) and winning the woman he yearns for. There’s no other ending that makes sense or would be satisfying because, at this point, our sympathetic/heroic characters are down to Dracula and Mina; any other ending with Dracula’s outright defeat would be a “bad guys win” ending. I don’t know if that bottle Mina stole carries with it the cure to vampirism (it would be too convenient a development, but it also means something), but I can the series ending on an upbeat note. Odd though that may be for a Dracula adaptation.

As I said, this is not, by any means, the Dracula story I expected. It is, however, a Dracula story I’ve really enjoyed. I’ve read a number of Fred Saberhagen’s Dracula novels, where Dracula is an heroic protagonist, and I frankly enjoy this version of Dracula more.

Published by Allyn

A writer, editor, journalist, sometimes coder, occasional historian, and all-around scholar, Allyn Gibson is the writer for Diamond Comic Distributors' monthly PREVIEWS catalog, used by comic book shops and throughout the comics industry, and the editor for its monthly order forms. In his over ten years in the industry, Allyn has interviewed comics creators and pop culture celebrities, covered conventions, analyzed industry revenue trends, and written copy for comics, toys, and other pop culture merchandise. Allyn is also known for his short fiction (including the Star Trek story "Make-Believe,"the Doctor Who short story "The Spindle of Necessity," and the ReDeus story "The Ginger Kid"). Allyn has been blogging regularly with WordPress since 2004.

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