Last week NBC debuted a new Dracula mini-series, starring Jonathan Rhys Meyers as the sanguinary count.
My immediate reaction, last week, was mixed. Other than the names of characters, the series has nothing in common with Bram Stoker’s novel. It was gorgeous to look at, from the costumes to the sets. Meyers held the screen impressively well. Beyond that, the concept is so divorced from Stoker that I wonder if the producers had an unrelated concept — a Tesla-like hero battling a secret society that really rules the world — and then they grafted Dracula on top of that. After two weeks (and 20% of the way through the series), I stand by that.
The concept, which I’ll spoil here, is this — Dracula and Van Helsing are working together to defeat the Order of the Dragon, a secret society that controls the world. Van Helsing has a plan, Dracula is his weapon. And, as we saw at the end of the first episode and the start of the second, it’s an uneasy alliance.
But now there’s a complication. Dracula’s dead love from four hundred years ago has been reincarnated as Mina Murray. And Dracula is fashioning a new plan to draw Mina into his orbit.
Even though the series (through two episodes) has positioned Dracula as the series’ (anti-)hero, Jonathan Rhys Meyers has said, no, Dracula is very much the villain of the piece. The series doesn’t feel like that yet, though; Dracula is sympathetic, while those who would theoretically oppose him are not. Knowing that in the end Dracula will be the villain, I think I see where the series is going from here.
Mina Murray is clearly an unforeseen complication in Van Helsing and Dracula’s plan to destroy the Order of the Dragon. She could be the plan’s ruin as Dracula puts his desire for love ahead of his need for vengeance. Just as dangerous is Jonathan Harker; he’s already driven Mina away from him, and if she finds her way to the arms of his new employer, Dracula (or, as he knows him, American industrialist Alexander Grayson), a man he already has doubts about, Harker may well put his journalistic skills to use to uncover Grayson’s secrets, which will lead to his discovery that Grayson is a vampire. Armed with this knowledge — and his knowledge of London’s seedier side — Harker will betray his employer to the Order of the Dragon because he sees it as the only way to save Mina from the vampire’s grasp. With his identity exposed, his business interests under attack by the Order of the Dragon, and his love for Mina possibly spurned, Dracula will go over the edge, his full capacity for evil will be revealed, and his former ally Van Helsing will have to destroy him.
In fact, I wouldn’t be surprised if Van Helsing was always prepared for that eventuality. When you make a deal with the devil — as we saw Van Helsing did at the beginning of episode two — you really need to have an escape plan. Van Helsing can’t destroy the Order of the Dragon on his own, but with Dracula’s power he has a fighting chance. But using a monster to defeat a monster is playing a dangerous game, and I suspect that Dracula was never going to get out of Van Helsing’s war with the Order “alive.”
There you have it, how I think Dracula will shake out over the next (and final) eight episodes.
Dracula has been getting mixed responses, and I certainly understand that. It has nothing to do with the original Dracula. Yet, I’m enjoying it. It’s certainly watchable and I’m curious where it’s going. Perhaps it will follow the route I think it will. Or perhaps it will throw a curveball and end up someplace wildly different. I’m intrigued.