Dracula S1 Ep 4: From Darkness to Light

The more I watch NBC’s Dracula, the more convinced I become that the problem with Dracula is Dracula. If the primary protagonist were Lady Jane, Lucy, Mina, Renfield, Van Helsing, Jonathan — literally, anyone but Dracula, it would be a far more engaging story. The Dracula-as-protagonist idea is hardly edgy anymore, and to pull it off, the vampire hero/anti-hero has to be interesting. Everything that makes NBC’s Dracula interesting is external — his mysterious doppelgänger love interest, his mysterious wireless electric energy, his vampire hunter lover, his partnership with Van Helsing, the new Renfield. As a character himself, he’s neither likable nor detestable. Quite frankly, the show’s efforts to keep him “angst-free” have made him boring.

Before getting into Ep 4, a quick recap of Ep 3, “Goblin Merchant Men,” which I had to catch up with late due to being away from my TV and computer for several days: Dracula got some additional backstory, as we got to witness his bloody transformation into a vampire. Mina and Lucy partied on absinthe. Dracula, as Grayson, got the recently split-up Mina and Jonathan back together, then got mad about it. Dracula was also mad that he couldn’t stalk Mina 24/7 because of the sun thing, which Van Helsing continued working on. Van Hesling sort-of-half-accidentally killed the seers who were working with Lady Jane. Mina won the position of Van Helsing’s assistant and proposed marriage to Jonathan.

Episode 4 continues to slowly move through the main plotlines: Dracula’s obsession with Mina, his somewhat gratuitous relationship with Lady Jane (who still kicks ass and still doesn’t know Grayson is Dracula. I think. As much as I enjoy Lady Jane, her storyline is convoluted), his fight against the Order, and the treatment for his aversion to sunlight. I’m especially annoyed by the sunlight treatment storyline. So much needless fake “science” and repeated scenes of Dracula getting injections to explain something that needs no big explanation: Dracula, canonically, can go out in the sun, suffering only a weakening of his powers. He always could. There’s no need to over-complicate things to satisfy the common belief that all vampires burn up in the sun unless it’s a sparkly Twilight vamp. It would take only three words: “It’s a myth.”

Anyway. A new vampire and old friend of Dracula’s, Josef, turns up, after surviving a misguided train car ambush on Lady Jane. Don’t get too attached. Grayson continues to flirt with Mina as she and Lucy (who is far more shippable with Mina than either Grayson or Jonathan, just sayin’) plan her lavish engagement party. He even shows her the resonator machine responsible for his amazing fuel-free power. With its liquid-filled cooling machines, it seems similar to nuclear power, which makes the explosion of one of the overheated machines fairly frightening, but it’s really just a chance for Grayson to grab Mina and hold her tight to protect her. Mina is rather freaked out by Grayson’s behavior and voices her concerns to Jonathan. Jonathan tells her Grayson told him he had to respect Mina and understand that her work is just as valuable as his — and… Mina’s back to trusting Grayson.

There is a lot — too much, in my opinion — of tangled-web spy stuff concerning the Order. At least a lot of it involves Lady Jane, who finally dumps Grayson only to take him back with a vengeance when he saves her from Josef, whom she kills. After a romantic bath, Grayson tells Renfield she is no longer a threat, and that Josef’s death was part of the plan. The show ends just as it’s getting interesting, with Renfield being abducted by the Order. Could Ep 5 be the Renfield-heavy kick in the pants the series needs?

 

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