Dracula: A Whiff of Sulfur.

Previousy: The Blood Is the Life.

Now that the first season has also premiered in the UK, this thing has officially kicked off. Or has it?

So, turns out, Dracula doesn’t like needles. Van Helsing, however, really likes sticking them into him.

“Stop being a baby.”

When was the last time anyone said that to the Lord of the Vampires?

As it is revealed what exactly happened between them in Dracula’s tomb, we learn the reasons for Van Helsing’s cooperation with one of the creatures he had once sworn to hunt. The Order of the Dragon didn’t just kill Dracula’s wife in the 15th century, they also slaughtered Van Helsing’s entire family in the 19th, leaving both men betrayed and thirsting for vengeance. Quite literally, in some cases.

Abraham Van Helsing (Thomas Kretschmann)

The question is, is Van Helsing really working on a cure for Dracula’s aversion to sunlight? After all, their alliance isn’t exactly a friendship, but a companionship of necessity, with a clear goal at the end. Who’s to say Van Helsing will let Dracula live when it’s done? Considering that they spent the past decade hidden away somewhere together, planning for this… What did they got up to during that time, I wonder.

Meanwhile, Mina’s still trembling so much that she cut herself practising her surgical technique. How does that even work? An on the thumb of her right hand, when her right is most likely her dominant hand and thus the one she holds her scalpel with? I detailed why I’m so annoyed with the writers framing Mina like this last week, so I won’t repeat the whole slog here, but I still don’t get it. It’s just so sloppy writing — if surgical skills were never her forte, as she says, then why is she studying it? Why not transfer to another field? I confess I don’t know anything about the medical education system in Victorian England, but surely..? Why did they make her like that? Of course, they give her the cover story of repelling convention by declining to be a nurse and wanting to become a physician instead. I just don’t understand it. Why give her that extraordinary dream, the means to fulfil it, and then hold her back with such a problem that shoots her feminist potential to hell? Short answer: of course, to advance her attachment to a man. Alexander Grayson.

And then, Jonathan doesn’t properly listen to her, and the offer that Grayson made immediately eclipses all of Mina’s absolutely existential worries. And then, she only manages the exam because of Dracula’s advice, not because of her own epiphany as to the real reasons for her insecurities — internalised misogyny. That is such a cop-out and lazy set-up for the continued influence of Dracula in her life. It’s also necessary to keep her around Van Helsing, to keep the characters orbiting each other as closely as possible. As such, Mina’s advancement isn’t for her, it’s not for her character. It’s for the plot. They don’t care, do they? They could employ Mina’s story to make a point. Instead, they miss the point entirely. Which is funny, because at the end of the episode, they swing the other way completely and at least give Mina enough agency to call off her engagement to a man who thinks her ambitions silly and wants to tie her to the hearth before it’s even begun. And why is it funny? Because, again, it serves to push Mina towards Alexander. That’s why it’s so incongruous, that’s why it doesn’t fit — because Mina’s life, happiness, and rounded personality is not the main concern. Dracula wanting her is.

As for Dracula and Renfield’s conversation about her: “the woman” has a name, Renfield and Dracula. Her name is Mina, do use it. “The woman” can be used reverently, but here it sounds dismissive, reducing her to that one aspect, her gender. She’s not a person, she’s a plot device. An idea. Dracula’s wife reincarnated, not a character in her own right.

Oh, and Lucy Westenra is using sex as an incentive for Alistair to win the fencing match — which is great. It’d be even better if the writing weren’t reducing her character to nothing else but that.

And to put the icing on the cake: Dracula then uses his business partner’s secret love affair with another man and their visit to a mollyhouse for blackmail.

Next: Goblin Merchant Men.

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