Dracula: Goblin Merchant Men.

Previously on Dracula: A Whiff of Sulfur.

This third episode of Dracula gives us the story of how exactly Vlad Tepes became undead, and the tragedy of Van Helsing’s own grief driving his quest for revenge.

“Do not shed a single tear for Jonathan Harker.”

Spot on, Lucy. Though her alternative isn’t free of clichés, either — it’s funny (and by funny, I mean sad) how the show manages to make Mina alternate between pining for Jonathan (Mina, for God’s sake, there is nothing to fix!) and flirting with a dozen officers, getting drunk, and missing Van Helsing’s class — which, again, makes her dependent on the mercy of a man to keep her on as his assistant. As if there’s no in-between, just the binary of the angel and the tart. Well, there is an in-between, of course. It’s called Alexander Grayson. Oh, no, hang on, a surprise Andrew-Lee Potts is in the running, too. It was either that or more Absinthe. Of course, before Mina can tell the painter to piss off (or possibly break his arm when he dares touch her), Dracula turns up — his my-reincarnated-wife-is-in-trouble-and-I-must-save-her senses were tingling — and rescues her. The camera lingers more on the painter’s aggrieved reaction — suggesting further trouble should he continue to pursue Mina — than Mina’s own. Making this a conversation between men. Again. Then, she promptly pours her heart out to Grayson, about Jonathan, because not only girls don’t talk about anything other than boys on this show, but boys and girls don’t, either.

Also, if I’m reading the signs right, Lucy is in love with Mina, and only dates so many fellows to distract herself/compensate. Oh, goodie. Let’s see where that leads.

Oh, and in an Absinthe-induced trip, Mina finds herself hallucinating the courtyard Dracula was made a vampire. Neat.

That ritual at the beginning was how Dracula ended up being, well, Dracula. Apparently, he defied God (which is funny, given that Vlad was an enthusiastic member of the Catholic Order of the Dragon back in the day, but never mind…) and thus, the Order decided to punish him by first murdering his wife and then turning him into one of the Undead, a vampire, condemned to roaming the night forever. Unfortunately, the Order failed to remember that the Undead gain, by plain thingness, supernatural strength. Therefore, chaining him up: bad, bad idea. Only makes him angry.

Jonathan Rhys Meyers as Dracula as Alexander Grayson

In Victorian London, Dracula has Renfield do some digging into dear Lady Jayne Weatherby, and of course they soon figure out that she’s with the Order and most hence be handled with some… delicacy. Especially now that she’s enlisted Mina’s father to enlist Abraham Van Helsing’s help in mixing an elixir that will give Jayne’s seers their powers back. Van Helsing isn’t well pleased, and wants to serve them something ineffectual — which, of course, would send them pursuing other avenues, as Dracula lectures him. If they’re bound to Van Helsing’s new drug that works, they’re bound to them and within their realm of control. Or, well, within the realm of paralytic poison.

Meanwhile, after another bout of vigorous sexy business, Dracula discovers the female vampire stashed away in Lady Jayne’s basement, who begs him to kill her and release her from this plane of existence. Which he does, tears streaming down his face. Oh, dear, the Biter’s got feelings.

All of this is going on while Jonathan Harker is doing the only sensible thing a man can do when faced with the prospect of being ditched, quite forever, by his fiancée: having luncheon with someone Grayson wants him to woo — strictly business, of course — at an expensive restaurant with expensive dining room music.

He later spills the beans to Grayson. Of course, Jonathan, how dare a woman be stubborn, opinionated, and ambitious to want to carve a life for herself by your side? Because, obviously, that threatens a man’s standing as provider — because, obviously, the world revolves around the sentiment of the male gender and ego. Who needs equal opportunity? Not this dude. You are a hypocrite, Jonathan, and you can’t even see it.

In a 180° turn, however, he comes to his senses and goes to apologise to Mina — who promptly forgives him, the lovers reunited. I know someone who isn’t best pleased… except he has himself to blame. He didn’t have to talk to Harker, and yet he did. A good deed, yes, and he likes seeing her happy — but in the end, isn’t keeping her around what he wants? His motives are completely obscure now. Does he want Mina, or doesn’t he? Make your mind up, man.

Lord Laurent, on the other hand, had his chance to be with the man he loves — and is now going to his death for it, right in front of him. Well, not for the being gay itself (probably), but for letting himself be blackmailed into selling his shares to Dracula. Punishment: a sword to the heart. What’s nearly worse than that is the completely overdone soundtrack accompanying the sentence. Daniel Davenport, his lover, ends up shooting himself in the head, leaving a message for his father — not only declaring himself a sodomite, much to Davenport, Sr.’s confusion, but explaining that he’s got Alexander Grayson to blame for this. Combined with the promo for next week’s episode, this will be the beginning of the hunt for Dracula.

The other crucial tidbit we’re getting this episode: Van Helsing’s story. And it’s really just a tidbit, because it doesn’t give us ideology or conviction, just more man pain.

Thomas Kretschmann as Abraham Van Helsing

Van Helsing was disobedient to the Order (though how exactly, we’re still not meant to know), leaving them to punish him much the same way as Vlad, by killing his family — except they learnt not to do that thing with the Undead again.

On balance, Dracula remains entertaining — if only to see just how badly it’s going to crash into the wall at the end of train track that it very obligingly erected itself.

Next: From Darkness to Light.

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