Dracula Thoughts & Open Thread: Let There Be Light

Dracula[SPOILERS BELOW FOR THE SEASON FINALE OF DRACULA]

Dracula came to an end (at least for now) last Friday, and to be completely honest, I’m still not sure how I felt about it. I think most of what I said last week about it not being good enough to love or bad enough to just enjoy snarking at it, though the finale was nicely dramatic and brought a lot of things together in a way I wasn’t sure it would manage. I love finales that burn everything down, metaphorically, and this one did it literally as well. Some things I particularly liked:

  • I’m honestly not sure how the blood of Christ somehow got involved in this (I might have missed something), but that was a delightfully crazy addition.
  • Van Helsing dancing/conducting/smashing things in his lab to “In the Hall of the Mountain King” was an amazing scene.
  • I am choosing to believe that Renfield is fine until we have definite evidence to the contrary. Shh, leave me alone in my denial.
  • The vampire kids!
  • I loved that the electricity stuff stayed so important as a plot and that in the end Grayson’s machine itself was turned against him as a weapon.
  • Aww, Grayson killing Jayne instead of turning her. That’s quite a gift, from him, at that point, though I guess he doesn’t want her as a vampire enemy, either.
  • And Lucy killing her mother!!
  • I’m glad the show went through with the payoff of Mina and Grayson finally getting together, even if I have issues with the historicity of basically all the romantic subplots in this show. (I know, I know, a vampire show and this is what I complain about being unrealistic?)
  • And I love the idea of Harker and Van Helsing teaming up to bring down Grayson. That right there makes me want a second season.

Who else stuck with the show to the end? What did you think of the season as a whole? If it comes back, will you be watching?

Dracula Thoughts & Open Thread: Come to Die

Dracula[SPOILERS BELOW FOR LAST WEEK’S EPISODE OF DRACULA]

Things are amping up a bit on Dracula as we head toward the end of the season, but I still found this episode to be pretty uneven. I find the machinations of the Order and the way they tie in to finance and industry to be really interesting, but I feel like they don’t spend enough time on them to allow the audience to really understand what’s going on, so I’m left saying “Wait, what?” a lot of the time. And sometimes I can’t tell whether things are being left deliberately mysterious or whether I’m just not getting it. I did like that they finally started talking about Dracula, by name, this week, so that’s something, and the show managed to make both Harker’s confrontation with Davenport and the scene where the missing children are discovered to be genuinely tense, if not quite frightening.

I think my main issue is that the episode focused so much on Mina’s feelings, and at this point I kind of just don’t get them. Other than the show wanting to have yearning and pining and a love triangle, why is she still with Harker, exactly? We know what Grayson actually is, but Mina doesn’t, so why wouldn’t she go for the adoring rich guy who encourages her career and to whom she is clearly very attracted? Especially when she’s been having so much conflict with Harker, and been so disappointed by him? I’m just not buying it. I’m also not quite clear on why Grayson says he must stay away from her for her own safety: safety from his enemies, or safety from him? Because if it’s safety from his enemies, obviously she’s in danger anyway. If he’s afraid that he himself won’t be able to resist biting her, at least that’s a bit more coherent.

Other favorite lines and points of interest:

  • One of the best parts of historical scenes on many shows: flashback hair!
  • Mina’s father is awfully enlightened for his time and social position.
  • “Who do I kill?” “Perhaps may I suggest no one, sir. Maybe just this once.”
  • “You make me want more than I could possibly have. You make me want to walk in the sun. I belong to you and you belong to me.” I may not be quite buying this whole situation, but that’s a heck of a declaration, I’ll give him that.
  • “Mr. Harker worked out just as you planned.” Well, that’s exciting. I wonder exactly what Grayson’s plan was and when it started.

Clip: Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit

Jack Ryan: Shadow RecruitThanks to Yahoo! Movies, here’s a clip from Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit, based on Tom Clancy’s character. The movie will be in theaters next Friday, January 17th. Warning: The clip, which features Chris Pine, Nonso Anozie, and Kevin Costner, is a bit spoilery, so watch at your own risk.

Dracula Unearthed: The Devil’s Waltz

DraculaIn this episode of Dracula Unearthed, writer/producers Cole Haddon, Daniel Knauf, and Tony Krantz and stars Jonathan Rhys Meyers, Nonso Anozie, Thomas Kretschmann, Victoria Smurfit, and Katie McGrath talk about all of the transformations the characters go through in “The Devil’s Waltz.”

Dracula Thoughts & Open Thread: The Devil’s Waltz

Dracula[SPOILERS BELOW FOR THE MOST RECENT EPISODE OF DRACULA]

The day of Mina and Harker’s engagement party is finally here, but they’re distracted, Harker by his work for Grayson researching the military situation and Mina by dreams about Grayson. But are they dreams? He’s a vampire. He could easily actually be showing up in her room. I thought this was deliberately left ambiguous, but I’m curious what you all thought. Semi-relatedly, I’m curious about whether you think Harker and Mina would have been content together if Grayson had never gotten involved, or if the way he’s acting as intermediary and puppet master is manipulating them but also holding their relationship together. For how long will Harker be as easy to control as Grayson seems to think he is?

But I was really more interested in the Renfield plotline this week. Poor Renfield was kidnapped and tortured in an attempt to find out what really mattered to Grayson (and therefore could be used against him) – “Who does Mr. Grayson love?” was the refrain of the episode. And the answer was pretty obvious even before Grayson appeared to save is man – it’s not romantic, but Renfield is one of the (very) few people he definitely cares about and will risk himself to protect. Will his enemies continue to be blinded by class differences and Renfield’s race, or will they start to see this vulnerability?

Other thoughts:

  • The class issues that came up in regards to Harker and Mina’s party and Harker’s friends and connections were interesting – the treatment of class continues to be maybe the most nuanced thing on the show.
  • I always love a good dance scene. Especially a waltz!
  • I like how whenever anyone brings up the fact that Grayson is pretty weird and mysterious, the answer is always “Meh, he’s American. They’re all insane.”

Dracula Thoughts & Open Thread: From Darkness to Light

Dracula[SPOILERS BELOW FOR THE MOST RECENT EPISODE OF DRACULA]

As usual, there was a lot going on in this episode of Dracula; I watched most of it twice because I got distracted by a work emergency the first time, and I’m still pretty sure I missed stuff. The jury is still out for me on this show in general: all of these various threads could conceivably tie together into something awesome, but I’m not yet confident that they will.

Grayson’s old friend/right-hand man Josef comes to town, and he is, understandably, suspicious/doubtful of what’s going on with both Jayne/the Order and with Mina, whom he recognizes as Ilona. (I do appreciate the way that people in Grayson’s life keep trying to point out that sleeping with a vampire hunter may not be the best thing for his health and safety, and he remains seemingly baffled by this concept.) Grayson cleverly kills two birds with one stone by sending Josef after Jayne and then “saving” Jayne by killing Josef, thus convincing her that the vampire she’s hunting is dead (and earning her gratitude). “Sometimes you have to sacrifice a knight to capture a queen.” Grayson then continues various complex relationship maneuvers with Jayne, though he insists, “Someday, madam, you’ll realize I was never playing.”

Elsewhere, and in a plotline that was really a lot more fun, Mina and Harker’s engagement party is coming up, and Grayson’s hosting it, because of course he is. Mina’s really pretty indifferent to the party stuff – she’d rather learn more about Grayson’s experiments (and of course there’s an explosion that means he has to hold her. For safety.) – and lets Lucy plan the party, but she does at least question why Grayson is so interested and involved in her relationship. Good girl. Harker explains that Grayson is the reason they’re back together, and she’s less than thrilled to discover that her fiance’s sudden enlightenment about her own needs and desires did not come from him after all.

That seems like a lot of plot already, but oh hey, did I mention we’ve got a sudden military subplot? The Order wants England to invade the Ottoman Empire to get oil. The general in charge, Ogilvy, is resistant, so they murder him and quickly get his underling, Shaw, who was more sympathetic from the start, to agree to invade on trumped up justifications. This means that Grayson’s alternative energy innovations are no longer just about his personal triumph or financial gain – they could affect the fate of nations.

Other stuff going on:

  • Davenport is covering up his son’s death, of course, but he suspects Grayson’s involvement and sends a mysterious woman named Nora to figure out what matters most to Grayson so he can take it away. By the end of the episode, they’ve kidnapped Renfield. Uh-oh.
  • Lucy is clearly unhappy about Mina’s engagement. And it’s been made clear in the past that she has feelings for Mina. But how aware is she of that? Can she articulate it, even to herself?
  • Mina starts working as Van Helsing’s assistant and finds weird, “alive” blood samples. Presumably relatedly, Van Helsing and Grayson are continuing their attempts to let Grayson walk in the light.
  • When Grayson sends Harker to find out General Shaw’s secrets, he’s led to a woman named Vera Markham, and . . . that’s all we know about her so far.

Dracula Thoughts & Open Thread: Goblin Merchant Men

Dracula[SPOILERS BELOW FOR THE MOST RECENT EPISODE OF DRACULA]

In “Goblin Merchant Men,” a flashback shows us the circumstances under which Dracula was turned by the Order, but unless I missed something, we don’t see exactly how they did it, or whether they were trying to create a new type of creature or just punish this one man. Grayson’s main goal at the moment is to find a way to walk in the sun, and Van Helsing is helping him, because he wants the Order brought down for his own reasons. But his day-walking cure only lasts for three minutes and change – “You leave me just enough time to have a cup of tea before I burst into flames.” Aww. Van Helsing also kills the seers to they can’t point the vampire hunters to Grayson, but I’m curious to see how long this alliance lasts.

Sexuality is definitely realistically fluid on this show – Lucy, for example, clearly has some sort of crush on Mina – but I appreciate that they don’t make what would be seen as deep transgressions in that society consequence-free. (Poor Laurent and Daniel.) In general, the show is handling social issues fairly well – at least some of the people around Mina react the way you’d expect to her goals, and the general reactions to Renfield are interesting. Grayson’s business associates are clearly not used to dealing with a black man in any sort of position of power, and while this obviously makes Renfield’s job harder at times, he also knows how to use their uneasiness to his advantage. (I also deeply enjoy his dynamic with Grayson. “The oddest thing happened to me today.” “Really, sir. Just one.”)

Other thoughts:

  • Of course Grayson plays the piano – I actually wrote “standard vamp emo piano playing” in my notes.
  • I’m not clear on exactly what Harker is doing for Grayson, or really, I suppose, what any of the people around him think he’s qualified to do, exactly.
  • Mina’s absinthe dream was fascinating and a beautifully put-together sequence, and since it was a dream, I won’t even protest the anachronisms.
  • “You know, Bohemian nightlife is a poor substitute for happiness.” Sometimes it’s hard to tell when Grayson’s being genuine and when he’s playing people. And that’s a good thing, really.
  • Grayson taking the time and effort to fix Mina’s relationship for her is simultaneously adorable, pathetic, and frightening. Presumably he won’t be satisfied by playing Cyrano forever.