Cleolinda Jones (cleolinda) wrote,
Cleolinda Jones

Dracula 1x02: "A Whiff of Sulfur"

@InterestingLit: Bram Stoker, author of Dracula, was born on this day in 1847. In early drafts of the novel, Dracula was named ‘Count Wampyr’.

@particle_p: Count Wampyr just made my morning.

@cleolinda: People in "Count Wampyr" really should know they're in "Count Wampyr."

So I'm just in time, it sounds like.

PREVIOUSLY ON DRACULA: The Big D is now posing as a Yankee Industrialist promising Safe Free Wireless Light Bulbs to the world while trying to get closer to his reincarnated wife, destroy the corrupt Order of the Dragon, and take over the British Imperial Coolant WA WAWA WAWA WAAAAA. Also, Mina is a med student, Jonathan is a journalist, Lucy is fabulous, Renfield is an all-knowing right-hand-man, Lady Jayne is a new vampire-hunting sexpot character, and Van Helsing is WORKING WITH DRACULA?!? Like, that's not even getting into the slo-mo rooftop katana fight and the vampire fingerbang. This show is nuts.

A NOTE ON THE EPISODE TITLE: Since this is an international co-production, there really are two "official" titles--"Sulfur" over here and on iTunes and, and "Sulphur" over there (and on Wikipedia, and IMDB, and...). I inflicted an incredibly tedious discussion of what the hell to do about this on y'all Twitter folks (sorry about that), but then I remembered hearing that the overseas broadcasts are supposedly a bit more graphic than the American versions? As such, we may actually need to specify that this recap refers to the American broadcast.

@cleolinda: Aaaaand looks like my TV isn't working.

@cleolinda: I mean, I guess I can watch it tomorrow, but I'm baffled as to why the entire cable box is just dead.

I was so tired at this point (and starting to come down with the health issues that made the recap so late this week) that I honestly decided just to go to bed--at 9 pm--and just watch the show on iTunes the next day. But then my mother intervened, put the fear of God back into the box, and I joined the party on the second scene.



And it looks like I missed the Van Helsing part of the show. WHAT ARE THESE TRIBULATIONS.

So here's Dracula on the foggy prowl, eyeing a giggling pair of ladies as they flounce by. (I have to say, the sets are great and incredibly atmospheric, but they do not look the least bit English to me. The show was apparently filmed in Budapest, and it feels like it's set in a Continental city, but I'm not sure why, precisely.) Then he thinks back to the beginning of the first episode, and I'd wanted to know how the hell that turned out--that was when Van Helsing shanked some doof over Dracula's crypt because THE BLOOD IS THE LIFE and resurrected him, which seems kind of antithetical to Van Helsing's basic personality. So definitely, tell us what that was about. Like, here he is painstakingly hauling the metal spike-cage off Dracula's body--whoever boxed him up did a really, really good job (TAKE NOTES, VAN HELSING). And then Dracula levitates out of the tomb and whips out his bat-handled katana but Van Helsing is ready with a crucifix and stabs him in the foot with a cross and Dracula falls over like "Are you seriously fucking kidding me."

"Surely you recognize the blades of Saint Eligius," says Van Helsing. (I kinda wish Dracula had just cried out "OH WHATEVER! YOU JUST MADE THAT UP!!") "Exquisite, aren't they?" he adds, while Dracula writhes and hisses on the cave floor, really more concerned with the hey-hey-ow-it-holy-hurts right now.

"Now then, let me introduce myself. My name is Abraham Van Helsing--" "I WILL TEAR YOUR HEART OUT, PEASANT!" AW HALE NO. ABRAHAM VAN HELSING IS A DOCTOR, PROFESSOR, VAMPIRE HUNTER, LAWYER, AND LOLCAT, THANK YOU VERY MUCH. "And you are Vlad the Third, prince of Wallachia, second son of the House of Basarab, also known as Vlad Tepes, Vlad the Impaler--Dracula." Thank you, I'm sure he's pleased to find this out. "Soon the sun will take you," Van Helsing continues, gazing up at a threatening shaft of sunlight, "and you will be no more. But at least in your case--unlike my own--there will be one who deeply mourns your passing." [*DRAGON NOISES*] "For with your death, so too will pass my last chance to obliterate the Order of the Dragon." "WHAT IS THE ORDO DRACO TO YOU?" spits Dracula. Van Helsing: "They slaughtered my wife, Adalind, and my three children." See? SEE? His ENTIRE family. (Hold up, there's also an Adalind on Grimm, same network? What are the odds of that?) "They stole from me everything in this world that I have loved--everything you have loved." Reprise the burning times flashback: "Ilona," Dracula whispers. Van Helsing: "They burned her alive, as they did my Adalind." (Whoa, that's rough, man. They're still burning people 400 years later? Or is Van Helsing older than he looks?) "And if you die this day, they will never face justice for these and all the other vile crimes they have committed in the Lord's name." WELL HOW ABOUT WE GET ON WITH IT, THEN: "Stop wasting my time! Remove this cursed blade before your confederate is rendered to ash!" Dracula hisses, smoking a little as he finally grabs Van Helsing by the collar. Oh, well, if you're on board, then--sure thing. And so Dracula starts nomming the helpfully-provided sacrificial doof.

Meanwhile, in the present (possibly continuing the last scene of the first episode?), Van Helsing is giving Dracula a (gentler) scolding as he prepares a syringe: "Every move you make is another card face up on the table. Sir Clive is slaughtered. [They know now] there is a vampire in London. Then Kruger, a huntsman--" "I had no choice," protests Dracula, "he saw my face." "A SEASONED. HUNTSMAN. Now they will activate their seers, if they haven't already." Dracula says that he can deal with them, whoever they turn out to be, but Van Helsing retorts, "And no doubt reveal yet another measure of your power. We require stealth. You deliver mayhem" (just another service of the Grayson Energy Company). "Our sole purpose in London is to make geomagnetic power a practical reality and wipe out the Order's investments in oil," expositions Van Helsing, muttering, "Damn it. Cursed sludge. Like tapping a wretched corpse." Could you not? "You're lucky I fed," growls Dracula. He's really not terribly enthused about Van Helsing attacking the other arm, either ("Stop being a baby!") (ahahahaha). SIGH: "Knives, swords, lances, stakes, a century in a metal box. Mere annoyances. But your needles will be the death of me." 1) Foreshadowing? 2) I feel you, bb. I cried hysterically at the mere sight of needles until I was seventeen. Well, but: "It cannot be helped. Your blood is a necessary component if you are ever to conquer daylight." I... see. I don't know, Van Helsing, you might want to trip on down to Research & Development and tell them to start working on a topical application instead.

What really vexes Dracula (it vexes him. He's terribly vexed) about the whole blood situtation, though, is "the sublime pleasure you draw from its taking." ARE WE DONE YET? "You must have patience." WHEN WILL IT BE DONE? "When it's done." BUT I WANT IT DONE NOW! "You must have patience."

In conclusion, that's what I missed.

@redheadedgirl: @cleolinda VH woke up Dracs to destroy the Order of the Dragon because TOotD killed VH's family.

@cleolinda: That's it. That's the show. RT @redheadedgirl: An uneasy truce is formed where they bitch at each other a bunch.

@MildlyAmused: I read that as "an uneasy truce...where they bitch at each other OVER BRUNCH." #VampireBrunch

@cleolinda: Vampire brunch. That should be it. That should be the show.

I'm pretty sure this must have actually happened on True Blood, tbh.

And here's where I came in: a charity fencing competition with a posh lunching audience, where Lucy approaches That Beast Alistair ("you look positively ferocious") and places all three of her bets on him. The system's kind of chivalric, actually--each competitor wears a lady's colors, ribbon(s) tied around their arm, although Lucy would like to see hers (purple) "advance beyond the semi-finals at least." Now, here's an exercise in the necessity of commas: the captions say, "And what, fair lady, shall be my prize?" but the actor's line-reading comes out as "And what fair lady shall be my prize?" Here's Lucy's answer:


Meanwhile, enter Mina (or "Minna," according to Lucy's mother "Minerva") (YAY LUCY'S MOTHER FOR BOOK REASONS), who explains that her hand is bound up because "I was practicing my surgical technique, and I managed to cut myself to ribbons. Silly--but at any rate, it did give me a chance to brush up on my suturing." Jonathan, somewhat dismayed: "Stitches?" "Yes, I stitched it right up. Across the thumb at least--" "Ooh, good lord, please stop," Mrs. Westenra moans, "we've only just finished luncheon." In conclusion, Mina: totally unappreciated. Well, except by the returning Lucy (kiss kiss). (Mrs. Westenra: "Oh, don't tell me you put all three ribbons on one man AGAIN." LOL.)

I was going to try to be vague and confusing about this next part so that you would vicariously experience the terrible, terrible mistake I made, but I can't do it. Because, in retrospect, I can't explain why I thought that Alistair's opponent was Lord Laurent's son. Mrs. Westenra very clearly says that Alistair is up against "Daniel Davenport, the son of Lord Davenport and the reigning champion." Lord Laurent is shown beaming and clasping his wife's hand in what I thought was a paternal fashion--but Lord Davenport is very clearly shown clapping and cheering, "Good show, son!" I genuinely do not know how I got this mixed up. My only explanation is that Daniel and Lord Laurent have a decent resemblance going--

--and that I was just. that. tired.

Ah, but not reigning champion for very long, says Lucy: "Alistair is very motivated." And what I love is Mina's pleasantly scandalized look: she knows exactly what Lucy means.

Meanwhile, Lady Jayne and Nefarious Christoph-Waltz-Resembling Mr. Browning are watching all this from a balcony.

@VictoriaSmurfit: I’m the cougar version of Buffy the Vampire Slayer (link)

... I didn't want to be the one to say it.

("No, the puma version. A puma is the slightly younger version of the cougar, apparently.")

Browning tells Lady Jayne that "our agents haven't reported a single incident since [the mysterious vampire, who could it possibly be] bested Kruger." "He's gone to ground," suggests Lady Jayne. Browning: "Perhaps, yes. Or gone altogether... I take it, then, you'll be summoning another huntsman to replace Kruger? perhaps Maclachlan from Glasgow?" Well, Scottish Vampire Hunters sound promising, but Lady Jayne replies, "I'd rather I handled this one myself. I think it's about time I had some fun for a change." "That's my girl," smarms Browning. I hope he gets eaten in the finale. I hope he gets eaten good.

(Meanwhile, Jonathan is chaffing Lucy about her champion's performance--"He's doing very well"--and Mina's like you're so mean omg lol. Lucy does not reply. Lucy waits.)

"I presume you have no objection to my deployment of the seers?" adds Lady Jayne. "Must you?" replies Browning. "There is more than a whiff of this episode title about those two." "But better the devil you know." "Very well," sighs Browning, "if you must."

Aaaaand Alistair loses. He totally loses, to Lucy's dismay, the exuberant delight of the Lords Coolant and Coolingport, and my general exhaustion. Then the bill for luncheon comes, and Mrs. Westenra hijacks it against all Jonathan's protests: "Don't be ridiculous. This is my treat." Which of course makes him look bad. Lucy abides in smugness.

And then Daniel and Lord Laurent agree, significantly, to meet later, and I was like, "Well, they probably have some nefarious father-son stockholding WAWAWA to attend to." Oh my God.

At the offices of the Inquisitor, coworker/roommate Szabo asks Jonathan if he's gotten the raise he was hoping for, but no dice: "At this rate, by the time I'll be able to afford a wife, Mina and I will be in advanced old age." I wouldn't say that," laughs Szabo, because Mina's younger than Jonathan so he'll just be old by himself! And POOOOOOR.

@aughmonica: Is it just me, or does Harker look like Jake Gyllenhaal?

@cleolinda: HE DOES

Meanwhile, over at Carfax Abbey Ranch Manor, Dracula announces, "Mr. Renfield, this is my co-chairman on the board of British Imperial Coolant WA WAWA WAWA WA." ("Pleasure," deadpans Renfield.) Lord Laurent is terribly vexed about the current stockholding WAWA WA, and would be more than happy to buy up Dracula's shares. Ah, but no, Dracula has summoned Lord Coolant to buy him out: "I have no interest in selling my interest." Lord Laurent: "Certainly not!" "You haven't even looked at the offer." "I do not need to see your offer, sir. My interests are not for sale, at any price." Dracula smacks his desk: "See, Renfield!" --whoa, simmer down there, Boss-- "Not for sale! At any price." But he says all of this in such a sharp, mocking way that I wonder if all this is only a token attempt to buy the shares and he's really trying to provoke Lord Laurent. I mean, why spend good money when it's so fun to scheme? "GOOD DAY... SIR," Lord Laurent actually, literally says, to my delight.

That night, Dracula and Renfield toodle over to the Inquisitor offices in a funny little motorcar, which, as I found out, is actually reasonably accurate.

"If I may ask a question, sir," Renfield starts-- "I would rather you didn't," says Dracula, but hey, while we're here. For starters, since when did we start carpooling with the reporter guy? "Why engage Harker to bring the woman into your orbit? Surely you have the power to simply take her." You know, this sounds pretty callous, but I get where Renfield's coming from. If you've already committed yourself morally to working for Dracula von Badguy--why do we have to take the long way around on this, you know? A long pause. "I can't," says Dracula. "I know, it sounds absurd that someone such as I would... hesitate to act on moral grounds. But to simply take the woman... to turn her into such as I am... it would be an abomination. No, Renfield, I cannot--I will not--take her." "Yet still you seek to draw her in," Renfield points out. "To what possible end?" "Now, that... I cannot say. I only know to lose her twice would be more than I could bear."

I have questions.

1) So... he's made Renfield aware that he believes Mina is the reincarnation of his long-lost wife Ilona?

2) How much is Renfield getting paid to deal with all this?

3) Oh, man, what's going to happen when Van Helsing realizes that Dracula's after Mina and he's the only thing left standing between his favorite student and his vengeance confederate?

4) Have you heard my new anti-establishment punk-country band, the Vengeance Confederates?

5) Thrash Nashville, do you like that better?

6) In the meantime, how about we call Mina something more personal than "the woman"?

So Renfield goes inside and drags Harker away from Szabo and their journalizing ("If you don't mind. CHOP CHOP"), because there's something Dracula would like to discuss in the car on the way over: "I take it our interview was a feather in your cap?" "Well, I was hoping for something rather more tangible than a feather," admits Jonathan. As he should, Dracula agrees: "A man should never be ashamed of ambition--only the lack of it." "Well, that may be true in America--" "No, Harker. It's simply true. Everywhere. In every man's heart. Even in yours." After a moment's thought: "Especially yours." Ominous.

So now an agent's showing the three of them around a rather familiar-looking house. "I must say," Dracula says to Jonathan, "I was keenly impressed by your insights regarding Sir Clive's, uh--how shall I put this?--marked fondness for games of chance." In fact, he couldn't have forced the widow into handing over her stockholdings without you! Jonathan, surprised: "British Imperial Coolant?" "The very same. Of course, I don't yet have a controlling interest. Which is where you come in. I need a vice president of public affairs"--AHAHAHA THIS IS AMAZING--"a man with a certain finesse and a thorough knowledge of who's who and what's what." Jonathan actually has zero "finesse," but together, he and the all-knowing Renfield could bring London to its knees, I'm pretty sure. Signing bonus: the house they're currently standing in, which Jonathan realizes belonged the aforesaid late Sir Clive. "The primary duties of the position will be to assist me in blackmailing navigating a course through British society and her business community," says Dracula, and the house (plus "a generous salary") is Jonathan's, "if you accept my offer. I can't have my attaché living in a hovel, now, can I?" Uh. The... his... you want... say what now? "I'm sorry, this is very unexpected," fumbles Jonathan, but Dracula can't "wait indefinitely for an answer. So I'll need yours by Monday morning."

@cleolinda: Never thought I'd hear Dracula say "Is that okay with you," but here we are.

@cleolinda: P.S. TAKE THE HOUSE, the guy was a jackass, TAAAAAKE IIIIIT


And: "Do me a favor, will you, Harker? Turn out the lights and lock up," says Dracula, tossing him the key as he and Renfield rattle away. And then walk your broke ass home, I guess. Toodles!

So the next day, Jonathan's walking with Mina while she worries that she'll be lucky to pass her final medical exam, "much less be chosen as Professor Van Helsing's protégée." "You--you'll do fine," he mumbles. "No, Jonathan, I most decidedly will not do fine. The cardiovascular system is the most complex structure I've studied this term, and surgical skills are not my forte," and his eyes are just totally glazed over. "Jonathan! You haven't heard a word I've said!" But of course he's been listening! "You've got a test on the interior thingamabob, and I'm quite certain that you'll leave all the other students in the shade." More importantly, "Mr. Grayson has offered me a position in his firm." "Alexander Grayson? Well, then, you simply must take it," Mina says promptly. Jonathan: "Don't you even want to know what it entails?" Of course she does! Everything about it, in great detail, right now, because listening is a thing that happens when you actually care about someone.

Meanwhile, Lady Jayne has some ass to kick. The seers are holed up in the backroom of an opium den with a mirror in an ornate cabinet (she flings open the doors), but mostly, apparently, they lie around smoking. "You didn't answer my summons!" she snaps.

Now, since the two seers have working-class London accents, rather than something ~exotic,~ what I hope happened is that this is attempted diversity in casting that tripped and fell into some really, really unfortunate tropes, rather than Magical Brown People, considering that this is also the show that racebent a cool, capable Renfield. I'll let you make the call. She confiscates their pipe ("We only just lit that!") and announces, "There is a vampire in London, you shall find him forthwith." "We can't--" "We've been ill, sick as pikes, but as soon as we're up to snuff--" "Yes, well, I think that snuff is half the problem!" retorts Lady Jayne. "You will find him, or you will answer to Mr. Browning and the High Council!"

Meanwhile, back at Café Monico:

@redheadedgirl: Mina, that jacket is very 1940s.

@cleolinda: This show's whole WARDROBE is very 1940s.


@cleolinda: I do keep expecting to see Cap and Peggy Carter walking through.

So I saw the Café Monico sign and decided to poke around a bit.

Piccadilly Circus used to be surrounded by illuminated advertising hoardings on buildings, starting in the early 1900s, but only one building now carries them, the one in the northwestern corner between Shaftesbury Avenue and Glasshouse Street. The site is unnamed (usually referred to as "Monico" after the Café Monico, which used to be on the site)

Old postcard view c1900 of Piccadilly Circus, London showing The Criterion on the right and looking towards The Pavillion; there is a restaurant on the corner by The Pavillion with signs reading Restaurant and Spatenbeer. The Pavillion was built in 1885 as a Music Hall Theatre, it is now home to the Ripley's Believe It Or Not Museum. The Criterion Theatre and Restaurant opened in 1874 and is still in business today. The Cafe Monico is on the left, this is the site now of the famous illuminated signs. A very busy street scene, no motor vehicles just horses, carts and carriages.

Among other places in London where coffee may be had in English or continental style, mention should be made of the Café Monico, a good place to drop in for a coffee and liqueur, and one of the pioneers of the modern restaurant. The Monico and Gatti's appeal to a quite different class from that catered to by the tea shops, although perhaps not to what Mrs. Boffin would call "the highfliers of fashion" who frequent the lounges of the fashionable hotels. Gatti's original café was under the arches of Charing Cross station.

Mina, whose cake looks delicious, believes that Jonathan would be perfect for Vice President Associate Executive Secretary of PR. "Doesn't it--doesn't it feel just a bit dodgy?" he asks. But Alexander Grayson's so dreamy! "He's a visionary," says Mina. "He's a brilliant business tactician. Every concern he's had a hand in has prospered." Yeah, says Jonathan, every concern "for the past seven eight years, but the farthest anyone can dig back is to the Manitoba Rail and Transport. I mean, as far as the public record is concerned, before that, the man didn't even exist." Honey, you don't even know. "Yes," argues Mina, "but he made his early fortune on the American frontier. It's hardly a bastion for crack recordkeeping." Touché. Also: Wild West Cowboy Dracula. You're welcome. "Mr. Grayson is leading the charge in a technical revolution that will change everything," she insists, and Jonathan better get on board now: "I will kick you if you don't!" And he laughs and then there are kissings. Also, THE RANDOM LADY COVERING HER KID'S EYES LIKE THIS IS ACTUALLY THE VICTORIAN ERA IS THE BEST.

Over in the dimly-lit halls of power, Lord Laurent is complaining, as is his wont, to Browning: "He's acquired every drop of coolant from our distributors and put in an order for 250,000 gallons, which, of course, we declined." Now Dracula's offered to buy him out "for treble the book value of my stock. I declined, of course." "I should hope so," says Browning; Alexander Grayson, Vampire Industrialist is a damned charlatan fool and his geomagnetic light bulbs are absurd and "a schoolboy experiment delivered with a bit of panache hardly equals large-scale practical application" but... you know... just in case. "Even if the mere idea gets a foothold in the public imagination, it could impact severely upon our portfolio." (I'm trying so hard not to WA-WAWA here, you guys, I truly am.) "Therefore," Browning finishes, "any member of this organization who knowingly assists Grayson will be dealt with in the harshest of terms." Dun dun dunnnnn.

Note from the future: This sounds extra-ominous. Also, I notice we're given very pointed close-ups of exactly where Browning stashes the papers with Dracula's offer (top desk drawer, left corner).

Interestingly, the very next scene is Lady Jayne asking Dracula how he pulled off Safe Free Wireless Energy, so I wonder if she's been ordered to find out. Again, I don't know to what extent she's acting as a honey trap to seduce information out of "Alexander Grayson" and/or somehow get him under the Order's control, or this is actually beyond her brief and she's just like, "Well, while I'm here--treat myself." Because right now, she's hosting an intimate dinner for two at (I guess?) her home--recall their tryst at the opera already--and yet, somehow, the conversation is all about light bulbs. And not even as a euphemism.

"So... this trick with the light bulbs that you performed with just such panache at your housewarming party--" Ah, but "I prefer to think of it as a debutante ball," says Dracula, "and I was the belle of it." "And the main entertainment as well," she says. "How did you do it? I must know, I simply adore magic tricks." "I'm sorry to disappoint you--there was neither magic nor trickery involved. Simply science, physics, and technology. Although I have been known to dabble in the occult." Oh. Uh. I think you buried the lede on that one, sir. "Have you?" she purrs. "Do tell." "Observe."

Yeah, there's a butler obliged to watch all this.

"Where did it go?" gasps Lady Jayne--all he did was snap his fingers, not even any real sleight of hand. That said, I was still afraid he was going to, like, pull it out of her ear or something, but Dracula has much better game than that:

I clearly heard "In your...," though. And three unclear syllables after that, for what it's worth.

"No," Lady Jayne giggles in disbelief. Dracula: "Shall we show the butler?" "--Jenkins, that will be all." Captions: "[intense relief music]." RUN, JENKINS.

And now, bom chicka vamp vamp. Forget the coin--what I'm really wondering is where Lady Jayne's nipples went. Seriously, we are seeing her entire breast. Either that corset is glued on in deeply uncomfortable ways, or NBC's Standards and Practices disappeared them. And then Dracula starts imagining that she's Mina (or Ilona?) (or both?). (There's also some interesting imagination-vs.-reality choreography that kind of suggests Victoria Smurfit was waiting just out of frame to drag Jessica De Gouw off and dive back in, which I find hilarious. Also: huh, vampire tattoos.) I would feel sorry for Lady Jayne and how Dracula seems to give zero fucks about her (... so to speak), except that he's completely out of the frame now and you know he's got to have some skills, so.

@particle_p: Wow I guess one question about Drac's blood pressure has been answered.

Tomorrow: a rainy, cloudy, most definitely unsunny day, and Mina just happens to run across Renfield and a waiting carriage on her way to school. *THUNDERCLAP*

To which Mina turns and asks, "Mr. Renfield, is it considered proper in America for a gentleman to ask a single lady if she would like to ride in his carriage?" "To tell you the truth," replies Renfield, "I don't believe my employer ever gave a damn about what's proper." "Nor I," says Mina, smiling. Well, clearly, since you're running around with your hair down in VICTORIAN LONDON ALL THE TIME. (omg, her pretty pretty hair.) "Thank you," she says to Dracula as he reaches out and helps her into the carriage and lets her sit in front of him rather than move WHAT THE HELL?


@cleolinda: ... that was regarding a carriage. #dracula

(No one cares! No one cares but me! I know this!)

"Certain you wouldn't rather swim? I'd hate to compromise your reputation," he says. Mina: "Well, I'm afraid only I can do that, Mr. Grayson." Given that talk of compromising reputations is the height of Victorian flirtation, I feel like this is dirty somehow, but I can't quite get the math to work.

Back at the Inquisitor: "So... did you quit?" Uh, Szabo, Jonathan's sitting here plinking away dismally at a typewriter, does it look like he quit? And he's not crazy for turning down the offer, Jonathan insists: "It's just, I keep wondering, why me? There are hundreds, thousands of men in London with greater qualifications, but Grayson chooses me. Don't you think that's a bit odd? He must have some sort of agenda." "What agenda?" "I don't know. That's just it, I can't figure it out. Nothing adds up." I'm actually impressed that Jonathan has immediately caught on to the general hinkiness of this opportunity and that, in the end, he knowingly gives in to his social-financial situation rather than just be blinded by greed from the start. But we'll get to that later. "What will you tell Mina?" asks Szabo. For now? "The truth. This whole--this whole business, it just feels so wrong." And Szabo nods, but sort of sighs, and pats him on the shoulder.

(Seriously, take the house.)


Back in the Carriage of Heathens, "So, did Mr. Harker tell you about my offer?" Why, yes, he did, and Mina admits that "I told him that I would give him a kick if he didn't take you up on it." "I bet you did." (lol Dracula.) And then she reveals that she's studying medicine. "Are you? How extraordinary." "You don't approve." "Now, why would you say that?" (To be fair, sir, you did say it in a way that sounded vaguely condescending.) Well, Mina explains, "My father is the supervising physician at Bethlem Royal Hospital, and people would always say to me... 'Are you going to be a nurse when you grow up?' And I would say, 'No, I'm going to be a doctor.' And that was all very sweet and charming until I was... fourteen or so." Dracula's words of wisdom: "So what." Mina giggles: "Indeed, Mr. Grayson." "Two words guaranteed to repel any manner of mediocrity masquerading as conventional wisdom," he elaborates. She giggles again, but her face falls: she's afraid that she'll fail her big exam today. And, if so: "That'll be the end of your dreams?" asks Dracula, adding, "If there's one thing I've learned in all my years, in all my journeys and let me tell you, there have been A LOT OF THEM, Miss Murray, is that when it comes to dreams--one may falter, but the only way to fail... is to abandon them." And then he hands over her umbrella: the time is at hand.

So here's Mina at school, whispering that the only way to fail is to abandon, etc, then cutting into a body with what looks like a fairly sure hand. (Apparently Dracula's pep talk was a bit more useful than Non Helping's last week.) And then she has to explain the dissected organs to Van Helsing and AN ENTIRE AUDIENCE, GAH, FOR HOURS AND HOURS, and all I know is that there's some kind of myocardial disarray and asymmetric hypertrophic thickening and also Dracula is lurking like a supportive vulture in the shadows, so that's nice. *APPLAUSE.*

As Dracula's walking away from the college, the seers are making weird faces at their candlelit mirror cabinet, I don't even know, and then the mirror actually turns into some kind of weird roaming surveillance camera complete with spotlight and


And the dude seer breaks the mirror before they can be any more screwed than they already are. And then the cracked mirror starts BLEEDING. Yeah. You guys are so fucked.

@cleolinda: I really don't know what's going on with these two and I dread having to explain.

@redheadedgirl: Thank god Jayne is there to recap.

Lady Jayne does, indeed, break the news to Browning: "The seers located the vampire in Stepney. He--detected them." "He what?" SHE SAID, "he detected them, and then employed some kind of countermeasure." Can you even do that? "Well, it's rare, yes, it's extraordinarily so, but it is possible if he is very, very old. Two or three centuries at the least." Browning considers this for a moment: "Have you consulted your peers? Has anyone ever come across anything like this?" "Not in our lifetime, no. There was Lucrezia Borgia--" CROSSOVER! "--yes, yes. Spare me the history lesson." (Oh my God, Browning, YOU ASKED.) "All I need to know is, can we contain this?" "I promise," says Lady Jayne, "I will track him, and I will destroy him--with or without the seers' assistance."

Meanwhile, Jonathan gets home to discover that his rent has been raised--again--but then Mina and Lucy come tripping down the stairs with good news: "I passed!" "Not only passed, but first in her class. She's the first female student to come top of her class in college!" And then Mina and Jonathan kiss while Lucy watches longingly. Oh! This also means that Mina has won the position of Van Helsing's assistant! Van Helsing, who is trying to cure Dracula's sun allergy! I don't see how this could go wrong at all! Also, Mina's high-waisted skirt is super cute. So, to celebrate, Lucy's reserved a table at the Savoy--"Auguste is going to make something special just for Mina!" "Auguste who?" asks Jonathan blankly. "Oh, Auguste Escoffier, silly!" cries Lucy. "Don't you know anything--doesn't he know anything?"

Referred to by the French press as roi des cuisiniers et cuisinier des rois ("king of chefs and chef of kings")... Escoffier was France's preeminent chef in the early part of the 20th century. [Escoffier and César Ritz] in 1890 accepted an invitation from Richard D'Oyly Carte to transfer to his new Savoy Hotel in London, together with the third member of their team, the maître d'hôtel, Louis Echenard. Ritz put together what he described as "a little army of hotel men for the conquest of London," and Escoffier recruited French cooks and reorganised the kitchens. The Savoy under Ritz and his partners was an immediate success, attracting a distinguished and moneyed clientele, headed by the Prince of Wales. [...] Aristocratic women, hitherto unaccustomed to dine in public, were now "seen in full regalia in the Savoy dining and supper rooms."

At the Savoy, Escoffier created many famous dishes. In 1893 he invented the pêche Melba in honour of the Australian singer Nellie Melba, and in 1897, Melba toast. Other Escoffier creations, famous in their time, were bombe Néro (a flaming ice), fraises à la Sarah Bernhardt (strawberries with pineapple and Curaçao sorbet), baisers de Vierge (meringue with vanilla cream and crystallised white rose and violet petals) and suprêmes de volailles Jeannette (jellied chicken breasts with foie gras). He also created Salad Réjane, after Gabrielle Réjane, and (although this is disputed) Tournedos Rossini.
Damn. At this rate, Lucy'll probably get him to invent a Crêpes Wilhelmina. BEHOLD THE GREATNESS OF HER TRIBUTE, PEON.

Well, actually, he can't behold it: "I'm under the cosh with a deadline, and I have to deliver the copy before they set the presses." "Oh, don't worry, Harker," says Lucy, "the whole celebration's my treat!" As if he's making up an excuse. Because he's POOOOOOOOOR. Lucy is just the biggest underminer, it's terrible and I kind of love it.

CUT TO: Carfax Manor, where Jonathan's new boss informs him, "You will call me Alexander, and I will call you Harker." "Of course, if it pleases you," says Jonathan, who just really doesn't care as long as the Ladies Westenra stop making him look bad in front of Mina, damn. You bet your ass it pleases him: "There's something you should know about me right now, Harker," says Dracula. "I never do anything... anything... that does not please me." (Ooh.) "Is that not true, Renfield?" "All too true, I'm afraid, sir," deadpans Renfield, and I love him. In fact, says Dracula, "He insists on calling me 'sir' because he knows how much it annoys me, but I will brook no such insubordination from the likes of you. Now, to business." Specifically, tell us aaaaall the dirt on Lord Coolant (*chinhands*). Yes, yes, business and Parliament, WA WAWA, we know, "but every man has a dark side. I need to know his. I want you to tell me everything."

After a long pause, Jonathan says, "Everything you need to know you can find out at ten PM at the Swinburne Club."

Congratulations! You're now an assistant blackmailer. Please find your crisis of conscience enclosed with your first paycheck.

@cleolinda: #dracula So Jonathan gets paid to say, "Everything you need to know, go here and find it out yourself." A+

@NBCDracula: @cleolinda Lucky guy. #Dracula

@cleolinda: @NBCDracula Is Dracula still hiring?


Oh, and about that "Swinburne Club," which I'm pretty sure wasn't real--just carefully named:

Algernon Charles Swinburne (5 April 1837 – 10 April 1909) was an English poet, playwright, novelist, and critic. He invented the roundel form, wrote several novels, and contributed to the famous Eleventh Edition of the Encyclopædia Britannica. He was nominated for the Nobel Prize in Literature in every year from 1903 to 1907 and again in 1909. Swinburne was an alcoholic and algolagniac [sexual masochist], and a highly excitable character... considered a decadent poet, although he perhaps professed to more vice than he actually indulged in; Oscar Wilde stated that Swinburne was "a braggart in matters of vice, who had done everything he could to convince his fellow citizens of his homosexuality and bestiality without being in the slightest degree a homosexual or a bestialiser."
Well... there's that.

(Whenever I've come across "bestiality" in a Victorian context, it seems to have referred more to doggy style than actual doggies, if you get what I'm saying. And we're going to keep telling ourselves this. Yes.)

So Dracula hunts down the super secret Swinburne Club, which is deathly private except for how easy it is to bribe the doorman.

@Ceilidhann: Is Dracula in a cross dressing gay bar with drag performers? I like this show.

Yeah, that's pretty much where we find ourselves. The drag is actually so good that it took me a moment to be sure. On the other hand, the current performer is singing to a stuffed toy cat about how "Daddy wouldn't buy me a bow-wow" while the crowd laughs and sings the chorus ("Bow wow! Bow wow!"), which is... kind of what you get from Victorian music hall as a genre, yeah.

(Fuck me, it's real. "It was written for, and first performed in 1892 by Vesta Victoria at the South London Palace, holding a kitten. [...] In 1895 Toulouse-Lautrec painted May Belfort singing it. The comedian Arthur Roberts also had success in the 1890s with the song.")

So Dracula orders himself a glass of (sing it with me if you know the words) whiskey and wanders around until he finds Lord Laurent. Now, I was starting to get concerned about why a father might take his son to a drag club, but hey, someone's gotta take 'em the first time, right? So I was deliriously tired and determined, as with the first episode, to roll with it; Daniel gets up to leave, and a dismayed Lord Laurent protests, "The night's hardly started." "I'm sorry, I must be off. Father and I play polo tomorrow" (HOW DID I NOT CATCH THIS?) "and you know how cross he gets if I come in late the night before a match." "Only so cross as I get when you leave so early." Daniel, seductively: "You are... irresistible... when you sulk." oh no. this is not--oh no-- "Do you think so...?" And then they start making out.

@cleolinda: Wait what is happening this is upsetting and I am confused I thought that guy was RELATED TO HIM


@cleolinda: @redheadedgirl I'M SO UNHAPPY RIGHT NOW


@LJmysticowl: no, no, the father is the guy who was shouting "well done, my boy." the older, grey-haired one with a round face

@barnswallowkate: I am pretty sure at the beginning fencing boy looked past his dad to his boyfriend

@PretendKing: no the son is lord davenport's son, I assure you he is not banging a fake son

@particle_p: oh Cleo no

@cleolinda: OH! ohhhhhh


@cleolinda: I'm soooo tiiiired


And then Dracula clears his throat. (The crowd's still singing "BOW WOW WOW" in the background.) Lord Laurent jumps up all HOW DARE YOU SIR?!? and Daniel's completely baffled: "Stephen, what is this? Who is this man?" "I'm Alexander Grayson," says Dracula (no thunderclap), who Daniel recognizes by name as "the American." "Mm-hmm. And you would be Daniel... Lord Davenport's only son." And then Dracula coolly leans in and kisses him on the cheek: "Hello, Daniel." "Leave. Him. Alone," Lord Laurent says in a low, serious voice. "Stephen, please," says Dracula, and everyone is so screwed.

Let's have a seat and talk this out, shall we? "Personally, I couldn't care who a man chooses to love," Dracula "reassures" them. "It's really none of my business. And at least he's not your son, damn. However... there are legions of less broad-minded souls. Your wife... his father, who would take considerable umbrage if your inclinations were given a public airing. What, I wonder, would that do to your reputations? Indeed... your families' reputations?"

By the way--compare this, perhaps, to the Cleveland Street scandal of 1889,

when a homosexual male brothel in Cleveland Street, Fitzrovia, London, was discovered by police. At the time, sexual acts between men were illegal in Britain, and the brothel's clients faced possible prosecution and certain social ostracism if discovered. [...] The government was accused of covering up the scandal to protect the names of any aristocratic patrons. The scandal fuelled the attitude that male homosexuality was an aristocratic vice that corrupted lower-class youths. Such perceptions were still prevalent in 1895 when the Marquess of Queensberry accused Oscar Wilde of being an active homosexual.
With the Marquess's son Lord Alfred Douglas, no less. So if the show takes place in 1896, Lord Laurent and Daniel Davenport would have both the Cleveland Street scandal and Oscar Wilde's trials and imprisonment ("A team of private detectives had directed Queensberry's lawyers... to the world of the Victorian underground. Wilde's association with blackmailers and male prostitutes, cross-dressers and homosexual brothels was recorded") hanging over their heads. Forget "reputations"; they could be going to jail. Which, in turn, so broke Oscar Wilde that he died only three years after finishing his prison term, at the age of 46. So this is an even more dangerous situation than the show is telling us. Because Dracula is terrible.

(Please supply your own "Gay Nineties" joke here.)

"What do you want?" asks Lord Laurent, but Dracula just shouts "Bravo!" at the stage.

Meanwhile, over at the Inquisitor, everyone's toasting Jonathan for getting the hell out of there; he shows them all the ring he's going to give Mina "this very night." "What? In front of everyone?" "Of course, in front of everyone. In front of God, the prophets, the angels, and every bloody soul in this room!" Thank God Dracula hasn't invented the Jumbotron yet, is all I can say about that. "My boy is going to be a proper Englishman!" cheers Szabo. "That's right. That's right, with a proper English wife!" Jonathan says drunkenly, because this is going to end so well. What about "Miss Murray's" medical studies? "How does that square with the 'proper English wife' bit?" asks some dude I don't recall seeing before. "OOOOOOH," taunts the crowd of reporters. "Mate," says Jonathan, "when I slip this ring" (oh! here's Mina in the doorway!) "on Mina's lovely little finger, I have every confidence that she'll forget all this silliness at university" (ohhhh nooooo) "and settle down and dedicate herself to more natural" (everyone but Jonathan sees her oh noooooo) "womanly pursuits."


So Jonathan runs after her, playing the Baby Baby Please Symphony in D Minor as fast as he can go. "Why apologize? It's how you feel, it is how you have always felt!" "That's not fair!" he cries. "I've never said a word of discouragement to you, ever!" Oh. Well. How nice of you. "Nor a single word of support," retorts a tearful Mina, who is, to be fair, forgetting that one time he wasn't listening to her and said surely she'd do fine on whatever her pretty little head was troubled about. You done fucked up, son.

@LJmysticowl: Feel like Harker just got character assassinated. However, rather than prop up Dracula, it just establishes Lucy as Mina's true love

@redheadedgirl: headcanon accepted.

@cleolinda: I second the motion.


Meanwhile, over at a little restaurant, after yet another glass of whiskey, Dracula's sweet-talking a waitress who is trying to check coats by the book and would really, really like him to hand over his ticket. I could have sworn this was the same lady he nommed outside Mina's college last episode, but she only seems to be credited for this episode. LOOK, THIS COULD HAVE PLOT IMPLICATIONS, I DON'T KNOW. "I can always purchase another coat," he smooves, "but your name? Now, that's something I treasure more than any mere garment," like he isn't going to just totally pretend that she's Mina. "Sinéad," she admits finally. Here's how that turns out:

[whimpering] [growls] [squishing] [echoing moans] [snarls] [dramatic music] [growling]

Wow, he seriously took a chunk out of that poor girl. I am really going to hope that whatever happened to her before that was mutually agreed-upon, because the whole scene looks pretty bad. And somehow, Lady Jayne catches the scent of vampiry in the wind and arrives just in time to miss Dracula as he runs off around the back. Like they are literally both in the same frame, it's a hilariously close call. So there's nothing left for Jayne to do but preventatively slice off Sinead's head with her Kukri knife. (Was the final outcome this graphic in the version we saw on Friday night? Or it was, and I was just clinging to consciousness again?) And we end with Dracula with a grin full of gore on the rooftops, because he is terrible. As he should be.

@cleolinda: Just now fully processing what horrifying dreams I had [last night]. Like sort of hilariously, unbelievably awful.

@cleolinda: Recapped Hannibal, slept like a baby. Recap Dracula, get two weeks of the weirdest goriest dreams I've had in my entire life.

I will try to take a nap before tonight's episode, though.

(Continue: 1x03: "Goblin Merchant Men")

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