Cleolinda Jones (cleolinda) wrote,
Cleolinda Jones

Dracula 1x03: "Goblin Merchant Men"

"I'll recap the whole season of Dracula," she said. "Barring any catastrophes," she said. Well, there haven't been any full-on catastrophes yet (although the weather is supposed to be hellish, please let those not be famous last words), but I've been dealing with some chronic (mild) health issues, blah blah blah, I'm emotionally upbeat but not feeling physically that great, life in general is moving slowly, bear with me if you can. Also, I don't even know wtf just happened on this show.

PREVIOUSLY ON: DRACULA: Dracula made a magic coin disappear into Lady Jayne's lady garden, and then he went looking for it. All night long. Then he went to a drag club and blackmailed Lord Laurent and Lord Laurent's young lover, who is NOT LORD LAURENT'S SON, by the way, and thus Dracula obtained Laurent's shares in WA WAWA WA. Jonathan was broke, and Lucy and her mother rubbed his face in it so much that he took the weirdly, conveniently awesome job as Dracula's PR VP OMG (yes really) despite all misgivings. And then he was a typical sexist Victorian about Mina studying to be a doctor and she overheard and dumped his ass.

Also, One Million Moms are boycotting the show because not only is it "extremely violent, but it also includes a high level of sexual content that should be considered pornographic material.... This program is entirely too graphic in too many ways. Previews of this program also included: terrifying screams, a rotted corpse, death, murder, a woman burned alive while tied to a stake, spirits, satanic and occult elements, homosexual content, tons of blood... and other gore, including decapitated heads in boxes and pools of blood." And they haven't even seen what Van Helsing does this week.

("And now, suddenly, it sounds a lot more interesting and I want to watch it.")

I also want to add a suicide trigger warning for this episode. It's the last scene, around "sitting at his desk in tears."

@colehaddon: This episode's title, "Goblin Merchant Men", is a play on Christina Rossetti's poem titled "Goblin Market".

@colehaddon: When constructing #Dracula's season arc, we called Episode 2 "The Last Temptation of Harker" and 3 "The Last Temptation of Mina"

From that link, Wikipedia's description: At last, the goblins give up and Lizzie runs home, hoping that Laura will eat and drink the juice from her body. The dying sister does so but the taste of the fruit repulses her rather than satisfies her hunger; she then undergoes a violent transformation of such intensity that her life seems to hang in the balance. The next morning, though, Laura has returned to her old self, both physically and mentally. As the last stanza attests, both Laura and Lizzie live to tell their children of the evils of the goblins' fruits—and the incredible powers of sisterly love.

We also discussed this a tiny bit on Tumblr, somehow:

envygreenpencilred: IIRC, which I should because I wrote a paper on it, the central thesis of "Goblin Market" is "supernatural boys are ICKY. Stay with your lady friends." This seems oddly appropriate.

professorerudite: That actually was the first thing that popped into my head. I wondered also if anyone else was aware of the inherent lesbian undertones to that poem as well that might have contributed to the use of that title for the episode…

ischadie: The fact that Christina Rossetti is John Polidori’s niece makes this a very incestuous little vampire (Vampyre!) world.

(Also, such is my life that I see a line like "Twilight is not good for maidens" and laugh way too hard.)

P.S. BPAL coincidentally has a limited edition "Goblin Market" perfume available until December. The reviews say the quince comes out most, with a slightly musky undertone, possibly with honey, amber and spices; I can't decide if this is relevant to my interests or not, so tell me if you've tried it.


So we start off with The Passion of the Vampire, as Order of the Dragon henchmen beat Dracula, who is chained to a post, into a fine paste. In the rain. This seems to be after they made him watch Ilona burn to death at the stake, so, all things considered, this is a pretty bad day he's having here. I have no idea what kind of blossoming tree this is in the courtyard, but it looks like some kind of fruit tree--cherry? Apple? Plum? Symbolism? It's tragically pretty. Later that night, it's time for his sentencing (he's still chained to the post), and they bring out, like... a devilgoat skull or something? I thought y'all's deal was that you were too dogmatically Christian? Y'all are kind of shitty at that. So they pour demon-ram blood into Dracula's mouth, then they cut his throat (it's hard to see over the chains, but still pretty gruesome. Fair play, One Million Moms) and he bleeds out to "death." Crawling across the stones, he sees a vision of Ilona doing her best Arwen Evenstar:

(I will note here that Ilona is "possibly a Hungarian form of Helen," which in turn is the "English form of the Greek ‘Ελενη (Helene), probably from Greek ‘ελενη (helene) 'torch' or 'corposant,' or possibly related to σεληνη (selene) 'moon,'" and is commonly translated in your average baby-naming book as "light.")

(*death flop*)

When Dracula wakes up, he's hanging from ceiling chains. "WHERE AM I? WHY AM I NOT DEAD?"

Entirely reasonable questions. "This is the price of your defiance," intones Some Priest. "Using the power of the God you denounced"--using the what now? how? what are are you people even talking about--"Ordo Draco has made a monster from the finest irony. Thou art condemned, condemned to endless night." Also, the Order's thought of a great new torture: *push* *swing* *sizzle* *SCREAM* In conclusion: "VLAD TEPES IS CONDEMNED TO BE UNDEAD."

Aaaand then Dracula pulls himself up on his chains like a gymnast and breaks them and bares his new fangs and is obviously going to nom Some Priest, a holy father of the Ordo Did Not Think This Through.

@colehaddon: For me, @NBCDracula was always a show about ironies. That the Ordo Draco would try to punish Vlad Tepes and accidentally turn him into their greatest enemy was one of these.

Meanwhile, in the present, Dracula is idly playing the piano in his gorgeous, gorgeous manor. Cole Haddon mentioned the Ottoman Empire colors before; this week, I happened to see something from @metmuseum about their Damascus Room:

The opulent Damascus Room was the showpiece of its Ottoman period house.... The palette of the 'ajami decoration was originally much more colorful and more varied than it appears today. Periodically the surfaces were coated with a layer of varnish as a form of maintenance. Over time, subsequent coats of varnish have darkened, muting the colorful surfaces in the Damascus Room.

(I don't know what Dracula's specifically playing, but if he starts composing a "Mina's Lullaby," I am out.)

Renfield's surprised that Dracula plays the piano; he replies, "It's been over a century since I last put fingers to keys." (I demand crossover fic involving a certain present-day harpsichord collector.) Moreover, "I was thinking about lady Jayne Wetherby and her decidedly unwholesome avocation." "Really? Which one, sir?" deadpans Renfield, who probably also knows the best purveyor of ointment for that shaming BURN. Dracula chuckles: "Her vampire hunting, of course. It stretches credulity to think she's unaffiliated with the Order. But then, she is a female." (I can't tell if this is supposed to indicate that Dracula is a sexist dick, or simply that he's aware that Lady Jayne must therefore be the Order's first and only lady vampire hunter.) "I suppose I shall have to ascertain it one way or the other," but right now, Renfield has brought written confirmation: "You are now a majority stockholder of British Imperial Coolant." And Dracula strikes a jarring but triumphant chord (WAA!!).

Elsewhere in London, Jonathan sees an amazingly fabulous Lucy knocking on Mina's door, despairs, and drives on. As he should.

@MrNickCharles: And we start with a corset under a cardigan!

@colorlessblue: a corset under a cardigan? MY PEOPLE!

Mina's sweater is hella cute and will be available on Etsy as fast as people can knit it. As for Mina herself, her dazzle is utterly chagrined to find Lucy at the door instead of Jonathan, and she doesn't bother to hide it. "Good morning, you look dreadful," Lucy retorts briskly. "Pack your trunk and we shall go." Wait, go where? "Mother decamped for Paris and left me on my own, and you know how much I hate that" (I choose to believe that this involved Lucy shouting, "HOLY SHIT, MINA DUMPED JONATHAN! GET YOUR ASS TO PARIS NOW!!") "so, if the cure for my loneliness and your broken heart are the same thing..." "How did you know?" "Dearest Mina," Lucy says more earnestly, "do not shed a single tear for Jonathan Harker. Honestly, there's no point in wasting a single minute more thinking about what an awful twit he turned out to be. Not when you could be having fun with me instead."

Meanwhile, Jessica De Gouw and Katie McGrath apparently took their own little jaunt to Dublin.

(Wait, how did she know?)

And now, we meet Mina's father at Bethlem Royal Hospital. I'm just... I'm not even going to deal with the asylum patients roaming the halls and eating flowers (...?) and beating their heads against a wall. I'm not saying it was or was not really like that; I'm just saying I do not have the fortitude to deal with it today. In strides Lady Jayne; these are her professional bosoms. "Dr. Murray, I have two young seers relatives under my charge--sharp young minds--but lately they've experienced a great, psychic strain," she tells him, and she's heard that Dr. Murray, the hospital director, is both known for his discretion and has "had the privilege of serving as an alienist to certain individuals of high renown... Which is why I'm here. Not for myself, naturally, but for close relations who wish to remain anonymous." So anonymous that they don't even have names! "Please, how may I be of service?" Dr. Murray asks. Discreetly.

So I was talking with my friend @cailingaillimhe, who's over in Ireland and has watched both the NBC and Sky Living versions of the show, and thus I found out that AN IMPERIAL SHIT-TON OF THINGS got cut or moved around or outright changed for this particular episode, and I have no idea why. (Unless it was to come up with a shorter version so NBC could cram in more commercials, because they so would. It wasn't to remove gore or violence, because it turns out we got more of that over here.) So apparently there's a scene after this, she says, "with Mina and her dad at the hospital, with him talking to her about what Lady Jayne wanted from him," which then cuts to a business meeting with "Jonathan looking to the side rehashing what Mina said to him." Which is good to know, because otherwise, what Renfield says to him in a moment makes no sense.

In a business meeting at Empire and Colonial Metallurgy, WA WAWA WAWA WAAAAA. "Are you suggesting we dedicate the entirety of our operation to the needs of a single client?" demands one Mr. Worth. "No," says Jonathan, "but I think he is." He being Renfield, who, upon being told to GTFO, coolly replies, "Very well. Though I must regretfully inform you that your employment here is terminated. Effective immediately." Worth's measured reply: "You don't have the authority to dismiss me! You're nothing more than a rich man's novelty I wouldn't even let into my home!" OH MY SWEET LORD YOU DID NOT. "Now hold on a minute," sputters Jonathan, "you have no right to speak to--" "As a majority shareholder of British Imperial Lubrication and Coolant Co. Ltd, Alexander Grayson is now your employer," Renfield says smoothly. "When I speak, I speak with his authority. I'll give you a second chance to do as you're told. Have I made myself clear?" (Worth looks over at Jonathan like WHITE MAN, HELP ME and Jonathan's just like there is no help for you now.) "Yes," says Worth. (Dot dot dot. Dot. Dot. Consider your choices carefully right now.) "...sir."

Also, please let us pause to appreciate Renfield's wardrobe, which is Fancy Cannibal quality:

I am 99% certain he picked out Jonathan's new clothes as well. Jonathan, who needs to get his head in the game: "In future, I'd appreciate it if you tried to earn Mr. Grayson's trust, not to mention generosity," because what? OHHHHHH, BECAUSE JONATHAN WAS BUSY REHASHING WHAT MINA SAID TO HIM. Thanks, NBC. So Jonathan apologizes, pledges his undivided attention, and accepts a list of British Imperialists to "foster friendships with." Renfield concludes, "And Harker? Never again presume to defend me to anyone." SIR YES SIR.

And now here's Dr. Murray over at Van Helsing's office--we find out later that Van Helsing is "the only man in Britain who possesses the expertise to process and administer a non-lethal dose" of the stimulant his client wants, because of reasons. May a humble academic inquire as to the client's name? "Well, Professor," says Dr. Murray, "I suppose I can rely on your discretion? She is Lady Jayne Wetherby." "Ah. I see," says Van Helsing, hardly able to keep his composure (or his pipe). "I see."

And then he reports straight to Carfax Manor, where Dracula sums it up: "Our huntswoman is seeking a new drug for her seers." You have an admirable grasp of the situation, yes. "Give it to her." And then they stare at each other.

@particle_p: Van Helsing/Dracula??

@cleolinda: Okay so I wasn't the only one thinking it.

Like, if I didn't know better, the way they're apparently gazing at each other's lips, I'd say this was a fan edit. "Well... if you insist," Van Helsing says skeptically, "I'll concoct a serum of inadequate potency." "And force our enemy to seek a new solution elsewhere--beyond our control. Well done, Van Helsing. Short-sighted and foolish." *MUTUAL GLARE*

But before we find out if Dracula has any better ideas, we fade into Browning and Lord Laurent strolling down a busy nighttime street (I'm pretty sure I saw a Punch and Judy show back there). "If Grayson brings off his geomagnetic scheme, the Order's oil and petroleum WAWA WA won't be worth the WA WAWAWA they're written on," fumes Browning. Laurent: "I am well aware of the threat he poses to all of us--" "SO WHAT ON EARTH POSSESSED YOU TO SELL HIM YOUR SHARES IN BRITISH IMPERIAL COOLANT?" Well, see, there was this drag club, and... "Had I a choice in the matter, I never would have agreed to his terms!" Browning stops in his tracks: "He threatened you." Well, yes, that is what we're getting at here. But Lord Laurent huffs a little--clearly he hadn't meant to admit that, possibly because he doesn't want to expose how he was threatened. Browning: "There is no protection, none, for any brother who violates the principal oath. If you have anything to say to me in your defense, I suggest you do so now or stand before your brothers and suffer the punishment proscribed." A long look between the two of them: omg tell him. TELL HIM! He'll get why you did it, he's a really... understanding... oh. Finally, Browning nods and walks away. While Lord Laurent says later that he understood what the consequences would be when he gave in to Dracula's blackmail (Dracmail?)... I'm not sure he really believed until just now that he would actually suffer them.

Over at Lady Jayne's house--which really might be some kind of Wetherby Manor, I don't know; it turns out to be huge--Dracula gets out of bed and, wisely, puts on pants. I mean, nothing else, but at least we're not talking unpanted shenanigans here. (Jayne is just totally, blissfully out cold from all the bom-chicka-vamp-vamp.) There's also a Klimt-ish mural on the bedroom wall that looks like something Dracula would have in his bedroom,

which made me think for a moment that we were at Carfax Manor, but no, it's definitely enemy territory. There's something like weird distant whispers in the air as he slips away, and I have to say, it's interesting to have Dracula sneaking around the house the way Jonathan sneaks around Castle Dracula in the book. Except that Dracula is totally unconcerned, because he is the most dangerous thing there. What's it like, I wonder, to know that you're the monster in the closet, as it were--to be the thing everyone else is afraid of? Like, I'm sure it's lonely, but--there's got to be a certain blessed calmness in your daily life. Like, fuck everything, it doesn't get any worse than me, I do what I want. You want to be like OMG DON'T GO INTO THE BASEMENT WITH THE CHAINS AND THE TORCHES AND THE SCREAMING, YOU'RE NOT EVEN WEARING A SHIRT, but... it's Dracula. So here he is in a sprawling, torchlit chamber, through twists and turns, past a rack of swords--is this the dunjo? It's admirably clean and well-swept for a dungeon, I must say.

The sound of rattling chains leads him to an imprisoned female vampire, who might not even be the same captive from the first episode, is the sad thing. And she jumps and snarls and hisses, "Kill me... please... kill me," but he just hushes her, finger to his lips, and kisses her hand, tears in his eyes. And you know, the captions only said "whispers," but you know what I think she was saying? "Sire.. sire... help me, sire." She could sense his presence--he must have turned her himself. But he goes back to the bedroom alone, because he can't give away that he knows. And when he gets there, HE MAD. Like, I forgot about things I know about future episodes and legit thought for a moment they might kill Lady Jayne off right here. There's a really cool shot where he panther-prowls up the bed towards her, and I'm pretty sure that if she hadn't instinctively woken up and (seductively) grabbed his shoulder, he'd have chewed her head off just then.

Over at a restaurant, word seems to have gotten around that Jonathan is now "Grayson's man," and Lord Davenport decides that it couldn't hurt to butter him up--or wine him up, rather. Except that Jonathan has already sent a Latour 1890 to the Davenport table. And over at his own table (*finger guns*) Jonathan raises his glass to them, because apparently he's acquired some finesse after all.

Chez Westenra, Lucy tells a mopey Mina that "we shall make a full circuit, starting at the Savoy and arriving fashionably late at the Officers' Club ball, where the men shall be--delicious, if a little too well-behaved." Get it, Lydia Bennet. "Lucy... when you went to the house, are you sure you didn't see Jonathan?" Mina, we need you to focus: "Not a note, not a card, nothing. No doubt he's already found some silly little cow who fits his description of a proper English wife," says Lucy, with an intense gaze I can only translate as OMG I WOULD BE YOUR PROPER ENGLISH WIFE! Mina, finally: "And what do we do... with these delicious officers?"

(Wait, "Captain Westenra"? And then there is dancing and giggling and girlish heaving? Why did we not get this?)

At the Savoy, I don't know exactly what Auguste Escoffier makes for them, but it's definitely on fire. I'm going to pretend it is, in fact, a special order of Crêpes Wilhelmina. (How would that be different from Suzette, do you think? Blood orange juice?)

It's a montage! Gotta have a montage! By the end of it, Lucy and Mina are ridrunkulous. There is no more champagne at the Savoy because they drank it all.

You know what, I will say--you can actually support a Lucy/Mina relationship with the original text. In the Victorian era, they had the concept of a "romantic friendship" that was not necessarily sexual--think of Anne and Diana being "bosom friends" in the Green Gables books. In fact,

During the 17th through 19th centuries, a woman expressing passionate love for another woman was fashionable, accepted, and encouraged. These relationships were termed romantic friendships, Boston marriages, or "sentimental friends," and were common in the U.S., Europe, and especially in England. Documentation of these relationships is possible by a large volume of letters written between women. Whether the relationship included any genital component was not a matter for public discourse, but women could form strong and exclusive bonds with each other and still be considered virtuous, innocent, and chaste; a similar relationship with a man would have destroyed a woman's reputation. In fact, these relationships were promoted as alternatives to and practice for a woman's marriage to a man.
Which is to say, because the concept of a passionate but non-sexual female friendship was acceptable, no one had to specify or justify; the women could depend on each other emotionally and/or materially, or sublimate romantic feelings they didn't understand or didn't want to admit--or purposefully, and discreetly, have a long-term romantic/sexual relationship. So when Mina and Lucy write letters to each other in the book, saying things like "oceans of love and millions of kisses" or, even more intensely--

Jonathan asks me to send his "respectful duty"… And so, as you love me, and he loves me, and I love you with all the moods and tenses of the verb, I simply send you his "love" instead. Goodbye, my dearest Lucy, and blessings on you.

I am pretty sure this is intended as the passionate-but-platonic variety of "romantic friendship." (Despite Mina equating her friend with her husband.) But the whole concept has this kaleidoscopic quality, where you can emphasize one particular facet over another. So, since we've apparently given all three of Lucy's male suitors the boot, Lucy being in love with Mina is not incompatible with the original book, as far as I'm concerned.

Regarding male relationships, you have a similar thing where a plausible "lifelong roommates" situation was acceptable--whatever you think was going on with Holmes and Watson, there's a classic example for you. On the other hand, there's what we talked about in the previous recap--the fin-de-siècle Cleveland Street and Oscar Wilde scandals. So, whereas Mina, having told Jonathan to GTFO, might even be encouraged as a single woman to settle in with Lucy for a while, Lord Laurent, Daniel Davenport, and their clandestine meetings are shit out of luck.

(I'd had a feeling Lady Laurent's wistful look at Dracula had some kind of subtext, and now we know what it is. Based on Dracula's blackmail threats in the previous episode, she seems not to know what's specifically going on, but I'm guessing that she can that sense her husband's keeping some kind of secret from her.)

Currently, they are laying low at the (fictional?) James Hotel and--talk about leaving early--Lord Laurent's already getting dressed. Daniel: "To steal away like a thief in the night?" Basically? But "the die is cast," says Laurent. Bless Daniel's heart: "Then we'll run away. We'll run as far and as fast as we can to a safe haven beyond the reach of the Order." "There's no such place, Daniel. And you know it." "Then we'll simply come clean!" says Daniel, and it hurts my heart. "Are you mad?" cries Lord Laurent. "What of my reputation? I will not shirk death only to see my family's legacy compromised. I signed my death warrant the moment that I capitulated to that American. I knew this when I did it. And I would do it again."

Okay, this time, I didn't misunderstand what they were talking about. I just kept hoping that "death warrant" was a figure of speech.

@colehaddon: When I pitched @NBCDracula, I said I wanted many, complicated, honest LGBT characters on the show. I'm glad I got my way!

Mm. We'll discuss this a bit later.

Meanwhile, Mina and Lucy stagger back to the Westenra house at drunk o'clock in the morning. And there's Dracula in his carriage, watching for them like a big ol' Edward, although, to be fair, he is Dracula, and no one ever said he wasn't creepy.

Jesus, I don't think I've been that drunk in my entire life, and I once ate half a vodkamelon. "Finally. We've been waiting here all night," says poor exhausted Renfield. He warns Dracula that the sun is rising, but there's a huge bouquet of red roses waiting for Mina: "I want to see her face when she reads the card."

But it's Lucy who grabs the card: "When it comes to dreams, one might falter, but the only way to fail is to abandon them. Congratulations. It's unsigned. Who do you think might have sent them?"

"I haven't the slightest," says Mina.

I mean, clearly she knows, but that's not the reaction you'd risk a crisping for. So Dracula, curtained away from the rising sun, gives up and lets Renfield drive home. And Mina just barely manages to lurch inside the house, because DROOOOONK.

Back at Carfax Manor, "HAVE YOU MADE ANY PROGRESS WITH THE SOLAR VACCINE?" "Not while devising the serum for Lady Jayne, no," says Van Helsing, not unreasonably. "HOW LONG MUST I SPEND SKULKING IN THE SHADOWS? I WANT TO WALK IN THE SUN LIKE ANY OTHER MAN!!" IF I POKE YOU IN THE LAPEL IT WILL GET DONE FASTER!! IS IT DONE NOW?? HOW ABOUT NOW?!? "You will never be like any other man," Van Helsing replies, because apparently he's okay with dying today (even Renfield looks concerned). That said, the current vaccine lasts "three minutes and twelve seconds." "YOU LEAVE ME JUST ENOUGH TIME TO HAVE A CUP OF TEA BEFORE I BURST INTO FLAMES!!" shouts Dracula, grabbing Van Helsing by the scruff of the neck. This is probably not the time to mention that black tea takes five minutes to steep.

@cleolinda: Given that I just layered on three different kinds of sunscreen in November, maybe I shouldn't laugh so hard at Dracula's solar vaccine.

(His angst sounds familiar, but I must be thinking of some other vampire story? In the book, Dracula didn't have that much of a sun problem, although he wasn't at full power during the day. Again, the Deadly Sunlight thing is from Nosferatu.)

Next, we see Lord Laurent sadly watch his young son sleep, pulling a toy soldier out of his hand; apparently a bit was cut where he reads to his son before his wife comes in and says, "Your friends (!) are waiting."

And now we enter the So Fucking Terrible portion of the show. Seriously, this is so fucking terrible, I can't even. Lord Laurent is escorted into the Secret Underground Ordo Draco Lair & Punishment Distribution Center, and Daniel is there because he doesn't just know about the Order, he's in it, and this is going to be so fucking terrible. Right as we start to actually get a sense of who this guy is and I started to like him, this fucking happens.

"Did you place your own interests before those of this most august order?" Well--but--there was this Yankee vampire blackmailer, and-- "The punishment is proscribed within these pages. So it is written..." EVERYONE: "...AND SO IT SHALL BE DONE." FOR THE GREATER GOOOOOD. "The sentence has been handed down from generation to generation. Will you ACCEPT THE BLADE?" And they bring out a very Roman-looking sword--a gladius? And, what with "Ordo Draco" being actual Latin, this suggests that these people have been around a long damn time. Being terrible. And then Browning STABS DOWNWARDS THROUGH LAURENT'S CHEST VERTICALLY, LIKE I DIDN'T EVEN KNOW YOU COULD DO THAT, and he LITERALLY TWISTS THE KNIFE IN HIS HEART (big spurt of blood) and Laurent actually grabs the sword and pulls it down further either because he really does fully, tragically accept the consequences or because Browning won't get it over with fast enough, and now there's a giant pool of blood spreading all the way beneath Daniel's feet and you know I don't even think he was standing that close, oh my God this is so fucking terrible.

@colehaddon: This death scene was one of the moments I most looked forward to seeing on @NBCDracula. It was always heartbreaking in my mind.

(How in THE WORLD are they going to explain his death to Lady Laurent? "He... uh, he had a heart attack. Everywhere.")

So. Since we need a drink, Lucy is taking us all out for a night on the town. For the best effect, have this playing while you read:

My hand to God, this is actually the song playing (and I've been listening to it all week): The Brian Jonestown Massacre's "Anenome" (yes, spelled that way. Perhaps to sound like "an enemy"). We specifically hear the lines "you should be picking me up / instead you're dragging me down / now I'm missing you more / cause baby you're not around," Jonathan. Lucy's solution is absinthe, perhaps hoping it makes the heart grow fonder (I'm sorry). Hey, it worked in Bram Stoker's Dracula (the tears are now DIAMONDS). By the way? "Friends don't let friends flame absinthe." In reply to that:

True story, went on a date once, and he thought he’d impress me by showing off this absinthe-serving “skills” (which I’m pretty sure involved watching Moulin Rouge and From Hell really intensely for 12 hours straight, probably scribbling notes in the dark), and he totally did the thing of lighting the sugar on fire.

I got up and left.

@cleolinda: You never know what someone's deal breaker is going to be.

@MsTeratophilia: He was already on thin ice--he was wearing a stretch velvet suit (NO REALLY) and a top hat, Jesus take the whole car dealership.

So apparently burning the sugar (DON'T BURN THE SUGAR) is advertised as the "Bohemian method," which I guess is appropriate, because this place is Bohemian as fuck. Also, y'all kept saying that Katie McGrath has a strong Keira Knightley resemblance, but I never saw it until right... here.

Lucy, by the way, spends the entirety of this absinthe trip nuzzling Mina and gazing at her longingly; Mina does not seem to notice. In the background, there's some slo-mo, not-very-Victorian dancing--I think I saw some lady with her ankle over a guy's shoulder? It was something between the lambada and the can-can? Actually, I'm getting a slight Moulin Rouge! vibe off the dancers generally. (To counter some of my own criticism, I do think I saw a male couple and at least one woman of color. It got a little psychedelic in there, I'm not sure.) Then Mina gets up and wanders off with her absinthe somewhere because reasons? LUCY OH MY GOD DON'T LET HER GO OFF BY HERSELF into the courtyard of Castle Dracula...?

Mina doesn't know what kind of tree it is, either.

The Mina-Ilona connection plus the absinthe really does make this an analogue to the "river of the princess" scene in Coppola's Dracula, I guess--but I find it interesting that this is happening to Mina without Dracula trying to influence her. So... is she actually trufax for-real the reincarnation of Ilona? And, if so, how screwed is Jonathan? I don't know.

@colehaddon: You can thank director Andy Goddard for this courtyard scene, which he suggested to the @NBCDracula writers room.

And then there's a gorgeous shot of Mina waking up on the time-out couch. Apparently absinthe just makes the heart grow sassy, though, because the Bohemian Poet Dude who approaches her does not get very far: "You--you need more absinthe." "Perhaps," she replies, "but by way of careful study and experiment, I may have discovered my limit."

I'll tell you right now, I don't quite know what's going on with this guy--

(pictured: a shot we never saw)

--and it turns out that there's a reason for that. In talking with @cailingaillimhe, I discovered that there was a lot cut from this scene that possibly would have made this guy seem less abrupt (but even more like an ass). As far as I know, his opener is, "Beautiful and witty. Hmm, I'm not sure whether to write a poem or paint your portrait," and Mina retorts, "I wonder, how many women have you flattered with paper and canvas?" "You're the last one. I promise," he says, gesturing with a book. Oh my God, this guy is so transparently gross. Anyway, at some later point, Mina tells Lucy that this guy told her (in @cailingaillimhe's words), "he buried his poems with his first wife but years later dug her up when he needed to publish." So that's what we're dealing with here. That's the book he's holding. (ADDENDUM: Welp, looks like that really happened.) Also, at some point, Mina straight-up tells him to get away from her, which doesn't happen in the version I saw. Currently he's smarming, "My way of contact with reality is through a limited aperture. Our transfluence takes place through one... small... opening," and he's leaning in to KISS HER? ALREADY? Even Mina laughs, it's so ridiculous, and Poet Dude is, in turn, ridiculous enough to get offended: "I amuse you?" Like I'm a clown, I'm here to fuckin' amuse you? "Do women really fall for that? 'Traaansflu~ence,' " she teases him (HA). Somehow, mocking a dude's terrible pretentious pickup line is now class warfare: "HOW SUPERIOR YOU ARE. A woman of your--MEANS, slumming the lower DEPTHS. Observing us, like we're animals at the ZOO." Uh, actually, I don't think she was paying attention to any of you at all, which might be a separate complaint. Mina tries to leave then--and he stands in her way. "Ah! You see there are no bars here. And we... are not... caged." And he leans down like--what the fuck is he even going to do to her? Like, kiss her neck or sniff her blouse or what, I can't tell?

You know who else isn't caged? This motherfucker right here.

@cleolinda: I literally started shouting for Lucy to come get--OH WELL ALSO YOU, THAT WORKS

So Gabriel Hood goes FLYING ACROSS THE ROOM into the dancing bohemians. He spits like a mad cat for a moment but seriously, leave while you still got legs, buddy.

(Have you heard my new psychedelic acid jam band, Mad Cat Spit and the Dancing Bohemians?)

Outside on a more elegant columned balcony, Dracula insists that throwing a dude across an absinthe bar was nothing, his pleasure, no big deal, etc. Mina, striking a dozen coquettish poses, thanks him "for my rescue" and asks what brought him here in the first place (seriously, why are you here). "This place is notorious for its parties," he says. "I like the music," which made me laugh really hard (indeed, I'm sure Moulin Douche is the only time-traveling bar in town). But she's troubled, he observes, and she confesses that the problem is Jonathan. "Harker? I can't believe he'd do anything to hurt you." "But he did. He said the most horrible things, and... I walked away, and we haven't seen each other since. I don't know how to fix it." "You know," says Dracula, "bohemian nightlife is a poor substitute for happiness," and he gets up reaaaally close and for a moment I thought something was about to happen. "Sometimes... the people and places we are meant for take us by surprise."

And then @cailingaillimhe told me that the NBC and Sky Living versions were completely different. First, over there, "Mina has a bit where she tells Grayson she hasn't seen Harker since they fought so she's out at parties pretending everything is okay." Then, Dracula says, "Sometimes our capacity to forgive takes us by surprise. Give Harker another chance." Which is THE OPPOSITE of seeming to imply that he is People She Is Meant For, Taking Her By Surprise. I don't even know what's going on here.

So. Sometimes the brooding Yankee industrialists we are meant for take us by-- "Well, there's a tableau vivant. Heathcliff and Cathy on the moors." LOL LUCY. Possessiveness is rolling off her in WAVES, by the way. May he see you ladies home? "NO. MY CARRIAGE IS WAITING."

@colehaddon: Lucy Westenra might be a relentless flirt, but she knows a predator when she sees one!

Also, this AU love triangle concept is a little bit genius.

Over at Carfax Manor the next day, Dracula hits the whiskey again while Jonathan reports that "I had lunch with several of the men on your list yesterday--Davenport and son... Lord Rothcroft, General Shaw..." (The last two are new, probably because we need to replenish the Dracmail fodder.) "Anyone else?" "A Mr. Browning." Hold up, what? You had lunch with that guy? How the hell did that go? "Yes, he was at your party." "Are you sure?" "Yes, quite." Indeed. I actually can't remember what Dracula does or does not know about Browning being in the Order and/or connected to Lady Jayne, but at any rate, he changes the subject:

"Now a mutual friend has told me--in complete discretion, of course--that you have recently broken from a young lady. She Her name escapes me." Oh, Mina? "Charming gal," says Dracula, somewhat hilariously. "I'd rather not discuss it, if you don't mind," says Jonathan, but "I do," says Dracula. "If only to prevent you from turning my study into a funeral parlor." The funeral parlor is in the other wing. Come on down to Whiskeytown, Jonathan. "I've known Miss Murray... Mina... for a long time," he tells Dracula (in the book, Jonathan's mentor says, "I know you both from children, and have, with love and pride, seen you grow up"), "and she's always been very stubborn." Wait, you call demanding that you give a shit about her interests stubborn? God, she really should have kicked you. "She insists on continuing her studies despite the fact that I now have the means and every intention of supporting her as my wife." And Dracula totally understands: "I understand that you are a fool. How can a man who wishes to defy social convention and rise above his station deny the same thing in the woman he loves?"

@cleolinda: Why are you giving him advice! Him being a moron works out for you!

"You're calling me a hypocrite," says Jonathan. "No, Harker. I'm calling you a fool. But you are a man in love. (*WHISKEY*) And they are very often the same thing." Are we speaking from experience right now, sir?

Over at the Westenra house, Lucy is also being a big ol' Edward. She's sort of been reading in bed, but mostly, she's watching Mina sleep, and also stroking her face and sighing wistfully, as you do.

@colehaddon: What secret pain lives in Lucy's heart when it comes to Mina is devastating to imagine for me.

Also, her bed has a fantastic headboard. When Mina wakes, Lucy says she's been "thinking." "Oh. Thinking," teases Mina. Lucy: "I do think, you know, every so often." "And what are you thinking about?" "You." (...oh.) "You inspire me to--I don't know, greater independence, I suppose." I don't know how Lucy could possibly be more independent, but there you are. (Also, her eyes well up with tears?) Wait, what time is it, exactly? "Two," says Lucy poetically: "We gave half the day to the night." So... Lucy's just been watching her sleep there all day long? And then Mina realizes: "I missed Professor Van Helsing's class." *FACEPALM.*

Over at Van Helsing's office, he hands her a glass of pond scum. "Peppermint to soothe the stomach, willow bark to ease the pounding in your HEAD" (SLAM). (Willow bark is basically the natural predecessor of aspirin, and peppermint tea can actually settle your stomach. And then I realized this basically means that dainty Miss Murray confessed that she'd been out all night getting droooonk, which is kind of hilarious.) "It tastes awful, but it will work wonders."

"Miss Murray, am I wasting my time with you?" (She shakes her head, chastened.) "There are dreams we must fight for. If you want to advance beyond the boundaries society has made for you, you must fight." "You're not wasting your time," she says quickly. "Give me a second chance, and I will prove it to you." Well, if you can get your ass over here and sober by 5 AM tomorrow, "You will report to me as my assistant for the term." :) :) :)

And then there's a quick scene out of nowhere in which Dracula is micromanaging the shit out of some poor welder welding something in need of enweldment in his steampunk engine room. "The serum for Lady Jayne's seers is ready," says Van Helsing as electricity crackles around him. "We'll track their power to its source," Dracula says ominously, "and there will be a plague upon this city." And... scene.

And then Mina's father pays a young urchin to take the seers' powdered serum (seerum?) (I'm sorry) to the opium den--and Van Helsing, who had just brought it to Dr. Murray himself, turns and follows him. Well. That was simple enough.

So, having mixed up some serum, the lady seer reaches out reaches out and parts the air in front of her like it's a literal, not just figurative, veil. "Is the stimulant working, sister? Can you see the vampire?" Yeah... yeah, she can, and we can, and so can the dude seer, who obviouses, "The vampire... he's with her."

@cleolinda: Oh, wow, the seers get Skinemax.

Aaaaand Dracula can see them. Doesn't bother to stop the sexing, just glares at them nefariously over Jayne and it is creepy as hell and there are Inception BWAAAAHNGs and wait, did he actually just bite down into Jayne's shoulder? On cue, the sister falls back choking and Van Helsing walks through the opium den towards their room right as the brother gasps, "We've been poisoned!"

"By now you will both be paralyzed," says Van Helsing, sitting down. "Do you have any idea... what it's like to hear the screams of your wife and children?" Specifically, as they're dragged into the flashback that the Order is setting fire to. "My children would be in their twenties now. The Order burned them alive for no other reason than to punish me for my disobedience. I lost everything." And now Van Helsing starts taking off his hat and gloves and coat and this is not gonna be good, this is not gonna be good at all. You see, "the monster you seek, I cannot let you find him," as long as he and Dracula are Vengeance Confederates. And traces of the drug that only he, in all of Britain, knows how to administer, will remain in their brain tissue post-mortem, and obviously that would point right back at him. "This evidence I must destroy. It is unfortunate, but sometimes science requires sacrifice." So, he's going to... burn their bodies? Hide them? Surgically remove their brains?


@colehaddon: This scene was conceived in the very early days of @NBCDracula's development. One of the ones I've most looked forward to watching!

So Van Helsing beats the two seers to death, in the brain, one by one. Oh my God, this is awful. The brother is completely conscious that it's happening but can't defend himself or try to escape; even worse, his sister has to lie there, watching this happen, waiting for it to happen to her, and there's nothing she can do about it.

And over in Lady Jayne's bed, Dracula smiles to himself. BWAAAAHNG.

And the biggest scene change, says @cailingaillimhe, is that, in the Sky Living version, the scene where Dracula gets up and discovers the captive vampire happens now. Given how upset he is by this discovery, that should really affect his motivations--in our version, that evil smile seems like he's pleased he got a little revenge by destroying the seers--on the vampire hunter he's in bed with right now, even though he wanted to kill her when he first found out what was downstairs. In the overseas version, he doesn't even know about the captive vampire yet. In the NBC version, this bedroom scene seems to mirror the first one; in the Sky Living version, it IS the first one.

@colehaddon: I mentioned @NBCDracula's ironies, but it's also a collection of dualities. Characters who have opposites or mirrors.

@colehaddon: #Dracula and Van Helsing are unique in that their mutual tragedies make them both opposites and mirrors.

@colehaddon: #Dracula and Jonathan Harker are opposites, and Mina Murray is torn between them.

At the Murray house, Mina answers the door, and this time it really is Jonathan. "I'm sorry," she cries, "for everything." WILHELMINA MURRAY! DON'T YOU DARE APOLOGIZE TO THAT JACKASS!! That Jackass: "It's my fault, not yours--" DAMN STRAIGHT "--I've been stubborn, and so obsessed with chasing my own dreams I never even took the time to understand yours, and I do. But I now realize--you don't require my protection. And you are in no need of keeping. So if--if you could, just let me love you instead." (Insert LETMELOVEYOU.gif of your choice here.) "Good evening, Miss Murray."

But she runs out into the street after him! "Marry me! Be my husband, and I will be your wife!"

@colehaddon: #Dracula also sought to reimagine Stoker's novel, while still remaining true to it. The proposal role reversal is an example of this.

Oh. Really? I'm pretty sure the Good Ship Lumina is the most faithful thing you've got going here. Speaking of which, Lucy is going to be crushed when she finds out about this. I like that Mina proposed, though. Jonathan laughs and shakes his head, but I think he likes it too? "I wanted to ask you so many times. I even bought a ring... wait. May I?" And then Jonathan... takes off a cross he just happens to wearing and puts it around her neck? Well, we'll be seeing that again, I guess. Dramatic music! 360-degree kiss! Aaaaand Dracula is in his carriage watching. Of course he is. While Jonathan twirls Mina in a little dancy-dancy move that I'm pretty sure hasn't been invented yet. Probably to some Iron & Wine or something. (Man, you people are so close to getting arrested for public indecency, I can't even tell you.) And sad vampire is sad. : [

"The oddest thing happened to me today," says Dracula; he and Renfield are sipping whiskey by the fire that night. ("Really, sir? Just one?") "I performed an act which brought great joy to someone other than myself." Renfield: "What exactly did you do?" (I love how this comes off as YOU MADE SOMEBODY HAPPY? OH MY GOD WHAT DID YOU DO?) "Harker and Mina Murray," Dracula says, "I guided the one back to the other. By the looks of it, they'll be wed." "A good deed, then." "Yes. I should be horrified. But in truth... I can't say I dislike this feeling," says Person Suit Dracula. Renfield: "And yet..." "And yet." And also: "Keeping your employee and Miss Murray together keeps her in your orbit," points out Renfield. "Like gravity. Close, but not too close. When it might be wiser to let her go." "Sometimes you're too smart for your own good," Dracula says quietly.

("It's like a millstone around my neck." Heh. Also, I think being "too smart" might come back to haunt Renfield.)

"On that first morning when they made me what I am," says Dracula, "the sunlight burned my skin. I don't know how or why... but I knew I would never be the same."

"What did you do?"

"Ripped out the throat of the bastard priest."

"So... not a bad morning, all things considered."

"I've had worse."

Back at the opium den, Lady Jayne and Browning have discovered the bodies. In close-up. There is plenty of jagged broken skull to go around. And I think I see some exposed brain. WOW. omg how can this be? It's unprecedented! It has never been done before! It's a disaster! OH GOD! I DIDN'T NEED TO SEE THAT! "It's worse than that," says Lady Jayne. "This is the work of the vampire that I seek. Now that the seers are dead, he will much more easily attract others of his kind. Soon London will be crawling with the vermin."

But that's for next time. That night, there's poor Daniel at the Davenport house, sitting at his desk in tears, looking at a framed photograph of him and Lord Laurent from the fencing match.


I'm really unhappy about this. Daniel's heartbroken over what happened to Lord Laurent, and traumatized from having to see it, and probably feeling guilty that he got away unscathed. And he's also got to know that "Grayson" could continue blackmailing him at any time. It'll never end. And he probably has all kinds of feelings about his own sexuality--despair and hopelessness, feeling trapped, being reminded more than ever that he can never be honest about his life, now or (as far as he knows) twenty years from now. I'd like to say we viewers can sit here and marvel comfortably at how awful things were Back Then. And things are better these days. But not better enough. Unlike every other act of violence on this show so far, this actually happens to people; this kind of fear and isolation and pain, people still experience this. So that's why I wanted to put a trigger warning on this. And that's why I'm also really disappointed that this happens. Somehow, I thought that naive, sheltered Daniel might swear to avenge Lord Laurent, pull some strength from that, and become one of Dracula's opponents. Maybe he'd eventually get killed off, like so many other characters; maybe not. Or we could just never hear about him again after Laurent's last scene and he could quietly leave the story. I just didn't think the show would kill both its male gay characters off in a single episode. Because that's what happens: Daniel shoots himself in the head.

So, at this point, we have complicated, honest LGBT characters: a male couple who lasted two episodes before dying for their gayness, and a bisexual woman who is painfully in love with a straight girl--and, as far as the book goes, is doomed to die. I don't know how to tell you what happens without saying that. Are we going to get any LGBT characters who get to be happy? Are we going to get some who live? To be fair, we did see a male couple among the dancers. This is only the third episode; maybe we'll get more characters who are less doomed. I'll be looking forward to it.


Out in the parlor, there's Lord Davenport, reading the newspaper and listening to a phonograph. The line "do you think my dress is a little bit" (repeated as the needle gets stuck) was enough to Google: "This song is still a beloved music hall favorite. Lloyd’s 1910 rendition of 'When I Take My Morning Promenade' helped solidify her position as the Queen of Bawdiness. Of course, to our Twenty-First Century ears, the lyrics are quite tame. But, at the time, they were rather shocking." As far as I can tell, it seems to be the Edwardian equivalent of "Bootylicious." And in the middle of this, as this rather odd musical choice starts repeating, Lord Davenport hears a gunshot.

And here are nice clear views of the neat little bullet wound and the smoking gun and the giant pool of blood, thank you. Then Lord Davenport sees Daniel's suicide note: Dearest Father, I have decided that I cannot go on this life without my beloved. Stephen. (This is news to Davenport, who glances over at the photograph in confusion.) After the the humiliation and distruction Alexander Grayson has caused. The whole of my world has been taken away from me. I hope that you will see me in the next life. Your Loving Son, Daniel. "Grayson!" his father cries. So it looks like someone's going to go after Dracula--it's just not going to be Daniel. And it looks like, while this age-old feud plays out, the younger generation is getting crushed in the machinery of it.

So that's what happened this week. Well, the week before that. As far as the recaps go, I hear that they're taking next week off for a JFK special? At least I'll have time to catch up on the episode four write-up.

(CONTINUE: Season summary and finale livetweeting)

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Tags: dracula recaps, nbc dracula, recaps, tv, well that happened

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  • Sad news

    I keep not wanting to tell people but needing to tell people. Sam passed away somewhat unexpectedly yesterday afternoon--somewhat, because we'd been…

  • The Daily Something

    @Kate_Hart: Loooove this post from @sarahockler about writer's resolutions: " Just make the bed." (Mine is always "clean the sink.")…

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