Saturday, November 9, 2013

In Which I Review Dracula (1x3)

We must not look at goblin men,
We must not buy their fruits:
Who knows upon what soil they fed
Their hungry, thirsty roots?

--Christina Rossetti 

Typically, I really enjoy when television pulls out literary illusions in titles. It means the episode will have an overarching theme or central motif that I can play with. For the poem "Goblin Merchant Men" those are temptation, seduction, and sisterly devotion. In this weeks episode of Dracula, "Goblin Merchant Men," those themes were highlighted in the smallest degree possible. It was as if the writer of this episode fancied himself a real English scholar with high minded, thought provoking ideas (and maybe in reality he is) but then got bogged down in just terrible writing. Nothing happened this episode. Well, ok that's not wholly accurate. Things happened: random plot points that weren't woven together with any sort of cohesion, bouncing from one scene to the next. But the whole story of this episode was full of holes, so instead of a traditional review, let's try something different. 

Action: The Order of the Dragon turns Vlad Tepes into a vampire

This Doesn't Make Sense Becuase: I have no idea why the Order turned Vlad Tepes into a vampire. Or how. The process of turning someone into a vampire isn't exactly set in stone, but there are a few commonalities: you must be bitten by a current vampire and almost drunk to death and then you must drink from your sire. After Vlad was turned, one of the monkish looking Order members (seriously, what's with the brown robes) comes and claims that Vlad is now condemned for denouncing God. I suppose that's a reason, if wholly historically inaccurate. But why not just kill Vlad if he has really been so anti-God? Why did you need to beat him bloody, force him to drink blood from a ram's head, and then slit his throat? There elements of the traditional vampire mythos here but twisted (much like most of this show). Does this make Vlad the only vampire in existence at this time? Is this the only way to become a vampire? And WHY is this the solution? Do the members of the Order not think that Vlad will try to get his revenge? Or did they sit back and say, "oh good show, chaps. We sure taught him a lesson. Now I'm sure he'll leave us alone and go about eternity as a creature of the night, damned forever. Do pass the tea." If I had been turned into a blood thirsty monster and had my whole family killed, I don't think I'd be content with just roaming the world either. Which is an inherent problem in this "interpretation" of Dracula. They've made him into a romantic hero. And does the Order not keep records? Because Grayson looks exactly like Vlad, so why is it that none of the Order has recognized him? "Oh, I say, that man with the fancy light bulbs trying to steal our coolant (giggle) looks a lot like that man our ancestors condemned long ago. Do you think it's a coincidence?"

Action: In an effort to make Mina forget about her breakup with Harker, Lucy takes her clubbing.

This Doesn't Make Sense Because: Are we still in Victorian London or did we jump to the twenty-first century? Because I'm fairly certain that well bred ladies of the upper class were not allowed to participate in the Bohemian culture at the twilight of the 1890s. Unmarried Victorian ladies were guarded like prized treasures. Their virtue was paramount; they had to be intact and without dishonor if they ever hoped to make a profitable marriage. If they left the house to pay calls, a chaperone went with them. So I have a very hard time imagining that Lucy and Mina are able to run around London, drinking, partying, taking Absinth, and coming home at all hours of the day without old ladies clutching their pearls and reaching for their smelling salts. The amount of freedom Mina has is just far too liberal to be plausible. Also, as a well bred lady and unmarried, Mina would not be living on her own. She'd be at home with her parents and servants. And she wold not receive gentleman callers on her front door step. Nor would she make out with them in the street and then dance with them. How improper! Oh and apparently Lucy is a lesbian. Where did that come from? Lucy is far too vixenous already but now she's lusting after her best friend. Again, the show is trying to be modern and shocking but for no reason outside of being shocking. Dracula hasn't even glanced at Lucy yet. He needs to start draining her, though Lord only know what this will do to Lucy's personality seeing as she is already acting like a wanton strumpet.

Action: The Order of the Dragon kills Lord L for siding with Grayson without a logical explanation

This Doesn't Make Sense Because: Is Scotland Yard not a thing? Cause the show did this whole show and dance about making sure you knew Lord L had a wife and a son before they sent him to die. The Order is not happy with Lord L; he has given over his shares of the Coolant (giggle) company to Grayson and made the American the sole shareholder. This is just not good news for the British men. I mean, think of their stock portfolios. The horror! Because Lord L does not have a good excuse for why he handed over this shares (he cannot tell his brothers that Dracula threatened to expose his secret life), he is ritually murdered. But now what? Does the Order cover it up? Do they kill his wife and child too so no one goes looking for him? And what a bizarre way to kill someone: "do you accept that you've done wrong and if yes will you let us put this sword through your heart?" It's obviously an old tradition (see record keeping, they have it! Now go realize that Grayon is the same man you turned into a vampire) but in the "modern" world where people don't just vanish without someone noticing, it makes no sense (a theme!)

Action: Dracula puts Harker and Mina back together

This Doesn't Make Sense Because: Do I even need to say it? Dracula spent the whole episode being creepy stalker man, watching Mina from the shadows, sending her flowers, and rescuing her from drunken Bohemian men only to push Harker to beg for forgiveness and then propose. I know these are pretty typical romantic hero traits, but he's DRACULA. Just turn her, dude. Instead he sits in his carriage at night, trying to fight the rising light, just to see her face when she receives his flowers and a note that I'm sure is supposed to mean something to their past but doesn't anymore. And then after he saves her from the Bohemian man (because a romantic hero can be a stalker too!) the pair have a conversation that amounts to absolute nothing. Except that Dracula decides to speak to Harker and tells him that he's a fool and a hypocrite for letting Mina go. I'm sure this has something to do with, "I love her too much to let her be without the man she loves" but (how many times can I say this?): you're DRACULA. Get over these bizarre non-Dracula morals and just turn her. Or hypnotize her and make her remember your past with her. Do something.

Miscellaneous Notes on Goblin Merchant Men 

--Harker's adventures as Dracula's new VP of Press (or something) involve going to lunches and drinking. And then tagging along with Renfield where the manservant is far better equipped to deal with the business.

--Van Helsing continues to try and find a cure for Dracula's sunlight affliction. Dracula longs to walk in the sun so he can more easily stalk Mina. Ok, Dracula didn't actually say that but come on, you know that's why he wants it. If Van Helsing is smart he'll keep putting Dracula off.

--Lady Jane cured the Seers of their affliction by...doing something. I honestly have no idea. But then Van Helsing showed up and smashed their heads in. Again, this makes no sense since Dracula can just mind warp them every time they try to see where he is.

--Lord L's lover killed himself but left a note explaining everything, including Grayson's involvement. But here's the thing: will his father share that information? If his son confessed to sleeping with another man and being in love with him, boy is that a scandal Victorian London would do everything in its power to coverup. 

--Dracula only slept with one woman this episode, though he slept with her three times. Does that count?


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