“Dracula” (NBC television series)
Episode 8: “Come To Die” (air-date 10/1/2014)
Director: Brian Kelly
Writer: Harley Peyton
Starring: Jonathan Rhys Meyers, Jessica De Gouw, Thomas Kretschmann, Kathie McGrath, Victoria Smurfit, Alec Newman, Nonso Anozie and Oliver Jackson-Cohen.
Wow, talk about trouble in Paradise.
“Come To Die” is certainly an apt title considering how much is put to death in this episode. Friendships, alliances, love, decency… all of them meet an excruciating end at the hands of their makers. Van Helsing has a massive falling out with Grayson resulting the Good Doctor pulling something potentially disasterous, Harker commits two cardinal sins, Lady Jayne makes a crucial decision, Mina’s life is put into the line of fire and the Order witness the return of Vlad Tepes. Ah, poopie.
First, I must give a hand to the visual effects and make up artists in this episode for showing us what happens when Grayson gets super-duper-pooper ticked off. We get a glorious arm-ripping, some vicious neck bites and and some good old fashioned indiscriminate blood-letting. I don’t think I had seen anything quite so sensational since the very first episode which made the sequence in which that happened all the more a treat.
After the dilly-dally of episode seven, episode eight thankfully throws us back into lively territory which centers mainly on how Grayson’s plan of revenge is escalating at an exponential rate at the cost of him losing control. While Grayson has his eye on the main prize (that is, wasting the Order), he is starting to become oblivious to side factors, one of them being Harker who has come to understand that Grayson has been playing him like a harp ever since he entered Alexander’s employ. He frets to Mina they cannot trust him, however, Harker is unable to tell Mina WHY. On top of that, Lucy begins tattling tales regarding Mina’s virtue which drives Harker on an emotional warpath. When Mina is attacked by a seemingly random collection of unsavoury rogues, both he and Grayson set out on a mission of retribution, only for Harker to land the ultimate blow.
Oliver Jackson-Cohen is perhaps the most standout in this episode. As the series has progressed, he has steadily become disillusioned this life he has been bestowed upon by Grayson. What began as a promising partnership has since morphed into one of distrust and fear. His final scene in this episode pretty much shows a man who has been morally compromised in every sense of the word, he has done things that the Harker at the beginning of the series would never have deigned to do, all because of the fact now knows he has been but a pawn in a much larger game. Jackson-Cohen has managed to elevate what was essentially a melodramatic construct into a notably more human being and he works. Not bad for pretty-boy model, non? 😉
Who’s in Harker’s sights? You’ll see.
Speaking of confrontation, another spectacular scene involves Mina who lays a verbal smack down on Grayson after Jonathan has warned her of his sinister motives. She rather astutely cuts through his charm and puts him on the spot for how negative an influence he has been on the life of herself and her husband to be. Grayson is left speechless after this exchange and when he goes to seek carnal solace with Jayne only to find out she had decided to end their sordid affair because she feels that he has used her. Fancy her pulling that, eh? This is the sort of drama that you will absolutely will not stand or you will absolutely love. Although I find it a little conceited that Mina has firmly become more or less a goal to be achieved (damsel in distress trope, perhaps?), DeGouw still inhabits the character and we can see why she is coveted by two men and her best friend quite easily. Considering too this series was never meant to be taken as a study in reality, I feel I can forgive it the trespasses it commits against it’s characters because it doesn’t just leave them in the dust with nothing to do. At least that is to say, not in this episode.
The High Empress Of Blue Balls
And although this sequence baffled several other viewers, I for one adored it because it featured another priceless interaction between Grayson and Renfield. Grayson once again blows his top, angered that the Order are phucking him over as well as frustrated over the fact he has a massive homonus nocturna erection like you wouldn’t believe thanks to Jayne cock-blocking him. Being the calm voice of reason he is, Renfield attempts to bring him down several notches, but Grayson just isn’t having it and he physically handles Renfield before his retainer is forced to fight back. How Renfield was able to survive a brawl with Grayson is beyond me, but when the pair of them scuffle like two irate school boys only to fall butt-first into the bannister of a stairwell, I thought it was absolutely hilarious. They lie stunned beside each other before they manage to discourse like grown men again. It was fabulous. I never thought I would ever see slapstick in “Dracula” but hey, there ya go.
Perhaps the biggest kipper in this episode is how Grayson finally decides to play a bit of the dirty with the Order by revealing that Vlad the Impaler was called that for good reason. With all of the infant vampires roaming the streets of London and none of them naming their master, Jayne and Browning are up in arms about what to do next. They know they must make a move soon, but with no solid intel, they are unable to predict what will happen next. Jayne knows instinctively Tepes is in town, but she requires hard evidence in order to launch a massive hunt for the illusive Lord of Vampires. I wonder what will happen when she realises that she has had him in her bed all along. What will the repercussions be I wonder? Considering what an unforgiving collective the Order are, methinks the Huntress Supreme will not be getting just a smack on the wrist.
A major negative that I have with the progression of the show (other than how the character of Mina has become a prize), it would have to be how rapidly Van Helsing is becoming a downright unsympathetic prick. We can see his motivations behind his actions, but they are just so extreme, far too much and far too soon. His vendetta against the Order, Browning in particular has been made clear from the get-go, but in a way, he is lowering himself to the levels of his enemies when I feel he should not. Don’t get me wrong, I love my VH’s to be hardcore when the time calls for it, and I love seeing Herr Kretschmann dig into the dark, but the path he goes on is far too jarring to be considered natural for a character you are more or less supposed to cheer for. You don’t always need to be Charles Bronson from “Death Wish” in order to become the angel of death. I also don’t like the fact that VH continues to goad Grayson into taking Mina as his own. This has always been something that has bothered me, but in this episode, it really did come to a head. Time and again, Grayson has resisted this animalistic impulse at the expense of blowing his cover before he is ready, but every time VH growls “Take her and be done with it!” it’s almost as if he is wanting Grayson to foul up. Doesn’t he realise that if Alexander is found out, he will be too? Since their mutual enemy is the Order, that would mean both of them would be a highly risky position. It’s far too reckless and far too left of center for a character who started out as calculating as Van Helsing.
Dude, what gives?
Van Helsing’s mercurial turn aside, I feel a lot of the work laid in this episode is the immediate precursor to the main event, which is perhaps the highest compliment I can pay it. It would be downright suicidal if this episode and the final two do not pay off the debts they have promised to pay up although I have faith they will. Whether or not that faith is rewarded remains to be seen. Stay tuned!
Review written by Bea Harper
See Bea’s Review for Episode 7 HERE