Sunday, November 3, 2013

Dracula, Season One, Episode Two: A Whiff of Sulphur

In Romania 1881, Dracula is just coming out of his long sleep and his first reaction is to try and attack Van Helsing.  Dracula is weakened after a century of starving and is quickly overcome. The sun is beginning to rise and Helsing tells Dracula that he is his last chance to get vengeance on the Order of the Dragon. Not only did the Order burn Dracula's wife Ilona alive, they killed Van Helsing's wife and three children. Van Helsing says that he possesses the means but lacks the power, the presence and ruthlessness to wield it into any effect. 

In the present, Van Helsing is drawing Dracula's blood in an attempt to create something which will allow him to walk during the daylight. Dracula is worried that his aversion to sunlight will some become obvious. Van Helsing brings up the fact that Dracula killed Kruger and suggests that the council will now use a seer to find out who the vampire stalking the streets of London is. Dracula is confidant that he can deal with it but Van Helsing worries that he will just leave a bloody trail back to them. Van Helsing reminds him that they need stealth to wipe out the Order's investment in oil.

Alistair is preparing for a fencing duel and Lucy approaches with he aim of making him her champion. Mina arrives and kisses Harker and Minerva in greeting.  Mina has a wound on her hand thanks to practicing at the lab.  Lucy goes back o the table and announces that Alistair is her champion.  It seems that Alistair is to face off against he reigning champion, Daniel Davenport, son of Lord Davenport. Lucy is convinced that she has given Alistair more than enough motivation.

Watching the duel from a balcony, Lord Laurent and Lady Jane are discussing Kruger's death. Lord Laurent wants another huntsman but Lady Jane decides that she wants to handle this one herself.  Lord Laurent is pleased to hear it.  Lady Jane wants to deploy the seers but Laurent reminds her that "there is more than a whiff of sulfur about those two." Lady Jane argues that it is better to deal with the devil you know.

The duel is over and Alistair is defeated.  A bill is placed in front of Harker and before he can pay it, Minerva pays it, clearly embarrassing Harker.

Daniel Davenport meets up with Lord Laurent and they agree to meet later.

At The Inquisitor,  Harker has learned that he did not get the raise he wanted.  He worries that by the time he is able to afford a wife, that he and Mina will be old. 

Lord Laurent makes an appearance at Carfax Manor to meet with Grayson. Grayson says that he is uncomfortable with their business relationship and does not like partners.  Laurent assumes that Greyson wants to sell his shares and so Greyson says that would he would actually like is to buy Laurent's.  Reinfeld hands Laurent an envelop but Laurent says that his interests are not for sale at any price. Laurent quickly takes his leave.

Greyson and Renfield arrive at The Inquisitor and Renfield wants to know why Greyson is engaging with Harker because he knows that Greyson has the power to simply take Mina. Greyson says that he cannot act on moral grounds and that to turn Mina into something like him would be an abomination.  Renfield wants to know the purpose of drawing in Mina and Greyson say that to lose her twice would be more than he could bear.   Renfield heads into The Inquisitor and hands Harker a note from Greyson. Harker follows Renfield and Harker says that he was hoping for a greater reward for the piece he wrote about Greyson.  The three arrive at an empty house and Greyson says that he has a business matter to attend to.

Inside the house, Greyson pulls Harker aside and says that he was impressed and thankful to learn about Sir Clive's fondness for gambling. Greyson informs Harker that his information lead to his acquisition of British Imperial Coolant stock and offers Harker a position as his Vice President of Public Affairs.  The position entails helping navigate through British society.  Harker realizes that he is standing in Sir. Clive's old place and Greyson offers him the house, if he agrees to accept his offer. Harker does not answer right away and Greyson gives him until  Monday morning to accept or reject his offer.

Mina and Harker are together and she is worried about an upcoming test because it requires surgical skills.  Mina tells Harker that if she doesn't pass, she won't advance beyond the fourth year.  Harker then tells Mina about Greyson's job offer and she encourages him to take it without knowing anything about the job. 

Lady Jane is in an opium den and she makes her way to the back to find the seers, who are high.  Lady Jane informs them that they are to find the vampire who is roaming the streets. The seers claim to be ill but Lady Jane makes it clear that their sickness is drug related and again demands that they find the vampire. Lady Jane threatens the seers with Mr. Browing and the high council if they fail.

Mina and Harker are still discussing the job offer and Harker suggests that it all sounds a bit "dodgy".  Mina argues back that Greyson is a visionary and that every concern he has had a hand in has prospered.  Harker wonders why there is such little information about Greyson and Mina points out that Greyson made is fortune in the American frontier, which is not well known for keeping records. Harker says that the whole thing just feels to good to be true and Mina replies that Greyson is leading a technological revolution. The two share a kiss and the people around them are scandalized.

Laurent and Davenport meet up and Laurent says that Greyson has acquired every drop of coolant from their distributors and put in an order for more. Laurent then hands Davenport Greyon's offer for his stock.  Davenport believes that Greyson must be stopped at every turn because if what Greyson is attempting gets out, it will effect their portfolio. Davenport threatens that anyone who assists Greyson with the harshest of terms, as he puts Greyson's offer in a drawer.

Lady Jane and Greyson are having dinner and she brings up the light bulb trick he did at the party.  Greyson refuses to answer and says that there was no magic in what he did. Greyson admits that he has been known to dabble in the occult, before spinning a coin on the plate.  When the coin disappears, Greyson whispers where it disappeared to and Lady Jane quickly dismisses her butler.  The two end up in bed, in what has got to be the worst choreographed sex scene ever.

Mina is on her way to her examination the next day, when she is met by Renfield.  Greyson offers Mina a ride in his carriage and she hops in. Greyson tells Mina that he doesn't want to compromise her reputation and Mina replies that only she can do that. 

Harker is back at the newspaper working. It seems he is harboring second thoughts because here are thousands of men more qualified for the job than him.  Harker is convinced that Greyson has an agenda of some sort. He has decided to tell Mina that this whole business feels wrong.

Mina and Greyson discuss the job offers and she says that she told Harker that she would give him a kick if he didn't take it. Greyson asks Mina about her area of study and she reveals that she is studying to be a physician. When Greyson calls it extraordinary, Mina asks if he approves.  It seems that becoming a doctor is not seen acceptable for a woman.  Mina then brings up her fear that she is going to fail the examination and Greyson tells her that the only way to fail, is to abandon one's dreams.

Mina is set up to do her examination, and she repeats what Greyson told her.  As Mina works, Van Helsing looks on.  As Mina explains her medical findings, from a distance, Greyson watches. 

The seers have begun their search of London for the vampire.  They narrow in on Greyson who becomes aware of the seers and repels their power back at them.

Lord Laurent meets with Lady Jane, who informs him that though the seers located the vampire, the vampire repelled the seers power back at them. Lord Laurent is shocked to learn this and Lady Jane says that the vampire must be 2 or 3 centuries old. Lord Laurent wants to know if anyone has come across anything like this. Lady Jane says not in their life time and bring ups Lucrcetia Borgia but Laurent cuts her off.  Lady Jane promises to track and destroy the vampire.

Harker returns home to find that the landlord is raising his rent again.  Mina comes rushing down the stairs to announce that she passed her examines.  To celebrate, Lucy has reserved a table at the Savoy and the chef is going to make something special just for Mina. Harker says that he cannot because he has a deadline waiting.  Lucy tells Harker not to worry because the celebration is her treat.

Harker heads to see Greyson and accepts his offer.  Greyson immediately demands a first name relationship with Harper and then asks to know everything Harker knows about Laurent.  When Harker say the obvious, Greyson points out that every man had a dark side.  Harker replies that everything Greyson wants to know he can find out at the club at 10 pm.

That night, Greyson heads to the club and knocks on the door.  He is told it is for members only and so bribes his way in.  Once inside, Greyson walks into what I suppose is the precursor of a drag show.  Daniel is sitting with Laurent and they bicker briefly about Daniel leaving early before sharing a kiss. Greyson interrupts them and introduces himself, kissing Daniel. Laurent demands that Greyson leave Daniel alone.  They sit and Greyson informs them that he couldn't care who a man chooses to love but there are legions of less broadminded souls. Greyson brings up Lady Laurent and Daniel's father. Laurent asks Greyson what he wants.

Harker has gotten an engagement ring for Mina.  He announces to his co-workers that he is going to ask Mina in front of everyone.  One of the men points out that since Mina wants to be a physician, she cannot possibly be a proper English wife.  At that moment, Mina has entered but Harker cannot see her. Harker says that when he slips the ring on Mina's finger that she will forget the nonsense about university and become a proper wife. When he turns, Mina runs out of the room. Harker follows and apologizes but Mina says that he shouldn't apologize because this is how he has always felt.  Harker argues that he has never discouraged her but Mina points out that he has not supported her either, before walking away.

Greyson is now the last one in the club and he is studying the coat check girl.  Finally, he asks for her name and they play a little game of cat and mouse. Later, in an alley, Greyson is feeding on the coat check girl, as Lady Jane gets closer and closer. Lady Jane draws her sword and Greyson takes off running, leaving the girl in the alley.  Lady Jane looks around and quickly cuts the girl's head off as Greyson watches from the rooftop.

As with the first episode, a lot happened.  There are still a lot of characters to get to know.  It is helped somewhat by my familiarity with the story of Dracula.

We had two first this week: our first gay characters and our first WOC.  Unfortunately, neither representation was good.  The characters of colour were the Asians in the opium den and the female seer.  Heaven forbid we have a historical representation of Asians that doesn't involve a laundry or opium.  This is not to say that there wasn't Asian involvement there but that this is the only way the media chooses to portray them.  The female seer was a drug addict and clearly meant to be seen as less than Lady Jane, though in possession of great power.

The two gay characters, Daniel and Lord Laurent clearly had a loving relationship, which is a good thing.  What I didn't like was that their love was used as a weapon to hurt them, despite Greyson saying that he didn't care who another man chose to love.  Yes, homophobia was and is a problem but portraying it this way without any sort of pushback turns Laurent and Daniel into nothing more than victims.  It certainly doesn't even imply that homophobia itself is wrong.  The only thing it does accurately portray is the privilege that comes with heterosexuality.

Class also played a huge role in this episode.  It was clear from the beginning that a large part of what separated Harker from Mina is money.  Lucy constantly throws snide remarks about how little Harker makes or and how little he knows about society in general.  For Harker, part of being a man is being able to pay for certain things.  Money is so clearly what makes London society move and without, Harker despite all of his knowledge, is clearly on the outside.

I am still very much loving this show.  I do have to say that the sex scene between Lady Jane and Greyson was beyond awkward.  In fact, it was so bad that it made me wonder if the actor hated each other.