Sunday, December 1, 2013

Dracula, Season 1, Episode 5: The Devil's Waltz

Mina wakes up in the middle of the night to find Grayson in her room. Since Mina isn’t me, she doesn’t pull back the sheets and yell “YES THERE IS A GOD!” no, Mina is pretty perturbed but doesn’t scream for help. Grayson is there to tell her how miserably unhappy she will be with Jonathon (quite likely) and how he’s a much better choice (most certainly, bedroom stalking aside). But she insists she loves Jonathon and she will be his wife – and she sounds so very unconvincing. Especially when he tries to leave and she grabs him (though this could be a reflex to the horror of Jonathon Rhys Meyers leaving one’s bed). He returns to bed, kissing her, groping – they have sex… and then Lucy wakes her up.

Dream? Flashback? Memory of the last night? Could be any… Lucy is there to drag Mina out of bed to prepare her for her engagement party while pining away because her unrequited love will be eternally denied her with added salt being positively drilled into those wounds by her having to help Mina celebrate her engagement.

Grayson drops in on Van Helsing  to deliver a vampire he has imprisoned to help with his testing of the sunlight formula because people are all suspicious about his daylight shunning ways. He’s also noticed the absence of Renfield.

A beaten Renfield has his hood removed – he is being held prisoner by a disturbingly icily polite female torturer (this role is incredibly well done – continuing the theme of epicly awesome acting) who wishes him to answer questions. Renfield warns her of repercussions but she dismisses it as “bluster”. Her question is “who does Alexander Grayson love?” Renfield, of course, is silent. She finds the whole thing so tiresome.

Elsewhere in much more decorous surroundings, Jonathon discovers that General Shaw has been taking bribes, the naughty boy (Shaw is involved in the Ordo Draco).

On to the scene of the party where Mina is staring into space and Lucy is doing all the work. Mina is confused by the guest list – the guests Jonathon put on it very high society and she never realised they were Jonathon’s friends (they’re Ordo Draco members Jonathon has been schmoozing at Grayon’s request). Grayson drops in to be charming and assure Mina that giving up an entire house for near strangers to party in is quite alright. Jonathon arrives with his news about Shaw but Grayson tells him to drop it for now – he’s quite insistent. He’s far far far more concerned with Renfield and, of course, can’t go to the police – he sets Jonathon on the hunt for where Renfield was to try and track him down.

Mina is wistfully unhappy and tells Lucy about her dream (Lucy is tantalised by the thought though Mina insists that it wasn’t “that kind of dream.” Which shows she is a liar, a dirty rotten liar). With the teasing Mina let’s slip that it wasn’t about Jonathon. Mina quickly lies again and assures her of course it was Jonathon (oh Lucy, don’t get your hopes up – you’ll only sink into despair and then this show will kill you off).

As Jonathon leaves Mina tries to talk to him about his odd guest list but he has to hurry off on business; Mina’s not happy about that – the party is in a few hours, he can hardly put it off. She’s not worried by the extra people he’s added –it’s the fact he’s cut all his friends from the paper out, including Szabo, his best friend. Jonathon is contemptuous towards Szabo, saying he’d get drunk and embarrass him – and he’s pretty sharp and patronising in how he talks to Mina as well. He thinks it’s natural he’d lose friends as he rises through the social classes and Mina is pretty appalled.

At the Ordo Draco, boss man Browning and Lord Davenport discuss the party, wondering if they’re going to get any further displays of crass Americanness cluttering up the place; Browning is of the opinion that Grayson will just leave London when no-one agrees to work with him – unless they provoke him. No direct action. Except Lord Davenport, blaming Dracula for the death of his son (accurately) has already set his pet torturer on Renfield. Nervous coughing follows.

Mina goes home to her father to lament how Jonathon has changed and how if he finds all his friends dispensable, then will he think the same of her?

Cut to Renfield being tortured very brutally and messily and ickily, before moving to Grayson and Van Helsing. Grayson knows Renfield has been taken but until the sun goes down there’s nothing he can do. Van Helsing asks if Grayson is worried Renfield will break but the thought never enters Grayson’s head – Renfield will die before he betrays him. Van Helsing considers that problem solved. Grayson seems more troubled but Van Helsing goes on about the sunlight test and his inadequate equipment.

Jonathon finds Renfield’s dropped book outside the Empire and Colonial office and starts asking questions

And Grayson mopes in the shadows on the edge of sunlight reminiscing to 12 years ago.

On  train, Grayson has finally tracked down a businessman, Mr. Haversham. Grayson wants to buy his mine. In cash – well, in gold. Gold which he has brought with him. Haversham has goons with guns and thinks he may just take the gold until the bar tender speaks up, Renfield, who has some astute advice about buying mines and taxes – and distracting gunmen.

Flash to the present when Jonathon gives Grayson Renfield’s book and describes the people who grabbed him. Grayson smells the book – and declares it all he needs to find Renfield’s abductors before going down to Van Helsing and his testing his formula on the captured vampire (Van Helsing is irritated by Grayson’s distraction). They shock the vampire until her heart starts beating. He then injects the serum – and reflects direct sunlight on to her. She doesn’t burn. Initially – Van Helsing calls it a success and then she catches on fire.

Come nightfall, Grayson leaves. Van Helsing grabs him and demands he stay for the party – Order Draco members will be there, Grayson must be there as host. Grayson threatens to rip off his arm if Van Helsing doesn’t move it; Grayson is determined to find Renfield. He sets out and follows the scent

Meanwhile at the party, Mina and Jonathon are greeted by Jonathon’s friends from the paper – he tells Mina she was right, he was forgetting who he was. Though they wonder at Grayson’s absence.

To Renfield, bloody and tortured on the floor continually asked the same question and he flashbacks to the train again – and this time the scene continues and Renfield warns Grayson that Haversham means to kill him. Haversham hits Renfield from behind. Haversham and his men start kicking Renfield while he’s on the floor – and Grayson kills them all, which looks supremely awesome from Renfield’s angle on the floor. Grayson moves into his vision and says “you’re safe now.”

Back to the present. Renfield suffers horribly on the floor, looks up and sees Grayson’s shadow far above. Renfield smiles and starts laughing. Grayson descends from above and brutally slaughters her goons (ripping one man’s arm off). Renfield finds this hilarious. The torturer, not so much as he advances on her, she screams.

At the party, everyone (including most of the Ordo Draco we know) remark on Grayson’s absence when he finally appears. He compliments Mina, reassures Jonathon and finally asks for his news about General Shaw. Elsewhere, Lucy tucks a strand of Mina’s hair back into place and her affection and sadness is noticed by Lady Jayne, while the Ordo Draco discuss recruiting Jonathon.

Jonathon spills the beans on Shaw’s bribes and how he’s making a fortune as Britain gears up for war with the Ottoman Empire. But Grayson isn’t interested in exposing criminality – he wants something embarrassing. Jonathon is shocked and appalled Grayson won’t expose the man – but they’re interrupted by Lady Jayne

Jayne comments on Grayson’s absence and he tells her about Renfield being tortured, she’s shocked – and he uses his vampire senses to test to see if she’s lying. Her heartbeat doesn’t accelerate, she didn’t know about it – Grayson puts it down to some old business rivals. Jonathon introduces him to all the Ordo Draco members and Grayson shakes their hands – and then, away from them, smells his palm to see which one touched Renfield.

Grayson is taken by Mina to be introduced to Van Helsing – not realising they know each other. Van Helsing has a flashback to the death of his family while watching the Ordo Draco members. And Lady Jayne mentions Renfields abduction and torture to Lord Davenport, questioning whether that was Order business – he insists it wasn’t, while looking very nervous.

Lots of speeches follow and in gratitude for Grayson giving them his home for the party, Jonathon offers him the first dance – which is incredibly awkward for both concerned. They dance and try to make it as impersonal as a waltz can be, both rigid with tension but with lots of powerful, intense eye contact – and Grayson flashesback to dancing with his wife, Ilona, Mina’s clone. Both of them become considerably less rigid on the floor and there’s lots of intense eye contact – people whisper and Lucy, Lady Jayne and Jonathon all look on. Jonathon touches Grayson’s shoulder to cut in, and for a brief moment Grayson pictures slashing his throat (for a brief second I thought he’d actually done it, alas no). Grayson leaves awfully quickly and Mina looks pretty disturbed.

On the ride away from the party, Browning suggests that Grayson is mysterious and has no biography – and people who oppose him tend to die. Lady Jayne isn’t impressed: Americans often have no history and people who oppose Browning also end up dead. He also notes he arrived at the same time as the ancient vampire – but Jayne insists she killed the old one; she thinks it’s ridiculous that Grayson would be a vampire. Browning tells her she wouldn’t be the first woman to be blinded by desire – though she would be the first Hunstman. That calls for a slap there Jayne.

Lucy goes home, tearful and collapses on the stairs sobbing.

Lady Jayne looks tearfully and confused into a mirror.

Jonathon looks moodily at his feet

Mina plays with a  cushion while staring mopily at the ceiling

Wow, they’re really overplaying the angst.

Grayson wipes Renfield’s brow and flashbacks to early in their meeting when he and Renfield were new acquaintences and Renfield is being fitted for a suit. We get Renfield’s history – he’s a qualified lawyer, passed the bar and joined a firm – but when sent out west on a case his clients objected to a Black lawyer and he was attacked. When Renifled defended himself he was arrested – and his firm abandoned him. Renfield expresses his gratitude but also asks why Grayson is hiring him; Grayson tells him he’s a lawyer of the highest calibre, which he needs. He also knows what it is like to be an outcast from “what passes as polite society but rarely is.” Renfield acknowledges Grayson has secrets but says he can only work for a man who trusts him completely. Grayson says he will tell Renfield all his secrets and his life will never be the same. “Is that a promise?”

As Jonathon climbs the ladder, he’s beginning to look down on people who were his social contemporaries. It’s an interesting look at class intricacies and dynamics – but also further adds to the evidence that Jonathon isn’t really that nice a person.

And could Mina be more wet? In response to his horrendous behaviour and the terrible way he speaks to her – what is her response? “Oh he may find me dispensible as well?!” This is the lamentation? Not “oh the man I am about to marry is an arsehole?” Or “how could I have not seen it before?” Or “damn it, Grayson is a gazillion times hotter!” Or even “Jonathon better shape up or I’m slicing bits off on the wedding night!” But she finds his increasing unpleasantness sad because he may not want her? Ugh.

The intense and graphic torture of Renfield was not pleasant to see by any means; Renfield loyally enduring so much pain for his boss. On the whole, I think I almost prefer torture to be graphic if you’re going to have torture – rather that than it be sanitised. Let it be seen as the brutal, vicious, vile process it is – something that is shocking and revolting and repellent. And I did like that Renfield clearly means something to Grayson – he’s not just a servant because, as Van Helsing pointed out, he could have left him to die. Grayson was willing to step aside from Van Helsing’s experiments and Ordo Draco plotting for the sake of Renfield’s rescue – in fact, I rather think Renfield is the closest thing Dracula has to a friend and the closest person to him in his life.