TV Recap: “Dracula” S01 E05-6 “The Devil’s Waltz” & “Of Monsters And Men”

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  • Air Date: 11/23/2013 & 12/6/2013
  • Written By: Nicole Taylor & Katie Lovejoy
  • Directed By: Nick Murphy
  • Starring: Jonathan Rhys Meyers, Jessica de Guow, Oliver Jackson-Cohen, Thomas Kretschmann, Katie McGrath, Nonso Anozie, Victoria Smurfit
  • Guest Stars: Robert Bathurst, Ben Miles, Miklós Bányai, Alastair Mackenzie, Joseph May, Stephen Walters

TV Recap: “Dracula” S01 E05-6 “The Devil’s Waltz” & “Of Monsters And Men”

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I’m not sure when it happened, but sometime in the past two episodes, I realized I actually enjoyed DRACULA. It’s all ridiculous, but it’s doubtless fun.

Going into “The Devil’s Waltz,” FINALLY something troublesome had happened to Dracula. That’s probably precisely why this episode actually clicked with me, because we finally saw a chink in Grayson/Dracula’s armor. It’s his legitimate concern and care for Renfield, as the relationship between them remains the most intriguing of any on the show. Lord Davenport has captured Renfield, and now Dracula’s most loyal subject is in the hands of a malicious torturer.

At the same time, Grayson has agreed to host the Harker engagement at his not-so-humble abode, something he clearly regrets, now that his attention is divided. It’s the first time we’ve seen him care about something or someone more than Mina since he met her… and it’s for Renfield, who he realizes is missing. He dispatches Jonathan to look into his disappearance, who is entirely unconcerned with missing his own engagement party.

The night before the engagement, Mina has a sex dream about Grayson that starts with him watching her as she sleeps, because if you look like Jonathan Rhys Meyers, you can be a creeper and get away with it. A sex dream ain’t no thang… but to have dirty thoughts the night before your engagement to another man who’s a wet blanket in comparison? Yeah, that’s potentially upsetting.

Renfield’s absence makes Dracula’s anger and urgency flare up, demanding the impossible of Van Helsing: to walk in the sunlight, unencumbered. While I’m fairly skeptical of the entire subplot, the added stakes doesn’t hurt it. Plus, Dracula rightfully asserts that people are going to get suspicious that they never see him during the day. In “Of Monsters and Men,” Browning wonders about that very thing.

The torture scenes with Renfield are fairly brutal, even if it’s the kind of violence we’re used to seeing in such a situation. It’s clear that Renfield won’t say anything against his master (I’d fold immediately). The only thing his interrogator wants is the answer to a simple question: “Who does Alexander Grayson love?” Before this episode, you would’ve guessed just Mina. But in “The Devil’s Waltz,” it’s clear that Dracula also loves Renfield, albeit in an entirely different way.

We learn how Renfield and Dracula first met: 12 years previous on a moving train in the wild west, with Grayson attempting to purchase mining rights from a few slippery subjects. It certainly has an AMERICAN VAMPIRE vibe (a brilliant sprawling vampire narrative from Scott Snyder and Rafael Albuquerque), which is never a bad thing. Renfield, a bartender, goes out of turn to warn Dracula about these men, and gets a beating in the process. Grayson responds by ripping everyone in the train car to shreds, and saving Renfield’s life. It turns out Renfield is a scholar, a studied lawyer who was betrayed due to the color of his skin. In a short time, Renfield demands absolute honesty from Dracula/Grayson, in order to stay by his side, and their unique relationship is born. You could argue that Dracula and Renfield in the western frontier would be a lot more interesting of a show than this current one… even if I’d rather just see an AMERICAN VAMPIRE series than even that.

Dracula, of course, saves Renfield, and turns his tormentors into dogfood, also learning who captured Renfield due to his ridiculously keen sense of smell.

Throughout the episode, Mina’s doubts about her engagement are doubled because Harker gets a stick up his butt again, deciding not to invite any of his old newspaper buddies to the big to-do, only inviting the high and mighty new business associates he’s met since falling under Grayson’s employ. By the end, however, Harker admits his mistake, delivers a wonderful speech, and manages to drive Mina and Grayson right into each other’s arms for a steamy dance to kick off the party. In so doing, Lady Jeyne, Jonathan, and Lucy are ALL pissed (for different reasons). Mina and Grayson are oblivious for far too long, until Harker embarrassingly cuts in, and Grayson stomps off.

And so, even after he managed to rescue Renfield before Davenport and company learned who Grayson loves… it matters little. Everyone has a clear idea after that display.

When “Of Monsters and Men” kicks off, Browning suspects Alexander Grayson may be the old vampire that Lady Jeyne has been tracking. Jeyne’s convinced she’s already killed him… but Browning isn’t so sure (it wouldn’t be the first time a woman is fooled, he surmises). And so, he orchestrates the next board meeting to happen in sunlight. It’s such a silly plot point on the surface, but it’s also so obvious. Of course, aren’t all board meetings normally day time affairs? Alas.

Cue Grayson yelling at Van Helsing for a few scenes. In “Devil’s Waltz,” Van Helsing and Dracula tried a version of the serum on the vampire chick that Lady Jeyne had captured. It worked for a few moments, until she burnt to a crackly crisp. Now, they have to try again, on Dracula himself, before this week’s board meeting. Whatever Van Helsing has done in the past week, has worked… to a point, as Grayson goes out to meet Browning, Davenport, Wetherby, and his other subjects. What’s hilarious is how short a board meeting it is. Grayson says about two things… and everyone’s satisfied with the future of the company. Good thing, because even in that short period of time, Grayson is burning up… leaving him in bad shape at the end of the episode.

At work/school, Mina snoops into Van Helsing’s private blood stashes, discovering vampire blood, and is shocked by its regenerative properties. Van Helsing should fire her, and does… for but a moment, because Mina doesn’t face consequences. Everyone loves Mina.

Which leads us to the best part of this episode. It involves Lucy, who’s been an under-sung part of the narrative. The idea that she’s been in love with Mina the entire time they’ve been best friends, is a great one, and Katie McGrath proves to be one of the more able members of the cast. Lady Jeyne, who’s gone from boykiller to overbearing when it comes to Grayson, sees an opportunity to screw with his friends. She knows Lucy has a thing for Mina… and arranges tea with the besotted girl. Jeyne urges her to tell Mina the truth, that Mina likely feels the same way, and it’s exactly what Lucy wanted to hear, but something she really shouldn’t have believed.

Unfortunately… Mina and Jonathan finally consummated their relationship about three scenes prior, after getting hammered on Grayson’s tab (probably not what he had in mind). The two have obviously never been closer. When Lucy attempts to kiss Mina, and reveals her true thoughts in the process, Mina ends their relationship, devastating poor Lucy. Mina’s happy settling with Jonathan, the least interesting of her three potential beaus.

That subplot helps take the sting out of the rest of the episode, which is a return to the show’s previous mediocre form. It’s interesting to see what fate belies DRACULA on NBC going forward. The show is languishing in the ratings and critics are apathetic for the show (at the least), yet NBC recently begun development on a WOLF MAN show from the same producer (Cole Haddon), a curious move considering DRACULA’s struggles.

I wouldn’t have admitted it until these past two episodes, but there is potential here, with a sprawling yet focused narrative spanning flashbacks and various time periods in which Dracula has found himself, while ridding the show of the Order of Dragon (or beefing it up to become a formidable and interesting foe) and making Van Helsing an opponent again, or at least, more than Dracula’s personal Igor making a cure for him… something that makes him entirely dispensable. Also: more Lucy and Renfield please. Thank you.

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