RECAP | Dracula - Pilot - 'The Blood Is the Life'
As soon as the first scene flutters on to the screen – one of dirt falling from an earth ceiling as two mysterious men descend on top of a hideously cruel looking iron tomb – you can kind of tell that it’s going to end bad for at least one of these guys. This story is about Dracula, and it doesn’t take Einstein to guess that said tomb belongs to Dracula, and that on top of that – by default of having been locked up in a metal box and shrivelling like a giant, evil raisin for a few centuries – that he is going to be pretty, mother-flippin’ hungry for some vein juice. As the better masked of the two men whips out a knife and drains the other dry, sending blood cascading down upon the desiccated creature imprisoned below, it takes mere seconds for it to reinvigorate. At which point, having flashed suddenly forward to the present – 1890’s Britain – Jonathan Rhys Meyers sits suddenly up out of a steaming bath.
Actually I’m pretty sure it was just the network's way of saying ‘Hey Erin, Happy 32nd birthday 8 months in advance.’ Either way, lovin' your work NBC.
The London of the late 19th century, of course, was no ordinary place to be. Dripping in elegance and furnished with the highest manners, but also with a barely masked hotbed of colonial politics seething constantly underneath. Further abroad, it was also an age in which the civilised world was more and more becoming a scientific battlefield. Thomas Edison and Nicholas Tesla were charging forward in the race to successfully harness the biggest wonder of the time: the raw and sensational power of electricity.
It is into this age and society that Dracula makes his sudden and dazzling debut, as the enigmatic, charming and – at least to his large host of aristocratic British guests for the evening – grotesquely American entrepreneur Alexander Grayson (Jonathan Rhys Meyers). He boasts eloquently to not only have harnessed electricity, but also the science to effectively channel it through the air via magnetic fields, bending it to his whim without the need for wires to conduct it. Basically, boyfriend is boasting a wireless connection so impressive it makes the one used by the US secret service to spy on Germany look like a tin cup phone on a string.
But despite his astonishing displays, the aristocracy treat Alexander with utter contempt, which I guess would really have sucked (yes I went there) had he not immediately spotted the stunningly graceful Mina Murray (played by Jessica De Gouw): unassuming pioneer of women in medicine and dead ringer for Alexander/Dracula’s long lost and beloved wife, who had been burned at the stake as a witch centuries earlier as he was made to watch. Upside: love of life reincarnated. Downside: she already has a boyfriend (Jonathan Harker, played by Oliver Jackson-Cohen).
Seriously. I swear there was a Cosmo advice column I read once about how to deal with that exact situation. It would have been, like, the most helpful thing ever. People might not fundamentally change over the course of a few hundred years, but I'm pretty sure the do's and don'ts of dating have. Unless they haven't. In which case, BRB MUST GO BUY GOATS FOR DOWRY.
He also meets, however, a posh, aristocratic hussy with a flawless blonde updo, ruthlessly smug expression and no scruples whatsoever named Lady Jane Wetherby (Victoria Smurfit), who is immediately taken with Grayson's charismatc allure. Whilst he is busy trying to work out if she is actually as evil as he appears to suspect, we of course, ladies, can see her exactly for what she is from the second she appears. Indeed, we all squinted crankily at her and said - in the immortal words of Taylor Swift – I KNEW YOU WERE TROUBLE WHEN YOU WALKED IN. HUSSYFACE.
Ultimately though, this episode served one main purpose, and that was to introduce us to the beginnings of Dracula's over arching end game. The Order of The Dragon - responsible for the death of his wife and for infinite other bloodthirsty travesties - is still very much alive at the heart of the London elite; he is determined above all else to exact the most brutal and debilitating revenge he can, and is willing to do whatever it takes to succeed.
BEST UNEXPECTED PLOT TWIST
I love the fact that Mina is at medical school. I love it even more that she is making one giant leap for woman kind in doing so. I loved it even more when they introduced us to her professor and mentor: the one and only Abraham Van Helsing. If you're even a basic student of the Dracula legend, you'll know that Van Helsing is the most legendary hunter known to have chased the Vampire King, so it was very unexpected to find out that a) Van Helsing was Captain Stabbity in the opening scene who brings Dracula back to life, and b) that he has actually been in league with Dracula since that very day, having raised him from the dead for his own purposes, in order to also wreak revenge against The Order of The Dragon, after Van Helsing too lost his family to their tyranny.
MVP OF THE WEEK To be fair, this week well and truly belongs to Meyers as Dracula. His ability to beautifully articulate from the absolute outset even the most brutal and bloodthirsty characters (Henry VIII, anyone?) is amazing and I loved the fact that I believed him as this character from the very first second he appeared on screen. That said, a seriously honourable mention goes to his epically understated but totally badass sidekick, Renfield (played wonderfully by British actor Nonso Anozie). I have a feeling I am going to be a bit partial to that guy.
Not even going to try and count the number of excuses I will come up with to stay up til all hours of the night just so I can watch 'one more episode' of this show. It's very well cast; has a ripping (literally and figuratively) plot and is sexy as...well, Jonathan Rhys Meyers sitting bolt upright out of a hot bath, basically, and it doesn't get sexier than that. You don't believe me, google it.
QUESTIONS FOR NEXT WEEK
Should we start a drinking game based on the number of times per show a bodice or damsel's neck gets ripped? Discuss.
Who is Renfield and where did he come from?
Which member of the Order of The Dragon will be next on Dracula's list?
Who thinks that Voldemort and Nasty Blonde Hussy would totally get matched if they both joined eharmony?
How is it humanly possible for Jonathan Rhys Meyers to be made up to look like a vampire that's more desicated than a bag of coconut flakes, and yet still be handsome?