Dracula / Screen

Just Give Me A Vampire Soap Opera: Dracula ‘Servant to Two Masters’ Review

I can’t imagine this show being renewed for a second season, and I’m not sure I want it to be.  In some ways Dracula is a nice diversion, but only in the moments where it embraces the show it could be: a sexy, historical drama about an ancient vampire going up against a group of businessmen who moonlight as vampire hunters. But that’s not the show we’re getting.  Dracula would rather be a corporate drama with a boring push and pull between Dracula’s alter ego Alexander Grayson and the Order of the Dragon.   Other shows do well with the corporate espionage and intrigue (the first that comes to mind is ABC’s soapy Revenge), and though Dracula has the added supernatural element to contend with, it doesn’t look like it wants to do anything with it.  Perhaps this is because Dracula himself wants very little to do with his vampirism, and “Servant to Two Masters” emphasized this point as Dracula attempted to deny his very nature and abstain from blood.

Like its main character,  Dracula seems like it would rather Alexander Grayson was just a regular old guy looking to ruin the lives of a band of corporate baddies than a vampire.   When the show dips into Dracula’s energy plans and the business side of his struggle with the Order, it plods on in the most boring way.   Perhaps Dracula‘s failing is that it takes itself too seriously.  Even if it did insist on traversing this boring business road, it could imbue it with the show’s ridiculous but fun-to-watch elements.  I wonder if this is Dracula‘s attempt at not veering too far down the path of a soap opera, because it does have some soap operatic elements.  Perhaps making the Order such a fixture is the show’s attempt at drama. If so, they should stop that.

The ridiculous abounds on Dracula, but the show seems to fear that it’ll sacrifice its darker elements if it starts having some fun with itself.  “Servant to Two Masters” was balanced in its boring and interesting plotlines, which certainly isn’t a compliment.  The Order enlisted a disillusioned Harker in their fight against Dracula’s energy experiment and Renfield pursued the Dresden Triptych while Mina threw a dance at the hospital and Jayne walked the particularly soapy route of using a heartbroken Lucy to crush Mina.

The Order of the Dragon is where Dracula fails the most.  The Order is supposed to be the antagonist, but we know very little about them.  They’d be much more compelling if they weren’t just a bunch of old, white guys sitting in opulent, dimly lit rooms all across London lamenting oil.  I’d rather see a bunch of a vampire hunters who just happen to be wealthy businessmen.  Instead their vampire hunting ways are set aside for the shady business dealings as if anyone came to watch a show about Dracula to see these guys whine about oil.  Jayne was far better integrated, perhaps because the show decided to throw her into a sexual relationship with its main character.  But they could have the other Order members having sex with people, too.  Or doing anything really.

Even Harker’s apparent induction to the dark side lacks verve with his character becoming so entrenched in the boring shenanigans.  Going against Dracula could prove interesting considering Harker’s extra stakes with Mina, but at the moment those have been set aside in favor of returning to Harker’s somewhat tiring desire to prove himself again and join the upper echelon of boring, old, white men.  Harker was more interesting (albeit exhausting) when he was mainly occupied with his and Mina’s relationship.

Mina decided to give hospital’s patients some fun drew her and Dracula into each other’s orbits again in more lighthearted moments for the show.  The times when Dracula is allowed to be charming, rather than dour and angst-ridden are good ones.  Though these moments are more often than not related to his obsession with Mina, it’s nice to see a Dracula who is capable of being likable.  He looks more like an actual person, and as “Servant to Two Masters” pointed out, a man cursed to be a vampire but desperately wishing he could be a man with the woman he loves.  Watching Dracula and Mina dance around a room with patients then dance alone in a hallway (and nearly kiss!) was a nice detour from Harker’s introduction to the Order of the Dragon which bookended their scenes.  Dracula continues to fail its promising cast of characters and their equally compelling relationships with one another by favoring the Order of the Dragon.

Particularly soapy were Jayne’s true intentions in encouraging Lucy in her feelings for Mina who Jayne is looking to punish for Dracula’s obvious interest in her.  Knowing Mina would reject Lucy, Jayne directed her to reveal herself so she could swoop in and fan the flames of Lucy’s broken heart until she resolved to hurt Mina the way she’d been hurt.  This, of course means that Lucy will seduce Jonathan.  And the perfect instructor? Jayne who teaches Lucy how to seduce Jonathan and ends up seducing Lucy as well. The growing web between Jayne, Lucy, Mina, Harker and Dracula shows a lot of promise.

Meanwhile Dracula abstained from blood after his taste of normalcy and walk in the sun.  Dracula convinced himself he could be a normal man and not feed.  Though it was ridiculous that Dracula would ignore Van Helsing’s warnings and the obvious signs of his own withdrawal, it was done well particularly in Dracula’s scene with Mina where the two near lip lock was derailed by Dracula’s hunger. Though it was predictable(the staple of the vampire show to risk feeding and killing the object of a vampire’s affection), it was a reminder that Dracula’s infatuation with Mina and his vampirism are at odds with one another.  Especially when one considers that Ilona and Dracula were both human when they were married, Dracula’s near attack of Mina is a big reminder of his new self, a self no one can be certain Ilona would have continued to love after his transformation.

If Dracula allowed itself to fall headfirst into its characters, rather than the one-note, boring Order of the Dragon (who aren’t even characters so much as plot points), it could be a better show.  The promise of the deep dive into Mina and Dracula’s feelings for one another as Harker confronts Mina, and Lucy’s plans, are more exciting than whatever’s planned for Dracula’s lightbulbs.  Hopefully that, and Jayne’s hunt for the legendary Dracula, will take precedent over oil which, after this episode, is a word I don’t think I need to hear again.

Leave your thoughts in the comments.

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