Dracula Season 1 Review “From Darkness to Light”

Dracula (NBC) Episode 4 From Darkness to Light (36)

With the latest episode of “Dracula,” aptly-titled “From Darkness to Light,” we finally got our first unqualified excellent installment of the season thus far. Most everything worked this time around: the storylines tied together nicely, the character interaction was well done and plotted, and like many of the best episodes of a great show, it played like a self-contained mini-movie.

Hell, even the bit about the geomagnetic power stuff- typically my least favorite element of the show- worked because it both was played for action (when the machine malfunctioned and went haywire, shooting stuff at everyone) and towards bringing Dracula and Mina together (when he took her into his arms to shield her from harm and they had a romantic moment).

We started off with a great action set-piece involving Lady Jayne getting her vampire slayer on in a train car, taking out two out of three of her attackers. The lone one who escaped actually turned out to be a crucial part of the plot, as he wanted vengeance sooner than later against Jayne, and later hit the roof when he discovered that Dracula was involved with her sexually. Though Dracula felt loyalty to the vamp in question, Josef, as he had saved his batnip more than a few times, Josef was clearly a loose cannon waiting to go off and draw unwanted attention to Dracula and company.

So, Dracula wisely played into that anger and sent him after Jayne, only to come to her “rescue” and allow himself to be knocked out, thus allowing her to finish Josef off. True, his excuse for being there in the first place was a bit dubious, but the gambit worked and it both ensured her loyalty and got their romance back on track after Jayne started to back off from him, feeling a bit uncertain for her feelings about Dracula in his Grayson mode.

As he pointed out, she was the one used to being the dominant one, so being with someone that caused her to lose control was actually a negative. By allowing her to save him, while at the same time partially coming to her rescue, albeit “unsuccessfully,” it put their relationship back on track when it was in danger of going off the rails, thus severing Dracula’s inside connection to the Order. It also took the heat off of his being the old-school vampire the Order was looking for in the process, and got rid of the potentially bad news Josef might become if allowed to continue in the direction he was clearly headed. In order words: two birds, one stone.

That’s just good plotting, plus nice characterization, and working in tandem together to boot. I also liked the touch of Dracula taking Jayne to a “Fight Club”-type get-together to see other ladies in action as a sort of combination of an apology for (intentionally) standing her up and making her feel vulnerable, as well as ad-hoc foreplay. Well played, indeed, Dracula- both the character and the show, I might add.

Also reaping dividends: the plotline involving Lord Davenport. As Dracula was solidifying his “in” with the Order via Lady Jayne, events he set into motion by blackmailing Laurent for being gay, which then caused him to be executed by the Order, which then caused his lover, Davenport’s son, to kill himself, which then led to his writing a suicide note pointing the finger at Dracula…well, let’s just say they came back to bite him in the batty… er, make that booty. Now Renfield has been abducted, and judging by the previews for next week, will be tortured for information. Will he crack? It doesn’t seem likely, but it doesn’t look good for him, either, so we’ll see.

Once again, this is all good stuff. All this plotting is starting to pay off, and none too soon, IMHO. About the only part of the episode I was dubious of was the business with General Shaw and Ogilvy. I’m not sure where all that is going, but because of the rest of tonight’s episode, I’m going to go ahead and give the show the benefit of the doubt, as they clearly know a thing or two about long-term plotting.

Note also that the seemingly dubious decision on Dracula’s part to push Harker and Mina together also unexpectedly paid off when Mina expressed her doubts about why Dracula was throwing their engagement party and Harker told her he’d basically saved their relationship single-handedly. That got her attention, but it also endeared Dracula further to him, just as she was having doubts when he got a little too touchy-feely during the aforementioned machine explosion. It would seem that Dracula’s instincts are pretty dead-on so far, save maybe the miscalculation with Davenport.

I also like the business about Van Helsing trying to concoct a formula that allows Dracula to walk in the sunlight. Way too often these shows and movies come up with sketchy ways around this: in “Twilight” it was sparkling (vampires should NEVER sparkle-what, are they “Hello Kitty”?), on “The Vampire Diaries,” it’s a magic ring, and so on. Here, it’s been a trial-and-error process, and one that’s clearly going to take a little time. In the meantime, Dracula risks it becoming a problem, as he can’t go out until the problem is solved, which could very well arouse suspicions, for obvious reasons. That Mina stumbled on Helsing’s work to this end was a nice touch as well.

Finally, I already mentioned the business with Davenport’s son being gay in a time where that didn’t fly. In a previous review, I also mentioned a potentially gay vibe between Lucy and Mina. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying Mina is a latent homosexual- but Lucy may well be. Note how upset she got about Mina’s impending wedding. Mina interpreted it as Lucy worrying that it would impact their relationship, but I think it goes deeper than that. If so, I’m really digging the way the show is incorporating that element into the show so far. The Davenport stuff was much more overt, with the Lucy stuff much more subtle, but I think it’s very much intentional, and definitely an intriguing spin on that character if I’m right.

So, there you have it. An excellent episode all around on every level. There may be hope for this show yet! I just hope the early, more methodical episodes didn’t scare everyone off, because all that stuff is finally paying off in a big way. Let’s hope there’s some other patient people out there sticking with the show. Fingers crossed!

What did you think of “Dracula” this week? Happy with the way things are developing on the show? Do you like the way the story is unfolding, or is it a bit too elaborate for its own good? What do you think of my Lucy theory? How do you think things will play out with Renfield? Where are they going with this Ottoman Empire stuff? Sound off on this or anything else you like below, and see you next week!