Dracula: 1.05 - The Devil's Waltz
Last time we checked in with Dracula was the end of episode three here with Alexander Grayson, Dracula's fake identity, besting industrialists and the Order of the Dragon whilst bedding vampire hunters and making cow eyes at Mina Harker. Sumptuously dressed and competently produced, the horror was limited to some mild blood-letting and the sex was all about velvet sheets, six-packs and cleavage. In terms of sex appeal, Dracula makes the best of gorgeous short person Jonathan Rhys Meyers whilst surrounding him with a cougar (Smurfit), a bi-curious Katie McGrath and a ravishing Jessica De Gouw.
The events of episode 4 had Drac winning the heart of Smurfit by treating her rough, taking her to female bare knuckled fighting and eventually saving her from a fellow vampire. Meanwhile, Lord Davenport had engaged Dr Who's own Madame Vastra (Neve Mcintosh) to help his revenge effort whilst lying to the Order about it - culminating in the kidnap of Renfield. With Harker and Mina about to marry we enter episode 5.
The Devils Waltz wraps itself around the day of Mina's pre-wedding party. She wakes up after a thoroughly dirty dream about the fanged one and proceeds, aided by Lucy's preparations for the event, to worry about whether Jonathan has come over all posh. Meanwhile Van Helsing is pressured to test his anti-daylight serum on live subjects by Grayson, who has also set Jonathan to find the missing Renfield. We learn about how Renfield and Grayson met and just how deep their loyalty goes, and other secrets of the heart are revealed to our vampire huntress and Lucy.
One of the strengths of the show so far has been a capacity to make the various strands of the plot matter rather than idle for time in conventional soap opera fashion. Where it has been less successful is in the development of Mina or Lucy or Smurfit's characters, all are defined by who they love rather than who they are and often simply as functions of the male characters. True, an effort was made to present Mina as an aspiring doctor but nowhere near as much as showing her as the apple of Jonathans and Graysons eyes.
This point could also have extended to Renfield until this episode where the origins of his relationship with Grayson are revealed courtesy of flashbacks to their first meeting during the torture he endures in the present. Little is made of the parallel between Van Helsings live experiments and this gruesome torture, and similarly not much sympathy is offered the poor women Grayson destroys as test subjects. A more aware show could have had some fun with that, however Dracula the series never seems to consider anything other than his plan for revenge.
Still, the lack of thematic depth is not now a huge problem as there was a couple of nicely executed horror sequences this week and the plot keeps things pretty tight overall. With the Order beginning to suspect Grayson again next week, his plans will come under threat again and the series will keep the interest that it has built up so far. It remains a recommended, highly enjoyable show to these eyes at least.
Dracula is shown in the UK on Sky Living on Mondays and is available on SkyGo