Netflix’s Dracula is hot and enjoyable– till it’s drained of life

Like among the Count’s bride-to-bes, the BBC/Netflix mini-series Dracula is charming, fun, and sexy– till it’s drained of all life. The perpetrator, though, is not the bite of a vampire, however rather showrunners Steven Moffat and Mark Gatiss biting off more than they wanted to chew in the first three episodes, which like Sherlock, play out like 3 standalone movies.

[Ed. note: this contains major spoilers for the first season of Dracula]
There’s a spirited vitality to Wells’ Van Helsing that compliments Claes Bang’s undead Count Dracula, who dithers in between suave and animalistic depending on how hungry he is.

Dracula’ s first 2 episodes have plenty of scenes that fall directly in Moffat’s strike zone: dialogue that reads as a spoken chess match between a dazzling hero and a similarly fantastic bad guy. The series is at its best when Wells and Bang talk circle each other. Near the climax of episode 1, “The Rules of the Beast”, Sis Agatha opens the convent doors to Dracula, having figured out that he can not get in a space without an invite. The stress as the 2 size each other up for the very first time is palpable– it’s not rather sexual, but it’s not not sexual either. (Still, Moffat’s tendency towards self-indulgent cleverness is on screen as well. I was rolling my eyes when Dracula and Van Helsing continued their sparring with an actual chess match.)

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Dracula (Claes Bang) and Van Helsing (Dolly Wells) size each other up across an open gate in a screengrab from Dracula

Dracula and Sis Agatha Van Helsing go toe to toe.
Image: Netflix

After serving up two episodes of moody period scary, Moffat and Gatiss insert a significant twist at the beginning of the finale: Dracula emerges from his coffin, which fell to the bottom of the ocean with him inside of it at the end of episode 2, “Blood Vessel,” and strolls onto a beach.

Locking up Dracula in a modern-day medical facility specifically designed to trap a vampire is an enjoyable turnaround of the Gothic castle in which his victims were put behind bars. With Dracula, the writers completely drop the tone and design that made the previous 2 episodes so engaging; they rather serve up a meandering slog.

Episode 3, “The Dark Compass” is all over the place in terms of both plot and tone. After being ambushed on the beach, Dracula gets away custody, only to be imprisoned again. Zoe offers a details dump about what the Harker Foundation in fact does, then Dracula calls a legal representative (named Renfield, naturally, played by Mark Gatiss) who gets him launched on the premise that the foundation has no legal right to hold him against his will. The first half of the episode seems like a crime drama with vampire hunters. Once again, that’s not a dull idea, however in the context of the remainder of the program it’s extremely out of place.

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Dracula (Claes Bang) caresses the face of Jonathan Harker (John Heffernan) in a screengrab from Netflix’s Dracula

Dracula touches Jonathan Harker’s face.
Image: Netflix

Then there’s Lucy Westenra, the promiscuous femme fatale who becomes Dracula’s bride-to-be. Moffat and Gatiss punish her for that vanity; After Dracula eliminates her, she’s reanimated halfway through being cremated and emerges covered in burns.

The series culminates in a last showdown in between Van Helsing and Dracula. Zoe has intoxicated Dracula’s blood, connecting her and permitting her to speak to Sister Agatha. Sunlight puts in and Dracula recoils, however does not explode or liquify into dust.
Inserted into the last 5 minutes of the episode, it feels half-baked. The scene ends on a gut punch of an image– Dracula nervously stepping out of the shadows into the heat and light of the sun– but that minute isn’t made.

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Dracula (Claes Bang) sucking blood off of his fingers in a still from the Netflix and BBC show Dracula

Delicious
Image: Netflix

I ‘d suggest merely watching the very first two episodes and turning off your TELEVISION before the 3rd episode starts, were it not for the final image of the series: Agatha and Dracula having sex in the middle of the sun after he consumes Zoe’s cancerous blood, killing both of them. It’s a balls-to-the-wall bonkers ending in the best method, the kind of elevated schlock that made the very first 2 episodes so much fun.

This ending wraps up Dracula’s arc with a cool, if ultimately unsatisfying bow, however it appears that a 2nd season hasn’t been ruled out.

Will we get a prequel, showing how Dracula’s fascinations ended up being tradition? Will Dracula and Van Helsing fulfill again in the future, reanimated by the Harker Structure?

Dracula is now streaming on Netflix.

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