Column: Retronomicon: Lonely Hearts: Dracula 1.03: Goblin Merchant Men

Recap: We start off with a quick recap of the previous episode. Thankfully, we only get the relevant details, such as Jonathan’s offer, the introduction of the Seers, Lord Laurent’s being made a party of blackmail, Lady Jane’s determination to track down the vampire in London, and Grayson’s reluctance to do more than what he’s doing with Mina.

We then open onto the episode proper with a view of a magnificent dogwood tree in a courtyard, being watered by the English rain. Oh, my bad … this isn’t England at all. It’s Wallachia back in the day, where the Grayson of times past (still human, seeing as he is in daylight without any pain) is fighting the Ordo Draco while in chains. My heart went out to the guy as I watched this … outnumbered, hobbled, stripped to the waist and using nothing but his bare hands against armed crusaders, he is the very portrait of defiance. Even though he chokes out one sword-wielding opponent to the ground, it’s obvious from the start that he’s fighting a losing battle. They finally pound him with their boots into submission and unconsciousness.

We abruptly cut to later at night, where Grayson is still chained to the stake and the rain has finally stopped. Some asshole with a bucket throws water on Grayson to wake him up. The bloodied wreck of a noble is surrounded by men in robes and torches, the robes bearing the seal of the Order of the Dragon. Two guards pick him up, causing Grayson to snarl, but the fight has all but been beaten out of him. A guy approaches him with a vaguely pagan thing in his hands, a cup fashioned from the skull of a goat or ram, apparently. It’s full of blood that they pour into Grayson’s mouth, doing a very messy job of it. The look of absolute ecstasy Grayson gets upon receiving the blood freaks out the gray-haired fool that did it. He pulls out a carving knife and cuts Grayson’s throat. Grayson falls to the ground in agony, crawling across the stones to who knows where. Then, he sees a vision of his beloved Iona (or Mina, as we call her these days), appearing like the stereotypical angel across the courtyard. She walks towards him and he stretches a hand towards her. Before he gets anywhere close to where he sees her, he collapses once again.

He wakes up in an entirely different place. His chains now hold his arms upright and – oh, look at that! A nice cross-shaped opening in the wall behind him is letting in the clear sunlight. A wider shot let us see that he’s actually hanging way above the ground when he gets a visitor in robes, apparently a priest. Humility apparently not being one of his strong suits, Grayson immediately demands to know both where he is and why the Ordo didn’t finish the job.

His visitor just tells him that what’s happening right now is “the price of your defiance.” Using the power of the God that Grayson defied, the Order has condemned him to eternal torment as a vampire. Just to illustrate this point, the guy is enough of a douche to shove poor Grayson in the path of the sunlight. It gives the newly-made vampire instant third degree burns.

Dracula 3.1

Pause button: I once again find myself sympathizing with, while not outright identifying with, Grayson and what he’s gone through. Yes, he’s become a monster and was likely one well before all this went down. But the people who did this to him were no paragons of virtue, themselves. Any oppressed ethnic minority could understand exactly what these people were all about. Unpause.

After the visitor crows, “Vlad Tepes is condemned to be undead,” Grayson breaks his chains … oops. The minute he hits the ground and looks up, his fangs are out and ready for their first real meal. Guess they should have paid the extra coin for some silver links.

Now, skipping to turn-of-the-century London, we see Grayson at home, playing a piano with only his right hand. He taps out a sad, mournful tune. One can’t help but wonder if it was inspired by his current situation, his memories of how he got here, or both. Renfield actually makes a point of letting his master play in peace as he stands at attention in the doorway.

Once Grayson notices him and stops playing, Renfield says, “I had no idea you played, sir.”

“It’s been over a century since I last put fingers to keys,” Grayson says offhandedly.

Resuming his tapping of the keys, he tells Renfield he’s been “thinking about Lady Jane Weatherby … and her decidedly … unwholesome … avocation.”

“Really?” Renfield asks with bemusement. “Which one, sir?”

With a slight chuckle of his own, Grayson says, “Her vampire hunting, of course.” He correctly deduces that she most likely is affiliated with the Order (Guess he did figure that much out after she spotted him with the now-headless Sinead). Renfield affirms the wisdom of his boss’ guess.

“But then … she is a female,” Grayson adds, which seems to hint that the Ordo Draco has a well-established tradition of misogyny. “I suppose I shall have to ascertain it one way or the other.”

He then notices what Renfield has in his hand and asks about it. It’s from Lord Laurent’s solicitor, confirming the sale of his lordship’s shares in British Imperial Coolant. Renfield congratulates Grayson on being the new majority stockholder. Grayson acknowledges the triumph with an enthusiastic stab of the appropriate notes on the piano before taking the letter.

After the credits, we see Jonathan Harker out in a growler on the London streets, looking particularly troubled. If I were him, I would swear off alcohol for the rest of my life after the verbal faceplant he did last episode. He knocks against the side window to get the driver to stop in front of Mina’s door … then he spots Lucy, wearing a pink-and-yellow outfit. He knocks the growler side again to make the driver keep going.

Mina runs down the stairs at Lucy’s knock. Actually, she was expecting Jonathan (as evidenced by the greeting on her lips) and is rather dismayed to see Lucy, instead. Lucy looks at Mina, acting cold as ever, and after the customary good morning, tells Mina, “You look dreadful.”

Yeah, I doubt that Jonathan was in the mood for Lucy’s crap on top of atoning for what he did to Mina.

Lucy proposes going to a cafe to help out with both her loneliness (One of her suitors broke the appointment to meet her there) and Mina’s broken heart. Mina is a bit surprised that Lucy heard about her and Jonathan. Lucy just uses the opportunity to continue bashing the absent reporter as the “awful twit” she always saw him as.

Pause button: Excuse me if I have some serious doubts on this subject, seeing as Lucy never liked the guy from the start. Frankly, all she’s been doing is waiting for confirmation of her hate and now that she’s got it, she’s going to use it for all it’s worth. Yes, Jonathan is a bit of an idiot on matters of love, but Lucy acts like poison writ large. Unpause.

She then proposes that Mina could be having fun with her, instead. Mina looks like Lucy’s brand of fun is the last thing on her mind.

We then cut to an asylum scene. The woman eating the flower is a nice dead giveaway, yes? So is the girl with her head pressed against the wall … and the one at the table stacking boxes before knocking them over. This would be Bethlehem Hospital AKA Bedlam. Into this man-made purgatory steps Lady Jane. The low-cut dress and supreme confidence she shows don’t make her any more memorable than Jabba the Hutt at a Weight Watchers meeting (albeit easier on the eyes).

She’s come to discuss committing the Seers to Dr. Murray’s care (That’s Mina’s dad, as you may recall), passing them off as relatives of hers. She then strokes his ego about being an alienist to “figures of high renown.” As he assures her that he can’t drop names, she in turn assures him that his “reputation for discretion” is quite well-established. She just wants the “relations” to remain anonymous and the doctor gallantly offers up his help. The fool is probably staring at her breasts when he thinks she isn’t looking.

A new development across town at Empire and Colonial Metallurgy – Renfield is noting that Grayson’s order should have no issues for one Mr. Wurth. Wurth, on the other hand, is a bit put out over the prospect of putting the service of his entire operation “to the needs of a single client” and asks Jonathan if this is what the former journalist really expects from him.

Jonathan replies in the negative, but nods towards Renfield as he says that he thinks that his companion does. Wurth verbally throws them out of his office. As both calmly stand up, Renfield, who stands a head over Wurth, evenly says, “Very well … though I must regretfully inform that your employment here is terminated.”

Jonathan looks at Renfield in surprise as Grayson’s right-hand adds, “Effective immediately.”

Wurth talks about how Renfield doesn’t have that kind of juice, dismissing Renfield as “a rich man’s novelty that I wouldn’t even let into my home.” Renfield takes it calmly, while Jonathan protests that Wurth has no right to speak to Renfield like that. Renfiled smoothly runs over the noble sentiment by informing Wurth of the facts of life: Since Grayson is now the boss of British Imperial Coolant, Renfield can indeed do that. “When I speak, I speak with his authority,” he finishes, getting another surprise stare from Jonathan.

Out of the goodness of his heart, Renfield gives Wurth a second chance to do as he was told.

Jonathan cuts a sideways glance to Wurth upon his being asked if Renfield has made himself clear. Wurth finally manages to say, “Yes.” With a bit more effort, he even adds, “Sir.”

Outside, Renfield berates Jonathan for his lack of focus and lets him know that the way to earn Grayson’s trust is to give undivided attention to business meetings. Jonathan apologizes, claiming no excuse. Then Renfield gives him a list of names to become friendly with, noting that Jonathan likely recognizes most of them. Then Renfield adds this bit, “Harker … never again to presume to defend me to anyone.”

There is some genuine anger behind that statement as he walks off to leave Jonathan to contemplate yet again what kind of a mess he has gotten himself into.

Dracula 3.2

Pause button: A pretty nice touch, that sequence. It reminds me of some of the harder-to-take touches of Bioshock Infinite in acknowledging the blatant racism of the period upfront. I am wondering how Renfield and Grayson found each other. Unpause.

Meanwhile, Dr. Murray is consulting with Professor Van Helsing in his office. Van Helsing is proposing to mix together “the stimulant” for the Seers. Dr. Murray declines both that offer and the Professor’s request for the client’s name. Van Helsing ironically says, “Please, Doctor … indulge a humble academic.”

That’s funny. Van Helsing strikes me as being anything but humble.

After getting assurances of the Professor’s discretion, Dr. Murray tells him that the client is none other than Lady Jane Weatherby. Van Helsing is a little stunned but recovers quickly enough, saying, “I see” a couple of times. He does indeed see … he sees that it goes back to the Seers.

Grayson is rumbling about it in private later, talking of how the “huntswoman” is trying to get a new drug for her pet psychic hounds, when he hears the report from Van Helsing. He then tells his comrade to go ahead and give it to her. Van Helsing looks as if this sounds unwise, but he does have just the mixture of the right potency for the job of taking them off the chessboard.

Grayson derides the plan as making the Ordo Draco seek out new and possible unknown means to entrap them. Van Helsing notes quietly, “I suppose you have a better plan?” Grayson has his usual look of supreme self-confidence.

Across town, the Beard is busy berating Lord Laurent for letting Grayson get those shares on a busy carnival street. Lord Laurent protests that if he’d “had a choice in the matter, I never would have agreed to his terms!” After getting no answer to the question of whether Laurent was threatened, the Beard goes on to say, “There is no protection – none – to any brother who violates the principal oath. If you have anything to say to me in your defense, I suggest that you do so now or stand before your brothers and suffer the punishment proscribed.”

Laurent says nothing. The Beard just gives him a slight nod and walks away from him.

Honestly, I can’t really say that I blame Laurent. How far are any of us willing to go to protect the people we love?

At Lady Jane’s place later that night, Grayson rises from the bed after the usual horizontal exercise routine with his hostess. In the darkness, he hears whispers as he quietly pulls on his pants, taking care not to awaken Jane. He sees a mural of a couple that probably reminds him of his dead Iona. Then he walks onto what looks like one of the old sets of Masque of the Red Death, with lots of purple curtains, and we see a picture of an elderly man mounted on a horse. Somehow, Grayson is able to divine that the panel next to him is, in fact, a hidden door switch.

The whispers continue, saying “Sire” over and over again. He goes down into the basement … and I bet I know where exactly Grayson is heading. As he picks up a torch, we see a few interesting details on Grayson’s left arm – ringed tattoos on his biceps and what looks like script on his shoulder. He then sees Jane’s collection of katanas hanging on the wall. Going towards the center of the room, he sees the sign of the Ordo Draco painted on the floor. Then the rattle of chains comes from the shadows … Jane’s pet vampire.

She’s half out of her mind at this point, fangs extended and trying to claw her way through the bars. Grayson just looks at her calmly. She then pitifully begs for her sire to kill her.

As she grips his free hand, he raises it to put his pointer to his lips and shushes her. He kisses her hand and winces with emotional pain at the sight before his eyes. His child crumples to the ground from her agony. Tears are streaking Grayson’s eyes as he walks back to Jane’s bedroom. His knuckles crack as his hands tighten into fists. He then quietly closes the doors behind him before crawling over the sheets to Jane. Jane suddenly grabs Grayson by the throat with one hand then the other, says his name before pulling him into a kiss. The execution has apparently been postponed for the time being.

Later, at a rather posh restaurant, Jonathan is sitting calmly by himself when Lord Radcliffe prompts his boy, Daniel, as to whether that’s “Alexander Grayson’s man.” Daniel confirms that this is so. Lord Radcliffe prompts the waiter to send a bottle of Bordeaux over to Jonathan with his compliments. When he asks the butler if there’s a problem, the butler informs Lord Radcliffe that Jonathan has already sent over a bottle of 1890 La Tour with his compliments. Jonathan salutes Lord Radcliffe and his guests with his wine glass.

At Mina’s apartment, Lucy proposes that she and Mina make “a full circuit, starting at the Savoy and arriving fashionably late at the Officer’s Club Ball.” Mina’s mind is on anything but Lucy’s trolling for men to seduce, as evidenced by her question on whether or not Jonathan had left any word. Lucy assures that such had not been the case and reminds her of the insult of being “a proper little English wife.” She actually shows a little tenderness here … but I don’t trust it. I have no doubt in my mind that if Mina ever got in the way of what Lucy wanted, Mina would have her heart broken yet again. Mina decides to get in the spirit of things about what they should do with “those delicious officers.” Then we get a montage of the two of them getting very sloppily drunk. They’re obviously having a good time, but I find myself wondering if there’s going to be a problem.

Meanwhile, at the James Hotel, Daniel Radcliffe is watching Lord Laurent dress while he stays in bed. Poor, sweet, naive thing that he is, Daniel is wondering where his lover is going.

Laurent assures him that “the die is cast.” Daniel concocts a fantasy about finding a place beyond the reach of the Order. Laurent assures him that no such place exists (well, not with indoor plumbing, that’s for sure).

Daniel begs him to come clean. Laurent shows himself to be a perfect prick by not wanting to besmirch his family’s name. While later scenes will expand on this sentiment, it also makes it sound like Daniel doesn’t matter so much in the grand scheme of things to Laurent. He then concludes that “I signed my death warrant the moment I capitulated to that American. I knew this when I did it … and I would do it again.”

Hey, Laurent, are a few words for the kid you’re about to leave with a broken heart too damn much to ask for? Gods, I feel so sorry for this kid, never being able to publicly acknowledge the love that he had and the lover playing him pretty shabbily in the process.

Meanwhile, Mina and Lucy are way sloshed and making a hell of lot of noise and mess in front of Mina’s residence. Renfield sighs, “Finally,” at his master’s arrival. He then informs Grayson that he’s been waiting there all night, as evidenced by the approaching sun. Renfield points out this latter fact, but Grayson asks for “just a moment more” as he looks longingly at the two completely bombed women on the front stoop. He’s determined to see her face when Mina reads the card that went with the roses left at Mina’s door. But Renfield correctly notes that time has run out and quickly shuts the door. Grayson swears and rightly so. Because it’s at this moment that Lucy reads the card aloud. It’s Grayson’s bit of advice for Mina’s exams and congratulations. The card is unsigned, but even in her very pickled state, Mina knows who it is. She has the good sense to not tell Lucy who. She notices the hansom cab going away, but may or may not have recognized Renfield. Grayson is leaning in agony over the missed chance.

At Carfax Manor, Grayson immediately starts in on Van Helsing’s lack of progress on the continuing failure to get the vampiric sunblock he needs working. “I want to walk in the sunlight like any other man!” he yells.

“You will never be like any other man,” Van Helsing notes.

“You would do well to remember that,” Grayson spits back, with an obvious threat.

Van Helsing informs Grayson that the efficacy of the “solar vaccine” is still just three minutes and twelve seconds. Grayson is not pleased, as he demonstrates by grabbing Van Helsing by the collar and shouting, “You leave me just enough time to have a cup of tea … before I burst into flames!”

He then stalks out and Van Helsing is looking as if he is wondering if the whole notion of bringing this guy back from the dead was such a swell idea after all.

Meanwhile, Lord Laurent is silently telling his son goodbye for the last time as the boy sleeps. He puts the tin soldier in the boy’s hand onto the nightstand. Then he goes into the lion’s den that is the Ordo Draco’s headquarters for his sentence. Despite the ornate ecclesiastical surroundings, Laurent’s walk up to the end of the corridor has the feeling of a death row prisoner walking the last mile. Standing behind a stained glass window with the Order’s seal on it, the Beard is waiting for him, a purple sash around his neck to distinguish him from his brothers, who are wearing red. Daniel and his father are among the crowd, as well. Figures that Daniel would be a member of the Ordo Draco, but he doesn’t strike me as one with a particularly bright future after this bit. The doors shut behind Lord Laurent and the punishment begins.

We cut to Laurent kneeling before the Beard, who addresses him by his full name of ‘Lord Steven James Laurent’ as he asks if Laurent put his own interests ahead of the Order. Laurent admits that this is so. Daniel is fighting off tears. After noting that the punishment is prescribed within the pages of the book in his hand, the Beard says, “So it is written …”

The others respond with “… and so it shall become.” Daniel is very shaky in saying that part.
The Beard ritually invokes that the punishment has “been handed down for generation to generation.” He then asks Lord Laurent, “Will you accept the blade?” Laurent affirms that he will.

Dracula 3.3

The Beard pulls it out of its scabbard and impales it painfully into Laurent’s chest. Daniel is rapidly losing his composure over this. The Beard finishes the impalement with a final twist of the blade. Lord Radcliffe winces at this, himself. But Laurent grabs the Beard’s wrist and forces the blade the rest of the way through. The Beard pulls it free and Laurent is quite dead. Daniel has the unwelcome sight of a pool of his lover’s blood going towards his shoes.

Lucy and Mina, on the other hand, are going through their partying phase still. Alcohol apparently getting boring, they’ve graduated to absinthe. The place where they’re dropping this stuff looks like it’s one of the rougher parts of town. It doesn’t take them that long to start seriously tripping. Lucy keeps Mina close … a little too close to be just friendly. Then Mina gets up and walks into the party around her, much to Lucy’s crestfallen consternation. That’s when the absinthe REALLY starts to do its work on Mina.

Mina walks through a door and we find ourselves in the courtyard of long ago with that dogwood tree so prominently in the foreground. The party’s still going on behind her through the door. She caresses the tree’s blossoms and then marches right back to the doorway … only to have it shut behind her.

Pause button: As anyone who watched the film version of From Hell could tell you, absinthe was reputed to give psychotropic visions if you had the right constitution. Down side was that it could also make you go blind and/or kill you. Unpause.

Mina comes out of the nod on a couch and her dealer proposes that she needs more absinthe. She notes that she might have just discovered her limits on that substance. He tries to flatter her, which she calls him on. He then mentions that his contact with reality “is through a limited aperture” and Mina laughs in his face. She can’t believe that the girls really fall for this proto-Beat poetry.

That pisses him off, noting that she’s just slumming while the rest of them are stuck where they currently are. She’s treating them like animals at the zoo. He then tries to make a move against her, noting, “There are no bars here and we are not … caged.”

Guess that limited aperture of reality is the reason why he isn’t paying attention to his surroundings. A gloved hand grabs him from behind and throws him across the room, right into some of the dancers. It’s Grayson, of course, looking as if he really is feeling the need to kill somebody right now. The would-be rapist gets the hint and takes off. Mina is rather surprised at the identity of her rescuer.

Later, outside the party, Mina thanks Grayson for the rescue. He assures her that it was nothing. She is curious about what brought him here, exactly. He glibly says, “This place is notorious for its parties. I like the music.”

Charlie Watts couldn’t have put it any better.

He then notes that she’s troubled. She tries to pass it off as anything but, but he insists that she tell him. She admits that it’s Jonathan. Grayson is genuinely surprised that he’d “do anything to hurt you.”

“But he did,” Mina says.

She then gives a brief rundown of what happened and doesn’t know how she can fix it.

Grayson looks away and notes that “Bohemian nightlife is a poor substitute for happiness. Sometimes, the people and places we are meant for take us by surprise.”

That’s when Lucy walks on up, correctly noting the source of the material as coming from Wuthering Heights. Grayson notes how late it is getting and offers to see them home. Lucy assures Grayson that her carriage is waiting, all the while holding onto Mina rather possessively. Grayson bids them good night.

The next morning at Carfax Manor, Jonathan gives Grayson a rundown on how he had lunch with several of the men on the list yesterday. Grayson is pouring a drink while he says this. One name in particular gets Grayson’s attention: a Mr. Browning AKA the Beard.

That’s when Grayson brings up the subject of Mina in a roundabout way. Jonathan gets agitated on the topic, saying, “I’d rather not discuss it, if you don’t mind.”

Putting his whiskey glass over the papers on Jonathan’s desk, Grayson asserts, “But I do … if only to prevent you from turning my study into a funeral parlor.”

Jonathan apologizes and takes the drink offered by his boss. He lays out his basic position of how he can’t reconcile his desire to support Mina financially with her desire to continue with her studies. Grayson assures him that he understands. Then Grayson says what I’ve been saying all along: “I understand that you are a fool.”

Pause button: Fun factoid: In the Vampire Tarot, Jonathan Harker is actually featured in the deck under the card title, “Jonathan The Fool.” Seems a certain amount of foolishness always attaches itself to every incarnation of Jonathan Harker. Unpause.

Grayson goes on to say, “How can a man who wishes to defy social convention and rise above his station deny the same thing in the woman he loves?”

Jonathan allows himself a bit of a smirk and asks his boss, “You calling me a hypocrite?”

“No, Harker. I’m calling you a fool. But you are a man in love.”

Finishing his drink, Grayson adds, “And they are very often the same thing. Finish up. Go home.”

Jonathan is definitely getting the hint.

As the previous night’s events seemed to confirm, Jonathan’s not the only one in love with Mina. Lucy is lying by her side while Mina is unconscious, looking positively torn. She tenderly stretches a hand towards Mina’s cheek to stroke it.

Pause button: This does explain a lot of Lucy’s bad behavior. Deep inside, Mina was the one she loved. All those men she bedded never even came close. It also explains why she had a grudge against Jonathan. He always stood the better chance. Unpause.

The gesture wakes Mina up. Lucy admits that she’s been thinking, getting a laugh out of Mina. Lucy then admits that she was thinking about Mina and how she inspires her, trying to be flip so that she can hold back the pain … or maybe she’s trying to hint at how she really feels.

Mina wonders what time it is. It’s 2pm and Mina is late for class. Lucy looks at her hasty exit and feels a pain at the parting.

In his office, Van Helsing gives Mina a nice hangover cure for the pounding in her head, sounding very much like a displeased father who caught his little girl in the family wine cellar. He assures her that “it will taste awful, but it will work wonders.” Mina nearly gags on the mixture, but she manages to swallow it.

Van Helsing than asks if he is wasting his time with her. She shakes her head. “There are dreams we must fight for,” he says. “If you want to advance beyond the boundaries society has made for you, you must fight.”

Mina begs the Professor for a second chance, assuring him again that he is not wasting his time. After a pregnant pause, he orders her to return at 5am sharp to become his assistant for the term. She gives that winsome smile at this pronouncement. It’s hard not to see how Lucy, Grayson and Jonathan all can fall for her.

Later, Van Helsing is downstairs, where Grayson is overseeing work on the prototype. He informs his confederate that the serum for the Seers is ready. Grayson notes that if they can track their power back to its source, “there will be a plague upon this city.”

We cut to Bedlam, where Dr. Murray is making his way through the halls. He gives a sealed envelope to a messenger boy, assuring him that if he returns within the hour, there’s a second shilling in it for him in addition to the one placed in his hand. As the messenger boy makes his way through the streets, Van Helsing spots him and watches for a moment. Then he follows the boy.

Later, the Seers are trying out the new serum. At first, it looks like it’s working. They step into the vision itself, where Grayson is screwing Lady Jane into a coma, as usual. The male half of this messed-up couple proclaims, “The vampire is with her.”

Then Grayson spots them again. As he bites into Jane’s shoulder (maybe with fangs, but I’m not sure), the female half starts convulsing. She can’t breathe as she lies back on the bed.

Pretty soon, neither can Seer Boy, who correctly deduces that they’ve been poisoned. A man carrying a small bag walks up to the both of them … Van Helsing. He notes that now that his serum has taken hold, both of them are utterly paralyzed.

“Do you have … any idea … what it’s like to hear the screams of your wife and children?” he asks them, flashing back to the night the Ordo Draco took everything from him. He remarks how his children would now be in their twenties. The only reason they’re dead was to punish Van Helsing for his own disobedience.

He then notes, “The monster you seek, I cannot let you find him … not as long as he is of use to me.” He takes off his gloves as he says this. “Until we’ve destroyed the Order once and for all. I’m afraid that traces of the drug will stay in your brain tissue, postmortem.”

He adds that since he’s the only man in the British Isles who could come up with a nonlethal dose of the drug, he would be suspected. So, he has to get rid of the evidence: “It is unfortunate, but sometimes, science requires sacrifice.”

He pulls out a silver mallet. Just before he takes it to their heads, he assures the pair, “Don’t worry. It will be quick.” Miles away, Grayson smiles in triumph over this latest coup.

Later that night, across town, Mina gets an unexpected visitor … Jonathan. Mina, being the darling girl that she is, apologizes for everything. Jonathan flat-out says it’s his fault, taking all the time to chase his own rainbows that he never once thought about Mina’s. But he understands Mina’s dreams. They are, after all, his own. She never once needed his protection and he’s finally admitting it. Mina has a good laugh over that. He then just asks to let him know if she wants to stay with him. He kisses her cheek and says, “Good evening, Ms. Murray.”

She leans by the doorway for a few minutes before running after him and giving him a hug that has all the relief and love in the world in it. She says, “You’ve forgotten the most important thing.”

Jonathan, acting like his usual slow-on-the-uptake self, asks what. She fills in the blank: “Marry me.”

Jonathan’s face lights up, noting how he wanted to ask her so many times but not even being able to buy her a ring. Then he gives her a gold crucifix from around his neck as his engagement ring. They make out on the street. Given the morals of the time, I’m surprised that a constable doesn’t come by to arrest them.

From the shadows of his carriage, Grayson watches. He tries to smile as they dance together, but the sadness over once again losing his beloved weighs more heavily as he closes the curtain. He tells Renfield about it later at Carfax, describing it as “an act that brought great joy to someone other than myself.” Renfield asks for whom and Grayson tells him that it was for Harker and Mina Murray, guiding them back to each other so that they could be wed.

“A good deed, then,” Renfield says.

Grayson confirms this, while adding, “I should be horrified. But, in truth, I can’t say I dislike this feeling.”

While pouring out a couple of glasses of whiskey, Renfield says, “And yet ….”

“And yet?”

“Bringing your employee and Miss Murray together keeps her in your orbit … like gravity. Close but not too close.”

After handing Grayson one of the glasses, Renfield suggests that it might be wiser to let her go. This is the moment I stopped thinking of Renfield as a servant. Whatever else can be said, he’s a friend advising his only friend in this world how much pain he could be sparing himself.

Grayson mutters in his own accent, “Sometimes, you’re too smart for your own good.”

“It’s like a millstone around my neck,” Renfield says, taking a seat next to Grayson on the couch.

“On that first morning, when they made me what I am, the sunlight burned my skin. I don’t know how or why, but I knew I would never be the same.”

Renfield looks at his friend and asks, “What did you do?”

“Ripped out the throat of the bastard priest.”

Yeah, I could have guessed that.

“So … not a bad morning, all things considered,” Renfield says, the camera having cut to the back of the couch.

“I’ve had worse.”

It’s a morning, on the other hand, that the Seers didn’t live to see. To underscore that point, we cut to the mutilated remains of the female Seer’s head.

Mr. Browning and Lady Jane are on scene with the doctor, wondering how this could have happened. Jane admits that this is unprecedented: “To track the trackers, this has never been done before.”

Browning admits that this is bad. Jane says it’s actually worse, because she knows that this came from the vampire she sought. With the Seers gone, more vampires are going to spring up undetected. In fact, London is about to become the epicenter of a vampire outbreak.

Daniel Radcliffe is sitting at his desk, sniffling back his tears at the thought of his dead, beloved Stephen. He looks at the old daguerreotype of them together while a cheerful tune plays on a phonograph in the next room. He dumps bullets out of a box and loads the revolver on his desk with one of them. Oh no, kid, please don’t ….

Lord Radcliffe is the one listening to the phonograph while all this is going on. The phonograph needle gets stuck on a spot when the shot rings out. It doesn’t take his lordship long to find Daniel on the floor. The boy did it right, a round right through the temple, the gun still smoking from the shot. Radcliffe is inconsolable over this development. Then he finds the suicide note on the desk. Daniel couldn’t go on without Stephen and lays the blame squarely on Grayson’s shoulders. That’s when his lordship notices the framed photo. Congratulations, Grayson. You’ve just made a new enemy.

Dracula 3.5

Review: There’s a lot of juicy bits to chew over on this part of our story. Mina being coveted by all the suitors she has actually does harken back to the original novel’s Lucy. If you read the book, you may recall that Lucy (who was based on Bram Stoker’s equally shallow wife, Florence) boasts in a letter to Mina of receiving three proposals of marriage from Dr. Seward, Quincy Morris, and Arthur Holmwood in one day. Because this version of Mina is so appealing, it is rather easy to believe that she’d get the same kind of attention. But every version of Mina is a bit more thoughtful than Lucy ever is, so it makes sense that she is still something of an innocent on all this.

How the series deals with gay relationships is both true to the period’s mores and rather saddening to watch. Even now in the 21st Century, it’s still nowhere near where it needs to be in terms of acceptance (particularly in my part of the world), but at least now you can openly acknowledge it without there being the kind of extreme consequences we’re seeing here … depending on where you are. The end of Lord Laurent seems to illustrate the point that the wealthy can be just as trapped by the society they sit on top of as any of the poor.

Then there’s Grayson, who does an undeniably good deed – completely against my expectations, I might add – but there’s nothing selfless about it. As T.S. Eliot put it in Murder In the Cathedral, “The last temptation is the greatest treason,/To do the right thing for the wrong reason ….” In playing matchmaker for Jonathan and Mina, he has essentially done just that.

I am reminded of the scene in The Aviator where Howard Hughes buries the damning photos of Katherine Hepburn being together with the married Spencer Tracy so that his former lover can find happiness. It’s the vestiges of Grayson’s humanity that keep making his monstrosity understandable … and, in some ways, a bit more horrific. He thought nothing of ruining a pair of lives, one of which did not deserve the despair that made him take his. The bar has officially been set with this episode … may the rest of the series clear it!

About JHaney

J. Keith Haney was born in Misawa, Japan, but has lived most of his life in the state of Tennessee. His favourite all-time film is the original Clash of the Titans, mainly for the Ray Harryhausen monsters. Due to that film, he got a college-level book on World Mythology when he was nine, of which he memorized the Greek section by age 12. His first encounter with Lovecraft (though he didn't know it at the time) was the original Ghostbusters, which he saw in its original theatrical release. In addition to all things Lovecraft, he is an old-school gamer, history buff and fierce advocate for the steampunk genre. He enjoyed his first professional sale and publication in 2010 with his steampunk short story, "Grand Guginol", which can be found at Short Story Me!. His favourite all-time Lovecraft story is "The Dream Quest of Unknown Kadath", which he considers an important, forgotten forerunner to Tolkein's Lord of the Rings saga.

JHaneyColumn: Retronomicon: Lonely Hearts: Dracula 1.03: Goblin Merchant Men