Column: Retronomicon: The Price of Loyalty: Dracula 1.04: From Darkness To Light

By J. Keith Haney

Recap: We start off with a recap that encompasses Daniel’s suicide, Grayson’s demonstration, the reincarnation angle with Mina and Grayson, Grayson’s continuing frustration with the lack of a solar vaccine, Mina proposing to Jonathan, Lucy’s torch that she’s carrying for Mina, Lady Jane’s nasty vampire-hunting habits, and the death of the Seers. Whew! That’s more action than some series get on thirty episodes, let alone three.

With that out of the way, we open on the London Underground, where a drunk woman under a black sheet is dropping her now-empty bottle while the train rolls on. A dead-eyed thug in black is taking notice of her at the opposite end of the train. An apparently prim-and-proper couple sit by him. He nods in the drunk’s direction and the couple gets up. The thug bares his fangs and so does the couple as they stalk ever closer to the drunk. Oops … turns out that it’s actually Lady Jane under that shroud.

Things become a righteous knockdown, drag-out fight, with both sides evenly matched. Think “Underworld” with Victorian costumes. It takes a lot of effort, but Jane winds up taking both of the couple’s heads. That leaves the thug to run to the platform outside … very careful of him to be seated in the last car. He gets off before Jane does the same slice-and-dice on him.

At Carfax, Grayson is sitting on the floor next to the fireplace when Renfield walks up. Renfield is handing his vampire friend a decanter of his favorite booze. Once Renfield takes his own seat (in an actual chair) with his own tumbler of the same, he says, “Lady Jane is a huntsman.”

“Seems the Ordo Draco is more forward-thinking than I gave it credit for,” Grayson says after a swallow of the whiskey.

“Strange times,” Renfield notes.

“Wonderfully strange,” Grayson says before taking another swig.

He then shoots down Renfield’s ideas of killing her (“If I kill her, the Order will just send somebody else to replace her.”) and ending his torrid affair with her (“Now, why would I do that?”). Renfield points out the blatantly obvious in that Jane is a vampire hunter. But Grayson boasts that not only can he avoid her suspicion, but can claim “a prize she has given no other man.”

Renfield makes the obvious conclusion: “Her love.”

Grayson corrects him: “No … something far more precious. Her trust.”

Pause button: This scene is true to the Dracula of the novel. He was no sloppy serial killer with fangs but a strategic thinker who planned far ahead of most of his opponents. Unpause.

Grayson then asks Renfield to make a reservation for tomorrow night at 8pm for two over at the Savoy. As both men get up, Grayson adds that he wants it to be in the main dining room.

Grayson then steps out onto the balcony and the thug from the train creeps up behind him. Needless to say, this is not the smartest thing this guy has done all week (though the dumbest would have to have been mistaking Lady Jane for a drunk). Grayson quickly braces his neck, but eases off when he realizes what he is dealing with. The thug adds, “Hello, Master,” in case we didn’t already get the hint.

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Cut to a hook dripping water. Then we get a quick look at vampire corpses — specifically, one of the two not-so-fresh corpses Jane just took down. Jane herself is giving a dissertation to Mr. Browning on the age of the vampires.

Based on the level of decay, the woman was only about five years old in the blood while the male had at least one hundred years under his belt. The really bad news, according to Jane? Neither is even close to the age to have been the vampire that killed off the Seers. Well, actually, that was Van Helsing, but hey, is it Grayson’s fault they made that mistake?

Browning asks about the vampire that eluded Jane in the London Underground. Jane speculates that this vampire was the deceased’s sire, “making one more still.” Browning wonders if this missing vamp is the same one that they’re looking for. Jane assures him that the vampire in question will be “a formidable opponent.”

Browning looks uneasy as he asks, “Too formidable?”

“If so, Mr. Browning, then God help you,” Jane answers. “Because if I can’t kill the beast, no one can.” Oh, I wouldn’t be too sure of that, dear.

Elsewhere, Grayson IDs his unwelcome visitor as Joseph, his long-lost “right hand.”

The thug says, “A long time ago.”

Tapping his chest with the back of his hand, Grayson proclaims, “Nonsense. You’re once more under my battlements.”

He then adds, “I summoned you here for a reason.” Putting a comradely arm across Joseph’s shoulder, he finishes with, “And very soon, we shall destroy our greatest enemy.”

Joseph looks terrified as he confirms that his master is planning on tangling with the Ordo Draco. Despite the fact that Grayson is boasting about discovering “a technology that will destroy” their upcoming oil-based economy, the thug points out that the Order is stronger than ever. Grayson is still not bothered by that. Possibly to prove that point, Joseph mentions a couple of his brood getting cut down just this night, “a female, of all things.”

Grayson assures Joseph that this is why he needs the thug’s help and tells him that he knows who she is. Joseph gets a little too enthusiastic at this information, wanting to get straight to the part where they peel the flesh from her bones. Grayson reins him in, reminding him that picking the Order off is not the way to go. This is a military campaign, not a cheap slasher flick. Grayson’s objective is “the source of their power: their wealth.”

Making you question the wisdom of giving this guy eternal life, Joseph throws off his master’s hand, spitting that this plan is no better than picking “their pockets like a common thief. There is no honor in it!” Ummm, you would like to win, right?

Renfield strolls over at this moment to check on things. Grayson makes introductions and tells Renfield that Joseph will be staying in this house for “as long as he wishes.” There is a bit of an implied menace in that statement, which is reflected in the look Renfield is giving Joseph as Grayson walks out.

After the credits, we cut to a cemetery on a bright, sunny day, the aftermath of a funeral. Lady Jane is consoling Lord Davenport over the death of Daniel, declaring it “such a shock.” Davenport then spins a story about Daniel having an irregular heartbeat diagnosed as a boy and that being the reason why he’s now dead. It’s not too far from the truth. The bullet to the head may have taken Daniel’s life, but the boy really died from a broken heart.

Lady Jane herself indicates that she’s not buying the story, noting that he was awfully young to fall dead from a heart attack. Daniel was a fencing champ, after all, not exactly a sedentary activity. That’s when Lord Davenport says something that is stone truth: “Maybe I should just thank the Lord for the time we did have together.” As the hearse passes, Davenport tips his hat to Mr. Browning, who is dressed in his own funeral regalia.

Across town, Lucy is looking over Carfax Manor and is proposing some handy decoration suggestions (Well, they sound more like orders, but you get the idea) for the engagement party. When she asks Jonathan’s opinion on the subject (while he’s a little distracted by Mina’s presence), he just says, whatever makes Mina happy. He wants this to be perfect for her.

Oh, I should mention that Lucy opened up one of the closed windows while bustling about. Renfield quietly closes it again while Grayson looks on. Jonathan thanks his employer for agreeing to host the party at his place. Grayson casually dismisses it as his honor to do so.
While Lucy is prattling about silver candelabras, Grayson is watching the happy couple kiss and a shadow of sadness crosses his face. Get the feeling that he is masking his heartbreak with his silence the way Lucy is with her noise?

After Grayson graciously agrees to the candelabras, Lucy proposes to Mina that she show her friend how to make her entrance. Mina begs for one moment so that she can kiss Jonathan one last time. A look similar to what was on Grayson’s face crosses Lucy’s at that kiss. But the mask is back on by the time Mina turns to her.

As Lucy leads Mina away for a chat, Grayson asks Jonathan what he thinks about General Arthur Ogleby, who is apparently Britain’s leading cheerleader for a war against the Ottoman Empire. According to Jonathan, Ogleby is actually opposed to the war in private. The real pusher for war is the General’s second, General Colin Shaw. Shaw is apparently a big war hero, which made him popular with the public.

Grayson unhappily notes that this “war hero” is willing to conjure up an ocean of blood just to get at the oil reserves that the Ottomans currently control. Jonathan protests that Shaw sees the Ottomans as a real threat, no personal vendetta behind it.

Grayson dismisses Shaw as a puppet for other interests, the kind of interests “who have staked their fortunes” on the idea of an oil-based economy: “It seems they’ve not only declared war on the Ottoman Empire, but Grayson Energy … you and me … and what we’ve worked so hard for.”

Pause button: Once again, I find myself thinking that Grayson is being sincere even when he keeps the full details from Jonathan. As tricks go, it’s a nice one: using your own emotions of the moment to persuade people of your integrity. It’s what makes the master manipulators like Grayson so dangerous and hard to catch. Unpause.

He then assigns Jonathan the task of finding out everything there is to know about Shaw, before adding, “Unless you’d like to stay here to discuss floral arrangements.” The grin that pops up after that comment prompts one on Jonathan’s face. I find it such a tragedy that these two men cannot remain friends.

Jonathan departs with a curt “Leave it with me” before departing. Grayson stands stock-still to watch Lucy go over the entrance arrangements with Mina. Mina looks a little unnerved by his too-intense stare. He’s not the only one staring. Joseph is watching from the rafters.

As Lucy is leaving, she’s insisting on fireworks for the party, as well. Mina chides her friend with: “Lucy, do stop. You’ll make Mr. Grayson regret his hospitality.” Lucy just giggles at this.

Grayson has just enough time to declare that concern nonsense when his chief engineer, Mr. Kowalski, declares the apparatus downstairs “ready for another test run.” Grayson dismisses Kowalski by letting him know that he’ll be joining him in a moment. Mina wonders aloud if this is referring to the resonator machine. Grayson affirms that this is so and even offers Mina the opportunity to stay and watch the test. Lucy is a little put out by this idea, asking, “Oh, Mina, must we?”

Grayson gallantly offers a second carriage for Mina should Lucy wish to leave. As he kisses Lucy’s hand and declares, “A joy, as always,” that winsome smile is back on Mina’s face. I can only shake my head … Mina doesn’t know what she has.

Downstairs in the lab, Mina is dazzled by the bank of equipment all over the place. Renfield, who is standing off the side, quietly says to the engineer, “I presume everything is in order, Mr. Kowalski.”

Grayson loudly orders for Stage One to commence. As the equipment gets underway, Grayson even hands her one of the portable bulbs that he had for his guests the night he made his coming out happen. When Stage Two gets underway, the bulb lights up, to Mina’s delight. As the central coil crackles with electricity, Grayson calls out for a temperature reading. Kowalski declares, “Steady … well inside specifications.”

Grayson tells Mina, “The night of the party, you could have fried an egg on this.” He taps the bulkhead as he does so. That’s when the marvelous machinery decides to let him down yet again. He quickly gets Mina out of harm’s way before it blows. While Renfield is ducking for cover, Grayson takes the time to savor the embrace of Mina, something he likely will not have much of an opportunity for later. The look on Mina’s face tells us that she feels it, too.

Kowalski and Renfield quickly ascertain that everyone is all right from that little technical mishap. Grayson assures them that he and Mina are just fine. To Mina’s question of what happened, Grayson explains that while the cooling system did its job, the metal casing has become the new Achilles heel of the design. Renfield anticipates Grayson’s next order, assuring him that he’ll start a search of all British steel manufacturers who work with nickel-plated alloys.

As Grayson and Mina walk away, Grayson glibly says, “I guess nuts and bolts can’t measure up to your stock-in-trade.”

Mina is confused by this, but Grayson tells her, “Why, flesh and blood, of course. There can be no higher calling than the practice of medicine. The ability to save lives makes all our efforts here seem … trivial.”

Now I know he’s being glib. It has the desired effect of getting that dazzling smile back on her face as she thanks him. I swear, if you could harness the wattage on that smile, Grayson could put the Ordo Draco out of business that much faster.

Joseph later confirms to Grayson (while Renfield is busying dressing him up) that Mina doesn’t just resemble Iona. She is Iona. He reminds his not-so-bright confederate about the fact that his wife “died four centuries ago. I know … I was there.”

“And she has been born again and the fates have returned her to you,” Joseph stubbornly insists.

That pisses Grayson off, ordering Joseph to never again mention the resemblance … to anyone. He then checks his watch and strides out of the room. To Joseph’s question of where his master is going, Grayson tersely replies, “Out.”

We then cut to the exterior of the Savoy. Grayson walks up cautiously. Inside, Lady Jane is waiting for him at the dinner table. It’s obvious from her posture and the two gossips at the next table over that she’s wondering where the hell he is. She waves off a glass of champagne as she continues to look for Grayson. Grayson smiles as he spots her through the window. Then he casually walks away.

About this time, Mina is sitting anxiously in the dark when Jonathan enters the sitting room of his house. Jonathan is pleasantly surprised, figuring that Mina would be up to her neck in arrangements by now. She gives him a kiss and follows that up with a sincere, heartfelt hug. Jonathan, proving that he is not totally ignorant of Mina’s moods, asks her if anything is wrong. Oh, Jonathan, where do we start with that question?

That’s probably why Mina tells him a simple “No.” Then she mentions that she’s having serious second thoughts about having the engagement party at Carfax. Jonathan automatically wants to know why. Mina passes it off as feeling uncomfortable (Yeah, that’s one way of putting it) and how she’s a little unclear on “Grayson’s motives for hosting it.” She comes around to wondering why he would be so interested in …. That’s when her voice fails her. Jonathan leaps to the wrong conclusion by saying, “In us?”

Mina points out how Grayson’s kind of been steering the both of them through this relationship as though he were part of the package deal. Jonathan flat-out agrees with that assessment. He then follows up with how Grayson made Jonathan realize what he had and how he was about to throw all that away.

Mina is close to tears over that one, probably because she can’t bring herself to tell Jonathan the truth about Grayson’s own feelings for her. The mind boggles at the thought of how really sticky this conversation would be if Lucy’s feelings for Mina were known by either party at this juncture.

Mina is amazed that Grayson did that. Jonathan admits that he was reluctant to tell her but … well, the circumstances are the circumstances. He then proposes to let Lucy (AKA Unrequited Love #2) handle all the arrangements for the party and probably the wedding. That way, all Mina has to do is turn up for the party. He then proposes that Mina bury herself in her studies while all that’s going on. She declares him right and gives him a kiss. Somehow, I don’t think Lucy is going to be pleased with this.

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At the university, Professor Van Helsing is giving Mina a pile of papers to grade. Once that’s out of the way, the Professor lets her know that she’ll find 18 recently slaughtered lambs in storage. She needs to prep them for dissection for the neurology students. He then concludes with: “I will be back in a couple of hours. Try not to disappoint me.”

Pause button: Oh, come on! She goes on one little pub crawl with her best friend and she’s marked as being irresponsible! Given your extracurricular activities, you’re a fine one to talk, Van Helsing! Sheesh! Unpause.

Mina gives out a little sigh and Van Helsing pointedly asks her if something is wrong. Mina expresses the hope “for something a little less … prosaic.” Van Helsing gently tells her not to get too eager about it: “Better to be the tortoise than the hare.”

With a final smile, he takes his leave. Mina actually manages a wan grin of her own before adding, “Anything but the lamb, I suppose.”

A little later at Carfax, Van Helsing administers the latest solar vaccine to Grayson as Joseph looks on. Joseph declares it witchcraft. Van Helsing corrects him with an irritated air: “Science.” Grayson explains that if Van Helsing FINALLY has the right, he and Joseph “will be able to walk in daylight.” Joseph gets very excited about that idea. I guess not all witchcraft is created equal with this guy.

Van Helsing finishes the injection and rumbles, “Yes, it is all very thrilling, I’m sure.”

He then opens up the window to let the sunlight wash over Grayson. He gives Joseph a toast of his whiskey and waits to see if they finally have the winning formula. Grayson stands closer to the window. Grayson stretches out a hand to the sunlight and is able to feel its warmth. That’s when his fingers get really warm by catching on fire, making Grayson cry out in pain.

Joseph nearly pounces on Van Helsing for the failure, fangs bared. Grayson quickly stops him with a word and a gesture. Then he shows Van Helsing the blackened stumps that used to be his fingertips and Van Helsing says that the vaccine actually worked. Huh?

Grayson is a little unsure about that himself, asking, “You call this a success?”

Van Helsing explains that it only works on the injection site itself. Because Grayson doesn’t have a working heart (in more ways than one), the vaccine can’t circulate, so the rest of Grayson would still be very flammable. As Van Helsing is explaining that all they need now is a dispersion agent, Joseph is glaring at Renfield, who is looking very uneasy.

Grayson is countering that what they need is the right machinery to make this work. The heart is just an organic pump, after all. Grayson then puts the question to Van Helsing that the problem would be solved if they could make his heart beat again. Van Helsing agrees. Sounds like somebody is going to make the world’s first pacemaker.

While all this exciting stuff is happening at Carfax, Mina is still going over the classwork in Van Helsing’s office, looking very, very bored. Apparently, she’s had enough, since she gets up from her desk and decides to look over the more exotic mixtures just lying around the office.

That’s when she notices a dark-red curtain in the far corner. Behind it is a door, firmly padlocked. Mina wastes little time looking around for a key. She finally finds it on top of a jar on the top shelf, completely out of sight from the bottom. Inside, she sees her mentor’s lab, full of scientific apparatus. She looks over the notes and the strange mixture, which could only be a base ingredient in the solar vaccine. But it’s inside a small wooden box that she finds some peculiar slides.

Mina apparently absconds with this slide because later, by lamplight, she has Lucy for company while she looks it over. The slide is of blood cells that, normally, don’t live that long outside the body. Not only are these cells alive, but this slide is dated 1887, over nine years ago.

Lucy is less impressed, wanting Mina to care about the arrangements for the engagement party over some musty old slide. In fact, Lucy finally breaks down and practically shouts that “it’s like talking to a man sometimes … nose buried in whatever silly thing has captured his attention.” Lucy almost breaks down in tears over that declaration.

Mina immediately knows something is wrong and asks what’s up. Lucy sits down and declares, “I hate this.” As Mina comes over to comfort Lucy, she confesses to not getting it. Lucy, stifling a sob, says, “You wouldn’t, would you? You’re not the one attending to every detail to an extravagant party … to celebrate the end of the only thing that’s ever mattered to her.”

Mina is heart-touched by this, but Lucy does let her know that she’s telling the truth. After Lucy says that things will never be the same, Mina counters, “We will always be friends.”

Oh, you poor, innocent dear. You don’t quite get it, do you? Lucy echoes this thought with her next line: “Oh, Mina, darling … you’re so terribly clever, yet so terribly stupid.”

She then goes on to say that Mina is to be married and that will be that. Mina still doesn’t get it. Then Lucy, fighting off her tears, asks Mina to get her things so that they can go to the cafe.

Pause button: Mina really is such an innocent. That quality, more than any other, is why Lucy, Jonathan and Grayson fell so hard for her. I’m reminded of a line from the Hitchcock of Rebecca, spoken by Laurence Olivier, on how he’ll hate to see his innocent bride grow up. Unpause.

Meanwhile, Grayson is waiting on Lady Jane to show up to greet him at her place. After the butler apologizes, Grayson assures him, “I have all the time in the world.”

It’s at this moment that Jane finally shows up at the top of the stairs. She declares Grayson’s visit unexpected. He’s comes to apologize about standing her up at the Savoy, declaring it to be as “inexcusable as it was unavoidable.” Jane has apparently already put it out of her mind, at least according to her.

Grayson has actually come to request her presence with him for this evening, however. Jane declares the “relentless optimism” of Americans like him to be “rather tiresome.” But Grayson promises her “a spectacle you will not soon forget.” He is about to make his way out the door when Jane descends the steps to declare, “Come now, Mr. Grayson. Surely, a man of your affluence can find a dinner companion for the evening.”

Grayson says that this is so, but that “this particular diversion is beyond the petty refinements of other women. Only you possess the sensibilities to appreciate it fully.” Ohh, this guy is good!

Jane declares his flattery to be way obvious. Grayson declares flattery “a dull blade” ill-suited for use when talking to Lady Jane. Jane asks for one condition: If the diversion fails to entertain, he is officially out of her life. Grayson agrees and then so does Jane to come with him.

They make their way to a working class fighting pit. Grayson looks at the pair of combatants with calm contempt while Jane’s eyes are wide with shock. The fighters are both female. This is no stereotypical catfight. Think of the dirt of female mud wrestling combined with the brutal tactics of gladiator bouts in terms of what they’re doing.

Jane quickly separates herself from Grayson’s side as the fight goes on. Soon enough, Jane is egging the fighters on from her own corner. There is a lust in her eyes at the sight. Grayson takes calm note of it all. Apparently, this scene works like an aphrodisiac on Jane, whose bodice is getting ripped by Grayson a little later. Oh, if only she knew what a dangerous beast she is humping ….

Later, Renfield and Grayson look in on an exsanguinated corpse. Renfield IDs her as “Elsa … from the kitchen.” Grayson confirms that Elsa has no close relative and Renfield adds that, like all the household, there is no one Elsa is close enough to for them to notice her absence. Joseph is one messy eater.

Jonathan is busy tapping his former colleague at the Inquisitor for info on Shaw. Despite all the people he’s run across in connection to Shaw, nobody had one bad thing to say about the General. Jonathan tells his buddy that he’s unsure why Grayson is so interested in the guy — and more to the point, he still hasn’t been able to find one single new fact that wasn’t included on an old biographical report he did for school.

His friend puts it off as there being “nothing to tell.” After a moment’s thought, Jonathan asks his friend if he’s ever met a man without secrets.

Meanwhile, an unofficial meeting of the Ordo Draco is taking place. Jane is reporting that, “in the last week alone,” over half a dozen vampires have died by her blades and that they were all summoned by their sire.

She admits that she shares Mr. Browning’s concern about “the American” (Oh, if they only knew what kind of concern they should invest), but the vampire is the bigger problem at present. Browning concedes the point, but adds that they “should not underestimate Grayson or the power of his purse.”

Browning thinks that making inroads with Harker is a good place to start, but he’s still wanting more. Lord Davenport agrees with Jane that the Ordo Draco doesn’t need to be involved with the business on Grayson. He is very uneasy on that subject, nervously rubbing his knuckles.

Nevertheless, he agrees to personally see to Harker. It’s at this point that the Ordo Draco’s “distinguished guests” announce themselves with a knock. It’s Generals Shaw and Ogleby, of course, come to discuss their part in the upcoming takeover of the planet.

Ogleby apparently promised Grayson “total control of the Persian oilfields by March.” But Ogleby states that the situation has “become much more complex.” When asked how by Browning, Ogleby explains that they can’t get a rise out of the Ottoman forces for a fist fight, let alone the kind of battle they’re after. Being ordered by your Sultan to stand down under pain of death is a remarkably persuasive argument. The only thing that they can do is “a full-scale preemptive invasion.”

Pause button: Anyone else having flashbacks to the 2000s and thinking of current affairs? Well, try this on for size. Persia is the original name for Iran and we all know how much that conversation has been going in recent months. Unpause.

Ogleby is just explaining that Parliament would never go along with it when one of the Ordo Draco comes up behind Ogleby and strangles him, to Shaw’s shock. Browning casually waits for the exercise to be over with, as unconcerned with Ogleby’s life being snuffed out as you or I would be over the swatting of a fly. Jane gets a look on her face that is either mute horror or erotic thrill. Given what we saw the night before with Grayson, I’m opting for Number Two.

Once it’s over, Browning casually sits next to Shaw and says, “My condolences, General Shaw.”

Shaw struggles to find his voice before saying, “I’m sorry?”

“It appears General Ogleby hanged himself. His adjunct will discover him in the quarters of his washroom tomorrow morning … tragic.”

That minor business out of the way, Browning asks when Shaw plans on starting the Ottoman offensive. When Shaw’s voice deserts him again, Browning asks, “Shall we say August?”

Shaw affirms that this is so. The implication is clear enough. If Shaw doesn’t deliver by August, he’ll be the next unofficial casualty of the Ordo Draco’s campaign to control the future.

Later, Lord Davenport is talking to a woman at his breakfast table for a case that requires her “particular talents.” She’s not a particularly pretty woman – very plain, really. A lot of hard living shows up in the lines on her face. Her gray attire from her hat to her shawl completes the illusion of a face in the crowd.

Her job is to find “the one thing that Mr. Alexander Grayson loves most in all the world … corrupt it, deface it, obliterate it from this earth.” Oh shit. I’m not sure whom to feel more scared for.

She then asks if the Order is aware of his intentions. Davenport cops to their being unaware of his investigating Grayson. She insists that he answer the question. He tells her that if he did do it, he’d have to explain why. She then puts the pin in his balloon with: “You mean your son’s recent suicide after the death of his lover?”

Davenport looks distressed, but she was just asking to get things clear. Essentially, he’s asking her to do a black bag job under the Order’s nose. He thinks that she’s turning him down, but she tells him that she is accepting the assignment. Oh, but because it is unsanctioned by the Ordo Draco, she wants double the amount she’d normally get on this job — “plus expenses, of course.” She gives him a winsome smile to his “Of course.”

Jonathan is getting his shoes shined on a street corner as he is looking over some papers. A boy runs him a card note as he sits there. The note reads, “If you want the real truth about Shaw, meet me. Carriage yard, tonight 9:00.”

Grayson is sitting at his desk when Renfield comes in with a note of his own. This particular note is emblazoned with a red seal. It’s from Jane, who wants to see Grayson tonight. He adds, “No details … how intriguing.”

Renfield is about to walk away when he turns back around and ask point-blank how long Joseph is going to be here at Carfax. “You heard me,” Grayson says. “As long as he wishes.”

Grayson then probes Renfield for any objections on his part. Renfield replies, “Oh, yes … quite a growing number of objections.”

Grayson chuckles a bit at this when Renfield adds, “Chief among which is his lack of discretion and complete absence of self-control.”

Grayson actually breaks into a full-fledged laugh at that: “You’re right. He can be impetuous.” However, Grayson cites the fact that Joseph has saved his life many, many times on the field of battle. Grayson has no questions about his loyalty and ability to obey orders.

Renfield points out that those two qualities “fall a distant second and third to his nature.” There is no way to housebreak or trust this guy. When Grayson asks why, Renfield points out that Joseph knows about Grayson’s true feelings for Mina and where they come from. Grayson reminds Renfield that Joseph has sworn silence. Renfield concedes that Joseph will likely keep it “but only insofar as he is capable of keeping it. It’s not his loyalty that worries me.”

His point made, Renfield leaves the room. Grayson looks sick at heart, but knows that his second is, as ever, looking out for his interest.

Pause button: One unstated reason should be mentioned. However vast Carfax Manor is, it’s still not big enough for both Renfield and Joseph. There is only room for one loyal right hand and they both want the spot. Unpause.

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Later that night, at Lady Jane’s, Grayson makes his call. Jane tells him that she’s glad that he came because “these things are best done in person.” Grayson naturally asks, “What things?”

Jane admits to having fun with Grayson, especially the previous night, but she is going to cut ties with him altogether. Grayson, as ever, takes it in stride and says, “How distressingly predictable.”

“Excuse me?” Jane barks, outraged at the implied slander.

“Never mind,” Grayson says as he moves towards the door. “I’ll be on my way.”

But Jane wants to know more about this distressing predictability. Grayson clarifies that it’s more disappointing rather than distressing. He then says that the situation is “crystal clear” to him: “You’re a woman who takes great pleasure in asserting your domination over men. However, once you do, you soon grow very bored with them.”

Jane asserts that this is so.

“Since we met, you’ve made every effort to do the same with me,” Grayson goes on. “And in this, you have utterly failed.”

Jane tries to laugh it off as Grayson concludes, “This failure to dominate me has led you to being infatuated with me. Such is the intensity of your emotions that they threaten your sense of independence and control. The only way to reassert this control is terminate our relationship.” I say again — damn, he’s good!

Jane unsuccessfully tries to pass it off as a bad guess, but Grayson points to the evidence at hand. He even calls it “cowardice.” He dares her to say that she feels nothing for him. She says, “Nothing at all.”

There’s a knock on the door. Jane’s latest boy toy has entered the parlor. Grayson wonders if it gives Jane a rush for him to see this. She says, “The game, Mr. Grayson, requires at least three players.”

“Someday, madam, you’ll realize I was never playing,” Grayson answers before walking out. Jane looks completely confused at this last statement.

Later at Carfax, Joseph is asserting that “the huntress made a fool” of his master. Grayson tries brushing it off, but Joseph followed him and he heard everything that was said. Grayson asks who gave Joseph the permission to follow at all. Joseph says he got her scent from Grayson when he came home last night. He doesn’t approve of the relationship, either.

Grayson tries explaining the situation to Joseph as simply as he can. If he’d stuck with one-syllable words, he might have gotten through. Joseph has a hard time wrapping his head around this strategy, but Grayson asserts that they “are playing a very dangerous and unforgiving game.” His strategy was all about taking Jane off the board.

Joseph will hear none of it because Jane is hunting and killing. After recalling the good old days when the tables were turned, Joseph begs for the chance to kill Jane himself. You can see the tears in Grayson’s eyes at this. But he turns to Joseph and says, “Make her scream.”

Pause button: The words of Marianne Faithfull regarding the death of Brian Jones as it related to the Rolling Stones seems apropos in this instance: “It solved a terrible predicament for them.” Grayson knows that Joseph doesn’t stand a chance. By sending him to her, Grayson has guaranteed his death for much the same reasons that Jones wound up at the bottom of that swimming pool. Unpause.

Jonathan is keeping his appointment to meet in the carriage yard. Amidst the horses and stablemen, he looks around uneasily for his contact. An old man with a missing left arm shows up. He presents himself as “Peter Lane, formerly Corporal Lane of Her Majesty’s Rifle Brigade.”

For the price of ten bob, he’ll be more than happy to tell the truth about General Shaw. Upon receipt of the money, Lane talks about an address and the name of a lady. He then hands Harker another note with the info. When Jonathan asks who she is, Lane only says, “See for yourself,” before walking away.

Later, Harker is going up the stairs of a tenement like the one he used to live in. He knocks on the door a couple of times, but gets no answer. He looks through the mail slot to burning lamps and a cozy atmosphere inside. A lady comes into view and asks who’s at her door. As she opens it, he explains that he’s looking for Vera Markham. That would happen to be the lady at the door.

Joseph gets ready to get himself killed in Jane’s bedroom. She’s making like she’s asleep, if a little restless. He obviously didn’t learn anything from that time in the Underground … oh, well. But then comes the kicker: Grayson himself comes from behind him and proceeds to stab at Joseph’s heart.

The two vampires struggle, destroying the glass doors that lead to the dining room. As Joseph throws his liege into a dining room table, Grayson makes a big show out of being knocked unconscious. Jane coughs behind Joseph before bringing her katana down on the simpleton’s neck. The body dissolves into insta-dust the moment the head parts from his shoulders. It leaves such a mess that it’s as if a vacuum cleaner bag exploded.

Grayson does a convincing job of play-acting his coming around while Jane assures him that he did right. She’s hugging him close and talking about how he just saved her life. And so, her trust is won. Joseph did his job.

Later, as the happy couple takes a bath, Jane rightly asks what Grayson was doing in her bedroom in the first place. Grayson half-tells the truth about being a sufferer of insomnia (Given his daily and nightly schedule, I’m wondering if the guy ever really sleeps), which led to a habit of “long, nighttime walks.”

He then slyly mentions that he’s been increasingly drawn to this street. There is a difference in the usual activities with these two after that. Jane’s kiss is more tender, vulnerable. As soon as she settles on his shoulder, Grayson smiles. The Queen has been kept in check.

Later, at Ordo Draco HQ, Jane pours out the dust of the deceased Joseph for Mr. Browning to witness. Jane confirms that she thinks that this is the vampire that they’ve been looking for all along. As Browning runs his hands through the dust, he says, “So, London is free again.” Heh … heh, heh, heh … hahahahahaha … define “free,” exactly, would you, Browning?

Jane permits herself a laugh and a grin, and Browning just says, “Excellent.” Jane accepts the compliment then Browning gives her a lecture about using herself as bait. Jane assures him that this guy never stood a chance. Browning gives her an affectionate pat on the hand and takes his leave.

Grayson is raving about his latest triumph to Renfield: “so contrite … so gentle … so shy.” He crows about sheathing “the tiger’s claws.”

“Just as you said you would, sir,” Renfield says.

“Although some doubted me,” Grayson adds, holding up the decanter of whiskey. “She’ll never see me now. The Ordo Draco has lost its most dangerous weapon … and it doesn’t even know it.”

“And you were able to remove Joseph in the process,” Renfield notes while sitting down before the fire himself. “A masterstroke.”

Grayson is less happy about that development. Renfield immediately apologizes for the remark, but Grayson tells him not to worry: “Joseph was a soldier. He would have understood.” I WONDER ABOUT THAT!

Crouching before the fire, Grayson adds, “Sometimes, you have to sacrifice a knight to capture a queen.”

Pouring the whiskey on the fire, he says a goodbye to his old comrade for the last time. That recognition being accomplished, Grayson says, “Tomorrow, we get back to work, Renfield. We need that alloy for the resonator.”

Renfield walks out with a simple “Yes, sir.”

The next morning takes us to the Empire and Colonial Metallurgy. As Renfield walks in, he helps a woman pulling a stroller up the stairs. The woman is, of course, a trap. Three thugs waylay Renfield and drag him out into the street. They say they’re police, but their real employer is waiting in the paddy wagon … Lord Davenport.

Dracula 4.3 (2)-w622-h350

Review: The story is starting to get some serious legs now. I do wonder if Mina is ever going to find out how Lucy actually feels about her. She does have a lot of blind spots when it comes to the love department, though Grayson may do a lot to change that. Still, she shares her fiancé’s naturally inquisitive nature, as the bit with the slide shows. I’m beginning to wonder if this pair’s separate investigations will wind up leading them back to the same spot.

Grayson is proving to be a more formidable opponent than anyone who has watched the usual Dracula films (yes, even the Hammer ones) would expect. Like any good Gothic villain, he is neither without feelings or certain admirable qualities. The way he mourned Joseph alone, even as he sent that poor simpleton to his death, attests to that.

I wonder how long it will take the Ordo Draco to figure out that their vampire is still on the loose … or for Grayson to do something careless as it relates to Mina … or for Lucy to make that fatal slip that I know is coming. Answers will be forthcoming, I am sure, dear readers.

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: The Price of Loyalty: Dracula 1.04: From Darkness To Light