DRACULA 1.03 ‘Goblin Merchant Men’

Episode Title: “Goblin Merchant Men”

Writer: Harley Peyton

Director: Andy Goddard

Previously on “Dracula”

Episode 1.02 “A Whiff of Sulfur”


Not even Halloween and an NBC special – “Why We (Heart) Vampires” – could save “Dracula” from a 27 percent dip in the ratings. It could be that the vampire market has finally given us all that it can, or it could be that the show’s plot has more holes in it than a brick of Swiss cheese. People’s choice, I suppose. Or maybe two of them.

Two episodes in and “Dracula” is already nominated for two People’s Choice awards? How much weight does the only democratically voted upon awards show carry? I can’t say that I have a lot of faith in it considering some of its categories include, “Favorite TV Bromance,” “Favorite TV Gal Pals,” “Favorite On-Screen Chemistry,” etc.

Regardless, the elephant in the room of tonight’s episode is title alone. I’ve never honestly looked at a supernatural-based TV show and said: “hey, you know what this needs? Goblin merchant men. Hell, they worked for Harry Potter as bankers, why not merchants?” Why not indeed! Given that it’s Bram Stoker’s birthday, the number one thing he must have wanted in his life was goblin merchants.

“Gobling Merchant Men’s” story telling is very jarring. One second, you’re with Alexander Greyson (Jonathan Rhys Meyers) speaking with Abraham Van Helsing (Thomas Kretschmann) about Lady Jayne’s (Victoria Smurfit) need for a new elixir for her seer’s. Before that, Mina Murray (Jessica De Gouw) is taking the company of Lucy Westenra (Katie McGrath), heartbroken over Jonathan Harker (Oliver Jackson-Cohen) and looking for a night on the town. A later scene suggests that Lucy might have the hots for her. 

Truth be told, I have no clue what’s going on in this episode. It’s as if the episode itself is drunk on the absinthe that many of “Dracula’s” cast is right now. Greyson is stalking Mina at this point, assuming that Edward Cullen role to a most painful T. He protects her from some creeper at a party and sends her flowers anonymously. Greyson’s motivations seem to be purely driven to get close to her. He’ll do anything and his temper grows short when Van Helsing hasn’t produced the serum, giving him the ability to walk in the light. Greyson still feels like a charisma lacking Jay Gatsby; he may have the desire for her, but lacks to ability to charm her, even in the slightest. Anonymous flowers, that’ll get her Drac!

Harker has become one of the more annoying characters of the show. He may be a product of the time, but presenting a character that would have a gifted woman stay her talents just because he can support her is not what television needs. The fact that Jackson-Cohen brings nothing to the character with a stagnant performance is another blow to this show. Major characters from the book fall pray to bad acting and mismanagement. Harker redeems himself though, seeking apologies and looking to just love Mina. Mina runs into his arms and asks him to marry her. Rhys Meyers’ looks on and delivers his most vulnerable performance yet. Really, his best acting yet on this show. The emotion on his face is pure delight on mine.

Last week, Harker played a huge role in striking a big blow against The Order of the Dragon. Greyson bore witness to Lord Laurent (Anthony Howell) and Daniel Davenport (Lewis Rainer) having relations in a club, with a tip provided by Harker. As a result, Dracula secured a majority share in a company vital to the Order. The ramifications for it are felt as the Order spills the blood of Laurent in a ceremony that makes you wonder if the Freemasons do similar things. It doesn’t end well for Daniel Davenport either as he takes his own life in true Romeo and Juliet emulated fashion.

As I mentioned earlier, Van Helsing devises an elixir for the seers introduced in last weeks episode. Dracula has a special ability to tell when they are spying on him. In pure voyeuristic fashion, they peer into his sexy time and get poisoned for it. Nobody interrupts Drac’s sexy time and gets away with it! While poisoned, Van Helsing shows up to end them once and for all. I’m sad to see them go; they may not have added a ton to the show, but it was expansive to the mythology and to see another type of supernatural-ish beings in “Dracula’s” world, especially since there were no goblin merchants! Really “Dracula?” When you title your episode “Goblin Merchant Men,” I expect goblin merchant men! Way to drop the ball.

If Greyson’s moves seem mysterious and confusing to the viewer, Renfield (Nonso Anozie), ever the Alfred to Greyson’s Batman, always manages to shed light on them. He reminds us in this episode that, despite the fact that Harker and Mina have been reunited, Greyson still has them under his thumb. Still, Greyson’s intentions are confusing as all hell, and make little sense. Are you reuniting them only to break them apart… again? Did Dracula want to do the home wrecking himself?

“Dracula” still has major story problems to overcome, and in week three, “Goblin Merchant Men” didn’t make anything better. This absinthe laced episode was more of a nuisance than enjoyable. All of the attributes that make Dracula the supernatural creature he is continue to take a back seat. The sexy label bestowed upon this Dracula is very unearned; his sex scenes are limited in number, and still vanilla as hell. The flashback scenes shown at the beginning of each episode are beginning to add less and less to the story every week. This week, Drac was tortured. What did this tell us about him? Nothing.

Exposition is nothing if it doesn’t mean anything, and “Dracula” doesn’t seem to get that. Weak characters and poor plot lines continue to drive the story bustling with fantastic set pieces. If Netflix can prove that a seasons full of crap can be put out into the world (“Hemlock Grove”), can “Dracula” become the equivalent to that?



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