Sunday, January 5, 2020

REVIEW: 'Dracula' - Dracula Taunts Sister Agatha With a Tale of Disaster at Sea in 'Blood Vessel'

Netflix's Dracula - Episode 1.02 "Blood Vessel"

A ship bound for England veers toward a terrible fate orchestrated by its dark passenger. But Dracula soon encounters an obstacle in his path.

In 2018, there were 495 scripted shows airing amongst the linear channels and streaming services. The way people are consuming content now is so different than it used to be. It happens according to one's own schedule. As such, there is less necessity to provide ample coverage of each specific episode in any given season from a show. Moreover, it is simply impossible to watch everything. As such, this site is making the move to shorter episodic reviews in order to cover as many shows as possible. With all of that being said, here are my thoughts on the next episode of Netflix's Dracula.

"Blood Vessel" was written by Mark Gatiss & Steven Moffat and directed by Damon Thomas

The first half of this episode is agonizingly dull and tedious. It essentially follows the same exact formula that successfully worked in the premiere. Sister Agatha is listening to an incredible story about Dracula's exploits as a vampire. This time Dracula is the one sharing the story. She is his prisoner. This specific formula though is one that seems to be designed solely around the big shocking twists. The narrative wants it to be stunning and surprising when Sister Agatha is revealed to be the frail passenger in Cabin 9. It isn't. It would simply make no sense for Dracula to go on this entire journey to England only to end back up at his castle in Transylvania detailing this story to Sister Agatha. Instead, it always made more sense for him to take her along this journey with him. He is intrigued by her and savors feasting on her blood. She makes that realization eventually. In fact, the story comes more alive when Agatha becomes an active participant in it. Again, a lot of it is trying to repeat the same tactics that worked previously. As such, Agatha lays these traps to hurt Dracula while protecting herself and the remainder of the crew. It succeeds a little better here. But there are still the skeptics who refuse to believe and are thus the latest victims to Dracula's blood lust. That's the primary purpose for everyone aboard this ship. At the top of the story, Dracula tells Agatha not to get attached to any of these characters. He does so with the confidence of knowing that they will all be dead soon. Agatha can make that assumption as well because she saw the slaughter at the convent. Of course, not everyone dies during these confrontations with Dracula. He let Mina go because he proved to be much more interested in Agatha and her sharp intellect. That may not make much sense either because he previously showed a keen interest in Mina. That was perceived as the reason why he was so enamored by Jonathan in the first place. And now, it is just casually tossed aside in order to truly delve into the battle of the wits between Dracula and Agatha. She presents as the greatest adversary he has ever had. He has grown accustomed to a certain way of living for a long time. He can still take advantage of the world and their ignorance of what to do with a creature like him. He doesn't have all the answers for why religious symbols hurt him in such a visceral way. However, he does have incredible powers that he can use to repeatedly lure his victims into traps. Again, the show highlights the repetition of it all. It ensures that the story remains just as lethal and gory to keep the energy up. That's all that it is in the beginning. Agatha notes that he is eating much too frequently and won't survive the journey to England at this pace. He has feasted on too many passengers and crew in just the first few days. He operates from a place of superiority. He knows that he will survive and thrive long after all of these people are gone. As such, his ambitions matter much more than their insular worlds. He can offer some of them a peak at what they could have. However, he mostly has trivial interests in all of them. The show approaches the characters the same way. They are lucky if they get a monologue to talk about their importance on this ship. Most of them barely have any descriptions whatsoever beyond what they are initially introduced as. Sharma remains the doctor no matter what. Sokolov is the captain and that's it. It's strange that the show suggests some grand bond develops between Agatha and Sokolov. They survived this incredible danger together. That does bond the remaining members of the crew. The two survivors ensure the story lives on beyond the ship's destruction. But it's so annoying to watch as the show features a gay couple to present as being an inclusive story even though it's tentative in describing it explicitly or meaningfully. In the end, both of them are victims and nothing more. That's lame and shows just how lazy the writing has unfortunately become. Sure, it's thrilling when Agatha has her multiple confrontations with Dracula. He even offers her the clarity that she came closer to killing him than anyone else. He is still alive and thus seems completely indestructible. But again, the narrative increasingly seems like it's full of twists instead of meaningful character work. Dracula lands in England but does so a century later. Agatha also seems to survive the shipwreck somehow and has even landed in a position of power to continue haunting Dracula when he arrives once more. That's an intriguing tease of what's to come. It offers the sense of something fresh and exciting. But that comes after time was wasted on this adventure at sea that offered nothing of true substance whatsoever.