Movie Review: Burke and Hare (2010)

This is a horror-comedy directed by John Landis (no one does this genre better) and starring Simon Pegg (who has found his forte in horror comedy, as well). It’s set in Victorian London, a setting that has found recent popularity again in the genre with NBC’s “Dracula”, Showtime’s “Penny Dreadful” …but this is more reminiscent of Sweeney Todd than any classic monster mash.

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Burke (Simon Pegg, Shaun of the Dead, Hot Fuzz, The World’s End, Fantastic Fear of Everything) and Hare (Andy Serkis, Dawn of the Planet of the Apes) are two Irish immigrants living in London who can not find suitable work. They stumble on a profitable venture after trying to dispose of the corpse of another resident at their rooming house and they find that selling cadavers to a medical school could be quite profitable. Only, a good corpse is hard to find, and they become increasingly more desperate and ridiculous in their venture. Burke, for his part, isn’t that gung-ho about their scheme until he meets Ginny Hawkins (Isla Fisher) -a former sex worker looking for financial backing for an all women production of Macbeth.

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Burke becomes taken with her and their increasingly bizarre killing spree ramps up.

The find themselves in danger when the corpses become recognizable and the medical professor is confronted.

Some of this is based on a 16 victim killing spree in West Port in the 19th century, that much is true. The real story is much more macabre, Burke and Hare were found out and turned in by Burke’s lover, the duo found lure people in, get them drunk and suffocate them.

Slapstick murder, increasingly wild schemes and cover ups, naive lovers and neighbors, and a soundtrack and costuming that doesn’t try too hard at realism and atmosphere. It’s nearly perfect and I’m not sure why this film isn’t more popular.

That being said: all the women are side characters or motivation for the men. Not that they are quite 2-D… but they are not much more and there are virtually no PoC characters even in the background.

4/5

Penny Dreadful- Episode 5

“Closer Than Sisters”

The pace slowed down considerably with this episode. 

The entirety of the episode takes place in flashbacks to Vanessa’s childhood. The ENTIRETY. For a show with as large a main cast as Penny Dreadful has this is quite bizarre. No monsters. No vampires, no werewolves. No love triangles. No Dorian Gray.

Which means that I have to wait and see what happens with Dorian and Ethan. This show has sucked my in. As soon as I watch; I want more. This show is typically intense with multiple plotlines and motivations intermingling.

So this Vanessa-centric, nostalgic exposition was… different.

Vanessa and Mina were neighbors who grew up separated by only an open gate and a hedge maze. We see them first as children imagining who they will marry, frolicking on the coastline and brushing each other’s hair. Vanessa’s crush on Peter. Until one fateful night. The young Vanessa was out in the hedge maze and she caught her mother having sex with Mina’s father, Sir Malcolm. This breech of her innocence causes her to act out in other ways, stealing and other instances of “girlish mischief.” 

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As they grow older Mina meets the kind of man that they dreamed of growing up while Vanessa’s budding relationship never blooms. He tells Vanessa he is going off to Africa. Vanessa knows he’s too weak, but she loves him for his weakness. Peter pushes her away. Just before Mina and her officer with the grand mustache are to be married, Vanessa encounters him in the halls and they flirt over taxidermy. Then they have sex. Mina finds the pair while her soon to be husband is pounding away at her BFF and she casts both of them out of her life. 

Vanessa confronts her mother about her infidelity with Sir Malcolm but when Vanessa gets to Mina’s yard she is faced with Sir Malcolm. He doesn’t let her pass and slams the gate. Vanessa collapses.

She treated first for what appears to be epilepsy and then she is taken in for psychiatric treatment for psychosexual fits. Treatments like ice baths and heavy narcotics… but nothing seems to work. The possession continues. Her mother finds her humping the air (Vanessa envisions Sir Malcolm) and faints. Peter comes to visit just before a trip to Africa and Vanessa predicts his death. 

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Years later, Vanessa is visited by Mina on a beach. Mina says that she forgives Vanessa saying that her suffering has been penance enough. Mina tells Vanessa about her new husband, Jonathan Harker. But once she lets it slip that Vanessa saw her father being unfaithful, Mina reveals that the Master has told her a lot. And then Vanessa visits Sir malcolm and tells him what Mina has revealed to her.

So let’s talk about it: Women’s sexuality demonized. Literally.

The loss of Vanessa’s innocence leads to her morality spiraling down the drain. Which isn’t supernatural mumbo jumbo. The young Vanessa sees that the adults around her are hypocritical in their religious and pious appearance, that they are sinning and she youthfully acts out. But then as an adult she is jealous of her friend and so she seduces her fiance. This act leaves her open for demonic possession. 

Slut shaming at it’s finest that Vanessa’s betrayal leaves her the property of Satan.

Other than that? 

I’m glad I have incorrectly assumed that Sir Malcolm raped Mina. It appears as though at the seance it was a young Mina’s essence who inhabited Vanessa (or possibly still Peter) but that the “her” was Vanessa’s mother. I hope. Possession is very confusing. 

This episode was comparatively slower to all the other episodes thus far, but it was so bizarre and captivating that it didn’t hurt my enjoyment of it. Eva Green can easily carry a scene and I have to give her props for some of the insane things that she pulled off there. 

I am concerned.

What I am concerned about is this:

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Now, I wouldn’t be bothered if Vanessa’s love for Mina is romantic more than platonic. But I will be bothered if Vanessa had sex with Mina’s fiance not because Vanessa was jealous of Mina for having what she envisioned but that she was jealous because she wanted Mina. I don’t need a “conniving lesbian homewrecker” plot. It’s preposterous.Hopefully I am just being paranoid. Tropes make me suspicious. Also, I hate to say it -because I don’t mind a “strong female character would do anything for true love” plot, which this would be if Vanessa had an interest in Mina that was romantic, but can girls just be down for their friends sometimes? I hope.

Penny Dreadful: Episode 4

This episode begins in the daylight. A rare occurrence, and this time it’s not a flash back. Dorian Gray and Vanessa are out at a garden and flirt with each other. I find the topic of them becoming a couple to be rather boring. 

Lots happened and I will discuss them in no particular order: Sir Malcolm accuses Vanessa of betraying Mina, Vanessa retorts that he betrayed Mina her whole life. Which makes further clear that malcolm was abusing his daughter. He’s supposed to be the leader of this group of monster hunters fighting against the darkness and I could not be less sympathetic towards him. Dr. Frankenstein hopes to run away to Africa to help with the mummy, but Sir Malcolm declines.

Ethan on the other hand is stealing my heart. As previously established: I love Josh Hartnett. I loved him in Black Dahlia. I loved him in 30 Days of Night. I loved him in Wicker Park. His voice alone melts my vanilla… anyway, Dr Frankenstein performs a transfusion on the young imprisoned vampire Fenton. Ethan declines. Suspicious. Further evidence he’s a werewolf? Malcolm donates blood, it doesn’t work. But more on Ethan. He takes Brona to the theater (to see a play about a werewolf, no less), it happens to be the same theater company that employs Caliban. At the end of the play Ethan and Brona run into Vanessa and Dorian (who made goo goo eyes across the balcony throughout the show), Vanessa compliments Ethan more than was really needed (perhaps to play up his prowess for Brona’s behalf? Make him look like more of a catch?) but things are more awkward since Dorian has paid Brona for sex and insulted her. Brona abruptly runs off, Ethan goes to confront her and she screams at him “Don’t you realize you’re fucking a skeleton?” and then tells him that if he wants her he has to pay for it like everyone else. 

Elsewhere, the master comes for Fenton and they get the drop on Sir Malcolm. The Master is dastardly looking, yellowish white skin, bloodshot eyes and a mouth full of pointed teeth. He looks sort of like the Master from Buffy. Sir Malcolm flails the fiends off of him and Fenton ends up impaled, bleeding from the head. 

Brona slaps Ethan, races off and collapses in a coughing fit, sputtering blood. Meanwhile, Dorian comes to collect Ethan. Ethan.. rather… ummm… no one talks like this, but he asks Dorian if he ever just wants to be someone else. He says he does and he takes Ethan out for drinks and gambling (on how many rats can a dog kill) Ethan gets freaked out and ends up slamming back whiskey, some blokes pick a fight and he handles it quick. Dorian apologizes and brings Ethan back to his own mansion, with floor to ceiling framed pictures adorning every inch of wall. Ethan says “I saw some pictures I liked before” (People really think Americans are this uncultured.. they aren’t wrong) and described Native American paintings that he saw in a dwelling carved into a cliff. Animals, the sun, the moon. No people. Dorian asks why he liked those. First he says they were “primitive” then he visibly shakes himself and says that they were honest and focussed on what was important. Dorian asks if art can ever be honest. He thinks only music can be, and he plays a recording on a wax cylinder. The song causes Ethan to reflect on his time in London. Monsters, murders, Brona, waking up under the bridge (with what looks like claw marks from clenching his fist into his palm)  and then this…

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And I about climbed into my TV

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I am thoroughly enjoying this show, for the human connections as well as the monsters. But this one was rather soap operatic. I hope we get to some more blood and adventure next week, but it looks as though Vanessa is stealing center stage and we get more backstory on Vanessa and Mina. 

I wonder if Ethan and Dorian are going to wake up together. I wonder what their relationship will be going forward. 

Penny Dreadful- episode 3

So pumped to figure out why that Creature climbed through Proteus last episode.

But we flashback to Vic’s childhood. His dog died, Victor found him with maggots crawling out of hollowed out eyes.his mother comforts him then suddenly falls ill, choking on blood and spattering it onto him. Hauntingly soft and white he agrees, “Death is not serene.” His mother dies soon after.

Then we appear in the moment that ended last weeks episode. Most this week’s episode centered around Victor Frankenstein and his first creation, Callaban. When the Creature came to life, Frankenstein was scared and left his monster all alone. The Creature was terrified and in agony. Slowly, he watched out the window at home humans interacted and concluded that he was less than, that he was an animal. We get a slowpaced story (recounted while Callaban threatens Victor and they’re both covered in blood, this show is so committed to atmosphere).

Brona and Ethan are having sex, and we get to see as much of his bare ass as we do hers (thanks Showtime!) It was sort of sweet and sexy. Maybe just for me. I’ve crushed on Hartnett for a while. There’s this moment when she almost pushes him away from kissing her (because she has consumption) but he kisses her anyway, choosing to be close with her instead. When she gets out of bed she’s coughing and he asks if she has any medicine, she replies, “Who has money for that when there’s eating to be done, lad.” and smiles it off. But he doesn’t. And he goes to see Sir Malcolm and Vanessa and join in for the monster hunting again.

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They at first believe that he intends to take this job so he can travel back home, but Vanessa finds out that this is about a woman. It doesn’t really matter, of course, because they are desperate. They think that they have found where “The Master” maybe and that Mina might be there as well. They’re rather desperate for the help. Which is great, since Ethan is more desperate for the money. 

Meanwhile we get to the heat of it that Callaban’s angry at Frankenstein for creating and then abandoning him, and vows to see that Victor ends up as alone as he has been… unless Victor makes him a wife doomed to the same misery he is.

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Out with Sir Malcolm, Vanessa and Ethan they encounter some wolves, which I thought for sure would be werewolves, but they don’t appear to be or reveal themselves to be anyway. I’m not committed to them being regular wolves yet. -More on that later.

Ethan lets the aforementioned wolves sniff his hand and they retreat. Vanessa and Sir Malcolm share a look that clearly says *what the hell was that about* and moments after they find a young vampire chewing on some raw flesh. He tries to attack Vanessa, They wind up chaining him up, Sir Malcolm beats him while shouting ‘where is your Master?” and asking Victor over to concoct a treatment. Ethan remarks that the vampire is still a child and that torturing and experimenting on children isn’t something he wants to be party to.

Victor says “Oh, killing Redskins and wiping an entire race into oblivion is more your style.” Ethan doesn’t deny and says “How did you know I was in the Indian Wars?” and Victor gives him a *haha tricked you* I didn’t. Which would have made the Englishmen there seem morally superior IF they didn’t have an African servant who doesn’t speak or contribute to the story in any manner leaving the audience to conclude that when he isn’t waiting on Sir Malcolm he’s doing nothing of his own. 

Vanessa finds that Sir Malcolm used her as bait, he knew Mina had been moved but he wanted to draw out the Master and isn’t entirely pissed off enough. At some point, Vanessa had also counted to Ethan that Mina was supposed to marry Jonathan Harker but that she took up with “another man, if he is a man at all.” You know he’s not. You know he’s a vampire… why would you say that? But it has me wondering if Van Helsing will cross paths with them at some point.

So now here are my predictions: (and unfortunately- I don’t like some of them) Ethan has some weird mojo with wildlife and/or is a werewolf. I think it is more likely to be the former than the latter, I think that it will tie in to some Native American friends he made after some convoluted story that has him riding the redemption train for his misdeeds against the Native Americans. Also, that Brona is going to be near death from consumption soon and that Victor will resurrect her to be Callaban’s wife. I would put money on both of those. 

Penny Dreadful- Episode 2

Seance.

Ethan wakes up (under a pier in the dirt), heads to the nearest bar and gets right to the sauce, he’s well in his cups when Billie Piper- I mean Brona enters. She’s Irish and recently came to London after her position in a factory was eliminated by machines, while she finds London to have the same issues, she says: “There’s always a way to make a living when you’ve got a bit of flesh isn’t there?” Ethan: “I can’t say.” Brona: “I bet you can.” (recurring theme over here, but many occupations involve “selling your body” or “degrading yourself” and sex work is just work) “I’m off to look for work that a machine can’t do. Yet. Anyway.”

Victor Frankenstein, who has taught his creature to eat helps him choose a name. Proteus. Then he goes off to see Sir Malcolm and Vanessa and the mummy. Universal monsters everywhere.

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Brona’s job search leads her to the decadent residence of Dorian Gray -a character created by Oscar Wilde who owns a painting that gets uglier everytime he sins who sold his soul for eternal youth. He asks Brona to undress and she coughs up blood. She expects to be sent out, but Gray approaches her. He undresses as well and they have sex standing up while someone photographs, “I never fucked I dying creature before. Do you feel things more deeply, do you feel pain?” Startled, she asks him, “Do you?” and she tears into her back with fingernails.

Brona suffering from consumption references early vampire mythos.

In Dr. Frank’s basement, Proteus cries for the whale in a book. Frankenstein hypothesizes that Proteus had been a whaler and sets to find out who he is. 

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Gray attends a party that the Egyptologist Niles is hosting where Vanessa is a guest as well. He profiles Vanessa concluding that she thought it would be a wasted frivolous evening, and that she is not a frivolous person. He grabs her hand and acknowledges that she is the only ungloved woman and that she wants to touch while her head wants to appraise. For some reason this is romantic? They almost kiss. It seems out of character for the reserved and BUSY Vanessa (and Dorian is supposed to be gay). They are moved to another room and Madame Kali enters, Vanessa say skeptically “I believe we’re about to convene with a spirit” -really? that blase about it? You have telekinetic powers and hunt vampires. Madame Kali starts the ritual and Vanessa reaches for Gray’s hand. She channels a young child and at times seems mocking, telling of how he went on an adventure with father (Sir Malcolm is impacted by the rant, apparently this was his son) and got dysentery. Sir Malcolm starts crying. Then Vanessa lets her hair down. Cracks the table and says cunt a lot. Basically. Sir Malcolm’s son caught him having sex with Mina in the hallway and Vanessa says “When did you know you wanted to fuck her?” And then bends herself like the Last Exorcism 2.

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Then she has sex with a man in the street. While Malcolm sits at the cracked table, shaken.

The next morning Brona and Ethan are inside the same bar again. She tells him that now she’s a model. “For the calendars and such?” he asks. She replies, “If you keep your calendar in a whorehouse.” He offers to buy her a proper breakfast, when she declines he asks for dinner. She questions his motives “You like things back alley?” and he replies, “I like things to be what they are.” Normally, I’d be annoyed at the stereotype that a sex worker (particularly one as frank as Brona) must see herself as less than, but since the day before she’d been referred to as “a creature” by someone who had the power to dictate whether or not she would have money for food -I’ll allow it. Ethan’s no peach either, he’s an alcoholic and a fugitive. He’s a fuck up with questionable employment.

Niles is mad his party was ruined. His wife was mortified. 

But none the less he translates the hieroglyphs for Sir Malcolm. He references the hidden goddess with a monster within her. And then decides “You must forget you ever saw it.” Perpetual life by feeding on the souls of others. Amunet and Amun-Ra conjoined means the annihilation of man and coming of the Beast. 

Victor takes Proteus outside. He gets overwhelmed at first, but as they journey the fear turns to amazement. They see Brona and Ethan on the street and Proteus is taken with Brona, he offers her a chestnut and they introduce rather awkwardly. Later Victor explains “friends” and Proteus decides he will have many friends WHEN SOMETHING CLIMBS OUT OF HIS BODY HOLY WHAT?! With a “Your first born has returned, father.”

Well that’s baffling.

My favorite parts of this episode had nothing to do with the supernatural happenings. Weird. I like Brona and I like her portrayal. I like her with Ethan. I like them as equals. 

There is a lot going on.

If Sir Malcolm molested his daughter Mina, if it wasn’t the ramblings of a demon… it would be insanely irresponsible to make him a sympathetic character. That’s fucking gross. No wonder she ran off with Dracula. I don’t care how much I love 007 and Timothy Dalton, axe him. Sir Malcolm Murray is not the good guy.

I want to like this show… and I do… but there’s so much happening and getting the ball rolling on all at once is… a little much. I think that’s why I liked Ethan and Brona’s less intense plotline. Her tie in with Dorian was wonderful, while Vanessa’s was a little much. And why a mummy? There are Catholic elements: demonic possession and a deal with the devil. There are vampires. Reanimated corpses. Jack the Ripper. If you think that there’s any reason to have a Egyptian mythos thrown in along with that other than “to hit a Universal Monsters trifecta” I would love to hear it. Why not a fucking swamp monster at that point?

Not that there’s not time for that.

Penny Dreadful- Episode 1

The cast list reads like a who’s who in the action and/or horror and/or fantasy TV and cinema realm. Former Bond Timothy Dalton, former Bond girl (much later) Eva Green (also coming soon in Sin City: A Dame to Kill For) my longtime crush Josh Hartnett (Sin City, Black Dahlia, 30 days of Night), Billie Piper (“Doctor Who”), Rory Kinnear (plays the Creature, also Bond alumni circa Blonde Bond).

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The set design, costumes and cinematography is lush… and set in victorian London. I’m concerned already since a production in the same genre set in the same atmosphere with less (but substantial) star power just got cancelled. I’m talking about NBC’s “Dracula”, new of it’s cancellation was announced yesterday. 

This show is expensive. But I’m not sure they are paying for new ideas… 

Josh Hartnett plays an alcoholic gunslinger who despite the trembling in his hand is seen fit by Vanessa Ives (Eva Green) to take on monsters that are terrorizing London. Even though he’s crashed and burned and is putting on a travelling side show. Vanessa and Sir Malcolm (Timothy Dalton) bring Hartnett’s Ethan Chandler to the vampires’ nest. After some struggle, the vamps are defeated (we get a glimpse of Vanessa’s telekinetic powers, Ethan’s skill and Sir Malcolm’s bravado) and they bring a carcass to a scientific type (Frankenstein) played by Harry Treadaway (Cockneys versus Zombies, Lone Ranger)

The next day, Ethan is to meet Sir Malcolm at his home. A Black servant answers the door. WTF TV execs?Think we can suspend disbelief for vampires, but believe that we cannot stretch our imaginations that black people could be anything more than servants on these shows?.  

“Who the fuck are you people?”

Sir Malcolm’s daughter has been taken by a “creature” and Vanessa’s reasons for pursuing the monsters are “her own.” Secretive. Grizzly crime scenes are popping up all around, people are whispering about Jack the Ripper (likening this series again to “Dracula” AND to “Ripper Street”) Ethan wants to bail. He’s in over his head. Performing isn’t so bad. It’s better than messing with creatures of the night. But he is intrigued. And he interlopes on the investigation of a disgusting murder of a family.

Mina pays a visit to Sir Malcolm. Mina Harker, that’s right. Although these vampires bear a stronger resemblance to Nosferatu than any version of Dracula. sir Malcolm says that he will find her, Vanessa goes to pray, but candles levitate and bad omens present themselves in interesting and stunning ways.

It’s the small touches, Dr. Frankenstein asking Ethan about advancements in electric power in America, crosses turning upside down and exploding with arachnids and full frontal nudity that make this for me. Maybe Shotime can pull off what NBC could not, maybe a subscription channel can carry the weight of all these actors and scenarios.

At the end of the episode Victor Frankenstein accidentally reanimates “the Creature” and they have a touching and bizarre encounter. 

I am optimistic about this series. But the budget must be immense: it’s gorgeous. Mishmash of big name monsters also reminds me of “Hemlock Grove” (although this makes more sense already). Timothy Dalton is pulling his best (also former Bond) Sean Connery in League of Extraordinary Gentlemen and my gosh, is it good to see Josh Hartnett taking on vamps again.

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But there’s not much to add, elements of plot are emergent but there’s not much to speculate over all about the dynamics of characters in upcoming episodes.

Dracula: Episode Seven

Alexander Grayson finally gets the recipe for the sunlight serum down. He has 4 hours. But he’s hungry, so hungry. He gets a taste of Lady Jayne. And nearly takes a bite out of the cleaning staff. Mina continues to act sweet and silly and sets up a dance at the hospital for which she needs to borrow Grayson’s phonograph. 

A heartbroken Lucy meets with Lady Jayne to tell her how her confession to Mina went.. “Monstrous.” Lady Jayne sent her out to profess her love and this exchange blew up in Lucy’s face. Lucy says Mina’s look was of revulsion and Lady Jayne says Mina’s just scared of her own sexual nature. What does Lady Jayne have to gain in this?!

Lucy busts in at his tailor and tells Harker that “Alastair wasn’t exactly her type” and after receiving some remarkably terrible and devious advice from Lady Jayne sets out to seduce him. That bad advice also involved a tease and a kiss.

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The treatment Lucy is receiving is unnecessarily cruel. 

And Renfield had bid a million dollars on a painting only to have it stolen by Davenport. It’s a painting of Drac’s wife who obviously looks identical to Mina Murray. Now Davenport knows who Drac loves and can seek his revenge!

Harker is summoned by the Order.

Grayson makes Mina’s party a proper affair by having real string players and is dancing joyously with one of the patients when she arrives. Then he has to leave abruptly because the sunlight is weakening him. Mina stops him. She is disappointed that Harker is missing from the dance and says she wants to dance with Graysons (…bad decisions all around) but he can’t resist, steadies himself and dances with her in the hall. They flirt, he leans in close, almost for a kiss but become preoccupied with her pulse in her throat. His hands start to tremble and she thinks she’s made him nervous. But it’s really that he is trying to keep himself from taking a bite of her.

Grayson runs late and arrives right around the same time as the Police tipped off by the Order and their new member Harker. They allege that the machinery is a health hazard. And shut him down. Grayson throws money that them and things get a little “fuck the police” at Grayson Electric Company.

Harker apologizes to Mina. Mina doesn’t apologize for the emotional and nearly physical affair that she’s having. To top off the evening, Grayson makes a snack out of the cop and then threatens Van Helsing for teasing him, giving him just a taste of the world he once had.

There was much to like about this episode. But unfortunately it wasn’t the same scenes that the show focussed on. The dance between Grayson and Mina was an obvious highlight. But of interest to me is the rift growing between Van Helsing and Grayson. 

I’m exceptionally displeased with the way Lady Jayne is teasing Lucy. What value is it? What does she have to gain by sending Lucy to embarrass herself and to sabotage Harker and Mina. Why? What good does it do her? It was well acted, well.. on Katie McGrath’s end for certain. But I just do not understand why the writers are toying with Lucy in this way (after having the tragic death and suicide of the show’s only other LGBT characters). Why would Lucy flirt with Harker? Seduce him to shake Mina’s relationship? That only serves to prove to Mina that Lucy’s intentions are impure. How would that make Mina want Lucy?! And why would Lady Jayne want her to break up Mina and Harker (since she has witnessed Grayson flirting with Mina… wouldn’t she want Mina attached? Perhaps?)

Baffled.

Dracula- Episode 6

Dracula dreams of sunlight

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Browning tries to convince Lady Jayne that Grayson is a vampire. She assures him, as head huntsman… and as someone who has spent quite a lot of time with him, that she would know if he was Nosferatu. But others are noticing that although Grayson runs a business they have never seen him out at a daytime event. 

At a lovely restaurant a waiter is performing a trick for Mina, Lucy and Harker. Mina giggles, Lucy looks annoyed and Harker full out ignores the man. Grayson leaves Lady Jayne behind at their table to impress Mina with how the trick is performed. And then does one of his own as an apology for the abrupt exit at their engagement party. He offers to pay for their meal and drinks.

After feasting on his dime Mina and Harker run home through the rain, Mina dancing and laughing. Then they consummate their relationship. AFter a shadowy night of pasiion, they plan to set a date to be married. Then Mina says something about studying to accomplish and Harker jokes that he is still playing second fiddle to her work with Van Helsing. (Except that two episodes ago this was not a “joke” and their relationship nearly ended because he did not want a woman with ambition)

Harker then meets with Grayson to discuss the dirt on those that captured Renfield. 

Renfield presents Grayson with a document: a telegram regarding an auction for the Dresden Triptych. Davenport finds out and now HE wants it to get at Grayson.

Grayson wins part of British Imperial Coolant in a card game.

A British Imperial Coolant event is being held in a solarium in the middle of the day. If Grayson can not attend, he will lose his share.

Mina is examining the blood samples (that are Grayson’s but she doesn’t know that) The blood is still alive despite the cells duration outside of the body. Mina injects the blood into a dead rat. She waits briefly for it to react… but it does not, so she stuffs it away… only then does the rat twitch. 

Lucy meets with Lady Jayne who invited her after noticing the way Lucy gazed upon Mina Murray. Lady Jayne says that she had been with many females and that it is a natural part of maturation. She softly strokes Lucy and convinces Lucy that Mina loves her, too, and that she should confess her feelings to Mina.

Van Helsing tells Grayson that he’s had a breakthrough with the sunlight serum (that will allow the vampire to walk in the day) and Grayson optimistically insists that they try it out on him tomorrow.

MIna attempts to return the sample to Van Helsing’s lab… but she is caught. Van Helsing discharges her. So she keeps the sample. Then she calls Van Helsing out. She reanimated dead cheek cells using the sample and then repeated the experiment to be sure. Van Helsing invites her back in and tries to say it is a microscopic parasite found in Sumatra. She doesn’t buy it. He grabs for a mallet. 

But Mina relents, she says it’s because her mother died while she was young. She wishes to cure death. She convinces herself that she saw only what she wished to. That she projected her needs.

Lady Jayne presents Browning with evidence that Grayson has RSVPed to a daytime even. Browning says that he probably won’t show, and if he is a vampire, will the Huntsman be able to kill him?

While Harker and his future Mrs. ride around on a carousel, they are interrupted by Davenport, who gives Harker a ticket to a play, A Doll’s House, where he sees an actress, who he thought was a bookkeeper… he then realizes that Grayson has set him up, knowing that he would give evidence of General Shaw to the papers against Grayson’s wishes.

I’m a little baffled on this one… what exactly is going on here? There’s a ton going on… I missed it.

Lucy helps Mina pick out a fashionable dress… Mina is distant. Mina also created a vampire rat not too long ago, should we be concerned about that?

Mina tells Lucy that she believes that Van Helsing is deceiving her, for the substance could revolutionize medicine… why would he hide it? Then she apologizes and says that Lucy must find talk of research so dull. Lucy, proving she would be a better partner, says “Mina, not while you are speaking.”  

Lucy confesses her love, but Mina turns away. She Is suspicious, says that Mina under minds Jonathon because she wants Mina for herself not to protect her as the friend that Mina needs.

Lucy leaves in tears, pushing past Harker as he enters.

Van Helsing straps Grayson to a machine that will augment his blood pressure so the serum can be injected. BY A HUGE AND TERRIFYING MULTINEEDLED APPARATUS. Renfield thinks this is a bad idea, but Grayson says that they can’t win unless they go “All-in”

 He makes his appearance, but starts burning up in mere minutes. The sunlight serum prospects seem hopeless, but for now that board and Brotherhood are quieted.

He confronts the actress and drinks her… healing himself.

The next episode isn’t set to air until January 3. Will Lucy and Mina make up? Will Mina keep experimenting behind Van Helsing’s back? Will Harker get decapitated?

These are my main concerns!

This episode was less angsty than the last two, which was nice for me. I still feel badly for Lucy (and do not know why Lady Jayne provoked her, saying Mina looked on Lucy with the same affection) but I am glad it was out in the open. Mina’s response was not homophobic, but honest. She called Lucy’s motivations into question. 

Dracula- Episode 5

Episode 4 ended with Lady Jane believing Grayson’s preposterous story about how he “saved her” from a vampire. Daniel’s father makes it his mission to take down Grayson… which  leads to the kidnapping of Mr. Renfield.

This episode opens with Mina and Grayson having an exchanged that goes, “But I know you love me.” “But I love Harker and that is final!” Which it’s not as he kisses her passionately.

But alas, her infidelity to the misogynist halfwit is just a dream and she is awakened by Lucy. Lucy, who hopes the engagement is off for the same reasons that Grayson wishes the engagement to be off, rouses the sleeping Mina to begin festivities for her engagement party.

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Grayson summons Van Helsing to get to work on a “test subject” (feral looking vampire) to perfect his “sunlight serum” Grayson says “people are getting suspicious” -and they may be. but you know, this is all about Mina. 

Harker has uninvited all his friends from the paper. When Mina asks him about it he talks down to her (Lucy looks on unhappily). Mina thinks that if Harker sees his friends as expendable… she may become expendable in his eyes as well. Valid. Also valid: he’s a misogynist asshole. Her father brushes it off “he’s in a new field, it’s normal” (“that’s how men are”)

In contrast to Mina’s emotional turmoil… Renfield is still being tortured for informationa about Grayson. The woman who has him hostage asks one question, “who does Alexander Grayson love?” These scenes are graphic and cringe inducing. 

Grayson discovers that Renfield is taken by the Order. Grayson knows that Renfield will sacrifice himself… die before he will say a word against Grayson. Grayson is powerless in the daylight. Van Helsing refuses to help. Says he cannot be distracted from making the serum.

Harker finds a clue.

Grayson remembers meeting RM Renfield, Esquire, for the first time.

Harker comes to Grayson with what he knows. Grayson is glad to have a lead. Then he meets with Van Helsing for his experiment. Van Helsing injects the female vamp, then electrocutes her to cause her heart to beat, The serum flows through her veins and he opens the window coverings. She recoils from the sun… but then it doesn’t hurt her… she basks in to… momentarily. And then bursts into flames. 

Grayson then, is upset and still powerless until night fall. But after dusk, he goes to where they are torturing Renfield… He slaughters guards and the head torturer screams for her life as Renfield laughs maniacally.

Back at the engagement party, the Order is there, as is Lady Jayne. Grayson uses his vampire powers of lie detection to surmise that she is not involved in Renfield’s abduction. There’s also some interesting scene where Lady Jayne watches Lucy prep Mina and she knows that Lucy is just in love with her.

And Harker decided to invite his newspaper friends after all saying “I was beginning to forget who I was.” and Mina replies, “I always be here to remind you.” (yes, please remind him that he is a lout and should kiss your ass, please). He makes a speech proclaiming his delight at marrying Mina. A toast to which everyone but Grayson and Lucy drink. Then as a gift for the festivities… he gives the first dance with Mina to Grayson.

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And the chemistry between them is obvious as they waltz. Lucy sees it, Lady Jane sees it and then Harker sees it and asks to cut in. Grayson (sadly, only) envisions himself slitting Harker’s throat. So he walks off. But so does Mina. Who goes hope in discontent hoping for another sexy dream. Lucy bawls her eyes out because Mina doesn’t look at her that way. Lady Jayne (for some reason) continues to defend Grayson and insist he’s not a vampire (oh yeah, she’ “blinded by passion”). And Grayson tends to Renfields wounds.

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Which is what I thought was the great aspect of this episode. Renfield got more of a back story, he was taught law by an abolitionist who made a motion that Renfield be allowed to take the Bar exam. Which he passed. But that didn’t mean anyone would work with him or allow him to represent him. He was left penniless and friendless and serving drinks on a train (because brains and ambition really do not guarantee success, no matter what popular discourse would have you believe. Social attitudes, networks and timing play a huge role. We do not all start at the same place) to criminals who see him as less than. 

Grayson can relate to being smart and capable… but to be an outsider, to have what he wants taken from him. It’s clever and a good basis for a friendship. 

I don’t know how long they can leave Lucy to mope around for Mina. Frankly, I hope there is a resolution soon.