Dracula season 1, episode 3 recap: The Dark Compass

Dracula navigates the intricacies of a new time but has difficulty finding satisfaction in a world of modern conveniences. Meanwhile, a troublesome descendant of an old enemy gets under his skin.

Whatever happened on the beach, Dracula was clearly able to escape, steal some stylish modern clothes, drink a local, and get himself invited into his home. There he meets his unfortunate snack’s wife who comes downstairs to discover her husband Bob has been stuffed into the mini-fridge. Dracula takes a moment to enjoy watching some TV footage of the sun over the Serengeti.

Dracula is charming and sophisticated as ever, enjoying the taste of the new modern words in his mouth and adapting quite well to life 123 years in the future. He does comment on how many things Bob and his wife own and how they live in luxury far exceeding any royalty of his time. They are not well off and yet they have a place to live filled with unnecessary material items. “I knew the future would bring wonders,” marvels Dracula. “But I did not know it would make them ordinary.” How devastatingly true.

On the beach, Dracula is more amused by the time that passed and fascinated by the rapid changes in technology. He appreciates the “flying thing” as the helicopter buzzes overhead and asks to see the video camera that a young mercenary is holding. Although it’s not like any camera he’s ever seen, he knows what it is. After all, he’s been around since the 15th century. “Things change, you get used to it,” he explains. He uses the camera as a distraction to steal the mercenary’s gun and shoots her in the head, proceeding then to threaten Dr. Zoe Helsing. Sister Agatha was her great-great Aunt. To escape, Dracula brings down a swarm of bats on them.

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Now Zoe and her team have managed to follow his trail of destruction to his current location. They drop in a coffin of dirt in the hallway upstairs. Zoe calls him and tells him to get in the box as they proceed to tear the roof away, letting daylight stream inside. Instead, Dracula tells Zoe to meet him downstairs. She goes inside where he tries to eat her, but something in her blood makes him sick. He starts to vomit and then passes out. They get him in the box and transport him to a secret facility that has something to do with Jonathan Harker.

Meanwhile, a bunch of young people have some tedious young person drama. A girl named Lucy Westenra (Lydia West) is loved and desired by all men, not least of all the lovelorn Dr. Jack Seward (Matthew Beard) who went out with her a few times a believes himself in love. She’s a casual party girl who isn’t looking for anything serious and, quite rightly, doesn’t owe anything to anyone. She and her entourage, Jack included, go out to the club where Lucy hangs onto her new boy toy, a rich and exotic Texan named Quincey (Phil Dunster). They’re not really serious about each other, but he’s rich and she’s beautiful, so he proposes and she accepts.

Jack has been avoiding his calls from “Jonathan Harker,” but knowing his love to be unrequited finally calls back and is taken to a secret facility. Jonathan Harker turns out to be the Jonathan Harker Foundation, a program founded by Mina in honor of her lost fiancé and designed to protect the world from Dracula. Jack is an old medical student of Zoe’s and he’s part of a paid donor program to supply Dracula with food and to research is feeding habits.

Here we learn that Dracula’s box was discovered as part of an exploratory mission after the Foundation found the wreckage of the Demeter. When they opened the box they found what they thought was the perfectly preserved corpse of Dracula inside. Actually, he was in a restorative coma until one of the divers stuck her fingers in his mouth and fed him. Knowing it was only a matter of time until he was fully revived, they closed up the box and awaited his arrival on the beach.

Now he’s being kept in a glassed-in cell containing a table, a chair, an iPad, and for some reason a toilet. “That’s a toilet. I’m a vampire. Why have you given me a toilet,” he chides one of his guards. Zoe comes to take a blood sample, which he gives willingly himself when her needles won’t penetrate his skin. He recalls the taste of her blood and knows that her blood was poison to him because she’s dying. She has cancer.

They are interrupted by the arrival of Frank Renfield (Mark Gatiss), Dracula’s lawyer. He works for the law firm Dracula employed in 1896 to purchase his estates in London – the same law firm that Jonathan Harker worked for. Dracula has been Skyping with Renfield (the WiFi password was his name, not too hard to figure out) and now the Foundation must release Dracula or else be held criminally accountable for holding him against his will. After all, he has rights.

Mark Gatiss is clearly the best and only Renfield for this story. So clever and yet so mediocre, the perfect henchman who is always wheedling for a promotion to bride. He is so clearly Dracula’s lesser that the word “Master” sounds so natural coming out of his mouth. I wish there was more time in this series to see Renfield’s proper descent into madness.

In a desperate attempt to understand Dracula better, Zoe drinks his blood sample and absorbs his blood’s memories of Sister Agatha’s blood memories. Not much is gained by this at first. She has cancer and the purpose of her work has been released into the world. She resigns as director of the Foundation and more or less steps away from public life.

Dracula is released and steals Jack’s phone on his way out; just to be chaotic, I suppose. When Lucy calls Jack, this is how she and Dracula become acquainted. They soon begin seeing each other. Lucy knows that Dracula is a vampire and she sometimes allows him to feed on her. Dracula won’t take her by force, because it’s delicious when she consents. It’s almost sweet.

Aside from Lucy, Dracula is fairly dissatisfied with modern life. Everything is too easy, anything can be delivered (including food, via Tinder) and Dracula is frustrated that he has to take time out of his day to exercise or else get fat. It’s odd how everyone has so much less purpose in modern times. Everyone’s apathy is giving me a lot of existential angst.

Lucy eventually loses too much blood too often and dies when Dracula drains her one last time. He expects her to come back and be his bride, but instead of being buried she gets cremated. Jack had come to Zoe for advice in trying to save Lucy, but she was already in hospice and didn’t have much help to offer. After Lucy’s death, her blood memories of Sister Agatha rouse her from her death-bed to lead one last charge against Dracula.

Dracula awaits the arrival of Lucy at his home but isn’t particularly surprised when Zoe and Jack arrive first. Jack tells Dracula that Lucy was cremated. When she arrives, she’s burned beyond recognition and doesn’t realize she’s lost her precious beauty until Zoe suggests she take a selfie. Despite Dracula’s utter acceptance of her, she decides she can’t live as a monster and asks Jack to kill her. Dracula laments the loss of his finest bride.

Zoe/Sister Agatha finally realizes the one thing that Dracula is most afraid of and the one thing that all his superstitious weaknesses have in common. She asks Jack to leave so she can have a private conversation with Dracula. He resists at first but then realizes what she’s up to and leaves.

Once left alone, Zoe runs the length of Dracula’s long dining room table, leaps up toward the grand window and pulls down the drapes to let the sunlight in. Dracula writhes and screams in the morning sun, but doesn’t burn. Nothing at all happens to him and it takes him a moment to understand that nothing will. He doesn’t understand, so thoroughly convinced was he that sunlight would destroy him. So what gives?

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Zoe explains to him that the one thing he’s most afraid of in this world is death itself and that his cowardice in the face of it is the one thing he’s most ashamed of. He fears the cross because it is a symbol of the courage it takes to die. The rest are simply habits of shame that grew into legends over time. So now Dracula is revealed in sunlight and Zoe is dying, so Dracula decides to speed her passing and join her. He drinks her poisonous blood, killing her painlessly and giving them both a beautiful dream of being together.

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