The final episode of Dracula Season 1 does what it can to wrap up all the plots but in the end, it leaves a sour taste in the mouth.

Now that I’ve seen the entire Dracula series my overall judgment is…meh. I can’t see any sort of Season 2 coming after this, not just because of the feeling of finality it gave but because it was such a dud.

Episode 3, “The Black Compass”, was a great disappointment that left the series feeling undercooked and flavorless. Landing somewhere between True Blood and Silence of the Lambs, it might as well have been part of an entirely different series. Everything I loved about the first episode was gone. Cut out of the patient and replaced by a donor organ the body had to go on anti-rejection medication for.

The series wanted to bring Dracula into the modern age without knowing how to do so. Not only did it demean the character, but it changed the story mid-breath, dismantling its gothic, Stoker-ish atmosphere. It’s a shame because the first episode was so good!

Hartswood Films/BBC

What happened? You had a chance and ruined it

There were some decent moments in “The Black Compass”. Most of which involved Dracula adapting to the 21st Century and the introduction of Lucy Westenra (Lydia West). Lucy’s role comes straight from the novel with minor changes. She was the standout. If they just stuck with her it would’ve been better.

The beginning picks up where the previous episode left off– Dracula walking out of the ocean right into 2020. He’s been under the water for 123 years, having severely overslept, and the first person he meets is Agatha Van Helsing’s great-great niece. Dr. Zoe Van Helsing, also played by Dolly Wells.

Just let me point out that there is hardly any difference between these two women. Their presence is meant to show the importance of blood, but I feel that it’s really the show’s way of keeping Agatha around despite the decade change. Zoe is a watered-down version of the original. I felt like Angelina Jolie in The Changeling, “that’s not my Agatha.”

Hartswood Films/BBC – Robert Viglasky

I’m skipping ahead to get to the fun bit that is the shocking (said sarcastically) revelation about Dracula. *Cue Phantom of The Opera music*. Dracula’s greatest fear is… (everyone ready?) …death. He’s afraid of death. How exactly is that meant to be surprising?

As it turns out, none of the old vampire legends are true. The sun does not burn, nor does the cross. He’s just so afraid of death that he’s compelled to follow the legends that supposedly warn him against it.

Hartswood Films/BBC – Robert Viglasky

This “twist” isn’t necessarily a bad one. If constructed properly, it could’ve been an amazing revelation. How Dracula secretly feels inferior to humans because they’re brave enough to accept death while he can’t. However, it was underdeveloped and as a result, tacked on at the last minute.

In the end, Dracula dies. He commits suicide via Zoe’s blood. She was revealed to have cancer and her blood is poisonous to vampires. They die together, in an uncomfortable lover’s embrace.

Verdict

The series had a good start but crashed and burned here. The Count living in 2019 isn’t a bad story idea. However, changing it at the last second was. I think the primary issue is the length of the episodes as well as the limited number of episodes. If spread out to maybe 20 episodes, it might’ve done better. I’m sorry Mr. Bang. I wish we could have kept you and Dracula in Episode 1.

2.5 out of 5 stars (2.5 / 5)
About the Author

Rachel Roth is a writer who lives in South Florida. She has a degree in Writing Studies and a Certificate in Creative Writing, her work has appeared in several literary journals and anthologies. @WinterGreenRoth

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