Dracula, Season 1, Episode 2, “A Whiff of Sulphur”
Written by Daniel Knauf
Directed by Steve Shill
Airs Fridays at 10pm (ET) on NBC
Dracula’s first episode was sinfully good, giving this week’s follow up a lot to live up to. For the most part, “A Whiff of Sulphur” is an entertaining episode that advances the storyline and gives us some much needed background on our characters. This may only be the second episode, but it’s clear that Dracula is a show that moves fast. By episode’s end, Mina (Jessica De Gouw) and Harker’s (Oliver Jackson-Cohen) relationship is effectively over, though Harker is sure to try for some kind of reconciliation. The only thing that the writers are taking slowly, so far, is the relationship between Mina and Dracula (Jonathon Rhys Meyers).
This week we see a quiet moment between the two while he counsels her on getting through a test that could change the course of her career. What exactly does Dracula want with Mina if not to turn her? He pointedly tells Renfield (Nonso Anozie) early in the episode that “to turn her into such as I am would be an abomination”. Even after Dracula begins an affair with Lady Jayne Wetherby (Victoria Smurfit), who still doesn’t realize he’s the vampire she’s been hunting, it’s obvious that he has some kind of deep love for Mina. Seeing where exactly his plan is going has the potential to be one of the biggest strengths of the show.
“A Whiff of Sulphur” does highlight a minor issue, however. There are a multitude of characters that filter in and out of every scene and for a show that just started it already feels dense. Right now this is being handled well but as the show goes on, trying to sort through the characters might get tiresome. But even with this problem, Dracula manages to right itself with flashbacks detailing the early days of Dracula and Van Helsing’s (Thomas Kretschmann) tenuous partnership. Another standout scene of the episode is Dracula drawing Harker into his nebulous plans with a house, a fancy title, and the money he needs to finally marry Mina.
In addition to these character developments, “A Whiff of Sulphur” gives us the unique idea that Van Helsing is working on a cure for Dracula that would allow him to walk in the light, which could have serious ramifications. As the audience learned last week, Dracula is a show that pays homage to the original story while also making new and interesting changes to the characters. This storyline has a lot of potential and it’ll be interesting to see how it progresses over the coming weeks.
Director Steve Shill makes “A Whiff of Sulphur” a standout, featuring some very cool shots involving mirrors and a stellar death scene for one of Dracula’s victims. As he did in last week’s pilot, Jonathan Rhys Meyers remains the main pull for the series. He’s just darn good, practically purring ever line. It’s clear that he delights in Dracula’s clever, often vicious tactics.
“A Whiff of Sulphur” points out a few issues within the show, but so far Dracula has presented itself as a very entertaining, dark, and stylish series.