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Dracula, Ep. 1.03, “Goblin Merchant Men”: Dense episode highlight shows few flaws

Dracula, Ep. 1.03, “Goblin Merchant Men”:  Dense episode highlight shows few flaws

Dracula - Season 1

Dracula, Season 1, Episode 3, “Goblin Merchant Men”
Written by Harley Peyton
Directed by Andy Goddard
Airs Fridays at 10pm (ET) on NBC

This week’s episode of Dracula opens with a stellar flashback that highlights the Order of the Dragon’s ritual that “condemned” Dracula to an “endless life”. By the end of the end of the episode Alexander Grayson (Jonathan Rhys Meyers) has already destroyed one member of the Order in a particularly sad way

The first two episodes of Dracula moved quickly so this week’s “Goblin Merchant Men” is a bit of a surprise. At times it is downright slow. While it has some great moments, Lord Laurent’s (Anthony Howell) death, the opening, and the terrace scene between Grayson and Mina (Jessica De Gouw) are particular standouts; its pace reminds us that there is just too much going on.

Lady Jayne (Victoria Smurfit) is one of those issues. We’ve seen how cool and interesting her character can be. So why is she being played so stupidly? She’s this fantastic vampire hunter who works for a secret order yet she doesn’t realize the man she spends nearly every night with is the very creature she’s searching for?

Dracula - Season 1

When Dracula focuses on Grayson’s revenge, his motivations involving Mina, and specific characters it is a very good show. Two of those characters, Renfield (Nonso Anozie) and Abraham Van Helsing (Thomas Kretschmann), get some of the best moments in “Goblin Merchant Men”. The first two episodes saw Renfield depicted only as Grayson’s dedicated companion. While there’s still a lot more to be explained about his background, we do get an early glimpse at how tough and self- sufficient he is. By the end of the episode we also realize just how much Dracula relies on him. Van Helsing is slowly becoming a favorite character. As an audience we’ve seen what the Order has done to Dracula but we’ve only heard about Van Helsing’s pain. “Goblin Merchant Men” not only gives us a glimpse at his past but shows us just how vicious this has made him.

Because it’s still so early in the shows run, “Goblin Merchant Men” works the best when it’s focusing on character developments. There’s Grayson’s overwhelming sadness at Harker (Oliver Jackson-Cohen) and Mina’s reconciliation and the revelation that Lucy (Katie McGrath) is quietly in love with Mina. Thee best part of Dracula remains its new take on the Dracula legend. Having Grayson seek revenge in the business world (knowing that’s the only way to truly destroy the Order), is interesting and gives the story yet another edge.

“Goblin Merchant Men” is not a bad episode but it jshows off some of the show’s weaknesses, which is disappointing, considering the first two episodes have been so much fun. Thankfully, there is still plenty of time to fix its issues and right any wrongs. By focusing on Mina and Grayson, Van Helsing and Renfield Dracula should be just fine.

Tressa Eckermann