Review: Dracula Episode 2

In her analysis of Count Dracula, Sister Agatha calls his bloodlust not sustenance but an addiction. With the second episode, it is fair to say that the BBC has delivered us another drug with ‘Dracula’. We are addicted. ‘Blood Vessel’ continues with Dracula’s journey towards England, giving us more insights into his character. You can tell a lot about a predator in the way it hunts, and this episode gives a hunting ground to Dracula. While his previous exploits were about slaughter, this one displays his calculated approach and playful manipulation.

Dracula Episode 2 Recap

Dracula kills all the nuns and has Mina and Agatha cornered. He lets Mina go, but Agatha remains in his clutches. He is clearly fascinated by her, and the feeling is mutual, so instead of instantly killing her, he indulges her in a conversation. Being a goldmine of wit and sarcasm that she is, Agatha proves to be a worthy companion. Count Dracula recounts the tale of how, after leaving the convent in Hungary, he found passage aboard a ship headed for England. While playing the game of chess with her, he tells Agatha about all the passengers, their dynamics with each other, where they were headed and how they were connected. It all spreads out like a puzzle in front of her, and the nun has to find the missing piece if she is to survive this encounter. 

Dracula Episode 2 Review

After the shocking events of the first episode, the show jumps on a completely different ship. It tears away the Devil from the comfort and safety of his castle and puts him on board a ship where he is tempted to test the limits of his addiction with seven living and breathing blood bags walking around him. To our utter relief, Sister Agatha has managed to survive and is actually in the middle of a chess game which gives her the opportunity to interview her predator. 

While the first episode had played out like a horror movie, the second episode flows in the vein of a murder mystery. Only, we know very well who the culprit is. It adopts the tone of psychological horror, which prepares us for the fact that the next episode could jump into an entirely different genre altogether. This keeps the story fresh and we are drawn in to find out what is actually happening and how it will turn out for the passengers onboard.

It uses the claustrophobic surrounding of the ship to infuse an unsettling feeling in the viewer. You know what is happening, but you still can’t make complete sense of it. You seem to have clarity and yet, you are easily deluded. If the first episode had been a manifestation of Bram Stoker’s book, this one reads more like an Agatha Christie mystery. Agatha and Dracula indulge in another cat-and-mouse game, often trying to best each other through psychological manoeuvring and witty one-liners. They are a match made in heaven; one wouldn’t make sense without the other. 

Despite being an enjoyable watch, this episode was a bit tedious. The runtime that seemed to have breezed past in the previous episode seemed too long for this one, and one could say that it is because the writers became too focused on the central characters to pay ample attention to the supporting ones while giving them enough screentime. The times that Dracula and Agatha are on the screen, we are captivated. Their lines are perfect and the performance is exquisite.

We even get to see Dracula play his seduction card, and the twist on his sexuality is a nice touch. Gatiss and Moffat have elevated the classic character not just in the scale of his bloodlust and the many ways in which he can inflict horror, but also in the tricks he employs to play with his food and the fact that he is not limited by the constraints that others would find unacceptable. He values class and talent, and his candour, above all, is what makes him even more seductive than he already is. But, in attributing these lovable qualities to him, the writers are also playing with the idea of all that is considered “unholy”.

Coming back to the deficits of this episode, the runtime could have been shorter, which, in turn, the plot could have been tauter. ‘Blood Vessel’ is supposed to play out like a slow burn, and to a great extent, it does. Yet, there are times when you wish that a scene or two had been clipped and things would move along faster. Overall, the second episode of ‘Dracula’ is engaging enough, though not quite as captivating as the first episode. But whatever qualms you have with this episode, it all washes away with another jaw-dropping ending that compels you to see what’s next for Dracula. 

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