Dracula ‘Goblin Merchant Men’ Recap – Episode 01.03

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Dracula continues to see Lady Jane despite the revelation that she is a huntress. Mina and Lucy spend some time together in the absence of Jonathan. Lady Jane tries again to locate Dracula through her seers while Van Helsing and Dracula scheme to block her efforts. Lord Laurent pays the price for his betrayal of the Order, and Dracula attempts to bring Jonathan and Mina back together.

The Breakdown

Goblin Merchant MenThis episode starts with a flashback to Dracula’s capture and torture by members of the Order of the Dragon some hundreds of years ago, in a courtyard with a flowering tree. As they perform some sort of bloody ritual upon him, it becomes obvious that the Order are the ones who turned him into a vampire. He is killed, then reawakened to find himself hanging in a cell. A member of the Order explains that it is his punishment for defying the Order to be undead.

In present day, Dracula plays the piano as he discusses Lady Jane’s vampire hunting with Renfield, saying that it stretches the imagination to think that she isn’t associated with the Order. Renfield gives Dracula a letter from Lord Laurent confirming the sale of his shares in the British Imperial Coolant Company to Dracula, making him the controlling investor.

Lucy turns up on Mina’s doorstep to take her out on the town to take her mind off her fight with Jonathan. Lady Jane visits a Dr. Murray (Mina’s father), who is known for his discretion when treating high profile patients, to help her find a new narcotic to help her seers locate Dracula. Renfield and Jonathan visit who appears to be the director of operations at the British Imperial Coolant Company and direct him to dedicate all energies on supplying Dracula’s experiments. Renfield gives Jonathan a list of people to befriend in order to gain important contacts.

Goblin Merchant MenDr. Murray visits Van Helsing on behalf of Lady Jane to find a new drug for the seers. Van Helsing very quickly deduces what the drug is for and consults Dracula about it, meaning to provide a drug that will eliminate them. Dracula calls him short sighted and foolish for coming up with a plan that would force their adversaries to seek other solutions outside their control. Meanwhile, Lord Laurent and Browning talk about Dracula’s purchase of Laurent’s shares and the deadly consequences for defying the Order.

Dracula wakes up in Lady Jane’s bed, reacting to some mysterious psychic call. He finds a secret passage that leads him to a dungeon type room filled with swords and fire. He discovers the lady vampire, who asks him to kill her. He is clearly overwhelmed with anger and sadness that one of his kind had been kept in such a way. As it looks as if he is about to kill Lady Jane, she awakes and begins kissing him. It seems he is biding his time.

Jonathan begins courting the people on Dracula’s list and Mina and Lucy have a frivolous and bubbly time out on the town. When Mina returns home, Dracula is awaiting in a carriage across the street in order to see her face when she finds the flowers and card he left her. It is near sunrise and Renfield insists that they leave before the sunlight reaches Dracula. Dracula returns home, angry with Van Helsing for not having found a solution to his sun-sensitivity problem yet.

Goblin Merchant MenMeanwhile, Lord Laurent and Daniel share one last night together before Lord Laurent goes to what he assumes will be his death. At a ceremony where all the members of the Order are gathered, including Daniel, Browning kills Lord Laurent. Mina and Lucy spend another night out, but this time in a lascivious den of some sort where they drink absinthe. Mina falls asleep and starts dreaming of her past life, finding herself in the same courtyard with the same flowering tree where Dracula was tortured and killed. When she awakes, she decides to leave, but finds herself in conversation with a man trying to pick her up. Mina finds him tiresome and the man becomes offended. When he lays hands on her, Dracula is there to defend her.

Mina thanks Dracula for her rescue and she confides in him about her troubles with Jonathan. Lucy comes along and interrupts a poignant moment with a glib comment about Wuthering Heights. The next day, Dracula takes it upon himself to intervene between Mina and Jonathan in order to bring them together. Dracula tells Jonathan that he is a fool for letting Mina’s ambitions stand in the way of their happiness.

Goblin Merchant MenMina awakes in bed with Lucy. The have a short heart to heart about how Mina inspires Lucy, but it is cut short when Mina realizes she overslept and missed Van Helsing’s class. Van Helsing is stern with her, but gives her a second chance and tells her that he has chosen her as his research assistant.

The seers take Van Helsing’s serum and find Dracula as he has sex with Lady Jane. Dracula detects them as before, but the drug was tainted and the seers fall into a paralysis. Van Helsing comes into their den and tells them how they cannot live if he is to complete his vendetta against the Order. He also tells them that traces of the serum will remain in their brain after death and that he must remove all evidence of his involvement, since he is the only one with knowledge to use the serum.

Jonathan shows up on Mina’s doorstep and they both apologize to each other and they make up. Jonathan goes to leave, but Mina follows and asks Jonathan to marry her. They kiss in the street and Dracula is in a carriage nearby watching – happy for Mina’s happiness, but disappointed to lose her. He discusses this with Renfield, how he did something that brought happiness to someone other than himself. Renfield ruins it by pointing out that keeping Jonathan and Mina together keeps Mina near Dracula.

Goblin Merchant MenLady Jane and Browning find the dead seers, saying that tracking seers is totally unprecedented and that, without the seers, other vampires will flock the city. Meanwhile, Daniel, upset over Lord Laurent’s death, shoots himself. He leaves a note telling of his relationship with Laurent and Dracula’s part in the blackmail scheme that made Laurent sell his shares.

The Analysis

While the human (or human/undead) interaction definitely becomes more compelling as the characters develop and forge relationships with each other, the business side of things remains just as boring as ever. There were entire scenes that I realized I had just stared at without comprehension, scenes that I had to watch over again with the express purpose of ascertaining the content and how it related to everything else. The problem is, more often than not, these scenes were mostly superfluous except to keep the “taking over business” storyline running. Turns out, I wasn’t paying attention because it wasn’t really important, or interesting – kind of like those political context scenes from Star Wars: The Phantom Menace.

Goblin Merchant MenWe already know that Dracula wants a load of coolant for his experiments, so we can safely assume that now that he’s the controlling shareholder of the company that makes the coolant that he is, in fact, going to obtain a bunch of it. We really don’t need a scene where Dracula sends his minions to make the necessary arrangements for this acquisition. Why not just have a scene where he has his coolant and is running his experiments – perhaps unnecessarily accompanied by, as this show seems fond of doing, some kind of exposition outlining that he had obviously come into possession of the coolant after his purchase of the controlling shares. Then again, we’ll probably get that scene eventually anyway.

As far as character development goes, most are still two dimensional but seem to be rounding out all the time. Lucy, for instance, has a wonderfully subtle and curious storyline in this episode. It doesn’t focus on her, by any means, but her fleeting glances, complex expressions, lingering caresses, and overplayed casualness all speak volumes. At first, I thought Lucy was going to be just another rendition of the slutty, frivolous socialite that had mysteriously taken hold over the last hundred plus years since the writing of the original novel. I suppose the fact that Lucy had three suitors and was simply charming to every man who met her made some readers see her as promiscuous.

It may also have something to do with the subtextual metaphor of blood as sex and the fact that each of her three suitors, plus Van Helsing, gave their blood to her in a transfusion. Her fiancée, Arthur Holmwood, says himself that giving his blood to her made them married in God’s eyes. The three other men decide never to tell him that they, too, had given her their blood. The fact of the matter is that, despite this absurd loveliness that draws all men to her, Lucy only ever loved one man and declined all proposals in favor of a proposal that might never have come at all.

For whatever reasons, this image of Lucy as promiscuous and weak-willed has been most unfortunately prevalent over the years, and so I thought it would be in this case. However, there are hints that perhaps Lucy’s flirtatious nature is merely overcompensation to hide other, less acceptable desires – specifically towards Mina. Perhaps it isn’t Jonathan that Lucy doesn’t like, but the fact that Mina is in love with him and not with her. This is a story line I would like to see pursued, if only to see a different, less misogynistic view of Lucy Westenra before her inevitable demise.

I also begin to wonder where characters like Dr. John Seward and Quincey Morris will come into the picture – but I suppose that question can only be answered in time.                    

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About the Author

Bethany Lewis
My cinema education started when, at three years old, Charlie Chaplin's "The Gold Rush" became my earliest memory of cinema. Since then, I've been obsessed with film and television, learning more about it, analyzing it, researching it, and experiencing different kinds of it. After getting my BA in Theater, I went on to get my MFA in Film Studies. I now spend my free time watching and writing about movies.
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