Dracula (2020) – Episode 3 Recap & Review

Bloody Terrible

For every BBC adaptation I cover, I find myself cracking jokes through some of the recaps, commenting on how the BBC can never nail its landings, falling flat on its face during season finales. With the exception of His Dark Materials last year, Bodyguard, Killing Eve and even The Capture slipped up when it really mattered after strong openings and with Dracula riding a wave of good faith, it looked set to follow His Dark Materials and end things on a high.

Alas, it turns out that was a one-off. Resorting back to the usual Moffat hi-jinks and delivering a bizarre modern mash-up of Sherlock and Season 6 of Doctor Who, Dracula spectacularly throws itself in the sunlight and burns, after two episodes of dominating in the shadows. It’s an example of Moffat at his over-indulgently worse and mixed with BBC’s inability to end shows on a high, delivers one of the more frustratingly awful finales I’ve watched in a long time.

We begin in 1897 the night the duo of nuns were cornered in the basement. Agatha sacrifices herself to save Mina and as the Count sinks his teeth into her, we cut back to modern day England to find Dracula stalking a young woman after admitting to drinking her partner.

We then begin on the beach from last episode. It turns out Count Dracula’s been in the water for “only” 123 years and the person we believed to be Agatha is actually one of her descendants called Zoe. Dracula manages to fly away though and this brings us back to the original scene, where Dracula talks to the woman called Kathleen and discusses how a lot of the vampiric legends are wrong or misunderstood.

Zoe Van Helsing tracks him down and with a digger and cunning wits, tries to convince Dracula to get in a box after destroying part of Kathleen’s house. Instead, Count invites her to come in so they can talk and he winds up drinking her blood. Only, something goes wrong in the process and he vomits up thick globs of red before passing out on the floor. Now the group are able to control him and this appear to have been the plan the whole time.

Wherever Dracula has been taken, he’s moved straight into isolation while a portrait of Jonathan Harker is presented up on the wall. Here things start to descend into mundanity as we learn more about Harker’s bloodline, including a junior doctor called Jack with an obsession with a 22 year old girl called Lucy.

Jack arrives at the isolated facility where a woman briefs the team on the Demeter and what’s happened with Dracula over the past 100+ years. As the episode continues, Zoe drinks a vial of blood prompting a hypnotic crescendo of flashbacks, hallucinations and ideas to merge together that sees Zoe witness Agatha being bitten and then waking up in a field with the empty vial next to her.

We then cut forward three months, to find Lucy out on her hen party. Count Dracula has become pretty adept at using the internet and he’s been feeding on Lucy’s blood for a while now and as he continues to stalk her, he eventually drinks her blood more purposefully and kills her. After Lucy’s funeral, Zoe wakes up in the past where we see Agatha monologuing and discussing how to stop Dracula. Blood is lives, as Agatha says, and with this mixing of bloods it means she can transport through time and talk to her descendant.

As the episode reaches its climax, Drac sits down with Jack and Zoe, as Lucy arrives to become one of Dracula’s brides. Only she’s completely burnt and grotesque, prompting Jack to stake her. Commenting how beautiful the day is going to be, he leaves Zoe and the Count alone, as the former pulls down the curtains and watches as Dracula winces in the sunlight. It turns out he’s not actually weak to it though, it’s another vampiric myth. As he embraces the sunlight, he drinks Zoe’s blood, which happens to be his true poison, and dies in her arms where the episode, and mini-series, ends.

In the Dracula novel, the final third of the book is actually my favourite part as the Count makes it back to England and goes on a rampage. After yesterday’s twist I assumed they’d take this concept and make a fun cat-and-mouse bloodbath as Drac goes on the rampage in the night while Van Helsing and the police try to stop him. Here though, it’s less rampage and more nightclub shenanigans, facebook stalking and hallucinatory, mundane shots that do little to progress the story in a logical or entertaining way.

I have no doubt that after this Claes Bang will go on to star in plenty of adaptations and series in the future and if there’s one winner with this adaptation, it’s him. He portrays a wonderful Dracula and without his influence, the episode would be even more disappointing than it already is.

In a way, I’m not surprised the series has devolved in this manner but with His Dark Materials I thought naively that the BBC may have turned a corner and managed to nail the endings for its shows. Unfortunately not. After a solid opening couple of episodes, Dracula makes a case for being the top TV disappointment of the year already – 3 days into 2020. This one will be a toughie to beat on that list if I’m honest and I leave this adaptation disappointed and annoyed how this one has turned out. I’m guessing I won’t be the only one either. What a shame.

 

Dracula is available to watch on BBC iPlayer. Feel free to click here and sign up now to check this show out!
Not from the UK? Dracula is available to watch on Netflix from the 4th January. Feel free to click here and sign up now to check this show out!

 

  • Episode Rating
1.5

7 thoughts on “Dracula (2020) – Episode 3 Recap & Review”

  1. I stumbled on this series on Netflix, the teaser segment hooked me and I added it my playlist. I didn’t binge watch the episodes, but paced myself over three nights.

    On the first night I was captivated. We’ve all heard and seen Dracula stories, some are really great, and others just fall flat on their faces. This series starts off so strong. The episodes run a little long, but I’m more or less ok with that since the story telling is captivating.

    On the second night, I thoroughly enjoyed the story playing out on the ship, as well as the one playing out between Dracula and Agatha. I had figured out what direction they were going with that fairly early on, but it was nice to see it play out as it did. The episode ends very well, with a twist that leaves you wanting more, which is a good thing.

    On the third night, man…the third episode carries forward from the previous very well. And then kinda takes a nose dive half way through. And I’m not lamenting the moment when Draculas lawyer shows up and springs him out. That part was cheeky, but clever. It moved the plot forward and I was ok with him now established in present day England. I was even ok with the current descendant of Agatha having a reason why her blood was toxic to Dracula. But, the second half of the episode…

    It sets up new characters which for some reason I should care for, but I don’t. The death of the bloofel lady should have been something more drawn out. It just felt…rushed. and then there is the Harken foundation, which the writing introduces us to but then decides “nevermind, not important”.

    The third episode is dissapointing, full of plot holes, and plot devices that just aren’t compelling.

    If “Blood is Lives”, then Zoeys life should have been extended after her consumption of blood. Hell, I would have accepted it curing the cancer. But no, lazy writing. Agatha Van Helsing was a more compelling character than Zoe Van Helsing, so let’s just use Zoe as a plot device to connect Dracula and Agatha one last time. Nope, not buying it. I could accept Agatha in Zoe’s head, but, that being the limit was frustrating.

    I hope someone at the BBC realises that the writing direction for Episode 3 was awful, and that more episodes be created with the intent to retcon that bullshit by either explaining we didn’t see what we thought we saw, or something…anything else.

  2. It’s fairly obvious moffatt let gattiss write episode 3 …big mistake

  3. The first episode was stunning the last episode was atrocious it was more like a Dr Who episode with Mark Gatiss playing one of his awful League of gentlemen roles thrown in for good measure truly abysmal

  4. I agree the last episode was the weakest, but overall I still found more to like than dislike in the series.
    To me, Episode 3 was some kind of commentary on modern society, and the commodification and commercialization of mythology, along with everything else.

  5. None of this explains how Agatha and Dracula were relating the story in the castle AFTER she realises she was in Room 9 and the Demeter sank. Or am l missing something?

    And Lucy only needed to look at her arms to know she was a tad singed.

  6. I totally agree.Great opening episode,followed by another on the ship.Awful third ending.After killing a girl on the beach and a man in the house.,Dracula is taken into a secure compound with security at enormous effort and expense,only to be released on the British people because some old lawyer turns up at the unit!!! Come on?
    If the enormously wealthy Harker corporation can cover up these killings can’t they deal with Dracula’s lawyer for God’s sake.Ludicrous.From then on it went downhill all the way.

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