Our story starts like so many other vampire tales: with a grave robbery. As the two thieves get closer to the grave it’s clear that this is not just any grave, though. Encased in iron bars and a life-like fanged sarcophagus (and also buried in a cave), this is clearly a grave that should be left alone.
One of the thieves has other plans, though, and as he turns on his partner and slits his throat, he pours the fresh blood over the mouth of the sarcophagus. We watch the blood drip through a cleverly disguised hole and into the mouth of a wrinkly, dry, fanged corpse—but wait! The corpse is NOT a corpse, and as the blood drips into it’s mouth the flesh regenerates and life is restored, the body awakes with a start. This is, of course, Dracula.
Fast Forward to London, 1896. Could this be the same Dracula, dressing in a silk shirt and cufflinks while discussing party plans with his butler? It could be. It is. Except he is now going by Alexander Grayson, an American industrialist who looks and speaks like a Doc Holiday knock-off.
It’s a good thing he got out of the bath and got dressed, because his party is in full swing and he’s not even downstairs yet. Cheap satin Halloween versions of Victorian clothing walk in, in the form of Lucy Westenra and Mina Murray, and their journalist escort Jonathan Harker. Lucy does a lap before committing to a location while various conversations flit by, setting the scene. Mina and Jonathan are amused by the sheer amount of money in the room, and apparently Lucy is some sort of scientist. A trio walk by and raise their eyebrow at the American tackiness of the party, and a couple waltz by and discussing marking their target. Wait, what? Target? This might get interesting!
The butler, who hasn’t really been introduced yet but is R.M. Renfeld, announces Grayson’s arrival as the master of Carfax Manor. He glides down the stairs to applause, but is stopped short by the sight of Mina Murray, intertwined with flashbacks of him in bed with the very same woman. As Grayson makes the party rounds, he meets Lady Jane Weatherby, a caricature of a sexy blonde, her German companion, and then the various Lords and Ladies of this episode’s story. These Lords turn out to be the chairs of a snobby British holding company that Grayson would like to get in to, but he is rebuffed as an “interloping colonial” (it’s like a burn, but in Victorian English). Stinging from disappointment, Grayson turns to meet Harker and Mina Murray. Eyes lock. Cheeks flame. Hands are kissed. Both Mina and Grayson swear they’ve met before…
A demonstration of technical marvel is about to occur! The guests are handed lightbulbs while Grayson speechifies about darkness and light and Edison and Tesla and the Power of the Magnetosphere. Somewhere behind the scenes (and probably in the basement), dozens of workers power up a huge steam engine turbine, and all of a sudden Mina’s lightbulb illuminates. Not a trick, and no wires; soon everyone’s bulbs are glowing with the Power of the Magnetosphere. This could be the undoing of the snobby British Lords and their oil money. Luckily for them, the turbine overheats and everyone’s bulbs go dim.
In the gardens, Lady Jane and Grayson make sexy-eyes at each other while they talk about each other’s opera “boxes”. He leaves to bid his guests farewell, and as snobby British Lord #1 thanks him for the party, he also explains how Grayson will never work in this town, the impertinent American upstart!
Everyone is off at their bedtime rituals: Jonathan gets advice from his roommate on proposing to Mina, while Mina watches Lucy do her best Keira Knightly impression while they talk about boys. There is a disturbance in the force of London that all four parties feel, and below in the streets snobby British Lord #1 climbs out of his carriage and walks to his doorstep. The camera sneaks behind him, and all of a sudden he is pulled backwards from his doorstep with a scream, his blood spattering the columns of his home.
The next morning, Grayson and Renfeld discuss the events of the evening. Not the smashing party and the magical electricity, but the murder of snobby British Lord #1 and how Grayson tore him to pieces because he insulted Grayson in his own home. Lord #1 was a member of the Order of the Dragon, a group of elite readily identified by their overtly grotesque sense of entitlement—also by their murder, torture, rape, and wholesale slaughter for the last 500 years. Snobby British Lords #2 and #3, Laurent and Davenport, are also members of the Order, and Grayson and Renfeld are compiling files and making lists, trying to figure out who the leader is. Grayson’s vendetta against the Order runs deep, and his magical wireless electricity could be undoing of them by hitting them where it would hurt the most: their oil holdings?
Back on the dark and foggy streets of London a B&E occurs at the local morgue. Like a vampire killing watch salesman, the perp’s coat is lined with knives, crosses, stakes and hammers. He opens the coffin to discover snobby British Lord #1 with his now deceased head sewn back onto his body; a few quick snips of stitches and the perp walks off with the head in a case. The case gets exchanged by a few hands and ends up in the hands of Lord Laurent and Lady Jane! It’s a vampire attack and they can tell, and they’ll have to cover it up (the way the covered up those pesky Whitechapel murders) so that the Order—the Order? They’re part of the Order!!–doesn’t run scared.
Jonathan Harker meets with Grayson for an interview about his technological advances, but the conversation turns to the evolution of the human species. Harker, who is clearly having a different conversation than Grayson, comes away with the impression that he is “visionary, delusional, egomaniacal”.
Mina Murray meets with her Professor Van Helsing about a coveted research position available; her test scores are top of her class, but her surgical skills are lacking. As she leaves the school, Grayson seems to stalk behind her but misses the chance to speak with her, so instead he emotionally binges on some other poor girl behind a pillar.
At the opera, Murray and Harker have been given Grayson’s box tickets for the opening. Grayson instead secretly joins Lady Jane in her box, and then again in her “box”, but the whole time is creepily staring at Mina across the way.
Laurent and Davenport have just found out that Grayson bought all of snobby British Lord #1’s—Clive–stock in their holding company from his widow. The nerve of that upstart American, now he has a seat on the board! Little does Laurent know as he emerges from their carriage that Grayson is on his roof, watching and waiting for him. And little does Grayson know, but Lady Jane’s German companion, also the B&E perp, has just shot him with an arrow!
Okay, Grayson notices the arrow, but didn’t notice the giant German sneaking up on him, and a slow motion rooftop fight ensues. As the German pulls a crucifix out, Grayson slits his throat and the blood runs down the roof and into the street. With a dying gasp, the German recognizes Grayson for who he really is: Dracula.
Lady Jane, in a secret dirt-floor warehouse, is practicing her knife and fighting skills against two defenseless sandbags. A vampire lady prisoned in a corner cage taunts her, but when Lady Jane presses her she only reveals that soon, there will be legions of vampires, and her kung fu knife skills will not save her.
Van Helsing walks into Grayson’s parlor; there is tension between the two, but it becomes clear they are on the same side against the Order of the Dragon. Van Helsing keeps poking the bear, and when Grayson finally snaps and holds Van Helsing up by this throat, he saves his own life by revealing he was the original thief that awakened the master vampire. Both Van Helsing and Grayson have lost to the Order, and as Grayson recounts his wife’s ritual torture and burning at the stake, Mina gasps awake from the vision.
Next week on Dracula: “A Whiff of Sulphur”.