I realize, of course, that vampires are entirely fictional, and that different authors over the years have invented different rules for how they behave and what powers they possess. The very premise of the centuries-old, undead blood-suckers is so fantastical that any attempt to apply logic to their existence must seem ridiculously petty. With that said, Friday’s episode of NBC’s ‘Dracula’ left me with a very big unanswered question about how vampire biology is supposed to work in this telling.
At some point in the middle of episode ‘From Darkness to Light’, Professor Van Helsing tests his solar vaccine by injecting it into Dracula’s hand. The vampire then holds that hand into a ray of sunlight coming through his window. For a few seconds, it seems to work… until Dracula’s fingers start to singe and burn. Van Helsing nonetheless counts this as progress. The vaccine was effective in the center of the hand where it was injected. It failed to protect his fingers because the vampire is dead, and as such, his heart doesn’t circulate blood, which is necessary to distribute the vaccine through his body. That’s a pretty clever spin on vampire mythology, right? Dracula sees this as a problem of mechanics rather than a problem of chemistry. If they can find a way to get his heart pumping again, the vaccine can protect his entire body.
So, here’s where my brain becomes fixated on questions that I should probably let go. If a vampire’s heart doesn’t circulate blood, wouldn’t that blood pool throughout the body, causing massive bruising? (This is a question for zombies too, I suppose.) More importantly, wouldn’t anyone who touches him – like, for example, sexy yet oblivious vampire hunter Lady Jayne – notice that his body generates no heat? That seems like it would be a pretty big giveaway to her when they’re banging, which happens a lot on this show. For that matter, how does Dracula get an erection without any blood circulation? This is something I need to understand!
Anyway, the main plot of the episode concerns the introduction of a new vampire named Josef (Alec Newman from the ‘Frank Herbert’s Dune’ cable miniseries). Jayne intercepts him on a subway train and, in a pretty cool action scene, kills two of his progeny, but Josef himself eludes her. She believes that he’s the powerful vampire she’s been searching for, and who killed her psychic seers. Of course, we know that she’s missing the obvious right in front of her face (and, frequently, right on top of her in bed). It turns out that Josef is Dracula’s own progeny, and a friend of many centuries. Yet, as noted by Renfield, he’s also impulsive and dangerously unpredictable. He kills without concern of consequences or detection, and his behavior could derail Dracula’s carefully-laid plans.
Chief among those plans is his deception of Lady Jayne. Josef wants to kill her to take her out of the picture, but Dracula wants to gain her trust, so as to use her against the Order of the Dragon. He sets in motion an elaborate course of action to woo her, break her heart, and then win her back again (much as worked in his manipulation of Jonathan and Mina’s relationship, I should note).
Josef has no patience for this, of course. He slips into Lady Jayne’s house as she sleeps, upon which Dracula (as Grayson) leaps to her defense with an intentionally ineffective attack. Jayne wakes up, grabs a sword and beheads Josef, causing him to explode into dust. She thinks that Grayson saved her life. Dracula sacrificed his friend for the greater good of his plan. Now, Jayne and the Order believe that the master vampire in town has been dispatched and that London is safe once again.
However, the episode ends with Renfield being kidnapped by Lord Davenport, father of the boy who killed himself from heartbreak over the death of his lover Laurent. Davenport, having no clue that his rival is a vampire, blames Grayson for his son’s suicide and has sworn revenge.
With each episode, I think this series gets a little better and more interesting. Questions of biology notwithstanding, I’m enjoying this storyline quite a bit. It’s a shame that the show’s ratings have continued to plummet.