Dracula Review Episode 1×10 – “Let There Be Light”
There was a fresh, sharp, take-no-prisoners attitude in everything about this satisfying finale: from the acting to the directing and everything else in between.
A great character got a lesser ending than they deserved, which was disappointing after what they had contributed to the greater story all season.
Could Dracula’s Explosive Finale Be Its Season-Saving Grace?
After spending so many episodes in the plot wilderness, ‘Let There Be Light’ was a great way to capitalize on the thumping return to form Dracula had after it came back from it’s mid-season finale. After weeks of both sides going tit-for-tat in a brutal war of wills, Dracula and Co. turned up in this finale ready to make their biggest move yet against the Order of the Dragon, in the form of the public reveal for Alexander’s electrical revolution: a revolution that if successful would strip the Order of their wealth and therefore capacity for total control. This was a week of worlds and plans getting tipped on their heads courtesy of heaps of revelations across the board in various forms, all of which made for some pretty in-your-face viewing. So with all that in mind, let’s sink our teeth into this season finale and talk about just what made it so very tasty, shall we?
The Quick and The Dead
I loved the raw character growth that occurred in this episode and, like many Dracula fans I suspect, was also totally shocked with who and how some of the core characters were written out, at least two of which were out of nowhere in this finale. Lady Jayne (Victoria Smurfit) and Alexander’s loyal wing man Renfield (Nonso Anozie) were two of – if not the most – catalytic characters on offer in Dracula’s first season. Their actions and reactions were by far the ones that caused the majority of plot and attitude shifts amongst other characters, so it was a very big move to remove them from the story’s equation moving forward given their impact to date.
Jayne: “Kill me…Don’t turn me. You owe me that.”
In Jayne’s case, anything less than going out in a blaze of fighting glory against a fully revealed Alexander would have been a travesty, and thankfully in her being written out, that’s exactly the ending she got. I’ll be honest and say in the beginning I don’t know that I particularly liked Jayne, purely because she was so manipulative and cunning, but in truth she made me – like she made Dracula in the end, I think – respect her, and respect her enough to want to see her not meet her end quietly.
I was totally shocked however to see how Renfield was exited. Here was this formidable, wise and savvy character – who didn’t just stand his ground: he loomed mightily in a way that left other characters in the shade more often than not – who had even survived torture and the very worst kind of brutality, in order to stay loyal to Alexander. So to see him go down via a mere distraction and quick slip of the knife was very unexpected, and – for me at least – was probably the source of my only real disappointment in this episode. I felt like after everything, he deserved a better ending than that. But then this is Dracula: a show about the dead returning to life via supernatural means, to the peril of the unsuspecting souls around them, so really anything could happen. I won’t trust he’s completely dead until I see proof basically.
A Fresh Slate, If Not A Totally Clean One
In Jonathan and Lucy we find the greatest promises for new potential and potential threat if season two ends up happening. Jonathan I wasn’t surprised at, considering – I mean assuming he wasn’t killed off suddenly: an ending which to be honest until the credits rolled, I wasn’t going to put past them to facilitate – that he really has the most reason to wage war against Dracula out of everyone. There was something very unhinged and desperate about him by the time the bomb smoke had cleared, and it unleashed the hounds of speculation upon the audience as to just what he’d be prepared to do to beat his new arch enemy. For example, what would it be about, this war? Would it be about getting the girl back? Or would it be purely about revenge? Either motive would be sure to effect any of his future actions differently. Indeed, this makes very much for a significantly altered Jonathan – Harker 2.0 if you wish – and in all honesty, you’d have to say that his newfound unpredictability has the power to unleash considerable chaos, the likes of which even Dracula would have a time contending with.
Dracula: “I live in the darkness, but I yearn for the light…even though it burns. I want life.”
But it’s Lucy who I was most intrigued by. In all honesty, I really believed they’d go with portraying her going forward as a creature who’d struggle with her newfound vampiric condition. Instead the writers chose to make her pretty much the exact opposite. Rather than shying and coiling away from the monster Dracula made her, they made her new-found undeadness fit her like a glove tighter than one of Jayne’s bodices. The new Lucy is as dark a monster as had ever been revealed on the series to date, and there was something almost snake-like in her new demeanour that really has to make you think whether – out of nowhere – she might now pose a more considerable danger than we could ever have attributed to her before. Like Jonathan, she has been reborn in many ways into an entirely new character: the same snakes, shed into entirely different skins. New skins that which have utterly imbued them each now with a world of untapped value, as plot tools as much as core elements of the greater story. And if their changes are anything to go by, season two would have every chance of being as utterly unpredictable as they are.
A Paradise Lost is Found Again
Mina: “But how?”
Alexander: “I don’t know. I’ve asked myself that same question since I first laid my eyes on you.”
In truth, I was worried about the moment at which Mina and Alexander would finally give in to their feelings for each other. Would it be predictable (i.e. as soon as Jonathan was out of the road, would they just fall headlong into each other’s arms as though they had not each respectively spent the rest of the season laying in someone else’s)? Would it be a return to the sensual feast of Lady Jayne and Alexander, only with Mina in Jayne’s place? But we as the audience I think were given exactly the mixed ending we needed to keep the future interesting for these star crossed lovers.
Yes, they may have ended up finally together, but let us not forget that Mina still doesn’t actually know who or what Alexander truly is. She knows there’s something different about him, but ultimately she still has no idea about his true nature. In actual fact, she is really the only one now who remains clueless as to the greater picture, so season two would also hold the dark promise of things still going pear-shaped for them. After all, if season one of Dracula could be summed up in one sentence, it would be hard to say other than that it demonstrated that truth is as much a time bomb as it is the key to setting people free from the bondage of their secrets. And if the past ten episodes were all about that fuse getting lit, then who even knows the fallout we’d have awaiting us if the series got renewed.
Jonathan: “What can you tell me about Greyson?”
Van Helsing: “Everything you need to destroy him.”
It’s been rather an ordeal getting to the end of this first (and with any luck, after this finale, not the last) season of Dracula; basically everything about it has been an experience akin to being strapped into an exciting but randomly malfunctioning amusement park ride, and gosh has that ride been wild.
‘Let There Be Light’, though, was more than wild: it was breathtaking. From Tim Fywell’s directing, to the acting, to Cole Haddon’s storytelling, there was a lot to appreciate about this finale and a number of factors to consider as to what, arguably, made this episode the best we’ve seen this season.
This finale demonstrated a fresh fire and a hunger to succeed that would absolutely appear to have reignited interest and a good deal of speculatory discussion amongst fans and I think even the critics who would have abandoned the show to its end prior to this episode. What remains to be seen is whether that fire caused enough heat to make network heads to give Dracula another roll of the TV dice. For this reviewer’s part, she fervently hopes that ends up being the case.