Full of surprising turns and clever writing, “Blood Vessel” proves both that the first episode of Dracula wasn’t a fluke and that Gatiss and Moffat are a dynamite small-screen tag-team.
This recap of Dracula Season 1, Episode 2, “Blood Vessel”, contains spoilers.
I’m delighted to report that, in its second episode, Mark Gatiss and Steven Moffat’s unusual and energetic adaptation of Bram Stoker’s Dracula continues to impress. Situating itself aboard the ill-fated Demeter — the title of Dracula Episode 2, “Blood Vessel”, is the kind of pun I’m envious of — this second of three installments finds its inspiration not just in a small portion of Stoker’s novel but also something halfway between a confined Agatha Christie whodunnit and a slasher film. A good time is had by all, except I suppose the passengers aboard the Demeter, most of whom are enjoyable new creations.
Gatiss and Moffat steer this ship with fine writing that keeps the new characters — including Dr. Sharma (Sacha Dhawan), Grand Duchess Valeria (Catherine Schell) and Valentin (Clive Russell) — fresh and interesting and the reveals of Dracula Episode 2 clever and surprising. The reveal of Cabin Number 9 and a temporal twist to close the episode were particular highlights, but the high standards of interpersonal patter set by the previous episode remain, with both Claes Bang as Dracula and Dolly Wells as Agatha Van Helsing both really finding their sea legs here.
By moving the timeline forward, Dracula Season 1, Episode 2 presents a wealth of possibilities for the thus-far secretive third episode, and hopefully, the climax is able to sustain this level of quality and creativity. Some minor issues here, including the sidelining of these new folks in favor of the Count and Agatha, are minor, perhaps unavoidable niggles — beyond them, there is very little to complain about, and “Blood Vessel” proudly flaunted the kind of laidback escapism that is only sprung from masters of their craft. The superstar tag-team of Gatiss and Moffat is dynamite on the small-screen, and if they’re able to stick the landing here, 2020 will have kicked off on an unusual high.
Jonathon is the Co-Founder of Ready Steady Cut and has been Senior Editor and Chief Critic of the outlet since 2017.