In 1897 an English lawyer named Jonathan Harker (John Heffernan - Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell (2015) ) is recouperating in a Hungarian convent. He is interviewed by a nun named Sister Agatha ( Dolly Wells ), who turns out to be a cynical atheist who wise-cracks like a character from Buffy the Vampire Slayer (1997) .
Harker recounts the tale of what happened when he traveled to Transylvania. His host, Count Dracula (Claes Bang - The Girl in the Spider's Web (2018) ), goes through stages where he seems reminiscent of previous versions of the character. When first introduced he is old and withered, like Gary Oldman in Bram Stoker's Dracula (1992) . Later, as he gets stronger and Harker gets weaker, he is more like Christopher Lee ( Dracula (1958) ). Harker is reduced to the level of Renfield in the original.
The writer (Mark Gatiss - League Of Gentlemen's Apocalypse ) is a horror buff with vast knowledge of the field. He incorporates many scares from classic films, and yet manages to make the old story new and refreshing.
This follows the same format as the previous episode. The bookend scenes feature a man talking with Sister Agatha ( Dolly Wells ), while the main story is told in flashback. This time the man is Dracula himself, and the story is his trip to England aboard the Demeter.
The wide ethnic mix of the passengers includes Mr Adisa (Nathan Stewart-Jarrett - Misfits ), who is accompanying his closeted gay lover. Another familiar face is the Grand Duchess Valeria ( Catherine Schell ). They get picked off one at a time, in a murder-mystery where the audience knows all along who the killer is. And unlike the TV show Columbo, we know the killer must get away with it because he will be in the next episode.
Dracula finally sets foot on English soil. However, it is now the year 2020. Pergaps this was done to differentiate this version from the others, or maybe it was just done because the budget had run out.
Dracula falls into the hands of Doctor Van Helsing and the Harker Foundation. He is delightfully cynical. He comes from a time not just before Womens' Rights, but from before the idea of human rights in general. Van Helsing has inherited her power, something that he approves of as an aristocrat.
It turns out that Dracula has a lawyer. Frank Renfield (Mark Gatiss - League Of Gentlemen's Apocalypse ) finally makes his appearance - both the character and the actor have been much awaited.
Dracula has the means and opportunity for world domination. Unfortunately he would rather waste his time chasing after Lucy Westerna.
The climax of each previous episode was large-scale and big-budget. This time it is smaller and understated, relying on dramatic tension between well-established characters rather than spectacle and explosions. Van Helsing and Seward go to confront Dracula in person, but he has a surprise for them.