VAN HELSING – Thoughts on Episodes 5.1, 5.2, and 5.3 – SPOILERS
The first three episodes of VAN HELSING Season Five are really a spinoff mini-series in which Jack (Nicole Munoz) travels to eighteenth century Transylvania with the aim of preventing the rise of the Dark One. After being directed by Vanessa to a time portal, (the elder Van Helsing has somehow figured out how to make one of those) Jack jumps into a colourful vortex and lands on top of Florian (Matus Kvietik), an innkeeper in the fictional town of Abel, Transylvania circa 1775. Florian believes that Jack is a witch (the townspeople believe in witches, but not vampires, despite the area’s history) and she is quickly pilloried in the town square. (She escapes after the Sisterhood attacks the village.)
Count Dalibor von Dracula (Kim Coates) and his wife, the Countess Olivia (Tricia Helfer), are without children, but a midwife/nun named Michaela (yes that one) has miraculously caused Olivia to become pregnant. When Jack gets a look at Olivia’s portrait, she recognizes the the Dark One immediately and decides that Olivia, who is at this point entirely innocent, must be killed. (Olivia’s exceptional innocence and purity are why she was selected by Michaela for the ritual.)
The thing about going back in time to make some obvious alteration in the past like killing some very bad dude (e.g. Dracula) is that somebody else (probably quite a few other people) will have tried to do that same thing at some point in your future even if you are the first one to make the attempt. It is likely, therefore, that whatever present you started with is the result of all these attempted time corrections and is the best available, even if it seems terrible. Jack, who is a time travel novice, has apparently not thought this through, and assassinates Olivia at the first opportunity.
Michaela (Heather Doerksen) is not to be denied. She resurrects Olivia with a process that involves bathing the corpse in villagers’ blood — a thinly veiled reference to the alleged proclivities of Countess Elizabeth Bathory (1560-1614). In this version of history, however, the Bathorys are a Van Helsing-like family of vampire hunters who have come into possession of that amulet full of the Dark One’s blood the purpose of which (we find out) is to contain the Dark One’s darkness (at least in part). Someone banished the original Dracula to the Dark Realm using that amulet and other magical tools centuries previously. Eighteenth-century Bathory is eventually overwhelmed by the Dark One while allowing Jack time to escape. She is not killed, but instead becomes Dracula’s second bride (whom we met in Season Four).
Munoz is quite convincing as an assassin who is absolutely certain of her ideology and purpose, and the scene where she stabs Olivia and then apologizes to the dying Countess is exceptional. But the best scene comes when the Dark One, having inhabited the resurrected corpse of Olivia, discovers that, despite her desire to devour her child Christoph, she is unable to do so. Instead, she breast feeds the child, and remarks on the similarities between humans and vampires. Even after death, resurrection, and possession, something of the original Olivia remains.
Bathory’s second in command, Roberto (Dan Cade), Florian and his sister Alexandra (Sarah Arató) travel with Jack to the Atlantic coast so that Jack can embark on a voyage to the New World, where she would (it is presumed) be safe for a while from the Dark One’s retribution. The amulet (containing some of the Dark One’s smokey essence) and the reference book on vampires (which has been employed throughout the series by Vanessa) are left with Roberto and Alexandra, as is the child Christoph, whom they promptly rename Jack Van Helsing, making him the likely progenitor of all Van Helsings. (It seems likely that Jack sailed to the New World from The Netherlands and Roberto and Alexandra settled there, a place where the name would not be conspicuous.) This means that Drac/Olivia and all the Van Helsings are genetically related.
Helfer portrays Dracula as a sorceress for whom vampirism is a means to power. One might imagine that, were she to be cured of her vampirism, she would merely direct the possessed Olivia to find another source of power with which to achieve her dark ends.