Archive for September, 2014

After the breathtaking but perhaps too-rushed premiere, the second episode slowed down to a gorgeous andante. Just moving fast enough to keep things interesting, but slow enough to dwell deeper into the lives of the characters who inhabit this world.

Ethan is trying to drink away his memories of “Night Work” when he befriends Brona Croft, who later accepts a modeling job from the Byronic, Dorian Gray.

Ethan: Brona?
Brona: It’s Gaelic.
Ethan: What does it mean?
Brona: Sadness

penny dreadful seance bona and ethan

While this arc is certainly going to be pursued throughout the season, tonight’s episode centered on two other very emotional storylines.

Vanessa and Sir Malcolm attend a party hosted by Egyptologist Ferdinand Lyle in hopes to learn more about the mysterious hieroglyphics they discovered. But Lyle has other things in store for his guests, and what can be more fun at a Victorian party than channeling the dead? Enter Madame Kali. And then…to no surprise it is Vanessa who becomes possessed. By no other than Malcom’s son. In what could have been just an over-the-top, campy scene of a staid 19th century woman writhering and screaming out obscenities, becomes something much more as she (channeling the son, Peter) berates the grief-stricken father for a series of sins he has supposedly committed.

penny dreadful seance scene

An electricity sizzles between Vanessa and Sir Malcolm. Not a sexual one, but of one between two persons who understand each other’s secrets. The African hunter is haunted by his past, while Miss Ives has likely been fighting real demons within her for some time.

The other main storyline takes us to Victor Frankenstein and the being he has brought back to life. No “monster”, this creation is a thinking, sensitive man from the start. “Victor, what am I?” Realizing his newborn needs a name, the doctor takes out a large tome. “My mother taught me many things. Among the most useful is that one must always have Shakespeare at hand.” Thereby the other flips the pages until his finger rests upon Proteus.

A father and son relationship begins to develop as Victor takes Proteus out for the first time to show him the world. A world full of lights and noises and bustling people and carriages rushing by. Of strung animals and sweet apples and fires and dirty children and working women.

It is a much different Frankenstein from the one we know from literature, the one who abandoned his creation because of how he looked.

Which makes the surprising end all the more tragic.

penny dreadful victor and proteus

favorite quote of the ep: “Man does not live only in the empirical. We must seek the ephemeral, or why live?”- Victor Frankenstein

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Netflix has come to Germany, and with it a show I’ve been eager to dive into.

How could i not be excited to watch a show whose name is adopted from the lurid pulp fiction serials so popular amongst the sensation-hungry Victorians?

Gothic Horror, Victoriana, silks and lace….I’m there!

And a grimly lit macabre opening propels us right into this world.

Next day, American gunslinger Ethan Chandler, is offered a job by the mysterious Vanessa Ives.  “Do you believe there is a Demimonde, Mr. Chandler?  A half world between what we know and what we fear?” she asks him.

Episode 101

It turns out that she (a devoutly religious tarot reading woman who might not be fully human) and her partner, Sir Malcom Murray, an African Explorer need help in finding his missing daughter, Mina. Through a funereal opium house they search, coming not upon his daughter, but monsters stemming from the darkest of nightmares.

While it is unclear how long Ives and Murray have been aware of these creatures haunting London, it is evident they definitely know more people are needed in the fight against them. Thus, soon into their fold, the remarkably bold and innovative, Victor Frankenstein, is invited.

The pilot episode is superbly shot, as darly delicous as any Victorian Gothic should be. Boasting divine set designs and costumes, as well as a top-notch cast, it is a welcome beginning.

Yet while all the main ingredients were present, a certain soul or heart was missing. In short, the opener was like a sundae missing the whipped cream and cherry on top. So while I can’t bestow the highest lavish praise upon it, I look forward to what the show can become.

Episode 101