Review: Penny Dreadful ep 2- Seance

Posted: September 25, 2014 in gothic, horror, television, victorian
Tags: , , , , , ,

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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