Archive for May, 2015

“And then?”
“They burnt her alive.” The fourth episode of the sophmore season begins as Vanessa finishes the tale she began in last week’s, The Nightcomers. However, now Dr.Frankenstein, Sembene, Ferdinand Lyle, and Sir Malcolm have joined the previous solo-audience of Ethan.
“We have to find out what these things are,” Ethan not-so-sagely concludes.
“Yes. They’re witches. Understood,” Dr. Frankenstein interrupts. Since Penny Dreadful may be accused of taking itself a bit too seriously from time to time, this moment of very subtle, natural humor was much appreciated.

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“Witchcraft has a long history in many cultures, Doctor,” the dandyish Ferdinand Lyle puts in, making one wonder if he is trying to throw them a hint, as he can’t be pleased being under the control of Miss Poole.

As the group gathers around the table to continue trying to put together the pieces of artifacts they have gathered, Ferdinand tells them, “It is not so much a language as a collection of known languages. Old languages forming new patterns.”
“Found us to be evil angels so He cast us out,” Ethan deciphers with his knowledge of Latin.
“It is not just a story,” Ferdinand nods. “It is an autobiography. The memoirs of the devil.”

After the group disperses, Vanessa returns to the foyer to find Sembene sitting on the stairs. “Watching those things that hunt at night. Lions.”

She turns from him and wanders away.

Night. Bartholomew Rusk begins to investigate the murder of the couple whose baby was kidnapped by Hecate.
“We’ve been going about this all wrong,” he realizes. “We’re pursuing patterns of logic when the answer lies elsewhere.” In magic.

Meanwhile, Oscar Putney continues plans for his freak show. Down in his cellar, John Clare and Lavinia get to know each other while studying the masks.
“Father’s murderers. All those figures screaming in his new crime scenes. Ah, Mr. Clare, it hurts me to create them. Like I’m bringing them to life and then torturing them. Like some sort of terrible African Voodoo doll.” Of which the now-changing Clare reveals he no longer believe life is all about suffering.
Indeed, she agrees, “there is hope for you, anyway.”

Outside, the newsman waves his papers. “All murders on the underground. Read about it!” Ethan grabs a copy while being watched by the three witches. And then a certain Hecate makes her move:

chandler-and-hecate

Elsewhere in London-

“Honestly, Doctor, this is the last thing I expected.” Vanessa laughs as she assists good ol’ Frankenstein as he clothes shops for his “cousin”, Lily.

Hecate (she claimes named by her classics-loving parents, and holding a degree in botany) flirts with Ethan and thinks she has him enthralled until he accuses her of being sent to spy on him by his father.

Gray takes Angelique out for a night at the Gossima Parlour.
“Electrical lights,” she laughs. “What it does to a girl’s complexion.”
“Shall we keep score?” Gray asks as they settle to play a game of table-tennis.
“Why else live?” The other arches a brow.

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“He could smell me,” Hecate later explains to her mother on why she could not hook Ethan.

“Then we shall fight him tooth for claw. I’ll prepare the enchantment for tonight.”

Back at the loft:
penny dreadful evil spirits frankenstein and lily

“So women wear corsets so they don’t over-exert themselves.” -Lily to Frankenstein.
“Yes.”
“What would happen if they did?”
“They would take over the world.”

As the two flirt over the issue of gender equality,back at the mansion Lyle and Malcolm continue to try to further deciper the relics.

“You’re enjoying this, aren’t you?” The former teases. “Now that you’ve given up the Nile, you need a new quest.”

And he further tries to lightheardly warn Malcolm away from Miss Poole. “You might proceed with precaution, eh?…Those little dalliances can get so Byzantine.”

“If we can accept the Devil walks amongst us today,” Sir Malcolm later surmises to his group, “we must conclude this is part of an ongoing story.” Foretelling a future, mostly Vanessa’s…

and then the house is invaded by the three witches…

And thus ended this lively episode. In contrast to last week’s darkly atmospheric Nightwalkers, tonight was a fun-romp through London.  From Vanessa’s lighthearted shopping spree with the Doctor to Gray’s date with Angelique, to Ethan figuring out Hecate, yet not figuring out Hecate, there was a large feeling of lighthearted play.
Kudos to the heads of casting. Along with the main cast, all the actors in the supporting roles are performing briliantly.

favorite lines: “Whatever we can imagine, far worse is true.”- Doctor Frankenstein

“No sensible shoes now, Mr. Chandler.”- Hecate

fun little tidbit: Vanessa always eats dessert for breakfast. A gal after my own heart!

Questions:

-Sembene! Sembene! Sembene!

– might Hecate really fall for Ethan?

– and is she tired of being under her mother’s total control?

– why did she claim that she was named after a sea goddess, and not a moon goddess as Vanessa later corrects to Ethan? Surely she had to figure that Ethan might also have known that fact, and have read Macbeth… It seems a rather stupid, unnecessary lie.  Was it only thrown in as plot convenience so our people could quickly come up to speed?

– when will Vanessa meet Cousin Lily?

– Does Angelique have ulterior motives when it comes to Gray? Probably. But I think it would be a nice change if she didn’t…

til next week…

empress

from the Bohemian Gothic Tarot:  “The Empress: Motherhood and maturity.  All things natural.  The cycle of birth, growth, death, and rebirth.  Being at one with nature.

shadow meaning: Acceptance that death, as well as birth, is part of the entire natural cycle. Trying to control nature.  Poor, uncaring parenting.”

The Empress.  The Earth, and Dark Mother.

As a new parent one might spend time lurking at boards, picking up tips here and there.  Baby having trouble getting out those dastardly burps?  fennel tea!  And one might pay closer attention to oft- parroted sayings.

My children are my life!”

Normally this would go in one of my ears and straight out the other.  But now it stayed and vexed and I was left wondering why.  Surely, this was a loving, innocent statement.  Nothing to brew about.  And it’s certainly not my beeswax if others think this way.

But as I pondered the statement further, I realized I just didn’t like the implications (real or imagined) behind the words.  Because, no.  He’s not.  I had my own life before him, and continue to now.  My dreams and desires and pursuits continue.  He is the most amazing, awesome, joyful part of my life.  He’s the whipped cream and cherry on top the sundae.  But we are separate entities.  Never do I want to be the kind of person who lives vicariously through their child. That wouldn’t be fair to me.  Nor to him.  He is an autonomous being and he has the right to his own dreams and desires and pursuits.  And yes, the right to his own mistakes and failings, too.

*A Reading for a woman who wanted some more insight into her husband’s health as he prepared to undergo testing.*

Using my Bohemian Gothic Tarot, I pulled three cards: The Empress, Nine of Wands, and Seven of Pentacles.

bohemian gothic tarot empress

bohemian gothic tarot nine of wands

bohemian gothic tarot seven of pentacles

So we’re dealing with nature, the cycles of birth, life, death, and rebirth. Using courage to get through a Situation. Contemplation. Looking back at what you have successully completed before moving forward.

All this pointed to a time of a change for *John* (name changed)

As the shadow side of the Empress can mean acceptance of physical death, I wanted to make sure we were just dealing with normal change/transformation and not the biggest kind. Therefore, I took out my Russian Gypsy Fortune Cards. Most importantly, I did NOT pull the hearse or anything at all of a negative nature.

Two pictures formed once the cards were shuffled. The Heart and the Angel. *John* would be surrounded by love, and protected by a heavenly presence.
russian gypsy heart

russian gypsy angel

Using the information from both decks(and my intuition) I concluded that I thought whatever *John* was going through was not life threatening and he would get through his health problem with the support of his loved ones and spiritual helpers; as well as using his own courage to do so.

*Spoilers may follow*

“What is wrong?” Ethan asks of Vanessa after spotting the blood left on the floor from Verbis Diablo


As Vanessa begins to tell her story to him we are brought back to the time in which Mina had gone missing. In order to find out why she is, as she is, Vanessa has traveled to the West Country to speak with the infamous  Cut- Wife (Joan).

nightwalkers vanessa and joan

Unfortunately, her introduction is marred with crass-to-be-crass dialogue, and an overly dramatic performance by Patti Lupone.   As the character kept spitting out venom and turning to Vanessa for a reaction, it brought to mind a teen trying to shock their parents by leaving  The Satanic Bible open on the kitchen table, or making sure they’re caught while acting out scenes from the works of the Marquis de Sade.

Vanessa wasn’t buying it.  Neither did I.

Once Cut Wife stopped jamming her fingers into Vanessa’s forehead and lifting her up from the ground by her crotch, she calmed down enough to allow our gal to come inside her fetish-filled witch hut.

“Who marked you?” She wants to know of the pentacle branded in Joan’s skin.  When the other will not respond, the answer comes to Vanessa, herself.  “Someone you kissed once.  A woman.  A sister?”  “Your sister.” She looks to the witch.  “If I am right, let me stay.”

At that, Joan brings out a tarot deck and orders Vanessa to pick a card.

The Devil.

“When you understand the major arcana, you can hear the echoes of time in your ear,”  Joan explains the next day as they walk through the morning forest. “They’re never always as they seem.”  Words which certainly describe the characters who populate Penny Dreadful.

penny dreadful vanessa and joan

“And what do they mean?”

“You’ll learn.” And she has Vanessa describe her impressions of the Devil Card.

“A dark lover.  Part of yourself, but not.  The whispers of something ghastly and beautiful.”

Later, Joan warns Vanessa she is in danger.

“From what?”

“Legions.” Vanessa is a terrible woman, she insists, and like attracts like. “I felt you every step across the moor. And they felt you, too.”

Nighttime.

As they sit discussing Vanessa’s hopes in saving Mina, Joan feels a stir. She warns the other to stay seated while she takes a look. In a fantastic shot, three witches stand outside underneath the crooked branch of a tree. Behind, the landscape evokes the isolation of Caspar David Friedrich.

Helen McCrory as Evelyn Poole in Penny Dreadful (season 2, episode 3). - Photo: Jonathan Hession/SHOWTIME - Photo ID: PennyDreadful_203_2785

Helen McCrory as Evelyn Poole in Penny Dreadful (season 2, episode 3). – Photo: Jonathan Hession/SHOWTIME – Photo ID: PennyDreadful_203_2785

Joan greets one. “Sister.”
“Sister,” Miss Poole replies.

She has come for the Master will not be denied the woman he seeks the most, and warns the Cut-Witch that she can’t protect Vanessa forever. “Your bones are brittle. Do you really want this to be your last battle?”

“It is the only battle,” Joan spits back.

She and her sister once followed the old ways as “daycomers” until the devil tempted Miss Poole with promises of youth, beauty, love, and power. The coven followed her and cast out Joan when she would not join them in their midnight arts.

“You know them,” she now says to Vanessa. “All those midnight things.”

And it is a good thing that Vanessa does indeed know these midnight things, for Miss Poole and her witches will be coming back…

#

At the conclusion of the episode, I wasn’t sure how I felt, and still don’t. Some of the dialogue was over-the-top, and some didn’t make any sense character-wise. “They come to me so I can kill their babies.” “You’re here so I can kill your baby, right? Okay. Lie down on the floor.” That’s terminology that someone against abortion would use. Not words a wisewoman or “cut-wife” performing the procedure would.

The mentor/student relationship between Joan and Vanessa came across very stereotypical and contrived.  Of course crusty ol’ Joan allows Vanessa to stay and decides to help her even though she pretty much knows doing so will be the death of her.

The plot was paint by the numbers and quite derivitive.

YET, I loved the mood and atmosphere evoked throughout. The Salem-y bleakness mixed with the lustiness of a Hammer Horror film.

The landscape felt like a character, itself.

Helen McCrory shined in another captivating perfomance. And
her witches beguile even while remaining silent in the background…

While some lines of dialogue were ridiculous, the episode was also filled with some exquisite lines.

With a little bit of help from Shakespeare: “I felt you every step across the moor. They felt you too. They’ll be here soon. I felt you walking to my door. Felt you standing there. By the pricking of my thumbs something wicked this way comes.”

Hopes:

– while this is unlikely, I’d love a flashback episode of Miss Poole and Joan set back in the days when the devil came between them…

Questions:

– How long will it take Vanessa to realize who Miss Poole is?

and how long will it take her to open the Poetry of Death?

– Why does Miss Poole’s master desire Vanessa so much?

*spoilers may follow*

After last week’s events, Vanessa is not faring well and she goes to Sir Malcolm for support. He, in return, suggests she go with him to a place which always gives him some peace. While doing charity work isn’t probably really helpful in keeping one’s mind off the fact that supernatural monsters are after them, it is an effective way for the writers to show Vanessa coming face to face with our dear self-involved Caliban.

She offers our Caliban (now going by the name, John Clare) soup, and they are soon conversing on the the nature of paganism vs christianity. After she asks him about exaltation, he quotes from Augories of Innocence.

“No offense to Blake,” she smiles, “but I see no wildflowers here.”

“Then you are not looking closely enough.”

A nun calls her back to work, and she leaves, pondering his words.

Sir Malcom takes Miss Poole (who now looks delightfully amusing with her tight up-do and high-collared dress) for a round of target shooting.

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Brona awakens in the loft. Her memory gone, she is told by Victor that her name is Lily, and they are cousins who grew up together.

“Who was that strange man?” she asks of John Clare.

“He was your intended.”

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While “the bride” didn’t scream Elsa Manchester-style at John, it is easy to assume that things will not go well if she and Victor act out their obvious attraction for each other.

Ethan and Ferdinand Lyle visit the British Museum where it is revealed that the former knows Latin.

“The hounds will protect,” he reads from a family heraldic symbol.

“The wolves will protect,” Ferdinand corrects.

penny dreadful ethan and lyle

Dorian Grey makes his season two debut as he enounters the beguiling “Angelique”.

And Hecate kills a mother and father and brings their baby home to Miss Poole who ends the episode in a seriously creepy doll-infested room.

episode highlights:

-Vanessa’s thoughtful conversation with John

-Miss Poole playing mind games with Sir Malcolm

– that room!

questions:

– Is Ethan connected somehow to the family whose heraldic symbol was found?

– will Angelique play any real part in the story or was this just another quick sex scene thrown in for Grey’s character?

Rare snark moment:

– The reveal that Sir Malcolm likes going to cholera-infested towns because they help give him peace of mind.  If others’ sufferings don’t make you feel serene…

hopes: that Reeve Carney is soon given more to do. Sex is a great and lovely thing, but the actor is too talented, and the character too rich, to be reduced to nothing but a boy toy.

– criticism:  the transformation of Brona into Lily.  Rather than appearing like one returned from the dead, she appears like she just got back from a boring day of shopping at the Victorian version of the Gap.

Overall: While not a particularly exciting episode, it is a solid one which flows seemlessly with some very good moments throughout.

*SPOILERS MAY FOLLOW*

And we’re back! Season two of Penny Dreadful has commenced. Time to pour a glass of wine, grab some lovely rich chocolate, and curl up on the sofa.

Fresh Hell unwrapped quietly, its pace slow and thoughtful until its captivating ending. A coven of satanic witches!

We are first treated to Vanessa, who, while taking a winter wonderland stroll, is assaulted by a vision sent by Madame Kali. penny dreadful fresh hell vanessa insnow Later, as she and Ethan take a carriage ride, she is further bothered by his announcing plans to leave London. Feeling helpless over recent events he is going to find a war “somewhere” and “pick a side.”

“What about the war here?” she asks.

“Mina’s dead. We lost.”

But only the battle, she insists. And furthermore, “Do you think the dark forces that converge in our heads can be vanquished so easily?”

After she makes reference to the demons inside of her, he confesses to his violent blackouts. Yet when she offers her assistance, he backs off. “You can not change what you are. No matter who you save, or who you love.”

Before she can press upon this, their carriage is attacked and rolls over. As they struggle to sit up, the door opens and a ghastly white creature threatens Vanessa in an infernal tongue, and are saved only by Vanessa’s demonical retort.

The driver and horses are not so lucky. And as she and Ethan take in the carnage, they are watched by three witches.

Shaken by the incident, Vanessa asks of Sembene, “Do you think the past can return?”

“More than that. It never leaves us,” he replies. Penny-Dreadful-Season-2-Sembene-590

Meanwhile, Sir Malcolm meets with his estranged wife at the graves of their son and daughter.

“Putting an empty coffin in Peter’s grave…I don’t know what makes me sadder. Mina’s full coffin or Peter’s empty one,” she says.

With a face and voice painted with regret, he asks that they get back together. “We were once happy.” Yet she understandably refuses. “We have no more children for you to save. Or to kill.” And she departs, leaving him alone with his penitence.

Back in his loft, Frankestein continues working on The Bride for Caliban. The latter, who, nabs a job at a wax museum where the owner is working on creating a series of displays based on real life murders.

The doctor’s work is interrupted by Ethan who insists he come and look over Vanessa who has refused to leave her room. After a quick examination, she reveals that the language spoken between herself and one of the assaulters had been the Verbis Diablo, (a corruption of angelical speech according to lore). Furthermore, she does not actually know what she sputtered.

Sir Malcolm wants to learn more about this mysterious language to discover what Vanessa actually said. She, naturally, per usual, insists no one can help her. “This battle is one I must fight on my own.”

Which brings us to Madame Kali who enjoys a bath Elizabeth Bathory-style. “And if you kiss my cold gray lips…your days, they won’t be long,”she sings. penny dreadful fresh hell madame kali bath

After finishing her bloody ablutions, she gathers round her coven. There, she states her disillusionment over the events of the previous evening. Yet her mood swiftly changes upon learning that Ethan is a lupus die. “So our task is made yet more daunting. Meaning we shall have to be yet more ingenious. We shall have to employ strategems.”

Ethan shall be her daughter Hecate’s challenge.

She will go after Vanessa. “The Master will not be denied his prize.”

“The prize” has locked herself in the meditation room. There she cuts her finger and with the blood creates a veve-like drawing upon the floor. Hearing distorted voices, she raises her eyes toward the crucifix hanging upon the wall.

Cut to Madame Kali who smears blood upon her forehead while insisting to Lucifer, “I shall assault her days and her nights…I will not fail you.”

Helen McCrory as Evelyn Poole in Penny Dreadful (season 2, episode 1). - Photo: Jonathan Hession/SHOWTIME - Photo ID: PennyDreadful_201_4531

Helen McCrory as Evelyn Poole in Penny Dreadful (season 2, episode 1). – Photo: Jonathan Hession/SHOWTIME – Photo ID: PennyDreadful_201_4531

And thus ends the first episode of season two.

Hopes: That this delicious set up between Vanessa and Madame Kali has a more satisfying “last battle” than the first season ender with its too-hurried climax, and its sad waste of Mina.

Question: Will we begin to learn about Sembene’s history?

Episode Highlight: Helen McCrory’s spellbinding performance during the coven gathering scene.

criticism: Madame Kali killing one of her witches for…what? Failing a mission? Daring to ask for a second chance? Why do writers of these kind of shows so often resort to this? We know these are the baddies, or at least, the antagonists. We don’t need it shoved into our faces, “look how wicked they are! They will even kill their own!” Furthermore, why should their followers be so happy to be part of their coven/group/whatnot if they constantly have to worry about being thusly discarded for blinking the wrong way? It has often been said that no one thinks of themselves as evil. “Baddies” have their own motivations, and unless their batshit crazy, it makes no sense for them to erratically dispose of people who have joined them in their cause.

praise:

Solid acting all around.  Of the main cast, Eva Green especially continues to shine with her fire and ice performance

Directing- with so many shows employing breathless storytelling and quick shots, Penny Dreadful is a welcome change in its willingness to take its time.  It teases and entices, and it pulls you in.

art direction and fashion design:  Madame Kali’s memento mori-filled house