Posts Tagged ‘dorian gray’

Season two. Episode 5

A close-up of Vanessa’s eye.  The camera pans out to showcase the profile of the doll made in her image.

Surrounded by her lifelike puppets, their faces aglow from candlelight, Mrs. Poole  nails something into the forehead of her latest (Malcolm’s wife) while chanting in the demonic tongue.

“Mother.” Hecate enters.  “Her hair.”

Mrs. Poole reaches to take the strands which Hecate has snatched from Vanessa.

“May I?” Hecate raises her chin, and her mother nods in amused pride.

The younger witch  saunters over to the doll of Vanessa, while Mrs. Poole returns to her own task.   Together, they intone over their respective works.

The chanting rises.

Gladys Murray bolts awake, screaming.

penny dreadful above the vaulted sky

Back at the manor, Ethan, Vanessa, Sir Malcolm, Ferdinand Lyle, and Sembene are gathered in the drawing room.  Realizing they know what their enemy wants, but not why, they agree to work every weapon, every superstition, every ritual to ward off the nightwalkers.

To a melodic score, the group begins to prepare the house against attack.

A witch appears in the mirror before Lyle.  He throws a black crepe over the glass.

Vanessa prays in her room, alone, until two other witches gather at her sides.   Feeling their presence, she runs to Ethan but then confesses to not being sure if they’d been real or just in her head.

“I wish I were going mad.  Then they could lock me away and cut out the madness.  Do you know the true path to freedom?  Open any vein.”

When Ethan insists she wouldn’t do that, she agrees bitterly that God has a plan.  Perhaps even to why Ethan has killed in the past.

“Whatever you’ve done,” she takes his hand. “I accept you.  We are together for a reason.”

Josh Hartnett as Ethan Chandler and Eva Green as Vanessa Ives in Penny Dreadful (season 2, episode 5). - Photo: Jonathan Hession/SHOWTIME - Photo ID: PennyDreadful_205_1753

Josh Hartnett as Ethan Chandler and Eva Green as Vanessa Ives in Penny Dreadful (season 2, episode 5). – Photo: Jonathan Hession/SHOWTIME – Photo ID: PennyDreadful_205_1753

Back at the loft, Frankenstein argues once again with his Monster.

“Enough.” John slams his hands down on the work table.  “I have lived with your evasions too long.  Don’t think I can’t look into your black heart and see the machinations laid bare!”

After the good ol’ Doctor tells him to get lost, Clare grabs him by the collar.  “Then you had a power, Frankenstein.  If you had only used it kindly, what a different story we would be telling…I will see her.”

Indeed, he goes upstairs to where Lily was busy reading.  As Frankenstein sits on the stairs, listening, John Clare tries to woo the reluctant woman.

“Ours is an exceptional history,” he tries, and there is a pitiful sadness as he recounts a false history.

“Let us start by being friends,” Lily offers.  “I can do no other.”

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During this long night, Gladys Murray continues to struggle, foam now forming at the corners of her mouth, while servants pin down her arms.  Elsewhere, Mrs Poole continues working upon her eerie doll, fresh blood running down its face.

Morning finally comes.

As Chandler makes his way down a busy London street, he is accosted by Inspector Rusk.  “Scotland Yard.  I’d like a few words if I may.”

Meanwhile, Frankenstein takes Lily out to dine where they come upon Vanessa.  Unfortunately, there is not even a flicker of recognition as Miss Ives greets the transformed woman.

lily and vanessa

Back at his office, the Inspector zooms in on the fact that Ethan had lived at the Mariner’s Inn. “There were many murders.  All guests have been accounted for.  Except for one Brona Croft, and one…Ethan Chandler.” The troubles started when Ethan arrived with his show, the Inspector notes.

“You’re a mystery.” And he wants to know Ethan’s real name…

#

While volunteering once more in the village struck by cholera, Vanessa again runs into John Clare.  “Do you know you share the name of a dead poet?”

“Yes.” He chuckles.  “Do you like poetry?”

“All sad people like poetry.  Happy people like songs,” Vanessa smiles ruefuly through one of the show’s most beautiful and elegiac lines.

“I’ve always been drawn to John Clare’s story,” he continues.  “He was only five feet tall.  Sort of freakish.  Perhaps due to this, he felt  a singular affinity with the outcasts and the unloved…the broken…” And the two continue to bond over the haunting lines of I Am.

“And how are we to navigate the waters when they are so alien?” He asks at one point.

“The sea is waiting for you.” She later offers her hand for a dance.  “Set sail.”

penny dreadful john and vanesssa

Dorian Gray paints the town with Angelique until they run into someone she stole money from in the past, and Sir Malcolm enjoys more time with Mrs Poole.

“I can honestly say I’ve never met a woman like you.”

“You have no idea.”

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“What’s damning you tonight?” Ethan teases Ferdinand back at the manor.

The older man sweeps his hand over the relics spread across the table.  “Here it is in Greek.  And in Latin.”

Lapus Dei,” Ethan reads. “The Hound of God.”

“I can’t endure dangling repetitions.  It’s like a poem waiting to be rhymed.”

#

Angelique comes to Gray in her masculine clothes, and recounts the years of pain she has suffered.

“Do you think I don’t understand what it is to feel different?”

“I think I’m tired, Dorian.  I’ve been fighting so long.”

“But you’re not fighting alone.”

Soon they are in each other’s arms as are Sir Malcolm and Mrs. Poole, and Chandler and Vanessa.

Gladys Poole awakens, grasping.  In her room are two headstones.  Upon them, the names of her children.

Hands reach out from below the floor.

Her children rise from out of the dirt.

Come.  They offer.

All goes silent in her room.

Thunder, however, pounds in Lily’s, and she runs to Victor for comfort…

#

An interesting contrast can be seen between John Clare and Angelique.  Both have suffered immeasurable pains due to physical masks.  But one wallows in that pain, while the other strives to enjoy life nonetheless.

During the first season, my only real complaint was the lack of emotion.  Everything looked and sounded great, but there was a disconnect with the characters. All that has changed this season. The relationship between Gray and Angelique is the most touching in a long time.  John Clare might annoy me, but he makes me care, and I’m rooting for him to grow as a person.

Also during season one, I felt averse against what I figured was the inevitable romantic pairing of Ethan and Vanessa.  Not a fan of these two must be together for no other reason than because they are the leads- a weak plot device used on too many programs  However, as tonight Josh Harnett and Eva Green sizzled together, I am  warming to the idea of them.

Ethan’s cowboyisms, Vanessa’s craftiness, Brona back from the dead, Frankenstein vs his creation, Gray and Angelique, Malcolm and Mrs Poole, the witches…am loving this season.

Til next time.

grand guignol

Sitting at a parlor table, Vanessa tells Sir Malcolm that the images she has recently seen took place in the theater in which she watched a play.  “I believe Mina is trying to get out.”

To this, Sir Malcolm responds he hopes this time they might be lucky.

“And if we are not?”

Sir Malcolm promises to try to save Mina- if not, he will end her suffering.

Understandably, Vanessa doesn’t seem convinced that he will be able to kill his own daughter.

“And will that bring you peace?”

“Don’t be foolish.  It doesn’t suit you.”   He rises, and before leaving the room, informs her to call in the others.

So thus begins the season finale of Penny Dreadful

It is only fitting the last episode should culminate at the Grand Guignol- that famous theater of bloody delights.  Right, the Victorians were sooo prudish.  Can we finally dispose of that myth once and for all?

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Mr. Gray comes by to see Miss Ives.  As he notices her tarot cards, he asks if she might tell his future.

“I’m not sure if you have one.”

“Everyone has a future.”

“No not everyone.” She studies him carefully.  “Some only have a past.”

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Chandler holds Brona’s hand as he prays for her.  When he leaves her home, he is followed by two men.  One of whom is told to be patient, to enjoy the hunt…

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Sir Malcolm comes across Madam Kali while shopping.  She who seems very interested in how Vanessa is doing… Now, of course, this might be natural curiosity.  After all, it’s not every day you see a woman become possessed and spew out obscenities at a dinner party…yet I’d wager a bet there is more to just that behind her questioning.  And when Sir Malcolm says he hopes to see her again, she replies that she is sure that they will.

Innocent flirting, or is there something cryptic behind those words?

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Meanwhile, Caliban is watching his favorite actress practice a scene with her boyfriend.  When he has trouble with the props, Simon threatens not work there anymore as long as the monster is employed.  While his anger at being left hanging from the rafters is understandable, his insults border on the abusive, and when Maude returns to apologize for the oaf’s behavior- and kisses Caliban’s forehead- I was definitely wondering if that accident might plant a murderous seed inside of him.

caliban and maude

However, the moment he walked into Maude’s dressing room, I correctly began to fear for her life.

“You shouldn’t be in here.”

“Simon does.”

Oh, so that gives you the right?  Uh huh…

It’s pretty obvious what is about to ensue.  And yup, within the next few moments, Caliban’s near sexual assualt becomes almost a murder when he nearly chokes her to death.   Thankfully, he possesses at least a tiny morsel of morality- and stomps away.

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Vanessa meets Dorian Gray at their botanical garden where she confesses there is a connection between them but it is too dangerous.  “That very intimacy released something unhealthy in me.  Something I can not allow.”  Gray, thinking she is merely afraid of her sexual desires tries to ease her fears, but she tells him goodbye.  As she walks away, he wipes a tear, which he looks at in wonder.

Vanessa and Gray

#

Caliban seeks refuge with Dr. Frankenstein who understandably refuses to forgive him for the murder of Van Helsing.  In a rare moment of self-reflection, Caliban notes his monstrosity has shifted from without to within.  “This shattered image only reflects the abomination that is my heart…I would rather be the corpse I was, than the man I am.”  He shuts his eyes, telling his father to pull the trigger which he cannot.

chandler and his hunters

Will the doctor come to rue this decision?

Before we can muse further upon this, Chandler arrives to say he needs his help and brings him to the dying Brona. As she admits her fears, the Doctor tries to reassure her that she’s only going to walk through a different door.  That there is a place between heaven and earth, a place of salvation but if she wants to go there, there is a price.  And as she stares at him in confusion, he lifts a pillow and smothers her breath.

“I’m sorry,” he says when Chandler returns to the room.  “It is over.”  And as Chandler breaks into sobs, he promises to take care of the body.

#

Poor Chandler doesn’t have much time to mourn before his hunters meet up with him at a tavern, announcing that his father misses him.

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While Chandler escapes from their clutches, he has no time to rest as he meets with Sir Malcolm, Sambene, and Vanessa.  Together, the group head to the theater.

Inside they are attacked by more of those blonde vampiresses who vanish when a male vamp is killed by Sir Malcolm.

“Vanessa.”

They turn as Mina comes out from hiding.

“Mina.”

The best friends embrace, but the joyous moment is short-lived.  Mina’s eyes darken and she twists Vanessa around.  “You’ve brought her to me.  Good job, father.”

When Chandler makes a move, she warns him not to try anything.  “You don’t have a role in this play.”

Sir Malcolm begs his daughter to remember who she is, but she insists this is who she was meant to be.  “You will understand when you join the Master.  When you all join him.  And now that he has his bride, they will sire generations.”

In a moment which shocks Vanessa, Sir Malcolm chooses her, after all.  Shooting Mina dead, he announces he already has a daughter.

Mina shot

Meanwhile, father Frankenstein brings Brona’s corpse to Caliban…

While Chandler unleashes his hidden self…

And Vanessa enters a church, seeking an exorcism.

final thoughts:

Much played out as I expected, which is fine. Just entertain me. I don’t need twists for the sake of twists. Surprises are fun, but let them be organic, not put into a script just to say, “gotya.”

And entertain, Penny Dreadful did.

Was this season all it could be? No, as mentioned, at times it did feel a bit too restrained, a bit too afraid to put that heart on the sleeve. But the acting, scripts, direction, and art direction was all top-notch and the show definitely captured the feeling of a Victorian Gothic.

– am disappointed to see Mina killed off so quickly. Definitely wanted to see more of her storyline. Seems a waste to end it so abruptly. But I suppose there’s always a chance she could be brought back, and the Master is still out there…

She’s still alive!- was my first thought upon seeing poor Brona in bed, coughing up blood. Luckily the dear is comforted by Chandler who comes and lies beside her. After she apologizes for her behavior the night before, he tells her, “I love you with all my heart.” I sat up at this, not only because I rather like the two as a couple, but because it is so rare to hear an actor express that sentiment so earnestly. Ever since the onset of talkies in which audiences giggled upon hearing their dashing heroes confess their love, screenwriters have been hesitant in its use; and when uttered, is usually downplayed or expressed in a joke-y sorta way. (think Hans and Leila in Star Wars) So kudos to Josh Harnett for going for that line with unapologetic feeling and making me believe.

chandler and brona what death
Now let us move on to Miss Ives, who, while reading tarot, once again hears Mina’s voice. As well as some screams and creepy chomping noises. Off she goes to Sir Malcolm to inform him that the cards have revealed something about a ship.

Meanwhile, Dr. Frankenstein is busy studying the bodies and movements of women for Caliban’s bride. His work is interrupted, however by Van Helsing who asks if he has ever heard of vampires. Once the doc answers in the negative, the good Professor pulls out a Penny Dreadful, and explains that while the author got his facts wrong, his story was still true. There is much more that Van Helsing wants to tell Frankenstein, but their conversation is interrupted by Caliban who in a fit of rage, breaks the former’s neck. How dare his father pause in his endeavors! Caliban will have none of that nonsense. He wants his lady and will kill anyone that Frankenstein cares about or who gets in the way of the work. I lost pretty much any sympathy for this “monster” the other week when he declared his bride must be beautiful despite hating how he is treated because of his own looks. Very different than Mary Shelley’s famous creation, this monster really lives up to his name. Frankly, the hypocritical dude is no different than the plethora of people who walk around believing they have suffered some unique breed of suffering which gives them the allowance to hurt and lash out at others.

helsing and frankenstein

Time to move away from that weasel and back to Brona who gives Chandler her St. Jude medal. The Saint of Lost Causes. I feel rather ghoulish that everytime that woman is on screen I muse on how and when she is going to die. Will she become Caliban’s chosen as I first suspected? That notion seems to be losing steam now that Caliban has eyes on a certain actress. Will she become a victim of The Master? Or, if Chandler is a werewolf, as has been hinted, would he turn her to save her life? There’s certainly much foreshadowing when Sir Malcolm later warns Chandler that once put on opiates to dull the pain, Brona “will cease to be who she is”.

Chandler lets that go for the moment as he, Sembene, and Sir Malcolm board a ship which the latter believes may be the one propheseid. Aboard, they search amongst the corpses and scurrying rats. Losing hope, Sir Malcolm declares that his daughter is not there. Cue several long-haired blonde vampiresses awakening. And once that fight is won, the real Mina, in the arms of The Master, reaches out for her father.

penny dreadful mina

While the men are sweating off vamps, Miss Ives is having her fun with Mr. Gray, and in the midst of orgasm hears a voice informing her that He has been waiting…

final thoughts: utterly fantastic epidode. All the scenes are long enough to possess depth, but none so long that any of the storylines drag. The writing was great, most notably the exchanges between Vanessa and Dorian Gray through the hall of portraits into bed, from their kiss to knifeplay.

There are enough questions to keep the viewer excited to turn the page onto the next ep, yet enough is known that one feels grounded.

– I do find it odd that no one at all is suspicious that Mina’s appeareances to Vanessa might be a ploy. I can understand Sir Malcolm and Vanessa being blind to such a thought, but wouldn’t Chandler and Sembene, from their comfortable emotional distance, at least acknowledge that possibility?

– hopes: Mina Harker is such a cool, strong, resourceful heroine in Stoker’s novel, that I certainly hope that her character is given justice here

The most sensual episode yet opens with Dorian Gray lazing on a chaise, watching his naked guests engage in an orgy.

All this is ho-hum, however, for the Mr. Gray. Bored, he leaves the party and wanders down a hall of mirror until he sits down in front of a painting which is shielded from the TV audience’s view.

Meanwhile, we turn to Vanessa Ives who is sitting outside of a cathedral. Her thoughts are interrupted by a little girl who questions why she does not go in. As Miss Ives does not answer this one is left wondering if she simply feels uncomfortable in religious instituions, or if she is not able to enter them.

girl and Vanessa outside church

The two characters, alone in their respective situations, later meet upon each other at a botanical garden. As Gray leads her through a greenhouse, he asks, in a daring way, for her to close her eyes and describe how a certain flower makes her feel. After she seductively inhales its scent, detailing how lovely, and inviting its bouquet is to her, Dorian happily informs her that the flower is the deadly nightshade.

vanessa and dorian flowers

The flirting and double entrendes between Gray and Ives contrast with the much more serious conversation spent between Chandler and Brona. After she reveals to him her abused past, he invites her for a night out.

In the highlight of the episode, the two couples run into each other at a performance of “The Transoformed Beast” at the Grand Guignol. As the back stagehands work the props, and the actors are gaily murdered on stage, we know something is going to happen soon. Soon….

And the questions abound. Why does the vampire, Fenton insist on referring to Vanessa, as “mother”?

What did Vanessa mean when she mentioned to Sir Malcom that she had once betrayed Mina?

These questions lingered as our main characters of tonight’s episode watch the play with much merriment.

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However, things take a darker turn when Brona is embarrassed to be recognized by Gray. Also, perhaps sensing some quiet attraction between Chandler and Vanessa, she storms off. When a bewildered Chandler chases after her, she laments that she is a lost cause and he’s basically screwing a walking corpse. Pissed off at the rotten hand she’s been dealt, she storms away, as a confused and hurt Chandler watches her go.

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The camera follows her along the bustling streets as her cough hits. She struggles through the crowds until at last she falls onto the ground.  In a scene more chilling than one filled with any literary monsters because it is too tragically real, she is ignored and left to die alone by the pedestrians who just keep on walking.

A lonely Chandler ends up at Dorian’s house later that night. The guest is offered his first taste of absinthe. After drinking down the green elixir, he is overcome by images of the women who were murdered, and of the woman who looked at him with suspicion as she mentioned, Jack the Ripper. As there have been several hints that our gunslinging American is a werewolf, one might wonder if he actually committed those crimes or fears that he did. My guess is the latter, but all that is put aside for the moment as the episode ends on a kiss.

final thoughts: As much as I really liked Brona (if she’s not dead yet, she certainly will be soon) and wanted to see how her relationship with Chandler might continue, I’m looking forward to her turn as The Bride of Frankenstein, as there is little doubt it will be her corpse that Frankenstein chooses for Caliban’s mate.

The only question on that front is, can Billie Piper scream like Elsa Lancheser?

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