Posts Tagged ‘monster’

“Your first born has returned, father.”

And so ended the second episode of Penny Dreadful.

penny dreadful victor and monster

Not suprisingly, we are now shown the flashback of how Doctor Frankenstein created his monster.

Unlike Mary’s Frankenstein whose wish to create life stemmed from scientific ambitions, this version of the doctor is driven by loss.

A young boy, his beloved dog has recently died, and his mother is painfully (and bloodily) wasting away from tuberculosis. The distraught Victor wonders why dying is not beautiful as it is in the world of the Romantic poets.

“Death is not serene,” he later says at his mother’s funeral.

Back to present time, the monster reels off about hs birth and immediate desertion. “Was every newborn abandoned at birth? Is this what life was?” And so goes his memories of learning about people by staring out the little window, and reading  his father’s books.  Wherefore, he scoffs at Victor’s romantic sensibilities. “We live in a time of steam ships. Did you really think I’d see eternity in daffodils?”

Spurred to join the world that he’d only glimpsed at, the monster left his safe haven and traveled.  Whereby, he was met with cruelty and abuse until befriended by an aging actor who secured him a job working behind the stage at the Grand Guignol. The monster, now called Caliban, muses of how night after night the actors died, only to be reborn the next.

Caliban found some level of friendship and acceptance in the world of theater, yet coveted the one thing he knew would always be unattainable.

“I want an immortal mate,” he now tells Victor.

Meanwhile, Sir Malcolm, perturbed from the incidents from Seance, is met by Vanessa who infroms him that they must find Mina after she sees a vision of the girl.

“You must save me.”

Mina and Vanessa

The pair are joined by Chandler who needs a job in order to purchase medicine for Brona’s worsening illness.

Off they go to the zoo where instead of finding Mina, they manage to capture another poor soul who has become a slave to the “master”.

penny dreadful zoo

Sir Malcolm calls upon Victor to see about finding a cure for the young man (to hopefully be used on his daughter one day). The doctor is none too pleased, warning that when you create a life, or a new version of life, you are responsible for it.

final thoughts: Due to the lack of immediacy, it is difficult, by nature, to make flashbacks exciting. Yet, they can be a great technique in revealing character’s histories and motivations. Unfortunately, for most of this episode, it felt like the writers merely wanted to bring the viewers quickly up to speed so they could turn the page onto the next episode. While the acting continues to impress, the writing was akin to, “and this happend. And then this happened.”

While I commend the writers for being confident and taking their time with the storytelling, it is imperative not to forget the importance of emotionally bonding your audience.

Episode two had more of the heart I felt missing in the premiere.  Let’s hope this was a mere slip.  Bring on episode four!

nitpick: The teasing of the probably inevitalbe romance between Vanessa and Chandler.  *yawn*.  Perhaps this is subjective, for I really like his relationship with Brona.  They come from similar worlds, they understand each other, have a friendly, easy rapport, and respect for each other.  In real life, that’s what tends to make lasting relationships.  However in Hollywood, such realism is too often shoved out the door for forced upon romances of opposites.

Not that people from different backgrounds and/or contrasting personalities, can’t and don’t find true love with each other in real life, but too often in films it is just a lazy trope of sorts.  And really, the main male and main female don’t always have to get together.  Seriously.

“How is it that two of the sweetest women I know, write horror?” A great friend sputtered not so long ago to me.
“And we’re both vegetarians, to boot!” I joked back.

Though my friend was teasing (a writer, herself, she’s well-aware of such fallacies), the stereotypes of writers of certain genres certainly does exist amongst some, perhaps even much, of the general population. No doubt that many who read my stories would envision a female- Carmilla-pale, sheathed in black, dark and broody by nature.

So what did drive me towards horror? Is it the sign of Scorpio placed in the North Node of my chart? The North Node indicating a soul’s purpose in this incarnation? It is said of such people that we are the “truth tellers”. We see through the superficialities of societal masks, and dive deep into the murkiest swamps to discover the hidden treasures beneath. We hear the beauty in Discordia. With the ability to see the wounded child behind the adult’s coldened eyes, it might be little wonder that those with such a placement in our charts are often drawn to becoming healers in the psychiatric fields.

Is it Lilith placed in the fifth house of my chart? Lilith, the first woman, who positioned there, inspires one to create authentically, without self-censorship.

For horror writers must often venture into those uncultivated forests of the mind, those same wilding paths that most avoid. Yet, to explore darkness, to have a love of the fallen and forbidden, does not equate to possessing a gloomy and depressed psyche. Rather, it is the ability and desire to understand, even if not necessarily condoning certain actions.

It is ability to find beauty in the most unexpected of ruins.

While a lot of horror stories deal with twisted, even disturbing subjects, they often are the least cynical or nihilistic. More often than not, good triumphs over evil. And even those with tragic endings often also leave glimmers of hope and of newfound understandings. Who did not pity Frankenstein’s monster- despised and abused from birth- until he allowed himself to be swept away by those waves?

Robert McCammon said in an interview, “There are scenes in all of my books which are over the top in terms of violence, of gore. But that is not the core and crux of the work. The core of the book will always be the human element. I want to tell a human story about a person’s journey through a forbidding or threatening world.”