Posts Tagged ‘penny dreadful’

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from the Bohemian Gothic Tarot: “A charming, energetic but somewhat feckless man (or boyish woman).  A man or woman of immense charisma, but who lacks commitment.   Emigration, making a major domestic or job move.”

darker or more hidden meaning: “Someone who loves them and leaves them.  A charming manipulator, particularly of the emotions of the opposite sex.”

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She walks in beauty, like the night
   Of cloudless climes and starry skies;
And all that’s best of dark and bright
   Meet in her aspect and her eyes;
Thus mellowed to that tender light
   Which heaven to gaudy day denies.”- from Lord Byron’s, She Walks in Beauty

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from the Bohemian Gothic Tarot:  “A creative, sensitive person.  An ‘arty’ type who can be quite impractical.  A great lover who tends to idealize the object of his (or her) affections.  An enthusiastic advocate for all creative and artistic endeavors.”

darker or more hidden meaning:  “A creative person whose energy is sometimes wasted in conflict and fighting.  A tendency to rush into things based on emotion rather than rationale.”

beatrix –  Gabriel Rossetti’s, Beata Beatrix.  Painting of the character of Beatrice from Dante’s Inferno, with the memories of his deceased wife, Elisabeth Siddal, serving as the model.

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from the Bohemian Gothic Tarot: “A fighter, who can be a great friend but an implacable enemy. An impetuous person who tends to leap right into things.  A leader with great energy and intelligence.”

darker or more shadow meaning: “A person who has to get his own way.  A person who abuses others.  Using intelligence to dominate and take control.”

“When you see a river, you must follow it to its source, no matter the perils, no matter those comrades that fall along the way. You must know how things work. You must unlock.”Sir Malcom from Penny Dreadful

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from the Bohemian Gothic Tarot: “Following a routine dutifully.  Reliable and trustworthy, but lacking in imagination.”

darker or more hidden meaning: “Obsessive compulsive disorder.  Feeling stuck, unable to move on.   Never losing your head, always being predictable and rather dull.”

 “Whatever happened to Lestat I do not know. I go on, night after night. I feed on those who cross my path. But all my passion went with her golden hair. I’m a spirit of preternatural flesh. Detached. Unchangeable. Empty.”- Louis from Anne Rice’s, Interview With the Vampire

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Sembene: You are required.

Victor Frankenstein: Let me fetch my bag.

Sembene: You will not need it.

Victor Frankenstein: What will I need?

Sembene: Courage.

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Sembene: “I have been much feared and hated in my life. By my people, by yours. These marks, mean I was a slave trader. It is my sin to live with, but in this house I have found kindness among the unkind. So have you. ”

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from the Bohemian Gothic Tarot: “Hanged Man: Illumination, spiritual enlightenment.  Self-sacrifice- for altruistic reasons.  Trying to see things from a new perspective- though it is hard.  Letting go of ego.”

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Ethan: Do you believe in God?
Sembene: I believe in everything.

… and I fell behind.  Much behind.  While I continued watching, and thoroughly enjoying the sophmore season of Penny Dreadful, I’ve been so caught up in a manuscript, that I didn’t have enough of a desire to write posts on our show of glorious horrors.   So forgive me for skipping to the end, because I do want to take a moment to discuss the season finale.

I won’t do a plot summary as there doesn’t seem to be a point in doing so after all this time.

But there are some key moments that are on my mind:

John Clare and Lavinia.  Anyone who has read my posts know I loathe Frankenstein’s monster.  Whatever name he takes on, however many Wordsworth poems he recites in that knowing and tender voice, he is always, always only concerned with self.  Everything is how it relates to him.  Some hurt him so now the world will pay, and  any woman who doesn’t swoon at his poetic yearnings will find herself at the wrong end of his  hands.  But Rory Kinnear has played him with perfection, always leaving me wanting to find the beauty within the monster.

In Lavinia, we discovered the monster inside the beauty.  As she mocked him, there was a sense that she was really seething, “You thought I must be pure and good because I am beautiful and blind.”

Many have wondered why he let her live.  A moment of kindness?  Or cruelty- knowing her life would become a hell?  I think it was because in that instance he saw himself in her.

We will probably not see either of them again.  Her fate on the cold streets of London can be imagined, as can his in that cold, dark sea.

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next post: an ode to Sembene

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from the Bohemian Gothic Tarot:  “Mourning and grief.  Sorrow and regret.  A psychological breakdown.  Feeling desolated.  Hitting an extreme low- but from here, things should get better.  Darker meaning: Anxieties about death. Coming to terms with a tragic event.”

Eva Green as Vanessa Ives in Penny Dreadful (season 1, episode 5). - Photo: Jonathan Hession/SHOWTIME - Photo ID: PennyDreadful_105_0418

Eva Green as Vanessa Ives in Penny Dreadful, Closer than Sisters

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from the Bohemian Gothic Tarot: “Weighed down by too much work.  Being burdened by too many responsibilities.   Darker Meaning: Trying to do far more than you should.  Feeling burdened by your sins and misdemeanors.”

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Sembene from Penny Dreadful

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from the Bohemian Gothic Tarot: “Being thankful and happy about the simple pleasures in life.  Enjoying your family and domestic life.   Darker meaning: A dysfunctional family.  A claustrophobic, oppressive aspect to your family life.  A child (or inner child) that is not being well cared for, this could be physical or psychological.”

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Vanessa, Mina, and Peter as children with Sir Malcolm in Penny Dreadful

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from the Bohemian Gothic Tarot: “Prosperity. Feeling content on the whole, but there’s a hint of a feeling that you’ve missed out on some of the magic in life.  Choosing material comfort over more spiritual or mystical pursuits.  Darker meaning: Willing to steep low for some material gain.”

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Dorian Gray from Penny Dreadful

 

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.

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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.

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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…

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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.”

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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.”

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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…

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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.

“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:

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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:
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“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…

*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).

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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.

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“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…

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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.

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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

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?

#

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.”

#

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…

#

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?

#

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.

#

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.

#

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…