TV Review – Penny Dreadful Episode Four “Demimonde”

Episode 4 of Penny Dreadful is entitled “Demimonde.”  A quick search on the internet (specifically Wikipedia) will tell you the definition is “a group of people who live hedonistic lifestyles, usually in a flagrant and conspicuous manner.”  The opening scene is certainly an example as Dorian Gray (Reeve Carney) delights in carnal pleasure in his hall of portraits.  After his guests are gone, he enters a secret passageway that leads to his infamous portrait.  The hallway to the portrait is made up of mirrors, so that he can gaze upon what he has created.  We do not get to see the portrait, but it is large, and the scene ends with Dorian sitting down to look at what he has become, not a reflection of his outward appearance.

The episode is the most un-exciting one yet.  It focuses on relationships; those of friendship, work, family, love, and infatuation.  Almost every single major character is in this episode, and we get to delve into their lives a bit more intimately.  It does not keep focus on any particular relationship more than others.

Vanessa Ives’ (Eva Green) becomes more interested in Dorian, to the point of following him to a botanic garden and then just happening to be at the same theatre as him that very night.  Even Vanessa and all her dark and mysterious talents are not immune to a boy crush.  She wants him bad, but she may also be drawn to him because of his own mysterious talents, unbeknownst to her at this point.

Penny Dreadful Season One Episode Four TV Still 1

Brona Croft (Billie Piper) makes an appearance as she is whisked away for a date with Ethan Chandler (Josh Hartnett).  Still in the lovey dovey stage, she forgets her cares and her consumption as she goes to the theatre to see a play.  That all goes away as Brona and Ethan encounter Vanessa and Dorian at intermission.  Seeing Dorian, Brona is reminded of what her life is like and how close her end is.  She runs from Ethan.  Ethan drowns his sorrows in the most unexpected and shocking way.  This is another ending that has me exclaiming, “WHAT?!”

All this happens at the same theatre, the Grand Guignol, where The Creature aka Caliban (Rory Kinnear) is a stage rat and Vincent Brand (Alun Armstrong) performs in the play.  The play involves a beast, what looks like a werewolf, just a really bad costume.  Could this be another foreshadowing from Penny Dreadful?  The wolves of the London Zoo are bound to play a part in future episodes.

Penny Dreadful Season One Episode Four TV Still 2

Professor Abraham Van Helsing (David Warner) is the newest character, brought in by Sir Malcolm (Timothy Dalton) to look at the interesting blood of their captive vampire.  Van Helsing is an older man in Penny Dreadful, so it is not apparent what type of role he will be playing in relation to previous incarnations in film and television.  The blood does not coagulate, and the dye used to look at the blood under the microscope is called “Hannah’s Wink” after his late wife.

The mere mention of Van Helsing brings up Dracula again.  We don’t know if Dracula has appeared yet, but another vampire master comes to Sir Malcolm’s home, drawn to Vanessa and responding to the calls of the captive vampire, Fenton (Olly Alexander).  Things do not end well for Fenton or for Sir Malcolm’s experiment, and it becomes increasingly clear that Vanessa is something that the vampires want.

While not the most entertaining or attention-grabbing episode of Penny Dreadful, it does more for the character development than the previous three episodes.  There do not need to be any monsters or a possessed Vanessa to end an episode on a high as “Demimonde” has proven.


Sarah resides in Dallas where she writes about films and trailers in her spare time when she is not taking care of her animals at the zoo.

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