TV Review – Penny Dreadful Episode Two “Séance”
Before moving on to the second episode of Penny Dreadful, “Séance,” I revisited the first episode since I had not seen it since March at SXSW. The episode is no longer as dark as the print we saw at SXSW and more details can be picked up about the production design. Most of the ending with Victor Frankenstein and his creation was in almost pitch black. It is not so suspenseful now, but easier on the eyes.
The second episode builds on the first introducing new characters that we knew were coming. Dorian Gray (Reeve Carney) and Brona Croft (Billie Piper) are used heavily in promotional items for the show, so it is safe (hopefully) that they will be around for the rest of the season.
The episode opens with another gruesome death, similar to the opening of “Night Work.” Jack the Ripper is alluded to again, but I do not remember the Ripper being so thorough with his dismembering of bodies.
Ethan Chandler (Josh Hartnett) has a small part in this episode. He wakes up in the docks, hung-over, and stumbles into a bar for relief. There he meets Brona Croft, an Irish woman doing this and that to make her way in the world. They strike up a friendship of sorts. She makes her way to a job that just happens to be at Dorian Gray’s home. We find him standing in front of a portrait in a room filled with painting. It appears that Dorian has a kinky side as he photographs Brona in several states of undress. Dorian joins in on the fun, leading to what appears to be the beginnings of porn. They are photographed in the act and he is also recording their voices. Brona’s consumption leads to blood being spit up on Dorian in the midst of it all, and it only seems to turn him on even more.
Victor Frankenstein (Harry Treadaway) furthers his studies with his monster who is named Proteus (Alex Price) from a book of Shakespeare. It seems Proteus’ past life is allowing him to learn faster than Frankenstein imagined. On his first outing, he remembers all the different types of boats and ships and recalls that he has a wife. This does not bode well for the longevity of Frankenstein’s experiment.
There are two climaxes to the episode. One occurs midway as Sir Malcolm (Timothy Dalton) and Vanessa Ives (Eva Green) attend a party at Mr. Lyle’s house. There Vanessa meets Dorian, and then they are roped into a séance with Madame Kali (Helen McCrory). I am sure Sir Malcolm and Vanessa thought it would be another lame party trick, but Vanessa’s presence causes things to get real. Vanessa’s body is taken over by the spirit or soul of Sir Malcolm’s daughter, Mina. She is then possessed by a demon or evil spirit that makes her do a couple of disturbing things. People, s**t just got real on Penny Dreadful. A complete explanation of who Vanessa Ives is has still not surfaced, but she is easily stalked and possessed by evil spirits. It is such a great scene that shows Eva Green’s talents in full force.
The second climax is the end of the episode. This whole time we have thought that Proteus was Frankenstein’s monster, but the real monster arrives in an unexpected way. Nothing like a hand through the gut and essentially splitting Proteus in two to get the message across that this is not Frankenstein’s first time at the pony show. The real monster is back to say hello to his father.
I ended the episode saying “WHAT?!” a few times out loud. This is only the second episode, but Penny Dreadful is not making us wait.