Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Penny Dreadful: The Series - Season 1

Cody looks through the season 1 episodes of the Showtime series Penny Dreadful.

These episode reviews were originally published on a weekly basis at Yahoo Voices, so beware some repetition.

Episode 1: Night Work

2012 was quite a year for screenwriter John Logan. Not only had he been nominated for an Academy Award for his work on Martin Scorsese's film Hugo (Logan's third nomination, following noms for Scorsese's The Aviator in 2005 and Ridley Scott's Gladiator in 2001), but the fourth quarter of that year saw the release of the James Bond film Skyfall, on which Logan was one of three credited writers. Skyfall would go on to bring in over a billion dollars at the international box office.

These are successes that a man could retire on, but rather than rest on his laurels, Logan was looking to the future. On November 1st, a date falling in between the days when Skyfall first hit theatres in several countries and when it would reach the United States on November 9th (November 8th on IMAX screens), Logan turned in the script for the pilot episode of a series called Penny Dreadful. Soon after, it was announced that Skyfall director Sam Mendes would be reteaming with Logan on this project, coming on board as an executive producer.

A year and a half after Skyfall blew up the box office and Logan wrote the Penny Dreadful pilot, the series has now begun its eight episode run on Showtime. As its production notes helpfully inform any viewers who may not be aware, "Penny Dreadfuls were lurid stories of crime, the occult, and the supernatural sold in weekly parts in Victorian London".

It's appropriate, then, that the show is set in Victorian London. To be exact, its events occur in the fall of 1891, at a time when brutal murders around the city have citizens worrying that serial killer Jack the Ripper may be back in action.

Josh Hartnett stars as Ethan Chandler, a performer in Colonel Brewster's Wild West Show, which is currently bringing a taste of the American frontier to the United Kingdom and Europe. During the show, in between pulling off impressive sharpshooting feats, Chandler tells the story of his days fighting the Sioux Indians under the command of General Custer. The story is simply a script Chandler recites, he was too young to serve under Custer and none of Custer's men survived anyway, but his shooting abilities are no lie.

It's these abilities that catch the eye of a fortune teller/spiritualist named Vanessa Ives, played by Casino Royale Bond girl Eva Green. Her first interaction with Chandler, which takes place at a table in a bar, is very reminiscent of the first interaction Green had with James Bond as Vesper Lynd at a table in the dining car of a train, and Vanessa is able to read Chandler in a way quite similar to the way Vesper could read Bond. Green even delivers some of her assessments in the way she did in the 2006 Bond film.

Vanessa is looking to hire Chandler for some "night work", she needs a man who is comfortable with firearms and not hesitant to engage in dangerous endeavors. Chandler is interested, and though he asks if the job is something criminal, if it's murder, it's clear that it wouldn't matter if it was.

Accepting the job, Chandler accompanies Vanessa and her associate, famed explorer and adventurer Sir Malcolm Murray - played by former James Bond Timothy Dalton (The Living Daylights, Licence to Kill) - into the cellar of an opium den, where they quickly find themselves in a fight to the death with some very strange men whose bodies move in unnatural ways and who are rather hard to kill.

Chandler and Sir Malcolm manage to take them down anyway, allowing Vanessa access to a room full of mutilated corpses. The more intact bodies have detectable bite wounds in their necks. By the end of the scene, it's clear that the characters are dealing with vampires... And for some reason, vampires will not attack Vanessa.

Sir Malcolm is searching for his missing daughter Mina, who was taken by a vampire, and who has a name which should be familiar to anyone who knows of Bram Stoker's Dracula. It has been said that characters from multiple genre novels of the 19th century will be showing up in Penny Dreadful... Like the young man the trio of vampire slayers take the corpse of a particularly monstrous creature to.

The character is a "Resurrection Man", a student who has had to resort to illegal means to gather cadavers for his biological research. He is fascinated by the features of the creature Sir Malcolm and company have brought him. Sharpened teeth, exoskeleton over skin covered in hieroglyphics from the Egyptian Book of the Dead. He's a fascinating fellow himself. In the final scene of the episode it is revealed that this young resurrectionist, played by Harry Treadaway, is Doctor Victor Von Frankenstein. And he has been working on creating his Monster.

Night Work was directed by J.A. Bayona (The Orphanage, The Impossible), who with cinematographer Xavi Giménez has established a delightfully dark, dank, and dirty look for the show.

With this intriguing, twisted, creepy pilot, John Logan has laid the groundwork for Penny Dreadful to be a spellbinding, intelligent genre show. Many mysterious elements are introduced over the course of the first episode that should be quite captivating to watch unfold as the series continues.

The core characters are a compelling bunch, excellently brought to life by the wonderful actors who have been cast in the roles.

As a massive fan of both horror and of the James Bond franchise, this project is a perfect mash-up of some of my favorite entertainment sources. A horror show with a Bondian pedigree. I get a lot of joy watching Timothy Dalton and Eva Green delve into this world of horror, and as famous genre characters get more screen time along the way I imagine that things are going to get even more fun to watch.

Penny Dreadful has me hooked. John Logan could have just sat back, relaxed, and watched Skyfall's box office numbers rise back in 2012, but I'm becoming increasingly glad that he didn't.

Episode 2: Séance

Horror stalks the streets of Victorian London as Showtime's period piece genre show Penny Dreadful, written by Skyfall screenwriter John Logan and executive produced by the film's director Sam Mendes, continues. Someone, or something, has been attacking Londoners and tearing them limb from limb, leading citizens and the media to speculate that the city is experiencing the return of serial killer Jack the Ripper. Authorities familiar with Jack's m.o. dismiss this theory. The Ripper only killed prostitutes. This killer doesn't discriminate. This is something different. Something worse.

While characters Sir Malcolm Murray and Vanessa Ives continue down the path the pilot episode established that they were on, searching for Sir Malcolm's daughter Mina, who was taken from him by a vampire, a large portion of this second episode focuses on Victor Frankenstein, a man who has created a monster, putting life back into a corpse.

It has become popular for writers dabbling in Frankenstein territory to christen Frankenstein's Monster Adam, an obvious Biblical reference. Give this new type of man the name of the first man, of course. Victor briefly entertains the idea of naming his creation Adam here, but quickly dismisses it, a smart move on Logan's part. Victor might name his monster Adam if he were in a "Now I know what it feels like to be God!" mood like Colin Clive was in Universal's 1931 Frankenstein, but really this is a character who shouldn't have much time for religious theology, as he doesn't here. Instead, the young doctor has his creation randomly pick his own name out of the collected works of Shakespeare.

The new man's finger lands on the name Proteus from Shakespeare's The Two Gentlemen of Verona, possibly the bard's first play. Proteus is a good name, nicely similar to Prometheus of Greek mythology, and when Mary Shelley wrote Frankenstein she had subtitled it The Modern Prometheus.

The doctor/monster relationship Logan has written for this episode is quite different than the antagonistic relationship we're used to seeing these characters engage in. Proteus is as docile and sweet as a puppy dog. He enjoys the company of his master, and he wants to make friends with people. As played by Alex Price, this monster is one that could steal your heart, and not in the "ripping it from your chest" way.

A disappointment for me in this second episode was the lack of screen time Josh Hartnett's character Ethan Chandler gets, the gunslinging American swagger and wit he brought to the pilot was missed this time around. The events he's endured have had a depressing effect on him, and he's only around this time long enough to befriend a prostitute named Brona, played by Billie Piper.

It's through Brona that the show introduces another literary character of this period, Reeves Carney as Dorian Gray, a man who has sold his soul for immortality. Because he cannot die, Gray is intensely turned on and attracted to the tuberculosis-afflicted Brona, jumping at the chance to conquer a dying creature. He's a strange one.

Alex Price is the episode's MVP for the most part, but during the titular séance, which is held at a party hosted by an Egyptologist who Sir Malcolm and Vanessa need to translate the hieroglyphics found carved into a vampire's skin and is conducted by a character played by Skyfall alum Helen McCrory, Eva Green really gets a chance to shine as Vanessa.

Although McCrory's character is the one who the dead should be communicating through, it's Vanessa who channels them, and Green delivers a mind-blowing performance as she gets inhabited by mad spirits, changing voices, tones of voice, and moods in a split second, her body contorting and thrusting back and forth, tears spilling down her face. It's a chilling, enthralling, six minute tour de force.

When the hieroglyphics are translated, an apocalyptic prophecy is brought into the story. Ancient gods coming together to rule a world plunged into darkness and overrun by "the hidden ones". The annihilation of man. The coming of the beast. The episode itself descends further into darkness as it nears its conclusion, ending on a very shocking note... and leaving viewers dangling, waiting to see where the horror will go from here.

Wherever Penny Dreadful wants to take me, I am ready to follow, as much at this captivating show's whim as Vanessa was to the spirits speaking through her.

Episode 3: Resurrection

The directorial duties on the eight episodes of Showtime's Victorian-era horror series Penny Dreadful were split up among four directors, each of them taking the helm for two episodes. After handling the pilot and the second episode, and thus establishing the overall look and tone of the series, The Orphanage/The Impossible director J.A. Bayona passed the baton to veteran television director Dearbhla Walsh.

For her first episode, Walsh was given the task of bringing to life a script by John Logan that delves further into the character of Victor Frankenstein, beginning with his first experiences with death at a young age. His first look at death was when he found the carcass of his beloved dog lying in a field with maggots crawling in its eye sockets. Just as Victor was dealing with that loss, his mother fell ill with a terrible terminal disease. Clearly the roots of his obsession with overcoming death are in these childhood moments.

As the previous episodes showed us, Victor has found a way to create new life from a body once dead. He reanimated the corpse of a man, who chose the name Proteus for himself from the collected works of Shakespeare. Victor and his sweet, docile creation bonded. Proteus was learning about the world and wanting to make friends... It was a version of the story of Frankenstein and his monster that had never been told before. And it ended tragically, when it was revealed that Proteus was not Victor's first try at raising the dead and his firstborn made its presence known by tearing his new son apart.

Enter Rory Kinnear, who played Bill Tanner in the James Bond film Skyfall, which was also written by Penny Dreadful creator John Logan and directed by executive producer Sam Mendes. Here, Kinnear plays a Frankenstein's Monster much more in line with the creature full of hate and rage for its master that the audience is familiar with.

Through flashbacks, Walsh shows us what the monster has experienced up to this point. A scared, agonized creature abandoned by its terrified creator as soon as life was breathed into it. Forced to learn about the world and survive on its own. Rejected by the people it came across. Until the monster met a lively, drunken actor wonderfully portrayed by Alun Armstrong, who introduced the monster to a world where it could fit in.

During the monster's story, it's clear that Logan and Mendes are of the theatre, because that's exactly where Frankenstein's creation - who coincidentally was also given a name from Shakespeare; Caliban, after the "subhuman son of a malevolent witch" in the bard's The Tempest - finds acceptance. In the theatre, "a place where the malformed find grace, where the hideous can be beautiful, where strangeness is not shunned, but celebrated". And so Caliban found work, and a home, backstage at a theatre that put on bloody "grand guignol" versions of popular plays.

The show might have gotten a little ahead of its 1891 time period with the inclusion of grand guignol, the famous Le Théâtre du Grand-Guignol didn't open in Paris until 1898... But as far as I know, vampires and Frankenstein's monsters didn't really exist in Victorian London either, so just let any anachronisms you notice slide.

While other storylines were advanced over the course of the episode, with Timothy Dalton's Sir Malcolm Murray and his companion Vanessa Ives (Eva Green) continuing down the path of finding Sir Malcolm's missing daughter Mina and rescuing her from a powerful vampire, with Josh Hartnett's American gunslinger Ethan Chandler rejoining them with new purpose - to earn money so his love interest Brona (Billie Piper) can afford medication to treat her tuberculosis, which may be the same disease that killed Mrs. Frankenstein - 'Resurrection' was primarily the story of Frankenstein and his monster, with the strength of Rory Kinnear's performance as Caliban capably carrying the episode for much of its running time.

Caliban has a request for his creator that reflects more of the popular Frankenstein story, and as the show plays out it will be very interesting to see how John Logan handles this particular plot element.

And surely Dracula is lurking out there somewhere in this world Logan has put together. I'm fascinated to see what the Penny Dreadful version of the character would be like. I need to see Dracula delivering Logan's great, intelligently written dialogue.

Episode 4: Demimonde

Of all the Victorian-era literary characters that have been worked into the story that writer John Logan is weaving for Showtime's horror series Penny Dreadful, the one I'm least familiar with is the character of Dorian Gray, who is played on the show by Reeve Carney. I've read Mary Shelley's Frankenstein and Bram Stoker's Dracula, but never Oscar Wilde's The Picture of Dorian Gray, nor have I seen any cinematic adaptations of the novel.

I know the basics of the character - that he was a man who sold his soul for immortality and his image in a portrait he has at his home ages and shows the consequences of his sins while his own body does not change. Beyond that, Dorian Gray and his story remain a mystery to me, so it is Logan's version that is my first true exposure to him.

Through Logan's writing and Carney's performance, I'm finding that Gray is fascinating in personality and mind, and yet there's an edge of creepiness to him, and he has a tendency for repugnant actions... Like his experience with the tuberculosis-afflicted prostitute Brona.

As Gray continues on with a seduction of Vanessa Ives, tempers flare among Vanessa's cohorts in the group Sir Malcolm Murray has assembled in the search for his missing daughter Mina Harker. American gunslinger Ethan Chandler does not get along with the young doctor Victor Frankenstein, nor does he agree with the way Sir Malcolm and Frankenstein treat the bloodsucking captor they have locked up for study. He's merely a scientific curiosity and a means to an end for the others, while Chandler still sees him as a human being, although a very sick one.

Frankenstein is working with famed hematologist Abraham Van Helsing to find a cure for their prisoner's affliction, a cure that will almost surely come in handy when Mina is finally located. Meanwhile, Frankenstein's monster Caliban is not happy that this research is wasting his creator's time when he should be constructing a bride for him.

Demimonde is an interesting episode, one which largely focuses on studying the way the characters interact with each other. The overall plot doesn't seem to have been advanced a great deal, and even gets set back in some way, but it also takes at least one character off in an unexpected direction.

The master of the group's captive does make a brief appearance, but I have to say, if that was supposed to be Dracula, I am slightly disappointed. I'm still anxiously awaiting Stoker's vampire to make an entrance into the show, and I'm hoping that when he does he will be an interesting, charismatic fellow, different from the other advanced vampires that have been glimpsed so far. Yet I have no idea if Dracula actually will end up on the show, so I may be hoping in vain.

As the episode reaches its conclusion, Penny Dreadful has come to the midway point of its eight episode run. It has a lot of ground to cover and storylines to resolve, which was a worrying thought when it was unclear whether or not these eight episodes would be a self-contained story or if the series would continue on. Showtime has answered that question by renewing the show for a ten episode second season that will air in 2015, so thankfully there is even more of Penny Dreadful's wonderful, dark storytelling to look forward to.

Episode 5: Closer Than Sisters

When a show has such a wonderful cast as Showtime's Victorian era set horror series Penny Dreadful does, the desire to build entire episodes around a specific character and make it a showcase for the actor in that role is an understandable one. The fifth episode of the series' first season, which is set to run for eight episodes, is entirely focused on the character of Vanessa Ives, as played by Eva Green.

To this point, there have been hints about and vague references to the enigmatic, oddly off-kilter character's history, and this is the episode where the shadows become flooded with light. Through flashbacks as Vanessa writes a letter to her missing friend Mina, daughter of famed explorer Sir Malcolm Murray (played by former James Bond Timothy Dalton), we are privy to the entire backstory of Vanessa Ives.

The flashback goes clear back to Vanessa's childhood, when she was growing up as a neighbor to the Murray family, a child who spent more time at her neighbor's home with her friends Mina and Mina's brother Peter than she did at her own house. Vanessa and Mina were very close as they grew up - the episode's title 'Closer Than Sisters' is a description of their relationship.

But Vanessa was a troubled girl, there was something dark brewing under the surface. It started out with mischievous acts and thievery, a growing lasciviousness, and escalated to total betrayal. During a down moment, she heard a whispering voice with no known source, the first clear instance of supernatural activity in her life. After ruining Mina's life plans with an act of indiscretion, the supernatural overwhelms her.

She collapses, becomes catatonic, suffers seizures, and in moments of clarity she's not herself. As viewers of the show, we know she has fallen under the spell of something otherworldly, but as its characters live in a world they believe to be normal, her troubles are diagnosed as being mental and she is committed to an asylum, where she endures the sort of horrendous, barbaric, brutal treatment that was thought to be helpful back in the 1800s.

Through all of this, Eva Green shines, perfectly bringing to life every nuance of the character as she experiences these intense scenarios. She's a troubled girl, she's a lunatic, she's a demon, she's dirty, she's frightened out of her mind, she's playful, she's exhausted to the verge of death. This episode is carried along entirely on Green's shoulders, and she does not falter, she leads the viewer through its dark maze and impresses every step of the way.

Although it is Green's episode, Timothy Dalton also does exemplary work during the scenes he's involved in. There were moments in 'Closer Than Sisters' when I started to wish that Dalton's tenure as Bond had lasted around fifteen years longer than it did, because the man is truly captivating here.

As the episode reaches its conclusion, we know a lot more about Vanessa than we did before. We know why she seems the way she does... but still the question remains, what is the force behind her affliction? Perhaps we'll find out as Penny Dreadful continues.

Episode 6: What Death Can Join Together

After devoting an episode to the very personally revealing flashbacks of Eva Green's supernaturally-tormented character Vanessa Ives, Penny Dreadful dived back into continuing the primary storyline with its sixth episode.

While Brona, the prostitute girlfriend of Josh Hartnett's Ethan Chandler, an American gunslinger in Victorian London, continues to succumb to tuberculosis, Frankenstein's monster Caliban (Rory Kinnear) may have found a candidate for the bride he's forcing his creator to make for him when an actress who performs at the grand guignol theatre he works at (and lives in) actually showed him kindness - and no sign of being shocked by his scarred face. The woman even suggests that he shouldn't hide himself away from the world the way he does. The deep emotional reaction the monster had to the woman's kind words was palpable.

Reeve Carney's sleazy and lascivious Dorian Gray continued seducing his way through the cast, adding Vanessa to his list of conquests that also includes Brona and Ethan. Surely Vanessa must be the most impressive of the bunch, with the demonic forces that their tryst brought to the surface.

These relationship issues were subplots, however. The main thrust of this episode, the element that got advanced the furthest, was the vampire storyline and Timothy Dalton's character Sir Malcolm Murray's continuing search for his daughter Mina, who was abducted by the creatures of the night.

Adding clues already gathered to a lead that came to Vanessa in a vision, Sir Malcolm led Ethan and his assistant Sembene on a raid of a ship from Cairo that had been quarantined in the harbor for four months. As the three men made their way to the ship, young Doctor Victor Frankenstein (Harry Treadaway) was delivered information on vampires by Professor Abraham Van Helsing - a character from Bram Stoker's novel Dracula, here played by the great David Warner.

Van Helsing has had tragic dealings with vampires in the past. His own wife had been turned into one, and the only way to bring the situation to an end was to drive a stake through her heart and decapitate her. Clearly Van Helsing doesn't hold out much hope that Sir Malcolm and Mina are going to have a happy ending when they're reunited.

Van Helsing played an important role in Stoker's novel, leading a group of vampire hunters into its climactic scenes, and in the 115+ years since its publication, the character has been something of an iconic hero in the horror genre, especially when played by Peter Cushing in the Dracula films produced by Hammer. So most viewers with some horror knowledge will likely be expecting a lot from him as the series goes on. It's shocking just what Penny Dreadful does with him.

Featuring as it does characters from Victorian era literature, Penny Dreadful also places itself in a very interesting alternate universe with this episode, as the 1845-1847 penny dreadful story Varney the Vampire is a published story within its reality, inspired by folklore but not a true tale. More interesting is the fact that Frankenstein is familiar with the works of poet Percy Bysshe Shelley, so much so that he even quotes some of Shelley's work. That's where the title of the episode, 'What Death Can Bring Together', comes from. So Percy Bysshe Shelley exists as himself in the world of Penny Dreadful, and yet his wife Mary must never have written her most famous novel. Because it was in his wife's novel Frankenstein that this appreciator of his words was created. It's somewhat mind-boggling.

I have to admit that I found a portion of this episode dull, my attention was wandering at times, I certainly did not care whether or not Vanessa was going to be the latest notch on Dorian Gray's bedpost, but things turned around and the episode made up for its less interesting moments with a riveting, fiery action scene that had Sir Malcolm, Ethan, and Sembene taking on a ship full of screeching vampires. That ended things on an exciting note, and gave Sir Malcolm a glimpse of his daughter before she was taken away by her vampire master. Mina doesn't yet appear to be a lost cause, but with this rescue mission blown, finding her again may prove to be very hard.

There are only two episodes left in this season of Penny Dreadful, with still no resolution in sight for any of its storylines. It will be very interesting to see how things progress from here, and how satisfying the finale can be when the characters seem so far from solving any of their problems.

Episode 7: Possession

The penultimate episode of the first season of Showtime's Victorian era horror series Penny Dreadful largely deals with, as did a flashback episode earlier in the season, the possession of Vanessa Ives, the character portrayed by Eva Green.

While Vanessa's extrasensory perceptions and supernatural aura have come in handy for the characters as they seek to rescue the daughter of explorer Sir Malcolm Murray from the clutches of a powerful vampire, the force inhabiting her has also primarily been a torment for the woman and a nuisance to those around her. Most of the time she can keep some control of her demeanor, but occasionally she experiences spells during which she has no control at all over the spirits channeling through her. Thanks to her dalliance with Dorian Gray in the previous episode, she has again become overwhelmed.

But Vanessa's possession may be more than a mere inconvenience. There is more to it than her simply being able to taunt a person with their darkest secrets, which she somehow knows every detail of. Sir Malcolm has come to fear that the evil at work around them may believe Vanessa to be an incarnation of the Egyptian goddess Amunet. There is an apocalyptic prophecy among the vampires of Amunet being united with the god Amun-Ra and becoming the mother of evil. If Vanessa is not protected and helped, she could bring about the end of the world.

Sir Malcolm's worries are confirmed in a nightmare Vanessa has in which she speaks with the devil dwelling inside her. He wants to rule over a dark, scorched, dead world with her, devouring human hearts and eventually overthrowing God Himself.

It's a very intriguing, creepy scenario, unfortunately the bulk of the episode concerns not attempts to exorcise her demons but of people simply sitting around and having chats while guarding her, bickering about what to do.

This was not a particularly exciting episode, but it also wasn't without its standout moments. Scenes of American gunslinger Ethan Chandler being the voice of reason, and of him giving Doctor Victor Frankenstein shooting lessons, further cemented the character as my favorite presence on this show, and Josh Hartnett did great work both when playing Chandler himself and the image of Chandler that the devil inside Vanessa takes on while visiting her in her dreams.

Now that we know what's going on with Vanessa, Chandler is the most mysterious character, even proving to have some kind of religious knowledge that is helpful in breaking supernatural trances.

Every time Vanessa is unleashed in an episode, it proves that it was truly a coup for its creators to land Eva Green in this role. If a lesser actress were to attempt to play out the scenes of possession in the way Green does, it could come off as cheesy, over-the-top, laughable. But when Green plays these scenes, they are incredible, captivating, harrowing, jaw-dropping. She appears to be throwing everything of herself into this performance, and never once does it ring false. She truly is believable as a woman possessed. It's exhausting to watch, I can't imagine how tiring it must be for her to actually do.

This series likes to move along at a deliberate pace, sometimes making me wish it would push along some of the storylines a bit more quickly than it does. Only one episode remains for this season, but there's still an immense amount of ground for it to cover. It's a relief that it has been renewed for a second season, because it's certainly going to require one.

As the episode comes to a close, there has been a breakthrough in the search for Sir Malcolm's daughter, but at this point I'm really not expecting Penny Dreadful to provide much in the way of resolutions in the season finale.

Episode 8: Grand Guignol

'Grand Guignol' marks the end of the first season of Showtime's Penny Dreadful, written by screenwriter John Logan and executive produced by his Skyfall director Sam Mendes, but if you're expecting its last hour to be full of its characters, who are out to save a young woman from the clutches of a powerful vampire, kicking down doors and taking names, you haven't yet figured out what sort of show this is.

Sure, it starts off in a way that may get your hopes up for an action-packed finale. The visions Vanessa Ives (Eva Green) had during her latest supernatural trance have shown her the location of Mina Harker, daughter of Sir Malcolm Murray (Timothy Dalton). Sir Malcolm goes out and buys a gun, one with automatic firing capabilities - something brand new in the show's Victorian London setting. But the bulk of the running time is actually spent on characters having somber conversations with each other.

Sir Malcolm reconnects with Madame Kali (Helen McCrory) from the Séance episode. Vanessa's interactions with Dorian Gray (Reeve Carney) allow him to experience a feeling he's never known before. American gunslinger Ethan Chandler (Josh Hartnett) seeks the aid of Doctor Victor Frankenstein (Harry Treadaway) as his prostitute girlfriend Brona Croft (Billie Piper) finally succumbs to tuberculosis.

The heart of the episode is really a sequence centered on Caliban (Rory Kinnear), Frankenstein's undead creation, as he continues to try to make his way through this cruel world. An actress who appears in shows at the grand guignol theatre in which he works continues to show him kindness, something he is so unaccustomed to that he goes on to quickly destroy their friendship. His scenes are devastating.

Two men arrive in London to take Chandler back to America in chains to face the consequences of the blood and tears he left behind, and the fact that one of them is Mr. Kidd, I can only take as a reference to Logan's (and a large portion of the cast's) involvement in the James Bond franchise. Mr. Kidd was the name of a hitman who was paired with a Mr. Wint in Diamonds Are Forever. Given that one name is a reference, I can only hope that the name of Mr. Kidd's cohort is also one. Mr. Roper. Three's Company? Please let it be.

Regardless of their names, they don't have much luck getting Chandler into those chains.

The characters wait until nightfall to make their move and invade the theatre where the vampires have made their latest nest, which would seem to be counterintuitive, but that's how these vampire killers operate. Guns are fired, vampires are taken out, Mina is located, and although this storyline is resolved, things don't go as expected.

Ultimately, Penny Dreadful managed to resolve a lot more things in its final moments than I expected it to. There are obvious steps ahead for some characters, while the stories of others seem to be done, and things are left open for there to be a different driving storyline at the center of season two. There will be no more tracking down Mina, which is something I thought would continue on.

Although the show does feel like it's dragging along at times, I do think Penny Dreadful is a great genre series overall, dark and intelligent, with excellent performances.

Penny Dreadful will be back on the air in 2015, and I will be tuning in.

1 comment:

  1. I love this series with a passion. The gf got me season 1 blu-ray and I love it! Being the Bond fan that I am, I mainly saw it for Timothy Dalton and Eva Green. Boy, I can't wait for season 2!!!!!!! I love it!!!!!