Thursday, April 28, 2016

The Werewolf, The Witch, and The Bride, or Thoughts on Penny Dreadful Season 2

Ethan Chandler turned out to be a werewolf at the end of Season One, bringing the Universal Monster count up to three and introducing Inspector Rusk, investigating what is now known as the Mariner’s Inn Massacre.  It’s always interesting to see these Dexter paradigm flips; in any other TV series a Victorian detective chasing a werewolf Jack the Ripper would be a great show, in Penny Dreadful Inspector Rusk is the bad guy.
The Vanessa Ives back-story is filled out in flashbacks of her witch education on the moors, and the more we learn about her the more intriguing she becomes.  Her haunted eyes are utilized to great effect as she is tormented throughout Season 2 by a rival witch.
Sir Malcom falls under the spell said rival witch Evelyn Poole, played by Helen McCrory who you may remember as another witch, Narcissa Malfoy, and her three daughters.  She has a memorable introduction in her room full of creepy antique dolls (actually modern, considering the time period) in which she does doll-surgery and gives them human hearts.
The Creature, now known as John Clare, finds redemption for a while in a wax museum with a nice family and a blind daughter, but you should know by now that there are no happy endings in Penny Dreadful.  There are some odd moments where Vanessa Ives and John Clare meet doing charity work at a cholera ward.  The two characters intersect and share a kinship as outsiders without being aware of the larger plot elements surrounding them and develop a casual friendship.  They enjoy nice conversations on poetry and philosophy between fighting witches and tearing people in half.  It seems superfluous and unnecessary to the plot but being as these are the two most interesting characters in the series, why not put them in some scenes?
Billie Piper becomes the Lily, the Bride of Frankenstein, after dying of consumption but being helped along by Victor.  It’s complicated because she was resurrected for the Creature but of course Victor falls in love with her but at least now she’s blonde again and can speak with her actual accent.
Dorian Grey meets a trans Lady, Angelique, and scandalizes London nightlife without being involved in the larger story arc, although he’s still enamored with Vanessa Ives.  But we finally get to see his portrait, chained and alive in a secret room, and also very reminiscent of William Blake painting.
Ferdinand Lyle, as played with campy bohemian panache by Simon Russell Beale is upgraded to team member as their expert in dead languages and all around researcher, charmed by Ethan Chandler who’s happy to flirt back.  His amused self-assurance is refreshing in our polarized modern world.

Much like American Horror Story, Penny Dreadful takes familiar characters and reshuffles them into new and updated circumstances.   American Horror Story does it with its cast while reformatting the premise, while Penny Dreadful tells a more traditional tale.  However both series paint their stories in bloody swaths of boundary-pushing scenarios in an effort to entertain their viewers, the modern Grand Guignol audience.


my first novel? thanks for asking:) I wrote a 4 book supernatural martial arts series concerning the ongoing feud between a group of kung-fu killer witches in san francsico’s chinatown.