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'Penny Dreadful' recap: 'Glorious Horrors'

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Jonathan Hession/SHOWTIME

Penny Dreadful

type:
TV Show
Current Status:
In Season
seasons:
2
run date:
05/11/14
performer:
Eva Green, Josh Hartnett, Timothy Dalton
broadcaster:
Showtime Networks Inc.
genre:
Suspense, Thriller, Drama

There are benefits to living out in the open. Vanessa learned as much last week, when her friends pulled together to defend her against the Nightcomers. She’d still be fighting them alone if Ethan hadn’t gotten involved. Now, Dorian is determined to be the Ethan to Angelique’s Vanessa, pulling her into the spotlight whether she’s ready or not. He wants to throw her a ball—a proper coming out. But is that really his decision to make?

Despite assuring Angelique that he cares for her, not what she wears, Dorian still loves the thrill of the forbidden. “Let them gape at our uniqueness,” he says, forgetting that a spectacle isn’t always a show of support. Vanessa had her friends’ support last week, and she survived. This week, she’s exposed at a fancy ball, and she passes out after it rains blood—because the flip side of living in the open is that it puts everyone’s secrets in danger. The more these people cross paths, the more they expose each other’s uniqueness.

Victor already had reason to keep Lily indoors: The more she sees of the world, the more likely it is that someone will recognize her. But his possessiveness is also that of a jealous boyfriend, especially now that they’ve slept together. Does Lily really care for him, or is he just one of the only men she knows? The ball gives Victor a chance to confront all of those insecurities at once—Dorian and Lily are immediately taken with one another, maybe because they’ve met before. Lily sees something familiar in the house and her host, making this the first time she’s shown even a spark of memory of her past life. And Dorian really should pay more attention to the women he sleeps with, because Lily may be blond, but with that curly updo, she bears more than a passing resemblance to Brona.

Dorian ignores Angelique to dote on Lily, who soaks it in. The excitement makes her bold—she defies Victor once when he asks her to dance and again when he says that she doesn’t drink. Lily may be beholden to her “cousin” for teaching her about the world, but she stands up for herself. If Victor doesn’t get on board with her independence, he can expect to lose her affection in the same way he lost it from the Creature—who may not be at the ball, but whose secret is at risk anyway. Lavinia feels his hand and knows in a second that it’s colder than it should be. She tells her parents that “it’s like he’s not really alive.” The chances that Putney will imprison the Creature in the basement just went up.

Ethan stops by Putney’s museum to check out the recreation of the Mariner’s Inn Massacre. Rusk confronts him and asks about his experience with wolves; as if that weren’t obvious enough, he then comes right out and says that he knows Ethan was involved. “I always find things,” Rusk says. “When they cut off my arm, I was anesthetized. When I awoke, I went and found it in a pile of discarded limbs.” What? This is the most I’ve ever been interested in Rusk—not only because that’s a messed up thing to do, but because it has absolutely no bearing on his abilities as a detective.

NEXT: Boys becoming men, men becoming wolves[pagebreak]

Ethan also gets a visit from his one surviving victim, Pinkerton agent Roper, who threatens to scalp everyone in the house if Ethan doesn’t return to America. In response to the threat, Ethan almost takes his own advice. He almost tells someone what’s going on with him. He doesn’t exactly use words to explain his problem, but he does show someone. He takes Sembene down to the basement and asks him to keep watch. Sembene helps Ethan chain himself to the wall and takes a seat.

Meanwhile, Sir Malcolm is out celebrating the beautiful day. Evelyn’s ring—and subsequent makeout session with her Sir Malcolm puppet—is having its desired effect, because the man is as giddy as a schoolboy. Even the news that his wife killed herself can’t dampen his spirits; he’s more focused on whether he should shave his beard. No one can figure out what’s going on, but Sembene, who was there when Sir Malcolm found out about his son, knows this isn’t him.  

Sir Malcolm shaves his beard (wrong choice) and takes Evelyn to the ball, where she introduces herself to Vanessa and reminds her that they met at the séance. Vanessa gets in Evelyn’s face and makes it clear that she’s noticed a change in Sir Malcolm. Evelyn shrugs that it’s just perseverance—the trick to staying young. “That’s not a trick I seek,” Vanessa replies. The height difference between Eva Green and Helen McCrory is doing wonders here. Like the evil stepmom in a kids’ movie, Evelyn says that she wants to be on good terms with Vanessa. She doesn’t say for how long.

Since Ethan declined her invitation for secret wolf reasons, Vanessa is flying solo at the ball. I love how little she cares what people think about her, but living in the open has its risks. Lyle, who’s realized that this game goes so far beyond his own blackmail, offers to take Vanessa home. He can see the witches eyeing her. Vanessa agrees and goes to say goodnight to Victor, but it’s too late. Hecate marches toward Vanessa, whose ears ring as the room starts to spin. In a haunting sequence, she sees blood rain down on the ballroom, but no one seems to notice. Vanessa faints. In a blood-free room, Victor and Lyle rush over to her. Across town, Ethan transforms into a yellow-eyed werewolf and lunges at Sembene.

Bits and pieces:

  • Lily learned how to cook awfully quickly.
  • “There’s no door that can keep out the devil.” That’s heartening.
  • Now that Victor knows that Vanessa has met the Creature, will he try to control the Creature’s movements?
  • Evelyn says that the Master’s reward is “to live forever while the world suffers. Such a sad prize isn’t it?” She really should talk to Dorian.
  • Rusk expects that Ethan’s guilt will eventually drive him to confess. Are we about to add Crime and Punishment to this show’s literary arsenal?
  • “How’s your cousin?” “Functioning.”

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