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Penny Dreadful recap: Memento Mori

More than one house turns out to be made of cards.

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Jonathan Hession/Showtime

Penny Dreadful

TV Show
Current Status:
In Season
run date:
Eva Green, Josh Hartnett, Timothy Dalton
Showtime Networks Inc.
Suspense, Thriller, Drama

You don’t need a literal inner demon to be possessed on Penny Dreadful. There are other possessive forces, less obvious but no less insidious: love, sexual politics, the fear of death. If there’s a line between heroes and villains on this show, it’s that our heroes fight their possession. Vanessa refuses to let the demon take her, Ethan resists his werewolf tendencies, and Sir Malcolm tries to shake off the romance that robs him of his senses. By contrast, Dorian lets fear take over, putting him on the wrong side of the equation this week—and possibly for good. But where does Lily fall?

After choking a man to death in the throes of passion, Lily cuddles with his corpse, then returns home to play the innocent flower. She finds Victor eager to take her out of the city, having already been accosted by the Creature for trying to keep Lily to himself—and for letting her go out on her own. Men. It’s no wonder that she’s tired of letting them use her. “Never again will I kneel to any man,” she tells the Creature when she catches him in her room. “Now they shall kneel to me.” Lily berates him for assuming that she’s there to make him feel better about himself. She knows that they’re both back from the dead—has she always known?—and she has a much grander plan in mind than hanging on his arm like a trophy.

But the Creature can be a part of that plan if he wants. Lily offers him the chance to kill Victor with her and rule over mankind: “We are the conquerors; we are the pure blood; we are steel and sinew both. We are the next thousand years. We are the dead.” As if an eloquent offer to murder weren’t seductive enough, Lily mounts the Creature and kisses him, insisting that no one will ever love him as she does. I’m not sure that she’s in a place to understand what love is, but the Creature isn’t, either. At any rate, they understand each other—though, knowing the Creature, he’ll probably fancy his rage to be more justified than hers and run off to tweet something about how feminism makes everyone a murderer.

While his creations contemplate a new life, Victor is off worrying that love has started to control him. He takes his concern to Sir Malcolm, who knows the feeling: “On the day of my wife’s funeral, I was dancing at a ball. Who is that man?” Sir Malcolm has no idea how right he is when he calls love an enchantment, and it’s one that he no longer has the patience for—he wants his true nature back, even if that nature is cruel and angry. But Evelyn is out to strengthen her hold on him, whispering the Verbis Diablo into his puppet’s ear, making it impossible for him to concentrate on an important debriefing from Lyle: Brother Gregory’s notes have all been translated.

The narrative written in the Verbis Diablo tells of two fallen angels—one brother, the vampire Master, was banished to earth, and the other, Lucifer, was sent to hell. Only the “mother of evil” can release them, giving one of them a chance to conquer heaven. The apocalypse really does rest on Vanessa’s shoulders. Sir Malcolm fights Evelyn’s spell long enough to point out that it’s not “hound” of God—it’s “wolf,” at least in Arabic—but the floor shakes and his eyes go black. “You children, meet your master,” he growls, flipping the table of artifacts.

NEXT: A portrait of the artist as a young murderer