Tuesday, 9 June 2015

PENNY DREADFUL, 2.6 – 'Glorious Horrors'

Tuesday, 9 June 2015


We've moved into the last half of season 2, and a few plots are beginning to move forward, although progress remains leisurely. Sir Malcolm (Timothy Dalton) is now under the enchantment of girlfriend Evelyn Poole (Helen McCrory), but all it's resulted in is making everyone suspicious over his non-reaction to his wife's suicide, and a decision to shave his beard. No great shakes, although scenes of Evelyn massaging the organic heart of a miniature Malcolm voodoo fetish suggests greater torments to come.

Ethan (Josh Hartnett) is the character who's been improved the most this season, but I'm unclear as to why Detective Rusk (Douglas Hodge) is so adamant the American gunslinger's involved in the Mariner's Inn Massacre when the evidence clearly points to an animal attack. I was expecting a reveal that Rusk's knowledgeable about werewolves, or at least believes in them, but instead he just appears to have trusted gut instincts—although possibly some affinity with the supernatural will reveal itself in the remaining four instalments. At least "Glorious Horrors" ended with lycanthrope Ethan transforming in front of Sembene (Danny Sapani) in Sir Malcolm's basement, because now someone knows his secret and it's a character whose own mystery hasn't been as intriguing as it was perhaps meant to be.

The core of this episode concerned most of the characters attending a luxurious ball, hosted by Dorian Gray (Reeve Carney) and his new lover Angelique (Jonny Beauchamp) as guest of honour. As a way to integrate Gray into the story better, it was a flawed option, although there was merit in the awkwardness of Gray meeting Frankenstein's (Harry Treadaway) cousin/lover Lily (Billie Piper) and managing to turn her head with his silver-tongued charms. I just don't believe the idea Gray's forgotten Lily is actually Irish prostitute Brona Croft, because while it's likely a serial womaniser couldn't keep track of all the women he's slept with, wasn't Brona incredibly memorable? Suffering from consumption, she coughed blood in his face and he found it hugely erotic! Maybe this happens to him most weeks? No matter, it's at least promising that the already-weird love-triangle between Frankenstein and his two "creations" could become squared if Lily begins to prefer suave Dorian to nerdy Victor.

We also learned a little more about why Evelyn's in league with Beelzebub, when she revealed her belief to secret accomplice Mr Lyle (Simon Russell Beale) that God's deserted humanity, and she instead intends to please Satan so he'll grant her immortality and she can watch the world go to Hell around her. It wasn't the most original of reasons to become evil, but it'll have to do—and the sheer ludicrousness of her plan appears to have given Lyle pause for thought, as he's close to breaking the witches trust and helping Vanessa (Eva Green) fight back.

The centrepiece moment of this hour was the freaky hallucination Vanessa had (or was given?) during Dorian's party, when the ceiling started raining blood that covered the oblivious dancers and musicians. It was a very memorable and excellently-made sequence, that captured the feeling of heightened lunacy Penny Dreadful should aim for more often. And as whole, the episode ends with a feeling that things are coming together now we're waist-deep into the season—although it's becoming a little ridiculous Vanessa and the gang don't realise Evelyn's the head witch, as there are no other viable suspects. But at least we had that lovely face-off with Evelyn and Vanessa at the ball, where they practically snarled at each other through smiles.

written by John Logan • directed by James Hawes • 7 June 2015 • Showtime