Sunday, 18 May 2014

TV Review: Penny Dreadful-- Séance

Photo courtesy of Showtime

(***WARNING*** This is a recap for an ADULT show. Be prepared for cursing, explicit material, and possible sex, violence, gore and horror discussions! YOU HAVE BEEN WARNED!)

A bit of trivia before we begin—Did you know that penny dreadful’s were a type of British fiction, usually very lurid in manner, published in serial format in the 1800s? And that they always ended on a cliffhanger? That should tell you a LOT about this show. I hate cliffhangers!
I should also mention that, as much as I love horror, I’m not at all up on my 19th century fiction. So I totally, totally missed the whole ‘Mina’ thing in the pilot, and for that I’m sorry. Confession time: I’ve never read Dracula, or The Picture of Dorian Gray. And it’s been years since I read Frankenstein. So while I won’t be recapping Penny Dreadful as a literary expert, I will be recapping it as a huge horror buff, and I hope that’s alright with you guys.

So! Let’s begin, shall we?

For our cold open this week, a whore is sitting on a bench, at night in the fog. Well, there’s her first mistake right there! A lantern lighter wanders by. When he’s almost out of sight, he disappears and his torch clatters to the ground. Our whore’s face is terrified as “something” attacks her. The last thing we see is her severed arm, hand still gripping the apple she was just about to eat.

Man, I love these creepy cold openings! BEST EVER.

Under a dock in a seedy part of town, Chandler awakes, surrounded by rats. I guess he went on a major bender? So he decides to wander back into the dive bar for a little hair o’ the dog. Gross, dude.

Over at Victor Frankenstein’s place, he allows his monster to choose his own name. With the help of the works of Shakespeare, he randomly chooses Proteus.

In Shakespeare’s play, The Two Gentlemen of Verona, Proteus is the best friend of the main character. Proteus is very inconsistent with his affections, and his lies and deceptions come to a head at the end of the play when he encounters his best friend and her lover, who was Proteus’s original love. I can’t see what this name has to do with Shelley’s original story, so maybe they’re going to go elsewhere with the Frankenstein plot? I hope so!

Victor has to leave Proteus alone while he goes to work, and the poor monster seems so sad and lonely when his master exits. I’m really liking this monster so far. Where are they going to go with him? Hmm!

And, FINALLY, enters Billie Piper! She looks ROUGH. Dark hair, bushy eyebrows; she’s a low-born lass, and she walks into the bar where Chandler is drinking.

She speaks, and I have absolutely NO idea what she’s even saying. Between the slurring and the really bad Irish accent, I literally have to listen to her lines two or three times before I get them. This is going to get old quick.

The two make small talk and Chandler seems smitten. Brona goes off to look for work, and Chandler stays and books a room.

Victor has made his way to Sir Malcolm’s residence, where he finds the dead vampire completely skinned. Only his hieroglyphic-covered body remains. Victor draws blood from the creature as he and the two hunters (Malcolm and Vanessa) make small talk about the possible meaning of the symbols. Vanessa then notices the poetry books in Victor’s bag, and the two quote poetry at each other for a moment. Um, okay?

Victor examines the blood he’s drawn, and determines that it is human, but it does have additional properties that he’s not familiar with. Malcolm adds a generous incentive (It’s cash. A lot of cash) to keep Victor in his employ more permanently. After Victor leaves, Vanessa tells Malcolm that Victor has a secret…

In a way too brief scene, Brona enters a rather posh house. A man turns to her, and introduces himself as Dorian Gray. He’s really, really hot, you guys. Which shouldn’t be surprising, I suppose. I mean that *is* his story, right? With the painting in the attic and all? But he’s REALLY hot.

Back with Sir Malcolm, he and his man visit the police officer who’s in charge of the curious murders that have been happening recently. Sir Malcolm offers his help, and the officer goes over the gory details of the murders.

Going back to Malcolm’s “man”, who I didn’t mention last week, he’s very exotic, with some type of implants or scars across his cheeks. He doesn’t seem to speak at all. I’m sure we’ll find out more about him soon enough!

While going over the details of the slaughtered mother and daughter from the pilot, we find out that the murderer took some of the body parts; an arm, and some of the internal organs. That’s definitely sounding more and more like the Ripper, innit?

Malcolm asks if the bodies had been drained of blood, and the answer is no. He asks if it’s the Ripper, and again, the answer is a no. He tells the cop that he needs to see the crime scene immediately the next time it happens—and it *will* happen again. He then says that unless the police change tactics, they’ll never find the killer. They’re hunting for a man, and they need to start hunting for a beast.

Jumping to Dorian Gray, there’s a photo shoot going on, I guess? His house is full of photographs and paintings, and it looks like he’s adding Brona to the collection. Dorian looks hella bored with it all, until Brona coughs. There’s blood when she does, and she tells him it’s consumption. This perks him right up. Creepy Dorian is creepy. But still hot.

The two make out, and fanboys all around the world squee at the sight of Rose Tyler’s boobs, something they’d only dreamed they’d ever see. Haha!

In a rather morbid sex scene, the photographer continues to take photos as the two go at it. Dorian is fascinated that he’s having sex with a “dying creature”. Brona literally coughs blood all over Dorian’s face, and all he does is smile and keep going. CREEPY DORIAN IS CREEPY. …but still hot.

Over with Chandler, he’s gotten a telegram from his father, who strictly tells him to stop his foolishness and come home. Apparently Chandler is in some legal trouble, and his father has paid it off. It doesn’t look like Chandler is very keen on going home.

Back in Victor’s workshop, Proteus is learning to be human, and possibly remembering some of his past. Victor catches him singing quietly under his breath, and then discovers that Proteus knows the words “boat”, “whale” and “hunting”. Victor wonders if Proteus was a whaler once upon a time.

And then little eccentric dude returns! Malcolm and Vanessa finally attend his dinner party, and we should get the answers to the meaning of the hieroglyphics!

Vanessa finds herself without an escort when Malcolm and the professor leave the room, and who comes to introduce himself, but Dorian Gray! He charms the pants off her….Oh, wait, maybe that was me. Where the hell are my pants?!

Dorian reads Vanessa like a book, much like she did with Chandler in the pilot. Is everyone frickin’ Sherlock Holmes in this show?! The professor interrupts before the two can get any more intimate, and he introduces the crowd to the guest of honour, Madame Kali.

In Hinduism, Kali is the Goddess of time, change and destruction. Interesting name for this character, no?

Apparently a séance is going to happen, and three of the participants just happen to be Malcolm, Vanessa and Dorian. Handy, that!

Madame Kali calls for the spirits, and she fakes a possession. Watching Malcolm, it’s apparent that there *is* a spirit that has entered Vanessa, and I’m pretty sure he knows it. And then things get creepy as HELL.

 The spirit makes Vanessa’s body twist in all kinds of uncomfortable ways, and then she starts talking in tongues. But the worst part is when she takes on the voice of Malcolm’s son, I think?, and begins to speak to him about things they’d done in the past. The voice then gets “older”, and it sounds like Malcolm’s son died of dysentery while Malcolm was on an expedition, and Malcolm knew that he was dying and went anyway.

Malcolm just sits there and cries, and then things get even creepier. Then the son apparently goes off about Malcolm lusting after his daughter, Mina. I’m really unclear on this part, you guys, because it was so confusing. The spirit also mentions that Vanessa saw Malcolm having sex with Mina. I think? Argh, I’m so confused, but I think I have it pretty much right. I hope! Regardless, holy hell, what GREAT acting on Eva Green’s part! That was incredibly scary and disturbing.

The spirit, still in Vanessa’s body, runs off into the rain and has sex with some random guy in an alley. Oh, and Dorian is sneakily watching that happen. Dorian, stop being gross!

The next morning, Chandler is still drinking at the bar. Brona comes in, and Chandler asks her out to dinner. She accepts.

Malcolm returns to the professor’s home and finally finds out that the hieroglyphics refer to Amunet, “the female hidden one”, and that’s also who was possessing Vanessa at the dinner party, I think?

Okay, so the hieroglyphics are a spell that foretells the “annihilation of man and the coming of the beast”. Amunet and her lover, Amun-Ra must never appear in the same incantation because it’s foretold that “all light would end and the hidden ones would emerge and rule” if they were put together. Amun-Ra is known as the God of everlasting life, sustained by feeding on the souls of others. See where this is going now? Yeah, neither do I. Well, except for the whole Egyptian vampire-thing. That’s pretty cool. And also different. Yay for different vampires that don’t sparkle!

Proteus and Victor are going for a walk outdoors. It’s endearing how fatherly Victor is towards his monster. Proteus is overwhelmed by the sights and sounds, and Victor calms him. Proteus is also speaking quite well now, and it’s apparent that Victor has put in a lot of time with him, teaching him how to be normal; human.
The scene between the two outdoors is absolutely wonderful. I think I fell in love with both Proteus, as a child, and Victor, as a man who loves a son, in this scene. The wonder in the monster’s eyes, the joy, the fear, the excitement. What a gorgeous scene. “Victor, fairy lights.” I just loved that.

Near the river, Proteus spies some boats, and names all the parts on the ship. This makes him remember that he had a wife, and he asks Victor, “What am I?” Unfortunately, the two are interrupted by Chandler and Brona before Victor can answer. Proteus is very sweet to Brona, and offers her a chestnut. He tells her to, “Enjoy the fairy lights.”, before they part ways.


So, yeah, Proteus is killed, right after he happily talks about how many friends he’s going to make, by a man who calls himself Victor’s “firstborn”. Um, WTF DOES THAT MEAN?!

Is that guy Victor’s first creature? What happened to him? Where did he go? Why is he back? Why did he have to kill Proteus? Why was Chandler’s story so boring this week? How long can I stand Billie’s horrible Irish accent? Why is Dorian so hot, but so creepy? What’s with all the pictures in his house? What’s going on with Vanessa? Why was she so susceptible to possession? Did Malcolm actually have sex with his daughter? Where is Mina now? What is Chandler’s legal trouble? How will Victor take Proteus’s death? How many more questions will I ask here before I’m done?

Tune in next week for the answers to some of these questions! Maybe! Or maybe not! I have no idea! This show is confusing and creepy and weird!

See you next week! And remember; always check under your bed before you get into it. You never know who’ll be hiding underneath!

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