Penny Dreadful: Fresh Hell/ Verbis Diablo

I know some of you have no idea what this show is or  what this show is about. If that’s the case, please go watch the first season, which introduces the world and characters, of this Gothic London Horror series. Watching this show, should give you plenty of time to get ready for Guillermo Del Toro’s Crimson Peak, this Fall.

This show has all the well-worn monster tropes, given new life, by being set in Victorian London, and made more accessible to modern viewers, by going into the minds of its monsters. We have Dorien Gray, Dr. Frankenstein, and his Monster, werewolves, witches, an English adventurer, gunfights, and prostitutes dying of consumption. In other words: The Full Victoriana.


The monsters hide in plain sight, among the regular populace and interact with humans, yet, remain completely hidden from common knowledge. What the protagonist of this show, Vanessa Ives, calls “The Demi-monde”, the in-between world, that is neither the real world, nor the world of the truly monstrous.

There’s :

Vanessa Ives – A Seer and Witch. She is the main focus of the show and a choice role for Eva Green, who gets to show off  her ability to act totally batshit. Last season, Satan seemed to really be into her, Dracula was out to get her, and  now the witches are after her, for who knows what reason. Vanessa prays a lot, but as far as I can tell, this doesn’t seem to help her much, and only seems to make her more popular with the monsters.



Ethan Chandler – Ethan, as portrayed by Josh Hartnett is full of all manner of hidden depths, including the ability to speak Latin, talk to wolves and an occasional taste for men, sometimes literally. An American gunfighter, who is running from some deep dark secret in his recent past and a father, who is so desperate for him to come back home, that he sends bounty hunters with chains after him. When Ethan refuses to cooperate with this manner of travel, it results in a barroom massacre at the end of the season, which is being investigated by


Inspector Rusk – played by Douglas Hodge. We don’t know what his secrets are yet, but I do expect to see a gunfight showdown between him and Ethan by the end of this season, or I will be disappointment.

Sir Malcolm – is an English adventurer, wholost his daughter to Dracula’s vampires last season, lost his son in Africa, adopted Vanessa as his new daughter, and  is trapped in a loveless marriage with a rich wife.


Dr. Victor Frankenstein and his Monster – who have a contentious relationship. The monster hates his maker but has threatened him into providing him with a mate. Victor stole the body of Ethan’s consumptive girlfriend, resurrected her and renamed her Lilly. We will find out later this season, exactly how Ethan will be feeling about that, and I can’t wait. It’s going get very, very interesting, especially since Ethan and Victor have been trying to bond through gunfire, earlier in the show. I hope Victor gets thrashed because I can’t stand him. I don’t think anyone does, even though the show has been trying to make him more likable.


The Monster – calls himself John Claire and is under the mistaken impression that just because he can commission Victor to build a woman, doesn’t mean Victor can control how she will feel towards anyone. There’s the possibility that Lilly may never love John, but I don’t think this has even occurred to him. What will happen to her if she rejects him?


There’s Dorien Grey – A complete omnisexual, who is responsible for most of the full frontal we get subjected to on the show, and who has slept with half the cast, Including Brona (Ethan’s late girlfriend), Ethan, and Vanessa, who is never allowed to get within touching distance of him, ever again, since the last time she slept with him, she totally lost her shit and thought she was possessed by Satan.


Last season, the characters dealt with vampires and demonic possession and it’s also fascinating watching them navigate each others weaknesses and trying to bond as family. Sir Malcolm is the father figure, with Sembene as a kind of Uncle. Ethan and Victor are like jealous brothers and, of course, there’s  Vanessa, the little sister, whom everyone must protect and around whom the show revolves. The only times they’ve defeated all the monsters, is when they’ve gotten over their issues, stopped lying to each other and worked together as a unit.

This season, the theme seems to be witches, and  a lovely group of witches we have.They like to run around naked, carve Pentagrams into their skin and have no loyalty to one another, even though they kiss a lot. In the  first episode of this season, we meet a coven of witches, who are hunting for the devil’s favorite, otherwise known as, Vanessa. Also, they’ve taken a marked interest in Ethan, whom they believe to be Vanessa’s champion, since he was the person who was present to fight them off, after they attacked her coach. I get the distinct impression that they would’ve believed that of anyone who’d been in the coach with Vanessa.


The three witches, who look like the Erinyes  of Greek lore, except with more hair, (except when they’re being bald,) shop for perfumes, attack public coaches, steal babies, bathe in tubs of blood, and use these actions to cast spells on Vanessa and her adoptive father, Sir Malcolm.image

In an attempt to understand exactly what’s been happening to Vanessa, the group of heroes, which also include an African Shaman, named Sembene, who I hope gets some secrets of his own, conclude that they need the Verbis Diablo, a book chronicling the language of demons.The person procuring the manuscript for them is Ferdinand Lyle, who is a spy for the witches and totally crushing on Ethan, who is very charming, while ignoring his flirtations.


Since I know almost nothing at all about European Occult practices outside of some bad Horror movies, you will have to decide for yourself the accuracy of any of the Occult shenanigans, in this show.

Everyone on the show has some deep dark secret that they’re trying to hide from everyone else. Sir Malcolm, hides his depression and despair and that he’s thinking of cheating on his shrew of a wife, Ethan is pretty much hiding his entire life and there’s the strong hint of some potential romance with Vanessa. Vanessa is hiding everything from her past and the only way anyone seems to find out about it, is when it comes back to bite people.on the ass.

Last Sunday’s episode was notable for introducing a new transgender character, to be devoured by Dorien, Vanessa actually cracking a smile after she meets John Claire, and some infanticide. If these sorts of things greatly upset you, than this is not your type of show.

Next episode: We find out why the witches are so interested in Vanessa. What do you wanna guess, that  it has something to do with a dark secret, from her past?

The show is in it’s second season and airs on the Showtime network.

9 thoughts on “Penny Dreadful: Fresh Hell/ Verbis Diablo

  1. myfaketvboyfriend

    I cannot believe they are not renewing Penny Dreadful and that was the series finale-so disappointed. I really liked that show. 😦


      1. No! I had wondered really hard, then Vanees died, and I started yelling at my TV, because they had this great setup of characters walking around afterwards. It couldve beeen like League of Extraordinary Gemtlemen for TV.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. barb

    I am enjoying this show too. I actually could do with out the Frankenstein plot as Victor is not very likable at all. He makes a woman for John and now hes making her fall in love with him. How sad are you little man? John was perfectly capable of teaching her to talk etc and if Victor ever had any intention of giving her to John then he has screwed that up badly.

    I want to know more about Josh Hartnetts character-is he a werewolf???


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