Penny Dreadful : Momento Mori

We have two episodes left in an extended season and events are beginning to reach their peak. All season, John Logan has been ratcheting up the tension like a vise. The finale is going to be  a huge release for everyone. This episode featured some not quite epic confrontations, but still very satisfying.

There was no Ethan or Vanessa in this episode, nevertheless their presence was felt, as the story begins to coalesce around what Vanessa will do during the finale, and how things between her and Evelyn will play out, although I have no doubt Evelyn will lose. Like the best plots, Vanessa’s victory may create a situation that’s even worse.

Yes, there are still too many secrets for my taste but I have come to understand the underlying theme of this season seems to be eternal youth and immortality.

You have Victor Frankenstein, who has found a way to cheat death, through Science. You’ve got Dorian Gray, whose backstory everyone already know, ,if you’ve read the book. We have the Nightcomers, Evelyn Poole and her daughter Hecate. Apparently Evelyn is pretty old, something which makes her daughter think that she is weak and ineffective. She thinks her mother needs to be  supplanted by someone more youthful, like herself.

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And  there’s Evelyn’s cats-paw, Lyle. I thought she held some horrible secret over his head to keep him in her clutches, but it turns out that her only hold over him is vanity. He wishes he were younger and prettier, so he could more easily attract the young men he lusts after .As for why Evelyn wants Vanessa – vanity. To keep her youth and immortality, she has promised to procure Lucifer’s favorite.

Whether or not Lilly and John will age remains to be seen. Technically, they’re already dead but this is not without its issues. They’re stronger and faster, something Lilly proved last week,  but are completely  amoral and have no qualms about harming people.

Just like Dorian, who, after discovering that Angelique found his secret, poisoned her with a glass of wine. And this is another theme  to be discussed. Up til now, we’ve all been quick to dismiss Dorian as just a pretty wastrel, mostly harmless and charming. We tend to forget that he is nothing like that. For the first time we get to see the painting that shows what he actually looks like and yeah, it’s  as awful as you imagine.The man in the painting is disgusting, with a scowling, leering expression.This is what Dorian actually looks like and its all the more frightening because not only do you like Dorian, you want to like him. When I mentioned earlier that the Gentlemen of London were not Gentlemen because of the way they treated Angelique, well, Dorian is not a Gentlemen either and never was.

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Many of the people on this show are pretending to be something they’re not. Evelyn states as much to Lyle. John is the only monster that looks like one. Lilly, the Nightcomers, Ethan, Vanessa and Dorian all have some very pretty packaging. I think the difference is in how each of these character approaches their monstrousness.

Lilly has decided to embrace her inner monster. She is a woman with a deep well of hatred for men, and that’s understandable considering the life she led before her resurrection.  When John confronts her about the men he’d seen her with and thinks to hit her, she has this great monologue, infused with all her rage and contempt at how she was treated in her old life. In fact, she so totally forgets her present, that right in the middle of her speech, her accent changes back to her  Irish brogue, and so smoothly, that if you’re not looking for it, you miss it. Billie Piper is wonderful here.

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John is pretty shaken by this. He’s  speechless, as she tosses him around the room like a doll. He totally didn’t see any of that coming.

Victor, in a touching moment with Sir Malcolm confesses his addiction to Morphine. Its interesting to watch Victor become a warmer, more approachable person. I think this is due to his acceptance by the group and them treating him like family. Even Sembene behaves tenderly towards him, and Malcolm is understanding and kind when he makes this confession to him.

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Earlier, after finding him in a stupor, John threatened to kill Victor, again. How many times per episode is that going to happen? John is very big on threats but the only person we’ve ever seen him kill is Victor’s second experiment, who was technically already dead. John also  threatens to take Lilly away, declaring that she belongs to him. Well, Lilly makes it clear that she has very different ideas about her life and that he won’t be the only one, wearing the pants in their relationship.

Sir Malcolm seemed to be coming out of Evelyn’s spell.  Ms. Poole, pushing her luck too far, started a working over the doll she created of him and it backfires. I’m not sure what the spell was supposed to accomplish but Sembene put a stop to it, by reminding Malcolm of his past. When the spell breaks, Evelyn, who seemed to actually care about her relationship with Malcolm, was very shaken. I’m guessing no one had ever willed them-self out of one of her spells, before.

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Sir Malcolm is also confronted by Inspector Rusk, who is circling closer and closer to Ethan. Watching the two of them verbally jousting is almost as entertaining as watching Rusk and Ethan. What do you want to bet that Rusk gets exactly what he wants and meets Ethan’s monster, face to face?

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Realizing what had been done to him, Malcolm hies off to confront Evelyn about it and their confrontation is the highlight of the episode, as we’ve all been waiting for it. Malcolm thoroughly rejects her. Are her tears real or fake? At its conclusion she drops a tiny scorpion in his lap and leaves him alone with the  hallucinations of his dead wife and children.

I’d also like to point out some of the parallels we’ve seen in the actions of certain characters from first season to this one. At one point we see Vanessa teaching Ethan how to waltz. Earlier in the season we saw her teaching another monster how to waltz. She reassures John that he is not the monster he thinks he is, and Sembene does the same thing for Ethan in an earlier episode. We also see Ethan bonding with Victor while teaching him to shoot and later we see him do the same with Vanessa.

Next week we’ll see if Vanessa reaches Sir Malcolm in time to save him from himself and possibly a final showdown between her and Evelyn. At some pint everyone is going to have to deal with Ethan’s secret, and Dorian’s as well. And things between Victor, Lilly and John reach a moment, but its also possible, these may be the cliffhangers for next season.

4 thoughts on “Penny Dreadful : Momento Mori

  1. Barb

    I almost loved this episode as much as the last-almost!

    I loved Lyles line-don’t worry I am your creature. I was happy that Sir Malcolm broke out of the spell and I don’t think Mrs Pooles tears are for the loss of Malcolm. I think she feels his rejecting her is an affront! Oh Dorian! That painting! I jumped when it moved! Poor Angelique,for a second I thought he wouldn’t kill her and then she dropped the glass. I loved Embene’s reaction to the hound (wolf) of heaven. Ethans secret will have to be told. I could do without the Detective…he’s just annoying to me.

    I have a question-when did Lily realize she was undead?

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    1. I’m not sure when she figured it out. But she lives there and she’s highly observant. Now the other question is, how much of her previous life she remembers and does she know how much Victor has lied to her?

      I think Lyle may have been fibbing just a tiny bit becasue he does things to thwart her plans. Like knowing where Vanessa went with Ethan. He doesn’t know because he told her not to tell him.

      I’ll have to go back and watch Sembenes reaction. I missed it, I was so busy focusing on other stuff.

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      1. barb

        “I’m not sure when she figured it out. But she lives there and she’s highly observant. Now the other question is, how much of her previous life she remembers and does she know how much Victor has lied to her?”

        I asked because they never showed her finding out she was a “dead thing” and that would have been interesting to see. It also seems like she is getting back her memories from her original life.

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