Stuff I’ve Been Watching

 

Midnight Texas (NBC)

Image result for midnight texas

So, I’ve watched maybe two episodes of this show and I’m really liking it so far. I’m willing to date this show for a while, because it’s good fun and makes me laugh. Midnight Texas isn’t a deep show. It’s not a Bryan Fuller Joint, or Westworld, but it’s a fun little interlude before going to bed, since it airs at ten, Monday nights, and I gotta go to work in the morning.

The main character, Manfred Bernardo, can see ghosts. His Auntie comes from the town of Midnight, and after she dies suddenly, leaving him in debt to some type of criminal, her ghost tells him the town can be a safe place for him, where his skills will be appreciated.

Midnight Texas happens to be the home of various supernatural beings, and Manfred fits right in. Upon his  arrival, Manfred meets a local girl named Creek, and while her father is deeply suspicious of him, the young lady is intrigued, and the two of them develop a relationship very quickly. A lot of things happen quickly in the show, and many of the plot points happen in a kind of throwaway manner that takes some getting used to. I understand the idea is to keep it light, and not get too bogged down in philosophy, meta- physics, and whatnot. The show is supposed to just be fun, and I’ll watch it in that spirit.

I have a lot of favorite characters on the show, most of which are supers. There’s some good representation on the show, and I’m looking forward to learning more about the various characters. I missed the second episode, but managed to watch the third. The creators are trying to keep things light without being ha-ha funny, which is a fine line. It doesn’t look like they’re trying so much to reproduce True Blood, as reproduce the mood of True Blood. Some of these characters are mentioned in the True Blood books though.

Manfred, for example, is the psychic that Sookie met when she visited Dallas.  Midnight Texas is based on source material from the same writer, Charlaine Harris. I have not read the books. I opted not to, because I didn’t want my brain focusing on the side issues of the books, while watching the show. I may read them at some point in the future, because they seem like fun, but not right now.

Image result for midnight texas/ joe  gifs

We have a full complement of creatures on the show, so you’d think my favorite would be the Reverend Emilio Sheehan, who happens to be a Were-Tiger, which is kinda awesome. He seems rather morose, which is appropriate as I consider actual tigers to be the “crabby old men” of the giant cat world. There are WoC in the cast. One of them owns the local bar/diner, and I don’t think she has any superpowers, but I could be wrong, and it’s something that could be revealed later. The other is the local witch. The town does have some mundane people inhabiting it, and some of them are aware of the supernatural qualities of the others.

You’d think my next favorite would be the Angel, Joe because he’s really, really hot. I’m not into blondes, as a rule, but I’m willing to acknowledge the occasional hotness of some of them. He happens to be living with a Hispanic man named Chuy, who also happens to be an Angel, and I wonder if the two of them being a couple is the reason they’ve been exiled to Earth.

Image result for midnight texas gifs
Lemuel

Well, you know who my favorite is. Lemuel, the rather unique vampire who feeds off human energy, and eats other vampires. We get to see his backstory in the third episode. He used to be a slave and there’s a scene of Lemuel being whipped for trying to escape, which I didn’t appreciate having to look at. That scene is pretty graphic and you may want to skip it if watching Black people being tortured is not your thing. The point of all that is to show how far Lemuel will go to be free, I guess.  After a couple of escape attempts, Lem encounters a Native American vampire, who transforms him. Lem’s immediate course of action is to avenge himself on the slave owner, who had him beaten, and that guy’s entire family. That’s pretty graphic too.

Image result for midnight texas gifs
Olivia

 

Later, Lem and the other vampires in his clan, have a falling out, because Lem thinks he’s become just another slave to his thirst. In the third episode, Len’s Maker returns looking to take over Midnight for himself. The townspeople rally together to kill the vampires.

This seems to be the main theme this season, as we’ve  had three/four episodes, in which the townspeople need to band together to defeat some outside force. In the middle of all this plot, we learn that Lem started off as an ordinary vampire, but after encountering Manfred’s aunt when she was a child, she transformed him into something else, a vampire that can feed on other vampires.

The characters often have some deep philosophical insights, but like I said, it’s in a blink and you’ll miss it manner. (Joe and the Reverend do this too.) Lem is played by Peter Mensah, who is extremely handsome, in his bold blue contacts. You may remember him as a gladiator from the show Spartacus.

I  like Lem’s girlfriend, Olivia, who is some type of international assassin. She’s a total badass, and she and Lem are the town’s heavy hitters, when it comes to defense. I don’t normally pay a whole lot of attention to White television actresses, unless they’ve firmly established themselves with a good track record, but I like this actress. She’s blunt spoken, clear-headed, and pragmatic, all qualities I admire, and I see why Lem likes her. She has some secrets from her past, that she’s trying to bury, while dealing with  anger issues.  I could do with a lot fewer scenes of Olivia and Lem gettin’ it on, though. It doesnt need to be shown in every episode.

Image result for midnight texas gifs
Fiji

Fiji is another one of my favorites, and I like her, not because she’s the town witch, although that’s kinda cool, but because she has a talking cat. I don’t know much about the cat’s backstory but he’s snarky, and dismissive, just the way you’d think a cat would be. How it happened that her cat talks, we don’t know yet. Fiji is very young, but she’s also extremely powerful, and well-respected in the town. Most of the mundanes know what she is, and rely on her to protect them.

Fiji is also really cute, and kind of adorkably nerdy. She has a mad crush on one of the townies, a guy with the unfortunate name of Bobo, and her feelings seems to be reciprocated. One of the more powerful images I have of her, is from the first episode, where she crushes a police vehicle, with little more than her bare hands, and a strong will. Fiji looks sweet and vulnerable, but she ain’t the one to mess with. She’s  refreshingly different, as Black women rarely get to be emotionally fragile, but powerful love interests, and/or witches either.

I’m going to try to enjoy this show while it lasts. It’s on network television, which has a nasty habit of cancelling the shows I like, so I don’t hold out much hope that Midnight Texas. will be around next year. This is the same station that just canceled Still Star Crossed. But then I was trying really hard not to get attached to that show. (That didn’t work). I’m not gonna try that with this show and it still might get canceled. I might as well get attached. There’s always the books, which I’m told, Charlaine intends to keep writing.

 

Mr. Mercedes (Audience Network)

Image result for mr mercedes gif

 

I liked this show, too. I was expecting it to be a deeply serious dramatic type  show, but it turned out to have a quirky sense of humor, not because the writing is funny, or people are telling jokes, but because certain characters and situations are just odd. It’s not like the show Psych, which was a deliberate comedy. This is not a comedy. It’s just some of the characters are weird.

The show is based on a trilogy of books by Stephen King, the first title of which is Mr. Mercedes, named after the killer in the book. Brendan Gleason plays Bill Hodges, a retired cop who is trying to figure out what to do with himself, now that he’s no longer working. until he is taunted out of retirement by Mr. Mercedes, so-named after he drove a Mercedes into a crowd of job seekers outside a job fair, killing several. I like Gleason’s character. One of the funniest recurring issues is when he can’t believe various women find him attractive. (It’s definitely the beard.)

Image result for mr mercedes tv show gifs

The show begins with  a very graphic scene, and I was heavily reminded of the events in Charlottesville Virginia. There’s no mystery about the killer for the audience, just as in the book. We’re introduced to Brady Hartsfield early in the story. The book remains very faithful to the books, except in tiny details like the wacky neighbor lady who lives next door, and Bill feeding a massive tortoise passing through his yard one morning. I’m not sure if this is a pet or what.

Bill is assisted in his sleuthing, by the kid he hired to mow his lawn, and who happens to be a computer wiz. Jerome is played by Jharrel Jerome, and I like him already. His character is a refreshing change from the Black Male Sportsplayer/Jock, we see so often on TV. Black men are rarely cast as hardware nerds. Brady is also a tech-nerd, and works at one of those big box technical stores, which is something like Best Buy, and I like that Jerome seems to be every bit his equal when it comes to the esoteric workings of computers.

Image result for mr mercedes gifs jerome

I think Bill’s quirky neighbor is meant to represent a woman with which Bill has a brief, but satisfying relationship, in the books. Or at least I hope so. I don’t know if this will happen on the show, but in the book, Janey is murdered by Brady. This is not a catalyst to make Bill chase after him, because Bill was already unofficially working the Mr. Mercedes case. This is Brady’s attmept to make Bill commit suicide. The neighbor, Ida Silver, is played by Holland Taylor, and if she looks familiar, that you may have seen her in every funny show of the 90s.

Image result for mr mercedes cast

The villain is played by one of the alumni of the cable show, Penny Dreadful . Harry Treadaway, who played Victor Frankenstein, is as disgusting character here, as he was on the other show. Apparently, this is how he’s going to make his career, playing unlikable people in perfectly good shows. The show remains very faithful to the books with him too. He has an incestuous relationship with his mother, whom he later poisons, and it looks like the writers are sticking to this plot, although in the book, the mother  initiates sexual activity. In the show, it appears she doesn’t know that her son regularly masturbates with her as his subject. (I know! Ewww!)

Their relationship does have a very Bates Motel feel. Brady works at a Big Box store, with other quirky characters, and a deeply stupid boss, who is constantly shit-talking Brady’s dreams of life beyond the store. This goes a long way towards humanizing this incredibly shitty character, who mowed down dozens of people with his car, just for shits and giggles. This is not something that happens  in the books, so I wasn’t expecting that.

I’m going to keep watching this because the pilot certainly captured me. The show airs on the Audience Network which may be difficult for some of you to access. I have access to it through DirectTV, and its possible you may need that, to watch this show.

 

 

The Void (Netflix)

Related image

I love a good creature feature, and I was attracted to this movie because of its use of tentacles in its promotional material. I wasn’t expecting a whole lot when I sat down to watch it. I was sort of expecting a little Cthulhu type stuff, and there’s certainly a little of that in it, but there was also a lot of it I couldn’t make hide, nor hair, of.

It seems to be about a group of cultists attempting to call some dark being to Earth, to inhabit the bodies of humans, and the cultists are partially successful. They’re doing this in collusion with a doctor at the local hospital, where they’ve trapped several people.  Daniel Carter, Maggie, James, and inexplicably, an Asian woman, named Kim, who I lost track of by the end of the movie.

These people have to fight off monsters inhabiting the bodies of their friends, and a couple of trigger happy locals, while working their way through the maze of the hospital, to find and stop the doctor from unleashing Hell on Earth, through the body of his pregnant daughter.

Image result for the void movie

I have to give fair warning. The movie is very gory, with lots of blood and other fluids gushing all over the place. People get skewered with knives and/or shot, and sometimes they get torn apart by creatures. The cult members wear white hooded cloaks and look a little like KKK members, but there is no equivocating in this case. They are definitely villains ,whose job it is to keep the hapless victims trapped in the hospital to be fodder for the monsters. There’s also an element of the movie The Thing, as the monster is a conglomeration of various body parts and live people.

The movie doesn’t have the happiest ending either. At the end Daniel, and I guess her name is Maggie, get trapped in an alternate universe featuring a giant black pyramid. It’s not a bad movie, but it’s not an A+ movie either. A lot of the plot seems to have been borrowed from  other Lovecraftian pastiche movies, like Hellraiser, and Re-animator ,and the acting is sometimes a bit dodgy. But I think the key words here are “not bad”. It’s a good workmanlike plot where bad things happen to bad, and sometimes not so bad,people, who sometimes act like cowards, and occasionally act like heroes.

Image result for the void movie

Daniel isn’t the most charismatic guy in the film, although he is set up as our hero, who has the most sense,  and who  is gonna save the world. None of the other characters stand out as especially interesting either, really. Basically, if you’re watching this movie, it’s just  for the monsters, and gore.

Advertisements

Penny Dreadful Series Three Finale (?)

The Penny Dreadful season finale consisted of a two episode arc titled Perpetual Night and The Blessed Dark. I’m still not sure how I feel about this season or the finale. I’m still processing the ending. It appears that  Lily’s and Vanessa’s stories are truly over. I’d love to see more of Kaetenay in the future and we still never got to meet Mr. Hyde. Basically the other character’s  stories aren’t over and I’d love to see their conclusion, but I’m told this is the last episode for the series. I really don’t want to believe that. It sees so abrupt, with so many threads left dangling. I believe the show could endure without Eva green because the other characters are all very compelling, but we can only hope that the PTB will see it that way.

Also, this season felt  shortened. Wasn’t there supposed to be twelve or thirteen episodes? The season seemed to be moving at the usual leisurely pace of a twelve episode season, when suddenly Vanessa is throwing herself on Dracula, the world is ending, and then she’s dead and everything is back to normal, only without her. I’m not satisfied with the explanation given by the shows writer that basically he meant to do that. I think there much more to the story than that. The show ended much too abruptly, and even introduced brand new characters I’d love to see more of, like Seward, and Jeckyll.

image

In the previous episode, titled Ebb Tide, Vanessa discovered the shocking truth about Dracula. She confronted him but eventually surrendered to him, bringing about a kind of vampire Apocalypse, but only  in London, which is where we begin the finale. This isn’t  the most fascinating episode, or even the most interesting event, although I was reluctant to believe Vanessa would do such a thing. No, the most fascinating  event turned out to be Lily’s and Dorian’s story, and the dynamic between Kaetenay and Ethan. I also had finally decided that I liked Catriona, who turned out to be a total bad ass, and I hope there is a next season because I’d like to know who she is, where she came from and if the Mummy storyline will be introduced through her and Lyle, because I’d watch the Hell out of that.

Perpetual Night and Blessed Dark are fairly straightforward episodes, though. I wont recap them, just cover the highlights because there’s not a whole lot of plot. Even during the finale, the show manage to keep that same leisurely tone, as if wasnt about to end in 90 minutes.

Ethan , Kaetenay and Malcolm arrive in London and find  the entire city fogbound, people getting sick from some kind of plague, (from the mal aria), and that Dracula’s minions are roaming the streets as they please, taking whom they will, just like the prophecies stated.The highlight is when Ethan wolfs out among a bunch of minions and is  joined by Kaetenay, who is also a werewolf. Apparentl,  Ethan didn’t know this. Kaetenay says he kept it a secret from his own family even. Well, I’d kind of speculated about  what happened between them. Kaetenay was the one who turned E. into a werewolf.

image

Victor sets Lily free after the two of them have a heartfelt discussion about why he shouldn’t obliterate her memories of who she was, and why she did what she did. She harbors a lot of rage for about her dead daughter, the things she felt she had to do for her, and her daughter to survive, because of the life restrictions placed on women at that time. I never thought Lily’s anger or reasons were illegitimate ones. Hell, I was angry for her. Hell, the British trampled every culture and continent they encountered. She wasn’t the only person getting shafted by Englishmen, at that time. I just didn’t think that slaughtering them, one by one,  was the answer to that particular dilemma.  I don’t care how mad you are, that’s a lot of killing.

John, the Creature, witnesses the death of his son. He’s implored by his wife to take him to Victor to be resurrected, but John refuses, and buries his son at sea. That story felt truncated too. In an ideal world there’d be a fourth season where John had made a different choice.

Hyde confronts Victor about not using the formula on Lily and informs him that his father has just died. He is Lord Hyde now, having inherited his fathers titles and estates. We never got to see Hyde at all, and the funny thing is, this finale is something of a surprise to the actor as well, because in some earlier interviews he mentioned the conventional makeup used to create him.

image

The three men are still looking for Vanessa, when Dr. Seward comes calling. She takes them to Bedlam where she has imprisoned Renfield. They need to find Dracula’s whereabouts, so  Seward hypnotizes Renfield into giving up the location.

Dorian goes back to his home and kicks out Lily’s army of women. When Justine refuses to leave, he kills her. Lily discovers her broken body on the floor of the ballroom, and after saying goodbye to both of them, decides to leave Dorian, which I thought was a fitting response. They’ve got no more to offer each other. He betrayed her to Victor, and killed her girl, after claiming she bored him, although I really think he thought she would decide to stay with him. Once again, because of his ennui and cynicism, Dorian ends up alone and I gots no sympathy for him.

The Five; Seward, Kaetenay, Malcolm, Ethan, and Catriona, arrive at Dracula’s lair, where there’s a long drawn out battle with Dracula’s minions. I’d like to point out the fight choreography is great here, as Catriona gets in some really nice stunts, and Drac’s minions have some great body movement. I’d like to believe Cat’s not entirely human, and it would’ve been nice to find out what she was, and if Dracula, or Amenhotep, had something  to do with that. Ethan finds his way down a long hall to a room full of candles, (which is something I always find especially funny. Who takes the time to light all these tiny damn candles?). He finds Vanessa, who convinces him that the only way to stop the end of the world is to kill her, so he shoots her. Everything stops. The minions all stop, the sun comes out and Dracula simply flies away. Why wasn’t he killed?

Episode 309

Later , everything goes back to normal, as London cleans its streets, the group bury Vanessa, and all go their own ways.Its cute and touching to see Victor grabbing and hugging Ethan, like a little brother. I’m still mad at him for being a dick to Lily, so it’s not that cute. I’m not gonna be shipping these two anytime soon.Later, Ethan, who has nothing to go back home for, decides to stay home with Malcolm, who is the closest thing he has to family now. That’s fitting.

The world spins on without Vanessa being miserable in the middle of it, and the series ends with waaay too many dangling plotlines and characters , we will never get to see.

Oh well…

 

Penny Dreadful : Episodes 5&6.

“Everybody Wants To Rule The World” – Tears for Fears

This World is Our Hell:

Last week, we learned a lot about Ethan and Hecate, as the two of them trudged through the desert to reach his homestead. Ethan’s plan is to go back home, confront, and possibly, kill his father.

Ethan and Hecate get to know each other as they slowly dehydrate but that doesn’t stop them from having sex. In fact, I’m not surprised they did. The entire time they’ve been together, Hecate has been telling Ethan what a wonderful creature he is, and how they will take over the world, or something. This is much more believable coming from Hecate, than it is from Lily, who we didn’t get to see in this episode. Unlike with Lily,  I’m actually afraid of what Hecate might do.

It also appears as if Ethan is slowly coming around to Hecate’s way of thinking, on this issue, as he stops protesting, and side-eyeing her. Maybe she’s just worn him down, or he’s starting to like her, or he’s just pretending to care about what she says. It’s hard to tell with Ethan, as he likes to play his tenderest emotions close to his vest.

The two of them are  still being pursued by Rusk and his men, most of whom get killed when Hecate works some arcane magic to call snakes out of the sand to attack them.  During the chaos, Kaetenay gets bitten while trying to steal the posse’s horses,  and things do not look good for him. He and Sir Malcolm make a getaway, but it’s not clean.

Malcolm eventually meets up with Hecate and Ethan, who are on their last legs and about to die, but all of them are apprehended by Ethan’s father’s men. It turns out that Kaetenay is an Apache, one of fiercest and most rebellious tribes, during the time period before they were mostly wiped out. There’s no love for Kaetenay, in this crew, so Ethan tells them to abandon him in the desert. I’m not sure if Ethan is doing this to spare Kaetenay’s life, if he knows Kaetenay will be alright and come rescue him, or if he really doesn’t care.  Again it’s hard to say what Ethan knows, but I’m inclined to believe that he knows Kaetenay will come for him.

Earlier, Kaetenay  outlined to Malcolm, Ethan’s great sin, which was aiding in the massacre of his tribe and family. I’m still unsure if Ethan was cursed at the time this happened, or if it was something Kaetenay did to him afterward, which would be incredibly ironic. Cursing the man who massacred his family to murder any other people he comes in contact with, (including his own family), sounds like the sort of vindictive , horrible, yet mordantly funny thing, Kaetenay might do. His sense of humor is very odd. At any rate, Ethan must have killed scores of people in his, relatively young, life.

At Ethan’s home, Malcolm and Ethan’s father have words. Malcolm is not greatly impressed by the man, although they seem to have much in common. I think the difference is that Malcolm, as hard headed as he is, eventually learns when he fucks up, and Ethan’s dad, not so much. Dad still insists on making the same mistakes he made before, hoping for a different outcome. As evidenced by his actions when he tells Ethan why he insisted on bringing him home.

In the movie Seven, one of the detectives mentions something called “Forced Atonement”.” It’s when you regret your sins but not because you love God. It’s because you have a gun to your head.” That’s what I thought about when Ethan’s father held a gun to Ethan’s head to make him beg God for forgiveness, and make atonement for what he thinks is Ethan’s great sin, killing his wife and daughter, Ethan’s mother and sister. He says he wants Ethan to pay for what he did, but I’m still not sure what threatening Ethan is going to accomplish.

It really would be interesting to find out that the Apache they let go in the desert is the person who is indirectly responsible for what happened to Ethan’s family, which doesn’t bode well, for the relationship between John and Vanessa. This show likes to mirror characters, and if the relationship between Ethan and Kaetenay is a mirror of the one between Vanessa and John, then there is some hard  news for us viewers, later.

On a side note, we watch as Victor and Henry work on his serum together. Their goal is to get the effects of the serum to be permanent. So far, we’ve seen no sign of Mr. Hyde, but we have seen some startling and disturbing glimpses of Henry’s rage at the world, and how it’s treated him, at the bigotry of the English, and the disregard of his father. This is a man with a deep well of rage, and from time to time, he can’t seem to keep it underneath. Is he already taking the serum , or is this leading up to him taking it, or being given it by Victor?  This also unclear. It wouldn’t surprise me in the slightest if Victor did such a thing. Twice now we’ve seen him admonish Henry for displaying his anger. Testing the serum out on Henry isn’t something that’s out of bounds for him.

 

No Beast So Fierce:

So far, Hecate and Ethan want to rule the world, with Kaetenay  and Malcolm trying to nip that in the bud. Lily and her charge, Justine, want to rule the world with Dorian. Satan tried but lost his bid, but that’s okay because Dracula has put in his application to rule the world  with Vanessa. Who the hell even knows what Henry wants and John  just wants to take care of his family.

Dr. Sweet and Renfield:

Renfield is still giving Dracula  regular updates on what Vanessa has been telling Dr. Seward, including her last session, in which she found out his name, for which he is being rewarded by being made Dracula’s favorite. Dracula now knows that Vanessa knows his name. My thoughts while watching this scene: Dracula has got them (bishies) in check.  A mere twitch of his fingertips is enough to have his followers, minions, (or whatever) groveling on the floor in front of him. Now, that is control!

Vanessa and Lyle:

screen-shot-2016-05-31-at-1-53-19-pm.png

Unfortunately ,this seems to be the last we will be seeing of Lyle, as Vanessa catches up with him just before his expedition to Cairo, something he says isn’t strictly voluntary on his part. Vanessa asks him for the name of someone who knows as much about the occult as he does, and this is how Catriona Hartdegan, a new female character and Thanatologist, is introduced, for this season. (Note that famous Egyptian name that Lyle drops before his departure.)

Vanessa goes to see Cate at her fencing lesson, to ask her to investigate Dracula’s name. Cate is definitely a modern woman, bold and snarky. I’m not sure I like her just yet, as she seems very brittle and scratchy, so far. She’s not unlikable, just skritchy. I think one test of whether or not I’ll like her, is how well she gets along with Vanessa, who seems intrigued by her, and how well she handles the situation with Dracula.  I also think its important to learn whether or not she can shoot a gun.  In other words, is she as bad-ass as she likes to think she is, and does she have Vanessa’s back.

Lily, Justine, Dorian:

image

“No beast so fierce but knows some touch of pity. But I know none, and therefore am no beast.” -Shakespeare

Oh boy, do I have a lot to say about these relationships this week. Now I’m intrigued by the introduction of Lily’s little girl and I’ve decided I’ll call her by her name this week, Justine. Things are definitely heating up between these three, but not in the way you might think, which does not bode well for either Lily, or Justine. I have decided to apply the above quote to Justine and Ethan, although it could apply to just about any of the characters in this episode.

Somebody gon’ die!

Lily has begun to draw up her army. They are mostly prostitutes, and other fallen women, whom English society has disdained as worthless. They’ve been gathering, mostly quietly, at Dorian’s estate and learning from Lily how best to gut and stab their male clients. I watched Lily’s demonstration on Dorian, and I think Lily forgot to factor in that there would be arterial blood spray, if you cut someone from the front. (You really want to do that kind of shit off to the side, or from behind, where the blood wouldn’t hit you.)

Anyway, her biggest problem isn’t that she is teaching incorrect murder classes, but that Justine, who has pledged herself to Lily, has pledged herself to Lily alone. When its time for Justine to demonstrate on Dorian, Lily can barely restrain Justine from cutting his throat. I think Dorian not dying would be a surprise to all of them. He doesn’t actually look scared but he does look nervous. Either he hasn’t told Lily what he is or he’s worried about how little control he has over these women. I’m guessing, the latter.

image

At any rate, its not Lily who is the wild card in this scenario, it’s Justine, who will take orders from  no man, including Dorian. Justine basically looks him in the eye,  and tells him to fuck off, something I’m pretty sure Dorian isn’t used to from women he’s  actively sleeping with. At any rate, the future doesn’t look good for Justine. Dorian killed Angelique just for finding out what he was. If Justine can’t be controlled by him, in his own house, then she has a very short future. And if he kills Justine, then he can forget about having a happy relationship with Lily.

Victor and Henry:

The two have finally gotten the serum to work. Victor makes plans to kidnap Lily so he can administer it to her. Henry, long ago, sussed out the real reason Victor is obsessed with saving her. Victor is that creepy stalker, who believes he’s a nice guy.

John:

There’s a little of John’s situation this episode as he goes to visit his family. His son is suffering from some disease and is very sickly. When his wife leaves him alone, John sneaks down from the attic to see him. John manages to give the child a single hug before the boy wakes up  to see a strange man, who looks suspiciously like his father, standing over his bed, and begins to scream. Its heartbreaking to think that this is the only opportunity John will have to touch his child.

 

Victor and Lily

All that happens is Victor gets captured at Dorian’s house. The only reason Justine doesn’t kill him is because of the amount of control Lily has over her, and Lily’s mercy. She warns him not to try it again, or he’ll be killed.

Hecate, Talbot, Malcolm 

 

The set piece of the episode is the final dinner and shootout at the Talbot corral. Everyone is calmly sitting and eating dinner as if guns weren’t being brandished a couple of hours earlier. Guns get brandished again when Rusk asks Hecate what she is, knowing what she did to his men with the snakes, and she reveals her true face to every one at the table. That’s some next level shit to everyone, as the room  immediately erupts in gunfire. We get to see Ethan’s gunfighter skills come into play and Hecate gets taken down by a bullet from Papa Talbot. No future Queen of the Earth for her, I guess.

Talbot barricades himself and his men in the chapel where he’d earlier threatened Ethan, but Kaetenay, who simply refuses to die, comes through, in the cut. With the two biggest influences in his life dead, Ethan is free to leave with Malcolm and Kaetenay. The all need to return to England NOW! because Vanessa is falling further into Dracula’s clutches.

Vanessa and Dr. Sweet

penny-dreadful-no-beast-so-fierce-.jpg

 

After a visit with Dr. Seward, who urges her to mend fences with her friends, Vanessa goes to see Dr. Sweet, who goads her into talking about her problems with him. He is still sweet?talking her, with his opinions about creatures of darkness, and loneliness. He seems surprised that she has turned up to see him because he thought all his hard work in wooing her had been wasted.

A lot of the things Sweet tells her are about himself, and she seems, on some level, to understand this because they end up having sex in the exhibit. Yeah, this does not look good. All evening long, Sweet seems as if he’s on the verge of telling Vanessa his real name, but keeps thinking better of it. Shit is gonna hit that fan when that happens.Vanessa: betrayed yet again!

Obviously, Vanessa cannot be left alone to choose her own friends, and must needs adult supervision.

Let’s hope Ethan reaches her quickly before something horrible happens.

 

Of Note:

It’s interesting that Dracula, despite his nefarious purposes, really seems to actually love Vanessa. His behavior towards her is so incredibly convincing, as Dr. Sweet, that even I occasionally forget what he is. I know he’s probably lying to her quite a lot, but I still can’t help but feel a great deal of sympathy for his evil ass. This a testament to the skills of the writer and the actor. (Plus, it doesnt hurt that that actor is really really hawwt!)

Penny Dreadful : A Blade of Grass

Oh, this episode brought the feels. I definitely needed some tissues during, and afterward, since having dealt with my own mental health issues, this episode held a certain amount of personal relevance to me.

This episode aired at the same time as the Preacher pilot, so I watched this one and DVRed the other, and I’m glad I did. On the surface, this particular episode doesn’t appear to have much plot, but it makes up for it with depth of feeling, and some interesting revelations, as Vanessa goes deep inside herself to find the memories she lost during her years at the Banning Clinic, an asylum for the wealthy, that her parents sent her to, after she blamed herself for Mina’s disappearance.

Eva Green is always at her best when she’s being tortured,  but Rory Kinner tore it up as Pre-John, before he became Frankenstein’s creature. He had me in tears so often during this episode, which is one of the most beautifully written, and we’re only four episodes into the season. I have a new appreciation for this actor and this character (who I hated when he was first introduced).

You have two of the most tragic figures in the show, connecting and commiserating deeply with each other, and it’s heartening to know that this isn’t the only time. They will meet again in the future, and even though they won’t recognize each other, their connection will still be there. They are simply sympathetic souls, who resonate with each other.

Episode 304

 

Also contrast John’s manner of dealing with his undead state with Lily’s reaction to the same. They are both dealing with something wholly inexplicable, but for some reason John is the more sympathetic character. To be fair, John led a much more ordinary life than Lily did before she died, and this particular episode has done a lot to make me love this character. He was a good man before he died. Or at least he tried to be.

Lily lived a life of deprivation, and disease, being used by the privileged, being close enough to them to see the things she could never have, and this informs her bitterness. She can’t or won’t let go of that. John led, if not a privileged life, at least an ordinary one, with a wife and child, and a job he cared about. Instead of appreciating her new found circumstances, Lily has decided to seek revenge on her past life. John was in that state at first, but has somehow managed to grow and  move past that stage.

I suppose at some point in the series, I may feel for Lily what I now feel for John.  I can’t stand her now, and I wonder if part of the reason is because she still hasn’t moved past that initial stage (that even John went through), of needing to get revenge on all the people she thinks wronged her. All in all, I wish she were happier. She is not at peace, and she deserves to be, but doesn’t realize it, and I wonder if this is also the reason I don’t like her very much. There’s so much good she could do for the world, and abused girls like her young protege, but her bitterness only prompts her to want to burn everything down.

During Vanessa’s stay at the Banning Clinic, John is the only one to show her any kindness, even when it’s against regulations for him to do so, or to even tell her his name. He grows close to her, feeding her when she refuses, comforting her after her treatments, which she thinks are tortures, and pleading with her to get better.

At one point John tells her that even if she can’t get better, she should fake it anyway, to keep from further torturous treatments. Vanessa has a good argument for why she shouldn’t but I’m in agreement with John. She should fake it til she makes it. In all fairness she does try, but claims she couldn’t counterfeit normality well enough, after Banning makes the decision to perform brain surgery on her.

PennyD 3.4 Gag Van_zpsvjxy7f0c.jpg

During this ordeal, Dr. Seward has been trying mightily to awaken Vanessa, who has gone into some kind of fugue state, and Seward can’t rouse her, not even by burning her with a cigarette, which is definitely not something in the psychiatry manuals. I left this episode with the strong impression that psychiatrists, and psychologists, were mostly just experimenting on their patients, back then.

When John describes what Banning’s patients are like, after they’ve had bits and pieces of their brains cut out, you realize  those doctors had no fucking clue what they were doing. All of it was trial and error, and as bad as such places are now they’re still  a damn sight better  than  they were then, because you only had two alternatives, then. You had a choice between places like Bedlam, experimenting on the poor, and the more upscale “clinics”, where you were also experimented on, but they were slightly cleaner, with better food.

Since Seward can’t rouse her from her state, she says that Vanessa has no choice but to finish what she started. She has to keep moving forward, (a mantra of special relevance to me because its my personal one.) I liken mental trauma to walking through fire. Sometimes you have no choice but to walk through the fire, to deal with your issues, to confront them and get past them, because turning back, (retreating to one’s mental state before the trauma),  isn’t an option, and that’s Seward’s advice to Vanessa.

Keep moving forward!

At first Vanessa refuses to eat and John has to force feed her. Something he does as compassionately as he can, and when she asks him whether its night or day, he always asks which she would prefer, and then accedes to her decision, whichever one it is. The most touching moments are when John gives her a blanket after one of her sessions with Dr. Banning, when he knows he’s not supposed to, and when he visits her on Christmas day, to put a bit of makeup on her, brush her hair, and read to her one of his favorite books, just to remind her what its like to feel human and civilized again.

Episode 304

 

Eventually he reaches the revelation that his attachment to her is too great and he  intends to quit his job. After her surgery, she will become nothing more than one of Dr. Banning’s “broken things”, and he couldn’t  bear to see her in that state, as that is his primary job – taking care of Banning’s broken people. His last day will be the day of her surgery and that his face will be the last one she sees, because there should be someone present who loves her. (Side note: My mother just underwent her first surgery several days ago and that was my thought just before the doctors took her away. So you can imagine this declaration had quite an effect on me.) Even Dr. Seward relaxes her guard to  Vanessa., telling her she will not leave her, that she will stay  until the end.

They are not the only two pledging their devotion to Vanessa. Contrast John’s and Seward’s love, and acts of compassion, to that of Satan’s and Dracula’s, who both visit Vanessa through the body of the orderly. They both declare their love for her and that she is to be theirs, and then  proceed to cajole, seduce, and threaten her into deciding between the two of them, but she refuses. In this world’s mythology, it turns out that Lucifer and Dracula are brothers. Dracula presides over the physical realm of Earth and wants Vanessa’s flesh and blood, while Satan presides over the spiritual realm and desires Vanessa’s soul. (I think this is an interesting mythological turn.)

The sheer irony of all this is that, while Vanessa turns to God as her salvation, (and I suppose one would, if one is convinced Satan exists), she has only to look at the examples of the people who love her. She believes herself to be evil because of the sins she feels she’s committed, she has a handful of spiritual superpowers, and two of the world’s worst creatures are in love with her. What she fails to notice is that there are good people who love her too, but she doesn’t seem to allow their love to inform her character. Seward, Murray, Ethan, Lyle and John are devoted to her, and stand by her, when they really don’t have to, but Vanessa’s guilt about her past sins won’t allow her to just accept that love and compassion. Her sins are a sign to her that she doesn’t deserve love.

Penny-Dreadful-A-Blade-of-Grass-3x04-promotional-picture-penny-dreadful-39567262-3600-2700

In a way, Seward’s assessment of Vanessa is correct. It ultimately doesn’t matter if Satan or Dracula is real, if Vanessa believes that’s true, she needs to find better ways of coping with her reality other than guilt and withdrawal. At the foundation of her “madness” is the belief that she is cursed because of what she thinks she did  to Mina. It’s the first incident she mentions to Seward when they began their sessions, and its where Vanessa thinks all her troubles began. No, her behavior towards Mina didn’t cause Satan’s and Dracula’s interest in her, but she can’t deal with any of her other traumas  until she’s handled the  first sin she thinks she committed, and refused to let go of, her betrayal of her best friend, Mina.

Only after she’s dealt with that can she move forward to her other problems. That guilt is a noose hanging round her neck. Dark forces can always tug on that rope to gain control over her, as we saw last season with the witches, and not dealing with it makes her fight for self-control that much harder.

Which is why she declares, after Seward has managed to awaken her, that not only does she know the name of the second demon pursing her, that none of this is over.

Next week, we’ll find out what the other characters are doing, and Vanessa’s journey continues. I’m missing Lyle, so its time to have him turn up and shine a little light after such intense episodes.

Penny Dreadful : Good and Evil Braided Be

 

The titles are especially apt this season. This episode we get glimpses of all the characters, most specifically their good and bad sides. Most of this episode consists of people dealing with their memories and coping with their aftermath. We find out what John has been doing, a curious setback for Vanessa and Dr. Sweet, we follow Ethan and Hecate’s travels, and our horny little immortal couple, Dorian and Lily. The episode hops around from person to person,but rather than recapping it in that manner I’m going to tell what each character was doing individually.

Ethan and Hecate:

9395397_penny-dreadful-takes-a-couples-retreat_8d1af68e_m

These two are riding around in the desert getting shot at by Rusk and his posse. Ethan wakes up in a barn and finds Hecate waiting for him to come back to his senses. She insists that the two of them have a future together, even after Ethan makes it clear that he hates her guts. (Ethan seems to hate everybody but Vanessa.) Hecate is blindly devoted to him, normally an admirable quality, but for that reason alone, she should probably come to a bad end.

She and Ethan stop to steal some horses from a small ranch, but when the owner protests this via shotgun, Hecate slits his throat and then proceeds to kill the rest of the family, too. Ethan can’t seem to do anything but watch in horror. Does that make him complicit in their deaths?

 

Kaetenay/Malcolm:

Kaetenay and Malcolm are hot on Ethan’s trail. Kaetenay tells Malcolm that if they don’t recover Ethan the destruction of the world is imminent. He even knows all about Hecate and has visions of Ethan, so  I wonder if this is just  the typical Mystical-Indian tropes or something more than that? Malcolm asks why Kaetenay needs him and susses out that maybe Ethan doesn’t  actually trust Kaetenay, no matter how lovingly K. talks about him.

He and Malcolm find the  bodies of the rancher and his family, and Kaetenay’s behavior becomes more desperate. You can tell because his attitude becomes even more snippy than usual. I am loving Wes Studi in this role. He appears to be having waaay too much fun.

Renfield/Vanessa:

e48e1e7d55464911c987f8d1fdfb1bee

Renfield has been listening to Vanessa’s  therapy sessions which Dr. Seward has been recording. He continues to behave nervously around Vanessa, and has become so obsessed with her, that he writes her name over and over again (ala The Shining) in his journal. We also catch the classic moment when he eats a fly. This is a very juicy (pun intended) role for this actor and I hope he’s really enjoying it. Keep in mind, that what Renfield  overhears in Vanessa’s therapy sessions, will later be conveyed to Dracula, and his minions, which is something that will play out in the rest of the episode.

 

Vanessa/Dr. Seward:

26177849324_ce740ce0f4_b

Vanessa and the Doctor argue about Vanessa’s  confessions to her in therapy, including the fact that they’ve met before. The Doctor insist that what Vanessa told her is nothing but delusions. At one point, Vanessa grabs the Doctor’s  hand and reads her tragic past. Only then does the Doctor look half convinced. Vanessa asks to be hypnotized, so she can see the part of her past that was lost to her memory, and the doctor agrees. This is something that will play out in the rest of this episode and the next.

 

John:

John (Victor’s creature) is finally back in England. He stops in Limehouse, where he finds Vanessa just standing about, but she’s actually waiting for Dr. Sweet. The two of them have a date and John is delighted to see her happy and holding hands with him.

Some of John’s memories of his human life have been returning and he’s decided to seek out the family he left behind when he died. He finds them but their situation is dire. His little boy is dying, and his wife is so poor, that she has gone to work in one of the many smokestack factories dotting the landscape of Victorian England. It’s a horribly dirty life for the two of them and John is naturally brought to tears. They were not rich when he was alive but at least he held a steady job (which we will find out at the end of the episode, exactly what that job was) and they were all relatively happy and healthy, living in Limehouse.

 

Victor/Henry:

“Good and evil braided be”, seems to be some kind of catchphrase that Victor invented because even though it sounds like a book quote, I couldn’t find that quote anywhere. (If anyone knows where that quote is from, let me know becasue my Google-Fu was no good with that phrase.) He and Henry discuss the serum Henry created and Henry relates how it only has temporary effects on his patients. Victor says he can solve that problem, simply because he is awesome.

During their conversation, Henry becomes more and more excitable, and manic, and I kept expecting him to Hulk Out  at any second, but the show is being very coy about the existence of Mr. Hyde. I do wonder if Henry has been taking the serum, but I’m not convinced, as he’s been trying to ween Victor off  morphine and him being addicted to something would be both  paradoxical and hypocritical.

Dorian/Lily:

I have no idea what Lily’s new young ward’s name is so I’m going to call her Lily 2. What happens between Dorian, Lily and Lily 2 , is the most disgusting part of the episode, which is saying something when we were just watching Renfield eat bugs.

Lily and her protege take lunch at an outdoor cafe and Lily is being coy about her plans to destroy, or take over, the world. I’m not clear on exactly what she wants to accomplish, but she disdains the efforts of the Suffragettes, who are too loud and boisterous to get anything done. I get the feeling she has no firm plans either, but it does seem to involve an army of former sex-workers, I’m guessing. It’s disturbing listening to Lily 2 talk about her abusive past. I know she must be an adult but she looks all of twelve years old. She has this dewy little face, like a baby, so its even more  disturbing when Dorian has her kill her father, later that evening,  and then the three of them have bloody sex over the corpse.

I know this was done for shock value because it went on for way too long, and I was kind of bored and kept getting distracted by the liveliness of the blood, which still looked pretty wet, right up til morning. I just kept wondering why it wasn’t getting tacky, and why  the three of them were  able to move, without getting stuck together. No, I’m not going to show a picture of them cuz…yuck!

Dr. Sweet/Vanessa:

141656183Z1Y61DQ

Honestly, this is the sweetest, cutest, most delicious relationship in the show, since we already know that Sweet is Dracula and that he’s been pursuing Vanessa for years. We already know that his endgame is for her to become his bride, to that end, we get to watch him actually trying to woo her, and he’s fairly successful at it. Hell, I love the guy, even knowing who he is and that he’s a big fat liar.

1003223_3_3423913_07_800x600.jpg

The two of them meet in Limehouse because Sweet asked Vanessa out this time. (For their first date, Vanessa had asked him.) So, the two of them have been regularly seeing each other. At one point he tells her she’s beautiful, in a kind of off-hand way, that makes Vanessa smile, and he holds her hand when they visit the house of mirrors. So even though he is evil personified, he is doing everything right that you do on a date, and I wonder where he got his skills cuz I would totally date this guy, (except for the whole, “he’s a lying bloodsucking fiend, who has been spying on me” thing.)

Based on the things Vanessa told Dr. Seward, Dracula spins her a sob story about how he’s also in mourning for his lost wife. (I have no idea if this is a real story, or one he made up to win her sympathies, but I suspect its a lie.)

Penny-dreadful-Good-and-Evil-Braided-Be-3x03-promotional-picture-penny-dreadful-39567251-3600-2400

At the House of Mirrors, Vanessa is approached by one of Dracula’s minions, who has been following them all evening. He insinuates that Dracula is very close by (well, yeah!) and that she’s met him  before, in the place of her lost memories and Vanessa is very shaken by this. She was trying to leave her past behind, with Dr. Seward’s help, but it just won’t leave her alone. She abruptly breaks off her date with Sweet ad tells him she can’t ever be with him.

Sweet doesn’t like this shit at all. He has been working really hard for possibly weeks, months even,  to woo this woman, slowly and very, very carefully, winning her trust, getting her to like him, bringing her out of her shell, and enjoy his company, and its all been completely undone. Now he’s got to try some other tactic to get close to Vanessa and he doesn’t like that one bit.

When he figures out that it was his own minion, who undid all his hard work, he has his other minions eat him.

Vanessa undergoes a hypnosis session with Seward which reveals she spent some time in a padded room at an insane asylum, and that one of her orderlies was John.

ba70c95faa984f34cf8a5f72e9ed5d88

Penny Dreadful : Predators Far and Near

SPOILER ALERT

The title of this episode is especially apt, this week. Yes indeed, there are predators very, very close to Vanessa, and some far away in America, which we catch an unfortunate glimpse of this week. Including a surprisingly unsurprising revelation about Dr. Sweet, Vanessa’s zoologist/taxidermist crush, about which I’m sure you can probably guess, just as I did. After all, Dr. sweet is the only new introduction to the season who has absolutely no backstory. The guy came out of nowhere and conveniently landed near Vanessa? C’mon!

Anyway we get another taste of the story from Sir Malcolm and Kaetenay’s point of view, including some interesting tidbits about Kaeteny’s history with Ethan. We don’t see what John is up to , but we find out what Dorian and Lily are doing. It’s not good, but still not scary. I’m still waiting to be impressed by the two of them. And we find out where Ethan is and what he’s doing.

But first we get to find out what England’s  most unimpressive couple gets up to in their spare time, and that’s attacking bougie gentlemen in bdsm clubs. Okay, it’s not bdsm, because that would imply that the people participating are consenting adults. It’s a sadistic club for grown men to beat up little girls.

I had always considered British men of that time period to be somewhat vile creatures but this strikes a new low, (and really this sort of violence against children need only be suggested to be effective, but apparently cable TV is more interested in being edgy than subtle). Anyway, Lily and Dorian  walk in and dismantle the clientele with guns and  straight razors, and for the first time I’m impressed with their level of carnage, but I do wonder where Lily picked up her martial skills. Did Dorian teach her this in between waltzes?

pennydreadful_302_5683.r.jpg

Later, Lily and Dorian’s waltzing is interrupted by the young girl they saved the night before, and Lily recruits her to fight in whatever imaginary battle against the patriarchy that is playing out in her head. They sort of remind me of moody, vengeful, energetic, versions of Morticia and Gomez Addams. I’m still not impressed by Lily’s plans for the future. Does she plan to individually straight razor every man in England? She better get to work then, because there are a lot of them. If you’re sensing I have some contempt for this couple…you’re right! They’re like all those vengeful teenagers in movies, who plan to get all the ones who laughed at them, but without any actual, you know…plans. Maybe they’ll do something impressive later in the season.

I’ll wait.

Henry Jeckyll takes Victor to lunch and shows him his workplace, Bedlam Asylum, the most notorious insane asylum in England, during this period. When he gives his spiel to Victor about how awful his workplace is, he’s not wrong. It was pretty much the place where poor people with mental disabilities went, to get regularly hosed down like lawn furniture, or die. (Rich people got sent to wellness spas, which were only slightly less awful with better food. Hosing optional).

pennydreadful3020399rjpg-684f17_765w

Listen to Henry’s speeches about the duality of man for insight into his character, and the motivation behind Hyde’s creation. Henry takes Victor to the bowels of the asylum and experiments on one of the screaming, raving patients there. After forcing his elixir into  him, the man becomes calm,  genteel and refined, asking for water.  Henry promises Victor he will do the same for Lily.

Later, we see Victor looking pretty bad, as Henry is trying, I think, to ween him off his morphine addiction. Victor goes to sit outside Dorian’s  house and watch Lily through the windows. I was never a huge fan of Victor, since he killed Brona, but this is pathetic and stalkery, making me like him even less. Lily comes out to see him, telling him to go away. I think Victor doesn’t seem to understand that there is no personality  to change Lily back to. I think this is Lily’s authentic self, an angry, bitter sex worker. What he wants is to bring Lily to heel and make her submissive to him, which is so very Warren of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Victor. Really! I don’t know what’s stopping Victor from killing some other woman and making her his bride. It’s one of his skills. If you’re noticing a certain level of contempt for Victor… You’re right!

PennyDreadful_302_2064.R_595_Mini Logo TV white - Gallery

Vanessa is still seeing her therapist and has been persuaded by her to tell her story, while Renfield  acts creepy and nervous, in the background. Dr. Seward insists she can handle whatever story Vanessa throws at her, and appears to be as stoic as always during, but the moment Vanessa leaves, she breaks down in tears. Actually I was kind of heartened to see that. It makes her more human and not the ball breaker she wants people to think she is.  I’m not sure what the tears are for. Is it because it was a heightened emotional experience for her? Is she sad that Vanessa is so broken? Does she even believe her? I’m inclined to think she just doesn’t believe Vanessa and is appalled by her level of insanity. Later, we see Renfield listening to the tapes that Dr. Seward made of her discussion with Vanessa.

Next up,  Sir Malcolm is on a ship, with Kaetenay, being seasick. Kaetenay is a morbidly funny fellow, whose not so impressed by Sir Malcom that he won’t make small jabs at him. I was surprised to find out Malcolm got seasick, as I thought of him as some great world traveler. He says it’s the reason he never traveled to South America. It says a lot about his relationship with Ethan that he will brave all this to save him. When Kaetenay asks if he’s ever hated someone so much that he wanted them to live and suffer, but that later, it became a form of love, Malcolm says yes he has, and you figure out that he’s talking about Vanessa.

penny_dreadful_predators_far_and_near1.jpg

Kaetenay performs a spell that allows him to talk to Ethan in his dreams.  It turns out that he and Ethan have a much more complicated relationship than father and son, as Ethan seems to hate him and threatens to kill him when he sees him. But at the same time Ethan also confides his feelings to him too. It’s deliciously complicated. I wasn’t expecting this because Kaetenay spoke so lovingly of Ethan. I don’t know why,  but I also had the impression that Kaetenay may be  a witch, or werewolf, too. He seems to be trying to form a bond with Malcolm through their shared relationship with Ethan, as he keeps referring to Ethan as “our son”, which sounds really weird, considering they just met.

Ethan seems to have only the most complicated relationships with all the men in his life. He seems to be rebelling against all of them except Dorian. It’s very telling that the most uncomplicated relationship he has had with any man on this show was Sembene, who he later ate; and Dorian, who he slept with,  who is now sleeping with his late-ex-girlfriend.

Just parse that out for minute or two.

Dr. Seward orders Vanessa another homework assignment. The week before it was go out and do something she’s never done before, and this week it’s go do something with no agenda beyond it being fun. So she goes back to see Dr. Sweet, who is giving a lecture on insects, but when he sees Vanessa is present, switches it up to talking about scorpions. There follows one of the sweetest, and cutest meet-cutes you can imagine for this show. It’s as adorable as when she met Dorian, and if you’ve been watching the show, you remember how that ended. 😊

penny_dreadful_predators_far_and_near.jpg

Vanessa invites Sweet to accompany her of an evening and she takes him to “see the cinematogragh”, as  she has heard ‘it is a wonder of the civilized world’! And he really does seem to enjoy it and his time with her. And Vanessa seems to be enjoying herself too, which made me smile. Watch Vanessa’s face as Sweet watches the movie. She is thoroughly enamored of him, like a crushing schoolgirl, checking to see that he’s happy. When she invites him for coffee afterward, he declines. I think that’s when I suspected who he might be, because who vehemently declines coffee? (For the coffee is the life.)

Good news! Rusk survived the train massacre and is still hunting for Ethan. He plans to track him  back to Talbot territory.  I had the idea that he was planning on getting ripped apart by Ethan before reaching Talbot territory, as that’s more likely to happen than apprehension.                   Hecate overhears this conversation and makes plans of her own.

Ethan’s kidnappers have stopped at a little hacienda, in the middle of nowhere, for a pit stop. The native woman who recognizes him as Kaetenay’s protege is an actress I remember from Dances with Wolves. I think her name is Red Crow or Red Crow Feather. I’d been wondering where she’d gone off to as I’d seen her in only a few projects since that movie. I was happy to see her here and that, warned by Ethan, she managed to escape the later carnage. Ethan refers to her relative,  Kaetenay, as “the old demon”  and calls her Mother, although I think that’s more a kind of title. She seems to know exactly who and what he is and when he tells her to go, she skedaddles.

pennydreadfuls3e2-5

Ethan changes and kills everyone in the hacienda but is stopped in his tracks by the appearance of Hecate who has been trying to cozy up to him since she found out what he was. I think, once again, she’s not going to get what she wants out of this relationship, unless she has a spell to control him, or something. I just don’t see Ethan’s dark side being cowled by whispered endearments, and the offer of va-jayjay, which is all Hecate seems to have in her repertoire.

Yeah, Ethan’s breakout was still more impressive than Lily and Dorian at the top of the show. Interesting how the show started with a massacre and ends with…a massacre. And lets stand back and admire Ethan’s werewolf, which is a callback to the original Wolf Man imagery, from 1941, starring Lon Chaney Jr.

Renfield reports to Dracula’s lair to tell tales about Vanessa. He demands blood, Dracula acquiesces, and we pan up to see that it’s actually Vanessa’s new boyfriend, Dr. Sweet.

Penny Dreadful Season Three Premiere

Showtime was kind enough o give everyone a preview of the first episode of season three of Penny Dreadful. It doesn’t give much away, it’s mostly a setup of all the characters we’ll be meeting, and what issues we’ll be dealing with, in the first half of the season. We visit each character in turn, find out where they are, what they’ve been doing, and where their next adventure might lead. The only people we don’t get to see are Reeve Carney and Billie Piper as Lily and Dorian, a couple of villains I was thoroughly unimpressed by last season, especially since Lily’s villainy seem to come out of left field. (Not saying her anger and bitterness isn’t understandable, just that I wasn’t impressed by it.)

vanessa

 

We start with Vanessa, who has given in to  major depression after the events of last season. Everyone has left her. Sir Malcolm is off burying his best friend Sembene in Africa, and Ethan left her to go to America and deal with his father issues. She’s all alone in the house, she’s neglected it’s upkeep, there are no servants that I can tell, although someone is regularly delivering bread and milk to her. She mostly wanders around the cobwebbed, fly swarmed house, like a ghost, until she’s visited by Lyle. I love Lyle. He’s such a gem and just about the only positive person on the show. He dispenses some words of advice, wisdom, and gentle humor to her. At no point does he tell her what to do, but his genuine concern is enough to get her out of the house.

pd2-jpg

Lyle makes an appointment for her to see his therapist, played by Patti Lupone, who also is the spitting image of The Cut Wife from last season. Vanessa recognizes her immediately and is happy with o see her, even though she realizes it can’t be the same woman. Oddly, the therapist does share the same name, place of origin, and character traits  of the Cut Wife, so they’re more than likely related somehow.

Patti plays a genderbent Dr. Seward, who calls herself an Alienist, which is what I guess psychiatrists called themselves back then. She is a blunt, pragmatic woman who has no patience for foolishness or prevarication, and I liked her immediately. She reads Vanessa extremely well, just as the Cut Wife did, when they first met. In fact, tonight’s episode was full of people “reading “ each  other, which is something that’s only effective when the person being “read” is unaware, uncertain, or trying to hide themselves. Against someone who knows and acknowledges who they are, this is not a very effective technique. It requires the participation of the one being read, and the specific intentions of the person doing the reading, which  must be pure, or all they’ll end up doing is telling you who  they are.

There’s a lot of reading in this episode . The creature reads his shipmates before abandoning them. Kaetenay reads Sir Malcolm, and Dr. Seward gives Vanessa a bluntly accurate reading of who she is, when Vanessa tries to derail their conversation about herself. This serves the purpose of telling the audience where these characters are mentally at this point in the season.

We also meet Dr. Seward’s secretary, Renfield. But more on him later.

Anyway, Seward tells Vanessa to go out and do something different. To break the cycle of the behavior she’s been in lately, although I think leaving the house to seek help from a therapist would qualify. While wandering around the city, she becomes aware that the poet, Alfred Lord Tennyson has died, when a pale little boy offers her a black ribbon. He makes some cryptic comments to her about his blood disease. This is a presentiment of Dracula’s introduction in the show. In the first season we got an introduction to Dracula’s presence via his minions and brides, and no mention at all last season. So they’ve upped the ante for this season.

penny-dreadful-season-3-premiere-episode

Vanessa  visits a kind of Taxidermy Museum, where she meets Dr.Sweet, who seems very taken with her. The two of them have an immediate connection of some kind. I don’t know this character so have no idea where he fits within the show or if he has some dark secrets we find out later (probably yes).

tumblr_o62g80DadD1urhavto1_1280

We find Sir Malcolmin Africa, distraught after burying his friend, Sembene, and vowing to give up fighting supernatural creatures. He is challenged in this by a native American man, of Apache origin, named Kaetenay. Kaetenay, says he is like a father to Ethan too, and says Malcolm must travel to America to help save their son. So Ethan has three fathers. The father he disowned and wishes to avoid, (and who probably cursed him with lycanthropy), the father who adopted him and that he  later abandoned, Kaetenay, and the father he adopted, Sir Malcolm. I like these little smigdets of backstory we get about Ethan.

Watch-Free-Penny-Dreadful-Season-3-Full-Episode-Premiere

In America, Ethan is being transported home, to be executed for whatever crimes he committed there, when his train is attacked by brigands. Or that’s what we’re meant to think, but really they’re there to kidnap him. Hecate, in her innocent, American waif disguise, just barely manages to escape being shot in the face. The sheriff, Detective Rusk and his deputies, don’t. The kidnappers tell Ethan they were sent by his father. He is going to see his father whether he likes it or not. Ethan wishes them good luck with that. I suspect he’s correct. There are a lot of people after Ethan, and depending how far away home is, a full moon is coming soon.

penny_dreadful_season_3_ethan_chandler

The most interesting person introduced in the show is Dr. Jeckyll, played by Shazad Latif. (Wooo! I’ve got the vapors over this big-eyed hunk of a man! Seriously though, he has the biggest eyes I’ve ever seen on a man, and a very intense stare.) Victor calls Henry to London to help him figure out how to kill Lily, but Henry is canny enough to figure out that Victor  wants her back because he’s in love with her. There are some allusions to Henry’s anger issues and how he has treated these issues through his mastery of chemistry. He and Victor have great chemistry together so I expect a lot of ‘shipping of this pair.

penny-dreadful-season-3-adds-dr-jekyll_9rqv.640

We find Victor Frankenstein’s creature, John, trapped on a ship sitting in the Arctic ice, while the crew contemplates eating their fellow shipmates. They are about to attack one of their crew but John stops them. He eventually kills the child by snapping his neck, and walks off into the Arctic snow, leaving the ship’s crew to whatever their fates may be.

Dr. Seward’s secretary, Renfield has a terrifying encounter with Dracula’s minions, when they kidnap him to take him to meet their Master. We get to watch Renfield become RENFIELD, and I already dislike him because he’s such a spineless jellyfish. (No, scratch that. I actually like Jellyfish.) Dracula announces himself but we don’t get to see his face. I’m hoping the show will  buck tradition and make him a classically handsome looking fellow, because his voice sounds pretty awful. All he has to do is tell Renfield to bare his neck and Ren just flips over to have his throat torn out without any resistance. I kept yelling at my TV for the man to grow at least one ball. (Vanessa is more man than he’ll ever be.)

I think I must be reading too much modern vampire fiction because I long ago accepted the idea of Renfield as a title passed along to whatever minions are closest to Dracula at any given time. That way one could have multiple Renfields.

Anyway, Vanessa seems rejuvenated after her visit with Dr. Sweet and goes home to clean, clean, and clean some more. She appears to be trying to put her life back in some order, but this probably is not something permanent, as later in the season, we see she’s been institutionalized.

Penny-Dreadful-saison-3d.jpg

Well, this season looks promising. Except for the Dorian and Lily stuff, I enjoyed last season. Not that I don’t like Reeve Carney but the  show-runners sort of pissed me off when they introduced a transgender character, just to kill her of for no purpose.  Really, people! Do better than that! You can’t make a character that damned interesting just to kill them off for shits and giggles.( At some point there must be some kind of payoff for what Dorian did to her.)

Well, anyway I hope they keep Lily to a minimum this season because she’s a lot less compelling than the writers think she is. She’s not a bad character, its just that next to the evil of some of the other characters, she’s a non-entity.

This episode is available for free pretty much anywhere on the internet, so check it out. I will be reviewing the entire season, and my reviews/recaps are meant for people who don’t have Showtime, so there are spoilers, as I recap the episodes, (and I don’t separate the two.)

TTFN!

Penny Dreadful: Season Two Finale

WOW!

The two part season finale had some awesome confrontations taking place between all our major characters. Most especially the highly anticipated blow up between Evelyn Poole and Vanessa.

The least interesting portion of the show was Dorian and Lilly, so let’s get that out of the way. I really like Reeve Carney and I love Billie Piper but I’m not feeling the enthusiasm.  Also, I saw that sexing coming a mile away, even though I could’ve done without the ear biting. I’m probably not attached to them because I don’t know where John Logan is taking this particular plot and Lilly’s Dr. Evil mindset seemed to come out of nowhere.

image

At any rate, Lilly sold Dorian the same bill of goods about immortality and ruling the world, that she fed to John/Caliban.Dorian seems to be buying it, but I wonder when he’s going to get bored with her, too. I guess one of tonight’s revelations is that he does remember Brona. I can’t wait to see what happens when Ethan finally meets her but knowing John Logan, he’ll probably make the whole thing as anti-climatic as possible.

John Clare gets suckered into trusting that sweet, little blind girl routine and is now trapped in the basement of the museum, to be used as a sideshow attraction. He looks more upset about her betrayal than he does about his entrapment. I don’t expect him to remain there for long anyway, if he’s as strong as Lilly. When he killed Victors first creation, he did it with one punch, so yeah.

image

So,  how many of you want to see the Putneys get broken? Show of hands!

The next most interesting relationship is between Ethan and Vanessa. The bounty hunter, Roper, confronts the two of them at the cabin. He spends some amount of time threatening  Vanessa, after which she and Ethan take turns  whoopin’ his  ass,  until he’s dead. After burying the body, Victor shows up to let Vanesssa know that Malcolm is in trouble. He is such a strange bird that he doesn’t blink an eye at their disheveled appearance or even ask what they’re burying.

image

When they get back to town, Rusk confronts Ethan with his real name – Talbot. Oh, How very Lon Chaney of Mr. Logan. I still would love very much for Rusk to meet Ethan’s bad side, up close and personal-like. Even more, I’d love for Ethan’s father to show up at some point. That meeting would be epic.

After that reveal, we get Lyle turning traitor on Evelyn. I knew he cared about this crew and I wondered when he’d realize where his real loyalties were. Unfortunately, we don’t get to see his actual confession, which would’ve been nice to watch. He does look suitably contrite afterwards, though, and is willing to go into the lion’s den to save Malcolm, even if he’s only carrying a tiny gun. I still think his crush on Ethan may have played at least a small part in his change of heart.

While waiting for nightfall, Hecate confronts Ethan by simply walking through his room mirror. Yet another indictment against the ownership of large mirrors. She is trying to hook up with what she thinks is a good deal, with Ethan. I think she believes Ethan is the Anti-Christ. Judging by his reaction, so does Ethan.  But in fact, he’s probably the Lupus Dei that Lyle spoke of, at the beginning of the season.

Lyle’s studies of the Verbis Diablo said that the Lupus Dei, The Hound of God, is actually the Protector of Lucifer’ favorite, so I don’t think Hecate is going to get whatever she thinks she’s going to get out of their relationship.

Everyone advises Vanessa to wait until the next day to rescue Malcolm, which is a complete waste of breath as she just sneaks her hard-headed ass, right over to the witches home that night. The time when the Nightcomers powers are at their strongest.

image

So, now the rest of the group, Victor, Lyle, Sembene and Ethan have to go rescue Vanessa and Ethan is naturally reluctant because he knows his change is coming on that night. He and Sembene have a very touching bff moment. I like these two, so much. They just seem like they should be natural friends.

We also get some backstory that Sembene used to be a slave trader, but this doesn’t actually make me like him any less because I love a good  atonement story.

They arrive at the haunted house where Lyle pauses to say Kaddish, after which Victor becomes trapped in the same cursed room with Malcolm, beset with all of his worse secrets, while Lyle is trapped outside, being accosted by Hecate, who is still desperately trying to make her subplot stick.

Ethan and Sembene get trapped in a hallway when Ethan’s change comes on and he attacks Sembene. I won’t believe Sembene is dead until there’s a funeral so…

So, the Hound of God is at large, Victor and Malcolm are trapped by the memories of their ghosts and Vanessa and Evelyn engage in a bit of verbal jousting before Evelyn introduces her to Doll-Vanessa. I do recall my exact thought upon seeing that doll, was that if its eyes open, I’m gonna totally freak out.

I only shrieked a tiny bit.

Vanessa, then,  has to fight her own doll for posession of her soul. It turns out that Lucifer requires her consent and either the doll speaks for Lucifer or is Lucifer, I’m not sure, but he and Evelyn spend some time trying to get  Vanessa’s  consent to sign over her soul, using the technique of convincing her she’s already corrupt and tempting her with the idea of living a normal life with Ethan. While this is one of Evelyn’s tactics that seem to be working on Malcolm and Victor, this doesn’t work with Vanessa.

image

This is a tactic that only works by inducing guilt about  life choices in people who have lied to themselves about the decisions they’ve made. You can understand this in what the phantoms say to their victims. Malcolm’s ghosts keep hammering him with the knowledge that he is ultimately responsible for their deaths and Victor’s  ghosts chastise him for his lack of humanity, which is why he can only ever create monsters. All this does is make me wonder if I would be susceptible to such a tactic. Since I have a nasty habit of being blunt, coupled with a complete inability to lie to myself, I try not to engage in behavior I’m going to need to run from, or lie about later.

Vanessa, though, is the type of person who does all manner of bad things but is perfectly okay with the decisions she makes. She doesn’t like the decisions she makes but she  accepts that she made them, and she’s gonna live with them. It’s extremely difficult to shame somebody with things they are well aware of. Vanessa gives the devil the verbal smack down and cracks the doll open, releasing a flood of “little scorpions”, her namesake. Evelyn totally loses her shit but before she can attack Vanessa, WolfEthan shows up and rips her head off.

image

As uncontrollable as he is in that state, he has the presence of mind not to attack Vanessa, though. When Evelyn dies, all her spells die with her. It turns out that the witch attacking Lyle is not Hecate but one of the others. Lyle shoots her, and Malcolm, now free of Evelyn’s spell shoots the other. The only witch left is Hecate who burns her mother’s castle to the ground, on her way out the door.

The season ends on the saddest tones.

Sembene is actually dead but since this is a series featuring dead people walking around and talking, I’m not sure how to feel about the only Black guy on the show, getting fridged to aid Ethan’s storyline. Yeah, alright! I don’t like it. On the other hand, since the only Black guy on the show just died , the writers  will have to fill that quota with his brother, uncle or an Asian or Native American next season. Remember people…there can be only one! Any more than that and White people will find it impossible to watch the show, I guess.

Well,  at least we have Lyle, who gets one of the best lines in the entire series when he tells the witch, “Never underestimate a queen with lovely hair.” I now love Lyle, who is the only gay, Jewish, senior citizen, in a primetime television series.

image

Victor and Lily part ways, as she and Dorian go full on Doctor Evil. He shoots them both but that doesn’t kill them and they just go one dancing, as if he hadn’t interrupted them, at all. I can think of some pretty inventive deaths for them, though. They might not die but they’d be just as useless when I m done with both of them. They don’t even impress me as villains. Mostly they’re just deeply annoying, with their talk of “we’re superior beings, let’s take over the world” BS. What’s superior about that? Human beings already know how to be assholes to each other, without being immortal, so it’s not like they’d be teaching us anything new.

The most satisfying moment is the deaths of the Putneys, except for their blind daughter. I saw that coming a mile away. I knew that cell couldn’t hold John for long. And c’mon! They really were asking for it by taunting him relentlessly, about his looks,  mostly. And the worst thing he could’ve done to little Miss Future Matchgirl, was let her live. In that particular era, and with no one to support her, she’s in for a short, brutal life of misery and I hope people are as kind to her as she was to John.

The most tearful moment is when John asks Vanessa to leave England with him and she kisses him goodbye.

Followed by Vanessa asking Ethan to come away with her and he leaves. She doesn’t get a kiss though.

Malcolm takes Sembene back to Africa. All he has left now is Vanessa. He is truly not a fortunate man, to have survived the deaths of all the people he loved.

image

I guess the death of Sembene was the last straw. Ethan turns himself over to Inspector Rusk and gets extradited to America.

Vanessa is all alone in Malcolm’s house. She burns that cross that was on the wall. The one she spent so much time praying in front of. That’s all over now, she thinks.

Only Lyle gets to ride off into the sunset.

With the witches dead and everyone scattered to the four winds, how will the next season set itself up, I wonder? Will everyone contrive to come back together? Will we get to meet Ethan’s father and is he cursed too? Will Victor resurrect yet another dead person, or has he learned his lesson yet? Will Dracula make an appearance this time? Will Lilly and Dorian try to take over the world, (I’ve decided I’m going to call them “Dilly”), or just be killed in some embarrassingly low key incident, like being run over by some horse drawn carriages? Will Malcolm bring back another Black guy to replace his dead butler?

Stay tuned for the next installment of Penny Dreadful, coming next year.

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.

image

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.

image

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.

image

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.

image

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.

image

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?

image

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.

Penny Dreadful : Little Scorpion

This week’s episode is an Ethan/Vanessa vehicle. Fewer plot threads are introduced, which is a good thing because it’s easy to lose track of how many people aren’t talking to somebody,  even though there’s less than ten people in the cast.

Vanessa’s symbol is the scorpion. Its been part of the shows iconology since season one. The nickname was given to her by the witch that trained her, The Cut-Wife. After making the decision to protect Vanessa from Ms. Poole/Mme Kali, at her cabin, Poole maneuvered the local landowner to burn her alive because she was being magically restricted from setting foot on the property herself, and needed to get Vanessa out in the open. Most of this episode takes place at the cabin.

image

Last week,  Ethan asked Sembene to watch over him while he turns into a  werewolf. And it’s a beautiful, naturally lit, opening scene, where Sembene explains to Ethan what he witnessed. He’s surprisingly alright with it because his people are not unfamiliar with the idea of shape shifting. He reassures Ethan that this is not necessarily a curse because he can see that Ethan is a good man.

I agree. I think Ethan is a very dark soul, but essentially a good man, who has done some very horrible things. The fact that he’s intelligent enough not to try to justify the horrible things he’s done and tries to do better, even if he  fails, speaks well of him as a character. Of course, this is only something that’s true on screen. In real life people like that are repulsive.

The family, (and from hereon, I’m going to refer to the group as a family, as it’s what they’re slowly becoming, despite all  their secrets), discuss what happened to Vanessa at the party the night before. None of the people present witnessed  anything and Vanessa calls into question their ability to protect her if the danger can get so close to her, and none of them see it. She decides she needs to leave. She wants to go back to the Cut-wife’s cabin. Ethan tells her he will accompany her. Lyle is the one who  suggests Vanessa not tell the group where she’s going.

And Lyle is a very interesting character. He is supposed to be working for Ms. Poole but is definitely coming to care for these people he’s supposed to be betraying. He makes that suggestion because he knows he’s compromised and that Malcolm is thoroughly roofied. Ms. Poole can find out anything from the two of them and Lyle really does seem to want to keep Vanessa safe. So while he does, in fact, work for Ms. Poole, he appears to be doing so under great duress and works to thwart her activities, as and when he can.image

But Vanessa does tell Victor. She is very warm and loving to him and  treats him much like a little brother. I think its very telling that while it’s Ethan who accompanies  her to the countryside, because he wasn’t at the party, it is Victor she trusts with her location, against Lyle’s advice.

She and Ethan arrive at the cabin and spend the day cleaning and collecting food. Later that evening, they have a lovely exchange of stories about their past and Vanessa teaches Ethan how to waltz. But later Ethan, feeling restless, warns her that he must leave and she is to make sure the door is locked. After he changes, we see him eating some neighbor’s sheep.

image

The next day, Ethan takes it upon himself to cut down the tree where the Cut-Wife was burned by the estate owner. This man was another who had fallen under the sway of Ms. Poole. Later, while out walking, Vanessa and Ethan encounter this man, riding with his pack of hounds. He’s still as nasty as ever and decides he should add degrading and threatening Ethan, by comparing him to his well-trained dogs, to his list of sins.

Vanessa makes the decision to kill him before he can become a problem. I’m all for getting rid of potential problems before they become actual problems. I know that sounds blood thirsty but I’m pragmatic. If someone has threatened to become an obstacle to your happiness, why wait for them to get started. (Keeping in mind, that this works great in movies because no one ever goes to jail for preemptive murder. Not so workable in real-life.)

Ethan cautions Vanessa against killing this man because it will damage her soul and goes out to do it for her. But Vanessa spells the man’s dogs to attack and eat him before Ethan can shoot him in cold blood. When he gets back to the cabin, lightening strikes the cabin and after she and Ethan put out the resultant fire, they share some wet kissing. After a minute, Vanessa cuts that shit short because she knows its a “bad idea”.

And here’s  why:

According to Lyle’s interpretation of the artifacts of the Devil’s Bible, the “hound” (otherwise known as Ethan), is the protector of the Devil’s favorite , hereinafter referred to as Vanessa). The hound is apparently the only thing that can thwart the devils plans for her, as he gets a lot of shout outs in the artifacts.  At the same time, there’s a dark soul that, should it become conjoined with Vanessa’s, could bring about the apocalypse. Ethan fits both criteria, (while Dorian only fits one of those), so make of that what you will.

image

BronaLilly receives an invitation to go out on the town from Dorian and Victor says he’s okay with it. He really shouldn’t be because Dorian is still trying to figure out where and when he last saw her. Naturally, they visit the Wax Museum where John Clare works. Since he’s never mentioned to anyone that he has a job, she doesn’t know this. The sheer amount of things people are not talking to each other about, in this show, is just staggering. Of course John witnesses her date with Dorian.

Instead of going home after her date, Lilly indulges an impulse to stop at a pub. She picks up a man there, goes home with him, has sex, and chokes the man to death. I don’t think this was an activity that Brona got up to when she was alive. The killing part, not the sex. Actually, I’m not at all surprised by it. I’m sure that when she was a sex-worker she hated that job and men like the one she killed. I think this is an expression of that contempt, although she has no memory of where it comes from.

So we are almost done with the season and we have more questions than answers. As much as I complain about this show, i really do love it and hey!, it could be much worse. It could have at least one rape, burning or lynching per episode, so that’s a step up, right?

Penny Dreadful: Glorious Horror

Well, not much happened and yet a lot happened. There was serious ratcheting up of the tension, as friends and rivals circle closer and closer to each other, and to a final showdown, of some kind. This episode takes place in the immediate aftermath of last weeks episode.

Everyone gets up the next morning and, right away, they start working on the culmination of all this drama. Mme. Kali takes a lock of Sir Malcolm’s hair, so she can finish up her voodoo doll of him. She’s taken his blood and hair, so he’s pretty much her beeyotch for the rest of the season. I wonder what is the outcome of all this maneuvering? Is she just doing this for her own entertainment? To hurt Vanessa? So, its dolls all around, I guess. Meanwhile her daughter Hecate makes her own quiet plans to usurp her mother’s authority.

Malcolm wakes up smiling, happy and complacent, exactly the way Kali wants him, and then continues to behave like a brain removal patient for the rest of the episode, leading all of the other characters to question  his mental status.  Especially after he remains  completely unbothered by the news of his wife’s horrific suicide, only remarking on how he’ll need to change the carpeting in the house. Now, that’s some cold shit and all the characters seem to understand that, especially Sembene, who was present at the death of Sir Malcolm’s son, and knows this reaction is just all kinds of wrong.

image

Victor, after sleeping with BronaLilly, realizes its a bad, bad thing he just did, and that John is going to beat his ass, when he finds out about it. Not if. When. Because that’s how this show rolls.

Dorian wakes up and decides to throw a grand ball, as a coming out party for his new paramour, Angeligue. I can’t help but think that the only reason he is so smitten with her is because he has a fetish for her uniqueness, and as soon as Angelique’s novelty wears off, she’ll be kicked to the curb. I think Angelique knows this, having been kicked to the curb, after use,  several times before. And I think we’ve already established that Victorian Englishmen are not gentlemen. Will she find out Dorian’s secret? How will she react when she does? Not if, but when.

Vanessa confronts Victor about his love for his “cousin”. She mentions  her friend, John Clare and Victor puts two and two together and realizes just how little she knows about what he gets up to when he’s on his own. Victor’s got nothing but secrets. I guess that makes up for his lack of character. If he engaged in less deception or had better people skills, maybe he wouldn’t have so many.

Dorian stops by the house to issue an invitation to the ball and Vanessa says yes. She attends, unescorted, when Ethan, who has much larger issues to attend to, turns her down.

Ethan ran into Rusk at the Wax Museum where John Clare works. The Museum has put on a showing of the massacre at the Inn, where he used to live, and Rusk confronts him about it again. They do that little verbal dance, that I enjoyed so much in the last episode, where Rusk keeps throwing chum in the water and Ethan keeps nimbly dodging the bait.

John Clare and the blind sculptress at the museum are  edging closer to being friends, when she realizes that there’s something very wrong with him because he has clammy hands. This frightens her and she confesses her misgivings to her employer.

image

Ethan is also visited by the bounty hunter who survived the massacre, and he threatens to slit the throats of all the members of the household, late one night.  I just had to raise my eyebrows at that because  part of me was saying, “I wish he would! He don’t know who he’s messin’ with.”  If he tried something, he’d be in for a  surprise. Nobody in that house is a pushover. Okay, maybe Malcolm is. But, as far as I can tell, Sembene never sleeps  and Vanessa could probably make him burst into flames with a sharp look. So, yeah, right dude!

So, everyone who is anyone, is invited to the ball. Ethan and Sembene are the only ones who don’t attend. The two of them have bigger concerns. For a household that’s supposed to be under siege, everyone is very lax in their safety. It’s like they’ve completely forgotten about the recent home invasion, and the house battening and sage burning of the last episode.

Victor and Lilly show up and Lilly thinks she remembers being in that house. Dorian meets her and is intrigued by his own feelings of déjà vu. He’s had so many sexual partners, what’s one long absent,  consumptive, whore. Of course he can’t remember her, but he wants to. This exposes the first chink in Angelique’s armor. She’s very jealous of Dorian’s attention to this sweet, shy, fragile looking, and cis-gender, blonde. How is this jealousy going to play out later, if at all? The writers keep introducing new plot threads and resolving none of them.

image

Lyle tries to talk Hecate out of whatever she plans to do to Vanessa that evening. And then  tries to talk Vanessa into going home. I’m pretty sure Vanessa knows about Angelique’s gender status. Her reaction to meeting her was very interesting. I didn’t see that coming and I wonder if it will have any meaning in the future. Or maybe she was reacting to something else about Angelique, that we don’t know.

Hell, if I know.

Mme. Kali arrives with Mlacolm and she and Vanessa exchange some sugar coated barbs. Instant antipathy between the two of them, was not at all surprising. Before she can leave, Vanessa is approached by the other witches and hallucinates a blood rain before losing consciousness. It’s one of the most striking scenes  I’ve ever seen in the show. I’m not sure if this is a result of Vanessa’s precognitive abilities or if the witches sent her this vision.

image

That evening Ethan approaches Sembene with a request. He tells him he needs  to be locked in irons and watched carefully. That no matter what happens, he is not to set him free or leave. Puzzled by this request, but willing to go along, probably becasue Ethan is one of the few people I’ve actually seen speaking to him, he is surprised and horrified to see Ethan turn into a werewolf.

We’re halfway through the season and the plot is moving so very slowly. I have no clue where any of these plot threads are heading, although I can see the slow convergence of all the characters. I’m starting to suspect that the writers are either  stalling for  time or just winging it. Do they have any idea how they’re going to wrap all of this up?

Stay tuned to find out.

Penny Dreadful : Above the vaulted Sky

This episode, while less spectacular than the previous, has just as much drama, while ratcheting up the tension between all of our characters and the various secrets they’re all holding, especially Victor.

We’re entering the midpoint of the season and so far we’ve been absent many sex scenes, but this episode more than made up for the lack by featuring some hot, sweaty, monkey-love, between people we never expected to be seeing naked on TV. Namely Timothy Dalton.

I do recall stating, earlier,  that I had no wish to see Timothy Dalton’s naked bottom and, thankfully,  the creators of this series kept my request in their thoughts while filming.  Actually, it was very tastefully done, if conventionally shot. I could also have done without all the bloodletting but then I’m pretty sure Sir Malcolm could’ve done without it as well, as he had not signed up for that, when he began flirting with M. Kali.

image

After the house was invaded by naked, chameleon, witches who stole Vanessa’s hair, the group decides to batten down the hatches and adopt a siege mentality. I know this because Ethan gives a speech about the last siege/ambush event he’d been involved in, and because we get to watch a montage of Sembene and Ethan, battening down the hatches. Sir Malcolm arms himself, Sembene lies in wait on the stairs, while Ethan fogs up the house with some Sage, and Lyle, the traitor’s traitor, etches some magical symbols around the house. The witches are just going to have to ninja their way into the house some other way, the next time they come trawling for hair samples.

image

Vanessa tells the group, that the Nightcomers can only approach or attack during…guess what? The hours of night. To protect herself, she has decided she needs to sleep in Ethan’s bed, but without Ethan in it, so far, although you can tell, the two of them are giving it some serious thought. She claims everyone should be safe from  witchery during the day, but that’s besides the point because there are all new dangers they face during the day, as they all run out to their separate errands.

Vanessa goes to visit the homeless shelter again, where she encounters Frankenstein’s monster and they have a poetry recital. I’m always baffled by people who remember huge chunks of poetry, until I remember that’s no different than my having thoroughly memorized old TV show jingles, from the 70’s, only more pretentiously high-brow. She gives John a  dancing lesson, not realizing that the person John wishes to woo, is the revivified corpse of Brona/Lilly, with whom she just  had lunch and totally didn’t recognize. What will she think to know that John is yet another revived body that Victor pieced together? She didn’t seem to recognize Brona/Lilly from their meeting last season, at the theater, but since she was with Dorian, who is very distracting, I will forgive her this inattentiveness. She can tell that Victor is very obviously in love with his “cousin”.

image

Sir Malcolm runs off to flirt with Ms. Poole some more. He’s very smitten with her and I’m not sure if it’s genuine or a spell she put on him. I’m still not used to seeing him smiling so much after the gloomy Gus he was first season. After Kali finds out that he cannot divorce his wife, she takes steps to rectify that situation by making a doll of his wife and spelling it. Malcolm’s wife goes insane and committs suicide. That distraction aside, Kali can now devote all of her energies to tormenting her doll of Vanessa and seducing Malcolm.

Ethan and Rusk finally meet face to face. Its a lot of fun watching their verbal parrying. Ethan is so much smarter than most of the people in the show give him credit for. He dances nimbly around Rusk’s questions about the massacre at the Inn and, even more nimbly, eludes the man that Rusk hires to shadow him, when Ethan is less than forthcoming about who he is, or how he survived.The greatest revelation may be that Ethan Chandler may not be his real name.

image

Later that evening. Dorian and Angelique visit a table top tennis parlour. I had no idea this was a thing in Victorian England, but okay. He and Angelique flirt shamelessly and it’s really cute, until Angelique is recognized by a former client, who spits and throws things on her. So much for the proper, English gentlemen myth. You’ve got Malcolm cheating on his wife, Victor reviving dead friends of friends, without their permission, and stealing his monster’s girlfriend and these yahoos, spitting on people in public.

Keep it classy, fellas!

Dorian takes her to his home where she makes love to him as a very comely man. What’s notable here is that the creators show this scene, at all, and film it just like any other sex scene, making no attempt to turn it into an Afterschool Special or veil it in false chastity. They juxtapose it with Sir Malcolm’s sex scene and Victor’s, which doesn’t make me feel too good about what secrets Angelique could be withholding. Since I’m experiencing so much tension with  the other two relationships,  it’s no trouble for me, at all, to transfer some to Dorian’s relationship. I’m waiting for Angie’s shoe to drop on his head.

Next week, we get more spectacle, as Dorian comes back into the fold, Throwing a ball for everyone at his home. Ethan and the bounty hunter who was the catalyst for Ethan’s change into a werewolf, when they last met, meet and annoy each other again. And Ethan shares his secret with Sembene. If we’re lucky! we might get one of them to open their mouth and say something…anything, about their past and we’ll get a little more backstory on each of these men.

image

I hope to see some major revelations next week, involving Victors secrets since both he and Lilly are attending Dorian’s ball. If Ethan attends, there may be unannounced fireworks.

Penny Dreadful : Evil Spirits In Heavenly Places

The third episode of this season, titled The Nightcomers, chronicles Vanessa’s coming out, and reaction to, her realization that she is a Witch, with superpowers. How she learned to deal with her special abilities and how this has shaped her, is the focus. It touches on her history with the witches, Evelyn Poole and her daughter, Hecate, and how they have been trying to procure her for their master, Lucifer, for a number of years, and how she managed to escape them.

The following episode deals with the aftermath of Vanessa’s confession, to the group,  about her past and how she came to know about the Witches and how they have pursued her and why.

In Evil Spirits In Heavenly Places, there are a number of enchantresses at work, too.

Sir Malcolm is still courting Evelyn Poole, also known as Madame Kali/Leader of the Witch’s Coven. She has already placed an enchantment of some kind on him,  in an effort to get him to betray Vanessa at some future point. Its fun to watch him be flirty and happy around Evelyn, even when you know its going to all end in tears, as she’s just deceiving him to get to Vanessa.

image

Victor Frankenstein has become thoroughly enchanted with the re-risen Brona, whom he has renamed Lily. He created her for His Monster, John Clare, but she appears to be falling in love with him, and he with her. He goes to Vanessa to help him choose a suit of clothes for his cousin, “Lily”, and mostly lies to Vanessa too, but she can tell he’s very taken with the young lady, whom she hasn’t met since her resurrection. She doesn’t know that Lily is Brona, Ethan’s late -girlfriend. On the other hand, Lily has no recollection of her past life and even has a different accent than the lower class one she sported as Brona.

image

Ethan is approached by Hecate, Evelyn’s daughter. The witches are fascinated by  Ethan, believing him to be Vanessa’s champion. Hell, that’s understandable. Ethan is a fascinating man and one day we’re going to get his backstory. If they can turn him to their own ends, that would be yet another avenue by which they can suborn Vanessa’s  trust in her friends and take her for themselves. But Ethan manages to detect Hecate’s lies,  when  she pretends to be an American while trying to seduce him. Ethan has so much depth. Hopefully the witches will not discover he’s a supernatural creature and use him to hurt his new family.

image

This episode is notable for Ethan reaching out to Sembene. It’s fascinating to watch the beginning edges of this gentle and tentative friendship blooming between them, mostly spurred by Ethan as Sembene is very close mouthed. I suspect they have much in common and would get along splendidly if each of them could let their guard down enough to do that.

In fact its interesting to watch all these characters behaving as a real family now. There are a lot of outside forces that are aligned against them, and they all have so many secrets, that its important that they finish the growing pains of last season and start to develop actual relationships and caring for one another. They will need it.

It’s not just the witches they have to deal with. It’s some of the choices that have been made by some of the characters, namely Victor. There’s Victor’s betrayal of both Ethan and John. What will happen if Vanessa meets Lily first? What will she say and do? Brona actually met Dorian before but Victor and Dorian are not in the same social circles, so its unlikely they will meet. Ethan was just on the verge of telling Vanessa his secret, I think, but he stopped and none of his friends know about him or that he was the cause of the massacre at the Inn, that’s been so much in the news.

Sir Malcolm takes Vanessa to visit a soup kitchen/homeless shelter where she meets John Clare, who is homeless after losing his job at a theater. He now works for a waxwork museum, whose owner has a blind daughter, who can’t see how ugly John is and has won his attention. Also, the owner has some nefarious purpose in mind regarding John, that involves making money off John’s unfortunate looks.

Dorian, on the other hand, now that Vanessa has forbidden him to be with her, lives a separate lifestyle from the other characters. He has fallen in with a transgender woman named Angelique. I’m waiting with suspense to find out what her secrets are. That she’s transgender is not the secret. That’s only shocking to the denizens of Victorian London, but I hope she also doesn’t turn out to be one of the witches or some other kind of supernatural creature.

image

I appreciate that the writers are trying to involve Sembene in the action and dialogue a bit more this season but I dont expect a whole lot because this show is still very much a vehicle for Eva Green. But it is nice to watch him do something else besides shoot things or serve food. This time we get to watch him fight over washing dishes with Ethan. It would be nicer still if the writers felt confident enough to give him some real dialogue and a purpose. Here is  a hint writers: just write him the way you would any other character on the show.

Detective Rusk is getting closer to Ethan after the massacre at the Inn last season. The only survivor is one of the men who was the catalyst, for the massacre, in the first place. A man hired by Ethan’s father to retrieve him by any means available and take him back home.

I still wonder exactly how much Ethan knows about what he is and what he can do. At one point, the witches infiltrate Sir Malcolm’s house, to retrieve a lock of Vanessa’s hair, so that Evelyn can finish her Voodoo doll of her. The witches have the ability to blend into the background, like chameleons. Only Vanessa and Ethan are able to detect their presence. Vanessa because she’s just hyper-aware of everything and Ethan because I think he smelled Hecate. So his senses are exceptionally keen, no matter what form he’s in?

image

Also, this scene is Hella creepy.

The witches manage to get Vanessa’s hair, which I still think, is a fairly elaborate way to go about doing it but it gives us several butt-shots of the witches, I guess. So there’s that. We really should get some butt-shots of Ethan, at some point. That would be much appreciated because, hey! It’s Josh Hartnett. We’ve had several butt shots of Dorian and I remain unimpressed because Twinks aren’t really my bag and I don’t think anyone wants to see Malcolm’s bottom.

The show is much more interesting than last season. It continues to be both sexy and deeply weird and creepy, like nothing else on television. There’s a concrete villain, even though her goal is somewhat nebulous. She’s  much more interesting than the Dracula we never saw, or the demonic entity that possessed Vanessa.

This season has a lot more depth and I’m looking forward to the rest of the season, when all of Victor’s  lies and deceptions start catching up with him and we get to see more of Ethan’s story about how he became a werewolf and why his father is willing to send hardened bounty hunters after him. What will Sir Malcolm do when or if he finds out about Evelyn? What will this new family do when they find out about Ethan?

Next week: I’ll be finishing up my overview of season 10 of Supernatural, binge watching Sens8, which I’m getting very excited about. Check it out on Netflix on June 5th.  And reviewing Sunday’s episode 5 of Penny Dreadful, titled Above the Vaulted Sky.