Tuesday, 7 October 2014

Penny Dreadful: Season One, Episode 2 (Seance)

"Your first-born has returned, father!"

Nice cliffhanger. The monster we saw Frankenstein creating last episode, a nice chap, was in fact the second attempt, and we see him being brutally and casually killed by his older brother, presumably the Frankenstein's monster of legend. Nice.

Interesting that Frankenstein is, against type, a cultured man, fond of the Romantic poets and choosing a name for his "son" from the secular Bible that is the complete works of Shakespeare. Proteus is nicely chosen, and close to Prometheus, which fits. I was half expecting Cailban.

So much else happens in this episode, though. We meet Brona Croft, a poor and dying prostitute played in an incomprehensible accent (I think it's supposed to be Ulster?) by the usually reliable Billie Piper. This is probably as good a point as any to whinge about the lack of subtitles from Sky on the watch again version; not good enough.

There's a murder, which the police and public are comparing to the Ripper murders (although "he only did whores!)"); is this the work of the ultimate baddie or of a odd only body-snatching Frankenstein?

Brona gets to meet, and get fucked by, Dorian Gray, quite the aesthete and fascinated by mod cons, even owning an Edison cylinder. He, Vanessa and Sir Malcolm are invited, this being the 1890s, to a seance, where he and the usually frigid Vanessa seem to hit it off. The highlight of the episode, though, is the seance itself, with Vanessa seemingly possessed by Mina's spirit and going full-on The Exorcist. This is superbly done, and Eva Green is amazing. This is also probably the finest sustained bit of swearing I've ever seen on television.

Ethan seems to start a relationship with Brona at the CGI docks (with a nicely half-finished Tower Bridge), but it's hard to tell, as I can't understand a word she's saying and there are no sodding subtitles. Meanwhile, Sir Malcolm meets eccentric Egyptologist Ferdinand Lyle, who has translated the Hierogyphs found under the vampires' skin. It seems to foretell "the annihilation of man and the coming of the beast..."

I'm still loving this. Why has it taken is so long to get round to watching it?

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