Penny Dreadful Review – Séance
To say the pilot was a little rough maybe an understatement to say this follow-up episode is far better gives me hope for the rest of the series. While the show does continue with it’s somewhat flat and a touch overly modern take on a Victorian horror there were some rather good bright spots that kept the episode and hopefully this series alive.
This episode was all about making connections and tying all our main characters together in an interesting if convoluted web. Notably this time around we are introduced to both Dorian Gray, Brona Croft and as seen last time Frankenstein supposed original creation, Proteus. We start with Chandler literally at the bottom, waking up in a sewer type situation, only to spend the bulk of this episode drinking, not coping from the previous night’s adventure, and chatting up local TB riddle prozzy in the form of Billy Piper as Croft. They get along well enough and Chandler seems to be intrigued by Croft, who’s equally labor accent matches only her looks, and starts up a friendship. How this will play out or what point is serves right now is unclear but what isn’t unclear is the underlying mystery plaguing the city.
The background and motivation that will most likely serve our characters is the murder, mutilation and body parts snatching that is staining the foggy London streets. While there does need to be some sort of arc or purpose for the characters I am finding this one largely uninteresting. There are quite a few “hints” and obvious blind alleys, like Jack the Ripper, and feel that the true killer will be less a surprise and more an “oh, please” then many would like, myself included. While I find it interesting, if not wholly eye rolling, that Sir Malcolm is able to walk into a police station and not only be informed on the investigation but demand to take part, it does at least give us more of a tie into the “case” that will pull all the strings together, if nothing else.
Speaking of nothing else or something just out of left field would be the introduction of Dorian Gray and one linguistically graphic dalliance with the spirit world. Again, we are making connections from one character to another and this time with Croft paying a visit to the home of the rather young and oddly accented Gray. We are treated to a rather static scene of Croft being the subject of a revealing picture taking session that progresses into the Victorian equivalent of making a sex tape. While it feeds into the core of Gray’s character, who’s raison d’être is hedonism and self-satisfaction, it does little but to satisfy the “ooh la la” quotient for a cable show. While, for some, it was nice to see Gray’s ass it is the depiction of his character that I find, so far, a bit troubling. We can see this bit of an overly modern and trying-to-hard Gray when he encounters Vanessa who, along with Sir Malcolm, attends a “spirit party” at the Egyptologists house. While this encounter seemed labored, it was no more so then the protracted séance scene with Vanessa and her subsequent possession. While a very good performance on the part of Eva Green, the scene itself was a bit overdone and I found myself, at times, laughing instead of being drawn in.
While this episode did seem rather disparate in terms of storyline and cohesiveness, it made up from it with what were easily the best scenes, those between Dr. Frankenstein and his new creation Proteus. These small moments with Proteus, played excellently by Alex Price, and Victor were interesting, touching and doomed from the start. While we are seduced by the interaction between them, the setup becomes clear when Proteus picks his name. Coming from Shakespeare’s Two Gentlemen of Verona it is a tale of two lifelong friends and their trials and thoughts on love. To be sure finding the human connection and kinship for Victor was most interesting and seeing humanity and awaking consciousness through Proteus was equally so. This only goes to show when you have a moment and characters that are interesting the subsequent disappointment and shock that was to come at the end made you wish it never happened.
Overall, I would say that this was an improvement over the pilot but still a bit tepid when it comes to the plot and character with a few standouts. Once, hopefully, the storylines come together and things get a bit tighter they will also get a bit more interesting.
– The Egyptologist, yes again.
– Victor begin happy/content for a moment
– Proteus remembering his seafaring life
– The opening scene of arm and apple
– Unnecessary rain sex
– Billy Piper (can she not be a prozzy in something?)