Penny Dreadful Review: What Death Can Join Together
Doing a limited series can be tough and if not done right, if not focus and tightly written, it can feel empty and at odds with its condensed format. Not merely leaving us wanting more, as is so often the goal, but scratching our heads wondering what the point was to begin with. This is where this episode and the series find itself. Standing on the line between revelation and unraveling and while this episode felt more about pulling on the various loose ends it still has yet full bring everything into focus.
The episode picks up where the “Demimonde” left off after the vampire they had captured dies in Vanessa’s room. We are then taken through the various plots/subplots of the series with the various characters. We are treated to the making up between a lamenting Chandler and a dying Brona, while an interesting if somewhat unjustified romance, has yet to fully payoff for the plot or Brona’s character. Though it does lack in this area it does serve to make Chandler a more sympathetic character and show more of the “good man” that Brona sees in him and that he clearly wants to be.
Another somewhat interesting “relationship” is between that of Vanessa and Gray which is explored, if enigmatically, further. While you can tell there was, from the jump, and attraction between the two this has always felt more to the realm of “other” or the supernatural. As if, it was two magnets feeling the pull of each other more than anything. In addition, while this moment and eventual lesion between these does more to serve Vanessa character, and trigger another chaotic and cationic states as seen in “Closer Than Sisters”, it does again little to make relevant the Gray character. His function seems to be preening around, bemoan his existence, and offer watered down cryptic rejoinders. While this can facilitates some exposition and self-evaluation by the characters he interacts with it has done little make him like anything but an annoying one-dimensional phantom on the periphery of the plots.
The rest of the episode was taken up with the a bit more of the minutia of exposition. Van Helsing and Frankenstein ruminate over the love of science and their shared vampire secret. Van Helsing clues Frankenstein in on his long associate with the vampires, through his now dead wife, and his hopes that Victor will continue in his stead. This meeting of the obsessive minds is cut short when yet again Caliban shows up and quickly dispatches Van Helsing and reminds Victor of his promise. While this goes to further torture and psychologically punch Frankenstein gutturally the righteous indignation on the part of Caliban, while in a sense justified, is wearing thin coupled with his oblivious demands of immediate satisfaction. Meanwhile, Sir Malcolm, Chandler and Sembene follow up Vanessa’s earlier lead to Mina’s whereabouts, which brings them in confrontation with a nest of vampires amongst a “quarantined” ship that has ties to Egypt. While this brings a bit of action to what has largely been a taught emotional examination these past few episodes it helps to reinforces the notion that Sir Malcolm seems unwilling to entertain. That he may in fact not be able to save Mina in the physical sense and that he should be prepared for that eventuality.
– Vanessa’s nervousness about her date/Sir Malcolm’s evaluation
– The somewhat hammy but still fun use of a Penny Dreadful and Varney the Vampire
– Chandler lecturing Sir Malcolm
– Tying, as it is very much implied, Vanessa’s sexuality with the “demon” inside her
– Unnecessarily naked Gray and healing scene