Published on June 4th, 2014 | by Dapper Dan2
Penny Dreadful – Episode 3 “Resurrection”
This might seem a tad on the obvious side but if you’ve not watched episodes 1 & 2 of Penny Dreadful, here be spoilers!
If you were anything like me, the wait between last week’s cliffhanger and this week’s episode felt like an age. We closed on Victor Frankenstein and his new-born (or newly reborn) “son” Proteus returning to their home, after a day exploring London. Their idyllic day is then suddenly curtailed as Proteus is torn apart by the return of the good doctor’s *original* creation, played by Rory Kinnear.
Proteus’ demise was graphic, visceral and horrific. As the Firstborn confronts a traumatised Victor, we are afforded a second-too-long shot of his torso, rent in two and entrails spilling across the floor. Regardless of the firstborn’s motivation, you can’t help but always remember that he is capable of this level of carnage.
A flashback to Victor’s childhood shows his mother suffering an illness that appears to be similar to Brona’s Consumption; weakness, uncontrollable coughing that includes blood. Young Victor watches his mother waste away and ultimately die from the disease. These experiences help form his fascination with cheating death through science. (Also, given what the Firstborn asks of Victor, I do wonder if Brona’s affliction may prove to be highly relevant…) As the family reunion at Laboratoire de Frankenstein continues, our scene changes to…
Red hot rumpy-pumpy action! Yes, after their shameless flirting last week, Ethan and Brona are at it like rabbits. Billie Piper’s derrière is afforded possibly a shot too many here, skirting dangerously close to “Hey, look! Naked girl!” territory. Post-coital hugs are interrupted by Brona having another coughing fit. Prior to her unexpected expectorations Ethan actually looks happy & comfortable for the first time this season, while Brona is slightly less sarcastic than before, and softer. Brona’s unable to afford the treatment she needs for her illness, but Good Guy Ethan wants to help, and knows a way to earn the necessary cash.
All of which brings us nicely back to the spooky and mysterious Vanessa Ives, and the mysterious and spooky Sir Malcolm. Following a vision of Mina Murray, Vanessa urges Sir Malcolm that they need to visit London Zoo after hours, believing that Mina may be there, or clues to her whereabouts. By a happy coincidence, at that very moment, Ethan arrives and asks if there is any work for him. Huzzah, we’re all going to the zoo!
While at the zoo, (and is there anything more creepy than being the only people in a zoo after dark?) our doughty quartet, now joined by Sir Malcolm’s valet Sembene, are confronted by a pack of wolves. Further adding to my theory last week that Ethan may be a werewolf, he approaches the pack and, guns holstered, arm outstretched, makes the wolves leave. The cgi here, particularly when Ethan’s hand is in the wolf’s mouth, looks pretty bad. Not show-ruining, but certainly not as slick as the rest of the production has been so far.
I’m not entirely au fait with my history of British Wildlife, but I’m pretty sure we didn’t have wild wolves roaming the streets back then. So, either we have artistic licence at play here, or the looming presence of Vlad Dracula is approaching, and will soon appear on stage, as it were.
Their next encounter is one on two legs thankfully, rather than four, and hearkens back to another character from Stoker’s Dracula. In one of the cages at the zoo, there’s a dishevelled, crazed man eating the previous occupants (Rabbits?) and raving. While he calls himself Fenton (Yes, this afforded SW-London-dwelling Dapper Dan an immense chuckle) I was expecting him to be Renfield.
Dragging the crazed man back to his townhouse, Sir Malcolm starts to interrogate him about Mina. Ethan looks increasingly uncomfortable with the methods used, suggesting he’s either been the victim of torture, or used such against his wishes before. Remember last week’s discussion of Egyptian goddesses and the end of the world? The same name tumbles from Fenton’s lips here, giving Sir Malcolm pause.
Timothy Dalton continues to put in a great performance in this show, as he admits to Vanessa that he suspected the zoo might be a trap and that she was the bait. Vanessa’s lack of outrage at this hints further at a degree of personal guilt and culpability in Mina’s predicament. Very good scene albeit let down slightly by Josh Hartnett’s acting as Ethan fails to match the intensity of Dalton and Green.
Finally, I’d like to come back to Victor and his Firstborn. Still spattered with his younger brothers gore, the creature recounts the details of his rebirth, much like Proteus last week it was shocking and terrifying for creature and creator both. Sadly, I suspect for all concerned in Penny Dreadful, Victor ran away and left the creature alone to find his way in the world. As a result, he has grown to be a harsh and damaged figure, angry at his “father” for leaving him when he needed him most. While he explains his survival, his rescue from the streets, working as a stage hand and how he came to adopt the name Caliban, there’s a clear sense that he has a reason for returning now. He could have tracked down and confronted Victor before but, rather than seek him out for revenge, he’s here because he has a request that he needs Victor to fulfil; a companion. A literal Bride Of Frankenstein, if you will.
Rory Kinnear plays Caliban perfectly, nailing the hurt, the anger and also the need that he feels. Where I felt it a little jarring was that he was so well-spoken. I know Proteus could talk, but Caliban sounds, well, a little too posh. He DID read all of Victor’s poetry, though, which may account for his rather erudite manner.
Speculative corner! Ethan will turn to Victor for help with Brona’s consumption. Seeing similarities to his mother’s death, Victor will jump at the chance to save her, ultimately turning her into Caliban’s companion. Or is that too obvious?
We’re approaching the halfway mark of the season and I’m starting to get a little concerned we’re still setting the scene, rather than getting to the real heart of the matter. Hopefully next week’s episode will move things along at a slightly faster pace.