After what could be described as a pretty good start, Penny Dreadful took everything to an entirely new level with Penny Dreadful Season 1 Episode 2. It introduced two new characters, added a hefty mythological storyline and upped the sex. Not bad for a follow-up, huh?
Below, TV Fanatics Douglas Wolfe, Jim Garner and Michelle Carlbert discuss what made Penny Dreadful's second episode a game-changer...
Why did you think when Vanessa became possessed at the séance?
Doug: Kind of freaked me out but not a whole lot. I don't think anyone else expected it at the table expected either - least of all the fake "medium" who presided over it. There was a moment in the first episode when she praying before that cross, when I got the impression she was housing more than just one soul inside her. Plus there was that moment - again, in the first episode - when she faced one of the vampires. Instead of ripping into her, he backed off - perhaps recognizing an ancient authority in her that ranks hire on the evil scale.
Jim: Right off the bat, Eva Green did an amazing job in her portrayal. I think it was something new, but the look on Malcolm's face made me think it might have happened before, in private. He didn't looked very surprised.
Michelle: When it first began happening to her, something in me said, “Ah, this makes sense.” I just thought, from what we know of her so far, she would be the kind of person that a spirit would possess. I wasn’t sure at first if it had ever happened to her before, but she did look sort of prepared for it so I’m going to say, yes, it has.
What was the episode's most shocking moment?
Doug: I was shocked and then really bummed out when Proteus bought the farm. It was a spectacular scene but I felt we were just getting to know a Frankenstein's monster that was more believable and much more innocent than the traditional way in which he's portrayed. He was so human that I had to keep looking for the stitch marks for reminders that he was a composite being.
Jim: Proteus being torn in half by Frankenstein's "other" son. This beat out the previous shock of the night, that being Dorian Grey getting turned on by mortality and actually enjoying Brona coughing blood into his face. Okay... that one is still creepy.
Michelle: The bloody sex scene, hands down. That was a lot of depravity for a few seconds of film. From Bron admitting she was sick to Dorian admitting that turned him on even more, to Brona coughing up the blood – it was definitely hard to watch and yet I couldn’t tear my eyes away.
We haven't learned a lot about Ethan's past, but we seemed to get a couple hints about it in this episode. What do you think he's hiding?
Doug: I keep wondering if he's Jack the Ripper. The prostitute in the first scene was ripped apart - presumably by Jack - and then we see Ethan waking up outside. Maybe that's a deliberate misdirection on the part of the writers though. If Ethan's not Jack, then I know he's going to be one of the characters we'll recognize from one of the old stories of that era.
Jim: Killed a man in Dodge City... it's that typically what a gun-slinger of that time frame would hiding, right? Honestly, no idea, but he seems captivated by Brona.
Michelle: I don’t know why, but I have a strong feeling he might be the Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde of this series. When he found out about one of the killings, it was right after he woke up and to me it looked like he was confused about where he was. He also looked very upset about the murder, which I immediately took as guilt. Perhaps I’m wrong, but that’s where my head went.
Were you surprised when Proteus was killed by Frankenstein's "first born?"
Doug: Surprised and shocked. I also have a few questions. If that was his son that he did that, he looks a lot older than his daddy. Yet Victor isn't Dorian Grey - maybe the Devil paid him a visit too at one point, and there's a picture gathering ugliness somewhere? I'm guessing the son chose to kill Proteus because he couldn't stand the competition for his dad's affections. I mean, in addition to the fact that it was probably fun for him to do. Man, this show has evil written all over it, doesn't it?
Jim: REALLY surprised. I had even noticed earlier in the episode that on IMDB that they listed "Proteus" and "The Creature" with two different actors and I didn't actually put what that meant together until Proteus came apart.
Michelle: Shocked, surprised… maybe flabbergasted is a better word for what I felt in that moment. I was beginning to get a little crush on Proteus, something I never would’ve guessed I’d feel for Frankenstein’s creation. I’m incredibly sad to see Proteus gone as he was definitely a new take on Frankenstein’s monster, but I’m also intrigued by this new “son.”
We were introduced to two new characters in this episode: Brona and Dorian Gray. Which one do you find most intriguing and whose introduction did you like better?
Doug: I really liked the introduction of Dorian Grey. He apparently has a blood/disease fetish or something, knowing full well he's immune to illness. Kind of disgusting and fascinating at the same time. That scene where they were lovemaking is reminiscent of True Blood - although in a more earthy and strange way.
Jim: Brona wins by default. Honestly, the little we learned about Dorian (that he has freaky turn-ons) didn't really drive me to learn more about him. I'm at least curious where they are going with Brona.
Michelle: I’m with Jim. There was something about Brona that had me as fascinated with her as Ethan was. I liked her wit and I think she’s going to end up being another pivotal character on this show.
What was your favorite scene?
Doug: I loved the séance scene. Vanessa's abrupt interruption, where the voices overtly came to life, was very very good. She played each of her souls perfectly, and destroyed the carefully planned illusion of the table. Timothy Dalton's Malton provided a brilliantly agonized reaction to all of it.
Jim: I didn't have a favorite scene. Mainly because no scenes really stood out from the others. For example, while Eva Green was awesome in the seance, it went on so long with very little happening (other than her monologue), I actually started to tune out. Look at Penny Dreadful Season 1 Episode 1 and you will find it had some bits of action, bits of drama and bits discover. This one was way more of a hodge-podge of stand-alone unconnected parts that tried really hard to gel into a full episode and barely managed to move the overall story forward.
Michelle: Like Doug, I really liked the séance scene as well. For me, that’s when this show took up its game. Until then, I was enjoying it but I hadn’t had that “aha moment” that tells me I’m going to love a series. I never know when those “aha moments” are going to hit. Sometimes they come immediately (I had one barely 20 minutes into the pilot for Supernatural) and sometimes it takes a few episodes. I’m glad I didn’t have to wait too long to get one in this show.