Penny Dreadful Season 1 Ep 6 (TV Show Review)

With last week’s fifth episode, “Closer Than Sisters” Showtime’s latest show, Penny Dreadful, moved into its second phase since this is only an eight-episode debut season. The good thing is that the show has already been renewed for a second season, and well-deservedly so since it has been really great so far. It has taken some old penny dreadfuls, and spun a crossover tale that includes the likes of Dracula, Frankenstein, Abraham Van Helsing, Dorian Gray and many others. It has had a perfect intensity and mood, and it has delivered again and again.

While the last week’s episode was a singularly focused tale that dealt with the backstory between Vanessa Ives and Sir Malcolm Murray, and was utterly magnificent for that, this week’s “What Death Can Join Together” still somehow manages to top all of that. It moves the story forward significantly and throws several wrenches into the gears to really complicate things. And for the first time in this show, we do get the feeling that things are moving for a resolution and that the tension is really ramping up too, and this is a great feeling.

Penny Dreadful Logo 0001

As always with a show that has such a big diverse cast, there are several stories running in parallel here. On the one hand, we have the whole creepy thing going on between Victor Frankenstein and his first creation, his first-born, Caliban, who wants him to create for him a mate of great beauty and a vigour for life that can match his own. Then there’s the hunt for Mina Murray, a hunt run by her father Sir Malcolm Murray, Vanessa Ives, Ethan Chandler and Sir Malcolm’s African butler Sembene. There’s also this little subplot involving Ethan Chandler and Brona Croft, which seems set to intersect with the story of Frankenstein and Caliban. And finally, there is everything that is happening with Dorian Gray, which seems to be the connecting element between all these stories, in a way that we haven’t seen yet.

As I said, in this episode I really felt as if things were moving towards a conclusion, and that’s partly because Sir Malcolm, Ethan and Sembene finally manage to track down the lair of the master vampire who has taken Mina in his shadow and ripped her away from her friends and her family. Needless to say, there is a lot of action in this episode, and director Coky Giedroyc perfectly captures the mad rush of a scattered vampire attack, taking place as it does aboard a quarantined plague ship in London harbor. Of course, it is significant here that Vanessa was not a part of this hunt, something that I find very curious since she is meant to be working with Sir Malcolm and is a childhood friend of Mina’s. Of course, we saw some things at the end of the previous episode that might give credibility to why Sir Malcolm doesn’t trust Vanessa, but that’s a topic for a later moment, for I believe that it is going to rear its head in the finale, and we’ll see some really fantastic twists.

What has me confused at the moment is what is the goal for the Dorian Gray subplot, for that seems to be nothing other than a device to just connect the different storylines together, in that he is connected to Brona, Vanessa and Ethan alike. Perhaps the big reveal is going to be that we get to see his infamous painting, which is going to be that of a man ghastly by nature and terrible by vision. If I remember correctly, that is indeed what the painting is meant to be since it captures every vice of his and all of his sins and it twists his perfect countenance to reflect every single one of those. I find Reeve Carney’s performance as the character to be really cool and he definitely injects a certain magnetism and charm in the role. I am definitely looking forward to what this brings in the next couple episodes.

With the whole plot involving Caliban and Frankenstein, this time we see more of how the former longs for someone to love him as a lover, someone to soothe away his pain as only a mate, a partner can. He has the hots for one of the Grand Guignol’s leading ladies, though the love is unrequited and she already has a lover, another actor. Poor Caliban. Constantly crapped on by everyone, but he is still a villain, a killer without mercy, singularly focused on his own goals and his own desires, everyone else be damned to hell. And poor Frankenstein, his misery gets worse with each episode. He just can’t seem to escape the clutches of the demon Caliban and his every attempt to rebuff and delay is met with force and the threat of murder. He just can’t seem to get a break.

One thing I didn’t like about this episode was that despite all the subterfuge evident here, at times it was gratingly telegraphing upcoming twists. The story leads you on and on, and then culminates in a way that, while very gratifying in a way, is also suspect because of the abrupt finality of it. That I just didn’t appreciate. And there were at least three such instances in the episode. I liked them well enough to be true because the characters are amazing and the same goes for the actors as well, but they still grated. Could have been handled much better I think.

Penny Dreadful Cast 0001

All in all, this episode developed the overall story really well and it picked up the story from the fourth episode really well despite the unforeseen interruption of the fifth episode. Perhaps that owes as much to the writing of the show’s creator and showrunner John Logan as much as it does to the direction of Coky Giedroyc, but still, it must be mentioned because it is something that stands out very strongly.

Now, with the show about to end in just two more weeks, things are heating up, and we see a measure of that in the mind-boggling cliffhanger ending which was quite shocking and just the kind of twist that I expected from a horror show like this, given the character of Vanessa Ives and the object of her search. How that is going to be developed further remains to be seen of course, but I am well along for the ride, of that you can be sure.

More Penny Dreadful: Eps 1-3, Ep 4, Ep 5.


Posted on June 18, 2014, in Penny Dreadful, Review Central, TV Show Reviews and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.

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