Showtime's entrance into the horror realm is light on horror and heavy on backstory this week. Penny Dreadful's "Resurrection" shows us how Dr. Victor Frankenstein came to be such a screwed-up little creator of life, and, of course, it all goes back to mommy.
Last week's episode scared the bejesus out of us with Miss Vanessa Ives' eye-rolling, possession, speaking in a kid voice performance. This week, we're left with a little sympathy for the devil, knowing that it all boils down to every creatures' need for love.
Mommy and Daddy Issues
Young Victor Frankenstein is dressed in white and stumbles upon his dead dog crawling with maggots. His mother comforts the crying boy by having a philosophical discussion about death, poetry and heaven. Good talk. Mommy says, "It's just you and me now," before spewing a torrent of blood all over the young lad. The next scene is Victor channeling Damien from The Omen dressed in black watching his mom's funeral from afar.
Cut to the return of that dreadful killer of a first pancake who put an end to our beloved Proteus last week. He confronts Daddy Dearest, bitterly yelling, "Stand and face me!" He rubs his bloody hand down a terrified Victor's face, sharing his own flashback detailing his birth to present day showdown. We see his naked, bloody entrance into this world, complete with daddy abandonment. "You fled," he tearfully recounts. "I waited, but you did not return." Have you not heard of the fire department drop, Victor?
The firstborn heartbreakingly recounts how he learned to be human by watching the outside world from a window. Venturing outside, he meets with both sides of the human spirit ... first, beaten by strangers, and then taken under a drunken actor's wing.
Frankenstein's first creature justifies the killing of his brother, saying, "Aborting your child before it could feel pain was a mercy."
The Kindness of Strangers
Through more detailed flashbacks, we see the drunken stranger show firstborn the wonders of the theatre. He offers him a real life, saying, "There is a place where the hideous can be beautiful. Strangeness is celebrated. This place is the theatre." The drunk thespian tells him he'll be the new "behind the scenes" stage rat responsible for machinery and rigging. He even gives his new mentee a name, calling him Caliban from The Tempest.
Make Me an Eve
So what does Caliban want from his maker? Revenge? The death of his old man? He tells Victor jealously that he saw the doctor's progress with his brother. He toys with him, saying, "You know what I want." Frankenstein says he's sorry he left, sorry for the cruelty he had to endure. His empty regrets will not satisfy this one. He admits that he wants what everyone wants ... love. Make me a mate, master.
Ethan and Brona consummate their new lost puppy dog relationship with some good old-fashioned consumption sex. You know it's love when he kisses her on the lips. I'm thinking that's not smart, gunslinger. They cuddle a little before she gets up to cough it out. "Do you have medicine?" he asks. "Who's got money for that? Not when there's eating to be done," she answers.
Lions and Tigers and Wolves, Oh My
Vanessa Ives has a vision we'll call Seance light. In Resurrection, she's walking down a dark hallway and sees Mina. The girl pleads with her to help her, saying, "They are all around me. They use me to feed at night. Please save me."
Ethan comes by offering his services, looking to earn some money, even if it costs a dear penny. Vanessa tells him that Mina was working as a governess and became engaged to Jonathan Harker. She had an affair with another man who was perhaps more creature than man. Well, where is Mina now? "Have you ever been to London Zoo?" asks Vanessa.
At the zoo, our heroes have a wolf encounter of the third kind, with Ethan diffusing the situation. He offers up a good whiff of his hand, which sends his brethren -- I mean wolves -- running. Hmmm, werewolf much, Ethan?
Next up is the monkey exhibit. They don't find Mina, but a monkey-eating, frothing at the mouth young man named Fenton. Because Frankenstein doesn't have his hands completely full, they call on his services to help in breaking the primate loving wild thing.
Fenton has the creepy moment of the night when he talks about his master being "right behind you. His breath, now one finger reaching out. Do you not feel it? You soon will." Sir Malcolm tries beating information out of the creature, with Ethan not all in on torture. Vanessa says there is no going back from this moment. It's all for one and one for all if we proceed. They all swear that they will go as far as they have to. One thing is still bothering Miss Ives. Sir Malcolm seemed to know that Mina would not be at the zoo. He admits that he suspected as much, also confessing that the creature wants Vanessa. "So, I was bait?" she asks. "Yes," he answers, confirming that Mina trumps all, even his dear Miss Ives.
The final scene is Fenton looking to the heavens and saying, "Master, master, I am here." He gazes up smiling, and I'm happy to report that we see nothing. That is, until next week. I'm both dreading and anticipating the latest Penny Dreadful offering. This Showtime series has me genuinely hooked in that wonderful "hands half over my eyes, but still peeking" kind of way.
Penny Dreadful airs Sundays at 10pm on Showtime.
(Images courtesy of Showtime)