Showtime's Penny Dreadful
gave us a little peak behind the skin in last Sunday's premiere with more presence than plot, more style than storyline. This week, the series is going full gusto or guts ahead with so much happening it's exorcism head-spinning.
"Seance" conjures up enough gore for the die-hard Saw fan tempered with surprising Kleenex moments featuring Dr. Frankenstein's latest creation. The surprise ending is a jaw dropper that shows us that the innocent have no place in this dreadful world.
Victor Frankenstein has a new pet. His creation is cuter than those puppies on Too Cute and just as eager to please. Victor is teaching him how to be human. A sensual scene where Kim Basinger -- I mean Frankenstein -- eats a piece of bread and then feeds lil pup a piece left me thinking a leg hump was coming next.
Victor lets the creature pick his own name from a book of Shakespeare. Proteus it is (Guildenstern was taken). Once you name him, he's yours forever, young doctor, or at least for the next 47 minutes. More on that in a bit.
Creator has a meeting with Sir Malcolm and has to leave creation home alone. Proteus whimpers and cries, but can you imagine when Victor returns? I'm guessing there's gonna be face licking, jumping up and down, and maybe a little accident. The joys of pet ownership.
Frankenstein inspects the tattooed monster vampire thing again for Sir Malcolm and Vanessa Ives, discovering it does have human blood. He's all business and doesn't even notice Miss Ives' unbuttoned top. He's got a puppy to get back to.
The Dog Days of Ethan
Ethan Chandler spends most of "Seance" sans gun but with bottle. He wakes up on the streets looking like he's just had an all-night drink fest, with rats surrounding him and nails dug into his own hands so deeply they've drawn blood. Troubled pretty boy stumbles himself to the nearest bar and meets feisty Brona Croft. They flirt -- I think -- but she's got marbles in her mouth or is speaking a foreign language, and I can only catch every fourth word. She may have said her name means sadness in Gaelic.
Ethan's intrigued and has asked Brona to dinner by episode's end. Their matching lost puppy dog looks seem to somehow fit.
Consumption is the New Black
Brona shows up at a grand "too fancy pants for her old dress" estate to perform her new gig ... model for the young and beautiful Dorian Gray. Mr. Gray's got a thing for sick girls. He's watching her get photographed and clearly enjoying the scene. He has her remove her corset but gets truly excited when she coughs and reveals she has consumption. Yes, this one's a keeper. He kisses her passionately, but it's the hacking up of blood in his face that sends him over the ecstasy edge saying, "I've never f***ed a dying creature before." You are one sick puppy, Mr. Gray (okay, done with the dog allusions).
A Penny for Your Grudge
Sir Malcolm and Vanessa arrive at flamboyant glyph reader Ferdinand Lyle's soiree (calling it a party doesn't seem flowery enough for him). Vanessa sees Dorian Gray across the room and the party stands still. No, for real, it's all silence. They talk interior decorating before he pulls her Sherlock routine from episode one. He begins an appraisal of all things Vanessa, spewing out, "You do not belong here. You're not frivolous. Your hands want to touch, your head wants to appraise ... your heart is torn between the two. You thought this was going to be a wasted evening. Now you're not too sure." You want to take me right here on the floor.
They are interrupted with the guest of honor, Madame Kali, and her seance time. Sir Malcolm and Vanessa join the circle of seance and watch as the medium speaks in a deep creepy voice and convulses. Miss Ives says, "Not so fast," and demands a possession-off. My money's on Vanessa.
In the most frightening scene of the series to date, she flings her head back and speaks in a voice worthy of Linda Blair. Next up, Vanessa channels The Grudge's awkward neck crawling and even that death rattle noise in the back of her throat.
She speaks in a teeny kid voice addressing his father, Sir Malcolm. This isn't missing daughter Mina. It's a son who is sick with dysentery and keeps asking his leaving father, "Will you name a mountain after me?" The son's grudge becomes clearer as he says Mina's waiting and, in a disgustingly shocking claim, that Vanessa saw father and daughter "f***ing." Miss Ives ends this performance by levitating a little and abruptly leaving amidst hysterical screaming.
Is there a hero to root for in the bunch? It was Sir Malcolm Murray and Vanessa Ives, but incest trumps heroism, so we'll have to see if the accusations are true.
In a side note, side-eye Vanessa storms out and does it with the first man she passes in the street, in the rain ... with Dorian watching. To say au revoir to Sir Malcolm, Mr. Lyle lets the explorer know that some of the glyphs on the creature are pointing to our Victorian medium being hunted by the devil. Good to know.
That Damn First Pancake
Victor takes Proteus on his first outing, showing the fascinated newborn London. He's overcome with all the shiny and new things, hyperventilating until daddy talks him down. They run into Ethan and consumption girl, with Proteus taking a liking to the young woman like a 13-year-old going through puberty.
They make their way back to the super-secret lab with the doctor quizzing his creation about the day's events. Proteus has unbridled enthusiasm, proclaiming that he wants friends. Ten. Maybe more than 10. It's a sweet and tender moment right up until a man from behind rips Proteus in two with his bare hands. Yes, you read that right.
"Your firstborn has returned, Father."
That misshapen, kinda screwed-up first pancake is there to remind Victor of his past sins. Good luck with your first creation, Dr. Frankenstein. I'm thinking military school may be in order.
"Seance" showed us that all of our characters are perhaps a bit darker and twisted than we first glimpsed last week. Okay, more than a bit. They are crazy in pretty little packages -- and isn't that the craziest crazy there is? I'm hooked on this dreadful world and can't wait to see what "Resurrection" drags up from the dead next week. Will Victor take his pancake to obedience school? Will Ethan get any of that good consumption sex? And most pressing, will Vanessa's head actually spin all the way around?
airs Sundays at 10pm on Showtime.
(Images courtesy of Showtime)