In typical Penny Dreadful fashion, the slower episode of “Little Scorpion” is followed up by an action-packed installment. “Memento Mori” is not only one of the best episodes of the season but perhaps of the whole series, and it doesn’t even involve Vanessa. While Ethan and Vanessa were building their nice love shack in “Little Scorpion,” “Memento Mori” explores the absolutely terrifying things that are happening with the rest of the gang in London. Secrets are revealed, horrors are had and lives are extinguished.
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Love is a Bit Complicated for the Frankenstein’s The episode opens with Lily creepily gloating over the body of the man she has just murdered. She’s far from the timid woman she was when first resurrected and even further from the sad but erratic Brona in her previous life. John, unaware of how unstable his promised bride has become, barges into Frankenstein’s home. John threatens his creator’s life and tells him that he will take Lily far away from Victor or any other man. Then, because he finally read Mary Shelley’s book, John promises to return one night and truly show Victor what kind of monster he has created.
Lily arrives back home and Victor wants to leave London to escape John, but Lily is far too intent on continuing her murdering spree and says no. She, of course, doesn’t tell Victor this real reason, but he isn’t really listening. Disturbed, he leaves and goes to visit Malcolm for advice. They talk about love as an addiction and it’s all very long, meandering and boring.The bright side is that Malcolm finally begins to surface out of Evelyn’s spell.
“Lucifer Did Not Fall Alone…”
Later, everyone gathers in the study, and Lyle tells the assembly the entire prophecy. The short version, without all the poetic talk, is as follows: Lucifer apparently has a brother and that brother is The Master that was the villain of the first season of Penny Dreadful. Both of these former angels-turned-demons want Vanessa for vague and undefined reasons. Lucifer works through his witches and The Master through his minions. The prophecy says that their plans are to be thwarted by a wolf. If only there was a main character who is secretly a werewolf and has a fierce loyalty to Vanessa…
While all this is being explained, Evelyn (who evidently hates important exposition) is working her creepy doll magic to enthrall Malcolm yet again. While she manages to maintain control, it’s short-lived. Sembene, realizing what is happening, throws Malcolm into an empty ballroom and screams at his master to remember himself. So Malcolm imagines himself at a ball dancing with ghostly apparitions of his dead family. It doesn’t make a terrible amount of sense, but it’s a small price to pay for getting the real Malcolm back.
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Deadly and Undead Confrontations
While Malcolm goes to confront Evelyn, Angelique happens upon Dorian’s portrait. For the literary uninitiated, this is a portrait that allows Dorian Gray to seemingly live forever, as all his sins are contained within the portrait. In any case, both of these confrontations end exactly, well, as expected: awfully. Malcolm is quickly incapacitated by the witches and Angelique … well, Angelique gets real dead. Angelique tragically tells Dorian she accepts him for all his flaws after seeing the portrait, but Dorian doesn’t care and poisons her. It’s horrendous, but it’s probably the one and only time Dorian has been interesting.
John, clearly not seeing the pattern of how these confrontations are going down, goes to accost Lily. Of course, he gets far more than he bargained for in his undead “sister.” In an absolutely captivating performance by Billie Piper, Lily gives either a master class in manipulation or insanity. Lily says she is tired of being demure and kind. She won’t bow down to any man, not only because it’s ridiculous for any woman to do so but also because she is better than any person alive.
She is an undead creation of science and the new evolution of humanity. She will join together with John and love him like no one else ever can, but first they must kill Victor. The days when Billie Piper was the weakest part of Penny Dreadful are long gone. Lily’s here and no man or obstacle is safe from her sight.
Evelyn could use some manipulation lessons from Lily. The witch makes a last-ditch effort to woo Malcolm and is unsuccessful. Malcolm refuses her and promises not to betray Vanessa anymore. Casually — far too casually — Evelyn leaves the room. After Evelyn exits, the door locks and a coffin suddenly appears; inside is the body of Malcolm’s son. While Malcolm cradles his son’s lifeless corpse, two more coffins appear containing his wife and daughter. If that’s not creepy enough, all three bodies gasp for air, rising from their graves and towards Malcolm.
Penny Dreadful airs Sundays at 10pm on Showtime.
(Image courtesy of Showtime)