It’s only on Penny Dreadful that seemingly mundane things can be absolutely horrifying. Almost an entire half of this episode, “Glorious Horrors,” involves a extravagant ball which brings almost all of the characters into one room. In a show as disparate and widespread as Penny Dreadful can be, this collection in itself is exhilarating. The excitement only piles on when the grand party reaches an ending soaked with blood.
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The Morning After
Everyone is recovering from their sex montage — and by that, I mean everyone is blissfully happy. Dorian even wants to throw a grand ball in honor of Angelique. Everyone’s ecstasy pales into comparison to Malcolm. Thanks to more of Evelyn’s creepy doll magic, Malcolm is in a trance of joy and devotion, and not even the news of his dead wife can bring him out of it. There’s countless monsters and demons, but the creepiest thing Penny Dreadful has done so far is make a man smile.
Ethan tries to rationalize Malcolm’s odd behavior, but Vanessa and Sembene know something’s wrong with their benefactor. There’s not much time to process it because Roper, otherwise known as the only survivor of Ethan’s inn massacre, shows up at the manor. When they are alone, Roper threatens Ethan. He tells Ethan he’ll kill everyone there if Ethan doesn’t come back to America with him.
There’s Something About John
This isn’t the only brush with death in “Glorious Horrors.” When Lavinia touches John’s hand in the Putneys’ workshop basement, she figures out something her blind eyes couldn’t tell her. There’s something very odd (and very dead) about the man calling himself Mr. Claire. This information greatly interests her terrible and opportunistic parents.
An Open Invitation
While Vanessa is showing Victor what progress they’ve made in deciphering their hidden hellish message, she lets slip that she knows John Clare. Victor is concerned, but he is soon distracted by gushing about his love for Lily. He never anticipated love. He’s going from man of science to a man who makes love to his science. My queasiness about the whole situation is mercifully interrupted by Dorian arriving and inviting everyone to the ball.
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A Crime Scene Confrontation
Ethan stupidly shows up to Putney’s Wax Museum, where they’re displaying an exhibit of the inn massacre. While there, he runs into the investigator, Rusk. Thankfully, Rusk is not a complete idiot and tells Ethan how stupid it is to return to almost the literal scene of the crime. Rusk also tells Ethan he knows the latter is involved in the massacre in some way. Ethan maintains a brave face, but Rusk’s accusations shake him, so much so that he denies Vanessa’s invitation to the ball.
Old Acquaintances Not Easily Forgot
Lily and Victor arrive first to the ball. Lily (or, more accurately, Brona) begins to remember the last time she was in the home of Dorian Gray. Dorian, however, immediately remembers her because he doesn’t have that pesky death and resurrection getting in the way of his recollections. He begins to dance and flirt with Lily, while a jealous Dorian and Angelique watch. Vanessa arrives as the dance ends and is there just in time to see the two couples hurl veiled accusations of jealously at one another.
This is nothing compared to the shady insults Vanessa manages to throw herself. While comforting Victor, she senses Evelyn’s presence. When Vanessa sees Evelyn, she immediately recognizes the witch. The two threaten each other under the guise of proper female courtesy and it’s completely glorious.
The Bloody Conclusion
Lyle, who is also at the ball, starts to get worried as Evelyn’s daughters begin to eye Vanessa hungrily. They’re on orders not to touch Vanessa, but Lyle doesn’t trust them. He wants to take Vanessa home, but before he can do so, Vanessa has a vision. In the vision, blood begins to rain from the ceiling until every dancing couple is soaked in a sea of red. It’s beautiful in the way that only Penny Dreadful can make blood look. The vision ends when Vanessa collapses, unconscious, on the floor of the ballroom.
Meanwhile, the true reason for Ethan skipping the ball is revealed. It’s the full moon. Ethan tells Sembene to watch him as he chains himself up. Sembene has to make sure Ethan doesn’t escape. Whether the chains hold or not is left a mystery as the show cuts to black just as Ethan’s transformation to a werewolf is complete.
Penny Dreadful airs Sundays at 10pm on Showtime.
(Image courtesy of Showtime)