Penny Dreadful- Episode 5

“Closer Than Sisters”

The pace slowed down considerably with this episode. 

The entirety of the episode takes place in flashbacks to Vanessa’s childhood. The ENTIRETY. For a show with as large a main cast as Penny Dreadful has this is quite bizarre. No monsters. No vampires, no werewolves. No love triangles. No Dorian Gray.

Which means that I have to wait and see what happens with Dorian and Ethan. This show has sucked my in. As soon as I watch; I want more. This show is typically intense with multiple plotlines and motivations intermingling.

So this Vanessa-centric, nostalgic exposition was… different.

Vanessa and Mina were neighbors who grew up separated by only an open gate and a hedge maze. We see them first as children imagining who they will marry, frolicking on the coastline and brushing each other’s hair. Vanessa’s crush on Peter. Until one fateful night. The young Vanessa was out in the hedge maze and she caught her mother having sex with Mina’s father, Sir Malcolm. This breech of her innocence causes her to act out in other ways, stealing and other instances of “girlish mischief.” 

Image

As they grow older Mina meets the kind of man that they dreamed of growing up while Vanessa’s budding relationship never blooms. He tells Vanessa he is going off to Africa. Vanessa knows he’s too weak, but she loves him for his weakness. Peter pushes her away. Just before Mina and her officer with the grand mustache are to be married, Vanessa encounters him in the halls and they flirt over taxidermy. Then they have sex. Mina finds the pair while her soon to be husband is pounding away at her BFF and she casts both of them out of her life. 

Vanessa confronts her mother about her infidelity with Sir Malcolm but when Vanessa gets to Mina’s yard she is faced with Sir Malcolm. He doesn’t let her pass and slams the gate. Vanessa collapses.

She treated first for what appears to be epilepsy and then she is taken in for psychiatric treatment for psychosexual fits. Treatments like ice baths and heavy narcotics… but nothing seems to work. The possession continues. Her mother finds her humping the air (Vanessa envisions Sir Malcolm) and faints. Peter comes to visit just before a trip to Africa and Vanessa predicts his death. 

Image

Years later, Vanessa is visited by Mina on a beach. Mina says that she forgives Vanessa saying that her suffering has been penance enough. Mina tells Vanessa about her new husband, Jonathan Harker. But once she lets it slip that Vanessa saw her father being unfaithful, Mina reveals that the Master has told her a lot. And then Vanessa visits Sir malcolm and tells him what Mina has revealed to her.

So let’s talk about it: Women’s sexuality demonized. Literally.

The loss of Vanessa’s innocence leads to her morality spiraling down the drain. Which isn’t supernatural mumbo jumbo. The young Vanessa sees that the adults around her are hypocritical in their religious and pious appearance, that they are sinning and she youthfully acts out. But then as an adult she is jealous of her friend and so she seduces her fiance. This act leaves her open for demonic possession. 

Slut shaming at it’s finest that Vanessa’s betrayal leaves her the property of Satan.

Other than that? 

I’m glad I have incorrectly assumed that Sir Malcolm raped Mina. It appears as though at the seance it was a young Mina’s essence who inhabited Vanessa (or possibly still Peter) but that the “her” was Vanessa’s mother. I hope. Possession is very confusing. 

This episode was comparatively slower to all the other episodes thus far, but it was so bizarre and captivating that it didn’t hurt my enjoyment of it. Eva Green can easily carry a scene and I have to give her props for some of the insane things that she pulled off there. 

I am concerned.

What I am concerned about is this:

Image

Now, I wouldn’t be bothered if Vanessa’s love for Mina is romantic more than platonic. But I will be bothered if Vanessa had sex with Mina’s fiance not because Vanessa was jealous of Mina for having what she envisioned but that she was jealous because she wanted Mina. I don’t need a “conniving lesbian homewrecker” plot. It’s preposterous.Hopefully I am just being paranoid. Tropes make me suspicious. Also, I hate to say it -because I don’t mind a “strong female character would do anything for true love” plot, which this would be if Vanessa had an interest in Mina that was romantic, but can girls just be down for their friends sometimes? I hope.

Penny Dreadful- episode 3

So pumped to figure out why that Creature climbed through Proteus last episode.

But we flashback to Vic’s childhood. His dog died, Victor found him with maggots crawling out of hollowed out eyes.his mother comforts him then suddenly falls ill, choking on blood and spattering it onto him. Hauntingly soft and white he agrees, “Death is not serene.” His mother dies soon after.

Then we appear in the moment that ended last weeks episode. Most this week’s episode centered around Victor Frankenstein and his first creation, Callaban. When the Creature came to life, Frankenstein was scared and left his monster all alone. The Creature was terrified and in agony. Slowly, he watched out the window at home humans interacted and concluded that he was less than, that he was an animal. We get a slowpaced story (recounted while Callaban threatens Victor and they’re both covered in blood, this show is so committed to atmosphere).

Brona and Ethan are having sex, and we get to see as much of his bare ass as we do hers (thanks Showtime!) It was sort of sweet and sexy. Maybe just for me. I’ve crushed on Hartnett for a while. There’s this moment when she almost pushes him away from kissing her (because she has consumption) but he kisses her anyway, choosing to be close with her instead. When she gets out of bed she’s coughing and he asks if she has any medicine, she replies, “Who has money for that when there’s eating to be done, lad.” and smiles it off. But he doesn’t. And he goes to see Sir Malcolm and Vanessa and join in for the monster hunting again.

Image

They at first believe that he intends to take this job so he can travel back home, but Vanessa finds out that this is about a woman. It doesn’t really matter, of course, because they are desperate. They think that they have found where “The Master” maybe and that Mina might be there as well. They’re rather desperate for the help. Which is great, since Ethan is more desperate for the money. 

Meanwhile we get to the heat of it that Callaban’s angry at Frankenstein for creating and then abandoning him, and vows to see that Victor ends up as alone as he has been… unless Victor makes him a wife doomed to the same misery he is.

Image

 

Out with Sir Malcolm, Vanessa and Ethan they encounter some wolves, which I thought for sure would be werewolves, but they don’t appear to be or reveal themselves to be anyway. I’m not committed to them being regular wolves yet. -More on that later.

Ethan lets the aforementioned wolves sniff his hand and they retreat. Vanessa and Sir Malcolm share a look that clearly says *what the hell was that about* and moments after they find a young vampire chewing on some raw flesh. He tries to attack Vanessa, They wind up chaining him up, Sir Malcolm beats him while shouting ‘where is your Master?” and asking Victor over to concoct a treatment. Ethan remarks that the vampire is still a child and that torturing and experimenting on children isn’t something he wants to be party to.

Victor says “Oh, killing Redskins and wiping an entire race into oblivion is more your style.” Ethan doesn’t deny and says “How did you know I was in the Indian Wars?” and Victor gives him a *haha tricked you* I didn’t. Which would have made the Englishmen there seem morally superior IF they didn’t have an African servant who doesn’t speak or contribute to the story in any manner leaving the audience to conclude that when he isn’t waiting on Sir Malcolm he’s doing nothing of his own. 

Vanessa finds that Sir Malcolm used her as bait, he knew Mina had been moved but he wanted to draw out the Master and isn’t entirely pissed off enough. At some point, Vanessa had also counted to Ethan that Mina was supposed to marry Jonathan Harker but that she took up with “another man, if he is a man at all.” You know he’s not. You know he’s a vampire… why would you say that? But it has me wondering if Van Helsing will cross paths with them at some point.

So now here are my predictions: (and unfortunately- I don’t like some of them) Ethan has some weird mojo with wildlife and/or is a werewolf. I think it is more likely to be the former than the latter, I think that it will tie in to some Native American friends he made after some convoluted story that has him riding the redemption train for his misdeeds against the Native Americans. Also, that Brona is going to be near death from consumption soon and that Victor will resurrect her to be Callaban’s wife. I would put money on both of those. 

Dracula: episode 8

Dracula is having sexy dreams about his former wife, and then the recollection of armored men breaking in and grabbing her away while he is beaten.

Currently Dracula is staring at Mina’s residence. “There is folly in this obsession.” Renfield tells him.

Mina is snooping around Van Helsing’s things again (last time she did this she created a potential vampire rat. This was never addressed, disappointingly). Her father comes to see what she is doing… and confronts her about the dance he caught between her and Grayson.

Lady Jayne and Davenport decide that there is indeed another elder vampire. (Not just the one she killed at her residence, Grayson’s friend). But the huntsman doesn’t find Grayson. She finds a female vampire (a black woman in fact, this show is beyond white and she doesn’t last long… unfortunately that’s a “thing” on this show) During the showdown, Lady Jayne easily beheads a man and the other woman confesses that dracula himself called her there.

Harker is in trouble. And he’s starting to put two and two together about Grayson, he thinks that Grayson killed the bookkeeper (he did).

Van Helsing can’t believe he killed a police magistrate (he did)

Grayson gets the sunlight serum. While Lady Jayne tells the Order of the Dragon that Dracula is in London. And tells the story of how the Order themselves changed Vlad the Impaler into Dracula. She vows to end it once and for all.

Harker tells Mina how violent and dangerous Grayson is. Mina doesn’t buy it when he tells her to stay away.

Grayson goes to see Lady Jayne. And she breaks up with him. She knows that his heart belongs to Mina, she’s known since she saw them dance at Mina and Jonathon’s engagement party. To his merit; he doesn’t deny it or make excuses… but he does say that he risked his life to protect her (he didn’t). She says that the whole time he was pretending she was Mina. He denies it (but he was).

Mina goes to see Grayson. She tells Grayson what Harker has come to her and said. “I would never lie to you, you have my word.” (but vague answers are us). She bizarrely tells him off, saying that her and Harker will not be used up by him.

Lucy is still inanely flirting with Harker. Harker turns her down flat. She begs for a kiss. He declines. So she tells Harker that Mina has been visiting Grayson. 

Grayson has a class A meltdown.

Harker confronts Mina about going to see Grayson against his wishes. Says that she invents reasons to see Grayson so that she can flirt with him (that’s not wrong… it’s pretty accurate, except that one last time)

A vampire lackey says that Dracula can walk in the day. “Dracula has bested God.” Lady Jayne feeds him some Holy Water he gurgles thick blood.

Van Helsing and Renfield talk business, discuss how they will go after High Council or the Dragon’s Head.

Mina steals Dracula’s blood sample from Van Helsing’s office (again) but as she is leaving 3 men break in. She kicks one in the shin and makes a run for it, but she is surrounded and one man shoves her down the stairs leaving her concussed. The men are primed to torture her (to destroy Grayson) …but Grayson shows up and starts ripping out throats. Then he impales them on the fence outside. Vlad the Impaler: Confirmed.

Harker and Grayson and her father are all at the hospital (if Harker thinks Grayson is a danger why does he let Grayson visit? At one point he even storms off leaving Grayson alone with Mina)

Hackett is Davenport’s man. Grayson tells Harker that the police will never believe him. Harker says that he will confront Davenport himself.

Davenport says Grayson is framing him. That Grayson sent Harker because one of them would be killed and either way he wins, either Davenport is dead or Harker is dead… then Grayson will have Mina. Harker falls to shambles under Davenports ranting and Harker shoots him… he sees the painting of someone looking mostly like Mina that Davenport stole from Grayson… and then heads over to Lucy’s. Lucy is not that into it, of course… but she’s satisfied that this will ruin Mina and Harker’s relationship and Mina will experience the pain that Mina inflicted on her. 

Great episode! Lot’s of vampire stuff happening. Beheadings, Grayson’s class A freak out, violence, lust, less fake science…

Bad stuff: it’s awful that a PoC character will walk on and I already know that they will be dead in 5 minutes. That’s ridiculous. Stop doing that. Also the fact that Lucy is so bitter and repressed and she’s the only LGBT character who is still alive? Not good. 

I hope Mina and Harker break up. I still hate Harker. How is it alright to tell your wife who not to see under the guise of “protecting her” but you leave her with this person while she is unconscious? Only one of those times required your interference and you picked the wrong one, Harker!

 

Dracula- Episode 6

Dracula dreams of sunlight

Image

Browning tries to convince Lady Jayne that Grayson is a vampire. She assures him, as head huntsman… and as someone who has spent quite a lot of time with him, that she would know if he was Nosferatu. But others are noticing that although Grayson runs a business they have never seen him out at a daytime event. 

At a lovely restaurant a waiter is performing a trick for Mina, Lucy and Harker. Mina giggles, Lucy looks annoyed and Harker full out ignores the man. Grayson leaves Lady Jayne behind at their table to impress Mina with how the trick is performed. And then does one of his own as an apology for the abrupt exit at their engagement party. He offers to pay for their meal and drinks.

After feasting on his dime Mina and Harker run home through the rain, Mina dancing and laughing. Then they consummate their relationship. AFter a shadowy night of pasiion, they plan to set a date to be married. Then Mina says something about studying to accomplish and Harker jokes that he is still playing second fiddle to her work with Van Helsing. (Except that two episodes ago this was not a “joke” and their relationship nearly ended because he did not want a woman with ambition)

Harker then meets with Grayson to discuss the dirt on those that captured Renfield. 

Renfield presents Grayson with a document: a telegram regarding an auction for the Dresden Triptych. Davenport finds out and now HE wants it to get at Grayson.

Grayson wins part of British Imperial Coolant in a card game.

A British Imperial Coolant event is being held in a solarium in the middle of the day. If Grayson can not attend, he will lose his share.

Mina is examining the blood samples (that are Grayson’s but she doesn’t know that) The blood is still alive despite the cells duration outside of the body. Mina injects the blood into a dead rat. She waits briefly for it to react… but it does not, so she stuffs it away… only then does the rat twitch. 

Lucy meets with Lady Jayne who invited her after noticing the way Lucy gazed upon Mina Murray. Lady Jayne says that she had been with many females and that it is a natural part of maturation. She softly strokes Lucy and convinces Lucy that Mina loves her, too, and that she should confess her feelings to Mina.

Van Helsing tells Grayson that he’s had a breakthrough with the sunlight serum (that will allow the vampire to walk in the day) and Grayson optimistically insists that they try it out on him tomorrow.

MIna attempts to return the sample to Van Helsing’s lab… but she is caught. Van Helsing discharges her. So she keeps the sample. Then she calls Van Helsing out. She reanimated dead cheek cells using the sample and then repeated the experiment to be sure. Van Helsing invites her back in and tries to say it is a microscopic parasite found in Sumatra. She doesn’t buy it. He grabs for a mallet. 

But Mina relents, she says it’s because her mother died while she was young. She wishes to cure death. She convinces herself that she saw only what she wished to. That she projected her needs.

Lady Jayne presents Browning with evidence that Grayson has RSVPed to a daytime even. Browning says that he probably won’t show, and if he is a vampire, will the Huntsman be able to kill him?

While Harker and his future Mrs. ride around on a carousel, they are interrupted by Davenport, who gives Harker a ticket to a play, A Doll’s House, where he sees an actress, who he thought was a bookkeeper… he then realizes that Grayson has set him up, knowing that he would give evidence of General Shaw to the papers against Grayson’s wishes.

I’m a little baffled on this one… what exactly is going on here? There’s a ton going on… I missed it.

Lucy helps Mina pick out a fashionable dress… Mina is distant. Mina also created a vampire rat not too long ago, should we be concerned about that?

Mina tells Lucy that she believes that Van Helsing is deceiving her, for the substance could revolutionize medicine… why would he hide it? Then she apologizes and says that Lucy must find talk of research so dull. Lucy, proving she would be a better partner, says “Mina, not while you are speaking.”  

Lucy confesses her love, but Mina turns away. She Is suspicious, says that Mina under minds Jonathon because she wants Mina for herself not to protect her as the friend that Mina needs.

Lucy leaves in tears, pushing past Harker as he enters.

Van Helsing straps Grayson to a machine that will augment his blood pressure so the serum can be injected. BY A HUGE AND TERRIFYING MULTINEEDLED APPARATUS. Renfield thinks this is a bad idea, but Grayson says that they can’t win unless they go “All-in”

 He makes his appearance, but starts burning up in mere minutes. The sunlight serum prospects seem hopeless, but for now that board and Brotherhood are quieted.

He confronts the actress and drinks her… healing himself.

The next episode isn’t set to air until January 3. Will Lucy and Mina make up? Will Mina keep experimenting behind Van Helsing’s back? Will Harker get decapitated?

These are my main concerns!

This episode was less angsty than the last two, which was nice for me. I still feel badly for Lucy (and do not know why Lady Jayne provoked her, saying Mina looked on Lucy with the same affection) but I am glad it was out in the open. Mina’s response was not homophobic, but honest. She called Lucy’s motivations into question.