“EPISODE 1: THE DAY TENNYSON DIED”
At the end of season 2 of Penny Dreadful, our ragtag crew of flawed heroes killed the witch Evelyn Poole and stopped yet another supernatural threat. But a bigger problem was on the horizon — learning to live with yourself. For varying reasons, Vanessa Ives, Sir Malcolm Murray and Ethan Chandler could not live with their past sins. Instead of finding strength and purpose in each other, they are now scattered across the Earth: Ethan in New Mexico on extradition murder charges, Sir Malcolm in Zanibar burying his friend Sembene, and Vanessa wallowing in self-pity and loss of faith in London.
After realizing his werewolf alter-ego is responsible for the slew of gruesome deaths in London, Chandler ended last season by turning himself in to Inspector Rusk. While being transported on a train through New Mexico territory, a rescue posse slays all the guards and rescues Ethan. The leader later tells Ethan that the escape was hatched by “his father.” We’re left to wonder whether this is Ethan’s “real” father,” or the man introduced in this episode as Kaetenay (more on him later).
Apparently, Ethan is very much in demand by multiple parties. We see Evelyn Poole’s ambitious and murderous daughter, Hecate, on Ethan’s train and tracking his movements. Despite him telling her that he’d never join her, she’s not giving up so easily. Inspector Rusk survived the escape massacre and will no doubt continue his dogged pursuit of bringing Chandler to justice. Odds are we’ll see a lot of bodies dropping when Hecate, Rusk and the soldiers of Ethan’s father finally clash.
As for Ethan himself, expect his character arc to be acceptance of his true nature and gaining some measure of control over it. The seeds are being placed that his werewolf persona might be tied to Native American mythology.
FRANKENSTEIN AND DR. JECKYLL – PLAYING GOD, PART 325245346
Looks like Dr. Frankenstein isn’t the only one who likes to play God. We find the good doctor strung out and pitiful in the wake of his rejection from Lily. Dr. Jeckyll is introduced as a lifelong friend who shared in Frankenstein’s “resurrection” experiments back in their college days. At first, Frankenstein tries to put on the front that he needs Dr. Jeckyll’s help to eliminate the “monsters” he created. To his credit, Jeckyll sees through this facade.
What Frankenstein really wants is to reassert his dominance and control over Lily, even going as far to agree with the words “domesticate.” For such brilliant men, both Frankenstein and Dr. Jeckyll have little understanding of human nature. More of the blame should go to Frankenstein, whose is resurrected three people to date and should know to leave well enough alone.
Considering what we know about Jeckyll’s own vicious alter-ego, the foreshadowing is obvious on how this plot against Lily will turn out. The big question I have is will the yet unseen Mr. Hyde form an unholy Trinity with Lily and Dorian Gray, or be a rogue instrument of chaos?
A CREATURE REMEMBERS HIS HUMANITY
Frankenstein’s Creature has lived as an outcast since his resurrection. With no memories of his previous life and having a frightening appearance, he thought himself doomed to the shadows and fringes of society. To that end, he joined a voyage to the North Pole, which has ended with the men shipwrecked, out of food and resorting to cannibalism just to survive a few more days. At first, the Creature prevents them from killing a mortally sick child to get food. While stroking the kid’s head, the Creature is suddenly flooded with images of his past life, included his original face and family.
Perhaps remembering the suffering his own child went through, the Creature gives this child a quick death and sets off to find what remains of his true family.
They say the past should remain dead and buried, so us Dreadfuls shouldn’t be hopeful for a happy ending on our long-suffering Creature’s latest journey.
SIR MALCOLM’S NEW MISSION
One episode removed from the death of Sembene, Sir Malcolm already has a new mysterious companion in the Native American Kaetenay, who presents himself as the surrogate father of Ethan. Right now we have little to go on about this character. However, we do know he’s a capable fighter with a deep spiritual understanding of the battle between good and evil forces. He wastes no time in challenging Malcolm to stop running from his destiny as a slayer of demons. From this alone, expect Kaetenay to be instrumental in bringing the crew back together to face the threat known as “The Master.”
DR. ALEXANDER SWEET = COUNT DRACULA???
The episode ends with the voice of Dracula (“The Master”) demanding to learn more about Vanessa from the scared shitless secretary Renfield, who works for psychiatrist Dr. Seward (more on her later). We know from the scores of vampires that surround Renfield that Dracula already has an army on the streets of London. The fear those minions show in Dracula’s presence gives the aura that he’s the most formidable antagonist we’ve had on the show.
We don’t see his face, but there’s already subtle connections to another character introduced on the show, Dr. Alexander Sweet. A zoologist, Sweet owns a museum that specializes in taxidermy. The idea of taxidermy itself (mounting the skins of animals) seems like something Dracula would be into. Also, Sweet talks at length about fear and how it draws people to his “work.” Finally, he repeats the phrase “good day” several times before departing from Vanessa, who seems completely intrigued by him (going with the idea that she’s always sucked in by “dark, complicated and impossible men”). Earlier in the episode, we see one of Dracular’s minions repeat phrases to Vanessa when he sells her a death ribbon.
Maybe Dr. Sweet turns out to be another agent of the Count, but I’d be completely shocked if he’s not Dracula himself.
THE CUT-WIFE RETURNS?!
Well, not exactly. The best episode of season 2, “The First Witch I Ever Met,” introduced us to Vanessa’s mentor The Cut-Wife, played by Patti LuPone. The episode was so well-received it appears the writers figured out this way to get the actress back on the show.
The spin is that Dr. Seward is a descendant of the Cut-Wife Joan Clayton. She has her ancestor’s no-bullshit attitude and perceptive eye for human behavior. I loved the commentary this showed on the evolution of society. A few generations ago, a woman with Dr. Seward’s mentality is called a witch. In modern times, she’s a strong-willed psychiatrist. Still, we’re not completely sure Dr. Seward isn’t the Cut-Wife. The look on her face as Vanessa leaves does suggest there is a deeper understanding yet to be revealed.
Episode 1 , “The Day Tennyson Died,” airs Sunday night May 1 at 10 p.m. If you can’t wait, you can watch the entire episode below.