Penny Dreadful – “Resurrection” Review. Death Is Not Serene.
Season 1, Episode 3
Air Date: Sunday, May 25, 2014, 10PM E/P on Showtime
“We here have been brutalized with loss; it has made us brutal in return. There is no going back from this moment.” – Vanessa Ives
Penny Dreadful is lurid and deliciously twisted! The writers continue their brilliant onslaught of deft storytelling and superb vision as they lead us down a shadowy, winding path into the murkiest depths of our fears and imaginations. What the writers have done in “Resurrection” provides us with a rich back story into several characters’ lives, most notably, the morbid doctor Victor Frankenstein (Harry Treadaway).
We learn where Victor’s fascination of death stems from. A tragic loss during his childhood prompts Victor to search for the true meaning of life and death. Victor’s obsession with life after death is grounded by his love of poetry. He won’t admit it, but he longs for a life filled with the same passions spoken of in his beloved books of poetry and Shakespeare. My only qualm with the scene involving a young Victor (Gus Barry) and his mother Caroline (Mary Stockley) is the believability of her illness’ quick onset.
Last week’s “Séance” ended with the brutal killing of Victor’s creation Proteus (Alex Price). The kicker lies in the person behind the murder – Victor’s “first born,” Caliban (Rory Kinnear). While Caliban received his name by other means, he seeks his “father” out for a very specific mission. His reason for killing Proteus is not only shocking but sad and full of bitterness. The raw emotions evoked by both Treadaway and Kinnear in both past and present scenarios are gripping. You almost feel Victor’s fear as Caliban awakens, screaming out in agony. Victor’s not sure what to do and you sense his reluctance to get close to his new child. Caliban, on the other hand, is like a newborn infant, yet able to walk. To awaken after literally being pieced together must indeed be painful, as the sheer agony in each bellowing scream from Caliban makes your skin crawl.
The eloquence in which Caliban speaks attests to Victor’s brilliance as well. Caliban, although slower to learn than Proteus, is able to teach himself through Victor’s books. Left alone, perhaps thought dead, Caliban seeks out his creator. Through his meager travels, Caliban not only obtains work in a local London theater, Grand Guignol, by happenstance and the generosity of his new friend Vincent Brand (Alun Armstrong), he’s fallen in love. There is a moment when Caliban pauses in his recollection of his past to ask Victor—still sobbing over Proteus’ lifeless body—if he could feel him, sense his presence in some small measurement. I think Victor’s preoccupation with Proteus clouds him from feeling anything else. The apology Victor gives Caliban doesn’t mock or patronize; it’s honest in its harshness. “I cannot unmake the past.”
Now, let’s focus our attention on the lovely clairvoyant Vanessa (Eva Green). Her connection to Sir Malcolm Murray’s (Timothy Dalton) lost daughter Mina (Olivia Llewellyn) is deeper than I originally thought. As an abrupt and haunting vision of Mina comes to Vanessa, she is overcome with emotion. Green is fantastic in this role. Her surprise and emotional state during and after having this vision makes me believe there is much more to the relationship between Vanessa and Mina than meets the eye.
Sir Malcom is informed by the dramatic curator of the British Museum, Mr. Ferdinand Lyle (Simon Russell Beale), that Vanessa is being hunted by evil. “Amunet, Amun-Ra, conjoined; this is a spell…fortelling of the annihilation of man and the coming of the beast. I would not tell Ms. Ives this; after all, who wants to know they’re being hunted by the devil.” With this knowledge, coupled with Vanessa’s revelation of her vision of Mina, Sir Malcom leads his man Sembene (Danny Sapani), Vanessa, and the American Ethan Chandler (Josh Hartnett) into the London Zoo in search of answers. Dalton fits the bill of the distinguished African explorer turned concerned father. Dalton has an air about him that quite commanding. But there is something else there, just beneath the surface…a darkness even he may be afraid to admit to himself.
The cinematography of Penny Dreadful lends itself to creating such an ominous feel to the show, I sometimes feel as though I’m right there with them. The dark setting of the zoo, the fog, the perpetual overcast; if you recall, when Proteus wanted to venture out, there was sunshine. When Caliban arrives, there is only overcast and gloom.
As the four make their way out of the zoo, they meet with a pathetic creature called Fenton (Olly Alexander). He reminds me of a twisted version of Renfield. Fenton is a servant in more ways than one—not quite a vampire but not quite human—who needs blood to survive. Could he really be the lead Sir Malcolm needs to find Mina? Is it not too late for her?
“Resurrection” gives us another fantastic episode while inching closer to finding Mina but also leading us down several unique and varied paths for each of our characters. Sir Malcom is steadfast in finding his daughter but is very curious about Vanessa’s connection with Amunet and the evil Mr. Lyle spoke of. Victor is tasked by Caliban to create again. Meanwhile, Ethan is going against his better judgment in order to help Brona. Sembene is still a mystery but one thing is clear, he is unafraid and quite loyal to Sir Malcolm.
Let me know what you thought of “Resurrection.” Leave me a comment below or tweet me @judybopp. Looking forward to hearing from you!
Tune in to Penny Dreadful, Sundays at 10PM E/P, only on Showtime.