Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Penny Dreadful, Season 2, Episode 6: Glorious Horrors

A maid discovers Sir Malcolm’s dead wife, Gladys.

Dorian wakes to see Angelique preparing for the day and Dorian wants to go out shopping in big public places while Angelique is wary and wishes for more discretion. Of course, Dorian won’t hear of it, he “celebrates the unusual”. Aie so it looks like the good path of last episode is not being continued. To get the “thrill of the forbidden” he decides to throw a ball for Angelique, a “proper coming out.”

Creepy Victor wakes up to find Lily making breakfast and it’s all very lovey dovey except, of course, for the whole lack of awareness and consent which ruins it.

Speaking of, Evelyn wakes before her drugged victim, Sir Malcolm and steals some of his hair.

He goes home in very high spirits only to find everyone in the house very grim to pass on the bad news about Gladys. He seems completely unemotional and rather horrifying unbothered. When hearing his wife slit her own throat his only remark is how he will have to replace the carpet.

Sembene insists that something is wrong, despite Ethan attempting to rationalise it (and thinking that maybe Malcolm just didn’t care that much). Vanessa sharply disapproves and Sembene is quietly insistent – that was not Malcolm.

And they get a visitor – the man Ethan mauled as a wolf. In private there’s lots of taunts and threats as the man tries to be very loquacious and talk about how he murdered some Mexicans while Ethan is curt and short. He insists that Ethan’s dad wants him to come home and makes it clear he hasn’t given up taking him and threatens to kill everyone in the house to try and force him to go back to America. He singles out Vanessa specifically

Oh he doesn’t know what he is messing with. The werewolf is the least of his problems

Victor and Vanessa discuss the verbis diablo when Vanessa talks about John Clare and Victor realises she’s met his creature. She misses his shock and pokes him about his romance with Lily and he’s all gleeful and awkward and a bit dorky and she’s all nice and kind and happy for him. It’s sweet.

Dorian pays a visit to the rest of the cast to invite Vanessa et al to Angelique’s ball.

Vanessa takes Malcolm his invitation and Malcolm continues to be creepily detached, not even wanting to go to the funeral. He’s even enthusiastic about going to the ball.

At her house, Evelyn works on her Malcolm wax work doll which is every bit as creepy as you imagine. Evelyn intends to attend the ball with Malcolm though Lyle thinks she better be careful around Vanessa. They also turn to philosophy and Evelyn thinking god has given up on them when she sees the suffering around her. Without god and in suffering world who else would she turn to than the dark master – to live forever while the world suffers?

Victor goes home to Lily to tell her about the ball, he’s hesitant about bringing her, wondering if she’s ready for such crowds and so many strangers, but when she takes this to be embarrassment of her he quickly agrees to go. They continue to be lovey-dovey and romantic

To John and Lavinia as she describes her process of molding the figures for the display and touches his hand – only to realise that his hands are unnaturally cold and to be worried by it. She questions him but he assures her she needn’t fear him, even though she does (despite saying she knows he’s kind). Mr Putney also drops in for more ominous talk about his new upcoming attraction.

At dinner Lavinia tells his worries to her parents – that she doesn’t think John is really alive.

The display opens with its gruesome depiction of horrendous crimes – including the slaughter at the Mariner’s Inn which Ethan sees, disturbed. Then the Inspector arrives and continues to make pointed comments about predators and cannibalism – and even some hints at wolves and Ethan’s guilt. Guilt which he thinks will torture Ethan’s conscience – which doesn’t seem entirely far from the mark.

When he goes back to the house, Vanessa invites him to escort her to the ball… and he refuses when he hears the date (I suspect full moon may be involved).

To the ball! Lyle and Hecate duel with words pulling out Hecate’s long term plans to betray her mother while he lays some perfect insults in. Dorian presents Angelique and they dance

Victor and Lily arrive and Lily is stunned by the utterly opulent surroundings – though she is also having a sense of déjà vu. He introduces Lily to Dorian… and it looks like he recognises her. And Lily definitely has a big déjà vu as well. He then leads Lily off in the dance, abandoning Angelique and Victor. Dorian compliments her and seems to try and poke her memory.

Vanessa arrives, without an escort, with Lyle trying to ensure Hecate keeps her distance. Victor and Lily’s dance ends and Victor is all sharp and jealous while he fills in Lily’s backstory rather than let her speak for herself. Dorian is all charming and kind of neglecting Angelique, though it does partially feel like a rejection of Victor’s highhandedness. Lily and Dorian dance again and Vanessa tries to sooth Victor’s jealousy even as he also laments that Dorian is showing Lily life that he couldn’t

Evelyn and a newly shaved Malcolm arrive and Vanessa has a woo-woo moment. I don’t know if it’s from touching Victor’s hand or from the presence of Evelyn (probably the latter). Vanessa is duly suspicious of how much Malcolm has changed – since meeting Evelyn. Vanessa lays in a fair few verbal barbs with an excellent undercurrent of menace and warning

As everyone dances, Lyle tries to encourage Vanessa to leave, worried about the Nightcomers. Instead she, Hecate and the other two young witches face off on the dance floor – using woo-woo to make her dizzy and make her hallucinate until she passes out and collapses to the floor.

Ethan is back at the house with Sembene – and he asks for Sembene’s help. Help chaining him up in the basement on the night of the full moon. But he also wants Sembene to watch Ethan’s transformation.

Ethan changes into a wolf man. I’m not impressed, it’s not nearly wolfy enough.

I know a lot of people have commented on Vanessa not recognising Lily as Brona and I can see that – Vanessa does come across as very astute. However is it that unlikely? Whatever else Vanessa is, she is an upper class lady and whatever else Brona was, she was a lower class Irish sex worker. How much do we think Vanessa would have noticed her, paid great attention to her, tried to memorise her? Enough to recognise her with a different voice, different hair and different clothes and in totally unexpected company?

Evelyn – her musings on faith and her reward were so powerful – she’s aiming for a prize she doesn’t even know she wants and doesn’t even value, calling it a sad prize. She merely prefers it to the alternative. It takes a lot to make a baby killing monster… tragic.

Why does the Inspector suspect Ethan so much? Ok I can see suspecting him of being involved. But pointed comments about wolves and blood lust and memory loss? Where does this come from? How does he know so much?

Again Dorian seems to have backslided and goes back to that terrible portrayal of him treating Angelique’s being trans – and LGBTness in general – as some kind of delightful fetish to be engaged in to shock. He doesn’t celebrate difference because people are different and we should celebrate them, he revels in difference because of its potential to shock, to be novel, to be an adventure. It makes it look like he’s less interested in Angelique as Angelique than he is in the exotic, different trans woman – to a level where he is steamrolling over her own concerns. He is putting both their safety at risk (though largely hers because of his immortality as well as his class privilege) for the sake of his spectacle.

Which seems all the more apparent when one of his other curiosities returned and seems to distract him so thoroughly from Angelique.