Penny Dreadful 1×02 ‘Séance’: If one is to engage with the primordial forces of darkness, one must expect a bit of social awkwardness

vlcsnap-2014-05-20-01h54m40s75

If there’s one thing I’ve learnt from television, it’s to never love anything. And even knowing this, as I attempt to watch Penny Dreadful with a guarded heart, I know that it is inevitable. It’s only the second episode and already I have fallen in love and gotten my heart broken. Luckily, there’s much to love and already my heart has found a new target.

Source: Showtime

Source: Showtime

From the very beginning, it’s clear that Penny Dreadful isn’t afraid of pushing boundaries. It isn’t afraid of sounding smart, it isn’t afraid of gore and it isn’t afraid of, for lack of a better term, being ‘ugly’. This show is glamorous, but not in the CW way where everybody is good looking. It’s glamorous in that it treats every character preciously. Vampires are so often romanticized and Penny Dreadful has remagined them as humanoid creatures with hieroglyphics carved into their…ex0skeleton? It does not glorify, nor does it condemn aesthetic beauty. Rather, it reveals things as they are. It’s gratifying to watch a show where it’s evident that every thing on screen is a deliberate decision.

Source: Showtime

Source: Showtime

Sex scenes are almost always gratuitous and mostly serve to titillate the viewers. I was so afraid that that would be Penny Dreadful‘s shortcoming. Thankfully, my fears didn’t come to pass. Dorian Gray and Brona Croft’s sex scene was beautiful, if only to emphasize how horrific the scene was through juxtaposition. It’s a beautiful mansion, Dorian and Brona are good looking’ people, classical music is playing. I mean bow-chika-wow-wow right? Until Brona coughs blood right into Dorian’s face. Did I mention she has consumption? It’s super gross, and it only serves to stimulate Dorian Gray even more. ‘I’ve never f***ed a dying creature before.’ The horror we see isn’t the blood, it’s Dorian Gray’s perversion. Ostensibly, Penny Dreadful may be a series on supernatural horrors, but this episode as revealed otherwise. Penny Dreadful reveals that true horror lies in humanity.

Source: Showtime

Source: Showtime

We all know Victor Frankenstein’s story. We all know about the ‘monster’ he created. It’s incredibly clever of the writers to use characters and stories we already know in order to surprise us. Victor’s story is poignant, hopeful and heartwarming simultaneously. We see the world through Proteus’ (his creation) eyes. Everything is somewhat new and exciting. The cinematography is beautiful. We also see Proteus through Victor’s eyes. This tender scene is marred when Proteus starts remembering his past and demands to know what he’s become. The illusion is shattered and Victor realizes that although he may have given him life, it is not a new one. Still, they move past it and manage to get home on a high note. The fragility of happiness is revealed when something mysteriously rips Proteus apart, and my heart along with him. Oh look, it’s the ‘first born’. And there’s the monster we’ve been waiting for. I’m willing to put money on him as the featured serial killer.

Source: Showtime

Source: Showtime

I must end this by worshipping Eva Green. This episode is entitled ‘Séance’ for a reason. Eva Green manages to monologue for about seven minutes and it was probably the most frightening seven minutes of my whole entire week thus far. It was enthralling and agonizing at the same time as Malcolm’s backstory was revealed. Eva Green is convulsing and contorting in inhuman ways, all while speaking in a terrifyingly childlike lilt interspersed with vulgarities and some other sort of language. Malcolm Murray says not a word but we watch as he slowly breaks down (with great composure). I shudder to think how this would have been done with other actors. This scene was, in a word, a showstopper.

Watch it. I promise you, you will not regret it.

 

Yeung Wing

is an aspiring TV critic, writer and editor. You can see her past work on her Tumblr!
She lives her life through escapism.

Both comments and pings are currently closed.

Comments are closed.