Penny Dreadful 1×06 ‘What Death Can Join Together’: Sex is sin


In this latest episode of Penny Dreadful, I wonder if they’ve teased us a little too much. For the first time ever while watching this series, I found myself browsing Reddit on my phone. We’re already 75% through with the season and yet the plot has only inched forward. While Penny Dreadful continues to deliver great episodes, as a series, it’s lacking. 


Source: Showtime

Frankly, I’m a little bit confused as to what’s happening. There is so much foreshadowing that I’m not sure what is truly significant. Clearly, as seen last week, Vanessa has the devil inside of her – only she won’t say its name for fear of giving it life.  Well we all know the devil’s name is Lucifer. (It’s okay. I’ve got salt ready.) Caliban’s sort of lady love reveals that her brother, who was burnt in the face (burn? Hell??), is called Lucifer as well. Coincidence? I think not. Vanessa Ives is clearly being possessed by Maude’s brother.

The series is also getting slightly too meta for me. Victor Frankenstein quoting Shelley… It blurs the line between reality and fiction far too much. Is it supposed to be an easter egg for the book readers, or is this evidence that in the world of Penny Dreadful, the book Frankenstein was an unofficial biography?

Source: Showtime

Source: Showtime

The theme of ‘What Death Can Join Together’ was truth. Those familiar with Dorian Gray’s story know that the portrait that is still yet to be revealed will reflect his true image. Will we ever get to see it? I kind of want to. Then again, maybe his portrait is kind of like Maris Crane, or Mrs Wolowitz – too horrifying for human eyes.

I believe we will get to see Vanessa’s photograph though. Many cultures believe that having your photograph taken means your soul will be stolen. Vanessa mentions that as well, and confesses that part of the reason why she’s never had her photo taken was because she was afraid it may very well capture the truth about her. Why then does she agree to the photograph now? No doubt it must be Dorian’s influence. Does his darkness bring out the darkness in her? Or does she sense his darkness, and feels comfortable revealing her own? At any rate, Vanessa and Dorian get it on. Finally. The sexual tension between them was palpable. But things start going south and the evil in Vanessa has taken over once again. I mean, that’s basically Victorian mentality in a nutshell. Banging = devil possession.

Source: Showtime

Source: Showtime

I’m glad to see Brona hasn’t become the Corpse Bride (…yet?). She’s made it back home and Ethan is being absolutely lovely to her. I kind of wish we saw more of Dorian and Ethan’s tryst. For science I mean. Did he do the walk of shame? Did Dorian buy him breakfast?

These are important questions!

Sir Malcom, Sembene and Ethan have found a boat filled with vampires. We see a glimpse of Mina and there’s some albino Brides of Dracula fighting. This is, presumably, the main plot line and they are spending shockingly little time on it. A great series needs both character development and plot progression. Penny Dreadful has only delivered one of these.

Source: Showtime

Source: Showtime

I don’t know what to say about Van Helsing’s brief appearance. I was really enjoying the relationship Victor and Van Helsing had. For a moment there I thought the next episode would feature Van Helsing slaying vampires all over the world with his little intern, Victor. But no, Caliban, ends his life abruptly, leaving Victor heartbroken once again. It’s a testament to the character Caliban, when I feel like I know him best but he remains the only character that has truly shocked me. But still, put down your fedora and take a chill pill.

All in all, the narrative is lazy, but character development is on point and dialogue is delightfully quotable. Next week: Will Vanessa be able to have relatively normal sex or devil baby?



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.

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