Penny Dreadful Season 1, Episode 3 Review: “Resurrection”
We’re back again for more emotional punishment in the form of Penny Dreadful. In “Resurrection,” we learned what made Victor’s firstborn so moody, watched Ethan fall just a little harder, heard Caliban make a request, and got a visit from our favorite missing girl. A certain dead body stayed on camera for far too long, as doubts were confirmed, and forbidden names uttered. Spoilers for “Resurrection” after the jump.
This week picked up right where last week left off, with poor sweet Proteus dead on the floor at the horrible hand of Frankenstein’s first creation. I was more than prepared to hate this first monster, but it didn’t take long to see that he has some valid reasons to be pissed. But let’s not get ahead of ourselves. Genius kids usually come from tragic or otherwise unusual childhoods, and Victor Frankenstein is no exception. Distant father, wonderful mother—guess which one dies horribly and far too young? After losing his mother to consumption, Victor spent the remainder of his childhood learning everything he could about the human body—pausing every now and again to take in more poetry. Young Victor wondered if death was serene, and decided early on that no, it wasn’t.
This new monster, or more precisely, the original monster was Victor’s first attempt at conquering death. It’s an ugly scene drenched in terrified agony. But instead of taking responsibility for the shrieking pained thing he has forced this agony on—Victor beats feet as far away from it as he can. This is typical of young people who get into something way over their head. The monster, who we eventually learn is called Caliban, thought he was doing Proteus a favor by ending his suffering. But see, Proteus wasn’t suffering. I don’t think we needed to see Proteus’ torn body on the floor for so long. I know it’s a horror show and all, but jeez—a little decorum? It certainly underscored the brutality of the situation.
Had we seen Ser Malcolm’s mounted lion head before? I know people display those to seem badass, but they just strike me as…a desperate attempt to look badass. Vanessa is trying to enjoy some tea when Mina appears to her. She’s surrounded by beasts that feed at night. She needs saving. Doesn’t sound like someone who’s happy where she is.
After weeks or terror and suffering, Caliban manages to pull himself together, to read and observe the world around him—eventually striking out on his own, subjecting himself to the cruelty and eventual kindness of the masses. He finds out early on that no matter how hideous or screwed up you are—theatre people will take you in. Artists see what you have in your soul—and they took Caliban in, gave him a name, and a job working in the Grand Guignol. Not familiar with Grand Guignol? They explain it pretty well, but it’s basically gothic horror shows staged to be as gruesome and bloody as possible. Caliban found a decent life for himself, but that didn’t let Victor off the hook for his callous actions. I’d also like to point out that “Caliban” is what Miranda calls her captor in John Fowles’ The Collector. Caliban is a horrible and unhappy man who has no trouble spreading his misery to anyone who displeases him.
Frankenstein knows he fucked up, leaving his creation all alone. He can’t turn back time; he can’t undo what he has done. But wait—Caliban is self aware enough to know that he’s not handsome. Chicks don’t like him. Like the men we hear about on the news every now and again, Caliban feels that he is owed companionship, and that he deserves to have a woman who loves him. While this is, of course, a basic human need, Caliban’s outlook is such that he believes Frankenstein should make him “an immortal companion.” After what he did to Proteus, I’m not sure why Caliban thinks he’s immortal just because of his resurrection. He also thinks it’s okay to threaten Victor with the loss of…everything if he does not comply. I love that both Victor and Caliban call the other a demon. They’re both right. We’ve not seen Victor with any loved ones, but we can presume he has at least one.
Back at the Mariner’s in, Ethan and Brona continue their relationship. I’m more sure this week that Billie Piper is using a body double for this role. She does have a career in pop music to think about, after all. Anyway, it’s clear that Croft and Chandler dig each other, and that her illness is getting worse. So far, Brona is the best candidate to become Caliban’s companion. Ethan is not happy that Brona can’t afford even the simplest of medicines. He approaches Malcolm and Vanessa, asking for more work. As it happens, they were planning another venture that will result in more night work for him. We’re reminded that Ethan has no interest in returning to America, and that he has legal troubles there. We’re also assured that the Mina they are seeking is Mina from Dracula. Not that we had much doubt.
Vanessa, Ser Malcolm, Sembene, and Ethan head to the local zoo where we’re reminded that zoos literally used to be all animals alone in small cages. Ew. Before long, wolves are amassing. Ethan keeps everyone calm and the wolves and people size each other up without incident. When Ethan approaches the wolves, he gets alarmingly close to one that has every opportunity to shred his hand. It doesn’t. Couple this with Ethan waking up outside in a disheveled (but clothed?) state, and we’ve got all we need to presume that Ethan is a werewolf. This leads us to wonder if it runs in his family, or is something he picked up out in the world.
Once the wolves are dealt with, the group notices that the capuchin enclosure was breached. And look, some guy is in there eating them like a friggin’ zombie. Yuck! Chandler’s impulse is to kill him, but Malcolm has the man chained and taken back to his place. Cut across town, and Sembene (who has GOT to be more interesting than we’re seeing) approaches Victor to invite him to Malcolm’s for another job.
Malcolm is engaged in some enhanced interrogation of the young man, Fenton, demanding to know where his Master is. He’s everywhere, says the captive. Fenton also knows about Amun Ra and Amunet. Malcolm is about to get down to some serious whipping when Sembene enters with Frankenstein and insist that the beating stops. Victor has ideas to cure Fenton, to sort of practice for what might need to be done once they find Mina. When Ethan points out the cruelty and horror of this, Vanessa cordially invites him to leave. They have suffered and become brutal, so if he’s not cool with that, he can GTFO. He doesn’t. A pact is sworn between Malcolm, Vanessa, Victor, Sembene, and finally…Ethan. By the way, Malcolm feels confident that whatever has Mina actually wants Vanessa, so he was using her as bait. Nice, eh? Victor intends to return with transfusion supplies. He also intends to be clear that whatever they do to Fenton or anyone else, they are responsible for them. No more fucking around thinking there are no consequences. Victor seems to be learning from his mistake.
Fenton is alone in his dungeon, calling to his Master. He appears to come…and scene! “Resurrection” ended without the gut punching wretchedness of last week. So that was nice. We’ve still got people on the brink of death, others on the brink of madness, and all sorts of mysteries left to unravel. This was a solid episode, though not as funny as some. I was sure the theatre people would be good for some comic relief. Not so much. Showtime sucks in terms of revealing huge plot points in their previews, so I won’t go over that…except to say that DAVID WARNER is scheduled to appear!!!! OMG, amirite?
See you’s next week!