Penny Dreadful: “Evil Spirits in Heavenly Places” Review
Translations continue, Hecate advances, and ping pong becomes the most fashionable game in town.
“Evil Spirits in Heavenly Places” brings back the bulk of the cast we didn’t get to see last week. Frankenstein takes Vanessa on a shopping trip; Dorian enjoys a new adventure, and Caliban continues to chat up the local wax artist. Sembene comes in for the assist, Lyle’s subterfuge goes on, and Lily nee Brona talks feminism far sooner than anyone might expect. “Evil Spirits in Heavenly Places” tells us Hecate’s middle name, lets Chandler exercise his ability to sniff out danger, and reminds us that even the most powerful witches need a lock of hair to do their dirty work. Spoilers for Penny Dreadful S2 E4 follow.
This week’s episode begins with Vanessa finishing the story she began telling Ethan last week. This time though, Victor, Sir Malcolm, Ferdinand, and Sembene are listening in as well. It’s an ugly tale. It’s also one that makes me wonder why Vanessa didn’t remember Evelyn Poole when they met at Ferdinand Lyle’s place last season. Victor isn’t impressed by the idea of harmful magic—displaying once again that for a guy who keeps bringing people back from the dead, he doesn’t have very much imagination. Our team of heroes is getting closer to translating the Verbis Diablo. It’s a kind of first-person narrative by a fallen angel, maybe even the fallen angel. Sembene is keeping watch; he senses danger. Well spotted too, because Hecate is keeping an eye on all of them.
Inspector Rusk is most displeased to find the young married couple murdered on a train, their baby missing. His presumption is that the perpetrator was the same as he who committed the massacre at Mariner’s Inn. Reasonable, but wrong. Rusk believes in magic, which is unexpected. Across town at Putnam’s the proprietors discuss their gruesome new exhibits, and plans to create more. He seems to have something ugly planned, but it’s not clear what. Who is he calling “freaks?” His new employee, perhaps, but surely not his own child? Caliban continues making friends with the daughter, who is an excellent sculptor but hates making such violent things. They have good talks that both of them seem to enjoy. So why do I think this will end terribly?
Ethan Chandler is walking through the streets in his rugged, cowboy way when Hecate and her sisters plot to bring them together. She pretends to be American, but can’t do it well enough to fool an actual American. Reasonably, Chandler thinks his father has sent her. Of course the truth is far worse. Either way, she can’t sneak up on him anymore. He’s on to her. In hospital, Roeper, the only survivor of the Mariner’s Inn massacre is awake and talking. He doesn’t look so good. Rusk doesn’t get anything out of him—except the fact that he’s a Pinkerton. Actually, the fact that he’s American may turn out to be a big hint. It’s seeming like Chandler may have to kill Rusk, but it’s hard to say since we’re getting more eps this season (10 as opposed to last season’s 8), so they have more time to develop story.
Victor has asked Vanessa to accompany him on an errand. She agrees, but it surprised to see that this errand is in a women’s clothing shop and involves buying dresses for a “Lily Frankenstein,” his “cousin.” This scene is remarkable since it shows Van joking around and being happy. We see that far too seldom, and it’s delightfully offset by Victor’s discomfort at discussing things like décolletage and camisoles. He invites Vanessa to have tea with him and Lily. She agrees. Let’s hope she doesn’t invite Ethan to accompany her—because all hell would be sure to break loose. That’s got to happen eventually, doesn’t it?
London is full of all sorts of neat ways to spend an evening. Puppet shows, people throwing fire, brightly lit carousels, and—as Dorian Gray has chosen, cavorting with a local transsexual prostitute. He takes her to Gossama House, which is a table tennis emporium. Too bad we never got this story in novel form. The Ping Pong of Dorian Gray might have been a delightful sequel. Note that this place is entirely lit by electric light. Seriously though, where are they going with this? What is this leading to? Why isn’t it rude to call a transsexual out on not being a biological woman? One thing’s for sure, Angelique kicks ass at gossama tennis. Watch for stuffed-shirts to pop their monocles when Dorian and his date kiss openly.
Evelyn Poole is not pleased with Hecate’s latest failure. They’re taking on the werewolf, and are confident that they can meet him tooth-for-claw. Poole is sending Hecate to acquire something else, though we don’t know what yet. She’s good at acquisitions though, this we know. This oldest daughter seems more than poised to assume her mother’s place as the most powerful witch in town. Back at Victor’s, Lily is not pleased with her suffocating garments. The two discuss how men keep ladies in restrictive gear so they’ll look pretty and be unable to take over the world. They’re obviously falling for each other, despite the made-up pretense of being cousins. Lily decides to ditch the corset and keep the heels. Watch for Victor to describe himself as “good with stitching.” LOL
Malcolm informs Lyle that he’s seeing Mrs. Poole socially. Lyle cautions him as much as he dares. Watch for Lyle to speak of his many dalliances. Uh huh. Upstairs, Ethan and Vanessa discuss Hecate, her lies, and what she really wants. Witches like her can look like anyone. Meanwhile, Sembene serves a cake so delicious I wanted to jump into my TV and help myself. As Lyle and Malcolm decipher the Verbis Diablo, they determine that it really is talking about Vanessa. That seems impossible, even to her. She’s not having it. A demon thousands of years old writing about her specifically? Yikes. How do you tell someone to “sleep soundly” after they hear something like that?
Where are the “Evil Spirits in Heavenly Places?” Poole’s acolytes are in Malcolm’s house, cleverly disguised as wallpaper. One focuses on Vanessa, one on Ethan and Sembene, and the third on Malcolm and Lyle. Though no one is seriously injured, the witches appear to escape with what they came for—a large lock of Vanessa’s hair. You don’t have to do extensive study in witchcraft to know that any witch can do a fair bit of damage with a lock of your hair. As the witches exit, Hecate reveals herself to Chandler. That seems pretty dumb of her. Aaaand, scene!
This was another smashing and action-filled episode of Penny Dreadful. “Evil Spirits in Heavenly Places” gave us great drama, tense confrontations, and bloody assaults. We’re nearing the halfway point of the season, and it seems like a lot of things are totally up in the air. What’s the deal with Angelique? Are they just prepping us to be sad when she dies? Who will turn out to be Caliban’s true love? What will become of Lily/Brona? Will Chandler have to go back to America, or will be have to answer for the crimes he committed in London?
See you’s next week!