Penny Dreadful: “Above the Vaulted Sky” Review

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Improper sexual congress and voudon death rituals are just the beginning of what befalls our cast on this week’s Penny Dreadful.

We’ve reached the mid-point of Season Two of Penny Dreadful, and some of these people are way out of hand. In “Above the Vaulted Sky,” Mrs. Poole’s magical intentions reach someone from Sir Malcolm’s past, Vanessa’s lost item finds its place, and the mystery of Lupus Dei continues. Dorian and Angelique take in what I can only assume is a Game of Thrones marathon, and Chandler has his first encounter with Inspector Rusk. Caliban persists in his demands, while pretending they’re merely suggestions, and past characters return in the most disturbing way imaginable.  And did I hear music from Dragon Age? Spoilers for “Above the Vaulted Sky” follow.

We begin with a discussion of siege tactics from Ethan, who is intimately familiar with them. The team at Sir Malcolm’s London home is desperate to keep out the evil that would come and take Vanessa. She’s slowly losing her mind—and why not? Demons and witches have been relentlessly pursuing her for some time. Ultimately, Malcolm gets a nifty new door and they get to prayer, smudging, loading weapons, and hoping for the best. They even covered the mirrors. No, they’re not sitting Shiva, just making sure the mirrors aren’t being used as portals. But Vanessa can’t tell fear from reality these days. That’s when this week’s musical beds begin.

Penny 2.5 Van Demons

At casa del Frankenstein, Caliban is tired of waiting for Lily to come away with him—and takes that out on his creator. Of course Victor is in love with her, and it’s increasingly obvious to everyone. Caliban, now John Clare, attempts to court Lily, but she’s not interested. To use the modern parlance, she friend-zones him. And just like asshats of today, Caliban sulks because he presumes he is owed something for being “a nice guy.” * yawn * Oddly, Clare doesn’t ask Lily what she’s reading, how she is, or anything that might open them up to a normal conversation. If he were a nicer guy, that would be a shame.

Mrs. Poole continues working her hateful brand of dark magic, this time cursing Sir Malcolm’s wife into unbearable pain. In town, Ethan is approached by Inspector Rusk of Scotland Yard, who has questions about the massacre at the Mariner’s Inn. Seems that only Ethan, Roper, and Brona Croft are unaccounted for. Their conversation is interspersed with scenes of the Frankenstein’s lunch with Vanessa. Lily is nervous but comports herself well, while Vanessa notices that they are clearly in love. Ethan is evasive, but aware that Rusk is suspicious as hell and will be sending people to follow him. Since no one was shot, Ethan’s reputation as a sharp shooter shouldn’t mean much. As Ethan eludes the other coppers, we see that Roper is following Ethan as well—Roper who also lied to Scotland Yard about his own knowledge of the massacre. Roper also now knows where Chandler is staying. That smells like revenge to me.

Penny 2.5 Caliban Victor

Vanessa continues to work in the shelter for homeless diseased people. There, she runs into John Clare and unknowingly discusses the Frankenstein’s with him. Oops. She also teaches him to dance, and tells him that the best way to interact with a woman he wants to woo is simply to be himself. Duh, but that might not be a good idea considering Caliban is a total asshat. Van and he share a love of poetry and a genuine rapport. I can’t help wondering what will come of that. Watch for Vanessa to explain that All sad people love poetry. Happy people prefer songs.

            The opera is the place to be in “Above the Vaulted Sky.” I can’t say what they’re seeing, but it clearly involves the Lannisters. LOL What else is gonna feature incestuous siblings and enough violence to keep them interested? Dorian and Angelique are there, and she finds the subject matter improper. Even more improper is some jackass brothel customer, accosting and then spitting on her. So far, Dorian’s storyline with Angelique serves only to showcase how difficult life was for transsexuals in this time. It doesn’t seem to be a whole lot better today, sad to say. It’s clear though, that Dorian doesn’t care about the public spectacle, the haters, or Angelique’s physical biology. Even when she dresses like a boy, Dorian has genuine affection for her. Odd, since I think of Dorian as being more selfish and judgmental than that given his origin story.

Penny 2.5 Angelique

Malcolm and Mrs. Poole are also taking in some live theatre, and unbeknownst to Malcolm—some witchery too. They are found smooching up a storm, and end up getting their giggity on in a downtown London hotel. I don’t mind saying, it’s pretty hot. Maybe he means to make her the Queen of Arboria. Haha. They aren’t the only ones sexing it up, as Dorian and Angelique get down with some graphic carnality. Chandler seems stuck with Ferdinand Lyle, who continues discussing the Verbis Diablo and Lupus Dei. Lyle is most flirtatious, but to no avail. We think Vanessa might end up having sexy times with Ethan, but she decides to go back to her own room to sleep and pray.

Penny 2.5 Lily Victor

The big giggity surprise comes via a storm that frightens Lily right into her pretend-cousin’s bed. He resists her, but poorly and not for very long. We worry that Caliban will walk in on them, but he doesn’t. Not in “Above the Vaulted Sky” anyway. Who knows what will happen next week. Still, He’s not gonna like that, nor will Ethan, and I bed David Tennant wouldn’t be thrilled either.  😉  As we watch Malcolm and Evelyn rutting like minxes, we see that Malcolm’s estranged wife is suffering still. She’s had a terrible life, that one. Stuck in a loveless society marriage to a largely absent, cheating husband. Her son (who appears to have been recast for this scene) dies of an awful illness trying to impress his withholding father, and her daughter’s heart is broken before she is kidnapped and killed by forces her mother can’t begin to understand. So her terrible, Poole-inspired visions are nothing short of nightmarish. When she takes her own life, it’s almost a blessing.

Penny 2.5 Mina Peter

I can’t begin to say what will happen before the end of Season Two. Rusk will no doubt pursue Chandler, independent of Roper—who will almost certainly end up dead. Vanessa is still in mortal peril, as is Sir Malcolm though he seems less aware of it. Lily and Victor’s newfound love brings with it enormous danger from Caliban. But Caliban may also be in danger from the Putnams. Now that Malcolm is single, will be pursue marriage with Evelyn? Will Ethan eventually encounter Lily and know who she really is? Will she remember him? With five episodes remaining, anything is possible.

See you’s next week!




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