[Review] - Penny Dreadful, Season 1 Episode 3, "Resurrection"

Courtesy of Neal Street Productions
After two weeks of setting the stage, the game gets truly afoot this week. The characters are established, the motives generally understood. Now teeth can be properly sunk into the narrative, as Sir Malcolm and his company take the fight to the darkness, and Frankenstein begins to understand the repercussions of his actions. The show dug itself deeper into the canon of the source material, and gave us a wider view of the lay of the land as we move forward.

Also, a lunatic ate some monkeys, so that was fun.

Hit the jump for the review, which contains spoilers that understand the appeal of a lost cause.

All the episodes of this season are directed in pairs. The dark, fluid moodiness of J. A. Bayona gave way to the lighter, less grotesque visual style, but no less tense or effective, of Dearbhla Walsh. The structure of the episode also changed. While the first two episodes, in an effort to let us know as much about the characters as we needed to, tended towards bouncing between them. Here, with the story ramping up, the episode was cleaved fairly neatly into two (much like the poor, departed Proteus). The first half focused nearly entirely on Frankenstein, while the second half saw Sir Malcolm's band of misfits and ne'er-do-wells depart on a mission.

We began with some illumination as to Victor's obsession with life and death, as the perils of pre-Victorian medicine robbed him of his mother. Obsession really is the through-line with these characters, each singularly driven by some only remotely obtainable goal. Victor's is perhaps the most futile of the lot, considering he wishes dominion over life and death (though Chandler appears to be increasingly interested in such things). Frankenstein has proven his skill at removing the veil of death, but as this episode goes to get lengths and pains to show, he is woefully ill equipped to deal with the life that occurs afterwards. His original monster returned as last episode drew to a close, and this week he guides us through an extended flashback, detailing his solitary childhood after being abandoned in terror by his maker. This new monster, later christened Caliban (another name of Shakespearean origin), conforms the most to the novel's Adam, in intellect and desire. A well read creature of style and philosophy, with an exuberant vocabulary and misery enough to identify humanity as the monster, not him.

They avoided revealing that it was Caliban responsible of the dismemberments that opened the series, and time enough exists to surprise us again, but the first son of Frankenstein made it very clear that he wishes Frankenstein to make him a mate. This is, again, the tragic cause that drives his literary fore-bearer. There, at least, Frankenstein had a family and a support system for the creation to terrorize. Here, Frankenstein seems very much alone. No mention has been made of Elizabeth, his brothers, and his father appears only briefly in the flashback. This Victor is singular in his environment, his creations his love. His retort to his eldest, "threaten me with life" a clear statement as to his mind set. His life has been devoted to mastery of death, and achieving that mastery has left him more isolated and responsible for more suffering than if he had simply left well enough alone. What Caliban's next move is remains to be seen, though Frankenstein at this moments seems less than motivated to make use of his skills again.

Elsewhere, Ives received a message from the aether concerning Mina, galvanizing Sir Malcolm into action. Again, the source material was trotted out to play, as Ives details for Chandler certain element of Stoker's novel, careful to avoid mention of the Count's name. He is referred to as a creature, as a beast, and in the final moments, as Master. Chandler rejoined the team for the money, as his affections for Ms. Croft continue to grow. For the first time, sex was used in a positive fashion, but again without titillation. I continue to applaud the emotional application of the sexuality, without degrading it to simple physicality. With Chandler in place as the team's conscience, and Frankenstein as it's newly enlightened sense of foresight, off they go for an evening at the zoo.

Two events transpire there. One, they encounter a pack of wolves, one of the animals over which Dracula holds sway in the original novel. The pack is held at bay during an intense communion between them and Chandler, an event I refuse to believe is anything small. A quick peak at the iconography present in the opening credits draws to attention to the fangs and jaws of a wolf like creature. Now, would I be please if werewolves were the one "universal horror" monster left out of Logan's little world? Yes. But they are monsters of note, and the nature of Chandler's legal woes back in America remain unknown. The connection he exhibited with the wolves suggest more than just having been raised in the wilds of the west. At the very least, he failed (passed?) the taste test.

The second event is the discovery of Fenton, the Renfrew stand-in, a raving loon from which Sir Malcolm believes he can dredge the truth of his Master's location. Malcolm also revealed that the Master's interest appears not to be in Mina, but in Ives. So while Malcolm baits his hook by taking Ives along with on his extracurricular field trips, the masters appears to be doing the same. Sending Ives the vision of Mina, knowing she and Malcolm would come running, only to find the poor wretch Fenton. If Dracula, or whomever his counterpart in this version of events is, needs a way into their lives to claim Ives, Fenton is as good a Trojan horse as any. He's certainly willing. As am I to see how this all plays out.
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About MR. Clark

Adopting the descriptor of "successfully unpublished author", MR. Clark began writing things on the internet in 2012, which he believed to be an entirely reputable and civilized place to find and deliver information. He regrets much.


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