[Review] - Penny Dreadful, Season 2 Episode 5, "Above the Vaulted Sky"

Courtesy of Neal Street Productions
I think you misunderstood me, Penny Dreadful. back those weeks ago, when you first introduced us to your cavern on dolls, I might have been a little unclear as to my reaction. See, I was using an occasionally humour device called sarcasm to imply the opposite of what I meant. What I said was something to the effect of that I didn't mind having innumerable unblinking eyes peering out of your macabre spectacle. What I meant is that the adornment of miniaturized caricatures threaded discomfort in my being to such an extent that, afterwards, I shit tears. So, you will perhaps be understanding then that a return to your dungeon of ventriloquy soured the milk of my evening, put me off the hunger of my interest, and caused me to retreat into the embrace of more comforting aesthetics.

Which is a classy way of saying I wrapped myself in a comforter, curled up in the corner, while humming Men at Work's Who Can It Be Now? Do you see what you make me do to myself, Penny Dreadful? Is this what you want? Is it? Hmm?

Hit the jump for the review, which contains the spoilers of god.

For a psycho-sexual adventure, as the series was original sold to us, this season has been heavy on the psycho, light on the sexual (I for one do not consider the witch's talon-sliced nudity in the least bit sexual, but if that's your thing... ewww). So, those closing moments of this episode were clearly making up for lost time, as practically everyone got on to making with the sexy times. There was grinding galore, but sex is never just sex on this show. Nipples come at a cost, as it were, and each of these conjoinments will surely have a deeper cost than the momentary satisfaction it will bring. In fact, each has a very clear and obvious cost. Perhaps the most meaningful moment of the montage was when Ethan and Vanessa refused to give in to their own baser instincts.

Last season, sex was a weakening act. When Vanessa gave in to her lust, it allowed the devil to consume her (there was also the session between Ethan and Dorian, which in hindsight seems like to was meant mostly to be provocative rather than invocative). Likewise, when Brona and Ethan had sex, it was usually accompanied by an escalation of her condition. Being a whore, the more plentiful amount of sex manifested as an increased illness, and ultimately her death. Vanessa, weakened by her possession, has once again receded into a protective barrier of chastity. Here, sex appears to have taken on a foreshadowing of being laid low. Victor and Lily's naive fondling (instigated and enacted in a very juvenile fashion) will undoubtedly come to the attention of Claire, who will seize upon it as another in the long list of crimes committed against him by his creator. In fact, which each feeble thrust of Victor's buttocks, I heard in the thunder the distinct fore-echoes of Rory Kinner screaming "Frankenstein!" into the ether.

Malcolm's seduction, paired with his wife's madness and eventual death, was a sloppy decent into bewitchment. I'd like to think more of Sir Malcolm, but last season proved his fallibility, and he is not resistant to the charms of the flesh. Especially when those charms are augmented by magic. Mrs. Murray had to be the one to suffer them most in order for Mrs. Poole's plan to take hold (though Malcolm won't be without grief when he's shaken out of his delirium). Now that Poole has Malcolm in her grasp, she has her spy in the house, and all those fortifications won't matter a moment. I suspect that Ethan's story (and yes, that was a far better way of imparting past history than devoting an entire flashback episode to it) will continue to play a part in the way the second half of the season unfolds. they can't afford to be surrounded, but they already are. They can't afford spies in their midst, but there are already. They need protection, form superstition and weapons, but both of those have already failed them. they are left as quivering rabbits as the wolves draw in.

Identity is clearly the theme of the year. Claire and Vanessa touched on the idea of revealing a truer self in another wonderful scene as they discuss all the things that Victorians regularly wouldn't. But the question of "who are you, really" is the running thread throughout all the storylines this year, even Dorian's, who has absolutely bare-all nothing to do with the actual plot of the season. Claire keeps trying to manufacture connections and identities with people, when he's completely blind to the friendships and affections he's gathering on his own. Lily is, of course, a bad dream away form remembering her former self. Victor is only just now discovering a better version of himself in his creation. Vanessa is eternally more than she appears, and here now here comes the surprise that Ethan is not Ethan. So not only is he a wolf in sheep's clothing, he's not even a sheep. We don't know what he is. Or, on what side he is on. Will the Wolf of God be a guard dog, or an attack dog? Is he another potential agent for Poole, or something to ward her off?

One last thing, and my favourite moment of the night: Lyle is Jewish. take notice, all other shows, this is how you simply, silently, and with maximum effect with minimum effort, add to character illustration. That brief scene, as he secretly and cautiously said his prayers said a great deal more about the character than all the flamboyant facial hair and campiness has in 13 episodes. Nice job, John Logan. Points to you.
Share on Google Plus

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.


Post a Comment