[Review] - Penny Dreadful, Season 2 Episode 6, "Glorious Horrors"

Courtesy of Neal Street Productions
Damn you, Penny Dreadful, you've gone too far. I'll accept your horrible dolls and your regular grotesques, but shaving the beard? That beard was magnificent, and you sheared it like yesterdays llama! Have you no dignity? Have you no appreciation for beauty and glory and decorum? There are some things that are best left adorned, and Timothy Dalton's chin is most assuredly one of them. You had no right - NO RIGHT - to deprive us of the weekly enchantment of gazing into it's follicles, and wondering if what were we seeing was the distant shimmering light of the memories of beards past, or the crumbs of that morning's biscuit.

Elsewhere, there was some dancing, and other stuff. But none of that is important right now!

Hit the jump for the review, which contains spoilers that are not the tragedies we think they are.

I've been keeping a level eye on decompression this season, with it's bump up from eight episodes to ten, and I believe I'm starting to see the stretch marks. Season one was incredibly tight, even with the flash back episodes taken into account. It was essentially a six episode run with two accompanying episodes of elaboration. This season has felt from the start to have a slightly more waxing pace, but covers it over in so much style and interest that it distracts enough to notice weeke to week. But I couldn't help but notice in this episode especially, how drawn out some of these stories have become. Take Mr. Claire, and the presumably villainous intent the wax maker has for him. Claire's thus far once per episodes flirtations with Lavinia seem like they could have been condensed into a single episode, making for a far more engaging storyline. As it stands, the pace befits the timeframe, but also distracts our interest.

By failing to bring the storyline front and centre, each time we briefly delve back into it, we must readjust. Much like Dorian's story, which welcomingly bubbled to the forefront here, without singular focus it risks evaporating from our attention entirely. So too with Ethan's predicament, in which Rusk haunts his every turn with war stories about how damned ungentlemanly those Boers were in trying to not die. Ethan's story is saved by Josh Hartnett's charm and swagger, but the pieces are drawn too often too far apart. As I watch, I itch at a greater insistance that Rusk should make some move, or that anyone should take an action that will instigate a greater reaction then the wait-and-see positions they have taken to occupy.

The witches dominate this season, but even they are beginning to flounder in inaction. This episodes gave us a brief and greater insight into Ms. Poole's character, that she is not just some raving loon or evil incarnate, but that she may have greater motives and feelings. that certainly elevates her above Dracula last year. But the question remains: what exactly do the witches want with Vanessa. We never really found out why the Creature wanted her last year. Veiled references to wanting her for it's mate, but what is the witches end game? Do they want to kill her? Make her their queen? Sacrifice her? Preserve her? Bathe in her blood? Bathe her, in blood? Because Logan obfuscates motivation so readily behind a shadow of eloquence and sex, we see quite a lot, but usually have very little idea of what it means. The witches are hunting Vanessa, in a strange way (they could have taken her ten times by now, but can't or won't), but we don't know why, and to what end. There is a difference between being surprised by the narrative and having the narrative read to us, but randomly skipping passages so as to not give too much away.

It occurred to me that we're about due for a flashback episode again, and this episodes left tings in a place that suggests that next week will take us back in time, and leave things unresolved for all parties for yet another week. And of all the possible locations for the flashback to take us, I find myself only really interested in two. Ethan's history in America seems the logical destination, but I'm much more interested in the circumstances of Claire's revival (pre-death, as we've already seen his resurrection). He seems undaunted by memories of his past life, which Proteus was falling victim to, and which Lily seems to be on the verge of suffering herself. Some insight into who he was, and what kind of man he was, and how Frankenstein came upon him might further our sympathy for him. He's certainly in the roughest physical condition, and shows the least freshness, as it were. The other would be any information on Sembene. It speaks to the quality of the performance that a character who has received no direction attention is one of the most fascinating and enigmatic on the show. And is someone that literally every other character trusts immediately and implicitly. I want to know more.

Had this season been eight episodes, I feel that the ball would have been the scene of greater and more lethal confrontations than it was. In fact, I was disappointed. The removal of Ethan from the festivities also removed the catalyst for all manner of explosive discovery. Ethan alone connects Lily to her former life, but also Hecate to Ms. Poole. This could have been the blood bath that Vanessa envisioned, and Ethan's absence felt very manufactured. Like Dorian's storyline was building towards being the agent of chaos that ripped apart the security of the group. Instead, it became an opportunity for jealous characters to reveal their own discomforts, but not resolve or reveal anything. It was gratifying to see Dorian take part in the larger plot for once, and for his storyline to serve a larger purpose, but not large enough I think. This could have been the foundation for a cataclysmic confrontation. But we have four more episodes to go, and even if one of them is a flashback, that is too long for this episode to serve as anything other than yet another shot-across-the-bow of the plot.
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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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