Penny Dreadful S1E3, “Resurrection”

Penny Dreadful - London

We start this episode with more Wordsworth.  There’s nothing quite like hearing quotes from “Intimations of Immortality from Recollections of Early Childhood” while watching a child find his dead dog, then have his mother cough up blood all over him.  Frankenstein’s devastating childhood gives us a window into why he loves the flowery language of poetry: it gave him an escape from his dark world, if only a brief one.  He really was so naïve to think that he could see eternity in a daffodil

After the events of “Seance”, I was looking forward to the plot being propelled forward a bit.  Instead, the bulk of this episode showed the troubled past of Frankenstein’s first creation, the Shakespearian named Caliban (for the record, Caliban was the half-human son of Sycorax – a witch – in “The Tempest”.  He is described as being “not honour’d with a human shape.”).  Caliban’s “childhood” was much different than the late Proteus’: he was abandoned from a young age and found himself bullied and alone.  Eventually he was taken in by the owner of The Grand Guignol Theatre, where he worked as a stagehand.  He lived in the theater, stuck to the shadows, and found himself developing a crush on one of the actresses there (we get to see her in Sweeney Todd, working with a faulty blood pump).  For all intents and purposes, he was The Phantom of the Opera, by way of Frankenstein.

Penny Dreadful - Caliban

Eventually he tracked down Frankenstein for one purpose: a companion.  The monster, it seems, demands a mate.  Frankenstein seems to reject the idea, though I have no doubt he will acquiesce.

Bride of Frankenstein Poster

Though most of this episode dealt with Frankenstein and Caliban, we got caught up a bit with the other characters.  Mina Harker appeared to Vanessa in a vision, which drove our heroes to go looking for her.  We found that Vanessa’s gifts make her desirable, which means that they soon find themselves surrounded by a pack of wolves.  Ethan is able to stop the wolves from attacking by putting his hand in the mouth of the lead wolf.  This seems to pacify them and they leave without sating their bloodlust.  I like to think they devoured the first person they came across after leaving.
This interaction further strengthens the “Ethan is a werewolf” theory, which further strengthens my “Ethan is a Ripperwolf/Wereripper” theory.  That’s assuming that the wolves we saw were actually wolves and not werewolves.  Were they werewolves, Ethan would have also been a werewolf in that scene.  Since we haven’t seen a werewolf yet, I’m not sure what we’re dealing with.  Do they look like regular wolves or do they look like The Wolfman?  We looking at a Blood and Chocolate/Hemlock Grove situation, or more of an American Werewolf in London/Underworld one?

Penny Dreadful - Zoo

In the end, they don’t find Mina (it’s only the third episode, so I didn’t expect them to), but they do find a human under control of The Master.  His name here is Fenton, but I believe we know him as Renfield.
I really like seeing the familiar story of Dracula as told from another angle.  We’re on the outside looking in, and it gives it a different feel.

Penny Dreadful - Renfield

We also witnessed Ethan getting lucky with Brona.  I’m sure a hooker with the consumption is also host to countless other diseases.  Then again, Ethan seemed to be using his celebrity status to have sex with countless lonely housewives across the world.  They’re perfect for each other.  Good luck you crazy kids.

While I was watching this episode, I found myself getting a little annoyed.  Too much time spent with Frankenstein and Caliban, not enough on everything else.  But, after it was over, I found that I didn’t mind it so much.  It was a matter of expectation.  I expected this episode to go one way, and, when it didn’t conform to those expectations, I found myself pushing back.  With a little time to reflect, I found that to be unfair.  Caliban’s backstory was handled really well, and it kept me interested the entire time.  A show like this works best when you get to know the characters really well.  They did that here.  There will be time to drive the plot forward another day.  Like, say, in the last half of the season.

Your line to work into casual conversation this week: “You have not known horror until I have shown it to you.”