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Penny Dreadful 1×02 “Seance” Recap

After a quick beginning horror sequence in which a prostitute and a gas lantern lighter are murdered by some sort of creature, Ethan Chandler is shown waking up in the middle of a completely random location with claw marks on his hand. Hmm, how suspicious! Could Ethan be… A WEREWOLF?! I’m sure we’ll find out soon enough. He wanders into a nearby pub, where he meets Brona Croft (Billie Piper), a friendly woman who claims to be a factory worker. The two hit it off, with Brona explaining to Ethan that her name means “sadness” in Gaelic.

After demonstrating eating a piece of bread, Victor Frankenstein gives his reanimated corpse a name: “Proteus,” after a character in Shakespeare’s play The Two Gentlemen of Verona. Later, Victor leaves to meet with Vanessa and Malcolm, explaining to a distraught Proteus that he cannot come with him yet, but Victor will be back soon.

With Vanessa and Malcolm, Victor is bade to study the body of the vampire they killed in episode one. Vanessa has removed the creature’s skin using flesh eating beetles, so now all the hieroglyphics are visible. When Victor inspects the creature’s blood, he finds that it appears to be human, but with unknown qualities. Victor advises Vanessa and Malcolm go to a hematologist.

Brona Croft goes over to Dorian Gray’s house to pose for some erotic pictures. When it becomes clear that Brona is ill with consumption, Dorian becomes increasingly aroused. The two end up having sex while the photographer takes pictures. Even after Brona coughs blood on Dorian’s face, he seems more amused and turned on than disgusted.

Malcolm goes to the police station to speak with the Inspector there. He asks about the recent murders, offering his help with the cases. The Inspector tells Malcolm that they haven’t made much progress – too many people are coming out of the woodwork to either confess or point fingers at others – and agrees to let Malcolm into the crime scene the next time a murder occurs. Before Malcolm leaves, he ominously tells the Inspector to stop looking for a human killer, and start hunting for a beast.

Victor returns home. Proteus begins singing a fisherman’s song, and with Victor’s help, begins to remember his life before. He become wracked with guilt upon remembering hunting and killing a whale. Victor comforts him by saying that everyone does things that cause them shame.

Vanessa and Malcolm go to a fancy dinner party hosted by Lyle, the eccentric Egyptologist. Dorian Grey is also in attendance, and he and Vanessa share an intimate conversation. They’re interrupted when Madame Kali (Helen McCrory) is introduced as the guest of honor and begins performing a seance as part of the night’s entertainment.

During the seance, Vanessa becomes possessed for real. Several spirits speak to Malcolm through her, one of whom is Malcolm’s son Peter, who apparently died of dysentery during one of Malcolm’s explorations. At one point, a spirit accuses Malcolm of having an illicit affair that Vanessa was witness to, calling him “animal,” “betrayer,” and “creature.” It’s purposefully unclear who the spirit is talking about, but current speculation puts Malcolm’s daughter Mina pretty high on the list of theories.

Once Vanessa has shaken the possession off, she marches out of the house and into the rain. She ends up having sex with a random man in an alleyway, as Dorian Grey (who followed her out of the house like a creep) watches from the shadows.

In the morning, Brona and Ethan run into one another again at the pub. Ethan asks Brona out for dinner, and she agrees. They run into Victor and Proteus on the street, as Victor has finally decided to take Proteus to the outside world. Proteus is adorably enchanted by all the new things he’s experiencing, but when he sees a real life boat, he remembers his wife and realizes there’s something unnatural about himself.

Malcolm comes to Lyle’s office to ask about the hieroglyphics again. Lyle tells Malcolm that one of the hieroglyphics should not exist – Amunet and Amun-Ra together signifies the end of days and the annihilation of man. Lyle advises Malcolm to stop his investigations, and forget he ever saw this.

Victor takes Proteus home, where Proteus is pleased to be making friends like Victor, Ethan, and Brona, and happily expresses his intentions of making more friends. All of a sudden, Proteus’s body is torn in two by the hands of Victor’s very first creation… the actual Frankenstein’s monster.

Rating: A-

Memorable Quotes

Dorian Grey: I’ve never fucked a dying creature before. Do you feel things more deeply, I wonder? Do you feel pain?

Victor: As you grow up, you’ll learn we all do things that cause us shame. Sins we have committed.

Lyle: Who wants to know they are hunted by the devil?

Frankenstein’s monster: Your firstborn has returned… father.

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