in Television

‘Penny Dreadful’ Season 2 Episode 5 Recap: “Above the Vaulted Sky”

penny dreadful above the vaulted sky

The Nightcomers

Everyone’s favorite voodoo doll room makes a reappearance at the beginning of “Above the Vaulted Sky” as Hecate returns to their lair to wind a clump of Vanessa’s hair into her doll, while her mother Evelyn tortures Sir Malcolm’s wife by shoving a heated needle into her doll’s brain.

Evelyn continues to torment Sir Malcolm’s wife throughout the episode (those shots of all the needles stabbed into the doll’s brain was horrific and I take all that shit I said about not buying the Nightcomers as villains back). At one point she goes on a date with Sir Malcolm to the theatre, where she pricks his hand with her knife-ring, presumably as part of a spell she casts on him. They end up having sex in a hotel room, as Malcolm’s wife screams in horror from visions of her dead children clawing their way out of their graves, eventually slitting her own throat.

Murray Mansion

Back at the Murray household, everyone is trying to collect themselves after the Nightcomers’ attack. Ethan tells the group a story about his soldiering days in Arizona murdering American Indian tribes, and urges them to not allow themselves to be infiltrated, surrounded, and killed off. They make a plan: take advantage of the daytime — when the witches’ powers are weakest — and use charms, rituals, and good old fashioned weaponry to keep them at bay at night.

Cue a close-up heavy montage of everyone employing various religious rituals and superstitions to protect the house. At night, Vanessa’s prayers are again interrupted by visions of the witches. Frightened, she seeks comfort from Ethan and asks to stay in his room for the night. Ethan opens up to her about himself, and in return Vanessa promises to accept him for whoever he is and whatever he’s done.

Ferdinand Lyle, who’s still working on translating the Devil’s memoirs, has become stumped by one repeated phrase: in Latin, Lupus Dei, or “hound of God” — otherwise known as that phrase Hecate keeps hissing whenever Ethan’s name comes up during Nightcomer get-togethers. So whatever plan Lucifer has for Vanessa, Ethan is a big part of it.

Frankenstein & His Creatures

Meanwhile John Clare is shoving Victor into walls and hissing about how he can see inside his “wretched black heart,” which roughly translates to “you’re keeping Lily away from me on purpose, and also you abandoned me when I was reborn and that was really mean of you.” John shows hesitancy in meeting Lily again, worried that she won’t like him, and despite his grand tale of their epic romance (a story that he comes up with so quickly that I’m thinking it’s either something he read in a book, or something that truly happened to him once and wished someone would rescue him from with a kind word) Lily tells John she can only offer friendship for now.

The next day Victor takes Lily out to tea with Vanessa, and if Vanessa notices anything odd about Lily constantly checking in with Victor to see if she’s performing well, it seems she chalks it up to incestuous flirtations. Later, John bumps into Vanessa again down in the soup kitchens and they connect over — what else? — poetry, religion, and love. She also teaches him how to dance.

Mariner’s Inn Massacre

Inspector Rusk has finally caught up to Ethan outside a gun shop, and brings him in for questioning. Ethan dodges every inquiry and smiles winningly at every bit of speculation Rusk throws at him, but it’s clear Rusk isn’t going to let this go.

Rusk tries to send one of his officers to follow Ethan home, and though Ethan manages to lose his police tail, he doesn’t notice that the Mariner Inn’s survivor has stuck around and now knows Ethan is staying at the Murray mansion.

Dorian & Angelique

These two are again tangential to the main plot line, but there was a sad yet touching moment where Dorian unknowingly reenacted John’s romantic fantasy; drunk, jeering men mocking a relationship, only for one of the pair to take the other’s hand and press it to their lips, uncaring of the scorn.

They retire to Dorian’s house, where Angelique puts on men’s clothing and begins to tell Dorian about her childhood, and how she came to London to escape that and became Angelique, but the only line of work open to her was prostitution and more ridicule. “You’ve live a charmed life here. We’re not all so lucky, or so normal.” Dorian tells her that he cares for who Angelique is, not for what she wears, and they kiss as a storm brews outside.


Holy shit there’s so much sex in this episode.

As previously mentioned, Evelyn and Sir Malcolm, under the influence of an aphrodisiac, have sex after their date. Dorian and Angelique also have sex after their conversation. Ethan shares a moment with Vanessa on the stairwell (or was it Vanessa? I was terrified it was Hecate in disguise at first, and then Vanessa’s expressionless face kept making me flash back to that voodoo doll like it had come to life to fuck with Ethan). Finally, the thunderstorm frightens Lily to the point where she rushes into bed with Victor, and a tentative, childlike kiss from Lily becomes Victor cementing himself as The Worst Ever as he proceeds to have sex with her.


  • The parallels between the Ethan-at-Vanessa’s-bedside-talking-about-God scene in this episode and the one in season one’s “Possession” episode had me seal clapping in glee. This show is so good at scratching my “loquacious theological discussions” itch.
  • Penny Dreadful is also great at scratching my “Vanessa smoothly interrupts people quoting lines of poetry to finish the poem perfectly” itch. That itch is pretty specific to this one show, though.
  • My worry that Lily had imprinted on Victor like a wee baby duckling turned out well founded. Any love I had for Victor just went *poof* so I can’t wait until John Clare finds out what Victor’s done.

Check out the preview for next week’s episode of Penny Dreadful.