As the couples from last week’s episode wake up the next morning all post-coital and happy, the events of the episode are put into motion; namely, Dorian deciding to throw a grand, fancy ball to celebrate Angelique’s coming out, while Evelyn clips off a chunk of Sir Malcolm’s hair and uses his blood to attach it to his fetish/voodoo doll.
Whatever love spell Evelyn cast on Sir Malcolm the previous night, it continues to affect him even when Vanessa tells him his wife killed herself last night. Sembene, Vanessa, and Ethan are clearly unnerved by his reaction (or rather, non-reaction) to the news, but for some reason no one beyond Sembene realizes something witchy must be going on, even though this entire season has been about witches.
Cut to the Wax Museum with John Clare and Lavinia, whose budding friendship sours when Lavinia touches John’s hand and realizes there’s something unnatural and corpse-like about him. She later tells her father about it, and he seems worryingly interested in how weird John is — perhaps thinking of adding to his collection of “freaks” to display to the public?
Lavinia: “Whatever your past, I know you are kind. But why am I frightened?”
The Pinkerton agent, Roper, pays a visit to the mansion where he threatens to reveal Ethan’s “little trick” to the public and/or kill all of Ethan’s friends unless Ethan comes back with him to America. And oh my god, the look of pure venom on Ethan’s face when Roper singles out Vanessa in his threat.
Ethan ends up attending the grand opening of the Wax Museum’s crime scene section, lingering at the display of the Mariner’s Inn Massacre. Inspector Rusk conveniently slinks out of the shadows — because of course he does — to throw some accusations Ethan’s way. It seems to rattle Ethan a lot more than their previous conversation, especially the bit about living with your guilt.
Later, Vanessa is catching Victor up on what they’ve learned about the Verbis Diablo when she casually mentions meeting John Clare. Victor gets a look of “oh shit” on his face, but he plays it off well, and the topic quickly turns to Victor’s new romance (gag) with Lily. It’s nice to see Vanessa smiling again as she gently teases her friend, especially since disaster is sure to strike soon.
And what do you know, here comes disaster walking through the doors carrying an invitation to a ball! (I kid, I kid. I’m warming up to Dorian a lot with this Angelique storyline, because I find their relationship adorable, but you gotta admit he’s the accidental catalyst for a lot of shit. Vanessa’s possession in season one, the first official meeting of good and evil in this episode. What’s next, Dorian, the birthing of the Antichrist?) The vibe between Dorian and Vanessa is awkward but amiable, as Vanessa accepts the invitation.
When Vanessa brings the invite up to Sir Malcolm, she finds him still acting strangely, staring into mirrors and musing about his beard. He’s excited to find out about the ball and immediately decides he’s taking Evelyn, leaving Vanessa without an escort. Vanessa later asks Ethan to go with her, but with the looming threats of Roper, Rusk, and the full moon, he declines. Vanessa’s face here is heartbreaking.
Evelyn: “I didn’t turn from God. He turned from me. From all of us.”
The night of the ball arrives, and the decadence of it all is awesome. Dorian knows how to throw a good party. Victor arrives with Lily, who I just realized has actually been to Dorian’s house before and Dorian is totally going to recognize her. When he does recognize her, and when he realizes she’s going by a different name and doesn’t quite remember him, Dorian latches onto this new and interesting thing. Angelique is left feeling abandoned, while Victor gets all gross and angry and possessive.
Vanessa eventually arrives at the party alone (apparently a very daring thing to do, even though Hecate and her coven sisters are also at the party, seemingly without dates), while Evelyn and Malcolm-sans-beard (THE HORROR. PUT IT BACK, MAN) swan in arm-in-arm. Malcolm introduces Evelyn and Vanessa, and Vanessa seems to catch on to the fact that there’s something not right about Evelyn.
As the night goes on, a worried Lyle tries to warn Vanessa of the danger she’s in, offering to escort her home. Before she can leave, Vanessa is hit by visions of the witches approaching her and blood raining from the ceiling drenching everything, and she collapses.
Back at the mansion, Ethan enlists Sembene’s help in chaining himself up in the basement then turns into a werewolf as Sembene watches in shock.
- I had my fingers crossed and was practically chanting “take off the mask” during the Roper-vs-Ethan scene, but alas, it was not to be. I’m sure they’re saving that goriness for a later episode, though. Perhaps the final confrontation before Roper goes away for good?
- The “Can I tell you a story?”/”No.” moment was hilarious. Oh, Ethan.
- I’m so glad Evelyn got to monologue about her fall from grace that I can almost overlook the fact that she’s talking about it with Lyle of all people. Though I don’t suppose she can turn to anyone else — certainly not her daughter, who seems one misstep away from overthrowing Evelyn, or the rest of the coven, who are largely useless. Come to think of it, Hecate opened up to Lyle at the party too, basically spelling out for him (and us) that she has “bigger plans” for the future that don’t include Evelyn. Maybe Lyle’s just that much of a good listener?
- I’ve seen this “morally grey yet likable protagonist is being chased by a clever but aggressive and smug detective” storyline done a lot, but I have to say this is the first time I find myself liking the detective. Usually I want them to just go away; here I’m almost rooting for Rusk — if Ethan weren’t on the other side of this conflict, I mean.
- My eyes turned into pink heart emojis when Dorian and Angelique were dancing in front of everyone. How did this happen? How did I get so invested? I want to see Angelique happy always.
- Realizing that Dorian was in a room with his new girlfriend and two of his sort-of-exes made me laugh out loud. If only Ethan had been at the party too, to complete the awkward ass set (and to ballroom dance with Vanessa. Will I ever get that scene?)
- A lot of “Glorious Horrors” felt muted, but I really liked it; it was a nice, gradual build-up to that horrifically bloody scene at the end.
Here’s the preview for next week’s Penny Dreadful. VANESSA/ETHAN KISS HELL YEAH.