First of all, no, I haven no idea how my insane brain made the connections it did regarding the end of Penny Dreadful‘s second episode, “Séance.” (I’m off that cold medication now). What I do know is that in “Resurrection” it was all made clear, or at least, as clear as Penny Dreadful ever is. And in its third hour, the show continued the story of Victor Frankenstein in such a wonderful and emotional way that the entire series could really just be about him and his weird, created family. Hit the jump for why, despite what the poets say, death is not serene.
So Victor’s “first born,” the unnamed monster from the original novel, has returned. Although it is not Victor who chases the monster, but the other way around. After destroying Proteus, which he saw as a “merciful abortion,” Frankenstein’s Monster gives a detailed account of his development in the world, from his first registered feelings of rejection and abandonment, to understanding mercy and purpose. Penny Dreadful had a penny dreadful within “Resurrection” — Frankenstein’s Monster telling his story was a story-within-a-story, and it was another beautiful, unexpected one. Though his birth was much more traumatic that Proteus’, he made his way. Now he’s back, and looking for love!
The fact that John Logan would bring in the Bride of Frankenstein so early into the material is an interesting choice, but one that also makes sense — he glossed over (more or less) Frankenstein’s Monster’s development in this episode. Well-worn territory is now seen in a new light. Although, frankly, it would have been fine for it to have played out in real time instead of just in flashback, because it was so rich with weird and interesting parts (including the theater itself, and those who populate it). But for Victor to essentially be commissioned to make another undead creation, this time a woman, is indeed probably even more interesting.
Of course, Victor got a little bit of his own backstory as well, as a sickly and lonely child with a mother who died young. His obsession with the Romantics (and their vision of life and immortality) as well as his desire to bring things back to life makes perfect sense. Him completely abandoning his first creation though also plays on his youth and his own development. He wasn’t ready for the consequence and responsibility, and his notions about what would happen were naive. As he cautions Sir Malcolm later in the episode, you must be careful with something you change fundamentally.
The rest of “Resurrection” didn’t quite live up to the standard Victor and his monster set, though. Mina is still trying to reach out to her father (and her backstory was also revealed briefly: the well-known engagement to Jonathan Harker, her dalliance with a seductive “creature”) through Vanessa, who Sir Malcolm used as bait. Vanessa seemed only mildly perturbed by this, but since they had all just pledged their undying loyalty to one another towards this common cause, I suppose there wasn’t much she could really say.
Ethan Chandler was definitely the weakest participant, but also one with his own mysteries. While some of his motivations were seen a mile away (“I don’t have money for medicine, lover!”), and his objections eye-roll-worthy (don’t be mean to the vampire child that eats monkeys!), his scene with the wolves in the zoo was very strange. I’m not going to guess anymore what’s going on here, so I’ll leave it at “da fuq?” — essentially Vanessa’s look to Sir Malcolm during and after the fact. Werewolves? Dare we think? Did no one want to talk about it?
The search for Mina and the Creature continues, the League of Extraordinary Gentlemen: Beta has been formed, and the Bride of Frankenstein is on the way (probably). Every hour of Penny Dreadful has been unique, offering very different perspectives of the demimonde, and the characters who interact with it. But ultimately they are all connected. As the Monster said to Victor: “like the Janus mask, we are inseparable.” And surprisingly, for a horror story, full of pathos and emotion.
Episode Rating: A-
Musings and Miscellanea:
— Poor Frankenstein’s Monster. He just wants a little love from an undead lady so they can be together forever! That’s all!
— So apparently that’s what happens when you lock a child up with a lot of poetry books: he becomes exceptionally eloquent. The Monster’s soliloquies were exceptional, and stocked full of $40 words.
— It seems, so far, that the Monster (I should probably call him Caliban, but that may be a transient name) doesn’t remember his first life, like Proteus was starting to.
— The show references penny dreadfuls within the story too much. We get it already!
— “We have all been brutalized by loss. It has made us brutal in return” – Vanessa.
— I learned from the CDC’s website that TB is not transmitted through kissing, so there’s that. But if you inhale infected air … watch out! (Although even that doesn’t mean it will activate within you).
— “No one in this room is kind. That’s why you’re here” – Sir Malcolm.