Séance | Penny Dreadful S1Ep2 Review
Where episode one was the primer, Séance (episode 2) was the projectile, and with what force it struck. Séance provided us with equal amounts of clarity and ambiguity, obviously something that appears to be a strength for the episodes to come.
Séance opens with a chilling first scene where a random Harlot is seen being murdered by an unknown person. There’s a quick cut to her blood splattering on a newspaper that mentions Jack The Ripper, clearly leaving that story line open. It’s interesting to wonder whether the mention of Jack The Ripper is working as a red-herring or the actual serial killer.
Our first big scene shows Dr. Victor Frankenstein teaching his newly animated corpse how to eat and communicate. Proteus, the name chosen over the comedic option of Adam from Adam and Eve, is as much of an enigma for Dr. Frankenstein as he is a problem. Like a newly bred puppy, he doesn’t want to let Victor leave, although eventually relents. Upon return, Victor begins to uncover who Proteus was in his actual life. With vivid memories of a privateers life, it’s quickly apparent he was indeed a pirate. This idea is later confirmed when he takes Proteus out for a walk and he names nearly every piece of the ship they pass by. The show does a great job of making you feel for such a strange character. As soon as you feel for the character the show rips him away and replaces it with something very different, forcing a salvo of emotions.
After having been teased heavily throughout the entire run-up of the series, we finally meet the famous Dorian Grey. Dorian Grey (Reeve Carney) first appears in a scene with a nude model Brona Croft (Billie Piper). The scene appears strangely normal for the films subject matter; and, in step with the series’ tone, it quickly turns horrifying. During the shoot, Croft begins coughing up blood and the only thing Dorian Grey has to say is, “ I’ve never fuc*ed a dying creature before.” His statement not only foreshadows something strange going on with Croft herself but also shows the stark juxtaposition between Grey and everyone else in the show. Simply that, while everyone is slowly dying, he is immortal, so long as his picture is never gazed upon by himself.
Grey’s next scene is a curiously provocative tango with Vanessa Ives herself. Instantly, he has an infatuation with Ives and knows there’s something supernatural about her. Shortly after their conversation, the bombshell of the episode occurs. It’s time for a séance. During the séance, which appeared to be simply for entertainment of the guests turns quickly on its head. Vanessa Ives becomes possessed by a spirit that has some sort of connection with Sir Malcolm’s daughter’s disappearance. Eva Green shows her mastery of acting when she displays an intense set of emotions in the 10-minute scene. Where many other actors would “over-act,” she toes the line and delivers an intense performance.
Séance was another great episode that delivered strong performances by the majority of the cast. It provoked an intense set of emotions and kept the carrot dangling on the stick just out of arm’s length. The only quip I have with the episode is that Ethan Chandler (Josh Hartnett) didn’t really do anything in the episode, and still seems to just be a filler character at the moment.
+ Eva Green’s parts were masterfully done
+ Dr. Frankenstein and his monster (Proteus)
+ Dorian Grey is characterized a bit more edgy than in earlier works and it works great here
+ Dorian Grey and Vanessa Ives first scene together, great chemistry
– Harnett’s character doesn’t seem to have an important role in the series, hopefully this changes