Sometimes, things just go together.
Like peanut butter and jelly…
Macaroni and cheese…
Netflix and chill…
Jason Statham and well…anything…
(Seriously, that man could be covered in tar, and I would still try to lick it off of him…yum.)
Eva Green and Patti Lupone…
Dr. Jekyll and Dr. Frankenstein…
Vanessa Ives and the Undead…
Yes, I just watched the second episode of this season’s Penny Dreadful last night, in case you can’t tell.
And saw some interesting combinations. I am sure some of them, like Jekyll and Frankenstein, along with Eva Green and Patti Lupone, will become instant classics!
Of course, some combinations, such as Vanessa and supernatural creatures, were not unexpected. But still, these combinations (like Jason Statham covered in tar), were fun, and I definitely want to see more of them.
So, without any further ado, here is my recap and review of the second episode of season 3 of Penny Dreadful, titled Predators Near and Far.
And of course:
The episode begins with Lilly and Dorian Gray, who make their way into the underground sex scene. There, they rescue a young woman named Justine, who is set to be sexually tortured by a group of older men. Lilly and Dorian shoot the men, and take the young girl back to Dorian’s mansion. When Justine awakens, Lilly promises her that they will seek revenge upon the men who abused her.
Victor speaks to Henry Jekyll about his desire to transform Lilly into the woman he thinks she is. Henry tells Victor that he is employed by Bedlam, a mental asylum, and is experimenting on his most psychotic patients, in a hope that he can find a cure for their ailments. Henry brings Victor back to the asylum, and demonstrates his “cure” on a deranged man accused of conspiring to murder the queen. The cure appears to work, as the man becomes docile and no longer raving, and asks for a glass of water.
Malcolm and Kaetenay continue on their travels, heading to America in the hopes of helping Ethan. Kaetenay reveals to Malcolm that Ethan supposedly killed his family, and he has let Ethan live as a punishment. Kaetenay then smokes something and appears to Ethan in some sort of vision. Ethan is angered by seeing the old man, warning him to keep his distance, as he is being returned to his father and wants to seek revenge against his father.
The full moon rises when Ethan is in a saloon along with the bounty hunters who are tasked with bringing him back to his father. Ethan speaks to an elderly Apache woman who appears to have ties to Kaetenay. Ethan tells the woman to leave the bar immediately. Shortly after, Ethan transforms into a werewolf and murders everyone in the bar. He also receives some assistance from Hecate, who tells him that she has missed him.
Vanessa begins her sessions Dr. Seward, and tells her entire story, which is recorded on audio. Even Dr. Seward is visibly shaken after Vanessa finishes her story, and tells Vanessa to do one thing that would be unexpected of her, yet make her happy, and report on it next week.
After her session with Dr. Seward, Vanessa makes her way to the natural history museum, where she listens to one of Dr. Sweet’s lectures. She leaves him a note inviting him to attend a performance of 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea later that night. Dr. Sweet accepts, and the two have a pleasant evening. Vanessa also invites Dr. Sweet to have coffee with her, but her declines the invitation, and tells her that he will see her again soon. Vanessa is then followed by Dracula’s minions on her way home.
Victor sits on a bench outside of Lilly’s mansion, lovelorn and heartsick. Lilly speaks to him, telling him that she does care for him, but that he needs to stay out of her way, as what she is planning will be dangerous.
At the end of the episode, Renfield returns to Dracula’s lair to give the creature his intel on Vanessa. Renfield then begs the vampire for blood, and Dracula obliges. Dracula is then revealed to be Dr. Alexander Sweet.
This week’s episode was an interesting one, for sure (well, duh.) But it was interesting for quite a few reasons, and most of them don’t actually have much to do with “horror.”
First of all, this was not an action heavy episode (except for the end, which we will talk about in a bit.) I view this episode as more of a “bridge building” episode, as opposed to one that would really advance the plot. And there is nothing wrong with that, as some more was revealed about the characters (never anything wrong with that!)
And speaking of characters, let’s talk about Dr. Jekyll for a minute.
While we are talking about “interesting”…
First of all, The Hulk er Jekyll has always been a fascinating character, at least to me. We all have a dark side, after all. Usually, we are supposed to keep that dark side hidden, and it is not acceptable to unleash that upon the rest of the world. But there is no denying that dark side, and that side can just sometimes make an appearance, whether it is “acceptable” or not.
In pretty much every depiction I ever seen of this character, he has been pretty…well…white. Not that there is anything wrong with this, just putting this out on the table. And the reason for his anger is never made clear, just that he has evil urges that he represses. And we are all pretty familiar with what happens: Jekyll hulks out into Mr. Hyde, goes on violent rampages and nothing good happens when Hyde is around. This particular story seems to serve as a warning to all of us about our dark side, i.e. everyone has one, even the nicest guy, and when it gets unleashed…watch out, that’s what you get for having anger issues and not dealing with them.
Well, this is Penny Dreadful. And Penny Dreadful likes to take the “traditional” and stand it on its head. You can always put a twist on something, even something that is classic, like the story The Strange Tale of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde.
And the show has done this by depicting Dr. Jekyll as a man who is half Indian, in turn of the century London. Go big or go home, right?
This “change” (after all, this is a work of fiction and not immutable) has actually paid off dividends, even though we are only two episodes into the season.
First of all, variety is the spice of life. Nothing wrong with vanilla as a flavor, but why not mix it up a little sometimes, and add some spice? Even turn of the century London didn’t consist of all white folks, and modern day society sure doesn’t. So seeing other flavors on any television show is never a bad thing.
But (and this a big but) the fact that we have some variety on the show is not the only reason why making Dr. Jekyll half Indian has worked so well.
Being a person of color is hard, even in “modern” times. However, being a person of color today cannot possibly hold a candle to being a person of color in turn of the century London. Even though Dr. Jekyll is half-white, he is seen as Indian by almost everyone. To add insult to injury, he is also an outcast in India, and would probably be seen as an Untouchable, just like his mother, who had a child by a white man and then contracted leprosy, which she later died from.
So, Dr. Jekyll is marginalized. He may be even more marginalized than The Creature or even the ladies on the show, as he cannot really fit in anywhere. He has no place among the white folks, and no place in India. Jekyll is educated and intelligent, with much to offer. However, the best he can do is to work with the “other Untouchables”, aka the mentally ill. Even there, no one respects him, and he has to remind people to address him as “Dr”, a title he has rightfully earned.
And what happens to someone who is marginalized?
Well, I would be pretty angry if I was treated like that and had my options in life limited because my skin color wasn’t “right.”
And it’s pretty evident that Dr. Jekyll is angry. I could hear it when he reminded that man of his proper title. I could also hear it when he told Victor the story of his background, and how his father discarded him and his mother like a piece of trash.
In other words, Penny Dreadful‘s version of Dr. Jekyll does not have unexplained “evil urges.” He is someone who has been kicked around by life, and legitimately has a chip on his shoulder. And that chip on his shoulder will (probably) emerge as Mr. Hyde. And I am sure that Mr. Hyde will somehow buck “tradition.” And I can’t wait.
I also need to give a shout out to the visuals on this show. The first two seasons impressed, and it looks like the third season is continuing the trend…
The opening was probably my favorite. The red Japanese lanterns against that ominous backdrop…can you get more ominous than that?
I also loved the vision sequence, when Ethan receives an unwanted visit from Kaetenay. The desert against the dark sky…talk about surreal!
So, let’s talk about this ending…
While I enjoyed this episode, it was a bit ho-hum…
Well, until the ending, that is…
We have been teased about Dracula for going on three seasons now. Last week we got a voice. And this week, we can put a name to that scary voice.
And the name is…Dr. Alexander Sweet?
I know that I made the statement that with a name like that, Dr. Sweet had to be either a vampire, or vampire bait, at the very least.
But, still this came as a bit of a surprise to me. Revealed this early on in the season? Kind of like going all the way on a second date, eh?
(As a side note, I feel a little better about my own previous dating life. Can’t say I dated Dracula, but I am sure I at least hooked up with his familiar a time or too. Poor Vanessa!)
So, now we know that Dr. Sweet (appears) to actually be the biggest Big Bad of them all. So what happens now?
I can’t answer that question. But it sure has gotten interesting.
How long will it take Vanessa to figure out that her new boo is the bloodsucker responsible for the death of her best friend, Mina? Vanessa seems pretty smitten with the new doc, so I think this may take her a while. So far, she doesn’t appear to have noticed the wannabe fan boys who have been stalking her as of late, but she’s not dumb either. So there’s that.
And will anyone else, such as Dr. Seward, figure out what’s going on? I am not sure that the good doctor entirely believes Vanessa’s story, but it looks like she may also be afraid not to believe it, either. Not to mention that her secretary is now Dracula’s bitch…
Speaking of which, we have Dracula. The biggest Big Bad of them all, as stated before. Has he been working in a natural history museum (makes a weird sort of sense if you think about it, actually) right there, under our noses the whole time? How long has he had Vanessa in his hooks? Why is he moving in on her now? Who else will he either murder or turn into a creature of the night in order to get at Vanessa?
Like Dr, Jekyll, I am sure that the show will turn the character of Dracula on his fanged head. And again, I can’t wait to see what they do with him.
Well, that’s it for Predators Near and Far. Tune in next week for the review and dissection of the third episode, titled Good and Evil Braided Be.
Tune in next week…same bat time, same bat channel!