Mania Grade: B-
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- Episode: Seance (Season 1 Episode 2)
- Starring: Eva Green, Josh Hartnett, Billie Piper
- Written By: John Logan (creator), John Logan
- Directed By: J.A. Bayona
- Network: SHOWTIME
- Studio: Octagon Films
PENNY DREADFUL: Seance Review
A pretty graphic show
By Jarrett Kruse
May 23, 2014
PENNY DREADFUL: Seance Review
I am still getting used to PENNY DREADFUL and trying to figure out what exactly the story is about. While its pilot episode leapt from the gates giving us a great deal to feast on, its second episode was a tad uneven for my taste. Still it is a pretty graphic show that captures turn of the century London filling every frame with blood, sex and of course freaks. While the grade for the episode may be a little on the low side, it still did a good job of satiating fans blood lust in the genre. I guess my main complaint was that there was not enough on screen that pushed the plot forward. I assumed that the foursome we met in the pilot would solidify themselves as a fantastic foursome after last week’s introductions.
The episode opens with another whore being murdered and a nod to Jack the Ripper who is still at large. I have a feeling that Jack is going to play a big part in the debut season. After waking up from a bender, Ethan Chandler heads to a bar and has a liquid breakfast before meeting kindred spirit Brona. They flirt and make their way through the episode with little impact to the story. I was honestly hoping to see more of Ethan’s gunslinging against the baddies but it was for naught. Oh well, maybe next episode. We do get a little backstory about him when he receives a cable from his father telling him that it is okay to head back home. It seems there was some kind of falling out with his family but we will have to wait and see where this thread goes. The idea of an American gunslinger in 1891 London is intriguing to say the least. Crime is rampant and the world’s most famous serial killer is still on the loose making a crack shot of great value to Scotland Yard.
At the heart of the episode is the seance that is being held at the eccentric Sir Ferdinand Lyle’s home. For the occasion, Lyle has brought in Madame Kali as the evening’s entertainment. Sir Malcolm and Vanessa attend Lyle’s party and it seems like this is just a social event to attempt to commune with those on the other side. What transpires is something greater than Madame Kali expected. It was difficult to gauge whether or not Madame Kali was a carnie fake or the real deal but when Vanessa is in the throes of being seemingly possessed, it is quite a scene. The people at the seance table and the onlookers are terrified but the most affected is Sir Malcolm who may have just communed with I assume was his dead son followed by his missing daughter. Eva Green does a pretty amazing job of being possessed and the theatrics that ensue are truly creepy. Linda Blair would be proud.
Adding more to the whole LEAGUE OF EXTRAORDINARY GENTLEMEN vibe is the addition of Oscar Wilde’s character Dorian Gray to the mix. He seems to be a rich gentleman with a ravenous taste for the ladies who is also at the seance table. Again, too early to tell just what Gray’s role will be in the story. Dr. Frankenstein takes his new creation called Proteus out for a stroll in London to see the world and begin his journey as the doctor’s greatest creation. Proteus begins to recognize things from his former life and is rapidly increasing his vocabulary. The doctor seems like a lonely soul and his creation of the “monster” may just have been to gain a friend in his world. However the friendship is doomed when they head back to the lab and are ambushed making for a grotesque final scene that will make you jump.
Sir Malcolm meets with Lyle and they discuss the events of the seance and clearly what transpired at the party was something otherworldly. When Lyle examines the Egyptian glyphs on the body from the pilot, it is riveting to hear Lyle’s analysis of the writing and his terror is warranted. He insists that Malcolm get rid of anything he has related to this subject. While it may sound like a murky mess, I think that the show is suffering from a bit of early growing pains. It has all of the elements in place and it is unfair to make a judgment so early in its frosh season. I do have high hopes for the series and although a little dismayed at the pace, I definitely want to know what happens next. We’ll see…