'Penny Dreadful' S2E2: Verbis Diablo

★ ★ ★ ★ ★

"Verbis Diablo" did what "Fresh Hell" could not, and that was properly set up the witches. While the premiere focused on their brutality and physical might, this episode took a more sinister and manipulative approach towards their game plan.

There’s a significant amount of suspense that the show can draw on simply through the way characters act around each other. For example, Poole’s methodological stalking of Sir Malcolm and the subtle manipulations she played around with to gain his favor. The mind-bending perfume was certainly an interesting example of just how easily they can get into the head of others. In some ways this is superior to the gory scares we see and builds up tension in a way that seems more lasting.

The Nightcomers aren’t too different from the vampires seen in season one. While their motives are more defined and they have a different appearance, they aren’t able to stand out on their own. Much unlike the spell casting route with will inflict torment on several characters in interesting ways—like Vanessa’s creepy as hell puppet. Seriously though. Is there one thing Poole doesn’t do? The taking of a baby’s heart and placing it in a wooden surrogate is such an interesting concept. Will this act more like a voodoo doll? Will it be more controlling than that? or will it simply act as a curse? It’s nice to see that, once again, Vanessa faces herself losing control due to exterior forces.

Penny Dreadful S2E2

I do appreciate how much of a fatherly figure Sir Malcolm is acting as for Vanessa. Ever since he lost Mina, they have bonded much more deeply in a way that doesn’t feel like Malcolm is using Vanessa. Of course, it’s possible that Malcolm is being selfish and using Vanessa to fill up the void Mina left, but then there’s the other possibility that Vanessa is his daughter…

The cholera area was an interesting place for Malcolm and Caliban to have been at. Malcolm’s guilt over a lot of things is really starting to show. I’m glad that someone besides Viktor was able to meet and talk with Caliban. Both damaged and rejected from the world, Vanessa and Caliban make for identical yet polarized characters. Vanessa has nothing but respect for Caliban. Caliban’s eye for beauty among humanity and the world around him is surprisingly poetic of him considering how cynical he is. But that may be due to his love for the Romantics, who saw beauty even among the dead and dying. Vanessa sees everything around her and accepts its dysfunctions for what they are.

Ferdinand Lyle brings such light into the series. His flirtatious banters with Ethan are entertaining, but just how he is and how he teaches the group about the supernatural are wonderful components to his character. I mean, this guy shamelessly flirted with Ethan and it was so endearing. I expect nothing but bad things to happen to him now that he’s working with Poole, but he’ll be fun while it lasts. Now that he has a bigger purpose within the story, it’s likely he’ll be appearing more often.

The only person who doesn’t seem to have a purpose, well a defined one that wasn’t hinted at, is Dorian Gray. Once again, Dorian seems to be doing his own thing. Dorian’s conversation and seeking out of Angelique is a very Dorian way of getting over someone. Angelique’s an intriguing character so far. Will Dorian really be able to move on and trust Angelique like he did Vanessa? Or is Angelique just another whim?

Viktor’s relationship with Lily is going to cause some problems later on for sure. I love the Frankenstein reference as Viktor had an almost obsessive and dominant love for his cousin. But what makes Viktor’s relationship with Lily so interesting now, is that fact that he has pined for her living—and dead… Lily seems to be far more interested in Frankenstein at the moment, probably because he spent the entire day taking care of her and telling her false stories about their close childhood. I’m excited to see Lily introduced into the world and how she will react to the characters who once knew her. Lily’s memory loss is convenient for now, but how long until her old memories come back? Her accent did appear, even if just for a little bit. Viktor seemed to pick up on the change, but the accent faded as quickly as it came.

"Verbis Diablo" gave all of the characters a moving amount of screen-time, either in a much more terrifying situation or in very personal conversations. Added bonus, Ethan found out a little history about wolves. Still wanting to see what will become of Caliban and the House of Wax. That’s bound to be cool.


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