'Penny Dreadful' S2E5: Above the Vaulted Sky

★ ★ ★ ★ ½


Evelyn’s plan came together beautifully as she both bedded Sir Malcolm and murdered his wife in a very creepy fashion. Two birds with one brainy Fetish. All the while, this episode took an opportunity to build upon the romantic relationships within Penny Dreadful and the conflicts to come.

The dolls, or "Fetishes" according to Vanessa, got even creepier as Evelyn hammered nails into the brain of a Gladys Fetish, blood oozing down its face with each smack. All this led Gladys to suffer intolerable pain before seeing visions of her dead children and then Gladys killed herself. The worst moment throughout her death scene had to be the moment she saw her children weren’t actually there and she realized what she had just done.

While all of that was happening, a sex montage featuring all of the show’s pairings (Dorian and Angelique, Sir Malcolm and Evelyn, and Ethan and Vanessa — who didn’t get together, but looked like they were coming close to doing so) played as ominous music played. It hit me as soon as Vanessa came down the stairs to greet Ethan, but the entire tone felt similar to the sense of dread and Gothicism brought on by the likes of Disney’s Haunted Mansion.

The most distinguishable relationship throughout the episode was Lily and Victor’s, as they shared a very intimate moment during a thunderstorm. Lily was scared by the thunder, later calling it "John", and curled up next to Victor. Then, after Lily had seduced him, Victor decided to go for it despite all of his instincts telling me no. So many problems are going to arise from Lily. Not just because of her relationship with Victor, but because he has lied to her about her identity and because someone is bound to recognize her. It’s only a matter of time until either Ethan or Ruck finds her.

John, in a way, is just a inexperienced as Lily when it comes to relationships. Even with the head start, John finds himself utterly unable to communicate with another person without revealing his insecurities. Rightfully so, though, he noticed Lily’s reaction to his appearance and even with his fake, but touching story, she still feared him. Even so, you can’t really justify the fact that he asked Victor to basically give him a Dollhouse like bride.

John, selfishly, refuses to see the relationships that he is building in order to make room for Lily, who he almost forces to become his. While he notices that she may not be entirely comfortable being with him, he still has no idea that she has grown to love Victor instead. A subtle line was when he asked her if Lily liked her dress and she replied "Victor bought me it", implying that she liked her dress because it was a gift from Victor. John does comes close to finding out about Victor and Lily’s mutual affection for one another during his conversation with Vanessa, where she mentions that she saw love earlier that day between Victor and Lily, but never mentions them by name so John never finds out.

Penny Dreadful S2E5

Victor and Lily’s lunch date with Vanessa was a better handled scene, on Victor’s part, compared to the boutique scene. He was far less "mortified" (more like exaggeratedly sit-com like) this time around and it was more befitting of his character. Vanessa appears to not have recognized Lily during their lunch date. It’s understandable as Vanessa had only met her once, at the Grand Guignol, and for a very short amount of time. As you can tell, Penny Dreadful is a small world after all and it won’t be long until everything comes together into the big picture.

Then you have Dorian, who still has yet to play a key role in the grand scheme of things. Ever since Vanessa broke things off with him, he has become separated from the main storyline. He and Angelique had some very good scenes, shedding light on Angelique’s past as well as her insecurities. It was heartbreaking to see her put on Dorian’s clothes. Knowing TV tropes, especially this one, things are going to end very, very badly for Angelique. Perhaps whatever will happen to her will force Dorian into the main storyline. Either way, it won’t be pretty.

Ethan has become much more interesting as more and more of his past becomes uncovered. He can handle pretty much any situation (heck, he can even perform exorcisms) and his brush with Ruck was no exception. Ethan, once, was just a weapon, according to Sir Malcolm, but he’s far more resourceful than that. Ethan’s also highly intelligent and clever. There’s no telling if he’ll actually get arrested by Ruck, although doing so would certainly push the Wolfman story. I’m excited to see Ethan’s lycanthropy become an issue later on and how the Dreadfuls will handle that. But for now, he’s their "Hound of God" and a great addition to the team.

Besides his name, there’s no telling how much else Ethan has lied about. Perhaps everything he has shared, even to the Dreadfuls, like his story about the American Indians at the beginning of the episode, was also a lie. If you remember back to the pilot, Ethan grew up rich, according to Vanessa anyways. So whether or not he’s actually seen battle is still up to debate.

Building on the toxicity of relationships within the show, Penny Dreadful has yet to shy away from any topic and it’s that charm that breathes life into it. Maintaining a more human element to the show, with Ruck and the masked bounty hunter, keeps the local London atmosphere intact. All the while, more conflicts are soon to arise with John as well as Evelyn. By the way, it was the hair that they were hoping to get from Vanessa. More creepy Fetishes to come!

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