Previously on Penny Dreadful, ‘Above the Vaulted Sky’
A puddle of blood flowing under a bedroom door leads a maid to the departed Mrs. Murray.
Victor wakes to Lily happily humming The Unquiet Grave and cooking breakfast on a little burner. She greets him with a kiss; he’s even pastier than her. Lay off the coke, Victor! Evelyn Poole steals a lock of Malcolm’s hair. Angelique asks Dorian if she can move some clothes in, and he insists he take her shopping in public. In fact, he’s going to throw a ball so that everyone can “gape at their uniqueness.” In summary, he forces her out of the closet for shock value.
Sir Malcolm arrives home giddy in his Walk of Shame, but Vanessa, Ethan, and Sembene await with the bad news about Gladys. He takes it too blithely. “I’ll have to have the carpet replaced then.” He hums The Unquiet Grave like nothing happened, dabbing at his bloody neck. Back at Evil Gepetto’s, Evelyn also hums it, dipping the lock of his hair into blood and affixing it to a Malcolm doll. She gives its little heart CPR and kisses the doll. Say it with me: GROSS!
In the Putney basement, Lavinia tells Caliban that her blindness makes her more sensitive to nuances. To demonstrate, she takes his hand, but gets scared that he doesn’t feel fully alive. Her father watches in the dark. She asks Caliban why she’s frightened, but he won’t say. Finally Putney interrupts to say he’s expanding the cellar for a new exhibit, but don’t worry, haha!, it’s totally not something horrifically depraved. Later, Lavinia tells her parents about Caliban’s cold, dead hand. She googles it and figures out Edward is a vampire.
Sembene insists to Vanessa and Ethan that Sir Malcolm is not himself. Ethan’s not entirely sure: “Not all the deaths are the tragedy we think they should be.” Hmm! Meanwhile, Sembene shows Roper in and he and Vanessa leave. Roper recalls how, previously to the Pinkertons, he was a Texas Ranger who once scalped some Mexicans because he didn’t feel like arresting them. Ethan says he’s not going back to America; Roper says he’d rather sell him to a freak show, but his father wants him back. Ethan threatens to kill him, but Roper returns it, saying,
“There’s no door that can keep out the devil.”
Victor and Vanessa work over the Verbis Diablo puzzle once more—they’re still missing the last word—looking for purpose, but Victor’s not sure everything has one. She’s reminded of her new friend Mr. Clare. Was their meeting a coincidence? A stunned Victor thinks not: “Science would tell us there’s an inner clockwork.” She notices the white rose he’s wearing and asks after Lily. Once considering himself a “freakish thing,” Victor’s come to realize he’s just like everyone else when it comes to love and its complications, another name for a watch’s inner workings. Vanessa teases that he should enjoy said complications, for “They will tick away no matter what we do.”
Speaking of complications, Dorian arrives to personally invite Vanessa to his ball, requesting that she meet Angelique at her “coming out of sorts.” Eyebrow game in full effect, he insists she call him Dorian, and then invites Victor as well, saying “I like your flower.” Indeed he did, and will.
Vanessa delivers Sir Malcolm’s invitation, finding him primping in the mirror, wondering if he should cut off his beard, and already set against going to the funeral. Likewise, Madame Kali examines her throat in a lizard-skeleton mirror, telling Sir Lyle about the ball and how Renaissance women used to put belladonna into their eyes to simulate erotic excitement, slowly killing themselves for beauty. Youth, of course, requires even more. Wistful, she asserts that God turned from the world, not vice versa. Only their Master’s prize remains, to live forever while the world suffers. “Such a sad prize, isn’t it.”
Lily’s cooking shepherd’s pie when Victor comes home with the invitation and says they should go. “What’s the worst that could happen?” Oh, you know. Everything.
Putney carnival barks the opening of the Mariner’s Inn exhibit. Inside, Ethan contemplates the scene in shock, a sign reading, “He walks among us!” Rusk interrupts, remembering how African lions tear pieces off their prey out of bloodlust. Do they even remember? Rusk wonders if Ethan’s observed any similar American predators, and Ethan suggests grizzly bears. Or wolves? Rusk is there because murderers return to the scene, and shares his own macabre story—after his arm was amputated, he dug it out of the pile of bodies, then tossed it back, simply to finish the story on his own terms. He’s sure that, sooner or later, Ethan won’t be able to live with the guilt. They’re cordial, but then Ethan rushes home, distracted, and abruptly turns down Vanessa’s ball invitation. Full moon, perhaps?
At the ball, Sir Lyle bumps into Hecate, who hints at her own long game and her mother’s youth being a temporary problem. Dorian glides down with Angelique to applause and a bit of gasping, beginning a waltz. Lily and Victor arrive and meet Lyle and Hecate. Lily, who was wearing considerably less last time she was in this room, gets déjà vu. After a dance with Victor, she’s re-introduced to Dorian. Angelique compliments her “shattering” as Dorian sweeps the star-struck Lily into a dance, gently suggesting they know each other and noticing her hands are cool, “like a touch of marble.” A perturbed Angelique drains her glass. Victor gapes.
Vanessa arrives alone in red and black, similar shades as Hecate. Victor introduces the increasingly annoyed Angelique, and finally Dorian appears gushing over Lily as Angelique and Victor side-eye him to death.
The newly beardless Malcolm arrives with Kali. Vanessa and Victor play wallflower watching Dorian and Lily once more. (Behind them: portraits Sharitarish by Charles Bird King and Portrait of a Young Man with a Glove by Frans Hals) She tries to reassure him, but Victor’s already accepted the irony of his situation. She takes his hand, but her ears ring as she turns to see Evelyn and the newly-shorn Malcolm. “I banished the old bear to the cave and lured out the cub,” Evelyn brags. Alone with her, Vanessa says Malcolm has changed since being with Evelyn, and not in a good way. The nightcomers watch from across the room.
Vanessa observes Victor and Lily fuss and Angelique pouting with Dorian. Sir Lyle sidles up to comment on love and its complicated rules, but, spotting the nightcomers, insists he be allowed to escort her home. Not quite comprehending, she crosses the room to tell Victor goodbye when she spots Hecate passing through the dance untouched. The other two advance as well. The room reels. She hallucinates blood dripping from the ceiling, a bloody storm everyone keeps dancing through. Overwhelmed, she collapses. Victor and Sir Lyle run to her.
Ethan finds Sembene in the kitchen polishing forks. He nervously pours himself some coffee and asks Sembene for help. They descend to the basement where Ethan tells Sembene to shackle him. Sembene does so without questioning, and then sits at attention. Ethan walks into the moonlight, then falls, screaming. His bones crack and his face changes. The wolfman lunges, growling. Sembene leaps to his feet.
So much goodness this week. Roper says what we’ve all been thinking: what door can keep the devil at bay, especially when that devil knows where your room is? Madame Kali reminds us of belladonna, which Joan Clayton once pointed out to Vanessa. Bears were mentioned twice alongside the main animal of the season, lions. Two different kinds of hunters put Ethan on notice, while yet another hunter in Sembene meets the true predator. While Rusk is dogged, I’m enjoying his character—he’s never too menacing and is unfailingly polite, the opposite of Roper in every way.
Freaks earn two mentions as we work up to the unveiling of Putney’s freak show. Victor dismisses the concept of coincidental meetings, and is soon thereafter foiled by the complications of meeting Dorian Grey as Lily slips through his fingers. White flowers are everywhere—a white rose on Victor’s lapel, Lily herself, and the garlands at Dorian’s fête. White roses of course symbolize purity and innocence, but also true love, bringing to mind some phrases from the oft-hummed The Unquiet Grave:
I never had but one true-love
In cold grave she was lain.
The finest flower that e’re was seen
Is withered to a stalk.
One subtle but crucial clue hides in the plain sight of Dorian’s gallery just behind Vanessa: the painting of Sharitarish, hunted down thanks to some sleuthing teamwork from fellow Dreadfuls, @PathosEm and @scrappydd. Sharitarish was principal chief of the Great Pawnees who were removed from Nebraska in 1875. This would fit Ethan’s timeframe and Western location. Further, one of its bands, the Skidi, is also called the Wolves. This clearly tells us that, while the main hunt this season is the Nightcomers vs. Vanessa, Ethan’s past is closing in quickly with every full moon.
Editor’s Note: At the end of this season of Penny Dreadful we’ll be giving away a copy of *The Art and Making of Penny Dreadful, an official companion guide to the series.
Each week, we’ll end the recap with a trivia question from the episode. At the end of the season, you’ll be able to enter your answers into our Penny Dreadful leaderboard. We’ll randomly pick a winner from the entries with the most correct answers.
Here are the questions for episodes 1-6:
Episode 1: What percent did Victor say to turn the charge down to before the lightning struck?
Episode 2: Which institution has the largest collection of historical pornography besides their own museum, according to Sir Lyle?
Episode 3: Which herb, when hidden in the left pocket, serves for the protection of travelers?
Episode 4: What does Angelique say the ping pong ball is made from?
Episode 5: What date did Ethan arrive in London?
Episode 6: What jewelry does Lily notice Hecate wearing?
*While the copy being given away was provided by Showtime, they are in no way responsible for choosing the winner. Project Fandom takes full responsibility for the contest, including winner selection and prize disbursement.