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Penny Dreadful – S2E6 – Glorious Horrors

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!

Malcolm puppet Penny Dreadful 2x06.bmp

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.”

Ethan Roper Penny Dreadful 2x06

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.

Victor Lily worst Penny Dreadful 2x06.bmp

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?

Dorian presents Angelique

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.

“The thrill of the forbidden, there’s nothing to match that.” Dorian Gray

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.

Vanessa blood rain Penny Dreadful 2x06.bmp

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.

Ethan werewolf transform Penny Dreadful 2x06

Overall Thoughts:

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.

Score | 10/10One 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. 

Penny Dreadful Companion Guide

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. 

About Sarah de Poer (199 Articles)
Eminently sensible by day, by night, she can be found watching questionable scifi, pinning all the things, rewriting lists, pantry snacking, and not sleeping. She was once banned over an argument about Starbuck and Apollo, and she has to go right now because someone is wrong on the Internet.

1 Comment on Penny Dreadful – S2E6 – Glorious Horrors

  1. Sarah, you do such a great job with your recaps and captures! As you could tell, I loved this episode.

    The calm combined with the coming storm builds the momentum for the final three. Starting with the episode’s title, the contradictory and contrasting oxymora added to the theme of complications.

    Some examples:
    Lily humming The Unquiet Grave (a once deceased but not crossed over)
    “I’m a holy terror” (Angelique to Dorian)
    M&M bidding everyone “Good Morning” AFTER hearing of his wife’s suicide
    “This is not him” (Sembene referencing M&M)
    Lavinia giving molds a “final touch of life” but finds no life in John Clare’s hand (reanimated mold)
    “You know I see you outside of this house and I’ll kill ya.” (Ethan to Roper – it seems logical to do “that” when Roper is in not outside the house)
    “(Lily) She doesn’t drink spirits” (Victor speaking to Dorian – a reanimated spirit who died of spirits wants spirits)
    “What’s the worst that can happen” (up above, you said it all)
    “Be still your heart, Doctor” (Vanessa to Victor)

    Since the séance episode last season, I have so enjoyed my copy of The Unquiet Grave. This ballad is in itself a contradictory complication. It speaks to “the living dead”. It is hauntingly beautiful. As a theme, the graves become “unquiet” and restless because excessive grief prevents the “ghost” from crossing over. The mourner refuses to accept the death and as a result, “the dead began to speak.” Even with the ghost’s warning, when the lovers finally kiss, one part of the poem ends ominously with the mourner hearing “Your time will not be long.” The lyrics remind us that there is life after death, both for the living and for the dead. I am thinking one of the characters humming this song will be at the next headstone.

    Their departure will be from spirits served in a cup. The beautiful yet deadly nightshade will serve it’s alternate purpose. Bellydonna is a “beautiful – pretty woman.” Though its herbaceous drops can make a woman’s eye youthfully sparkle, death proves there is no fountain of youth in that potion. With her aged look, it was fitting that MAD K spoke to its use as a beauty regimen.

    Her reflection with Lyle was one of my favorite scenes. I almost thought I was watching a scene straight out of Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs when MAD K was speaking to the handheld mirror. That was ingenious use of the mirror. I heard “mirror, mirror on the wall, who is the fairest one of all?” without being told to listen. As you pointed out in your last post, I saw the relationship of Lyle covering a mirror contrasting Evelyn’s looking straight into one. Did you get hints that Lyle has been with the “fallen” for all these centuries?

    As in the song, there are numerous flower, and choice references. Dorian spoke of the “thrill of the forbidden” and wanting others to “gape at the “uniqueness.” For me, this seems to speak of the cyclical nature of a garden (The Garden of Eden). Innocence, Purity, Sin, Choice, Life, Death

    The ball finally sets some advantage back in Dorian’s court. I have been impatiently waiting for Dorian’s reentry into the main cast. It is obvious now, but it finally occurred to me that “grey” is a mix of white and black. (DUH!) Even with his over the top choices, for the most part Dorian has been rather benign and seemingly innocent of ill intentions. I do not think he outwardly sets to commit wrong but his narcissistic manner seems like it will be the catalyst for his or Angelique’s demise.

    Your find on one of his hangings is awesome! Now, I really want to listen to the book (“The Picture of Dorian Gray”). Do you know if the paintings are both of the living and dead? I just assumed the gallery was paintings of the deceased. Now, I wonder. How does he select the portrait? Did he have a past and personal relationship with each portrait? Or, are they just people he admired for their conquests and simple represent “echoes from the past? Given your find, it seems Vanessa’s emotional red rainfall was ominous to the “trail of tears” coming from the deceased spirits hanging in the room. At minimum, it seems to connect Dorian, with Ethan, Vanessa, Roper and potentially, Rusk.

    Victor and Joan (Nightcomers) stated not everything has a function or meaning then contradicted their statements in the same scene. I am a fan of Aesop fables so I tend to see the moral code when none may exist. The juxtaposition with the various animal (bear, lion, wolf, scorpion) mentions, Rusk and Roper crying “wolf,” Lily’s “Shepherd’s Pie,” and her x-boyfriend as (some kind of) a wolf is a setting in an Aesop fable. Rusk’s warning to Ethan is like the moral code that states one’s basic natural eventually betrays their cloak. Paradoxically, Roper’s presence can solve Ethan’s dilemma in future episodes. From your feedback on the @NoShipNetwork Demi Monde podcast, it was very interesting connection that beards communicate a heroic image. By shaving his off, M&M removes that persona. I personally, prefer him (the actor and others) with a clean cut beard or some facial hair. It does seem like the beard has come back into this current era; and I am not, at al,l opposed to that symbolism or soft pelt.

    The “naming” sequences started on the first episode. It has been a theme ever since Night Work. Again, I love the cleverness of this device. In Night Work the woman at the traveling show asked Ethan if he would like to know her name. Then Vanessa would not give him her name at their first meeting. The first detectives tried to place a name to the murders. They chose the Ripper. At the end of the first episode, the voice speaks “Can you hear? My name is….” With Victor either choosing a name or allowing his reanimations to name their presence they create their own story. Peter wanted M&M to name a mountain after him. Lyle speaks to Amunet so “named” as the original serpent prince. Vincent gives Caliban a nom de theater. Van Helsing named his solution “Hannah’s Wink” after his wife. In Closer than Sisters, young Vanessa re-set the stage for this naming device. She states, “I’ve always felt you have to name a thing before it comes to life, like a witch’s spell.” By the next flashback episode (The Nightcomers), Joan does not want Vanessa’s name because they are not courting. After bonding, Joan gives Vanessa her full name and her property. She trusts her! They are now forever connected.

    Since then, Vanessa is careful when she uses the informal first name. So when she says “safely Dorian” (in this episode) that made since to me. When she is formal, she calls Ethan Mr. Chandler, but when she wants him to hear her, she calls him Ethan. We do not even know Angelique’s real name. Dorian tried to guess but never got it. I thought he called her Anathema (something dedicated to evil and thus a curse) in the first scenes. I couldn’t tell if he said curses or if that’s what he nicknamed Angelique. Dorian really does not care deeply about Angelique. He did get offended when Vanessa was formal with him. Besides others, Vanessa’s dialogue is very purposeful to naming something. I tend to see it as your name is the one thing that remains on earth, long after death. With family it carries you through time. With all of our nicknames in the podcast and with our particular styles of naming ourselves in our day-to-day lives, I love the use of it in this series.

    Almost every episode has bells ringing. The bells Vanessa kept hearing this episode reminded me of the 3 little bells at the moor. The last thing she did before leaving the cottage was to strike them. Besides Donne’s “For Whom the Bell Tolls”, I would like to think the use of them here was for Joan’s spirit to sound the alarm and remind Vanessa that when Lucifer fell he did not fall alone but neither is she alone.

    Our little treasure hunt was so much fun! If only the Dreadfuls could solve their puzzle as quickly!. Show’s about ready to start…. yeah!

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