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TV Review: Penny Dreadful: Season 2, Episode 5

Season 2, Episode 5: Above the Vaulted Sky

SUMMARY: As our heroes prepare themselves for battle against the forces of evil, each of them embraces their long-repressed passions, with some having better outcomes than others.

REVIEW:  After last week's relatively uneven episode, Penny Dreadful is back in fine form this evening with the re-introduction of Mrs. Poole (Helen McCrory) and her coven. Ever since the end of episode two, which showed Poole's terrifying collection of life-like marionettes, I've been eager to see what would happen to Vanessa (Eva Green) now that Poole's created her doppelganger. Here, we find out, with her opening up the doll's cranium and screwing around with her brains, giving Vanessa what could only be called the “migraine from hell”.

 

Knowing that she's being toyed with once again by the forces of darkness, much of the episode focuses on Ethan (Josh Hartnett) preparing for war, although he finally runs afoul of Scotland Yard, who suspect him (rightly) for the tavern slaughter. Meanwhile, Ethan's also being pursued by the Pinkerton agent he mauled, now obviously looking for some payback.

One of the season's most engaging stories has been Victor's (Harry Treadway) growing love for the reanimated Brona (Billie Piper). Only problem, it puts him in direct conflict with Rory Kinnear's Caliban, who expects her to now be his eternal spouse. Sadly for him, she seems to have other ideas, enjoying her posh life posing as Victor's cousin, a sharp contrast to her former life as an Irish prostitute, which she doesn't remember.

The other big twist this season has been Vanessa and Ethan's deepening relationship, with them coming very close to giving into their mutual attraction, before Vanessa shuts it down, perhaps wanting to spare Ethan from what she assumes is her horrible fate. As always, Green is absolutely outstanding, veering effortlessly from showing Vanessa's growing despondency at her fate, to more bittersweet moments with Victor and a great scene with Caliban where they discuss poetry and dance, with her giving him a sense of intimacy and kindness that he's never known. Part of me thinks that he'll eventually become more of a good guy if the show is allowed to go on, although the love triangle between him, Victor and Brona will no doubt have a violent end.

This episode has a really strong finish, juxtaposing all of our heroes giving-in (or nearly) to the passions, with Sir Malcolm (Timothy Dalton) finally falling prey to Mrs. Poole, who gets a sample of his blood and now holds him entirely in his thrall, with it clear he's finally truly under her spell. This doesn't bode well for the rest of our heroes, but at least it gives Dalton something interesting to do (my only beef with this season is that Dalton's too often sidelined).

Again, this was another great episode and I can't wait for next week's installment. I really hope the show is getting enough viewers to guarantee a third season as it's really getting to be an outstanding hour of TV.

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