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TV Review: Penny Dreadful: Season 2, Episode 2

Season 2, Episode 2: Verbis Diablo

SUMMARY: Following last week's attack, Vanessa (Eva Green) goes to Sir Malcolm (Timothy Dalton) for protection, but he may already be under Madame Kali's (Helen McCrory) spell. Meanwhile, Victor (Harry Treadway) grooms the newly reanimated Brona (Billie Piper) to be Caliban's (Rory Kinnear) mate, but finds himself drawn to his new creation instead.

REVIEW: It feels like the team behind Penny Dreadful has finally had enough of people calling Game of Thrones the most debauched show on TV, with this week's installment of the series being the most depraved one yet. Now, bear in mind we're talking about a show where – just last week – Victor almost became a necrophile, and he's one of the good guys!

Yes, the was a completely bonkers insane episode, although it started off relatively mellow with Sir Malcolm revealing a tender side as he takes Vanessa with him to feed the poor and hungry – his way of doing penance for his misdeeds. Vanessa even takes a liking to Caliban, being impressed by his knowledge of the romantic poets and his modern take of the afterlife (not a surprise considering his birth). But, before they can go all beauty and the beast, Vanessa is called away, although it would be interesting if something more comes of their relationship, with Vanessa appearing to have a humanizing effect on all the men she meets, including Hartnett's Ethan, who's mostly around for exposition this week as he helps the flamboyant Ferdinand Lyle (Simon Russell Beale) recover some artifacts for Malcolm.

While he had a relatively meager amount of screen-time last week, Timothy Dalton is once again central, giving Sir Malcolm a surprisingly humane side which was mostly absent last season as his daughter's disappearance drove him to the brink of madness. Even more interesting is his relationship with Kali, who casts a bewitching spell on him, although whether or not it's actually worked is still ambiguous. I can't get over how fit Dalton looks for a guy pushing seventy. He looks at least a decade younger.

Of course, Penny Dreadful is still Green's show, and it's nice to see that she's been allowed to more or less become the lead of the ensemble – which is very appropriate given how great she's been so far. This has been an excellent vehicle for her talents, and it's nice to see her play more of an innocent than the temptress roles she often finds herself typecast in due to her absolutely jaw-dropping good looks and massive sex appeal. Yes, I'm a bit smitten with her.

Speaking of smitten, it seems Treadway's Victor is getting a little too close to his new creation, and Billie Piper's acting is quite impressive, completely changing the way Brona talks now that she has no memory of being Irish. She adopts – naturally – the accent of her creator and this is a nice touch. Meanwhile, Reeve Carney's Dorian Gray seems to be working his way back into the plot, although as he came up as last season's weakest link I'm not sure he's absolutely needed.

In terms of depravity, we get two throat slashings, but all this is rather tame compared to the absolutely bonkers crazy final scene where Kali cuts the heart out of a dead baby (!) so she can make a beyond creepy Vanessa puppet, which seems to now be living, joining an absolutely terrifying collection of seemingly living marionettes Kali has made over the years. What a crazy scene, and even for a jaded genre fan like me, it was chilling as hell, if maybe a little excessive. Clearly Penny Dreadful's on a mission to make itself a big conversation piece among genre fans and if they keep churning out episodes like this, that mission may soon be accomplished.

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