This was a relatively drama-light episode of Penny Dreadful, until the closing moments when all hell breaks loose in the manor, but everyone survives, and it sets the stage for the episode coming tomorrow.
Vanessa shares with the group everything she explained to Ethan in “The Nightcomers,” and they’re sort of stunned silent by what she survived. Lyle is still in their midst, and it’s not wholly clear whether he knows that it was Evelyn she was dealing with back then. The shakeout is that I misinterpreted the warning and apparently those who fell with Lucifer were these witches, and Evelyn, I think, but not Vanessa, although she is now the intended prey. And Vanessa rails against that fate.
The news of the baby death is all over London, and the Scotland Yard inspector is trying to piece together how this case fits his Inn case, and his witness is not very forthcoming, although he has regained his speech. For now, Ethan’s secret is safe.
Evelyn sets Hecate loose on Ethan as a would-be American on her own in London. He humors her with a coffee after he rushes her out of the way of a carriage, but immediately twigs to her geographic discrepancies and calls her on it, believing her to a Pinkerton sent by his father. He shuts her down and bids her good day and she has to tell Evelyn she botched it. Strangely, she doesn’t tell Evelyn the info that Ethan is actually somewhat of a wanted man, which I’d think she’d find useful for manipulating him. Instead, she gives her another task, this time focused on Vanessa.
Things get increasingly complicated over at Victor’s. He enlists Vanessa to help him shop for Lily, who he explains is his cousin coming in from the country. When Victor clarifies for the shopkeeper that Vanessa isn’t his wife, and that’s taken as Vanessa is his mistress, she has way too much fun milking his embarrassment. Later, when Victor presents the clothes to Lily and she’s uncomfortable with the corseting, he tells her she doesn’t have to wear them. She opts to keep the uncomfortable shoes because he likes them, so there’s am increasing degree of dependency happening there that Victor is doing nothing to dissuade.
John goes to work and chats with the shopkeeper’s daughter and they talk about the sadness of the macabre displays, and she asks him about his eyes. He tells her they’re yellow, and she’s intrigued and amused instead of alarmed. Upstairs, her father is talking over plans with her mother that sound creepily close to him adding a live carnival-type exhibit in a section of the basement that has no light.
Dorian and Angelique go on a proper date and play table tennis and tweak their fellow players by making out in front of everyone.
At the end of the episode, Malcolm, Vanessa, Ethan, Sembene, and Lyle are in for the night, working over the archives, when Ethan and Vanessa sense they’re not alone in the house, but can’t quite put their finger on it. Sembene washes up dishes and Ethan rolls up his sleeves to help, despite Sembene’s protestations. They prepare the dessert and coffee, and Vanessa decides to retire for the night. Ethan tells her she’ll miss the cake, and she asks them to save her a piece for breakfast. Ethan asks Sembene if that’s true, and he says yes.
She heads upstairs for her prayers and we see that she isn’t alone, as one of the witches blends into the wallpaper. The same is true downstairs. Ethan passes by with the coffee tray and the witch emerges and shoves him face first into the wall. Upstairs, Vanessa is jumped. Tandem fights occur, and the witch with Vanessa snatches out a clump of her hair. Vanessa starts incanting the Verbis Diablo and the witches bolt, but Hecate stops long enough to taunt Ethan, revealing that she is not, in fact, a Pinkerton. They blow the door off its hinges as they escape. Vanessa arrives on the landing of the stairs and they size up that they all survived, but the gauntlet is thrown.
I really thought the way it was counting down that we wouldn’t see the actual attack until the next episode, so I was glad they didn’t hold it back. And I was glad that Ethan called bullshit on Hecate. I was watching their scene sort of hesitantly to the point that I missed she was screwing up her Americanisms. Glad Ethan was more on the ball.
I fear where we’re heading for John with Victor and Lily since that’s absolutely going to end badly, and whether he’ll end up killing one or both of them, or confined in his job if he’s cast as part of the carnival. I don’t like that there’s no positive scenario for him, but I’m happy to see him allowed these quiet moments — here with the daughter and previously with Vanessa.
It was nice to see Vanessa take the piss out of Victor in the shop. She needed the levity.
I can’t figure out why Dorian was brought back this season when he seems to be the only one with an external arc. I am assuming it will all dovetail at some point because he is linked to Ethan, Vanessa, and Brona. I just feel like they’re not using him effectively.
With tomorrow’s new episode, we’re already halfway through the second season.
Photo courtesy of Showtime.