If the previous episode gave us a heartbreaking cliffhanger with the death of Proteus, Penny Dreadful’s 3rd episode narrows itself on the man hell-bent on resurrection, going as far back to his childhood and revealing his motivations.
Victor Frankenstein might be single-minded in his ambition to perfect bringing the dead back to life, but his true foundation starts with the death of his mother. Its a quieter and more personal moment; a grieving child seeking some solace in books and science, sparked only with the hope of possibly bringing his mother back. Or preventing the same staggering loss with other families. It makes Victor more relateable, if not excusable, in creating his…well, creations.
It also provides a wonderful complement to the struggles of Caliban (Rory Kinnear); his recollection of his agonizing “birth” and his continued suffering as a “monster” in this harsh English society makes us empathize with him. Like Victor, he sought solace in the company of books and literature and poetry, and eventually finding kindness in a theatre ingenue who gives him a home and a purpose. It’s an interesting standpoint for us audiences; we fear Caliban as a creature and yet we also pity him and relate with him being abandoned and alone. Victor plays God, but his intentions are innocent if not idiotic. And he’s realized his mistake soon enough. These two characters with strong convictions make this episode all the more compelling.
For the rest of the characters, the build-up is slower. There were no deaths or big discoveries, just subtle psychic messages and plot hints to move the search for Mina forward. Ethan Chandler, on the other hand, has revealed that he has a connection to wolves. Whether that means he’s a werewolf or not, we’ve yet to find out. But it’s obvious he has something up his sleeve, especially with his reaction to torturing Fenton (who exhibits a Renfield-like behavior hinting at a Dracula narrative).
Which then poses the question, will Ethan’s secrets disrupt their group dynamic? Or will Caliban’s violence and search for justice destroy the foundations of the search for Mina? Will each of their secrets —Malcolm, Vanessa, Ethan, and Victor— play out against OR for one another?
Penny Dreadful is posing a lot of questions, but we’re eager to journey into answering each one week by week. 😀