The Horror Honeys: Penny Dreadful Season 1: The Recap

Penny Dreadful Season 1: The Recap

A Horror TV Honey Review by Lisa

Well, Dreadfuls, it's been a week since the season finale of Penny Dreadful and I am still in mourning. Oh, how I wish I had some of Ms. Ives bespoke period clothing to wear and properly mourn. All black dresses for this girl until season two. I have no idea when we can expect season two, but I can tell you that it isn't soon enough.

I've heard that not everyone was as bowled over by the pilot episode as I was. I was immediately 100% in love. Eva Green as Vanessa Ives is sublime; she brings such a beautiful, mysterious and haunted quality that makes her absolutely irresistible. And what a storyline this girl has! Raised in privilege, her first love seems to be that of her best friend, Mina. As the two grow up and Mina finds herself engaged to be married, Vanessa becomes strangely jealous. I don't know if she is jealous of the man whisking Mina away from her or if she is jealous that Mina has found love before her, but it is this ugly emotion that brings out the literal demon living within her. After a long and tortuous punishment, Ms. Ives returns to life a damaged human being and the only person who can find the now missing Mina.

Watching Green interact with Timothy Dalton in his role as Sir Malcolm Murray is a minefield of emotions and very careful acting. In other hands, either of these characters could have turned Vanessa and Sir Malcolm's volatile relationship into an over the top, sudsy melodrama, but Green and Dalton dance around each other so well, that at times it is heartbreaking. All season it was clear that Sir Malcolm had something sinister going on behind that veil of upper class attitude but it took Ms. Ives' demon to really bring his ugly, selfish nature to the surface, resulting in a loss of respect from both Mr. Chandler and Dr. Frankenstein. It will be very interesting to see how this all pans out in season two. Yes, Sir Malcolm, ultimately, chose Vanessa over Mina, declaring Mina his true daughter, but he waited until the last second. The Very Last Second. Too little too late?

When Vanessa confided to Ethan Chandler (Josh Hartnett) that she could easily fall in love with him, who didn't agree with that sentiment? Hartnett took a slight sabbatical from Hollywood only to return with a layered and mature performance as Ethan Chandler, the handsome American who is a real hot shot with a pistol. Right from the beginning, it is abundantly apparent that Mr. Chandler is hiding something and the rhythm at which this storyline played out was a bit too long for my taste. That being said, the werewolf transformation that he underwent in the season finale was still a surprise to a lot of people. From where I was sitting, they all but screamed it in our faces that he was a werewolf, but not everyone saw that one coming. I suppose, his werewolf reveal was either an amazing shocker or a "finally" moment depending on which camp you were in. I also could have lived without his storyline with Brona Croft (Billie Piper). I did not need Mr. Chandler to fall in love with a dying prostitute in order to sympathize with him and root for his survival.

Yes, yes, Brona was clearly needed to fulfill another story thread going on, but it became taxing. In fact, I dare say that Piper was wasted in this first season; such a wonderful actress to be spending so much time in a sick bed. I think I would have rather seen something play out with her and Dorian Gray seeing as how he was overly turned on by her coughing up blood while they were having sex. Now, that is something that could have been terribly strange, uncomfortable and interesting.

Oh Dorian Gray, I love you ever so much and it is such a shame that so many people are unaware of your origin. An Oscar Wilde character, you have been one of my loves for many, many years and Reeve Carney played you to utter perfection. I know that a lot of people bemoaned the hairstyle on Dorian Gray, but I found it to be suitable both for the time period and for the nature of the character. Dorian Gray is all about the excess in life; everything is gorgeous, over the top and an assault on the senses. Living in a house full of portraits, I am simply dying over seeing a picture of Mr. Gray himself. I would hate myself if I ruined a storyline for someone, so, I will only strongly recommend that you look up a little book titled The Picture of Dorian Gray .

As open to the world as Dorian is, Dr. Frankenstein is equally closed off. Harry Treadway brought a certain sadness to Dr. Frankenstein that is often missing from many interpretations. I could feel his heart break when his first creature killed his new one right in front of him. A man with a morphine addiction and, seemingly, many more secrets, Treadway did an exceptional job of being giddy over a corpse one minute and completely lacking in normal human interaction the next. Dealing with the return of his creature (Rory Kinnear) and trying to help Sir Malcolm, Ms. Ives and Mr. Chandler unlock the secrets of the demimonde, Dr. Frankenstein seems to find so little pleasure in life. Thankfully, he was able to make a connection with Professor Van Helsing, but we all know how that turned out. I very much look forward to learning more about Dr. Frankenstein and seeing how he deals with bringing Brona back as a companion for his creature. Ooh.. and what will Mr. Chandler do if he finds out how Brona really died?

Rory Kinnear did such a bang up job of playing a tormented "monster" and I really enjoyed seeing the in's and out's of stage productions from the time period. Did anyone not feel for him when he was booted out of the theatre after his unfortunate emotional outburst with the object of his affection? It will be very interesting to see if acquiring a companion will help this creature become more human.

I really have nothing to say on the character of Sembene (Danny Sapani) because he really didn't do anything except trail behind Sir Malcolm. Hopefully, season two will see a more involved Sembene.

As an unapologetic lover of The Walking Dead, I was suspicious of Penny Dreadful. Was it going to be it's own brilliant series, or just another tired imitator jumping on the horror television band wagon? Hallelujah for it being another truly bright spot on the tv schedule! Penny Dreadful looks beautiful and sets an expert tone of horror and danger while also forcing you to care deeply about it's characters. The vampires were a visual delight and a nice change from the walking, talking vampires we've been inundated with recently. The score in this show is just as beautiful as Eva Green and just as hypnotic. I don't know about you, but I am still talking about Green's performance at the seance. The woman made possession sexy and I didn't even think that was possible.

I found Penny Dreadful to be a wonderfully captivating show that brought very familiar story lines together in a new and unique way. All of the characters are flawed and that is why they are so easy to fall in love with. Penny Dreadful really was a very pleasant surprise and I am eagerly looking forward to season two.