Victorian horror series Penny Dreadful premieres its 3rd season two weeks from tonight and will feature a fresh rendition of Robert Louis Stevenson’s classic mad-scientist manifesto The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde.
“Penny dreadfuls” were a 19th-century London publishing phenomenon that featured a mass influx of cheap, illustration-heavy horror-based drama pieces.
— Penny Dreadful: City of Angels on Showtime (@SHO_Penny) April 7, 2016
Honorable mention : Rory Kinnear : John Clare : Penny Dreadful
Penny Dreadful is an elegant and clever amalgam of 17th century horror classics most notably : Mary Shelley’s Dr. Frankenstein, Bram Stoker’s Dracula, and Oscar Wilde’s The Picture of Dorian Grey, among others.
Vanessa Ives starts the series on a search for her dear friend Mina, who was whisked away by a recent husband.
During Vanessa’s upbringing, Mina marries a dashing young officer Charles Branson while Vanessa unsuccessfully tries to court Malcom’s son Peter, who subsequently goes to Africa and passes away. In a jealous whim the night before her best friends wedding, she seduces Branson and sabotages the relationship.
Devastated by her transgression, Vanessa sinks into a deep dark depression related “illness” with recurring seizures. Vanessa is then treated with and forced to endure several 17th century mental-illness protocols much to her displeasure and misfortune.
The series’ overarching plot-line is derived from the Egyptian “book of the dead” in which the primordial god and goddess Amunet and Amun-Ra share an immortal affection, and their “conjoining” would spell ‘the annihiliation of man and the coming of the beast.’
“When Lucifer fell he did not fall alone”
This grim state of mind leaves her susceptible to vivid hallucinations in which she exchanges banter with Amun-Ra or Lucifer, the Prince of Darkness. Amun-Ra taunts her, and offers eternal glory and power but is denied.
She recovers, only to find that Mina’s soul has been ‘corrupted’ or turned by Amun-Ra and a new lawyer husband Mr. Harker. She then goes on a fervent mission to liberate the soul of her dear friend Mina.
Her and Sir Malcolm find an American gunslinger Ethan Chandler, and a passionate doctor Victor Franksenstein. In the midst of their quest to find Mina, Vanessa starts to “fall ill” again where her psyche is constantly battling with Satan, expressed through generally abrasive and cerebral episodes during which she picks at Malcolm’s, Victor’s, and Ethan’s inner demons foils and fables.
The team sees Vanessa fighting her possession and vows to fight it through with her. She recovers and apologizes to them. The crew finally locate Mina but determine that her soul has been corrupted and they are forced to free it.
At some point in Vanessa’s life she goes in search of answers encounters the Cut-Wife of Ballentree Moor and is introduced to basic magic and witchcraft.
Joan’s sister Madame Kali begins hunting for Vanessa at the bidding of her master Lucifer. Thanks to Kali’s machinations the village detains Clayton and burns her alive as a “witch”.
Before passing, Clayton implores Vanessa to stay in the moor and continue her work of providing abortions to local village women, and curing their various ailments with herbs and enchantments. Vanessa considers it, but concludes that liberating Mina’s soul is something she simply must do.
Madame Kali and her crew of witches attack Vanessa several times before Madame Kali is able to manipulate Sir Malcolm through dark magic and slay his wife. Vanessa senses danger and collapses at Dorian Gray’s Ball, and as a result leaves London and heads back to Ballentree Moor.
She is taunted by the former land owner who burned her friend Joan, and subsequently utilizes the “Verbis Diablo” to cast a spell on him, killing her first human being.
Victor Ethan and Vanessa then arrive at Madame Kali’s to rescue Malcolm and Vannessa confronts Lucifer face to face. As always the Prince of Darkness makes a prudent, grounded case but is denied. Vanessa then channels Amunet, and executes this particular incarnation of Amun-Ra.
Afflicted, endearing, clairvoyant, and emotionally fortuitous Vanessa is an Idealist.
I think, Mr. Gray that there are…. “tremors” around us. Like the vibrations of a note of music. Hidden music. Some might be more attuned to them than others. What do those people do. Those who have been chosen? — Vanessa Ives
“And far better.” — Vanessa
‘You think so?’ — Victor
“I choose to.” — Vanessa Ives
“To be alien, to be disenfranchised from those around you is that not a dreadful curse? To be alone?” — Vanessa Ives
“A dark lover approaching, bringing terror. Irresistible. Part of you but not. The whisper of something ghastly and beautiful.” — Vannessa Ives
“I’m affected by forces beyond this world.” — Vanessa Ives
“Look into my eyes, believe.” — Vanessa Ives
“You need me to agree. You can’t take my soul, I have to give it.” — Vanessa Ives
“You can’t tempt me, you can take my body but my soul is my own.” — Vanessa Ives
“We all have our curses don’t we?” — Vanessa Ives
“All sad people like poetry. Happy people like songs.” — vanessa ives
“You can’t help me, this is a battle I must fight on my own.” — Vanessa Ives
“But for my transgression would have any of this occurred.” — Vanessa Ives
“Our young doctor has a secret.” — Vanessa Ives
“I interpret these signs as best i can.” — Vanessa Ives
“Don’t ask permission, if you want to do a thing do it because it is your desire, not my allowance: you must risk rejection.” — Vanessa Ives
“I’ve run from the darkness for so long. Only to find myself in a place darker still.” — Vanessa Ives
Victor starts the series by reanimating a corpse and naming it Proteus: subsequently teaching him how to eat, basic language, etc. He starts rearing his creation like one would a child.
Proteus is soon slain by his predecessor, known later as John Clare. Clare simply demands acceptance, and fervently expresses dissatisfaction with his “child rearing” experience.
Clare gets holed up in Victors library, and consumes all of his literature. His first live experience with humans ends in a beating, but soon after he is picked up by the owner of a local theatre and given housing and employ.
Due to his grim visage Clare is met with disdain in almost every human encounter he experiences. Much like Shelley’s Frankenstein, Victor’s creation begins to yearn for a loving companion, someone he can share his existence with. In all the literature he read, “one thing stands titanic” — love.
Malcolm soon engages a hematologist Van Hellsing who begins grooming Victor as a “demon-hunter” successor, but he is slain by Clare who yet again implores Victor to forge him a mate and companion.
Victor and his creation reconcile after Clare concludes that his life is not worth living and implores Victor to shoot him with a gun he had procured and planned on using imminently.
Victor reanimates a female “Lily”, and again begins rearing her like a child. Clare attempts to court her but is unsuccessful given how timid he is, his ghastly appearance, and his limited experience in the matter.
Victor reluctantly falls into a relationship with “Lily”. Clare braces Lily about their mating potential and Lily eloquently expresses her thoughts on men and her general distaste for them, given her past life as an Irish prostitute named Brona Croft. The two collude on their miserable existence and more or less agree to be friends.
Clare yet again has an unfortunate experience trying to court a girl he likes at the theatre and is subsequently fired. He finds work at a local London “horror show”. Clare is soon deceived and imprisoned by his boss to be used as a live “horror attraction” or “freak show” as it were.
Clare easily breaks out of the cell quickly slays his “captors” and leaves. The daughter of the family taunts him on his way out, being blind, calling him a “grotesque animal”. He practices discretion and leaves her alone to discover her dead parents.
Lily quickly develops a superiority complex, claiming to be an ‘immortal’ and vowing that her kind will usher in a new era. She discovers Dorian Gray’s painting and immortality, and falls into an alliance with him. Victor confronts Lily and Dorian claiming his feelings for Lily. He shoots both of them in the chest to no avail, they laugh at him and continue dancing. He exits.
After a series of extremely distasteful encounters with human beings Clare resolves to go “where he belongs” : away from mankind. He boards a ship towards the wilderness and Victor is left wallowing in London terrified of the “monsters” he has created.
Empirical, autonomous, resolute, and inventive Victor Frankenstein is a Rational.
“I’m occupied solely in research. I will not bore myself with explanations you could not possibly understand now kindly stop wasting my time and get out.” — Victor Frankenstein
“Man does not live only in the empirical world. We must seek the ephemeral, or why live?” — Victor Frankenstein
“Everything else from the deep bottom of the sea to the top of the highest mountain on the farthest planet is insignificant. Life and death, Sir Malcolm. The flicker that separates one from the other. Fast as a bats wing, more beautiful that any sonnet. That is my river. That is my mountain. There I will plant my flag.” — Victor Frankenstein
“Give her the last rites and get the fuck out of this house you ridiculous man.” — Victor to a priest
“Scientifically speaking, life is nothing but a series of chemical reactions. So to accelerate or decelerate that process is no great matter. It gives us that illusion of power. In a life with little. Does it not?” — Victor Frankenstein
“It would appear you have an Egyptian man of no particular age, who at some point in his indeterminate lifespan decided to sharpen his teeth, cover himself in hieroglyphics and grow an exoskeleton. Or you have something else altogether.” — Victor Frankenstein
“There is, uh… a line from Shelley that haunts me. A single line from Adonais I cannot get it out of my head “no more let life divide what death can join together” — Victor Frankenstein
A sharpshooter and a showman, Ethan starts off the series looking to earn a few extra bucks on the side. Vanessa Ives approaches and employs him as a night-time gunslinger.
Ethan quickly buys into Vanessa and develops a rapport with her, Sir Malcolm, and Victor Frankenstein. He assists in various matters while they try to find Mina, mainly as a hired gun on dangerous expeditions.
Ethan’s past follows him to London in the form of some American bounty hunters, who brace him several times and make threats. They confront him one last time at a bar, a brawl starts and he turns into a werewolf slaughtering everyone there. What is referred to as the “Mariner’s Inn Massacre” puts a Scotland Yard inspector on Ethan’s tail.
Scotland Yard detective Bartholomew Rusk probes Chandler several times, and claims certainty that he is responsible for the Mariner’s Inn Massacre. Rusk digs up Ethan’s real American name, Ethan Lawrence Talbot, who enlisted in the United States cavalry March 2nd 1882 and fought in the American-Indian Wars.
Ethan ignores the detective and focuses on helping Vanessa rid herself of Madame Kali, as the crew of Victor Ethan and Vanessa head to Kali’s estate to rescue a possessed Sir Malcolm.
Ethan turns into a werewolf due to a full moon while trapped in Madame Kali’s castle and unwittingly slays his recent good friend and Malcom’s bodyguard Sembene. While in this state however, he is unleashed on Kali herself whom he dispatches.
After the Kali debacle, Ethan decides he can live with his guilt no longer and heads to Inspector Rusk’s office of his own accord to confess his guilt in the ‘Mariner’s Inn Massacre’. He is then extradited to the United States.
Impetuous, adaptable, versatile, and hedonic Ethan Chandler is an Artisan.
“Well, you gotta leave em wantin’ more. As they say in show-business.” — Ethan chandler
“What we call a tall-tale darlin’. Vice of my nation, we’re storytellers.” — Ethan chandler
“Kill everyone you don’t recognize.” — Ethan Chandler
“Cornered animals are the most dangerous.” — Ethan Chandler
“I can shoot the ace out of a playing card at 50 paces.” — Ethan Chandler
“The first time I picked up a gun and decided my life was more important than anyone else’s. You never go back from that.” — Ethan Chandler
“I am fit for only one place and should have been there long ago. Deep in the cold clay, on a forgotten hill.” — Ethan Chandler
“You ever wish you could just be someone else. Just run away from your life?” — Ethan Chandler
“Who the fuck are you people?” — Ethan Chandler
Sir Malcolm starts the series on a desperate search for his daughter Mina, who has been whisked away by a recent husband and he believes her to be in grave danger.
A workaholic, Malcolm was always stricken with guilt for spending too much time on his exploration campaign in Africa and neglecting his family. His son Peter was not very well equipped for a harsh life in Africa and passed away on his first expedition with Sir Malcolm.
Over time his wife and him became estranged, as Malcolm engaged in an affair with Vanessa’s mother.
Malcolm pays all the bills for the Mina rescue party and activities afterwards, while hosting all of them at his mansion in the heart of London. An avid hunter, explorer, and a shrewd man Malcolm is the most level-headed and grounded of the bunch.
He does however fall prey to the manipulations of powerful magi Madame Kali or Evelyn Poole, during which his wife takes her own life. He is lured to Kali’s estate, and is forced to confront his familial shortcomings. Vanessa Ethan and Victor rescue Malcolm from the throws of Kali’s castle, destroy Kali and Amun-Ra’s most recent incarnation.
After losing Mina and his wife, Sir Malcolm has no immediate family members left alive and decides to head back to Africa to clear his mind.
Ardent, beneficent, dependable and cognizant Sir Malcolm Murray is a Guardian.
“When you see a river, you must follow it to its source. No matter the perils, no matter those comrades that fall along the way.” — Sir Malcolm Murray
“I’m trying to rescue my daughter. To save her, I would murder the world.” — Sir Malcolm Murray
“I lost one daughter and I will not lose another. Not for anything in this world.” — Sir Malcolm Murray
“I was trying to protect you.” — Sir Malcolm Murray
“Oh, we’re all neophytes in love Victor, none of us have the tools or the weapons or the resources. Prepared as we think we are, we’re defeated.” — Sir Malcolm Murray
“I’ve faced down greater threats than the one’s conjured from my own memory.” — Sir Malcolm Murray
‘They aren’t for the faint of heart’
“My hearts never fainted.” — Sir Malcom Murray
“We cannot unmake the past. We shall live with our guilt you and I.” — Sir Malcolm Murray
— Penny Dreadful: City of Angels on Showtime (@SHO_Penny) April 6, 2016