Previously on Penny Dreadful: Mme Kali is a witch who’s out to get Vanessa–and not one of those only slightly menacing witches like the one she played in Harry Potter, either. Caliban got a new job, and he and Frankenstein brought Brona back to life.
Vanessa has drawn…a lobster? A scorpion? on the floor in blood. And she clearly hasn’t gotten any sleep, though you’d think she’d be used to that by now. At daybreak, she heads down the hall to Malcolm’s room and he takes one look and thinks, ‘oh, crap, you’ve got your “bad shit went down” face on.’ He asks what happened and she tells him that the witches visited her the night before. At least, she’s pretty sure they did. But maybe she’s going crazy? She doesn’t even know. He tries to reassure her but she’s in a bit of a panic, which is understandable. She asks him to tell her she deserves peace and he says that’s not really his place, but he will promise not to abandon her. She cuddles up to him and he embraces her in a sweet, fatherly way and asks her to accompany him somewhere. Somewhere he goes to find peace.
Caliban is super excited about his new girlfriend, but trying to stay calm. He asks her if she understands him. She only looks at him curiously and he excuses it, saying his words and face must seem strange to her. Victor briskly says that everything’s strange to her, and he hopes she’s not stupid. Caliban happily says she’s perfect. He’s so overjoyed it’s a little heartbreaking. Victor advises he go slowly with her and Caliban says he just wants to fill her heart with poetry. Victor asks for some time with her, to teach her how to be a person again. She reaches out and takes Caliban’s hand and he breathes that she needs poetry. Victor says she needs to eat and tells Caliban to take off for a bit so he can get started. He softens enough to say that, if Proteus is any indication, she’ll pick up language and social interaction fairly quickly. She might also start to remember her former life, but to what extent is a mystery. Caliban asks him to give her all the love and companionship Victor denied him. He reminds Victor that she is their creation, and he must tread carefully.
He leaves and Victor goes to start work with Brona, who’s started looking around. He checks her chest scars (but thankfully doesn’t cop a feel this time), then ties the robe she’s wearing a bit more securely and introduces himself. She repeats his name. She is picking things up quickly.
Malcolm takes Vanessa to a soup kitchen that he volunteers at, explaining that he finds some peace when he’s there. Before they go in, he provides her with a face mask, since cholera is everywhere. They go inside a dank underground area that’s all strangely cramped tunnels and arches. He marvels at such privation and suffering so near the wealth of the city. They walk past miserable families and ragged children being tended by nuns until they reach the area where food is doled out. Malcolm dons an apron and tells Vanessa he works here and provides funds, and that it makes him feel like a better man.
Inspector Rusk goes to visit his survivor in the hospital. The man will live, but he’s such a mess he’s all bandaged up, separated from the other patients, and only tended by male orderlies. Girls can’t handle blood, you know. Rusk asks if the man can speak and the doctor says it’s uncertain, because he doesn’t have much face left. Rusk urges the man to get better, because he wants to know who did this.
Brona is now fully vocal, but she’s oddly lost her Irish accent. They excuse that by establishing that this is because she’s learning to talk from Victor, who’s English. She asks if her memory of life before her ‘accident’ will come back and Victor says he’s not sure. She asks him what her name is and he names her Lily. The flower of resurrection and rebirth. She wonders why that makes her sad and starts to cry. She throws herself into his arms and he comforts her, promising to show her what life is like. ‘Teach me,’ she pleads with him. ‘I’m at your mercy.’ Oh dear.
Malcolm finishes up at the soup kitchen, explaining to Vanessa that he has some errands to run. She asks to stay a little longer and they promise to meet up at home. She grabs some soup and starts handing it out. Spotting Caliban sitting by himself with a book, she goes over and offers him something to eat. As usual, he shies away, not realizing that he is probably the least strange living creature this woman’s seen in a loooong time. She asks to sit with him and when he gives her leave, she plunks down and takes her mask off and introduces herself. He gives his name as John Clare again. Vanessa admits that the nuns make her nervous, mostly because of her difficult history with Catholicism. He says he’s never needed religion. He read the bible, but then he discovered Wordsworth and that writing was much, much better. Less contradictory, too. He muses that good Christians fear hell, so they’re kind to their fellow man, but pagans lack this fear, so they can be who they are: good or bad, as their nature dictates. Pagans have no fear of God, so they’re only accountable to each other. She says that’s a profound responsibility and asks if he really doesn’t believe in heaven. He says he only believes in this world, he doesn’t need to believe in another. This one has enough mysteries. And how. ‘To see the world in a grain of sand and heaven in a wild flower; hold infinity in the palm of your hand, and Eternity in an hour,’ he recites. (By the way, the rest of that poem, Auguries of Innocence, is particularly meaningful to him just now, what with the whole Brona situation.) ‘All due respect to Blake, but I see no wildflowers here, only pain and suffering,’ says Vanessa. He urges her to look closer. While she considers this, a nun approaches and tells Vanessa she’s needed. Vanessa excuses herself and thanks Caliban for the conversation. Before she goes, she turns to him and tells him he has beautiful eyes. Aww, that was really sweet. And probably the first time anyone ever genuinely complimented him.
Dorian’s at some outdoor café, brooding over a photograph of Vanessa. A flashily dressed woman comes over and starts chatting him up, feeling out who the woman in the photograph is. He seems amused by her and introduces himself. She’s Angelique. They flirt and she tells him he’s beautiful, like he hasn’t heard that a thousand times. She likes to be around beautiful things and invites him to take a look at her bedroom, which is nearby. He says he’s sorry, but not interested. She figures it’s the girl in the photo, that she broke his heart. She says she once had her heart broken and swore she’d never fall in love again. And she hasn’t. Before she goes, she hands over her card and urges him to stay young and beautiful. As if he needs encouragement.
Malolm goes to a shop and is surprised to spot Mme Kali there. He greets her happily and,as they chat, he tells her he’s there to get a gift for Vanessa. Kali’s there to get some perfume and asks his opinion. She dabs her choice on her wrist and neck, telling him there’s something of the old days in it. She leans forward so he can smell it and begins whispering the demonic language in his ear. When she pulls away from him, he seems momentarily in a trance, then comes out and says he likes that one.
Ethan’s letter writing is interrupted by a summons from Vanessa: their guest, Mr Lyle, that odd man from the British Museum, has arrived.
The two go down to see him and he gives Vanessa a very florid greeting and practically gets the vapours when he realizes Ethan’s American. He’s taken into the sitting room and Malcolm explains that they need some expert advice on a dead language. Lyle wastes some time flirting outrageously with Ethan before Frankenstein arrives. Introductions all around and then Lyle gives a little background on Verbis Diablo, telling them it’s not a dead language, just a forgotten one. There’s one written example of it that happens to be deep in the archives of the BM. Back in the 11th century, a monk known as Father Gregory said he was possessed by a demon that spoke to him in the Verbis Diablo, and he wrote down what was said to him. His brothers figured he was insane, so they locked him away. But for some reason they thought it would be advisable to save his lunatic writings. Malcolm asks if they can get their hands on these and Lyle shrugs that he’ll just ‘borrow’ them for a bit. He asks if Ethan can help in the procurement and Ethan readily agrees. Vanessa asks what happened to Gregory. Lyle tells her that his brothers figured he was actually possessed, not insane, so they burned him at the stake. As one does.
Dorian makes his way to Angelique’s place. It’s a brothel, of course, and a very swanky one. He tells the madam he’d like to see Angelique and he’s led deep inside the place. The madam urges him to be firm with her, as she’s willful, like all children. He’s ushered into Angelique’s bedroom and she slowly walks towards him, saying she hopes he knows what he’s bought. Dorian does. She lets her robe fall and we see that Angelique’s a man.
Malcolm takes Kali to a shooting range. She’s pretty good, much better than he is, surprisingly. She tells him how much she’s enjoying herself, saying this is the most distraction she’s had in eons. I think she means that literally. Malcolm invites her to try a new gun: it’s a prototype semi-automatic Mauser. She asks if his wife likes shooting, which puts a bit of a damper on the moment. He tells her he and his wife are estranged, but that divorce is impossible. She takes the gun and raises it. He goes on to say that there’s no love between him and his wife, but he is bound to her. She appreciates his honesty, saying it’s good to have something to aim at. She blows a few holes in the very centre of the target.
Victor washes Brona’s/Lily’s hair and she asks if this is how he remembers her, when they were young. Apparently he’s told her they’re cousins and grew up together. He tells her all about the adventures they had together and says they were very close. She’d come to his bed when there were thunderstorms and everything. He gently combs his fingers through her hair and then adds some dye to the water. She suddenly asks who the other man who was there when she woke is and he says that’s her fiancé. She doesn’t seem all that happy about it. She says she’s not sure how to feel or act, that there’s so much that frightens her. She asks Victor not to let her be hurt and he promises he won’t.
Ethan and Lyle arrive at the museum. Lyle’s so nervous I pretty much expect him to screw this up. They make their way to the archives and come face-to-face with one of Lyle’s colleagues. Lyle lies, poorly, that Ethan’s his brother. The other guy’s like, ‘whatevs. Night.’ Lyle explains that they have one of the world’s largest collections of historical pornography, so people are always sneaking in for a look. They head downstairs and Ethan pokes around while Lyle tries to figure out where the thing they’re looking for is stored. Ethan finds a heraldic shield with a moon and two wolves on it that says ‘The Hounds Will Protect’ in Latin. Lyle says it’s actually ‘wolves’ not ‘hounds’. Ethan talks about timber wolves and how they’d hunt and attack in complete silence. He says they’d go for the windpipe first, so you never heard anything but blood splashing on the ground. They didn’t protect anything, they just fed. He looks terribly guilty as he says this. Lyle waves the card with the info they need and they track down the artifact buried deep in the collection.
One of Kali’s girls stands outside an underground station, waiting, and when a couple with a baby passes by, she falls into step behind them, following them into the station and down to the platform. The train arrives slowly, whistling and puffing as she eyes the couple. The sound of the approaching train gets louder and louder…
…and then we’re on board, with the couple discussing whether the baby’s colicky or teething, while the witch continues to stare creepily at them. The train suddenly stops, and a moment later the father, and then the mother’s throats are sliced. The witch, in her full creepy witchy guise, comes out of the shadows and picks up the baby.
The crew gathers at Malcolm’s to check out Gregory’s writings. It’s an assortment of cups and bowls and bits of paper—Gregory apparently wrote on whatever he had to hand. It’s a lot of artifacts that now need to be put into some sort of order.
Caliban returns to Frankenstein’s and finds Brona, now blonde, with a short hairstyle. He’s astonished. Victor tells him they needed to make it harder for her to be recognized. She greets Caliban, nervously, and he’s both startled and happy to hear that she’s talking. No memory yet, though. Victor tells Caliban and Lily to be patient with each other. Caliban sticks with the John Clare moniker. She hesitantly approaches him and takes his outstretched hand.
At Kali’s Fortress of Creepitude, she’s entertaining a guest: Lyle. Oh dear. She’s blackmailing him with some photos she has of him with a boy that’ll ruin his career, marriage, and life. She laughs at him and asks what Malcolm and co know. He swears they know nothing and he’s happy to misdirect them. She tells him to let Vanessa follow the breadcrumbs. She wants to know more about Ethan. He describes him as simple and uncomplicated, like all Americans.
Hecate comes in with a large bag and Kali kisses her before taking it. She tells Lyle to stay put, then takes the bag down to the room where she was having her chat with Lucifer last week. We can see now that the place is absolutely filled with creepy marionette-type dolls, all wide eyed and staring. She takes the baby’s body out of the bag and slices into its chest while speaking in the Verbis Diablo. Woah, infant sacrifice now? I think this show has just found my line and crossed it. She removes the heart, places it in the chest of a new doll, tenderly dresses it, and sets it on a shelf with the others. It’s an uncanny likeness of Vanessa. And as it’s placed, the real Vanessa jerks a bit, as if someone’s just walked over her grave, and gets an ‘oh, great, WTF is happening now?’ look on her face.