Previously on Penny Dreadful: Explorer Malcolm Murray recruited sharpshooter Ethan, psychic/medium Vanessa, and Victor Frankenstein to help him find his vampire daughter.
In what’s becoming our standard beginning, a woman (this time in a park instead of a bathroom) is attacked by something that prompts her to scream before it rips her apart.
Ethan wakes at the waterfront after what must have been a seriously rough night. He makes his way to a nearby inn and orders up some hair of the dog.
Victor sits down with his newly reanimated creation and shows him how to eat. The Creature is curiously adorable—there’s something really sweet about his face and the innocent expression on it. Victor decides they should give Creature a name. He first proposes and then rejects Adam, and then fetches a book of Shakespeare. He flips through at random and puts his finger on a page without looking, amusing Creature. He tells Creature to have a go, and Creature puts his finger down on Proteus. Ahh, the Two Gentlemen of Verona. A little later, Victor prepares to leave for the day, and Proteus tries to follow him. Victor tries to explain that he has to go out alone for a little while, to work, but Proteus doesn’t understand. He’s clearly scared to be left alone and gives Victor the same look my dog does when we go out without her. After Victor leaves, Proteus starts to cry and looks around, frightened. Awww! Cutest Frankenstein creation ever!
Ethan’s working on starting a second hangover when he’s joined by Billie Piper, playing a prostitute named Brona with an Irish accent so hard to decipher I actually had to turn the subtitles on. They chat a little bit about his profession and the fact that she lives at the inn and can’t find work. She then begins a violent coughing fit, because we can’t have a prostitute without some consumption, can we?
Malcolm finds Vanessa at work and announces that ‘he’s’ here and she should unbutton the top of her dress. She does, to go down and greet Frankenstein. Why the heck would Malcolm think flashing a bit of flesh would be necessary with Frankenstein? I’d say he’s given the distinct impression he’s not interested in such things, but maybe I missed something. They take Frankenstein down to the basement to see the body of the creature they killed last week, which has now been stripped of the skin, courtesy of carrion beetles. Victor takes some blood and asks if they’ve translated the hieroglyphics yet. Malcolm explains that they’re looking into it, but they know they’re from the Book of the Dead. Victor knows little about it, only that the Egyptians were interested in the secrets of eternal life. Vanessa notices a book of romantic poetry in Victor’s satchel and quotes Wordsworth to him. Connection made, Victor turns to the blood and says it’s basically human, but has some unusual properties they’ll have to discuss with an expert. Malcolm agrees to engage one for Victor to consult with and gives him his pay. Before he leaves, he asks to be kept apprised of anything interesting they discover about the hieroglyphics. Once he’s gone, Malcolm asks what the deal was with the poetry and Vanessa, with a smile, informs him that their young doctor has a secret.
Brona arrives at a very fancy address, where she’s shown into a room lined with various portraits. A young man waits for her and introduces himself as Dorian Gray. Sure, why not throw him in as well? This really is turning into the League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, isn’t it? Just a younger guy standing in for Quartermain and a different member of the Murray family.
Malcolm goes to see a police inspector, Galsworthy, who’s investigating all these ripper-esque murders suddenly cropping up. He’s brought Sembene with him. Malcolm sits down and asks for information on the murders, checking out the photos of the mother and daughter who were killed last week. Galsworthy says the murderer took an arm and some of the internal organs—liver, kidney, and some parts of the reproductive system. Not sure it’s relevant, but the murdered mother was apparently pregnant. There are no real suspects just now. Malcolm asks if the victims were drained of blood. They were not. Galsworthy doesn’t think this is Jack the Ripper’s work. Malcolm demands to see the next crime scene as soon as possible and warns Galsworthy that he’s going about this all wrong: he’s hunting for a human, but needs to be hunting for a beast. I’m not sure how that helps this investigation, really.
Dorian, dressed in a dressing gown, has a photographer take pictures of Brona in her underwear. He asks her to remove her corset, and as soon as she does, she coughs up blood. Dorian’s instantly interested, and he gets up and approaches her. She warns him not to come too close, but he creepily licks the blood off her lips and he and Brona get it on while the photographer continues snapping pictures. Dorian comments that he’s never had sex with a dying creature before and asks if she feels things more deeply, or if she feels pain. She flirtatiously asks if he does and he invites her to find out. She runs her nails down his back, which only seems to turn him on more. And then she coughs blood right in his face, which is also a turn on for him. Yeah, Dorian always was kind of a wierdo.
Ethan receives a cable from his dad ordering him to come home, as the federal marshal has been paid and his legal problems can be dealt with.
Proteus is quite the admirable draughtsman, and as he sketches, he sings a sea shanty. Victor listens, and then fetches a book, showing him a picture of a whale hunt and asking if he recognizes it. He does. Seems we’re starting to tap into Proteus’s past. He seems a little upset that he used to kill things but Victor says we all do things we’re ashamed of. Proteus sweetly pours Victor a drink and then looks up at the sun streaming in through one of the windows, singing his sea shanty.
Vanessa and Malcolm arrive at Lyle’s place for that party they were invited to. Lyle greets them but seems in no rush to see the pictures of the rest of the hieroglyphics they’ve brought. He hustles Malcolm away and Vanessa wanders into the party, where she seems to sense Dorian’s presence before she turns and sees him. They stare long and hard at each other for a bit, as he approaches her, gets super close, and introduces himself. She does the same. He slags off the room’s interior design, guessing that Vanessa disapproves of it. She says she doesn’t, though she admits that she isn’t keen on something in the house. He guesses that, like him, she doesn’t really belong in this place, and she doesn’t like it there at all. He takes her hand, noting that she’s the only woman there not wearing gloves. He gathers she wants to touch things, but her head wants to appraise. She thought this was going to be a wasted evening, but now she’s not sure. Just when things are really starting to heat up between them, Lyle interrupts to announce that the guest of honour has arrived: Madame Kali. Oh, hey, Helen McCrory! Good to see you!
Eight people, including Malcolm, Dorian, and Vanessa are invited to sit at a table with her. She asks the men to remove their jewelry and the ladies to remove their gloves. Vanessa’s already looking bemused. Everyone puts their hands on the table and Kali begins the show. She calls on ancient spirits, and, in a deeper voice, asks who summoned her, she who speaks for the dead and the undying. In her regular voice, she says that there’s another in the room—Amunet. Vanessa’s starting to look not quite herself, and when Kali hisses and orders Amunet to know her master, Vanessa convulses and begins chanting in another language. She then switches to a high-pitched, childlike voice and starts begging ‘Father’ to take her with him, so she can prove herself a proper explorer. It seems she’s someone named Peter. She goes on, gasping and panicking, still in the guise of Peter, freaking out that the porters are sick and now she is too, is it dysentery? It must be, by the sound of it. She begs her father to name a mountain after her, and then the fire and all the candles in the room go out. She flops back and bids her father farewell, saying she feels cold and weak and can’t swallow. Looking right at Malcolm, she asks if he named a mountain after her. Malcolm’s struggling to hold it together. I guess we know what happened to his son now. She exhales, staring at him creepily.
There’s a long pause, and then she begins hissing and snarling and, when she touches the glass top of the table, it shatters. All the doors slam, and the guests start to panic. Even Mme Kali looks like this has gotten out of hand. In a voice that makes your hair stand on end, Vanessa continues to address ‘Father,’ telling him that Mina’s waiting and wonders when he realized he wanted to sleep with her. She goes on, still very much not herself, saying that Vanessa heard them, and investigated and saw them having sex. Eeeek! She calls him an animal and a betrayer, as she starts climbing up onto the table. She goes on and on, in language that would make an HBO exec blush. And then she starts bending over backwards and everyone freaks out.
She bursts out of the room and, still seeming a tad out of it, stalks off into the night. On an abandoned street, she runs into some guy, and then starts having aggressive sex with him.
Back at Lyle’s, Malcolm sits at the shattered table in the now-empty room. Guess that performance kind of ruined the party, right?
Vanessa and random guy have sex in a rainstorm and are spotted by Dorian, who looks a little sad.
Malcolm arrives home, presumably much later, and finds Vanessa fast asleep, in bed. He gently covers her with a blanket, like a father would.
Ethan’s still hanging around that inn, still drinking. In comes Brona, and he invites her for ‘breakfast’, which is just booze. He asks how her job hunt’s going and she tells him she’s been posing for rather risqué pictures. She asks about his work and he says he’s a maritime supervisor—sitting there and watching the boats go by. He offers to buy her some real breakfast, but she just wants sleep, so he invites her to dinner. She asks if he thinks she’s some sweet girl, but he doesn’t, so she agrees.
Malcolm returns to Lyle’s to get to the meaning of those damn hieroglyphics already. Lyle gives him some crap for Vanessa’s performance the night before and finally gets to work. He identifies one of them as the figure of Amunet, who showed up for them all the night before. She’s a hidden goddess who had a monster within her, rather like Vanessa. He continues to look, and is shocked by what he sees. He tells Malcolm that this hasn’t been seen before, ever, and says Malcolm really needs to forget the circumstances under which he came across these, because they’re dangerous. He explains that Amunet was the consort of Amun-Ra, the original serpent prince, who had the power of rebirth and perpetual life, sustained by feeding on others’ souls. The two are never depicted together because if they ever came together Amunet would become the mother of evil and basically destroy the world. He shows Malcolm the hieroglyph of the two consorts together and informs him that this shows a spell foretelling the end of man and the coming of the beast. Lovely! He advises Malcolm not to tell Vanessa about this, because nobody wants to know they’re hunted by the devil. I don’t know, I think I’d like to know so I could prepare myself, but that’s just me.
Victor’s finally taking Proteus out, and Proteus is super excited about it. Victor warns him that everything’s going to be very new, so he just needs to stay calm.
Outside, Proteus is almost immediately overwhelmed and starts to have a bit of a panic attack. Victor eases him through it, and they finally get out onto the street, where Proteus’s wonder quickly overcomes his fear. He delightedly explores with his father figure, identifying pigs and animals and discovering spices, heat, and chestnuts. They reach the wharf and he swiftly names the boats and the various parts of them. And then he starts remembering that he used to work on boats, and that he had a wife named Doreen. He turns to Victor and asks what he is. Victor doesn’t really know how to respond. But he doesn’t have to, because they’re interrupted by the arrival of Ethan and Brona. Proving he’s a quick study, Proteus politely shakes hands and introduces himself, and cutely offers Brona a chestnut before Victor hustles him away.
Back in the workshop, Proteus starts talking about how many friends he’s going to have, and then a handstarts emerging from Proteus’s chest, spattering Victor’s face with blood. Woah! Another hand joins it, splitting Proteus in half, and as he falls he reveals a far less adorable man behind. Victor drops to his knees by his broken creation as the other man coldly informs his ‘father’ that his firstborn has returned. Wow, I didnot see that coming.