December 6, 2023

Penny Dreadful – What Death Can Join Together (S01E06)

Penny Dreadful.What the hell?  OK, save that for later.

It would seem that (maybe?) we are getting somewhere – some forward push toward a resolution. I’ve read that we will see some questions answered in regard to some of the storylines of this season, so for that I am thankful. This was a much more interesting episode of Penny Dreadful than the previous installment, so I’ll just jump right in.

Note: There are potential spoilers throughout this review, so you may want to stop here and return after watching the show.

It would seem that perhaps Sir Malcolm (Timothy Dalton) is holding a bit back from Vanessa (Eva Green). What I took to be a very fatherly relationship in the first four episodes seems rather strained after last week’s bombshells. Malcolm doesn’t think Vanessa is doing enough, isn’t trying hard enough, and she yells that she can’t conjure up her visions. They’ve both been hurt, both lost, and it’s clear they need to work together.

Cut to Brona Croft (Billie Piper), who is not doing well, but did survive collapsing in episode 4. We are not sure how she got home, but Ethan (Josh Hartnett) does come to check on her. She asks where he was, and while he admits to being with Dorian Gray, he says nothing else… I wonder why!? She apologizes to Ethan for her behavior at the theatre, and he says it does not matter. He professes his love for her – and her to him. I fear this will not end well.

Vanessa is at home doing a reading, or I suppose just playing with her cards as there is no one there with her, but she hears Mina’s voice again, and then… Waves lapping against a ship? A bell? Screaming? She runs to tell Malcolm that she believes MIna has something to do with a ship – maybe in London. And then Dorian (Reeve Carney) arrives to whisk her away on an “adventure!”

We get a short clip of Frankenstein (Harry Treadaway) finally getting around to doing an autopsy on Fenton.

And then we jump to the underbelly of the theatre. It’s dark and claustrophobic, but a pretty, young actress ventures under to ask Caliban, a.k.a. The Creature, about her blood tube. It seems it keeps getting clogged. Caliban (Rory Kinnear) sets about fixing it, while the actress talks to him about his books, her brother, etc. She’s kind, and we can see that Caliban is quite taken with her.

Frankenstein visits Sir Malcolm with the results of the autopsy. Though Fenton was anemic, he found nothing to indicate he was otherworldly. Although Fenton could reach out to his master somehow, and Frankenstein notes that he plans to speak with Professor Van Helsing (David Warner) about it. While getting the news, Malcolm is poring over records of ships, and I just realize how dismissive he is! Frankenstein asks what Malcolm is doing. When Malcolm tells him, Frankenstein asks when this hunt will take place. Malcolm says Frankenstein will not be needed and dismisses him – kind of condescending.

I actually liked the next short scene with Sembene (Danny Sapani) and Malcolm.  The normally quiet Sembene asks Malcolm if he realizes that some people cannot be saved. Sir Dismissive says that if he can just find Mina, he can save her. Sembene rejects this, and tells him that some people are beyond help. Sembene then asks if Malcolm knows what he will do upon finding Mina. He stresses that it is imperative to know what you will do. He’s deep.

Penny Dreadful.The adventure Dorian promised Vanessa  turns out to be… getting her picture taken.  She is laughing and smiling, and I must say, she looks very beautiful. But for some reason, she chooses to be captured for “eternity” (Dorian’s words, not mine) looking very stern and schoolmarmish.  Why?

Back at the theatre, we see that Caliban has sent a book to the actress that captured his admiration. He lurks in the darkness, watching her open it. And his hopes are quickly dashed as a man comes in and kisses the actress, and she assures this man that he has no competition.  Caliban cries, and for a moment, I felt for him.

Frankenstein meets up with Van Helsing outside a dance studio, and I gotta say, I didn’t like the way that Frankie was eyeing the ballerinas prior to Helsing’s arrival. But they go to lunch and have deep and foreboding conversation.

Since she made dinner plans with Dorian, Vanessa shows off her pretty dress to Malcolm, who is playing it very cool BTW. He tells her she looks beautiful and to have fun.

Penny Dreadful.As soon as she leaves, he and Sembene slink off to meet Ethan, who has just said goodbye to Brona. Brona doesn’t ask what Ethan is doing or where he is going, but begs him to wear her medal of St. Jude – the patron saint of lost and desperate causes. An omen?

The three men meet in a dark alley, and Ethan is surprised that Vanessa is not with them. When Malcolm says nothing and starts to go, Ethan demands to know where they are going. Apparently, they are going to go hang out on a plague ship. I hope Ethan and Sembene have health insurance! Do they get hazard pay?

We switch over to Frankenstein and Van Helsing. Van Helsing tells Frankenstein that he must not tell Malcolm what he is about to show him. He doesn’t think Malcolm can handle the entire truth. Apparently, Van Helsing’s wife did not succumb to her affliction, but rather Van Helsing drove a stake through her heart and then cut off her head!  WOW!

The three men – Malcolm, Ethan, and Sembene – are strolling to the ship and begin to speak of Brona. Malcolm generously offers to pay for private care, but Ethan denies the offer. Ethan claims that she is better off at home, and he will love her no matter what.

Vanessa and Dorian – Yes, she is wasting her time with him. – are at a very elegant restaurant and engage in what I take to be flirting. Though I would rather indulge in some laughter and sexual innuendo, these two believe religion is the ideal subject to banter on. OK, whatever floats your boat.

We jump back to Frankenstein and Van Helsing again. Van Helsing asks Frankenstein about his knowledge of vampires. I guess we can put the connection together and see why Van Helsing killed his wife. Van Helsing then shows Frankenstein a… wait for it… a penny dreadful about vampires and begins to educate Frankenstein on the beasts.

Penny Dreadful.Back at Dorian’s very large home, the flirting continues. Dorian turns on his sex machine… I mean, music box, and the mood is set. Vanessa puts him in his place when he asks to kiss her.

“Don’t ask. Take what you want because you desire it, and risk the possibility of rejection.”

Or something very close to that.  See what I mean. She needs a real man!

Cut back to Van Helsing and Frankenstein. Van Helsing tells of his ventures against vampires. He tells how dangerous they are. The two gentlemen make their way to the street and are walking along. Van Helsing tells his young peer that he wants Frankenstein to have a long life, and though he is sure Frankenstein’s life won’t be easy, he can still hope for some longevity. It is a wonderful conversation between the two, and then BOOM! Something shoots across the screen, and Van Helsing is being dragged down the alley.

“What the hell was that?” I asked my husband. “OH NO!”

The damn creature, Caliban, decides to break the kind professor’s neck! Apparently, ol’ Frankie isn’t moving fast enough, and his tears have no effect on The Creature. Caliban threatens anyone that gets close to Frankenstein if he doesn’t give him what he wants. What an asshole! That moment of pity I felt for him earlier is gone. He is a complete asshole, and I hope Frankenstein makes him a horrible, frigid shrew for a wife.

Penny Dreadful.Cue the men who finally find the ship. They don’t find Mina, but they do run into some sexy lady vamps – the dangerous and quick beasts Van Helsing was just speaking of. It’s difficult to see what’s going on. Things are moving pretty fast, and it’s dark. Thank goodness someone knocks over a lantern, and with the fire raging, I can finally see what’s going on! Sembene is a badass with the blade, though Ethan and Sir Dismissive hold their own quite well too. And pretty soon, there are no more sexy lady vamps (Another cool band name!).

As that battle ends, we cut back to Dorian and Vanessa. They are engaged in activities, and Dorian brings out a small blade. Vanessa takes it from him and cuts his chest, then licks the blood. Freaky shit!

Oh no, Dorian’s house is on fire. Oh, nevermind. We just cut back to the plague ship again. Boy, this episode bounces around a lot, huh? Anyway, Sir Malcolm is wandering around inspecting the carnage of their battle when he sees what we believe to be The Master… and then Mina! A beam suddenly crashes down making it impossible for Malcolm to get to his beloved Mina, and Sembene and Ethan drag him out as the fire rages. So close and yet so far.

Another fire scene takes us back to Dorian and Vanessa. Yeah, her licking his blood was freaky, but that’s not the half of it. She scratches, slaps, bites, and pulls his hair, and then things get really weird. Things go slowmo, and then we hear a strange voice – perhaps it’s the Serpent again!

“Is she going to start foaming again?” The Husband asked.

“What the heck is going on?” I answered.

And then Vanessa snaps out of it, jumps up, grabs her clothes, and runs away.

“Ohh… she’s got the pervy demon in her,” my husband offered. “Or maybe the cock-blocking demon?”

I giggled.

Back at home, Ethan tells Malcolm that there are battles you lose, and at the end of the day, you have to trust those next to you. He tells Malcolm to trust Vanessa. Malcolm seems surprised that Ethan trusts her. Ethan tells him he does indeed trust Vanessa, and that he better start as well, or he better be prepared to lose a lot more battles.  Does he know something?

“Put some damn clothes on,” The Husband mutters when the show jumps back to Dorian wandering around nekkid (naughty naked) yet again.

Especially since his butt is really nothing to look at, but perhaps he needs to look at whatever is in his special room while nekkid.  I don’t know, but the room/the painting/the candlelight start to heal his cuts. More freakiness!

Penny Dreadful.And then we have the closing scene. Vanessa makes it back home, where Malcolm is waiting to talk to her – potentially to make amends. She’s pale, and foamy. And then she starts floating in air. Like I said at the beginning… What the hell?

I don’t think that Vanessa is Supergirl as my husband suggested, but we did get some furthering of the storylines, so I was pleased with that.

A lot happened in this episode, and though I’m not filled with more questions, I also didn’t get any answers to my previous questions.

Only two more episodes!


Hello, fellow horror fans! I grew up watching horror, and my love for the genre is still going strong! Slasher films are sort of my secret-well, probably not so secret-obsession, but I'm up for anything-zombies, creature features, B movies, D movies-you name it, I'll give it a shot. Sometimes to the annoyance of my husband. I'm on twitter @Xina143, send me a tweet and tell me what I should watch next!"

View all posts by Xina →
Notify of

Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Would love your thoughts, please comment.x