This week’s Penny Dreadful introduced us to an old favourite, and turned Ethan into a frat boy cliche.
Demimonde wrapped up the first half of Penny Dreadful’s first season by focusing more on theme and character development than advancing any of the plotlines. As the title suggests, the episode further explores the ensemble’s deviant behaviors as a means of exposing some inner truths. However, Demimonde offers few revelations but delivers some fun ensemble scenes that the series has so far sorely lacked.
The only request Caliban makes is that his mate be beautiful, because that’s top priority when you assume you’re both immortal
Vanessa, sitting outside a Catholic church and conspicuously not daring to enter, sees Dorian leaving the church and stalks him to the botanical gardens, where she watches him stroke and sniff
sex organs flowers rapturously. They have a very on-the-nose conversation about the seductiveness and duplicitous nature of flowers. Dorian leaves for another engagement, but not before stating that he’ll be attending the theatre that evening.
Victor is consulting with a hematologist on the vampire blood samples. The doctor is none other than Van Helsing (David Warner), here a British widower rather than a Dutchman with an insane wife. Nonetheless, he’s intimately familiar with vampirism and remarks that the blood’s inability to coagulate would be beneficial for consuming blood. Victor notices Caliban out in the courtyard and tries to make him leave. Caliban pesters Victor about making him a mate, which Victor seems to have reconsidered and agreed to do at some point (it feels like there’s a scene or three missing between last week’s refusal and now). The only request Caliban makes is that his mate be beautiful, because that’s top priority when you assume you’re both immortal, apparently.
Brona lives up to her name (Gaelic for sadness) and makes horribly depressing pillow talk with Ethan. She says she was engaged before she left Belfast (which is what a woman did when there was no money: married or whored), to a brutal man who liked really rough sex, and ultimately drove her to prostitution. Presumably wanting to change the subject, Ethan says he wants to take her for a night on the town.
Victor starts his experiments on Fenton, opting to try a blood transfusion. Victor assumes he’ll use Ethan’s blood, but Ethan is adamant that it wouldn’t be a good idea, so they use Malcolm’s blood instead. While they wait to see if it works, Malcolm and Victor discuss the recent Ripper murders featured on the front page of the newspaper, which agitates Ethan a bit too much. Two glaring hints about Ethan back to back. Unsurprisingly, the blood transfusion doesn’t make much of a difference.
After a few drinks, Ethan becomes a drunk frat boy cliché; he drops the tough guy routine, talks about art, and kisses Dorian
Ethan takes Brona to the Grand Guignol, which seems like the highlight of her life. The first act of the night is The Transformed Beast, because of course it is. Oddly, it’s almost the only thing in the entire episode that doesn’t get a rise out of Ethan. Dorian is also in attendance (watching from the balcony), as is Vanessa (who’s totally stalking him), and the two eye-bang each other across the crowd. Fenton chews on his arm until is able to slip out of his restraints, and Malcolm and Victor hear noises from upstairs. They discover the master vampire in Vanessa’s room looking for her. He jumps through the window after Fenton says she’s not there, and Fenton is killed by a shard of glass to the back of the head.
Between acts, the four bump into each other by the bar. The conversation with Dorian and Vanessa makes Brona feel inferior, so she excuses herself for some air. Outside, Brona breaks up with Ethan because they literally have no future together and she flees. To cheer him up, Dorian takes Ethan to watch rat-baiting (which, like everything else this episode, agitates Ethan) and they go back to Dorian’s place to drink absinthe and listen to music. After a few drinks, Ethan becomes a drunk frat boy cliché; he drops the tough guy routine, talks about art, and kisses Dorian before starting to undress him.
– Sadly, the cold open murders are no longer a trend. We did get Dorian bored at his own Kubrickian (unsexy) orgy, though, so that’s something.
– All signs point to Ethan and lycanthropy – the ultimate reveal will likely be anticlimactic after all the teasing.
– After knowing him for a week, tops, and interacting with him roughly six times, Malcolm tells Victor that he thinks of him as something like a son. He also tells Vanessa she’s the daughter he deserves. Hooray for weird family dynamics!
Read more: Last week’s Penny Dreadful recap here
All images: Showtime