Review: The Strain – “The Box” S01,E02

Strain bath

I know it’s every parent’s dream to sometimes have their child be in a zombie-like state for the sake of quiet, but when that state is accompanied by chalky white skin and eyes filled with blood, it should be a tip off that something’s not quite kosher.

Emma (Isabelle Nelisse) isn’t the only one exhibiting strange symptoms after her adventure on the flight, though she is the only one who was pronounced clinically dead that has any screen time (the other vampires who attacked the pathologist last week have mysteriously vanished from the morgue). The four survivors are also having issues after they are released from quarantine when the NTSB (who attribute the deaths to carbon monoxide) takes over the investigation from the CDC.

Not a usual side effect from carbon monoxide poisoning

Not a usual side effect from carbon monoxide poisoning

The survivors also have alabaster skin and red eyes but they also hear a humming noise in their ears, claiming it sounds like “an echo of a voice”. That and a higher tolerance for the taste of blood.

Eph (Corey Stoll) has been removed from the case due to the implied intervention of the shadowy Stoneheart group but continues to pursue his own investigation with the help of coworkers and the flight’s pilot, the latter still wracked with guilt over not being able to safely deliver his passengers to New York.

Everyone’s first priority is covering their asses. No one gives a shit about the truth. –Pilot

I do and you do. And that’s the best shot we’ve got right now. –Eph

Early on in “The Box”, it’s evident that there’s a lot of ground to cover and the episode does a pretty admirable job of touching base with all of the major players.

  • Eichorst (Richard Sammel), Stoneheart’s mystery man, pays a visit to Abraham (David Bradley) in prison and it’s obvious that there’s a huge back story between the two of them which is only briefly touched upon.
  • Eph spends some time with his son and promises him that he’ll be at the custody hearing the following day. However, there’s a little too much exposition about his character revealed during an Alcoholics Anonymous meeting immediately after.
  • Eldritch Palmer (Jonathan Hyde) finally receives a face to face meeting with the Master (though the latter isn’t fully revealed).
  • Vasiliy Fet (Kevin Durand) is introduced as a rather tenacious health inspector with a fondness for “killing vermin” but, beyond that, there’s little ties to any other storyline (which will eventually connect to something, I’m sure).

Overall, “The Box” wasn’t as thrilling as “Night Zero” but it did have enough forward momentum with director David Semel doing an admirable job both advancing the plot and supplying us with some really terrifying images (especially in Emma’s scene).

As long as The Strain maintains its slick production values and has the ability to address a few issues (one in particular is: why were there four “survivors” and were they chosen for a particular reason?), it will continue to be one of the most entertaining series of the summer.

The Strain – “The Box” grade: B+

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Review: Mr. Mercedes by Stephen King (2014)

Mrmercedes

Stephen King is arguably my favorite author. He has the uncanny ability to create realistic characters who inhabit a believable world, regardless of whether or not that world has supernatural overtones. IT and The Stand easily carve out two spots on my top 5 all time books. The short stories “Strawberry Spring” (Night Shift) and “N.” (Just After Sunset) are equally terrifying in different ways. Even his non-genre (The Colorado Kid) and more recent somewhat non-genre fare (Joyland, 11/22/63) are phenomenal entries into his body of work. The guy rarely disappoints (last year’s unsatisfying Doctor Sleep being the notable misstep).

So what about Mr. Mercedes?

Sounds great, right?

Well, it is…for a little while. The beginning is pure King and when that car’s engine revs up, so does the suspense. For that brief moment, when the killer behind the wheel of the Mercedes runs down the crowd of hopeful job applicants, you can feel the author set the stage for something special.

It’s everything else after that that falls flat. The rest of the novel is little more than standard police procedural one might see on a rerun of some old 70s cop show. It’s predictable fare with relatively cardboard characters that fail to jump off the page.

Apparently, King stated that Mr. Mercedes was originally slated to be a short story, which would have served the tale a lot better than a full blown novel. There just seems to be too much bloat in the middle that we’ve seen him do before, just in a better way.

Recently, it was announced that Mr. Mercedes is the first in a trilogy of novels. To be honest, I just don’t see enough in the first entry to compel me to read the others (the next installment is slated to be released sometime in early 2015). In the meantime, I look forward to Revival, his next book scheduled for this November.

If you’re looking for a suspenseful story from the master of horror, pick up the August issue of Esquire where he delivers a riveting knockout punch with his short story, “That Bus is Another World” (you can read my review here).

Mr. Mercedes grade: C-


Just After Sunset (Kindle Edition)

By (author): Stephen King

Kindle Edition: Check Amazon for Pricing Digital Only


Night Shift (Kindle Edition)

By (author): Stephen King

Kindle Edition: Check Amazon for Pricing Digital Only

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Review: “That Bus is Another World” by Stephen King (2014)

Another world

Stephen King is at his best with his latest short story, “That Bus is Another World”. Better than anyone, King knows that within the little moments of our mundane, workaday lives, there are events that pack a wallop because sometimes, the sheer terror in our world comes not from the supernatural, but from within ourselves and others.

En route to New York on behalf of his “one man outfit”, Wilson is due to make a marketing pitch to an oil company after one of its undersea wells caused a disaster. Taking every precaution available (an early flight, a well prepared portfolio), Wilson is determined to get to that meeting with time to spare. However, throughout the story, King demonstrates that, no matter how much control you try to exert over your life, something will come along to wrest it from you at a moment’s notice. It could be a flight delay, a rainstorm, or even a stranger on a bus.

There’s a sense of urgency (of purpose, even) that propels “That Bus is Another World” forward because Wilson HAS to be on time for that meeting, a once in a lifetime opportunity (though only that, not a certainty) that could change his life. Sometimes, though, you get distracted, even if briefly, and it happens to Wilson, allowing him to realize life goes on around him and there might be more to it than what you expect.

Wilson had a momentary image–vague and unformed but tremendous–of a clockwork galaxy where the separate wheels and cogs went through mysterious motions, perhaps to some karmic end, perhaps for no reason at all. Here was the world of the Jolly Dingle cab, and five feet away was the world of the Peter Pan bus. Between them were only five feet and two layers of glass. Wilson was amazed by this self-evident fact.

While King’s tale is a mere three pages long, it speaks volumes, not only about the characters who inhabit this particular time and space, but of the past, or at least its possibilities. It also holds a mirror up to the human race and reflects the potential for good and evil within us all. It’s a must read and recommended over the longer, less interesting, Mr. Mercedes.

“That Bus is Another World” grade: A

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Review: The Strain – “Night Zero” S01,E01

Strain2

While in college, I co-hosted a movie review show with a fellow classmate. One night, we watched Betsy’s Wedding, a film we didn’t cover on the show, but rented one weekend night. When it ended, I told her how much I really enjoyed it. She looked at me, shocked.

“I never thought you’d like something like that,” she said.

“Really? Why?” I asked.

“Because you’re more of a film snob.”

It’s true that I’ve always gravitated toward things that will challenge me, regardless of whether they’re films, books, television series, or anything else in life and I’m still often accused of being too highbrow when it comes to my choices. People can’t understand why I’m so critical of shows like Under The Dome and The Following, both of which I watched much longer than I should have (one season on the former, two on the latter) hoping to find some redeeming kitschy quality about them. Turns out, both are so asinine and poorly written that I can’t overlook the fact the writers pretty much don’t give a damn.

Enter FX’s new series, The Strain which could either fall into the trap that the above two shows did or just be pure fun like Betsy’s Wedding.

Adapted from the book by Guillermo del Toro and Chuck Hogan, The Strain is about a vampiric virus threatening to infect New York unless its progress is stopped by the CDC’s Dr. Ephraim “Eph” Goodweather (Corey Stoll) and pawnshop owner (and Holocaust survivor) Abraham Setrakian (David Bradley).

Though The Strain introduces a more viral aspect to vampire lore (with the “disease” transmitted via worm-like creatures after victims are injected via a vampire’s proboscis instead of fangs), it does drop hints that the creatures can be destroyed through old fashioned methods like severing the head from the body, destroying the corpse, and exposure to sunlight.

The Strain isn’t going to set the world on fire with complete originality, but it’s hard to truly do anything new with the vampire legend. Lord knows others have tried, but we end up with creatures who twinkle in the sun or fall for bland faeries. That said, The Strain is fast flowing (at least in “Night Zero” thanks to del Toro in the director’s seat) and successfully juggles multiple subplots without being distracting or confusing.

If you’re looking for a good horror series, you could do a whole lot worse than The Strain (like True Blood, for example, which is plodding along this year and should have been destroyed at the end of last season). If you just sit back, go along for the ride and forget about being a snob (as I still am today in many regards), you’ll probably have a lot of fun for the next few weeks.

The Strain – “Night Zero” grade: B+

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Review: Penny Dreadful – “Grand Guignol” S01, E08

PD Grand Guignol

“Remember us better than we are.” – Vincent Brand

The same parting advice Vincent gives to Caliban (Rory Kinnear) after casting him out of the theater is the same advice I’m going to try to take until season two begins sometime in 2015.

To be honest, I was expecting a LOT more from “Grand Guignol”, not only because it was the season finale, but also because: 1) it promised to be a resolution to the season long search for Mina (one would hope, anyway), and 2) the term “Grand Guignol” set an expectation that this would be a bloody, over the top episode.

What did we get? An extremely limp resolution to the group’s incredibly dull search for Mina without spilling much blood.

Rejection is the theme running through “Grand Guignol” as several of the characters experience it in some form. Vanessa (Eva Green) rejects Dorian* (Reeve Carney) after he tries to reignite the passion they shared two episodes ago. Caliban is rebuffed by an actress at the theater as well as the theater itself. Malcolm (Timothy Dalton) finally rejected Mina by shooting her after she remains a vampire and threatens to kill Vanessa. Ethan (Josh Hartnett) rejects the idea of returning home by transforming into a werewolf (or maybe Mr. Hyde, who knows) and killing the Pinkerton agents his father sent to retrieve him. Victor rejects both the idea of killing Caliban as well as the idea that death has to be the end when he suffocates Brona and plans on using her reanimated corpse as a mate for his first creation.

*As I mentioned in the review for “Possession“, the character of Dorian Gray served absolutely no purpose this season. Why couldn’t they have saved him for season 2 instead of wasting the work of Reeve Carney?

Penny Dreadful had a promising beginning and, thanks to the incredible cast, flashes of brilliance along the way. Ultimately, it sputtered as the season trudged along, largely due to the very weak spine of the tale which involved the search for Mina, a character I don’t really think anyone (including the main characters) gave two fucks about. In fact, that whole story was so dull, it reminded me of the storyline in the second season of Twin Peaks that involved Laura Palmer’s boyfriend, James Hurley. Anyone remember that? There’s a reason–because it was fucking dull!

The biggest improvement to this show would be relegating creator/showrunner/sole scripter John Logan to an advisory role and allowing a more seasoned staff to develop better stories for this gifted cast. They deserve a lot better and so do viewers.

I’ll most likely check out season two of Penny Dreadful and, hopefully, enough time will have passed to help me remember it better than it was.

Penny Dreadful “Grand Guignol” grade: D-

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Review: Penny Dreadful – “Possession” S01,E07

PD Possessed

 

“She’s been possessed by the devil” – Malcolm Murray

“Oh fuck me!” – Ethan Chandler

“Possession” picks up shortly after the events of the previous episode, “What Death Can Join Together” leaves off. Vanessa (Eva Green) is obviously possessed and begins verbally hurling stinging accusations at Malcolm (Timothy Dalton), mocking him with the failures of his past before telekinetically hurling objects around the room.

When Ethan (Josh Hartnett) shows up at the Murray residence (silhouetted outside in a nice subtle nod to Merrin’s arrival in The Exorcist), Vanessa has been sedated while Malcolm and Victor (Harry Treadaway) decide how to proceed.

As “Possession” progresses, Vanessa’s condition deteriorates and the men in her life connect in some ways (Ethan teaches Victor how to fire a gun) and drift apart in others (mostly all away from Malcolm as Victor and Ethan begin to believe he is somehow manipulating Vanessa into contacting Mina). When all looks lost, Ethan forcefully persuades Malcolm into summoning a priest to the home by reminding him that Mina is gone but Vanessa has remained by his side: “You want a daughter? There she is!”

There’s a lot that I really love about both “Possession” in particular and Penny Dreadful as a whole. In fact, this episode probably best sums up what makes the series both a success and a partial failure.

I know I continually heap praise upon the acting, but this is one of the best ensemble casts on television. Green does a remarkable job as always, regardless of whether she’s playing Ives or whatever demon lurks within her. Dalton, Sapani, Treadaway, Kinnear? They’re all great too. But “Possession” unleashes Josh Hartnett in a way we haven’t seen before, relying upon him to be the emotional linchpin, a momentary villain, and even a savior. Hartnett is given a lot to do here and does it extremely well, delivering some of the best lines of the season.

“Possession” also shines from an aesthetic standpoint thanks to the superior direction from James Hawes and editing from Gareth C. Scales who combine to make the poignant moments somber and the scary moments effectively creepy. Hawes is slated to direct the season finale so one only hopes that it looks as good as “Possession”.

Some credit also has to be given to John Logan because there are a lot of moments where the dialogue positively sparkles, particularly from Vanessa and Ethan. However, whatever strengths Logan has in crafting dialogue are overshadowed by his inability to weave a coherent story featuring a large cast of characters over an entire season. The biggest issue I have with “Possession” and the series in general is that I don’t really feel anything for these characters. There’s no emotional investment I have in seeing whether anyone lives or dies because we haven’t truly spent any quality time with them. Perhaps instead of introducing too many characters (and therefore, too many plotlines), it might have worked better in the long run to maintain a tighter focus on one or two plots, especially when you have only eight episodes with which to work.

For example, what purpose does Dorian Gray (Reeve Carney) serve in the first season? None that really comes to mind. Yes, there have been interesting scenes with him, but not a lot of his story had a direct impact on that of the search for Mina. Also, the introduction of Caliban (Rory Kinnear) was ultimately necessary and while the dynamic between him and Victor has been thrilling to watch, he’s largely been ignored for several weeks, relegated to lurking and stalking Victor.

Though next week’s finale, “Grand Guignol”, might wrap up the season in a satisfying manner and put these issues to rest, I highly doubt it.

Penny Dreadful “Possession” grade: B+

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Review: Penny Dreadful – “What Death Can Join Together” S01,E06

Episode 106

 

In “What Death Can Join Together” (the title comes from the poem “Adonais” by Percy Bysshe Shelley), there seems to be two common themes running throughout the episode, the most predominant of which is control (or lack thereof) over one’s work.

Let’s tackle that one first.

One can argue that control is illusory for all of the characters who inhabit the world of Penny Dreadful. Vanessa (Eva Green) attempts to harness her powers to locate Mina, but later, in a passionate tryst with Dorian Gray (Reeve Carney), she experiences a moment at the height of the act allowing something more than Dorian to slip inside her. Malcolm (Timothy Dalton), Ethan (Josh Hartnett), and Sembene (Danny Sapani) search for Mina on a dilapidated ship, coming within several feet of rescuing her before being thwarted by a fire caused by them slaying the female vampires sleeping near the master. Victor (Harry Treadaway) once again discovers that he is unable to control Caliban (Rory Kinnear), who provides a twist on these classic tales by snapping the neck of Van Helsing (David Warner) shortly after he relays exposition on vampires to the good doctor.

In this world, there is no control, just fate–something Van Helsing claimed to subscribe to not long before he was suddenly killed (unfortunately all but wasting the talents of Warner in the role of existing within the story merely to provide information). As the main characters move toward their goal of locating and rescuing Mina, they discover that the more control they try to exert over their efforts, the faster things fall apart.

The secondary theme is that of the willingness to do what must be done. This question has previously been asked of Malcolm, but now it’s Ethan’s turn to answer, which he does in a clever exchange that may portend Brona (Billie Piper) becoming one of the undead. Malcolm tells Ethan that the consumption will change her and that “she will cease to be who she was”. Ethan responds quickly with “Then I’ll love who she becomes”. Will he?

When the time comes, will either be able to do what’s necessary (Malcolm killing Mina if necessary, Ethan accepting Brona’s death)? It’s an interesting question that would hold more weight if not for one big issue I have with Penny Dreadful.

I don’t really buy into a lot of the relationships. Ethan expresses his absolute love (twice, mind you) for Brona but the two have shared so few scenes together that the connection between them seems arbitrary. Since Ethan’s declaration of his affection comes at two different points in the episode, it’s as if creator/writer John Logan wants me to REALLY know he loves her. If that was the case, it would have been better established.

Also, since we’ve seen at least a short glimpse into Malcolm’s past with Mina (in last week’s “Closer Than Sisters“), the desire for him to find her is a little more believable but not by much.

As the first season plods to an end, it becomes more apparent that: 1) there are way too many characters for Logan to handle and 2) Penny Dreadful is a great premise whose story is stretched out much too long, especially when it primarily centers around finding Mina*.

*DEAR GOD, WON’T SOMEONE FIND MINA ALREADY?!?

Once again, in “What Death Can Join Together”, the performances are top notch with every actor squeezing the most they can out of the thin material. However, that’s not enough to recommend this particular episode.

Penny Dreadful – “What Death Can Join Together” grade: D+

 

 

 

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Review: Penny Dreadful – “Closer Than Sisters” S01, E05

PD Closer

“Letters I’ve written, never meaning to send.”

I couldn’t help thinking of this lyric from the Moody Blues’ “Nights In White Satin” as “Closer Than Sisters” came to an end. Vanessa Ives (Eva Green) has been penning letters to her onetime friend, Mina Murray (Olivia Llewellyn), but since the latter is missing, there’s nowhere to send them. As a result, they get stashed away in a wooden box, perhaps to be read someday. However, if the postscript Vanessa adds to her most recent letter is any indication, they may do little more than collect dust as time marches on.

“Closer Than Sisters” is meant to finally peel back the layers of the mysterious Vanessa Ives, detailing her journey from childhood to a time not long before we meet her in the season opener, “Night Work”. When we first see Vanessa, she’s a young girl, the best of friends with the Murray family who reside in the house right next to the Ives. Vanessa and Mina are inseparable and the two families are almost as close, sharing dinners and even more (for example, Malcolm shares Vanessa’s mother without her father’s knowledge as Vanessa discovers while wandering through the hedge maze and happens upon their passionate tryst).

Vanessa eventually changes as she grows older, delving into “mischief” like taking little things like a comb from Mina at first, then her fiance the night prior to his and Mina’s wedding. Obviously, this drives a huge wedge between them, but Vanessa can’t seem to help it, though she’s prayed. However, as Vanessa details in her letter, “God didn’t answer, but another did”.

Soon, Vanessa’s mental state rapidly deteriorates and she’s committed to an asylum where she’s drugged, gagged, hosed down, and even subjected to trepanning (i.e. the drilling of a hole in her skull) in an attempt to cure her. Eventually, she’s brought home to convalesce where she lays nearly unresponsive in her bed until Mina’s brother Peter pays her a visit to tell her he’s accompanying his father to Africa. She tells him he’s going to die there.

Shortly after Peter departs, Vanessa sees Malcolm sitting in a chair at the foot of her bed, but she is fully aware it’s something much, much darker assuming the guise of Sir Murray. With black eyes, he tells her “You could have shut the door anytime, you still can.” Rather than refusing his advances, she welcomes the darkness in. When her mother enters moments later, Vanessa is naked and in the throes of passion, thrusting her hips up and down in time with some unseen force. Vanessa’s milky white eyes are the last thing her mother ever sees before dropping dead to the floor.

When Mrs. Ives’ funeral has ended, Vanessa takes a walk on the beach and encounters Mina, who seems to forgive her at first before her eyes glow red and snarls that the master has taught her much. Vanessa visits Malcolm, telling him that Mina needs his help and stands at the door, asking him to invite her in as if she were a vampire.

“Closer Than Sisters” ends with Vanessa adding yet another letter to her collection, this one with a post script that tells Mina “I love you in a different way. I love you enough to kill you.”

Though I enjoyed “Closer Than Sisters” (largely due to the masterful performance from Eva Green who continues to shine brightly in the role of Vanessa Ives), I realized that Penny Dreadful has some structural problems in relation to the series as a whole.

“Closer Than Sisters” provides too much information, lingering on scenes when it should be moving a little faster. Part of this problem can be attributed to series creator and sole screenwriter, John Logan, who sometimes seems to be tailoring the show for an audience that existed a decade or so ago. Thanks to the second “golden age” of television which has brought us amazing, groundbreaking series like The Sopranos, Lost, Mad Men, Breaking Bad, Game of Thrones and countless others, TV viewers have become more savvy and are used to plots moving at a faster pace. Often times Penny Dreadful reminds me of a failed movie pitch that had a tighter plot which now needs to be stretched out not only over many episodes, but now many seasons (as it’s just been renewed for a second, not surprisingly). And in that regard, part of the blame can also go to Showtime who undoubtedly called for a certain amount of episodes for the season which, in turn, caused the story to be stretched out indefinitely.

Furthermore, when a series is dealing with multiple main characters, it’s to its advantage to weave different arcs together to create an overall theme of the episode. “Closer Than Sisters” might have benefited from a secondary tale of betrayal (perhaps with Chandler or Frankenstein) that served to complement or contrast that of Ives. Either that or this particular tale should have come a little earlier as Vanessa is obviously the character which the entire narrative hinges upon.

Had it not been for Green’s Emmy worthy performance, “Closer Than Sisters” would more than likely have been a plodding hour of mere exposition.

Penny Dreadful “Closer Than Sisters” grade: B-

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Review: Penny Dreadful – “Demimonde” S01,E04

PD demimonde

 

Apparently, the wish that I made in my review for “Resurrection” for advancing the plot in an engaging manner didn’t come true.

The first season of Penny Dreadful is only eight episodes long and by the denouement of “Demimonde”, we’re already at the halfway point. As a result, we should start to see at least some elements of the tale a little more clearly.

We’re not.

In fact, many of the main characters seem distracted for the most part. Malcolm Murray (Timothy Dalton) talks about a trip to the Nile with Ethan (Josh Hartnett) by his side. Caliban (Rory Kinnear) again pesters Victor (Harry Treadaway) to make him a companion. Sembene (Danny Sapani) takes in the show at the Grand Guignol along with Ethan, Brona (Bille Piper), Dorian (Reeve Carney), and Vanessa (Eva Green), though not all of them attend together.

Sigh.

Since there’s really not a lot to talk about in “Demimonde”, I’ll just provide some observations and insight.

  • Victor is dismayed when Malcolm chooses Ethan as his travel companion but Malcolm reassures him that Ethan is nothing more than a hired gun and that Victor is like a son to him. Huh? Did I miss major bonding time between them? That’s a pretty big leap for a few guys who recently met.
  • Brona jilts Ethan at the Grand Guignol when she realizes that she could never compete with those in high society, eventually driving Ethan into the arms of…Dorian Gray? We all knew Ethan harbored some sort of secret, but I was expecting it to be a little more exciting than the reveal that he’s bisexual. To be honest, the whole play at the Grand Guignol seemed as if it was a foreshadowing to Ethan being some sort of werewolf or beast. It still could be, but that would have had more impact in this episode rather than what amounts to a twist out of the blue. Is the message that bisexuality is Ethan’s “beast”?
  • It was nice to see David Warner (Time After Time, Titanic) as Van Helsing. He’s fantastic in any role and I hope they use him well.
  • Dorian offers a toast to “Vanessa Ives, the most mysterious woman in London”. Four episodes in, it would be nice to know more about her.

There were a few highlights in “Demimonde”. Caliban telling Victor that the future belongs to the immortals has a lot of potential for strong conflict down the line and Vanessa’s eerie chat with the little girl outside the church was riveting.

All in all, “Demimonde” was a disappointment considering the season started off so strong.

Penny Dreadful “Demimonde” grade: C-

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Review: Penny Dreadful–’Resurrection’ S01,E03

PD resurrection

“Death is not serene.”–Victor Frankenstein

Who better than Victor Frankenstein (Harry Treadaway) to fully comprehend death? When we see him as a young boy, he laments over the loss of his beloved dog but understands, telling his mother that poets and writers compare death to something peaceful, to be accepted and not feared. But after his mother unexpectedly vomits blood all over him before dying herself, Victor hardens and changes, tackling anatomy books rather that fiction to unlock secrets of life and death.

For Victor, however, even cheating death is far from serene. His creation, Proteus, is ripped apart, destroyed by his “firstborn”, a creature (Rory Kinnear) abandoned by Victor and forced to learn about the world on his own. He has come to London to seek out Victor and, in his travels, has learned both misery (thanks to being beaten in an alleyway) and mercy (from an actor). The latter offers him a life in the theater, working in conjunction with the Grand Guignol cast and crew to create lurid productions that end nightly in death, only to be reborn each day. This is a place where the creature, now dubbed “Caliban”, feels as at home as he possibly can.

Caliban wants something from Victor, though. He wants love, but not from him as it’s something he knows impossible. No, Caliban wants Victor to make him an undead companion, a wife with whom he can spend eternity. Should Victor deny him, the creature will destroy everything Victor cherishes.

Meanwhile, Chandler (Josh Hartnett) decides to join Frankenstein, Murray (Timothy Dalton), and Vanessa Ives (Eva Green) in return for money, something he will use to get his love, Brona (Billie Piper), treatment for her consumption. In his second outing with the group (but first as an official member rather than as a hired hand in “Night Work“), he holsters his guns after they run into trouble with a pack of wolves. Instead, Chandler approaches the pack, drops to his knees, and offers the leader his hand. After placing Chandler’s hand in its teeth, the leader and the rest disperse.

Ives is suspect of Murray’s motives. Though they are searching for Mina, she feels that he’s holding something back. Later, he admits that he was aware of the possibility she wouldn’t be there and Ives realizes she was bait. They end up capturing one of the vampires who warns them his master is constantly around them and that they won’t be able to prevent the coming of something that will destroy all of them.

“Resurrection” is particularly strong when the focus is on Frankenstein and his creature. Treadaway and Kinnear are fantastic together and really sell the connection between the two even though they’ve only shared minimal screen time.

I wish the same could be said for the whole Mina Murray mystery which is starting to become a little tiresome. The rest of the cast does an admirable job in their performances but they’re given little to do in a story that’s spinning its wheels when it should be moving a little more quickly given the fact that there are only a limited number of episodes scheduled for the first season.

Penny Dreadful has been a really solid show for the first few weeks and has a lot of potential. However, I almost wish it would emulate Game of Thrones which has the ability to switch between a handful of stories per week, successfully advancing plot in an engaging manner.

Penny Dreadful “Resurrection” grade: A-

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