Penny Dreadful: Resurrection
May 26, 2014 9:01 AM - Season 1, Episode 3 - Subscribe

Dr. Frankenstein is confronted by the consequences of his past. Vanessa has a vision of Mina, which leads her, Sir Malcolm, Ethan and Sembene to a strange discovery at the London Zoo.
posted by oh yeah! (43 comments total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
I really hate Caliban and I don't care about his tragic backstory and I hate that he is going to force Victor to make some woman into a patchwork "girlfriend" for him against her will and ugh go away forever Caliban no one likes you.
posted by elizardbits at 9:14 AM on May 26, 2014 [4 favorites]

posted by elizardbits at 9:14 AM on May 26, 2014

And as I was shrieking about on tumblr WOW this is like the WORST POSSIBLE TIME to begin a storyline about an angry awkward alienated white dude who thinks he is entitled to female companionship and threatens violence if he doesn't get it.
posted by elizardbits at 9:16 AM on May 26, 2014 [4 favorites]

Oh hell, are they going to make Brona into the bride?
posted by oh yeah! at 9:30 AM on May 26, 2014 [1 favorite]

Since Proteus was made from the parts of dead men in the first place, I'd think he could simply be patched up and brought back again. I guess it's not going to happen, but I'd like it too.

I assume Caliban is going to fixate on Brona at some point, using her consumption as a justification for killing her and demanding Victor bring her back. Bleh.
posted by homunculus at 9:30 AM on May 26, 2014 [1 favorite]

Great minds think alike.
posted by homunculus at 9:30 AM on May 26, 2014

IDK I WILL BE SO MAD, I was hoping for a Dorian/Brona/Ethan happy weirdos relationship.
posted by elizardbits at 9:31 AM on May 26, 2014 [1 favorite]

And also I assume Caliban is the one who has been killing all the women around town, probably because he thought they would never love him. UGH.

The police superintendent told Malcolm that the victims were NOT drained of blood, right?
posted by elizardbits at 9:32 AM on May 26, 2014

Right. The way the bodies were mangled made me suspect it might have been a werewolf, and that werewolf could be Ethan.
posted by homunculus at 9:54 AM on May 26, 2014 [1 favorite]

OR a super grumpy dude who likes to rip people apart with his bare hands!

I figured we were supposed to assume it was the vampire who has Mina, or one of his creepy renfields.

I feel like Ethan might not even be a werewolf but he might have had a tragic affair with a werewolf lady and now there is a were pack in the US that wants to fuck his shit up.

posted by elizardbits at 10:02 AM on May 26, 2014

So, it took me until halfway through Caliban's backstory to realize that he'd killed Proteus by tearing him apart from standing behind him. I thought he'd come from inside him Alien-chest-burster-style, like Frankenstein had recycled bits of him for Proteus and the Caliban bits had taken over. Even though Caliban was fully clothed during his monologue-ing. I am not the most observant viewer.
posted by oh yeah! at 10:36 AM on May 26, 2014 [2 favorites]

I was really impressed that the episode spent 24 minutes on Caliban's backstory. I was entranced
posted by Strass at 11:43 AM on May 26, 2014

I thought we were building up to some sort of dramatic fall-out between Frankenstein and Proteus as Proteus started to follow a darker path with an increase in his personal agency. That's the trope, and I love that that was subverted (I find the trope boring), but I don't really like the alternate direction it's going either.

I'm just kind of bored by the angry awkward alienated white dude villain and the things I think would make it more interesting/better I don't trust the show to do.
posted by Kutsuwamushi at 6:55 PM on May 26, 2014

Seems a little bit ridiculous to write Frankenstein's monster off as "an alienated white dude". In terms of what that phrase generally conveys - an incredibly privileged person - an undead monster made out of stitched-together parts is not really that, no matter that the actor playing the part is a white dude. It's like calling Hunchback of Notre Dame a story about an alienated white dude. In so far as our monster here gets the shit kicked out of him for the crime of, y'know, walking down the street and brushing up against a chick, he has more in common with pretty much anyone that isn't a white dude. Way to not get beyond surface appearances, folks.

I think it's an impressive bit of story-writing legerdemain that a self-narrated 20-some-odd-minute intro that god knows you could never get away with if you were just introducing him straight away somehow managed to work by holding him back two episodes.

I can definitely see the Brona thing happening. (Will Billie Piper drop the accent when she's brought back as a reanimated corpse? Caliban has great diction.)

For my part I found myself wondering if they were/are basically remixing Frankenstein with Phantom of the Opera, what with having him be the lives-in-the-theater freaky stage monkey. It's either that or the show is pulling a Deadwood and introducing an actor character for no damn reason at all just so it can write a love-letter to theater. (Don't get me wrong, I love Deadwood and I still choose to believe that there would've eventually been a point to Brian Cox's actor character, if it'd had a Season 3...but there sure wasn't a point to him in Season 2 besides "let me tell you how awesome the theater is".) Interesting to me also that there are increasingly many references to the penny dreadfuls themselves within the show.
posted by mstokes650 at 8:07 PM on May 26, 2014 [1 favorite]

"not all monsters!"
posted by elizardbits at 8:37 PM on May 26, 2014 [4 favorites]

Doesn't seem ridiculous to me. Caliban fits right into the alienated white dude/MRA philosophy, thinking that the world owes him a hot chick as a reward for his suffering. The Hunchback doesn't - his love for Esmerelda is based on more than just her looks it's based on her being kind to him, a direct contrast to Archdeacon Frollo's obsession. (Haven't actually read Hunchback myself, but that's what I've got from seeing the movies & what I know of the book plot)

Whatever injustices Caliban suffered initially, he's already murdered one person on-screen, pointed out live women to Frankenstein and told him to pick any one of them to kill so she can be turned into his companion regardless of whether she'd want him or not. He's not getting any 'poor woobie' credit from me.
posted by oh yeah! at 8:42 PM on May 26, 2014 [1 favorite]

Frankenstein, while rethinking this whole female creature deal in Frankenstein (1831 text), Chapter 20:
...Three years before, I was engaged in the same manner and had created a fiend whose unparalleled barbarity had desolated my heart and filled it forever with the bitterest remorse. I was now about to form another being of whose dispositions I was alike ignorant; she might become ten thousand times more malignant than her mate and delight, for its own sake, in murder and wretchedness. He had sworn to quit the neighbourhood of man and hide himself in deserts, but she had not; and she, who in all probability was to become a thinking and reasoning animal, might refuse to comply with a compact made before her creation. They might even hate each other; the creature who already lived loathed his own deformity, and might he not conceive a greater abhorrence for it when it came before his eyes in the female form? She also might turn with disgust from him to the superior beauty of man; she might quit him, and he be again alone, exasperated by the fresh provocation of being deserted by one of his own species...
Frankenstein is partly worried about that exact issue, that the lady-creature is going to have no particular reason to be copacetic with this "created as somebody's mate" situation, and the creature is going to be profoundly displeased as a result.

...Even if they were to leave Europe and inhabit the deserts of the new world, yet one of the first results of those sympathies for which the daemon thirsted would be children, and a race of devils would be propagated upon the earth who might make the very existence of the species of man a condition precarious and full of terror. Had I right, for my own benefit, to inflict this curse upon everlasting generations?
makes me think that the name Caliban wasn't chosen idly. "Thou didst prevent me, I had peopled else this isle with Calibans", although in The Tempest that's after he tries to rape Miranda.

Disclaimer: I haven't watched any Penny Dreadful yet but it's definitely on the list.
posted by figurant at 9:04 PM on May 26, 2014 [4 favorites]

mstokes650: no matter that the actor playing the part is a white dude.

Actually yes, that matters.

It's like calling Hunchback of Notre Dame a story about an alienated white dude.

No, it's not.
posted by tzikeh at 9:08 PM on May 26, 2014

Caliban fits right into the alienated white dude/MRA philosophy, thinking that the world owes him a hot chick as a reward for his suffering.

He doesn't think the world owes him anything, he thinks his creator does. As Victor acknowledged later in this episode with his conversation with Malcolm, there is some level of responsibility that Victor (should have) assumed when he made the guy. (Malcolm just gives less shits than a constipated honey badger.) White guys aren't owed jack shit, nor are they generally negotiating directly with their God; while Caliban's not owed a bride he is owed something, and he is literally in an argument with his creator. Not that he's not a villain or that he deserves "poor woobie" sympathy, but he's a more interesting villain than "alienated white guy" is; the relationship between monster and creator and the balance of which is the greater monster has basically always been the heart of the Frankenstein story. And since this show seems very interested in showing us how all the main characters are various kinds of monsters I don't think Victor's going to be the exception here.
posted by mstokes650 at 9:11 PM on May 26, 2014

Actually yes, that matters.

So tell me, how would you have cast the role?
posted by mstokes650 at 9:13 PM on May 26, 2014

So tell me, how would you have cast the role?

Well, first of all, how I would have cast the role has no bearing on whether or not it matters that the actor is white if we're going to talk about the character being white--which is what I was responding to. I would think that's fairly obvious.

But let's see... a creature made out of parts of a bunch of different dead bodies?

How about, I don't know, anything other than white?
posted by tzikeh at 9:20 PM on May 26, 2014

He's not an interesting villain to me. I don't see how demanding a woman from his creator is any different than demanding it from God/the world other than the fact that he can make the demand in person instead of ranting to the world at large like the rest of the MRA types. If you find him interesting or sympathetic then that's your business, but there's nothing ridiculous about those of us who don't.
posted by oh yeah! at 9:24 PM on May 26, 2014 [1 favorite]

So, cast him as black. Good, now instead of people dismissing him as "alienated white dude" we get "angry, physical brutal black dude" (bonus points: his creator is a white guy!). Cuz that's not problematic at all. Cast him as Asian! Well, that's a bit more interesting, IMO, but still problematic. (I think this show already has issues with "exotic orientalism" that are very true to the source material but not so great by the standards of this century.) I'm asking how you'd cast him because I'm genuinely not sure what casting would make folks here happier/less dismissive.

The character does not enjoy any of the benefits of having white skin. (I would be surprised, in fact, if any of the actor's skin is actually visible under the layer of makeup and prosthetics he's wearing.) So I'm honestly not really sure how the choice of actor affects the character. (Note: I'm not talking about how the choice of casting affects Hollywood/show business; just about how it affects interpretations of the character.) Andy Serkis is white - is Gollum?
posted by mstokes650 at 9:34 PM on May 26, 2014

How about, I don't know, anything other than white?

Couple of things. One, Caliban in The Tempest is the ignorant subhuman savage that Prospero enslaves when he comes to the island. There are a lot of echoes of colonialism in the character, which some clever people have productively explored in rewritings of the play. Attaching that name to a non-white character would be super-duper racist. Which wouldn't necessarily be out of line for 19th century London, but pretty uncomfortable for anyone watching today. So, at the very least, I really hope the show would have changed his name if they'd cast a non-white actor.

Secondly, this is the interior cover illustration for the 1831 edition of Frankenstein, which Mary Shelley presumably approved. Good on you, Mary. So I guess cast someone who looks like that, but yellow of eye.
posted by figurant at 9:40 PM on May 26, 2014 [1 favorite]

I think Caliban's whiteness is more the product of not having much blood left in him - he does say "oh how I have bled". He's actually kind of grey.
posted by 5_13_23_42_69_666 at 2:07 AM on May 27, 2014 [1 favorite]

For some reason now my brain keeps coming up with Danny Trejo as the Creature. I bet that would be the weirdest Frankenstein adaptation ever.
posted by Iosephus at 3:29 AM on May 27, 2014

mstokes650, the only person talking about white privilege in this thread has been you. Obviously the character in the context of the era doesn't benefit from being perceived as white since he's perceived as a freakish scarred albino thing. But in the context of the world we & the show's writers live in, he's just another dude using his desire and loneliness as justification for murder, and those guys seem to be overwhelmingly white guys. There is no casting choice that would make me happy/less dismissive of the character, a different ethnicity wouldn't have erased the misogyny it would have just added some racism to it.

Maybe if his vengeance against Frankenstein was the focus rather than the side-effect, or if they'd made Frankenstein the villain a la the old Clancy Brown/Jennifer Beals/Sting movie "The Bride" I would have been interested. But as the story stands now, he gets a big nope from me.
posted by oh yeah! at 5:47 AM on May 27, 2014

Look, you can say "I'm not interested in seeing another violent, apparently misogynistic guy on screen." Okay, fair enough, though I think that probably nixes any Bride of Frankenstein plot. (I haven't seen The Bride, I'll add it to the queue. Sting as Dr. Frankenstein, what?!? How does that even-?) What I object to is the "Caliban = Elliot Rodgers" thinking, which is just lazy and kneejerk IMO. And the "angry misogynists are white," which is another level of lazy stereotyping. But tragedy brings out the reactionary in everyone I guess.

I would watch the hell out of a Danny Trejo Frankenstein movie though.
posted by mstokes650 at 7:02 AM on May 27, 2014

You say lazy & knee-jerk, I say realistic, so it goes.

"The Bride" is not a good movie, but it has parts of a good movie in it. And the DVD has a fun commentary track by the director where he acknowledges where/how it fails and explains what he was trying to achieve. It was in heavy rotation on cable many years ago, so I'm probably fonder of it than I have any reason to be.
posted by oh yeah! at 7:12 AM on May 27, 2014

When Vanessa was all "Hey, we should talk about what happened at the Zoo," I was expecting her to be all like "What the fuck was it with Ethan and the wolves?" not "Was I bait?"

Because they really need to talk about the wolves. First, there are wolves running around the Zoo free at night? Second, the gang's gunslinger can chill them out by placing his hand in their mouths? Thirdly AND MORE IMPORTANTLY they need to find out if Ethan is a werewolf BECAUSE THAT MEANS HE'S AN AMERICAN WEREWOLF IN LONDON y'all AND YOU CANNOT WALK AWAY FROM THAT.
posted by robocop is bleeding at 7:41 AM on May 27, 2014 [20 favorites]

It would be hilarious if none of the other characters express concern/confusion/interest about it because they all collectively assume that it just seems like something an American guy would do.
posted by elizardbits at 8:24 AM on May 27, 2014 [7 favorites]

It's not?
posted by Grangousier at 9:59 AM on May 27, 2014

Ethan juts puts his fingers in things. Later on, Caliban will be all monologing at the group and he'll just walk up and put his fingers in its mouth. Caliban will look surprised, then calm, then will wander off.

"Thank you, Ethan," Victor will sigh.

Then the two will totes make out.
posted by robocop is bleeding at 11:04 AM on May 27, 2014 [8 favorites]

For some reason now my brain keeps coming up with Danny Trejo as the Creature. I bet that would be the weirdest Frankenstein adaptation ever.

I'm looking forward to The Breadanimals of Frankenstein.
posted by homunculus at 11:18 AM on May 27, 2014 [1 favorite]

I seem to be an outlier, but aside from the whole 'make me a bride' thing (which, despite it being a classic Frankenstein trope, made me raise an eyebrow), I'm actually loving Rory Kinnear's monster a lot so far. That storyline is by far my favourite.
posted by EXISTENZ IS PAUSED at 5:51 PM on May 27, 2014 [1 favorite]

I'm not hugely enthused by Caliban but I'm interested to see where they go with that storyline. I'd wondered if he was behind the murders but if he's only just revealed himself to Victor, it might have been a bit early for him to be collecting parts. Unless he was trying a bit of a DIY first.

Fenton the monkey eating vampire (is it me or are penny dreadful vamps not that fussed about sun?) immediately made me think of this as soon as he gave his name, which heh. He's clearly being used as an entry point for his master though.

The show's approach to Consumption is...well... eyebrow raising.
posted by halcyonday at 5:57 AM on May 28, 2014

I assume you mean this, halcyonday. Which I thought of as well!
posted by EXISTENZ IS PAUSED at 6:09 AM on May 28, 2014

D'oh, missed the edit window and a http:// but the inline player picks it up.
posted by halcyonday at 6:26 AM on May 28, 2014

I think it's pretty clear that Ethan is indeed the werewolf and has been the source of the non-exsanguinated killings around London. Well, I shouldn't say "pretty clear" but that's the direction I anticipate from cues in the story so far.

Apart from this whole thing where wolves think Ethan tastes good, but not good enough to eat, Vanessa makes a comment about how he knows something about curses, and when Sir Malcolm was talking to the inspector they mention the cyclical nature of the killings (which I assume correspond with the full moon, though I haven't noticed whether the show itself is showing us this).

I actually do like the Caliban story, it fits in pretty well with the novel, where the monster is well-read, resentful, and has a fair bit of violence and bitterness building up inside him (I also enjoyed the shout-out to Keats). The whole "make me a bride" thing is definitely a Frankenstein trope, I can see where people would read misogyny in it but I don't think the show is exactly endorsing that viewpoint.
posted by whir at 8:16 PM on May 28, 2014

I would have characterized it as Especially Awesome myself
posted by elizardbits at 2:59 PM on June 1, 2014 [1 favorite]

"It seems like it’s all just publicity"

Got it in one, Eva. The cynic in me wonders how much the Weinsteins paid the MPAA to ban that poster.
posted by mstokes650 at 10:17 AM on June 8, 2014 [1 favorite]

« Older Mad Men: Waterloo...   |  Mystery Science Theater 3000: ... Newer »

You are not logged in, either login or create an account to post comments