Penny Dreadful: Demimonde
June 2, 2014 6:30 AM - Season 1, Episode 4 - Subscribe

Ethan, Brona, Dorian, & Vanessa take in a show. Frankenstein consults with Van Helsing. Animal cruelty abounds.
posted by oh yeah! (34 comments total)
Poor kitty! Boo! Poor rats too, but the cat looked like someone's well-groomed lap-cat to have been caught & sacrificed so quickly.

Still no idea what to make of Ethan. I did love how the flashback montage that seemed to be leading up to a dramatic reveal of his possible monstery nature ended with surprise Dorian sexytimes instead. Maybe he's a were-red-herring?

Happy to see David Warner as Van Helsing, though curious what backstory they'll give him with Mina now being in Lord Malcolm's story instead.
posted by oh yeah! at 7:14 AM on June 2, 2014

I really liked this episode. The ending took me completely by surprise.
posted by Pendragon at 10:50 AM on June 2, 2014

It can't be said they aren't ambitious, how many narrative balls are they now juggling in the air? And for a moment I though the guignol act was going to be about Jekyll and Hyde. (Though that might have taken things a trope too far, I suppose. On the other hand, it would make me unreasonably happy if they manage to sneak in something from Machen's The Three Impostors!)
posted by Iosephus at 7:07 PM on June 2, 2014

They did a great job of ratcheting up the tension while the monster is backstage working the theater, I was half-certain there was going to me some kind of terrible accident. And yeah, that ending was definitely a surprise to me.

I was glad that they didn't show the actual picture of Dorian Gray, too. I suppose they will need to put it on camera at some point, but I'm afraid of being disappointed by the actual painting, and for now just seeing Dorian look at it works really well.
posted by whir at 9:45 PM on June 2, 2014

Oh, and I also expected a possible Jekyll and Hyde entree when Dorian made that remark about being someone else, which come to think of it, why would watching a dog kill a bunch of rats have that effect?
posted by whir at 9:47 PM on June 2, 2014

I'm very pleased with this show. It's not anything too special, but it's fun to watch and gives me ideas for RPGs :-P
posted by Strass at 11:12 PM on June 2, 2014

Like this show more than I thought I would. I also was surprised by the ending this time around.

Is Billie Piper's Northern Irish accent accurate? It sounds ok to me, but I'm not really qualified to judge.
posted by cwest at 11:36 PM on June 2, 2014

I'm not sure whether i'm just acclimatising to Dorian now or whether he's growing on me, but he seemed a lot less mannered this week. A little more natural. Maybe it's the actor relaxing in the role?

Either way, I outright cheered at that last unexpected scene. And then I hissed 'GET IT, ETHAN!' into my pillow.

(And relatedly, hooray for more cheerfully bi/pansexual characters on my TV lately. I'm willing to bet someone, somewhere, has already written Dorian/Oberyn fanfic and I would read the shit out of it.)
posted by pseudonymph at 3:42 AM on June 3, 2014

oooh that ending!! I did not see that coming!
posted by 5_13_23_42_69_666 at 3:58 AM on June 3, 2014

Query: i'm not able to rewatch just yet and had a bit of trouble hearing the dialogue at the time, but during the scene with Sir Malcolm and Vanessa in which he tells her she's the daughter he deserves, she says she betrayed Mina, I think, but was it mentioned how?
posted by pseudonymph at 8:19 AM on June 3, 2014

I'm pretty sure she doesn't say specifically how she betrayed Mina, but from the "next week on..." bit at the end of this episode it looks as if the next one will spend some time on their back-story. (Usually I skip those, but I forgot to this time.)
posted by whir at 9:49 AM on June 3, 2014

why would watching a dog kill a bunch of rats have that effect?

All I could think of (aside from the post-fight absinthe/sexy times) was the way the dapper British gents turned into hooligans, and how the spectators were literally baying for blood -- which is incidentally a nice touch after the bloody play. But that seems like a stretch.

What was the white stuff Dorian dissolved into the absinthe? Is that a normal thing?

Man, the plot keeps rollicking along, doesn't it? I've only watched all the eps to date in the past week, and I've already lost track of some of the important plot points because there's so much happening.
posted by tracicle at 12:52 PM on June 3, 2014

What was the white stuff Dorian dissolved into the absinthe? Is that a normal thing?

Real absinthe is usually poured over sugar cubes, I believe.
posted by oh yeah! at 1:42 PM on June 3, 2014 [1 favorite]

The white stuff in the absinthe was sugar. Yeah, it's pretty normal because of the taste of the actual absinthe, from what I gather. Edit: beaten!
posted by destructive cactus at 1:42 PM on June 3, 2014 [1 favorite]

Dear Caliban-

Hey, it's "Dad" here. Sorry we got off on the wrong foot the other day when you threatened to choke me in the stables. Guess you're not the 'master' of your emotions yet - ha ha! I kid, kid. Anyways, seeing how I'm totally on board with your not creepy at all plan to make you an immortal lover, I thought I'd remind you about the lab you trashed when you offed your little bro. Given all the free time you seem to have following me around, I thought I could offer you some work with this rich dude I know. I figure it probably pays more than lurking around a theatre all day.

Also, you are an immortal creature of vast strength and a propensity to violence. Wouldn't you know it, but our team is looking for someone matching that description! What luck that our previous violent beast turned out to have qualms beating defenseless captives (who turned out to not be quite so defenseless or captive) and given the resume of bruises you have delivered me, I think you would be a good fit.

What do you say, son? Father and son, working together? We could earn the dosh to get you some stitchy sweets in half the time.

Or you could discover the limits of your immortality at the hands of a seven foot tall Egyptian bat monster. I know it's pretty likely I'll learn the limits of my own morality at its blackened claws, so it might be in your best interests to sign on the dotted line seeing as I'm the only one running around with the know how to make you the best birthday present ever.


Papa Vic
posted by robocop is bleeding at 6:26 PM on June 3, 2014 [7 favorites]

Given that he's the first of his kind (and that he managed to murder the second of his kind with some ease), I don't understand why Caliban's so confident of his immortality.
posted by EXISTENZ IS PAUSED at 6:36 PM on June 3, 2014 [1 favorite]

He might mean "immortal but for extreme physical harm on accident or violence" I suppose. It's been ages since I read the original novel, perhaps it goes in a similar way over there... In any case, this kind of immortal is probably already a trope or in its way to become one, I recall Gaiman had a few like that in The Sandman (Bernie, it was? Immortal, but got smooshed in an accident and ended up very very dead.)
posted by Iosephus at 8:20 PM on June 3, 2014 [1 favorite]

> He might mean "immortal but for extreme physical harm on accident or violence" I suppose.

True. Even so, how could he know that? You won't know you're immortal until you keep not dying for a really long time.

Perhaps it's something he just feels in himself? A perceptible essence? 'I feel, you know, immortalish'.
posted by EXISTENZ IS PAUSED at 8:42 PM on June 3, 2014

Caliban seems like a pretty smart fellow. In keeping with the original story, I assume once he run away from his locked room and wandered the world, he had some pretty miserable times. He probably noticed that he rarely needed to eat or drink, that he could endure cold without suffering hypothermia or losing fingers/ears to the cold, that he never felt sick from drinking foul water or eating spoiled food, that he didn't catch even a cold. Perhaps he doesn't even need to sleep but for a brief catnap once a week, for all I know, plus he has unnatural strength and resilience. That should make him take a very resonable guess that he might be in for a very long haul if he manages to avoid falling into an industrial shredder or something like that.

Or he just might be another case of the egos. Considering the "father"...
posted by Iosephus at 9:07 PM on June 3, 2014

my guess it that frankenstein used two different methods to create the creatures - Caliban started on a bloody table, and has that unnatural pallor thing going, but Proteus seemed to be started off with a jolt of electricity, and looked more human. So Proteus' life came from a scientific experiment, but maybe Caliban's start was more occult? or maybe he is linked to the vampires in some way? just a theory.
posted by 5_13_23_42_69_666 at 10:47 PM on June 3, 2014 [1 favorite]

Yeah, Caliban seemed to spend his early days hanging around Frequent Beatings Alley, so he might have picked up on some regeneration ability.

Speaking of which, when Ethan was cleaning himself off in the mirror, was that blood on his hand from the toffs or a wound that had already healed?
posted by robocop is bleeding at 3:49 AM on June 4, 2014

posted by cwest at 11:02 PM on June 4, 2014

posted by elizardbits at 7:52 PM on June 5, 2014

and tbh i am always expecting an ending like that and am always disappointed UNTIL THIS DAY HUZZAH
posted by elizardbits at 7:54 PM on June 5, 2014 [3 favorites]

you guys they totally did a sex
posted by elizardbits at 7:56 PM on June 5, 2014 [2 favorites]

and then the credits came up and I was all dammit why can't we see more of the sex?

and holy hell, we don't know if Ethan is a werewolf, but he sure as hell is a horndog - is there anyone on this show he doesn't want to bang?
posted by 5_13_23_42_69_666 at 1:18 AM on June 6, 2014

The way things are going I'm expecting a Vanessa, Ethan, and Dorian Gray three way very soon. I'm also expecting Brona to be the Bride of Frankenstein. Will be disappointed if she isn't.
posted by cwest at 2:25 AM on June 6, 2014 [3 favorites]

True. Even so, how could he know that? You won't know you're immortal until you keep not dying for a really long time.

Yes, exactly, I'm wondering how he went to "crybaby in an alley cause some bully punched me" to "RARRGH TEAR THIS DUDE IN HALF AND CACKLE MADLY ABOUT HOW POWERFUL I AAAAMMM". I also didn't get a very clear sense of the time that had passed since his creation to his attack on poor precious babby Proteus, although I feel like he may have mentioned years?
posted by elizardbits at 9:42 AM on June 6, 2014 [1 favorite]

long enough to grow out his head of stringy gothic locks?

it's funny, because having hung out at a lot of goth clubs, his pale-long-black-hair-shaved-sides look reminds me of a bunch of guys I used to be friends with.
posted by 5_13_23_42_69_666 at 11:43 AM on June 6, 2014

Am I the only one who said "Caliban!" out loud the moment his theater patron guy said he needed a nom de theatre? It was obviously the perfect name.
posted by Justinian at 5:32 PM on June 6, 2014 [1 favorite]

I called "Caliban" when Victor was flipping through the book to name Proteus. When Actual Caliban said his name, my wife gave me a high five.
posted by robocop is bleeding at 6:44 PM on June 6, 2014 [2 favorites]

Am I the only one who said "Caliban!" out loud the moment his theater patron guy said he needed a nom de theatre?

I did that too!
posted by 5_13_23_42_69_666 at 1:50 AM on June 7, 2014

I am so late to this discussion, but I am so gunning for everyone in the cast, including Van Helsing, getting to bonk Dorian Gray before Vanessa.
posted by arha at 5:50 AM on July 20, 2014 [3 favorites]

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