New Show Recap: Penny Dreadful 2×05, “Above a Vaulted Sky”

On this week’s Penny Dreadful, everyone does the mattress mambo. Except for Ethan. No sex for you, Ethan.

Evelyn has completed the fetish resembling Vanessa, with the strand of hair as the final ingredient. Evelyn has also created a fetish of Gladys Murray, and when she sticks a pin into the fetish’s head, Gladys awakens shrieking with a painful headache.

The members of the Murray household have hunkered down and are preparing themselves for yet another invasion from the witches. They have barricaded the door. Ethan is not pleased at all with this development. He speaks of his time fighting in the Indian wars, especially of a siege he was part of, in which all of the members of the tribe were killed. Instead of letting the nightcomers lay siege to them, he believes that they need to gather all of their defenses so that they can fight back when the witches return. Vanessa believes that the nightcomers have succeeded in obtaining what they wanted, a piece of her hair to complete the fetish of her. The fetish is a simulacra, “those things that take the appearance of other things, so as to more easily enchant them.” They determine that they are safe during the day, but during the night, they are in peril, and so they must use what defenses they can to keep the witches away. Malcolm has a metal door installed and he and Ethan gather their firearms. They use whatever rituals or magic they can to protect the home: Vanessa scrawls her sigil in blood on the windows and doorways, Sembene hangs protective totems about the house, Ethan smudges the house with sage for protection, and Professor Lyle — who is Jewish — recites prayers from the Torah and covers the mirrors.

That night, Vanessa prays fervently. The nightcomers gather about her, and attack her, the force of their presence extinguishing the candles and the fire in the fireplace. Vanessa goes to Ethan’s room and tells him that she has seen the witches, but that she isn’t sure whether or not they were actually there or just playing with her head. Vanessa doesn’t even feel safe in her own room. She is desperate, and during her ramblings talks of suicide to make it all end, but also reminds herself that God has a plan for her. Ethan comforts her and is there for her, and when she begs to sleep in his room that evening because she doesn’t want to be alone, he allows her to. Vanessa notices that Ethan was praying when she first arrived in his room. Ethan tells her that instead of believing in God, he believes that people make themselves into who are they are, and the blood is on their hands, not God’s. The first time he picked up a gun to kill someone, he was beyond redemption. Vanessa accepts Ethan for who he is, and she still believes that they have been brought together for a reason.

Caliban wants to see Lily. He accuses Victor of keeping Lily away from him. After he roughs Victor up, he asks to see Lily. Before going to Lily’s room, he wishes to know what Victor has told Lily about him. Victor only told Lily that she and Caliban had been engaged before the accident robbed her of her memory, that he is unsure of whether or not she loved Caliban, that he knows nothing of their romance, and that she must decide for herself whether or not she wishes to marry Caliban. Lily has made no mention of Caliban’s deformity. Caliban agrees that this was the best thing to do and that Lily must grow to care for him of her own accord. Victor tells Caliban that he should court Lily and once they are married, they both need to leave. Victor leaves Caliban alone with Lily, and the conversation is dreadfully awkward. Lily is frightened of Caliban’s face, but Caliban weaves a tale of how Lily loved him despite his appearance at one time. Lily insists she can’t remember any of this, and she can only be friends with Caliban, which Caliban seems to understand.

Evelyn is still working her magic on Gladys’s fetish. Gladys is ill and has been driven to madness. The spell causes her to hallucinate. She believes she is being visited and tormented by her dead children and cuts her own throat to end her life.

Ethan runs into Inspector Rusk in the street. Rusk takes Ethan to Scotland Yard for questioning. Rusk questions Ethan about his theatrical past and why he has remained in London without employment. He also questions Ethan about the Mariner’s Inn and the massacre there. Ethan answers Rusk’s questions satisfactorily, but is still evasive. All of the guests were accounted for, except for Ethan, who has now been found, and Brona. Rusk believes that it’s quite the coincidence that all of the trouble in London — all of the unsolved murders —began when Ethan first arrived with the Wild West Show. Rusk knows there’s something up with Ethan, but he can’t put his finger on it. He knows Ethan has been traveling under another name, but is unable to find his real one, no matter how much contact he has had with American authorities. He eventually lets Ethan go. But now Ethan knows that Rusk is on to him. As Rusk lets him go, he ducks into an alley and evades the other police officer tailing him. Thank goodness Ethan’s theater background helped him dodge this bullet!

Vanessa joins Lily and Victor for tea. Oddly, Vanessa does not seem to recognize the former Brona. They discuss Lily’s time in London. Victor lies and says that he and Lily have visited the tourist sites. Lily’s opinion of London? “The weather is challenging, but the excitement is palpable.” Lily is disarmingly open with Vanessa, and is still a little unsure of herself when it comes to social graces. Vanessa makes plans to go shopping with Lily, and as she leaves, she’s touched by the affection Lily and Victor have for one another.

Vanessa sees Caliban at the soup kitchen. They discuss a mutual love for poetry, especially that of John Clare, whose name Caliban has taken as an alias. Caliban quotes John Clare’s poetry, which Vanessa knows as well. Vanessa tells him of her time with Victor and Lily, and the love she could see they held for one another. Both she and Caliban have a sad history with love. Vanessa reveals that it has cost her too much and left her damaged, and that it’s better to not open herself up to it again. Caliban speaks of how much he loves Lily, but he is unsure of how to act when around her. “All the stratagems of the battle are unknown to me,” he tells Vanessa. Vanessa tells him that he must he himself and follow his heart. She offers to teach him to waltz so that he might impress Lily, and after some resistance, he takes her up on her offer. The two of them dancing is almost a sad scene, as Vanessa seems to be the only person who has never been frightened of Caliban’s appearance and who is sincerely kind to him, for she’s intrigued by the man himself.

Ethan returns to the Murray home. He seems to know that he is being followed. Sembene lets him in, and he hurries inside. We finally see that the man who is following him is the survivor from the Mariner’s Inn massacre, and that the ravaged side of his face is hidden by half a leather mask.

Angelique and Dorian attend the opera, and some other gentlemen recognize Angelique and make fun of her, calling her a freak. Dorian kisses her hand even though one of the other gentlemen spits at her. Dorian wipes the spit from her cheek and comforts her as she looks visibly upset. Later, at Dorian’s, Angelique emerges from Dorian’s room dressed in men’s clothing. Angelique calls herself a freak, even though she knew she was trans as a small child, and she came to London, created a new identity for herself, and turned to prostitution. Dorian can empathize with her, and Angelique is touched when he tells her he genuinely loves her. The two kiss and have sex.

Evelyn and Malcolm are at this same opera. As they talk, Evelyn releases a tiny blade on the underside of one of her rings. Her ring pricks him on the finger as she hands him his brandy, and when the wound bleeds, she sucks the blood from his finger. When he tells her he has never met a woman like her, she replies calmly as she drinks her champagne, “You have no idea.” They laughingly run through the storm on their way home, and Malcolm stops and kisses Evelyn in front of a hotel and tells her he wants to be with her. They get a room so they can have sex. During the act, she pricks him again with the blade on the neck and licks some of the blood.

Ethan and Lyle are still working and translating the relics, and Lyle has found a certain phrase repeated many times throughout the series. Ethan translates it from the Latin, Lupus Dei, as Hound of God. It bothers Lyle, but he’s certain they’ll find out the meaning of the poem. Later, he is approached by Vanessa, who is in her nightgown, and who strokes his hair. He follows her downstairs.

Lily awakens during the storm. Frightened, she runs into Victor’s room and climbs into his bed. Lily initiates a few kisses, and Victor pulls away from her, hesitant to respond to her at first. Lily unlaces her nightgown and invites him to touch her, and the two end up having sex as well. There’s a certain sweetness to the scene, since the two seem to love each other. No doubt this is going to complicate the dynamics of their relationship with Caliban.

So, to sum it up:

  1. A good number of people get laid.
  2. Did anyone notice that the sex between Malcolm and Evelyn seemed to be the final part of the death spell cast on Gladys? Oooh, witchy woman, indeed!
  3. Love is a battlefield for Caliban. I’m honestly shipping him with Vanessa. They can go live in the Cut-Wife’s old cottage and provide herbal cures for the locals and read each other poetry all day.
  4. Can I say that this show does a really good job representing LGBTQA? And it’s interesting that they’re getting into how things might be for people like Angelique, who makes a living whoring in a mollyhouse (no, really, that’s what brothels with male prostitutes dressing up as women were called).
  5. You know Victor is selfish enough to leave Caliban to the mercy of people like the Putneys. Hopefully Team Murray can intervene just is time.

And that’s it for this week! Believe it or not, we’re halfway through the season!

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