New Show Recap: Penny Dreadful 2×07, “Little Scorpion”

In the morning after Ethan’s transformation, Sembene remarks on what he saw. When he was younger, he had heard stories of humans who could shift into animals as well from the shamans of his tribe. He knew that many shifters couldn’t remember what they had done in their animal forms. Ethan’s ability is neither a gift nor a curse, but something that he needs to learn to live with.

Upstairs, Vanessa, Malcolm, Professor Lyle, Victor, and Sembene discuss Vanessa’s vision. Malcolm is oddly dismissive, chalking it up to feminine hysterics or being overstimulated in the ballroom. Vanessa is insulted at these insinuations, and even Victor, who is of a scientific bent, reminds Malcolm that Vanessa’s abilities allow her to see things that many other people can’t. Malcolm still blows Vanessa’s experience off, giving the stress they have been under as another reason. Vanessa finally grows fed up and decides to leave London. Ethan insists on traveling with her. Professor Lyle advises that she and Ethan ought to go far away and not to tell anyone where they’re going. Vanessa confides in Victor about her destination, and to come to her if something happens to Malcolm and offers some comforting advice about Lily.

Ethan and Vanessa reach the Cut-Wife’s cottage. It still holds terrible memories for Vanessa, but this is still the only place where she can be safe. Vanessa tells Ethan that the tree in the yard reminds her of what happened to the Cut-Wife. As they gather provisions, Ethan and Vanessa discuss what’s going on, including the deterioration of her relationship with Malcolm and the bad memories of her childhoods. Ethan’s father was harsh and demanding of him and Vanessa harbored a secret fear of dolls. Ethan grows ansty and tells Vanessa he needs to go outside, as he’s ready to transform into a werewolf, and he tells Vanessa to bolt the door and that he’ll be back in the morning. Vanessa awakens to find him chopping down the tree from which the Cut-wife was hanged. Vanessa begs him to confide in her about what monsters from within he fears, but he avoids the subject by teaching her to shoot as well as he can. She spends the evening teaching him how to dance. The two develop a routine and enjoy the simple camaraderie of their solitude. Can we say sexual tension and flirting much?

During a storm, the cottage is struck by lightning and catches ablaze. Ethan and Vanessa scramble to put out the fire. After their lives are threatened, she and Ethan kiss passionately and are about to start a hot and heavy makeout session. Vanessa changes her mind as her head overtakes her heart, and she backs away from him, telling him that they are both dangerous.

Victor is waxing philosophical about love to Professor Lyle, and he wonders what the Egyptians thought of it. Our little Egyptologist is ever so eager to share what he knows about such things! He tells Victor that the Egyptians compared love to a scorpion’s sting, little, but an eternal infection that had no end. Amunet and Amun-Ra had an eternal love, and should they reunite and conjoin, the world would end and be plunged into darkness, and the “hidden ones,” or demons and fallen angels, would emerge to conquer mankind and rule. Lyle compares it to the coming of the beast in the Bible. Lyle explains that Vanessa is the one who has been selected to be the demon’s bride, and that the bride, like the scorpion, will strike out on the devil’s behalf to kill his enemies, including God. Victor wishes to help her, but Lyle thinks he might be onto something and needs a few more days. The hound of God has shown up over again in the relics, and Lyle thinks that the demon may have mentioned it over and over again because the hound could harm him, Lyle believes that the demon, the hound, and the scorpion are all related somehow.

As Ethan and Vanessa are walking through the woods, they discuss her struggle with the demons. Vanessa confides in him that she feels such torment and that sometimes she wants to die. Ethan will not allow her to give up while he is still alive. As they speak, they hear the baying of hunting hounds and see a man on horseback approaching. It’s Lord Geoffrey, who is shocked that Vanessa is back. Ethan is affronted at Lord Geoffrey’s insolent manners, but Lord Geoffrey still continues to act like an asshole toward Ethan and Vanessa. He threatens Vanessa, who stares him down defiantly. Vanessa tells Ethan that she had sworn that she would take Lord Geoffrey’s life in just recompense for the Cut-Wife’s. Ethan demands that she stop and forget her vow, but Vanessa insists that she’ll stop when she wants to and she will kill Lord Geoffrey. Ethan leaves her, not wanting anything to do with the situation and what Vanessa is becoming.

Vanessa takes out the Cut-wife’s spellbook with the intent to use the magic within. She casts a spell to kill Lord Geoffrey using the Verbus Diablo. Ethan hurries to Lord Geoffrey’s manor to try and kill the man himself. Vanessa’s spell compels Lord Geoffrey’s dogs to turn on him and maul him to death. Ethan bears witness to all of this. He returns to the cottage to find Vanessa exhausted from casting the spell. Ethan knows Vanessa cast the spell and calls her a murderess. He’s angry with Vanessa for what she has done, but only because he has killed so many men, too. Ethan tells Vanessa she will never get her soul back. And Vanessa understands that. “Welcome to the night, Vanessa,” he tells her.

Dorian Gray has asked Lily out to dinner. Victor seems reluctant to let her go, and Lily tells him that she won’t go if Victor doesn’t want her to. Heeding Vanessa’s advice, Victor urges Lily to go out and have fun. During her time with Dorian, conversation come up about Lily’s life with Victor. Dorian is curious about just exactly what their relationship is. He remarks again about the coldness of her touch, her sense of delight at discovering the world around her, and her eyes, which seem so different, yet so familiar. Dorian takes Lily to the Putney wax museum, and they stop in front of an exhibit of Burke and Hare, the infamous grave robbers. Lily is curious as to why anyone would wish to rob a grave, and Dorian explains that they sold the dead bodies as cadavers for medical study and experimentation. Lily wants to know about what kind of experimentation, but Dorian nonchalantly replies that he doesn’t know. Or does he? Caliban sees the two of them in the wax museum and follows them from the shadows during the remainder of their evening.

On her way home, Lily decides she’s going to have a little fun and wanders into a pub. She picks up a random man there and goes to his house with him for sex, after which she strangles him. It seems that Lily hasn’t forgotten her previous life as Brona and the anger she still holds in her heart for the way men treated Brona. She also seems very frustrated with how stifling her life is with Victor and how she feels obligated to please him instead of doing as she wishes. What a way to resolve it and take back some power!

Some final thoughts:

  1. Why did Vanessa confide in Victor? Well, Victor first confided and no one else about Lily, and Vanessa, at this point, trusts him, as does everyone else. Victor can also come and go from London without causing much suspicion, and Vanessa is wary because she doesn’t know how much power Evelyn might have over Malcolm. Sembene leaving Malcolm’s side would cause much suspicion, as he has been Malcolm’s constant companion. Further, this only serves to show how much trust has been built between Victor and the rest of the team, and how his dirty little secret getting out will only serve to break that trust in the future. Vanessa also seems to suspect something and is trying to develop a closer friendship with Victor so she can figure out what’s up. Even as she comforts Victor to not worry so much about Lily, you can tell that her own plate is pretty full. And the fact that she cares about what other people are going through when she herself is being tormented says a lot about her as a person.
  2. Despite what I have seen in some analyses of the episode, Ethan does not victim blame Vanessa. His only concern — as her friend and someone who cares deeply for her — is that she doesn’t succumb to the dark forces plaguing her. He doesn’t want her to become the person he has, and that was why he was ready to shoot and kill Lord Geoffrey for her so he could spare her that first step into the darkness. In his eyes, there is already blood on his hands, and the murder is justifiable (Lord Geoffrey is a raping, torturing, murdering piece of shit), so he’s willing to do that for Vanessa’s sake since it’s her soul that’s in the balance. He did not want Vanessa to become the person he has, and he had gone out of his way to prevent it, but she chose her path anyhow. While it was her choice and she knew what the consequences might be, Ethan doubts that she fully understands it, because this is what he deals with every day of his life, and the guilt just eats away at him.
  3. Victor is obsessed with Lily. Just by what he said to Professor Lyle, you know he is going to crack.
  4. Lily, I think, is starting to remember her past life as Brona, in bits and pieces, just as Proteus did in the first season. She seems to have so much anger and hurt in her. And Dorian, for whatever reason, is trying to trigger her memory (I think he suspects it’s some huge scam on Victor and Brona’s part) and trip her up. Whatever the case, this is not a good sign.
  5. Can we please get more about Sembene and Caliban?
  6. Do any of you think it’s possible that Vanessa isn’t Amunet at all, but that Brona/Lily could be Amunet and that Caliban could be Amun-Ra? Think about it. It is possible…

I have seen complaints about plot holes, but the writers tend to bring everything together at the end. Let’s hope they do so within the next three episodes. Do any of you have any opinions about this episode? Loved it? Hated it? Spill!

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