New Show Recap

New Show Recap: Penny Dreadful 1×06, “What Death Can Join Together”

Happy Friday! We’re almost done with this first season of Penny Dreadful. In the sixth episode, “What Death Can Join Together,” we’re back to the main story… and shit starts to hit the fan here.

The show opens with Malcolm and Vanessa surveying the damage from the previous night’s home invasion by a vampire. Vanessa is clearly agitated by the residual energy the supernatural creatures have left, and she quickly leaves the room. Malcolm asks her if she can summon whatever it was, but Vanessa is unable to. She promises that she will try to do what she can for Malcolm so that they can save Mina.

Ethan returns home from his night with Dorian. Brona is in bed, very ill and shaking with coughs. Ethan holds her and kisses her while she languishes. She asks him where he has been and he tells her he has been out with Dorian. Brona apologizes for what she said to Ethan the previous night, and Ethan forgives her. He tells Brona he loves her.

At the Murray home, Vanessa is consulting her Tarot cards to see what information she can garner from the spirit world. She can hear Mina whispering to her for help, and she as she closes her eyes and meditates she can hear distant screaming and howling. She was able to determine that something terrible happened aboard a ship that arrived in London; Malcolm will check the shipping registries. Dorian arrives and interrupts their conversation. He wishes to make amends to Vanessa for so rudely leaving the theater the night before. He offers to take Vanessa out for the afternoon, and she agrees to go with him. In the cellar of the Murray home, Victor is conducting an autopsy on Fenton’s corpse.

Vanessa consults her cards
Vanessa consults her cards to see if Mina can be located. Image via Screenrant. Penny Dreadful belongs to Showtime.

Caliban is in his rooms at the Grand Guignol, and the young actress in the troupe has wandered down there so he can repair one of the props from the play. Victor is careful to keep the gas lamps low so the actress can’t see the extent of his deformity. She remarks on the many books he has. He returns the prop to the actress, who explains that her brother had been burned and scarred in a boating accident and looks away like Victor does. She mentions that her brother is named Lucifer. She leaves and thanks him, and Victor is touched by the girl’s kindness to him.

At the Murray home, Malcolm is going through the ship registries while Victor gives the results from the autopsy on Fenton. Fenton wasn’t entirely preternatural and suffered from malnutrition and incipient anemia. He theorizes that Fenton had been able to summon the creature with some kind of echolocation, rather like bats. He and Malcolm agree that it would be a good idea to consult Dr. Van Helsing again. Sembibe asks Malcolm what will happen if Mina can’t be saved, but Malcolm insists Mina will be saved if he finds her. Sembibe advises Malcolm that some people can’t be saved and that Mina may very well be one of them, and that Malcolm should know what his course of action will be.

Dorian takes Vanessa to have her photograph taken, and she reveals that she has never had her photo taken before. She tells Dorian that some Native American tribes believe that when they for a photograph, they give away a bit of their soul. She archly asks Dorian what he will do with that bit of her soul, and he replies that he will protect it. Dorian admits that he has been both photographed and painted. He prefers paintings, though, because “photographs are so ironically impermanent. They capture one moment in time to perfection. A painting can capture eternity.” Vanessa stares into the camera resolutely as her picture is taken.

Back at the Grand Guignol, the young actress has come into her rooms to see that a parcel has been left for her. She opens it to find a copy of Milton’s Paradise Lost, no doubt given to her by Caliban. He watches from a secret passage as the actress’s lover comes in and kisses her. Caliban is later shown crying in his rooms because for what he could have.

Dorian walks Vanessa back to the Murray home and Vanessa thanks him for the wonderful afternoon. Vanessa, feeling bold, invites him to dinner that evening.

Victor is sitting in a bench outside of a ballet school, waiting for Dr. Van Helsing, and is drawing the dancers as they practice. He makes some notes in his sketchbook about the bride he has promised to make for Caliban. Dr. Van Helsing finally arrives, and the two go out to dinner. Van Helsing tells Victor about his wife and tells him that he can’t bury his life in his work and that one day he will meet someone. “Our work cannot control us, we must control it,” Van Helsing says. Victor then begins to hint to Van Helsing about the mistake he made with Caliban and facing the consequences of it and promises to tell Van Helsing the whole story one day.

Victor and Van Helsing
Van Helsing shares vital information with Victor about the creature they have encountered. Image via Screenrant. Penny Dreadful belongs to Showtime.

Vanessa heads out to dinner with Dorian. After she leaves, Malcolm and Sembibe get set to leave. Ethan is getting ready to leave his rooms as well, no doubt to meet Malcom and Sembibe for another expedition. Brona gives Ethan her saint medal for protection to wear that evening. The medal is one of St. Jude, “the patron saint of causes lost.”

Ethan meets Sembibe and Malcolm in the street and asks then why they need him. Malcolm explains they are going to explore a plagued ship.

Victor and Van Helsing talking further, and Van Helsing tells Victor he knows the truth about what Malcolm is looking for, but Victor can’t let Sir Malcolm know yet. He then tells Victor about what really happened to his wife, Hannah: he had to drive a stake through her heart and cut off her head. That’s right, folks! His wife, Hannah, had been turned into a vampire, and Van Helsing had to slay her.

On their to the ship, Ethan is quiet and preoccupied. Malcolm asks him what he’s brooding about, and Ethan explains that he is concerned about Brona, who is very ill. Ethan reveals that he has looked into sanitariums, but that they are like prisons and that he doesn’t want Brona to die in one. Malcolm offers to pay for a private asylum in the country, but Ethan declines, saying that they would prefer to remain at home.

“She will cease being who she is,” Malcolm warns.

“Then I’ll love who she becomes,” Ethan declares.

The trio finds the ship, which originally came from Cairo. The ship has been in quarantine because everyone aboard has a disease similar to typhus. Malcolm reminds Ethan that the tattoos on the creature they found were Egyptian, and that there may be a connection between that and the ship.

Vanessa and Dorian are at dinner, and Dorian talks about his search for knowledge and truth. He has followed several different philosophies but has not been able to be happy with any of them, and he doesn’t really subscribe to the idea of religion but he likes the ritual of it, particularly Catholicism. He asks Vanessa about her own beliefs, and she replies, “I have a complicated history with the Almighty.” She goes on to explain, “I think, Mr. Grey, that there are tremors around us, like the vibrations of a note of music—hidden music. Some may be more attuned to them than others. What do those people do—those who have been chosen?”

“They ensure uniqueness,” Dorian replies.

“To be alien? To be disenfranchised from those around you? Is that not a dreadful curse?” Vanessa persists.

“To be different, to be powerful. Is that not a divine gift?” he says.

“To be alone?” Vanessa says. They discover that in their uniqueness, they have something in common.

Malcolm, Sembibe, and Ethan board the ship.

Victor and Van Helsing are still discussing Malcolm’s case, and Van Helsing mentions the word “vampire.” Victor has never heard of it, and Van Helsing holds up a copy of Varney the Vampire and laughs that only people who read a certain kind of literature would be familiar with the term. “A penny dreadful?” Victor says. Inside joke there! Like we couldn’t catch it!

Van Helsing says the penny dreadful is a good reference point. “There is on this on this earth a creature that exceeds what is commonly known as the limits of life and death, This creature feeds on the blood of the living and can have transformative effects upon those on which it preys. When you are marked by this creature, there is only death, a walking death, or a somnolent obeisance.”

Dorian takes Vanessa back to his house and she’s impressed with his collection of portraits, though she finds it odd that he has no other works of art.They flirt back and forth and it’s clear the sexual tension between them is very potent. But here is something really hot: DORIAN ASKS VANESSA IF HE CAN KISS HER NECK. Even though she tells him that he doesn’t need to ask, she warns him that she might stop things between them at any time. Dorian seems okay with this. THIS IS VERY IMPORTANT. Dorian ASKS Vanessa whether or not he can come into her personal space, and he’s okay with letting Vanessa call the shots. The scene is very well-written, acted, and directed, and, best of all, shows how hot enthusiastic consent is.

Back to the show. Victor and Van Helsing are outside, still discussing vampires. Van Helsing has had a lot of experience with them, and he explains that they move from place to place in packs like wolves with one goal in mind: survival and conquest. No on really knows their entire motives. All they know is that “the dead travel fast.”

Aboard the ship, Sembibe, Malcolm, and Ethan are taking a look around to see what exactly could be aboard. It’s dark, silent, and creepy, and the only light comes from the lantern Sembibe is carrying. Below decks, they come across the bodies of several young women who look like they have been bitten and drained by vampires. None of them is Mina. Malcolm had believed Mina was aboard the ship. But we see some movement among the bodies!

Victor and Van Helsing are still talking as they wander the streets. Van Helsing knows that he is nearing the end of his life and that Victor would have reached the conclusions he has even without Van Helsing’s help. Van Helsing tells Victor that though his life will not be easy, he will still astonish the world. But then—trouble! Caliban arrives and struggles with Van Helsing, ultimately dragging him into an alley and breaking his neck. Caliban tells Victor that he had better deliver on his promise of a bride for him or he will start killing everyone Victor loves.

Dorian and Vanessa climb up the winding staircase to Dorian’s room. Pretty sure we know what’s going to happen.

On the ship, the young undead women attack Sembibe, Ethan, and Malcolm. A fight ensues, and Ethan kills the creatures with his gun, Sembibe with a sword and Malcolm with his sword-stick. As one fo the creatures falls, though, the lantern tips over, and it starts a fire. They kill all of the creatures around them.

Back at Dorian’s we have some Vanessa/Dorian sexytimes, complete with some adventurous knifeplay and licking of blood from cuts. Get it, girl.

As fire consumes the ship, Malcolm is searching for Mina. He comes across the creature, who has Mina. Mina cries out for her father, but a fiery beam falls in between them, making it impossible for him to reach Mina.

Back at Dorian’s, Vanessa is certainly having fun with Mr. Grey. But during intercourse, time is suspended, and she hears a demonic voice calling to her: “Hello, my child. I’ve been waiting. What games we will have now!” Vanessa is seriously shaken, and she climbs out of bed with Dorian and runs from the room. Dorian is perplexed and sits up, clearly having no idea of what has just occurred with Vanessa.

At the Murray home, Malcolm, Sembibe, and Ethan are back from their battle with the creature. Malcolm is angry that he was unable to rescue Mina, and Ethan tries to reassure him that things don’t seem so bad since Mina is alive. Malcolm snaps at him that it is no existence. Ethan gives Malcolm a dressing-down, comparing Malcolm to his own father in that they both like to be in control of everything. “There are things we can’t control. There are battles you lose. At the end of the day, the only thing we have is the people we trust, like Miss Ives,” Ethan tells him. He advises him that it would be best that Malcolm start trusting Vanessa, or he could lose a lot of battles.

At Dorian’s house, Dorian goes down to the secret room containing his picture, and we see the wounds incurred from his sexytime romp with Vanessa magically heal.

Malcolm sees that Vanessa has returned home, and he wants to be honest with her. But he turns to her, he sees that her eyes are unseeing and she begins to levitate in the air. Someone call Father Karas!

That’s it for this week. Two more episodes to go! Who knows what will happen before the finale?

One reply on “New Show Recap: Penny Dreadful 1×06, “What Death Can Join Together””

First of all, Eva Green was born to play this role. She has never seemed entirely comfortable in anything I’ve seen her in before, but in this show, she is a revelation (to use a too-easy, but so apt, acting cliche).

I still don’t dislike Dorian. I agree about the consent. It’s almost as sexual as the act itself.

Nice to see that the show will not be hamstrung by Van Helsing hanging around. He is so laden with history that his presence would have been a reminder of too many other vampire stories.

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