fantasy

[TV Review] Penny Dreadful Season 2 (2015) ★★★★★

Vanessa Ives confronts her voodoo doll in Penny Dreadful season 2

Penny Dreadful is a poetic horrifying masterpiece continuing on an epic Victorian journey.


The second season of Penny Dreadful continues after having set a strong foundation, establishing the storyline, with interesting and intriguing characters. In this season the stakes are higher and the storyline is more impressive, with more horror, more drama and an intriguing plot. 

The gothic atmosphere blossoms, increased by beautiful music, moving dialogues, strong images, great set design and massive tension. This series truly comes to life in all its elements creating an epic story that is as moving as it is horrifying.

This second season consists of 10 episodes each with a duration of 49-58 minutes. It is a continuous storyline that develops the characters and the story to an epic level. 


Plot

Despite the fact that Sir Malcolm, Vanessa Ives, Victor Frankenstein, Ethan Chandler and Sembene didn’t succeed in rescuing Mina from the Vampire Master, they stumble upon a much bigger conspiracy, concerning the end of the world. And it has something to do with Vanessa who could be the reincarnation of Amunet and when she joins Amun-Ra darkness will spread over the world and the Hidden Ones wil rule. 

While Sir Malcolm mourns Mina he meets Evelyn Poole who comforts him. After Brona died Vanessa and Ethan are attracted to each other. While Victor fights his own demons concerning Creature, and resurrects Brona as a companion for Creature and calls her Lily.  

Meanwhile Vanessa tells Ethan about her time with the Cut-Wife who taught her the ways of the Daywalkers, who are the counterparts of the Nightcomers, evil witches who serve Lucifer. Now these Nightcomers are coming after Vanessa. 

They get help from Dr. Ferdinand Lyle who’s an expert in ancient history and myths and tells them more about the prophecy concerning the Apocalypse. 


Why you should watch it

While the first season concerned the introductions of the characters, the setting and the storyline, this second season has more time and space to really develop the epic storyline, that moves towards an epic climax. The plot, the enemies, and the prophecy are clearly laid out, so the characters can be even more fleshed out and are developing in a much faster pace. 

Vanessa’s story gets unfolded and her part in the scheme of things is getting much bigger, turning her into the main character of the series. This season is therefore much easier to watch than the first season, due to the more organic structure and its shows that the characters are very well settled into their roles. 

The gothic atmosphere is even greater this season. The set design, the art decoration, the  intense drama and theatrical tone with poetic lines add to the unique voice of the series. 

The horror is strongly presented in the witches, the Nightcomers, who are scary and threatening. Add to this lifelike voodoo dolls with a real heart and brains and the fantasy horror is real. The effects to accomplish the appearance of the witches is very well-crafted and they look great and their shape and form is very original. 

Asides from the big story arc about the prophecy concerning the end of the world and Vanessa, each character grows and develops. Each has their own role to play, but some set out some parallel little storylines of their own, to deepen some themes and emphasize the Victorian age. This is mostly done by the outsiders, Brona, Dorian, Creature and Victor. Although they aren’t concerned with the prophecy directly, each has to deal with their own problems, but still are in some way connected to the bigger story arc and our heroes.

Ethan proves to be Lupus Dei, the werewolf who is to play a big part in the prophecy. But is also chased by inspector Bartholomew Talbot. After Sir Malcolm has brought the heroes together he is now, unknowingly, used by a witch who wants to get close to Vanessa, so his role is changed. 

These small changes bring a different vibe to the group which keeps things interesting and complex. It still is a very carnal, sensual and visceral series that is a delight to watch, but the focus shifts and focuses more on the story arc. It’s mesmerizing, lustrous and beautifully poetic, with grave themes, but still a feast for the eyes. This season is also more playful than the first season making it easier to watch. 


My favorite part

The prophecy is a very important element of the series, connecting all the characters and different little storylines, intertwining them in a very cleaver way, creating an epic story. This is also related to the themes about the battle against evil, finding out who you are and finding love. These theme are best represented in Creature/John Clare and Vanessa in a most tragical way. 

The more we get to know Vanessa, about her past and future to come, the more tragic and interesting she gets. The story evolves around her and she is one of the most gripping and enthralling characters encountered in a series. But so is Creature is his own way. It’s no wonder that Vanessa and he are feeling a special connection, both being alone, seeking for who they are, desperately wanting to be normal and to find love. 

To contrast all these evils and horrors, we luckily have Dr. Lyle. He is such a great new character. He’s fun, playful, delightful and has a weakness for Vanessa. Although he himself has a weakness for being blackmailed, he comes out a real hero, choosing the side of good and faces his fears. He brings in much playfulness, but also has a very important function to explain the prophecy and opens up a whole new world for our heroes, forcing them to be even more brave and powerful to defeat evil.

The evils Vanessa has to face this season are truly horrifying. The role of the Nightcomers is terrifying, scary and bring in surreal visceral and physical horror. The final battle is epic, scary and devastating. The doll made in her image is very creepy and the mansion of the Nightcomers is an absolute gothic horror house, descending Vanessa and the others on a horrifying hallucinatory trip. It’s a great ending of a great season, but although this battle might be won, the hardest is yet to come.


Ratings

Rating: ★★★★★

Epic factor: ★★★★★

Drama factor: ★★★★★

Gruesome factor: ★★★★☆

Originality factor: ★★★★★


Read more about Penny Dreadful:


Cast and crew

Penny Dreadful is created by John Logan. It stars Eva Green (Vanessa Ives), Timothy Dalton (Sir Malcolm Murray), Josh Hartnett (Ethan Chandler), Harry Treadaway (Dr. Victor Frankenstein), Rory Kinnear (Creature/John Clare), Billie Piper (Bona Croft/Lily), Reeve Carbey (Dorian Gray), Danny Sapani (Sembene), Simon Russell Beale (Dr. Ferdinand Lyle), Patti LuPone (Joan Clayton), Sarah Greene (Hecate Poole) and Helen McCrory (Evelyn Poole)

Music by: Abe Korzeniowski. Cinematography: John Conroy, Owen McPolin, P.J. Dillon, Nigel Willoughby. Production companies: Desert Wolf Productions, Neal Street Productions. Original network: Showtime, Sky.


Check the trailer below


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