TV Show Review

TV Review: PENNY DREADFUL: Season 2, Episode 5: Above the Vaulted Sky [Showtime]

Showtime’s Penny Dreadful Above the Vaulted Sky TV Show ReviewPenny Dreadful: Season 2, Episode 5: Above the Vaulted Sky may have had the best short story of the season through Ethan Chandler (Josh Hartnett)’s recollection of his Native American, cliff genocide activities. It served to illustrate and galvanize what the group’s next move should be (“We protect our cliff”) but it also served to show how dark Chandler’s past was to the viewer. Vanessa Ives (Eva Green) has been through hell but Chandler has dealt it out to others.

Hecate Poole (Sarah Greene) asking Evelyn Poole (Helen McCrory) for the opportunity to cast a particular spell was a dark familial moment between the two of them. The theatrical cinematography of what followed was good television, the camera circling them, capturing the both of them chanting coterminous.

As soon as Ms. Poole said (paraphrasing) “It gives me something to aim at” episodes back on a firing range, I knew she would attempt to take out Gladys Murray (Noni Stapleton). I had no idea the attempt would be so ‘psychological.’ Ms. Poole’s method was very destructive and slow but also ingenious. Ms. Poole’s ‘finger-prints’ are nowhere on Ms. Murray’s ‘incident.’ The way is now clear for a proposal and marriage, Ms. Poole’s ultimate objective with Sir Malcolm Murray (Timothy Dalton).

Dr. Victor Frankenstein (Harry Treadaway) sealed his fate with his first Creature (Rory Kinnear) the moment he didn’t rebuff Lily (Billie Piper)’s sexual advances towards him. Dr. Frankenstein had done so much to appease The Creature and undo the perceived wrongs he had committed years ago. With each thrust into Lily’s depths (Dr. Frankenstein’s third Creature), he damned himself to untold sorrow and the first Creature’s eternal wrath. Of all the women to fall for, Dr. Frankenstein picked the absolute wrong one.

I knew Lily sensed Victor’s attraction to her. Seeing her use that knowledge to her advantage made the scene more than sexual and tragic. It added a dash of manipulation into the mix as well.

The Creature will react to this new situation (and their eventual, budding romance) in any number of vicious ways: a.) he will kill Lily to strike at Dr. Frankenstein’s heart, b.) he will tell Lily who she was, that Victor brought her back to life, and that she is Victor’s third Creature, or c.) he will kill Victor’s entire family (his brothers, his father, etc.), replicating his loneliness with Dr. Frankenstein. In his rage, loneliness, and agony, The Creature may do all three. When Lily finds out that she is a reanimated corpse (the third in a line of other reanimated corpses), she will look upon Dr. Frankenstein and her life in a whole new way.

Dr. Frankenstein’s actions in this episode may serve to retard the social and emotional progress that The Creature has made through his new acquaintances. Vanessa Ives helped The Creature look upon life in a different way in Above the Vaulted Sky. Ives showed The Creature that there was boundless kindness in the world and dancing. All The Creature had to do was reach out and take it by the hand.

The coitus, montage sequence was as salacious as it was intended to be and also moved forward certain aspects of the show’s narrative. Sir Murray’s storyline was the one developed the most during the montage. The viewer was unclear why Evelyn Poole continuously pricked him with her ring but she seemed more than happy that she was getting away with it. Penny Dreadful did something very frustrating with one of the ‘couples’ in the coitus montage. Ethan’s attraction to Vanessa was finally exposed, at least in part, for the first time and vice versa. The viewer thought something would happen but like with all great teases, it did not. It was wonderful seeing the two of them looking into each others eyes though, not hiding from each other.

Two people that exposed themselves fully to each other in Above the Vaulted Sky and did not hold back sexually were Dorian Gray (Reeve Carney) and Angelique (Jonny Beauchamp). When Dorian told Angelique that he was interested in who Angelique was on the inside, not how he dressed, Angelique was taken aback. Some part of Angelique didn’t believe it, couldn’t believe it. Angelique had virtually walked into a dream and in those brief moments, was waiting for the floor to drop from under him. It was all in Angelique’s face. It was great acting and added to their most intimate and vulnerable moment together. That verbal honest led to physical honest. Nothing was left to the imagination during their coital time together, much like the sexual scenes in Season 1 finale of Outlander.

Inspector Bartholomew Rusk (Douglas Hodge) finding Ethan Chandler in the middle of London was good detective work but it was never explained quite how he did it. Regardless of that narrative oversight, the reason their first scene together stood out in Above the Vaulted Sky was because the viewer found out that the name “Ethan Chandler” may be a figment, an alias. There was no one matching his name and description in America. Most-if-not-all of the Ethan Chandlers in America had been found to look and be of an age different than the man that sat in The Inspector’s office. Inspector Rusk had really done his homework. Ethan, no slouch, was ready though e.g. “I don’t read the paper.” It was like watching Bob Hauk and S.D. “Snake” Plissken at the beginning of Escape From New York jockeying for position during their conversation: both keen and aware that the other had hidden motives and knowledge.

I knew Warren Roper (Stephen Lord) would not give up on Ethan Chandler but like Inspector Rusk, how did he find Ethan? More importantly, how does he plan on capturing as creature as powerful as Lupus Dei? Or is Mr. Roper out for revenge for his savaged face and the lose of his fellow Pinkerton?

Leave your thoughts on this review and this episode of Penny Dreadful below in the comments section. For more Penny Dreadful reviews, photos, videos, and information, visit our Penny Dreadful Page, our Penny Dreadful Google+ Page, subscribe to us by Email, “follow” us on TwitterTumblr, Google+, or “like” us on Facebook for quick updates.


About the author

Rollo Tomasi

A Political Science and MBA grad who started FilmBook during an eCommerce B-School course in 2008. Cinema and TV addict. Former writer at Empire Movies, Blogcritics, and Alternative Film Guide. In addition to writing for FilmBook, he also edits the copy published on the website, manages its writing staff, manages the back-end operations, site finances, its social network accounts, and works with publicists, actors, and companies on press coverage and promotions. He has also created and Trending

  • Anda Badea

    The way Mr. Rusk finds Ethan is explained. He said that the Scotland Yard tracked down and interviewed all guests of the Mariner’s Inn. but 2 people : Ethan Chandler and Brona Croft. He even showed a list with the names, probably the inn’s guest book.

  • Good point. How did he know what Ethan Chandler looked like though? A sketch artist rendering from the guests’ recollection?

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