TV Show Review

TV Review: PENNY DREADFUL: Season 3, Episode 1: The Day Tennyson Died [Showtime]

Josh Hartnett Penny Dreadful The Day Tennyson Died

Penny Dreadful The Day Tennyson Died Review

Showtime’s Penny Dreadful The Day Tennyson Died TV Show ReviewPenny Dreadful: Season 3, Episode 1: The Day Tennyson Died found a Vanessa Ives (Eva Green) that had retreated into her own head again and the viewer did not initially know why. She was victorious against the evil force that had chased her for years. Instead of being in the throws of confidence and celebration, she was depressed and melancholy, forsaking the outside world for solitude and filth.

One could say this was an allegory to the way Great Britain and the literate world felt about Poet Laureate Alfred Tennyson’s death. A light had gone out across the globe with Tennyson’s death, as one had within Vanessa, and she couldn’t shake the sadness that it left in its wake. The fortuitous visit by Ferdinand Lyle (Simon Russell Beale) brought into the Penny Dreadful narrative an old yet new character, one poised to help Vanessa with her current state of mind. It turned out that Dr. Seward (Patti LuPone) was related to Joan Clayton, The Cut-Wife. I wonder when Vanessa will tell the doctor about The Cut-Wife and their time together?

Dr. Seward read Vanessa as if she were an a open book on the table in front of her. If wasn’t what the doctor saw in Vanessa that intrigued her, it was what she could detect but couldn’t explain. That mystery made Vanessa compelling to Dr. Seward. Vanessa saw it and knew she was desired. Their S.D. Plissken, Bob Hauk-like back-and-forth illustrated that patient and doctor could read each other quite well.

The transport train shenanigans were unexpected but the amount of armed guards was a necessary precaution for a criminal as dangerous as Ethan Chandler (Josh Hartnett) or put more correctly, for a creature as powerful as Lupus Dei. If the hard-nosed guards had an inkling of what they were truly guarding, none of them would have taken the assignment.

The train blood-bath to free Ethan Chandler was too easy for the bad guys to pull off, even with the element of surprise on the law enforcement personnel. Ethan’s father was one cold-blooded S.O.B. to have ordered the murder of so many innocent people just to free and see his son again. Ethan seemed to have very little love for the man that had done so much to see him again. Because of his actions, the viewer began to see why.

Sir Malcolm Murray (Timothy Dalton), though he did not know it, had been in search of a new reason to live, now that his friend was buried, Vanessa was safe, and the threat to her had been vanished. Kaetenay (Wes Studi) introduced that new reason, that new mission, into Sir Malcolm’s life. The ingenious part of Kaetenay’s pugnacious introduction was that he brought with him two mysteries: 1.) who was he really and what was his connection to Ethan?, and 2.) what was the truth of the proposed connection between him, Sir Malcolm, and Ethan? Rather than being a paper thin addition to the cast, Kaetenay brought with him new layers to two already established characters.

Speaking of adding new layers to established characters, Dr. Henry Jekyll (Shazad Latif) did wonders for Dr. Victor Frankenstein (Harry Treadaway), illuminating Dr. Frankenstein’s past during medical school and what the two of them endured within its halls. Of the two of them, it was obvious that Dr. Jekyll had been brow-beaten far worse than Dr. Frankenstein during those days, mocked for his heritage and his ethnicity. It was also obvious in The Day Tennyson Died that this harassment had not stopped at the doors of medical school graduation nor did Dr. Jekyll’s longing for the friendship of Dr. Frankenstein.

Dr. Frankenstein wishing for a chemically neutered Lily (“purring in his lap” – a paraphrase) was not what the viewer had been expecting. What  Dr. Frankenstein would get if Dr. Jekyll were successful wouldn’t be the real Lily (Billie Piper). She would be a chemically manipulated play-thing, chained by a concoction flowing through her veins. With Dr. Frankenstein, love is not only blind, its warped.

The Vampire Master, Dracula, long spoken of since the beginning of Penny Dreadful, finally showed up in the flesh (speaking figuratively) on the series, as least his voice did in The Day Tennyson Died. I am guessing Dracula is a pretty impressive individual, judging by Renfield (Samuel Barnett)’s response to him (great acting on his part by the way),  like the imposing, vampire Master on The Strain. The viewer is looking forward to seeing Dracula and his ensuing courtship of his “beloved.”

The Creature (Rory Kinnear)’s ice prison was a surprise but The Creature watching humanity die all around him was nothing new. The Creature had been an outsider since he was created and he felt little sympathy for the predicament of the crew of the ship.  When The Creature announced that he was going home, I don’t believe he was referring to his creator’s laboratory. I believe The Creature remembered part of his former life, specifically where he used to live (probably an undisclosed remembrance). Will his former wife be there? Will his former child, if he is still alive?

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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 ProMovieBlogger.com and Trending Awards.com.

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