comScore Penny Dreadful Review: "Above The Vaulted Sky" | The Mary Sue
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Penny Dreadful Review: “Above The Vaulted Sky”

In which there's a whole heck of a lot of graphic sexin'.


Penny Dreadful put HBO to shame this week with the number of graphic sex scenes – but in a nice twist, they all served the greater plot instead of being used as gratuitous titilation devices. How novel!

Thank goodness for Angelique, because interacting with her has really brought a new depth to both the show and Dorian’s character. I feel like, after this week’s episode, there can be no question about whether or not Angelique is trans, and when she entered Dorian’s salon presenting as male you could really see how heartbreaking it was for her. Demonstrating the adversity she’d faced and showing that Dorian cares for her regardless was so lovely. Plus, how often do you see full-on gay sex scenes in mainstream dramas?

Then we’ve got Malcolm, totally vagmatized by Evelyn and going at it hard while she magics his wife into taking her own life. We knew Poole was evil (I mean… she hangs out with Satan), but this really sealed the deal on just how truly messed up she is. Malcolm is a smart guy, though, and there’s no doubt in my mind that at the play he started to feel a glimmer of doubt about his date. “Must be the Wagner” made me laugh out loud.

Ethan and Vanessa have a great “we’re both totally screwed but at least we’re screwed together” thing going on, and I really like that they’ve decided to pursue romance between the two of them instead of between Dorian and Vanessa – though it does relegate Dorian to an ancillary character to the main plot. But Ethan and Vanessa have such wonderful chemistry, and I love that he’s here for her. Can someone tell me, however, why “don’t leave Vanessa alone” wasn’t number one on the Preparing For Battle Montage list?

Holmes is hot on Ethan’s tail this week, so to speak; but he doesn’t have enough of a case against him, and Ethan is such a smooth talker he can find his way out of anything. It does make me wonder what Ethan’s real name is (perhaps another famous character? Wilfred Glendon? Who knows!). Ethan’s knowledge of voodoo was also a nice touch, since it betrays the fact that he’s likely spent some time in Lousiana on his travels, and Rusk did mention Lousiana on his search for Ethan’s true identity. But Ethan better watch his back, because it looks like there’s a new Werewolf in London.

And now, what you’ve all been waiting for: Nice Guy John Clare. My notes just say: “Wow literally fuck John Clare, he is a garbage person.” This guy is just the worst. In a scene with Vanessa where he bemoans everything about his life, Clare reveals to the greater audience the origins of his Romantic poet name, droning on about the pastoral or whatever. But seriously, dude, you have a good job, you have a blind girl who’s totally into you, you have a nice lady who talks to you at the clinic – get your shit together. Things are not that bad just because Lily friendzoned you. Yeah, yeah, I know – but you were so nice to her! Well guess what, bro; she doesn’t have to like you, so why don’t you back the hell off and stream some My Little Pony or something?

There is the tiny complication of Victor boning (and being in love with) Lily, given the fact that he created her and then conditioned her from the moment of her creation, so it’s like, no wonder he’s so into her. Plus, Lily hasn’t had the opportunity to socialize with any other men, so it’s also no wonder that she’s so in love with her captor, Stockholm-style. Still, I’d trust Victor with her over Nice Guy John Clare any day of the week.

Just one small quibble: are we really meant to believe that Vanessa didn’t recognize Lily though she’d previously met Brona? Will we see repercussions of that in the future? I sure hope so.

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