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Penny Dreadful Review: “Glorious Horrors”

In which Dorian makes consistently poor choices.

Billie Piper as Lily and Reeve Carney as Dorian Gray in Penny Dreadful (season 2, episode 6). - Photo: Jonathan Hession/SHOWTIME - Photo ID: PennyDreadful_206_3036

Seriously, has no one told Dorian that the punishment for someone suspecting that you’re sleeping with another dude is pretty severe? Like, death penalty severe? Keeping in mind, of course, that “trans women are women” was not so universally accepted in the 1890s?

Despite the fact that he wants to hold a “coming out” (terrible plan) ball for Angelique, I’m starting to suspect that Dorian perhaps doesn’t love her despite her differences; instead, it seems more and more like Dorian is invested in Angelique specifically because of her differences. And while acceptance is a beautiful thing, you can see that Angelique is beginning to feel as though she is being fetishized instead of loved – and that’s a problem.

Dorian doubles down on the dismal choices when he decides to take Lily for several spins on the dance floor, leaving Angelique and Victor to their own jealous and suspicious devices. Of course this isn’t the first time Dorian has met “Lily” in this particular parlour – he and Brona had weird consumption photo sex here back in the days before her rebirth. But while Angelique’s side-eyes were totally justified in this instance, Victor needs to back the heck up off Lily and her life. Their relationship is skeevy enough as it is, given the fact that Lily is essentially a child and he’s the only man/human she’s ever really interacted with and (though she has moments of independence) is obsessed with pleasing Victor. Now that she has some choice over with whom she spends her time, suddenly Victor isn’t down? Come on, dude; who are you, John Clare?

Speaking of everyone’s favorite (no) Nice Guy, Clare’s blind lady friend has wised up to the fact that he’s a total creep and probably also dead and isn’t on board anymore. But Vanessa clearly has a soft spot for him – one that Victor wasn’t too eager to comment on upon discovering their coincidental acquaintance (or is it?). And that wax museum is just a den of sensational neuroses for everyone who steps inside – including Ethan.

I’m loving Ethan more and more every week; his one-liners keep getting snappier and his patience keeps getting thinner. Nothing is going right for him these days (poor little werewolf), and now that Sembene knows his secret, I can’t imagine it will stay hidden from the rest of the household for long. I hope not, since it’s driving a wedge between him and Vanessa (I loved the intimate moment in which they shared a cigarette this episode, even if he didn’t get the chance to hit up the ball with her).

Vanessa herself can’t seem to catch a break; everyone is pairing off except for her, and she brazenly attends Dorian’s party alone (heck yes). But Vanessa knows something is up with Malcolm, and she’s not afraid to get right up into Poole’s face to let her know that she is a legitimate thread – I loved seeing Eva Green tower over Helen McCrory like that. Poole’s ultimate goal, “to live forever while the world suffers,” is a dream to which Vanessa is immune – but now that Poole has her hair, she’s definitely not immune to her freaky, freaky mind games. But Poole’s daughters have their own plan in place – and if, as I suspect, Poole must kill them in order to remain eternally youthful, they might have a vested interest in seeing her offed sooner rather than later.

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