‘Penny Dreadful’: Welcome to the Eva Green Show

Published 11 months ago by

Eva Green Penny Dreadful Episode 2 ‘Penny Dreadful: Welcome to the Eva Green Show 

[This is a review of Penny Dreadful season 1, episode 2. There will be SPOILERS.] 


There isn’t a single poor performance in Penny Dreadful. It’s just impossible for anyone to steal the spotlight with Eva Green around.

In episode 2, ‘Séance,’ Vanessa and Sir Malcolm continue their search for Sir Malcolm’s daughter, Mina Harker, by reconvening with Victor Frankenstein to further discuss the anatomy of their kill from the previous episode and then drop by Inspector Galsworthy’s office where Sir Malcolm discovers the Spitalfields murderer’s thing for kidneys, livers and reproductive parts. The pair makes strides and now has the associates and contacts to uncover even more, but the most striking and telling component of the second episode of the show involves an unexpected encounter, a run-in with the renowned medium, Madame Kali (Helen McCrory).

The séance at Sir Ferdinand Lyle’s (Simon Russell Beale) party is wildly unnerving and immersive, and it also functions as an absolutely masterful delivery of exposition. Lights flicker, glass breaks and there’s one horrifyingly unnatural back bend, but this is essentially six full minutes of Green talking and little more.

Harry Treadaway Penny Dreadful Episode 2 ‘Penny Dreadful: Welcome to the Eva Green Show

She begins the scene as Vanessa, but then gives way to various forces speaking through her character, all while upholding the terror and suspense of the situation and ensuring the viewer isn’t completely overcome so they may retain pertinent plot points. The shot selection, production design and editing are all spot on, but Green could have made an indelible impression all on her own.

Green absolutely steals ‘Séance,’ but yet again, it’s Harry Treadaway as Victor Frankenstein who comes closest to rivaling her work. He’s all about the science, but as his literary collection confirms, he also has an enormous heart. Treadaway’s ability to demonstrate both at once is what makes Frankenstein’s portion of the show so profound, and particularly at the end of this episode.

Just like the finale of ‘Night Work,’ the last moment of ‘Séance’ continues to prove that Penny Dreadful will go big, but never without earning it first. The reveal of Frankenstein’s previous creature isn’t just about leaving you hungry for more, it’s also about conjuring a stronger appreciation for what you’ve already endured. Proteus’ (Alex Price) innocence, his undying admiration for Victor and the respect Victor shows him back becomes quite comforting, making it impossible to move forward without longing for what we’re leaving behind.

Billie Piper Josh Hartnett Penny Dreadful Episode 2 ‘Penny Dreadful: Welcome to the Eva Green Show

Ethan is still the least colorful of the bunch, but his budding relationship with Billie Piper’s Brona Croft makes him a more desirable element of the show. She’s got no problem strutting around, showing and sharing all and does so with a magnetizing amount of pep and poise, making a winning first impression. Even though her composure never cracks in front of Ethan, it does with Dorian Gray (Reeve Carney), and the unusual combination of apprehension with a relentless and rather dark form of passion makes her an even more fascinating draw.

As for Dorian himself, Carney does exhibit a curious charm, but without delving into what he’s about and what effect his character will have on the progression of the show, in ‘Séance,’ he simply functions as smooth-talking eye candy and little more.

However, even though Penny Dreadful does have some character and plot deficiencies at the moment, they never detract from the experience as a whole. The team behind the show has done such an exceptional job building this world and establishing an air of mystery that they’ve also created an incessant curiosity and need to know. Until Hartnett and Carney get the opportunity to sink their teeth into unforgettable scenes like Green’s séance or Treadaway’s revelatory moments with Proteus, this lingering sensation that their storylines will eventually shower us with oddities, twists and turns, will keep us engaged until that time comes.


Penny Dreadful continues next Sunday with ‘Resurrection’ at @ 10pm on Showtime.

Follow Perri on Twitter @PNemiroff.

Follow Perri Nemiroff on Twitter @PNemiroff
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  1. This is one of the best Shows ever !And I have seen a lot !
    Production,Design,Cinematography,Acting,Directing and writing just blows you away !
    It’s Top Quality you seldom see on TV or even in the Movies !

    It feels more like a Movie with it’s grandiose shots of Victorian London ! A slow build up that really takes its time for mature characters and plot !
    The scene were Frankenstein shows Proteus the City is so well done,the editing and all the small details so captivating its really amazing ! Then the shot of the River with all the Boats and Ships…just WOW !!

    Really can’t wait for the next episode to play !

    Now I am really worried about the Future of this Show,it’s too good to be true and I guess it will be canceled after 1 Season !

    Just hope I am wrong and they renew it for more season !
    Fantastic Show !

    • A slow build up that really takes its time to mature characters and plot !.
      Are you joking. They were fighting vamps about 15mins in.
      Not saying i did not enjoy it, but to call that a slow build up is just wrong.

  2. Liking this show overall so far, just hope they don’t get too carried away with the sexual situation references. Otherwise no complaints. At the risk of getting too far away from the “spirit” of the show, and getting too “monster-y”, I wonder if eventually we will see Lawrence Talbot (The Wolfman), Van Helsing (from Dracula) or Dracula himself, The Mummy, or The Invisible Man? While this is not meant to be exactly a revue of “Monsters On Parade”, of course, they all could kind of fit around the edges of this show without it becoming too frayed, I would think. I actually signed up for Showtime especially for this specific show. Showtime’s rep. mentioned this show might come out on DVD in about a year (not quite a confirmation, but a maybe).

  3. Love this show and how ep one and two leaves you hanging at the end is awesome. Was taken by surprise of frankenstein’s first monster showing up but breadcomes were in the first ep to elude to him doing this once before. I am wondering how many times he has donr this and if not he is looking for away to bring back a loved one from the dead as in his curisoity with what sir malcom may find.

  4. Screen Rant, where is your Expendables 3 coverage from Cannes?

  5. To add to what the others said about this beautifully shot show, that seance scene…..wow.

    The only negative thing about this episode was Billie Piper’s horrendous attempt at an Irish accent (almost as bad and all over the place as Helen McRory’s attempt at the Birmingham accent in Peaky Blinders) but otherwise, genuinely wondering what ramifications will come from what Vanessa said during the seance and Victor’s first creation returning.

    • Quite right Dazz. I’m from Northern Ireland and Piper’s attempt at our accent was cringe-worthy to say the least. Reminded me of Gabrielle Anwar’s lame Irish accent in the pilot of Burn Notice!

      • I thought Sam Neill’s Belfast accent in Peaky Blinders was spot on, as someone from that beautiful country, how would you rate it (after seeing a clip on Youtube, that is)?

        Brad Pitt also nailed it in Snatch.

        • Yeah Sam Neill’s was better than most, but it is a tricky accent. Best example is Pete Postlethwaite in The Town. I think Austrailian actors are generally better at them, I mean I had seen the first three seasons of True Blood and was shocked that to find that Ryan Kwanten wasn’t actually American! I just felt there was no need for Piper’s character to be Irish unless there is a plot device later on in the series that it’s necessary (Vampires vs. Leprechauns?lol)

          • Postlethwaite was English but yeah, I know what you mean, most of the cast of the Spartacus show surprised me with their English accents despite being Australian and David Lyons in Revolution also had me thinking he was an American actor. That nation is just great at other accents somehow and I’d love to know why.

            I saw an interview with the guy who plays Felix on Orphan Black and was shocked to hear his real accent and realise he wasn’t actually English like I assumed.

            Like you said though, there better be a reason for Piper to be Irish in this, otherwise, there are plenty of great Irish actresses who could’ve been in the show instead (I assume Piper’s presence is to help give the British public a face they recognise since I’ve noticed most still don’t know who Eva Green is and barely recognised Timothy Dalton and the rest of the cast are virtual unknowns to them).

            • Sorry Dazz if my sentencing structure was off but I wasn’t classing Pete as Australian lol I know he’s English (Warrington Lad) He definitely is a loss to the acting world and will be always remembered for his work and dedication to his performance on film or on stage. At least we still have McKellan and Stewart to continue on that level of quality for Britain.

              On your other note, you are quite right as I have got to enjoy Game of Thrones being shot over here during the past couple of years which involved many experienced levels of production and met many people from an industry that I feel akin with, but believed I could never have reached. It also created a lot of opportunities for local actresses that could have easily stepped into a role on Penny Dreadful if it is necessary to have an Irish actress. But where Piper was, and what Director she was talking to, she could’ve snagged the role before it was even offered to anyone else. Thing is now though as you said about Piper being a familiar face, is ‘Green’ not the colour of a new season lol

    • Wow. Good thing I read these comments because I must have been seriously distracted when I watched episode 2 the first time because I remember seeing this red-eyed monster killing Proteus but I didn’t remember his lines at all (where he says who he is) and thought that this was going to be another vampire, perhaps Dracula. What a moron! He plainly says “You’re firstborn has returned, father.” I think I should watch the first one again.

      I have to say I’m liking this show so far and I was very dubious about it before. I generally don’t like mashing everything up like this (plus I was probably remembering the League of Extraordinary Gentlemen and thinking they didn’t really do a good job there), but it’s going well so far.

  6. Does anyone know where I can watch this show free on the internet? Only the first episode is availabe on Hulu.

  7. so am i the only one who thinks Ethan is a werewolf or some sort of sleep walking ripper like killer. The lady in the 1st episode recognized him, she looked scared. he is running from something and these grizzly murders started up while he was in town. The first Frankenstein creatures entrance was shocking and awesome. Poor Proteus, also Vanessa’s speech about Sir Malcolm’s “peculiarity” with his daughter totally caught me off guard. Show got considerably darker, proving that non-supernatural evil is just as horrifying.

    • saw on imd message boards about the possibility of what Ethan may be but personally i so not have any speculation except for you said about him being at least a killer of some sorts.Whether it be supernatural or not i cannot wait for the unveiling for whatever he is is gonna be something fierce whether it is or is not supernatual which i am leaning towards supernatural like you maybe a werewolf.

    • Nope, I thought that too, the show keeps me second guessing though in case I’m way off and someone else is the werewolf.

    • I’m totally with you guys. I think he’s responsible for those murders and is some sort of supernatural creature, but I don’t know about him being a werewolf. What reason would he have to take those specific body parts? (Unless Ethan is a werewolf and someone else is the murderer.)

      • Unless Ethan did kill them and Jack The Ripper removed the organs and genitals after the event? Either was there by coincidence and took the opportunity to take trophies or worked with Ethan to score his kills.

        It could literally be anything right now and they already have us gripped wondering who killed those people and why.

        I mean, didn’t Jack The Ripper take genitalia and organs from some victims? What would the purpose be in the context of this show? To frankenstein the “perfect woman”/recreate a lost love that could have been a victim of the real Ripper and was left in pieces?

        And yes, I used the word “frankenstein” for a very good reason, haha.

  8. So I take it the reviewer is not a fan of Eva Green ;)

    Anyway the show is moving along well, they already pulled a plot twist as far as Doctor Frankenstein goes and I suspect Ethan has something dark either inside of him or following him. Good show with a lot of room to grow considering the wealth of characters and stories that fit into the genre and time period.

  9. I wouldn’t be surprised if the Ethan storyline turned out to be that of Dr Jekyll and Mister Hyde.

  10. I’m not usually a fan of mash-up anything, and at first I thought this was a ripoff of League of Extraordinary Gentlemen. However the story seems very well thought out and I’m more than willing to wait for more surprises about characters and plot. I’m not usually a fan of Eva Green either, but she is obviously not afraid of being typecast as ‘the hot, weird chick’ and she’s doing a really fine job. That séance scene was one of the most riveting things I’ve ever seen on TV.

    Shoutouts too for Timothy Dalton and Simon Beale for turning characters that could seem cartoonish into some really remarkable and subtle portrayals. I suspect that any blandness we perceive in certain characters will be more than wiped away as the series unfolds, and I’m eager for the wild ride I see ahead.

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