‘Penny Dreadful’: Shared Rarity

Published 10 months ago by

Vanessa Penny Dreadful Episode 6 ‘Penny Dreadful’: Shared Rarity

[This is a review of Penny Dreadful season 1, episode 6. There will be SPOILERS.] 


Thus far, Penny Dreadful has delivered all-consuming experiences week after week. Each episode did its part in building a world loaded with fascinating components and further developing the show’s strikingly unique and rich brigade of characters, but episode 6 marks an astounding new achievement. ‘What Death Can Join Together’ lives up to the title and actually manages to take the large majority of what we’ve learned and experienced, and link it all together.

Closer Than Sisters’ and ‘What Death Can Join Together’ make for an exceptional pairing. Dorian says it in this very episode; Vanessa is a very poised person, and so is Sir Malcolm. From the start of the show, the two have flaunted composed demeanors, selling themselves as amicable partners. However, after discovering the truth behind their situation in episode 5, it’s only natural to reassess what we’ve seen of them, come to understand why they’ve put up this façade and then identify the cracks in it, conjuring loads of tension while still maintaining a semblance of that original connection.

Vanessa Dorian Penny Dreadful Episode 6 ‘Penny Dreadful’: Shared Rarity

Episode 6’s opening spat is mere bickering, but now even the simplest exchange bears an enormous amount of weight. Vanessa agreeing to contact Mina isn’t just about moving the narrative forward. It’s also about character development. The argument and then the reconciliation help define Vanessa’s stance in their relationship. She will honor her goals and principles, but also knows when to concede and give Sir Malcolm what he wants and needs. And the same is true of Sir Malcolm, too. Despite the trauma of their past and more recent disagreements, he still cares enough to recognize that Vanessa desperately wants and needs her date night with Dorian.

The back and forth is a challenge to track and that makes Vanessa’s budding romance with Dorian the ideal complement. Vanessa’s interactions with Sir Malcolm now personify all the hardship of her past, but her scenes with Dorian do the exact opposite; they remind us of the bright, loving and innocent version of Vanessa that existed pre-illness. What happens to Vanessa in ‘What Death Can Join Together’ is ‘Closer Than Sisters’ all over again and it’s terrifying. She can be such a kind, passionate woman. It’s truly heartbreaking to see her lose it in an instant, especially when we’re well aware of the horrors that follow and how they can devastate the main mission.

Brona Ethan Penny Dreadful Episode 6 ‘Penny Dreadful’: Shared Rarity

We’ve still got zero information on what Ethan’s all about, but his scenes with Brona do make their connection more palpable than ever. It’s been plain to see that they adore one another, but there hasn’t been enough chemistry between the two to feel it until now, just when Brona is on the brink of death. The race to find some sort of cure is on, but it’s becoming more and more likely that in order for her to live, she’ll have to die and have Frankenstein bring her back to life. But if Frankenstein reanimates Brona for Caliban, what’s to become of her relationship with Ethan? Or better yet, what if Brona remains loyal to Ethan? Will Caliban force Frankenstein to find him another?

Hopefully Caliban manages to find love somewhere soon because he just annihilated one of Frankenstein’s most promising resources. Not only was Van Helsing offering Frankenstein extremely rare and remarkable information, but he was also taking the form of a confidant of sorts. Frankenstein’s reaction to Sir Malcolm barring him from his next expedition suggested he’s on the hunt for some sort of father figure and then one just happens to appear and tell him, “If I had a son, I’d wish him a long and easy life.” Of course Van Helsing then notes that Frankenstein’s life won’t be easy, but there’s still a sense that Van Helsing could have made it just a little bit better – but now he’s dead.

Van Helsing Frankenstein Penny Dreadful Episode 6 ‘Penny Dreadful’: Shared Rarity

There’s a lot going on in episode 6, but it works because of how well it all comes together. Sir Malcolm may be able to help Ethan care for Brona, but Brona’s passing could be the answer to Frankenstein’s troubles with Caliban. However, until that happens, Caliban will kill anyone close to his creator, including the one man with information on what the group is up against. Simply put, Dorian makes Vanessa happy, but also ignites the evil within her, compromising the group’s access to Mina and now possibly their own lives as well.

If ‘What Death Can Join Together’ proves something, it’s that we can’t take anything lightly. We’ve come to know a number of main players and have experienced profound events with each and everyone of them, and episode 6 verifies that every ounce of it matters and that’s a major part of what makes keeping up with Penny Dreadful an immensely satisfying and worthy experience.


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

Follow Perri on Twitter @PNemiroff.

Follow Perri Nemiroff on Twitter @PNemiroff
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  1. Just love this Show !
    It’s a dream come true ! Great Episode again ,but just 2 more to go !

  2. I wonder if Josh’s character is a werewolf…

  3. This show had great potential, and the spooky stuff was good, but I bumped it onto my Netflix list, and dumped Showtime/Movie Channel, which for that show only was not worth an extra $15 a month on my cable bill. The rest of those channels’ content was totally blah. PD was good in the scary moments, but spent way way too much time on exploitive and kinky sex content. That a good atmospheric spooker does not make. Sorry, but produce or go to the back of the line. See ya on Netflix, PD.

    • And I do agree with you. The sex is way too much and for me, kills the momentum of the spookyness of the show. And i also find the ‘monster fight scene” in this episode to be very similar to the first episode’s. We need more exciting battles on this show.

  4. I too am tired of the sex scenes/nudity. Why does a good story have to be dragged down by it? I also don’t care for the actor playing Dorian Gray, he just doesn’t have the charm I’ve always ‘seen’ in the character, this one comes across as smarmy instead. Also, Billie Piper’s mumbling and accent are still extremely hard to understand.

    I love the casting of Eva Green and Timothy Dalton, they are so terrific together!

    • Agree with everything you say. The sex scenes seem completely unnecessary, especially the “agenda” scene a couple weeks ago. The actor playing Dorian Gray seems too young to me, and I honestly don’t understand his appeal to the other characters. Eva Green and Timothy Dalton absolutely make this show!

    • …and I should say that, although I am a big fan of Eva Green, I feel she is cheapening herself by doing the soft porn scenes.

  5. enjoying the show but i do wish it was more fast paced, granted i get taking the time to world build. I feel like nothing is happening on this show, which infuriates me because i flipping love this show and I am generally entertained. The Ethan reveal is annoying and if they wait to show us what he is, they’d better deliver in a big way. Also agree with an above post about not seeing the appeal of the actor playing Dorian Gray, nice back side but that is about it. He does come across as smarmy and is constantly smirking. The weird demonic levitation at the end of the episode made me throw my hands up because i was like “are you serious? I have to wait another week!?!”

  6. also, “I’m Abraham Van Helsing and I’m here to tell you how to hunt and kill vampires. Also, i’m going to give a congratulatory pat on the back and pep talk young Victor Frankenstein. Here i go…” [Caliban swoops in, neck snap] Whoops, never mind.

  7. Plus there’s the fact that “exploitative and sexual content” was very much a part of the old penny dreadfuls of the day alongside the horror.

    The sexual content wasn’t even that bad compared to the previous episode and even then, it was still fairly tame compared to some TV shows and general release movies I’ve seen (Baise Moi being one of them).

  8. I love how graphic violence is considered less offensive to some people than sex and/or nudity.

    On a side note it was a nice Easter Egg nod to actual Penny Dreadful books with the use of the Varney the Vampire book. It was an actual publication that I remember reading about as a forerunner to Dracula and other vampire lore that followed. Doctor Frankenstein quoting Shelley was amusing too.