Penny Dreadful “Evil Spirits in Heavenly Places” Review (2×04)

25 May


Penny Dreadful can shine just based on the strength of its acting alone. Pair any two characters together, and you’ll likely witness some incredibly compelling television, regardless of what the two are talking about. This is absolutely key in a series like this one: its horror elements are unable to truly shine through if the characters are not interesting to watch, and the themes of the show don’t hit as effectively if we don’t feel attachments to the people involved.

“Evil Spirits in Heavenly Places” seems to revolve around identity, yet again, but not so much identity at an individual level as it is identity within the context of society. Perception is a big point explored throughout the episode, and the hour takes care to point out the inevitable deception involved–not necessarily malicious, of course–when you present yourself to your significant others or to society. Dorian and Angelique, for example, are “being who [they] want to be, not who [they] are”, and they have an excellent time playing table tennis amidst the stares of the rest of the crowd. Vanessa and Victor go shopping for a dress, an act all about appearances and all about Victor crafting his ideal woman. Ethan sees through Hecate’s initial deception, but he doesn’t exactly read it correctly, nor does he completely unpack the layers of lies hidden beneath the surface.

To expand on the dress shopping, the scene itself is a delight. We’ve seen a Vanessa Ives who’s been tortured and haunted and possessed, and it’s about time we see her have a good time. Eva Green is, as always, a force of acting nature throughout the hour, and it’ll be interesting to see Vanessa meet Lily, someone she met before as Brona. And speaking of Lily, the corset scene is a fascinating one that deals with perception and society and identity. “It’s meant to flatter the figure,” Lily says about the corset. “To a man’s eye, anyway. All we do is for men, isn’t it?” This gets at the gender role element of these themes, and we must then ask: are women deceiving both themselves and society? It’s an intriguing thematic set-up for the Lily storyline, and I can’t wait to see how this turns out.



-That final attack sequence at the end is extremely well done. Things like that can easily come off as silly, but this one feels pretty effective.

-Sembene bakes some tasty looking desserts. I hope to not only delve into those desserts, but also into more of his character in the future. The Ethan-Sembene scene in this one is fantastic.

– “Where would we be without deceptions?”

-Hecate hissing at Kali is a really interesting scene. Definitely much more to unpack with Hecate than “evil witch”.

– “That’s what life is: born fresh to suffer.” “There’s hope for you. Don’t give up on life just yet.”  This is a pretty important conversation between John Clare and Lavinia.

-The Devil’s memoirs. Interesting. “On May 4, 1993, I made the afterlife shitty for this guy, and then I did the same the next day!”

-Happy Memorial Day, everyone.

Photo credit: Showtime, Penny Dreadful


One Response to “Penny Dreadful “Evil Spirits in Heavenly Places” Review (2×04)”

  1. Mark V. May 25, 2015 at 12:32 pm #

    John Logan is really starting to delve into expanding the group’s relationship. Last week Caliban/John finally met someone from the main group other than Victor, and now Victor shares a sequence with Vanessa, along with Ethan and Sembene. This is quality TV.

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