I’m no longer upset about the inevitable train wreck that is going to be the rebooted Universal Monster franchise. How can I be when everything I would want in a reboot is already happening on Showtime’s “Penny Dreadful”. After last year’s compelling season finale, “Penny Dreadful” instantly became one of my most anticipated Summer returns. Delightedly, “Fresh Hell” doesn’t wait around to address major cliffhangers and get right into telling the tragically beautiful stories of our characters.
Josh Hartnett and Eva Green continue to dazzle in their performances, being the main focus in the return. For the first time in years, the art of possession has unlocked the secret to being scary again. This season promises to dive further into the black arts and sorcery which implies some serious Devil interaction from Green as well as our “big bad” for the season, Madame Kali (Helen McCory) who’s back as the leader of a vicious coven. Opposite Green is Hartnett’s lonesome werewolf, Ethan Chandler. The final scene of last year’s season finale revealed what most already knew to be true, Chandler on the brink of a classic looking werewolf transformation. While dealing with his own inner demon, Chandler confides in Vanessa revealing to here that he has “black outs” and doesn’t remember things but that he usually wakes up covered in blood. Whether that means he actually doesn’t know he is a werewolf or not remains to be seen.
Our other returning characters aren’t finding themselves much better on the other side of town. Harry Treadway’s portrayal of Dr. Frankenstein continues to pull from the Universal and Hammer incarnations by combining Peter Cushing’s scientific and proper demeanor with Colin Clive’s energy and madness. I was excited to have the Bride of Frankenstein teased. Billie Piper’s performance as the doomed Brona Croft was the stand out for me last season and the idea of having her as the focus character for one of my favorite entries in the original Monster’s line up is exciting. The show writers seem to be taking the idea of “Bride” in a very literal sense however so I predict an even more tumultuous relationship forming between creator and child.
In historical interest, the introduction of a Waxworks museum is not only a nice homage to House of Wax but also very telling of the time period. 56 years before “Fresh Hell” opens, a wax museum by the name of Madame Tussaud’s opened up in London and would go on to become one of the most famous wax houses of the 20th century. Of course, the Waxworks portrayed isn’t Madame Tussaud’s but in addition to being historically relevant the inclusion of it also made me realize the characters are in many was could be molded into exhibits themselves. Using Europe’s rich culture has made the city into a character in its own right. The stark white snowscape of winter blends right into the drab slums of London town.
I’ll leave you with this, last season there was a lot of Egyptian mythology and iconography surrounding the vampires. This season seems to be shifting gears in ancient beliefs by introducing a character by the name of Hecate, who in Greek mythology is a goddess of sorcery and necromancy. Unless that just happens to be her name, which I doubt, it implies we could see more Greek mythology incorporated in later episodes.