If you haven’t been watching the brilliant show Penny Dreadful on Showtime, it’s time for you to wake up and smell the coffee. This is undoubtedly one of the best shows on television right now, and a big part of that is due to the impeccable writing by the genius playwright and screenwriter, John Logan. This writer is also the talented mind behind movies like The Aviator, SkyFall, Any Given Sunday and Gladiator. The gothic series Penny Dreadful combines several Victorian Era tales: Frankenstein, Dorian Grey, Dr. Frankenstein and more into a complex, intriguing and engrossing narrative that scares, thrills and excites. They just started airing new episodes of the series on Showtime, but in the meantime, here are the ten scariest things about Season 1 of Penny Dreadful.
10. Vanessa Ives
In many ways, Vanessa Ives is the glue that holds the excellent show Penny Dreadful together. She is bold, brave, daring and has a dark side that will make even the most hardened men run for cover. Her role during the first season was being the connection to the spirit world to find her demon-possessed, childhood best friend, Mina Murray. But sometimes the devil itself takes over her body & soul, and she becomes a horrific sight indeed. She foams from the mouth, her eyes have a dead stare, she levitates ominously and even crawls on the ceiling. There is even one occasion when she chewed off a chunk of flesh from a priest’s face. You definitely do not want to get on her bad side.
9. Mina Murray
Mina Murray is the daughter of the intrepid and deep-pocketed African explorer, Sir Malcolm Murray. Mina is the childhood friend of Vanessa Ives who was betrayed by Vanessa on the eve of her getting married to a dashing British soldier. That deception and betrayal by Vanessa Ives broke her heart and she faded to the dark side and became one of Vampire’s brides. Her father Sir Malcolm is doing whatever he can to find her, but all throughout Season 1, we find out that perhaps Mina has been so consumed by evil that she may not ever be saved.
8. The Deceitful Sir Malcolm Murray
In addition to Vanessa Ives, Sir Malcolm Murray is one of the most integral parts of Penny Dreadful. He is a rich British explorer who has many skeletons in his closet. He also has a lot of guilt from how he constantly put his work and travels before his family. And then of course, there are the issues of him committing adultery with Vanessa Ives’s mother and allowing his son to die at his base camp during one of his African treks. He’s a hard man with no remorse and a violent streak. He is not to be played with.
7. Sembene’s Mysterious Past
Sembene is the mysterious African bodyguard/butler of Sir Malcolm Murray who hardly ever speaks. His actions and foreboding presence do all the talking for him. He was once asked on the show what his story was, and he replied that he didn’t have one. He actually said that perhaps he saved Sir Malcolm’s life in Africa and now, the British explorer is his responsibility to keep safe. Sembene also has tribal marks and cuts on his face which make his appearance even more intimidating.
6. The Young Vampire, Fenton
In their search to find the soul of Mina Murray, Vanessa Ives, Sir Malcolm Murray and their crew come across some truly unsavory characters. One of them is a child vampire named Fenton they find in a zoo eating the remains of animal carcasses. They bring him back to Sir Malcolm’s house and try to make him normal again by giving him a blood transfusion. Of course it doesn’t work. When the rabid Fenton is revived, they try and offer him an apple. But he refuses it and goes into a frenzy asking for the blood of rats and bats to sate his hunger. Sembene eventually comes back with a kitten and offers it to the chained, deranged vampire. This is not a show for the faint of heart.
5. The Vampire Master
The great thing about Penny Dreadful is how the show weaves and incorporates different gothic tales from the Victorian Era into one intriguing narrative. There are Vampires, Dorian Grey, Van Helsing, and even Frankenstein. Speaking about Vampires, the one they’ve conjured up in Penny Dreadful is a dreadful monster indeed. He has sharp and ominous fangs, scaly skin, bloodshot eyes and one of them even has ancient Egyptian inscriptions underneath his skin. Oh, and you can’t forget about the ghoulish vampire brides. They are a host of shrieking, walking dead wraiths with pale faces, blacked out eyes and bleached, stringy hair. You definitely don’t want to spend an evening with these creepy ladies.
4. Dr. Frankenstein’s Experiments
He may have handsome boyish features and very polite manners, but it’s quickly obvious that Dr. Victor Frankenstein is demented and tortured young man who will do anything to find the mystery behind life and death. He wields his scalpel like a virtuoso painter holds his brush, and he uses it to experiment and dissect human cadavers. He spends so much time in the life of the dead that he has become awkward and inadequate in the land of the living. He has already created two monsters, Proteus and Caliban. Caliban eventually murdered Proteus and in Season 2, Frankenstein is trying to make an immortal monstress to be Caliban’s wife. What a tangled web they weave.
Calaban is the immortal, deformed creation of the young and brilliant Dr. Victor Frankenstein. During season 1, there was a throwback episode that showed how as a young boy, Frankenstein became the way he is. His beloved dog and then his mother died in rapid succession. From then on, he decided to pierce the vail between life and death and make a creature that doesn’t die. The man-monster Calaban was his creation. Calaban has deformed facial features, a spooky pale complexion and super-human strength. He also kills without remorse. When Dr. Frankenstein created a new and better version of himself named Proteus, Calaban callously ripped Proteus into two. Calaban also murdered Dr. Van Helsing by breaking his neck as if it was nothing but a dry sapling twig.
2. Dorian Gray’s Mysterious Mansion
The Picture of Dorian Gray is a novel by Oscar Wilde that was released in 1891. That same character is also injected into the complex and engrossing narrative of the show Penny Dreadful. In it, he’s a handsome young and very rich bisexual man living in London who spends all his time on things of leisure: casual sex, theater, parties etc. However his secret is that he’s immortal, and in his large spooky mansion, there is a painting in a hidden room that holds his eternal soul. He may just have some extra tricks up his well-tailored sleeves as well.
1. Ethan Chandler’s Werewolf Secret
The story of Ethan Chandler, played by the talented actor, Josh Hartnett, is one of the most intriguing storylines in the entire first season of Penny Dreadful. All throughout the season, he is depicted as a straggler American who is hiding away in London because of a crime he committed back home. He’s an intrepid sharpshooter with two lethal pistols, but his biggest secrets was kept to the very end of Season one. When his American father sends two thugs to wrestle him back to America, he turns into a fierce and ferocious werewolf and rips his would-be captors into shreds.