Warning: spoilers and NSFW screenshots
To summarize Penny Dreadful 2×05: Above the Vaulted Sky in one word: ACCEPTANCE.
(I was going to say ‘sex’ but let’s leave it to later, OK?)
We start with a heart-warming scene where Vanessa, frightened by the witches’ haunting, runs to Ethan’s room and asks to sleep in his bed. You’d be forgiven to think “It’s sexy time!”, considering what the show has presented to us so far (not that I’m complaining); however, our sweet wolf-boy politely tells her to use his bed while he sleeps on the sofa. They exchange a few meaningful lines and one of which is: “Whatever you have done… Whoever you have made yourself… I’m here to accept you.” These lines will find a meaningful echo in the next episode, as revealed in the teaser, Ethan’s werewolf nature will be revealed to his family-of-choice.
Meanwhile, The Creature’s touching fabricated little story fails miserably to win Brona/Lily’s reanimated heart, which we have already suspected to gravitate towards Victor Frankenstein. Rejected and heartbroken, however it seems his luck hasn’t completely run out yet: in the cholera-infected dark place he meets Vanessa Ives, who has already accepted him as not so different from any other human being (2×02: Verbis Diablo). Being the good-hearted woman that she is, Vanessa consoles him by citing poetry with him (John Clare’s work) and offers to teach him to dance. Sweet and heart-warming, right? Let’s hope they keep it that way: friends who share love for poetry and please do not let The Creature fall for Vanessa. I imagine it would have catastrophic result *sweatdrop*.
We still have no idea what The Creature is doing here (free soup and friendship with a beautiful woman, anyone?) and Vanessa, shouldn’t you get back to work?
Skipping a failed interrogation by Inspector Bartholomew Rusk and Ethan’s successful tail-cutting, we arrive to some opera theater where Dorian Gray and Angelique are happily on a date. Unfortunately, their jolly evening is ruined by some jerks who just feel the urge to humiliate a couple (too much time on their hand??). Kudos for the writers for giving us both Angelique’s and Dorian’s character development in a single scene: this is the first time we ever see Angelique’s dropping off her confidence, charming self to reveal a more vulnerable one – she endures being shamed without a retort. And Dorian steps up to do the single thing we all hope he will do but do not expect from him: he raises her hand to his lips and kisses it, telling the world that he is proud to have her by his side. Moreover, we see Dorian showing feelings for another person other than himself: he has always had an air of aloofness about him as if he doesn’t give a damn about the world. Now, the anger is palpable in his tone and he would have started a fight right there if Angelique hadn’t hold him back. (Part of me wish Angelique hadn’t so that we could see how our ageless beauty would have fared in a brawl.)
… Which leads to one of the most beautiful and meaningful dialogues, where Dorian lovingly tells Angelique he likes her for her person, not her sex. It’s still a little early to say if they have fallen in love (at least on Dorian’s side) but in this scene, there is a certain level of affection in Dorian’s words and gestures, which makes the sex scene afterwards much more enjoyable to watch because it’s not casual sex, it’s love-making – the fact that a lot of emotions are involved makes it all the more beautiful and sacred.
OK, let’s move to the ‘sex’ part as I have mentioned at the beginning.
Josh Hartnett (Ethan Chandler) once joked that season 2 was going to be a ‘bang-fest’ and this is proven in this episode – four relatively sex-free episodes (Angelique’s nude scene doesn’t count as sex, to me at least) and now the creators of the show think it’s high time they dropped the bomb and boy, how it explodes! We find out that stormy nights are always a perfect excuse to get horny – aside from Dorian x Angelique, there’s Sir Malcolm x Evelyn Poole and Brona/Lily x Victor Frankenstein. Here I will divide them into hate and love categories and give my two cents about them.
- Sir Malcolm x Evelyn Poole
- Love/Hate? Hate
- Why? Of all the possible couples in this season this is the one that gives me an icky feeling when mentioned. My own personal shipping code dictates that a couple is only a true couple when there is honest affection, which is nonexistent in this one. From the beginning Evelyn Poole has approached Sir Malcolm with a hidden devious agenda (not so hidden to us viewers) – to seduce him and ‘infiltrate’ Vanessa’s defense. Last time we saw them in episode 2, she has obviously put a hex on him and in this episode, she pricks him with her ring, which is her lethal weapon she used to kill one of the witch (2x01: Fresh Hell) and a few dozen cows (2x03: Nightcomers). Whatever potion/poison she has injected into Sir Malcolm weakens his resistance, heightening his desires (for her). To me it’s dub-con (dubious consent – a usual tag in fanfiction) at best since the man is not in his right mind. The consequence later, I wager, will be rather dreadful.
- Brona/Lily x Victor Frankenstein
- Love/Hate? Hate
- Why? Like the above couple, this couple is only dub-con at best. From the start it’s problematic and as the series progresses, it only descends down the path of nauseate (for lack of a better word). Let me make this straight that I have no qualms about the incestuous aspect between Lily and Victor (he ‘created’ her so he’s sort of her ‘parent’); what makes me cringe when thinking that they are shippable is that both Victor and The Creature have been filling her up with lies! Well, while The Creature fails (mostly due to his unattractive appearance), Victor wins! That he seems to harbor feelings for her does not make this relationship, built on a mountain of lies, any excusable. I have to seriously wonder when she jumps on his bed and starts touching him, does she have any idea at all about what she is doing, what they are and are not supposed to do considering that they are ‘cousins’ (Victor’s fattest lie). The Creature gets Lily rejection as a ‘punishment’ for his lies, let us wait and see what ‘punishment’ our good doctor will receive.
- Dorian Gray x Angelique
- Love/Hate? Love
- Why? As I already elaborated above, this is perhaps the only sex in this episode that doesn’t involve deception. Sure both of them are still holding onto their secrets, Angelique with her true name and family before she came to London and Dorian with whatever secret he keeps on his infamous portrait and his immortality, yet there is a fine line between having secrets and deceiving each other. Even the most loving and faithful couple can have one or two things they want to keep for themselves (as long as their secrets do not affect their relationship). It may be a trivial detail that while the first two couples have sex with most of their clothes on (symbolizing the lies in their relationship, anyone?), Angelique and Dorian are entirely free of clothes (symbolizing their genuine feelings). Seems to me at that moment they lay bare for each other to see their emotions and they can be honest to each other despite their secrets.
By the way, kudos for a very passionate sex scene. *both thumbs up*. And Wagner is Penny Dreadful’s aphrodisiac (confirmed). And putting sex scenes with horror scenes is probably the show’s way of preventing people from fapping over these gorgeous actors and actresses 😈😈😈.