“Above the Vaulted Sky” marks the halfway point for Penny Dreadful Season 2, and the show is already preparing us for the coming battle with the witches. In some ways, it has been building that tension since Madame Kali’s first appearance last season. But we’re getting ready for a full-scale battle between Vanessa Ives & Company and Evelyn Poole & Coven. (Spoilers below!)
And we’re back in that creepy puppet room. There’s a doll of Vanessa, but there’s also another doll, a likeness of Sir Malcolm’s wife, Gladys. Hecate brings in the lock of hair she stole from Vanessa and begins to work on the Vanessa-doll. Evelyn, meanwhile, is tearing open the Gladys-doll’s head to reveal brains. (What on earth? How am I even watching this right now?!) She sticks a poker into the brain, and miles away, Gladys awakens, screaming. Oh dear.
In the Murray mansion, there’s a great scurry to protect the home against assailants. A gigantic mental door shows up and is installed; Ethan conducts a sage-burning ritual; Vanessa draws scorpions in blood to seal and protect the house; even Lyle is joining in with what looks to be a Jewish ritual for cleansing and protection. Ah yes, and “a shitload of weapons.”
Vanessa ends up in Ethan’s room, unsure whether the witches she’s seeing are really there or in her head. I like the relationship between the two of them as friends—it’s sweet, and good for them both. This is one of those moments when they work well together, Vanessa talking about her fear of the dark and Ethan talking about his relationship with redemption and religion, quite serious but a wee lighthearted, too.
There’s trouble for Ethan, though. Inspector Rusk is beginning to put some things together, like those murders that only started happening after Ethan arrived with the Wild West Show and the Mariner’s Inn Massacre occurring at Ethan’s place of residence. Ethan is appropriately vague in answering the inspector’s questions, but in the shadows of the mansion lurk the survivor of the massacre.
And inside the mansion, Ethan’s identity is also close to being revealed. Lyle is working through the Verbis Diablo. There’s a repeated phrase in various languages–we see “lupus dei,” as Ethan holds it up and translates “hound of god.” Ethan looks troubled.
Vanessa, meanwhile, is having coffee with Victor and Lily. Somehow, she doesn’t recognize her as Brona, but I suppose that she didn’t spend a lot of time with her—and the hair and the accent are so different, and she’s not dying. But I do wonder what will happen if/when Ethan meets Lily. She’s a bit awkward, throwing in stilted phrases like “the weather is challenging, but the excitement is palpable” when Vanessa asks how she likes London, but Vanessa doesn’t care—she’s just happy to see Victor happy.
But Victor brought Lily to life to be the bride of his Creature, and this is creating some (not unforeseen) complications. When the Creature bursts into Victor’s home and demands to see Lily, the two argue about how Victor is handling the situation. The Creature sits with Lily, telling her how happy they used to be. He makes me sad, a bit, even though he’s creepy and pushy. What he dreamed of, the story he told Lily, was that they were walking by some guys who were mean, who called him names because of his appearance, and she took his hand and kissed it. But Lily shies away from him, and he leaves.
He must’ve gone back to the soup kitchen, because that’s where Vanessa finds the Creature. There’s an amusing moment where he’s bemoaning the mess he made of things with Lily and Vanessa tells (ahem–Victor) who she just saw so happy with a woman (ahem–Lilly). There’s some poetry quoting, and then something is said about dancing. The Creature can’t dance. And so Vanessa teaches him–Frankenstein’s Creature is waltzing with a powerful medium in the middle of a soup kitchen.
Dorian and Angelique are out at the opera, meanwhile—and she is recognized by an unhappy former patron. He’s incredibly, unspeakably rude. Dorian takes Angelique’s hand in his, and he kisses it—but Angelique is ready to go. At Dorian’s home, we see Angelique in Dorian’s clothes, we hear her story. Dorian is sympathetic, is kind.
And this is about the time that suddenly almost everyone in the show is having sexy-times. Dorian and Angelique share a tryst in Dorian’s bedroom. A flash of lightning and thunderclap send Lily to Frankenstein’s bed. And Evelyn Poole takes Sir Malcolm to bed. There’s something odd with her ring–she uses it to prick his finger and the back of his neck.
Meanwhile, his wife is dying. She’s been having seizures and terrible headaches. Now, she’s also seeing things. The ghosts of Peter and Mina Murray rise, and she slits her own throat from grief and horror. Those dolls, by the way? They’re called fetishes. Vanessa refers to them as a sort of simulacra, a hollowed out copy. Yeesh.