The introduction of Poole’s coven has turned the hunters into the hunted, with the entire gang under siege by forces they don’t yet understand and may be unprepared to rally against. The dynamic between Vanessa and Ethan is shifting in subtle yet important ways (his place by her side during her most brutal possession, as well as their shared struggle against the beasts within, were always bound to bring them closer together), and an odd sort of love triangle appears to be developing between Caliban, Victor and the poor, reanimated Brona, who has been told her name is Lily and that she was in a terrible accident (god only knows what will Ethan will make of all this when he eventually finds out that his dead love has become the doctor’s plaything).
Additionally, fans of the series will be gratified to hear that Logan has not neglected the haunting poetry and musical selections that made Penny Dreadful such an unexpectedly thoughtful viewing experience last year. Caliban obtains a job at a creepy wax museum under the pseudonym John Clare, as in the English poet who wrote often of the tormented self, and whose writings included lamentations like, “I am—yet what I am none cares or knows; My friends forsake me like a memory lost.” Why the creature, abandoned by Victor and only newly introduced to the concept of living out his days with another as out of place as himself, identifies so strongly with the poet is a point that needs not be belabored.
Elsewhere in the premiere, Evelyn unwinds from her dastardly day activities in a bath filled with blood, while singing an old poem called “The Unquiet Grave.” Though that ditty’s contents traditionally refer to a spirit who is begging her grieving lover to move on so that she can test, it feels more like a threat here – “And if you kiss my cold, clay lips, your days, they won’t be long; I’ll walk on yonder grave, sweetheart, when we will walk to war; the finest flower that e’re I saw, has withered to a stalk.” Judging by her control over the nightcomers and her frequent back-and-forths with the greatest evil that lurks in the Demimonde, Evelyn seems like the real deal as an opponent for our unlikely band of heroes.
At this early point in the show’s second season, which is set to run 10 episodes, Penny Dreadful has hit the ground running, with enough supernatural action, erotic intrigue and stylish, atmosphere-heavy direction to remind viewers why they flocked to Logan’s creation in the first place. If Evelyn and the nightcomers continue to assert themselves as the new big bads in town, and the individual storylines of each character start to intertwine in organic and compelling ways, there’s no reason the series shouldn’t produce a second chapter to rival its first.
With a newly coronated arch-villain and compelling storylines for all the major characters, Penny Dreadful's second season promises to be just as viciously, vividly entertaining as its first.