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'Penny Dreadful': A guide to season 2

Season two of Showtime’s monster-mash melodrama Penny Dreadful began last week, and it looks like we’re off to a witchy start. That should be taken literally. Our new “Big Bad” is Satan-worshiping witch bitch Evelyn Poole (Helen McCrory), and it appears her goal in life is to destroy our devil-receptacle monster-fighter, Vanessa Ives (the incomparable Eva Green). This is one blood-soaked, Victorian-era hellcat fight that I’m dying to see. Personally, I think Evelyn is just jealous that Satan likes Ms. Ives better.

If you haven’t binged on the first spooky season of this lush romantic-horror series just yet, fear not. Here’s a rundown of our dramatis personae—who they are, what their situation was in the first season, and where we left them.

Eva Green from Penny Dreadful

Vanessa Ives (Eva Green)

Who: Vanessa Ives is our heroine, a strong and complicated clairvoyant who is susceptible to demonic possession and acts as a human doorway to the other side.

Last season: Vanessa is the protege of Sir Malcolm Murray, having grown up with his daughter Mina. Mina and Vanessa were “closer than sisters” (that’s the title of episode five, in which we learn their history), until Vanessa discovered Sir Malcolm was having an affair with her mother. Embracing the darkness in her soul, Vanessa seduced Mina’s fiancé on the eve of the wedding. Their friendship ruined and their families no longer in contact, Vanessa’s clairvoyant abilities surfaced in full force. She ended up enduring a brutal incarceration in a mental asylum. Satan himself (or so it appears) came to Vanessa in the form of Sir Malcolm, and a makeout session ensued, which led to her regaining her sanity. Who needs a therapist when you have the Antichrist? Shortly after, Vanessa encounters Mina and realizes she’s been taken prisoner by a master vampire (who is basically Dracula, but he’s never named). The search for Mina Murray was on. After much creepiness ensued—the chief creepy was her being possessed by a demon after a night of passion with Dorian Gray (Reeve Carney)—Vanessa was able to track Mina down. Sir Malcolm kills Mina to save Vanessa’s life.

Where we left Vanessa: Season one ends with Vanessa asking a priest for another exorcism.

Timothy Dalton Penny Dreadful

Sir Malcolm Murray (Timothy Dalton)

Who: Sir Malcolm is a world-famous explorer who spent way too much time away from his family in favor of gallivanting around the globe. He lost his son, Peter, after the weak youth succumbed to an illness while accompanying his dad on an African expedition. His daughter, Mina, was kidnapped by a master vampire, and the quest to rescue her was the main storyline of Penny Dreadful‘s first season. Sir Malcolm is a tortured soul, and hopes to find atonement by rescuing his daughter from the forces of evil.

Last season: Sir Malcolm had a love-hate relationship with his daughter’s best friend, Vanessa, as the two teamed up to find Mina. He and Vanessa assembled Penny Dreadful‘s motley crew of monster-hunters, and Malcolm led them on expeditions throughout shadowy London to track his daughter down. We learned that Sir Malcolm’s arrogance caused him to ignore his son’s dying wish to name a mountain he climbed after him, and instead named it after himself (!!!). Yes, Sir Malcolm can be an ass.

Where we left Sir Malcolm: He had acknowledged Vanessa as his true daughter by killing a vampiric Mina to save Vanessa’s life. He also had some heavy flirtation with the mysterious medium Evelyn Poole.

Josh Hartnett Penny Dreadful

Ethan Chandler (Josh Hartnett)

Who: Ethan is an American expatriate and gunslinger whom Vanessa recruits from a traveling “Wild West” show. He’s got a rather bloody secret. And it’s not that he’s bisexual.

Last season: Ethan is just as messed up as the rest of the cast, having fled from some sort of trouble back in the U.S. After battling vampires in the first episode alongside Vanessa and Sir Malcolm, he sticks around to fight the good fight (and make some money). It’s evident to the audience that Chandler is hiding something, and it has to do with a series of exceptionally brutal murders that are occurring around London. Ethan falls in in love with plucky yet dying prostitute Brona Croft (Billie Piper), while also beginning a strong friendship with Vanessa. He also has a night of passion with Dorian Gray. (Everybody wants a piece of Dorian Gray on Penny Dreadful.) Grief-stricken over Brona’s eventual death (and not realizing it was a mercy killing with ulterior motives by Victor Frankenstein), Ethan returned to the Mariner’s Inn to drink his grief away. Unfortunately, trouble wasn’t going anywhere.

Where we left Ethan: After being approached by an employee of his father who demanded his return home, Ethan’s secret was revealed: He’s a werewolf. And not the kind that excels at high school basketball. Ethan’s lupine side emerged and killed everyone in the bar.

Penny Dreadful

Victor Frankenstein (Harry Treadaway)

Who: Victor is much like the mad scientist in Mary Shelley’s famed novel—except younger, more arrogant, and way too into hanging out with dead people.

Last season: The snippy, ghoulish Frankenstein is employed by Sir Malcolm as the Penny Dreadful gang’s medical expert. The pale science-type splits his time between them and reanimating dead people in his lab. Victor bites off more than he can chew when his abandoned first creation (Rory Kinnear) returns, kills his newest creation (Alex Price), and demands Frankenstein make him a mate. Luckily, Brona Croft is dying and asks Victor to put her out of her misery. Two birds, one reanimated corpse bride!

Where we left Frankenstein: He was prepping to reanimate Brona for his original monster.

Rory Kinnear Penny Dreadful

The Creature/Caliban (Rory Kinnear)

Who: “Caliban” is Victor Frankenstein’s initial attempt at creating life.

Last season: Horrified by his creation’s agonizing awakening and appearance, Victor abandoned him. The Creature, pale and scarred, with glowing yellow eyes, endured the cruelty of the world until he was taken in by kindly actor Vincent Brand (Alun Armstrong). Brand gave “Caliban” his name, and a job as a stage rat at the Grand Guignol theater. Caliban fell in love with an actress in the company, but was cruelly rejected and humiliated by her and her fiancé. He still wanted love, and demanded Victor make him a companion or he would destroy everything he held dear. Which isn’t much, ’cause Victor is kind of an unpleasant loner. What was Caliban going to do—burn his books?

Where we left Caliban: Eagerly awaiting his new girlfriend.

Reeve Carney Penny Dreadful

Dorian Gray (Reeve Carney)

Who: Dorian is Oscar Wilde’s youthful beauty—immortal and constantly in search of pleasures ephemeral and carnal.

Last season: Dorian threw decadent orgies, pursued Vanessa, and seduced Ethan via absinthe and his cool bachelor pad. His portrait is in the basement, and we know that he stays young while it ages. How long can THAT go on?

Where we left Dorian: His tryst with Vanessa left her open to demonic possession. Frankly, an STD would have been preferable.

Billie Piper Penny Dreadful

Brona Croft (Billie Piper)

Who: Brona (which is Gaelic for “sadness”) is an Irish prostitute who becomes romantically involved with fellow mess and drinker Ethan Chandler.

Last season: Brona, dying of consumption, met Ethan in the Mariner’s Inn and they began a relationship. Intimidated by his friendship with Vanessa and knowing that she was just going to die on him, Brona broke it off. Even after reconciling with Ethan, the consumption wasn’t going anywhere. She convinces Victor Frankenstein to smother her with a pillow so she can find peace and escape the pain.

Where we left Brona: Her corpse was in the hands of Victor and Caliban. Frankenstein is going to bring her back to life to become the Creature’s companion. Lucky her. *shiver*

Danny Sapani Penny Dreadful

Sembene (Danny Sapani)

Who: Sembene is Sir Malcolm’s ever-present manservant. He doesn’t say much. He has cool scars.

Last season: Sembene basically ran a lot of errands for Sir Malcolm. He’s also good in a fight, and keeps these bad-ass blades under his coat to kill vampires.

Where we left Sembene: I’m assuming he was waiting on his next orders in the foyer? I hope he gets some lines and a backstory this season.

Penny Dreadful airs Sundays at 10 p.m. ET/PT on Showtime.

TV Families | EW.com
Mark Harris
February 23, 1990 AT 05:00 AM EST

The Bradys are back, with a passel of 90’s hassles. Do they represent the typical American Family? Did they ever? Who does? Stare and compare!

Kind Of Family
TheBradyBunch 1969-74: Blended
The Bradys 1990-: Enormous
Married…With Children 1987-: Postnuclear
Thirtysomething 1987-: Extended
The Flintstones 1960-66: Modern Stone Age

Family Pet
The Brady Bunch: Tiger
The Bradys: Alice
Married…With Children: Buck
Thirtysomething: Grendel
The Flintstones: Dino

Typical Guest Star
The Brady Bunch: Davey Jones
The Bradys: There’s no room
Married…With Children: Sam Kinison
Thirtysomething: Carly Simon
The Flintstones: Ann Margrock

Expression Of Joy
The Brady Bunch: Groovy!
The Bradys: Ritual hugging
Married…With Children: ”Oh, great.”
Thirtysomething: ”Of course I’m happy for you. Really. But what about me? Why does it always have to be about you?
The Flintstones: ”Yabba-dabba doo

Expression Of Rage

The Brady Bunch: ”Hmmm…”
The Bradys: ”If you back away from something you really want, then you’re a quitter!” (the angriest any Brady has ever been)
Married…With Children: ”Aaagh, God, take me from this miserable life!”
Thirtysomething: ”I’m not angry, OK?”
The Flintstones: ”Willllmaaaa!”

Typical Problem
The Brady Bunch: Marcia and her rival both want to be the prom queen.
The Bradys: Bobby gets paralyzed.
Married…With Children: Al doesn’t buy his family Christmas presents.
Thirtysomething: Nancy gets cancer.
The Flintstones: Fred and Barney are staying out too late.

Typical Solution
The Brady Bunch: The prom committee decides to have two queens.
The Bradys: Bobby gets married.
Married…With Children: They hate him.
Thirtysomething: If only we knew…
The Flintstones: Wilma and Betty decide to follow them.

House Style
The Brady Bunch: Conservative but mod, circa ’69
The Bradys: Conservative but mod, circa ’90
Married…With Children: Roach motel
Thirtysomething: Enviable
The Flintstones: Suburban cave

Clothing Style
The Brady Bunch: Early Osmonds
The Bradys: Made in the USA
Married…With Children: Flammable fabrics
Thirtysomething: Eclectic earth tones; nice ties
The Flintstones: One-piece

Most Annoying Character
The Brady Bunch: Alice’s cousin Emma, the substitute housekeeper (too strict)
The Bradys: Marcia’s husband, Wally (chronically unemployable)
Married…With Children: Steve (supercilious)
Thirtysomething: Ellyn (goes through Hope’s drawers, babbles, changes hairstyle every other week, generally mistreats her friends)
The Flintstones: Mr. Slate (bossy)

Attitude Toward Sex
The Brady Bunch: Never heard of it
The Bradys: Omigod — even Cindy does it!
Married…With Children: Peg: Yes. Al: No.
Thirtysomething: They didn’t get all those kids by accident.
The Flintstones: Prehistoric

How Spouses Fight
The Brady Bunch: They don’t.
The Bradys: Infrequently, but it happens
Married…With Children: Tooth and nail
Thirtysomething: They stop talking
The Flintstones: Fred and Barney go bowling while Wilma and Betty max out their charge cards.

How Kids Get Into Trouble
The Brady Bunch: Greg takes a puff of a cigarette.
The Bradys: Carol’s grandson steals her business cards and sticks them in the spokes of Bobby’s wheelchair.
Married…With Children: By committing felonies
Thirtysomething: Ethan plays with a forbidden toy rocket.
The Flintstones: They don’t.

How They’re Punished

The Brady Bunch: ”It’s not what you did, honey — it’s that you couldn’t come to us.”
The Bradys ”Next time, ask.”
Married…With Children: By the authorities
Thirtysomething: It blows up in his face.
The Flintstones: They’re not.

What Family Does For Fun
The Brady Bunch: Takes special three-part vacations to Hawaii and the Grand Canyon
The Bradys: Has flashbacks
Married…With Children: Exchanges insults
Thirtysomething: Talks
The Flintstones: Attends showings of The Monster at the Bedrock Drive-In

Unsolved Mysteries
The Brady Bunch: How exactly did Carol’s first husband and Mike’s first wife die?
The Bradys: What’s with Marcia’s new face and Bobby’s blonde hair
Married…With Children: What kind of hair spray does Peg use?
Thirtysomething: Why did Nancy take Elliot back? What do Gary and Susanna see in each other?
The Flintstones: How does Barney’s shirt stay on if he has no shoulders? Where do Fred and Wilma plug in their TV?

Worst Behavior
The Brady Bunch: The Brady children once made Alice feel under-appreciated.

The Bradys: Marcia’s son Mickey watches Bobby’s car-crash tape for fun.
Married…With Children: The Bundy’s kill their neighbor’s dog.
Thirtysomething: Elliot has an affair and talks about it.
The Flintstones: Characters don’t wear under-clothes.

Best Reason To Watch
The Brady Bunch: This is what life should be.
The Bradys: They’re all grown-ups now!
Married…With Children: Terry Rakolta hates it.
Thirtysomething (Tie) This is your life. This isn’t your life.
The Flintstones: This is what life might have been.

Best Reason Not To Watch
The Brady Bunch: Blurred vision from rerun overdoses.
The Bradys: You’re all grown-ups now.
Married…With Children: She has a point.
Thirtysomething: After a while, you think it’s real.
The Flintstones: The Simpsons

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