Penny Dreadful “Memento Mori”
Morning comes and Lily (Billie Piper) is in bed, kissing a man’s chest and telling him how silly it is that boys grow up. This ‘boy’ won’t. It’s the man she strangled in last week’s episode. Dressing, she deliberately knocks over the house of cards on a table, snatching up one card as she leaves. Clearly, Lily Frankenstein is seriously damaged goods.
The Creature (Rory Kinnear) arrives at Victor Frankenstein’s (Harry Treadaway), waking the doped out doctor with a bucket of cold water, furious to discover that Lily is not there and has been absent all night. The Creature angrily states that Lily is his and once they are far away, The Creature will return one night and show Victor the monster he created. Dr. Frankenstein’s worst nightmares are beginning to come true.
At Scotland Yard, Inspector Rusk (Douglas Hodge) discovers that Sir Malcolm Murray (Timothy Dalton) paid the police a visit the previous year. Why? The Inspector sets off to find out.
Ferdinand Lyle (Simon Russell Beale) is a visitor to Madame Kali (Helen McCrory). Mr. Lyle, even with the threat of her cutting his throat, cannot reveal information he doesn’t know regarding the whereabouts of Vanessa Ives or the question as to whether Ethan Chandler (Josh Hartnett) loves her. With a foul kiss from the witch mother still on his lips (“You taste like a fat, little man”), Lyle exits only to run into Hecate (Sarah Greene) who warns him that whatever her mother promises him is a lie, whatever Hecate promises is a lie, but at least he’ll live longer. Poor Lyle, he really does seem a man of limited options, who wants to do the right thing, but is stuck between a rock and a hard place of extreme proportions.
A sorrowful Sir Malcolm sits studying old photos of his two dead children, the memories too much as Sembene (Danny Sapani) informs him that he has a visitor from Scotland Yard. Cue Inspector Rusk, seeking to find out why Sir Malcolm visited Inspector Galsworthy the previous year? Despite the aristocrat’s statement of forgetfulness, the Inspector has done his research on the number of times Sir Malcolm visited, the missing person report on Mina, and the death certificate but no record of a funeral (an illegal activity). The Inspector knows that Sir Malcolm told Galsworthy that the Spitalfields murders were not done by a man, “but by a beast” and that Sir Malcolm’s steel front door (allegedly put in a result of break-ins in the area) is strong enough to keep out a beast. Even a picture of Ethan that the Inspector shows Sir Malcolm is met by a denial of knowing the American. Rusk leaves, but Sir Malcolm is painfully aware that his world of secrets is now threatening to erupt.
At Victor’s, Lily returns, telling lies to explain her overnight absence and rejecting Victor’s suggestion that they get away from London for a while. She even has flowers from Dorian waiting for her. Victor leaves, aware that his latest creation now also seems beyond his control. Poor Victor, where did it all go wrong? When he started reanimating the dead, probably.
At Sir Malcolm’s, Victor Frankenstein opens up regarding his addiction and also how love is creating problems for him. Sir Malcolm knows that he himself has been the same, a poor husband and father who has become happy, but that’s not who he is. He recognises that on the day of his wife’s funeral, he was dancing at a ball. “Who is that man?” He asks. It’s an excellent scene, beautifully played by both, and finally the always amazing Timothy Dalton finally gets a scene that’s worthy of his talent and reminds us of the great actor he is and how painfully underused he’s been this season.
Meanwhile Madame Kali embraces Sir Malcolm’s mannequin, chanting a spell. At Sir Malcolm’s, now also joined by Ferdinand Lyle and Sembene, Sir Malcolm clutches his chest and then the pain seems to pass as Ferdinand Lyle continues his announcement that what he says must not leave the room. He explains the full story behind the relics (finally!): there are two brothers, one Lucifer, the other the Vampire Lord from Season One that tried to ensnare Vanessa through Mina. As they talk, we see Madame Kali continuing her dark magic upon the mannequin, pulling out its beating heart. Simultaneously at Sir Malcolm’s, he is becoming unwell as Lyle notes that the relic signifying the ‘hound of God’ shows that it is a threat to the demon’s plans. Madame Kali’s chanting continues. In Arabic, a struggling Sir Malcolm notes: “It’s not hound, it’s wolf”. Then his eyes go black and he is possessed: “You children, meet your master” as he easily throws the large table across the room. Sweet! Sembene grabs him and drags him out, throwing him into the next room and shouting “Know who you are!” It seems as though Sembene has temporarily broken the spell, cut to a worried Madame Kali, then Sir Malcolm at a ghost ball, dancing with his dead wife Gladys, seeing Mina and Peter, each telling him to “Remember”. As frantically as Madame Kali tries, the spell is now broken. Sir Malcolm has released himself from her enchantment, a fact that a gloating Hecate throws at her mother (just before mother throws daughter across the room when she’s called “old”). La Kali’s plan is that Sir Malcolm will now be full of anger and will come to her in her need, a chivalrous knight walking into a trap.
At Sir Malcolm’s, he’s loading a gun (never a good sign). At Dorian Gray’s, a resigned Angelique (Jonny Beauchamp) notes that Dorian is once again off to dinner with Lily, whilst Lily herself dresses for dinner at Victor’s. The words: ‘tangled’, ‘web’ and ‘weave’ are definitely coming to mind. She departs for the night ahead, after applying perfume. This can only end in tears,
At Sir Malcolm’s Sembene covers a sleeping Victor with a blanket, unaware that an angry Sir Malcolm is leaving the house.
In a nighttime street, The Creature cannot bear to watch Dorian putting pearls around Lily’s neck in a jewelry store and has to walk away, his misery shared by Angelique sitting alone at Dorian’s. The candles blow out and a puzzled Angelique, finding no draft, pushes against a painting, revealing a door into a curious part of the house (and we’re shouting “PORTRAIT!”)
Sir Malcolm, gun in hand, enters Madame Kali’s home. A Nightcomer briefly appears behind him. Sembene discovers Sir Malcolm missing, alerting Victor and Lyle, the spy telling them that they need to find Miss Ives and Mr. Chandler (try the Cut Woman’s cottage!). At Dorian’s the man himself arrives home, noting the empty room and ominously taking off his scarf, garotte style. At Madame Kali’s. Sir Malcolm’s gun is no use as the Nightcomers kick the crap out of him.
At Dorian’s, he’s seemingly had a change of mind, entering his secret room with two glasses for him and a seated Angelique in front of a large portrait (here we go): Dorian’s secret. He asks Angelique if she can love him as he truly is? Angelique says yes and drinks the wine. Death is immediate, the wine poisoned. Dorian doesn’t think Angelique really could as he gazes at the portrait of a chained, monstrous version of himself. The portrait is awful and a major disappointment. This is “The Portrait of Dorian Gray” we’re talking about here. There are plenty of great artists they could have got to paint a more horrific image. Major fail.
Lily returns home. Undressing, she is initially unaware that The Creature is watching. Her realisation is brief as the angry Creature reveals that he knows of her evening, pushing her as to who she really is. His anger is short lived as Lily kicks his ass, berating him, becoming Brona briefly stating that she will never kneel before another man again, before lowering herself to him and telling the shocked Creature that she loves him and together they will rule; she’ll bring him women and they will fuck them together (hello?); they’ll await Victor’s return and strangle him together (there’s gratitude); they’ll rule together: “We are the dead”. Lily’s the dominant partner as she kisses him. It’s a great scene, completely unexpected and Billie Piper’s best moment of the series so far.
At Madame Kali’s, she tells Sir Malcolm that he is a lamb to lure the lion; they can live immortally together as she is tired of being alone. It’s a touching offer, that is met by Sir Malcolm’s suggestion that he would rip her head off. But, if Madame Kali lets Miss Ives go, he will walk with her until the end of time. It’s an offer Madame Kali would obviously like to take, but cannot: “The Master will have her”. Her poisonous attitude returns as she notes that Vanessa was always his favourite and places a scorpion on his knee, before telling him that she’ll leave him with his memories, but to be careful as “they sting too”. Alone, Sir Malcolm opens a coffin: inside is the body of his son Peter. Broken, Sir Malcolm embraces his son. But there are now two other coffins in the room and the three bodies rise: Gladys, Mina and Peter now face Sir Malcolm. Cliffhanger!
“Memento Mori” carried on the good work of last week’s episode. Timothy Dalton had lots to do, which is always a reward to watch as he showed his range. Lily kicked the Creature’s ass and then revealed how twisted she truly is. Sembene got more to do (and he still needs more screen time), and we finally got to see Dorian’s portrait. Unfortunately it was terrible. Well, at least we saw the nasty side of Dorian as he killed Angelique without hesitation. So, Sir Malcolm’s in trouble, so is Victor, and it’s looking increasingly as though it’s going to be Vanessa in peril also with the Wolf of God coming to the rescue unless Inspector Rusk proves to be the fly in the ointment and inadvertently aids the Devil by stopping Ethan. The game is on!
A particularly excellent episode.
This review originally appeared on Haddonfield Horror: