Penny Dreadful 2×8 Review: Memento Mori
“Memento Mori” is one of those types of episodes that can either make or break a fanbase for a particular program. It was a slow burn with a lot of payoff…if you could stick around for it. Aside from the pacing issues and some very slow scenes, this was a solid episode where we got to see a lot of the other main cast show their acting chops (since both Eva Green and Josh Hartnett were completely absent).
I disliked the first third of the episode. I thought that the pacing was much too slow, and there wasn’t really enough characterization or plot movement to really keep me engrossed. Plus, as a huge John fan, his tantrum to Victor about Lily seemed a bit out of character for what he has become lately. Nothing was really impressing me, and I feared that without Vanessa and Ethan to play a role in the episode that we would be left with little bits of plot flying around. And mostly, that is what we got. But after the first few bumps, the acting kept me glued.
The acting winner of the week goes to Billie Piper with her Lily. That scene in Victor’s lab with John was incredible. I have to give it to Billie Piper; she nailed it. For the first part of her speech, it felt like Brona was coming back through, and by the end, she had John wrapped around her little finger, which is exactly where she wants him. I had been privately speculating since last week that Lily was starting to remember her old life as a prostitute, and this week all but confirmed that. And damn, was she cruel to John. I am super intrigued to see how their relationship plays out and what sort of revenge Lily will get on our night crew.
We did lose a beloved member of the supporting cast this week: Angelique. The scene where she discovers Dorian’s painting was creepy, but a little anticlimactic. I was actually hoping that we would not get to see the painting, as it did take away some of the horror factor. But Dorian’s smirk after killing Angelique was really the most chilling part of the whole episode. I still think that Dorian’s storyline is off in its own little world, but the fact that he is hanging out with Lily so much makes me wonder if she will be the next person to see the painting. If so, will Dorian try to kill her, and will she die? There is so much we have yet to learn about the undead.
Sir Malcolm was certainly a force to be reckoned with in this episode, which frankly, was all about him. I have often wondered what his major role in the whole storyline is, other than the wealthy overseer with influence. But in “Memento Mori,” we got to see just how strong he is. The juxtaposition of the gray, deceased souls in the lush ballroom with light music was so haunting, but it was effective in making us feel what Sir Malcolm was feeling as he cut himself away from Evelyn. Sembene’s plan to help Sir Malcolm fight off Evelyn’s spell was also effective. It was a pleasure to see Sir Malcolm be the strong one of the night crew, and to see Sembene show off some of his talents.
So now we have Sir Malcolm in the know about the identity of the witches, but also left to battle his own demons, Victor unknowingly become a victim of Lily’s power-hungry influence over John, Vanessa and Ethan missing in action, and being privy to Dorian’s painting. This was certainly a lot to take in, and I am glad that I kept my emotional investment in the later parts of the episode, because the slow burn was worth the wait.
Erin has reviewed many shows over the years including Orphan Black, iZombie, Penny Dreadful, and Killing Eve. She has a keen eye for on-screen chemistry, and loves to tackle the subject of casting. She is also our horror aficionado. She live tweets shows, and loves to share her feelings. Erin has a BA in History, and likes to analyze the lore behind historical fiction. She attends San Diego Comic Con every year and has also attended C2E2 and WonderCon.
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