Penny Dreadful (S2 E2) – Why go there!?

OK, I struggle with this every time I see it.  I write off a movie if it contains any hint of it.  I hate to see it any where it is used as a trope.  It should NOT be a trope at all.

What is it?  The on-screen or implied killing of a baby or child.  Why??

I have been watching Penny Dreadful (Showtime series) since it came out, on XBMC/KODI since it started.  It is a cross between League of Extraordinary Gentlemen and Van Helsing.  Very dark and brooding Victorian age show dealing with all the classic monsters – Vampires, Werewolves, Frankenstein’s monster and a little Dorian Gray throne in.   The first season was phenomenal.  I could not get enough of the series.  The second season as really started out good, bringing witches into the story.  They have some top notch actors and the story is compelling.

Characters include…

Dorian Gray – immortal human who seems to be only in the show periodically to bring in more sexual stuff, because raunchy sex in the 1890s is hot, apparently.

Sir Malcolm Murray – Father to Mina Murray/Harker (from the Bran Stoker’s Dracula), adventurer and Quatermain-type character.  Ironically played by Timothy Dalton (who also played James Bond, like Sean Connery who played Quatermain in League of Extraordinary Gentlemen – the movie that killed his career.)

Vanessa Ives – Played by the much exalted  (and HOT) Eva Green, I guess her last role in the 300 sequel knocked her down to TV roles.  Regardless, she is my favorite character in this show.  She was Mina Harker’s best friend and not Sir Malcolm’s “adopted” daughter.  She is also a victim of possession and continues to battle with it throughout the show.  The Flashback episode of her in an 19th century asylum was haunting.  She should have won an award for that.

Dr. Victor Frankenstein –  Very well portrayed.  I like this approach to the character.  Young, curious but obsessive.

John Clare & Brona Croft – Frankenstein’s monster and in the second season, the Bride of Frankenstein’s monster.

Ethan Chandler – Stereotypical American gunslinger with a mysterious past, played by Josh Hartnett.  I did not see this coming (and I should have) but he’s the werewolf in the story.  It is only hinted to in the first season until the end, when it was the big season ending reveal.

In the second season, they have really portrayed the witches in a very dark manor, darker than anything I have seen in a while.  Directly connecting them to Satanic rituals and mythology, they have thus far proven to be very evil antagonists.  But unfortunately, they have crossed a line that I am going to struggle with, at least.  I am not ready to give up on the show, but it has tainted me.

In the second episode of the second season (Verbis Diablo), as part of one of her rituals, the main witch sent one of her minion witches to fetch a baby child.  After killing the parents savagely, the minion returns with the baby, dead in a suitcase.  The witch take the heart and does some ritual that is important to the plot, but not important to my point.

If the death of child is random and seems pointless other than to make you hate the bad guy more, I hate that most of all.  I realize in war or disasters, children are killed as much as adults.  But that does not have to be seen. If you want us to hate a bad guy, there are other more creative ways to do that.  You don’t have to kill children.

In the case of the show in question, it was part of a ritual.  But why not something else?  Like a cute bunny or kitten?  My wife made a good point saying that the animal rights people would be up in arms about that.  Suddenly, the life an animal is more important than innocent human.  However, I have to admit that an episode later they killed a rabbit.  And they also performed a 19th century abortion as well, which I found aborhant.

Anyway, although it wasn’t random and out of the blue, it was still not needed.  Call it a pet peeve or something but this show is tainted.

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5 Comments on “Penny Dreadful (S2 E2) – Why go there!?

  1. you realise that a little girl was killed in the cold open of the pilot, right? the very first scene of the show? and yet you kept watching it and loving it?

    also, “knocked her down to TV roles”? yeah. okay.

  2. Sure I thought of that and chose not to mention it, as it was in a little different context. The savagery of a mindless beast is a little different from the cold and calculated actions of a human being. I gave them a pass on the first one. However, to your comment, that did bother me and I might have written about it then if I had my WordPress site up by then.

    As for the other comment, get over it. It’s an opinion, nothing more. It’s my perception, a fan and a regular guy, not a Hollywood insider.

    Thanks for reading though.

  3. is your opinion specific to eva? the past few years have seen an obvious gravitation of highly acclaimed, award-winning film actors to television, because that’s where the quality roles are these days, especially for women. more and more big-name directors and screenwriters (john logan among them, obviously) are also making the jump. the idea that television as a medium is inferior to film is pretty antiquated.

    besides, filming on the first season of penny dreadful had wrapped before 300: rise of an empire was released, so the timeline doesn’t support the assertion.

    i’m glad you enjoyed the first season, anyway.

  4. as to your first point regarding the pilot, given how stridently you oppose even allusions to the trope, it didn’t seem like context was a mitigating factor. fair enough.

  5. I am glad my writing produces such passion and interest, and obviously putting it out there in WordPress opens to debate such as this.

    As for Eve and her “fall to TV”, I conceded that it was a perception, based on seeing her one place and then another. Did I dig into the facts to see if the timelines matched up? Nope! Because I was not stating it as fact, I was stating it as a simple perception. Perceptions can be wrong. You have presented valid points to counter my perception. Antiquated it maybe, but it is still a possible perception. Perhaps I should have closed that thought with “I could be wrong!” but since it my opinion, I thought it could have been left unsaid. I am not such an egotist to think that all my opinions, especially those about media and literature, are always right. But they are mine, regardless.

    As for the pilot, I stated it bothered me and to some degree it did taint the first season from the start. But I gave them a pass since the trope was not repeated. Apparently, they are a one child death per season (I am only half way through the second).

    And despite the baby-death, I am still enjoying second season, just don’t like that they had to go there.

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