The Origins of Fangs
A Television Review by Akash Singh
NOTE: SPOILERS OCCUR!!!!!!!
No Beast So Fierce feels significantly like a second adage to its predecessor of an hour, beginning with a quick little resolution to Ethan pointing the gun at his father’s head. The opening sequence is unnaturally clunky, primarily from the perspective that there was no palpable reason for the sequence to not complete in the previous installment other than the odd desire for a cliffhanger (this show doesn’t need cheap cliffhangers, frankly). The inspectors have arrived in the elegant Western manor, announcing with no ironic desire that they had the intention to arrest everyone. That leads to the tensest dinner sequence yet on the series, with antagonists sitting around, chomping into the meat without a word. Ethan’s father, Jared Talbot, begins by asking Ethan to say Grace, a twist for the newly darkening Ethan that’s interrupted seamlessly by Malcolm. His words of parenting wisdom about not pushing one’s children so far that they never come back seemingly going right over Jared’s head. He’s a racist scumbag who fails to see the Apache and by further extension all Native Americans as human, whose own violent worldview resting upon a pedestal of Godly white superiority comes crashing down upon his own family. That by no means is a suggestion that happened to Ethan’s family was right, a tragedy in its own right that significantly complicates the relationships forming between everyone. Unsurprisingly, the inevitable shootout takes care of everyone in rapid fashion and most disappointingly, Hecate falls with a singular bullet. Out of all of John Logan’s overall sharp creative decisions, the demises of the witches have been quite disappointing. Madam Kali’s demise at Ethan’s claws happened far too quickly considering how her character had been built up. Hecate dying at the Marshall’s bullet feels subsequently as disappointing. Hecate had been richly constructed as a character and with her demise here, she feels more like a vessel for Ethan to embrace the darkness than a character in her own right and that’s not how a character like her, played so brilliantly by Sarah Greene, should have gone.
Vanessa is thankfully back after her unfortunate absence last week. Her opening scene is with Ser Lyle, who is packing his bags for a jaunt to Cairo, where he somberly notes people would be more accepting of his lifestyle. He is going to visit the tomb of Imhotep, the chancellor to the pharaoh and high priest of the sun god Ra. Considered to be amongst the first architects, engineers, and physicians, Imhotep has garnered a considerable repertoire, emerging famously as the villain in 1999’s The Mummy. The version in Penny Dreadful, which I dearly hope happens, ought to be more in line with the ancient Egyptian figure and it ought to be thrilling if that is the turn the series takes after it wraps up the Dracula arc. But for now, Vanessa’s dear friend departs for the Southern Mediterranean coast, leaving behind a number for her to call. The number it so happens to belong to a fencing thanatologist, a studier of death named Catriona Hartdagen. Catriona, a fierce female character who eschews corsets for trousers, is thrilling in her first appearance. She’s fierce, sharp, and has absolutely no qualms whatsoever about seizing an opportunity to strike, even if her opponents may call those seizings cheating. She lays forth Dracula’s history, the original vampire if you will. He espouses a medieval warrior line named the Dracule, or “Dragon” in Romanian. In the thirteenth century, he provoked a war between the Ottomans and the Holy Roman Empire in order to bathe the world in blood so he could feed on it. He works best with the isolation of his prey and Vanessa realizes how vital it had to be for her to have someone by her side, those friends of old. Dr. Seward steps in for that particular moment as a friend, a confidant who assures Vanessa that the only path forward for her was if she started trusting people once more. It’s heartbreaking to see that quite smile on Vanessa’s face, knowing what lies in the future.
Lily returns this week with a greater group of prostitutes who wanted to learn how to defend themselves against the lecherous men that used them and discarded them as things. Dorian Gray standing as a knife dummy for practice is how I relatively feel about his place in the plot, which has reached several intriguing points but hasn’t stayed consistently afloat between them. Him and Lily teaming up to dance across that sublime floor, leaving behind a trail of blood seemed promising enough but what felt missing this season is the ostensible understanding of what was driving him. With Ethan, for example, his absolute mix of shame, guilt, and hatred of others and himself drove him to that point where he almost pulled the trigger on his father, twice. He straddled that dark line and while the episode had work more ardently than perhaps necessary to convince everyone that his sexual act with Hecate was symbolic of his embracing the dark side (a nice mirroring with Vanessa and Dr. Sweet there), there was at least a bit of understanding as to what was driving him forward. That bit of history is lost with Dorian and subsequently his plot feels a lot less emotionally gripping. It finally hits the character this episode, the dangerous circumstances he has placed himself within. It was never quite clear what he hoped to gain out of this process of working with Lily so she could raise her army of women to dominate men, but here at least it’s somewhat obvious. He assumed that him and Lily would be working with equals and that her women would be beneath them both. Justine puncturing his skin and drawing blood out of his throat took that opportunity away. Victor’s sad attempt at kidnapping Lily provides a moment of opportunity for Dorian, an opportunity he may cash in at Lily’s expense.
Great/Not So Great Moments Not Mentioned Above:
+The feeding off of a body was terrifying
+“Condemn me to the sand and dust.” I need the reunion between Vanessa and Ser Lyle this instant.
+“To do with as you will.” I threw up a little
+“You’re pushing your own luck, my dear.”
+“Father?” John Clare’s segment of the hour was absolutely heartbreaking. His own child is terrified of him and he couldn’t let that feeling of absolute despair go away. Damn you, Victor.
+That GORGEOUS overhead shot of London is amongst the show’s best
+“I’m not most people.”
+“All of Brona’s shame and debasement.”
+Victor being firmly convinced that him and Lily were both happy is such a universal statement of how often men ignore the desires and feelings of women. She was never happy, she was never her own being but Victor was completely oblivious to her existence outside of how it related to his own desires. Brilliant writing, there.
+Dr. Seward killed her abusive husband with a cleaver from the kitchen, stood trial in New York, and then practices psychiatry in London. Boss.
+The wides shots in those episodes were particularly stunning
+“You shall love him like the natives among you.” (Paraphrase) The irony is strong here.
+“Then let catastrophe befall us both.”
+It is intriguing that Ser Malcolm finishes the deed of killing Jordan, saving Ethan from crossing that dark, dark line
Episode Title: No Beast So Fierce
Written by: Andrew Hinderaker & Krysty Wilson-Cairns
Directed by: Paco Cabezas
Image Courtesy: Fanpop