When a spiritualist communes with the dead to titillate Victorian party guests, the outcome is far more frightful than anticipated on “Séance,” Episode 102 of Showtime’s supernatural thriller “Penny Dreadful.”
Madame Kali (Helen McCrory) instructs seven volunteers to join hands round a table so they can roam back to when “the old gods walked.” Shortly after the séance begins, however, she makes a startling announcement.
“There’s another here,” the necromancer gasps, as a malevolent force possesses the body of psychic Vanessa Ives (Eva Green).
The message conveyed through Vanessa devastates Sir Malcolm Murray (Timothy Dalton), whose beloved daughter Mina Harker (Olivia Llewellyn) is trapped in a cold, dark netherworld.
“I’m so afraid, Father,” the voice of Mina laments. “Find me! Find me!”
To the horror of onlookers, the glass tabletop shatters and Vanessa’s body contorts into a gruesome shape. Then she stomps out into the London rain and has sex with the first man she meets.
“I’m not asking her back,” flamboyant party host Sir Ferdinand Lyle (Simon Russell Beale) informs Malcolm. Dilettantes were outraged at the turn of events. And Ferdinand’s wife was mortified, “although the gin helped.”
“But if one is to engage with the primordial forces of darkness,” Ferdinand adds, “one must expect a bit of social awkwardness.”
The reason Malcolm and Vanessa attended the party was to learn more about hieroglyphics discovered under the exoskeleton of a slain monster.
Ferdinand, an Egyptologist with the British Museum, is shocked by what he views under a magnifying glass.
“You must forget you ever saw it,” he urges Malcolm, referring to the image of a demon conjoining with a tormented goddess who is “not unlike your Missus Ives.”
“This is a spell foretelling the annihilation of man and the coming of the beast,” Ferdinand breathlessly exclaims. “I would not tell Missus Ives this. After all, who wants to know they are hunted by the devil?”
Still recovering from a harrowing battle with vampires is American sharpshooter Ethan Chandler (Josh Hartnett), whose Wild West show just left town without him. Shaky from a hangover, he nevertheless buys a bottle of whiskey for breakfast.
Sharing his drink without permission is Brona Croft (Billie Piper), an Irish immigrant with a lively personality but troubled past. Brona, whose name means “sadness” in Gaelic, is afflicted with tuberculosis.
Hustling for money, she poses for lewd photographs commissioned by hedonistic Dorian Gray (Reeve Carney). This wealthy libertine retains a youthful beauty as his portrait increasingly reflects the ravages of sin.
When he gropes Brona and she accidentally coughs up blood, Dorian is not repulsed. Rather, his passion soars.
“The pictures are a tad risqué,” Brona tells Ethan the next morning. “What will the bishop think?”
Meanwhile, Dr. Victor Frankenstein (Harry Treadaway) helps a reanimated corpse (Alex Price) remember how to eat and speak. And what should he be called?
Flipping through Shakespeare’s “The Two Gentlemen of Verona,” the “monster” drops his finger on the name “Proteus.”
A sensitive fellow, Proteus begins to recall his previous life as a whaler. Then it’s time for a stroll in the open air with his sutured head covered by a cap.
Scared initially, Proteus soon embraces the sights and sounds of a busy street. He’s fascinated by dogs, horses, roasted chestnuts as well as sexy Brona, who happens by with Ethan on her arm.
Back at Victor’s laboratory, Proteus happily recounts his adventure. But his resurrection ends abruptly and tragically when a hand pierces through his chest and rips him apart.
A menacing figure (Rory Kinnear) emerges from the gore.
“Your first born has returned, Father,” the creature ominously announces.