The series premiere of “Penny Dreadful” certainly built a terrifying world to explore. Ethan Chandler is introduced as a sharp shooter, which is about on par with being a carnival entertainer. He seems alright with it, until the possibility of more makes itself known in the world of Sir Malcolm Murray and Vanessa Ives. They need his help for something and he’s not smart enough to question what it is.
Murray is driven by pursuing his kidnapped daughter, Mina Murray. It’s worth noting that character name has long-running ties to vampire stories, dating back to Bram Stoker’s “Dracula” in 1897. With Chandler and Ives in tow, he investigates an underground lair. That investigation quickly escalates to a battle against a force that doesn’t exactly seem human. The scattered body parts laying around the den back that up.
Viewers are placed into the shoes of Chandler, who isn’t quite sure what’s happening. It becomes clear all too often that these maniacs are vampires. After killing them, the three take one body to Dr. Victor Frankenstein to examine. Upon cutting away the skin, which was gross, it was discovered that the creature had an exoskeleton inscribed with Egyptian hieroglyphics. This isn’t everyday monster, it turns out.
Back in his home, Murray believes he is briefly reunited with his missing daughter. However, in a flash her face changes to that of a vampire. She quickly flees, meaning either his daughter is lost or he hallucinated the entire thing. For his sake, let’s hope it’s just his imagination running wild.
While the entire episode was packed with scares and did a lot of work setting up the world for future episodes, it was the final scene that was a highlight. After Frankenstein agreed to work with Murray, he went home and into a secret room hidden behind a bookshelf. Seeing as he’s Dr. Frankenstein, you have to know where that’s going. It’s revealed that he’s built his monster, but it isn’t quite alive yet. Unlike the neck bolts look of the legendary character, this monster is more in time with a bald man that has been stitched together.
After a power surge, the monster comes to life and hides in a corner. However, when it sees Victor, the monster comes over to meet him, face-to-face. In the closing moment of the episode, Victor introduces himself to his creation. If it’s possible to have a moment that feels iconic in a series premiere, this is it.
If you didn’t get the chance to see “Night Work,” never fear. The entire episode is available to watch for free online.