Penny Dreadful S01 E04: Demimonde


We’ve been introduced to many a classic character so far on “Penny Dreadful.”  Some are monsters and yet we wait for more to arrive, and arrive they do. Last week’s episode introduced us to two new characters, Fenton and Caliban. Are they monsters or victims? So far we’ve met Dorian Gray, Victor Frankenstein, and let’s not forget the master vampire that searches for Miss Ives. Dorian Gray is the bigger mystery for us to unwrap tonight. What is he searching for? Follow me down the cobblestone streets of London to find out.



Vanessa Ives sits on a bench observing the church across the street. She does not enter. A young girl notices and asks her why. Good question especially since we know that Vanessa is very religious. The word Demimonde has many meanings and all fit tonight’s episode. A seeker of pleasure, that word certainly describes Dorian, but what about Vanessa? Is she a woman of loose morals? She’s a sensual woman and we know this by the way she describes the deadly nightshade when asked to do so by Dorian Gray. Wow! I’ll never think of flowers the same way again.

Brona explains to Ethan, after making love, how she became a woman of the night. She was engaged to a brutal man with brutal hands. When she seeks comfort from her uncaring mother and is told to go back to the man, Brona decides to make do on her own. Brona (Billie Piper) is the definition of demimonde. But Ethan is in love and he wants to take Brona to the best places. They make plans to see a play via Grand Guignol style.

Penny Dreadful - Episode 1_04 - Demimonde - Promotional Photos (16)

At the theater, Caliban (Rory Kinnear) is working the props for the stage show, while Ethan, Brona, Dorian and Miss Ives watch the featured show, The Transformed Beast, a werewolf tale. Unknown to Miss Ives, Sembene is following her. Everything seems honky dory until intermission when they all meet at the bar. Brona recognizes Dorian and begins to feel out of place as Ethan and Miss Ives chat. She runs away after telling Ethan that he will need to pay before bedding her in the future. Dorian wants to show Ethan is world.


Sir Malcolm has arranged for Victor Frankenstein to work with a hematologist by the name of Van Helsing (David Warner). I told you the classic characters keep on arriving. The blood they are working on belongs to Fenton (Olly Alexander). Sir Malcolm is seeking a cure for his daughter, just in case she’s a vampire. Van Helsing tells Victor, “There is no cure for the eating of blood.”


Van Helsing does have a formula made from his dead wife’s blood called ‘Hannah’s Wink. They decide to test it on Fenton along with a transfusion. Why did Ethan refuse to give blood? What is his dark secret?

Caliban needs a cure for his loneliness and hounds Victor into finding him a mate, but Victor is busy with Fenton who still craves blood and constantly asks for Vanessa.  Ethan is upset with Fenton’s treatment and storms out of the house. The vampire (Robert Nairne) comes looking for Vanessa.


Dorian takes Ethan to an underground dog fight. The fight was bloody with a pit full of rats and a dog named Flash Jack; horrible. Money is passing hands as bets are made, but it’s too much for Ethan and a fight breaks out between him and a few club members. Ethan loses and Flash Jack wins.


Dorian is another example of the word Demimonde; a person who lives a hedonistic lifestyle. Dorian is definitely a pleasure seeker. Nothing is new. He’s seen everything, heard everything, slept with everyone both male and female. Immortality has its drawbacks. He introduces Ethan to the Green Fairy, Absinthe. Made from fennel, anise and wormwood, the drink has a bad reputation for causing hallucinations, but it’s the Thuyone that is the culprit.

Drunk on the Green Fairy and heartbroken over losing Brona, Ethan and Dorian make love. I did not see that coming, but in my research I learned that the word Demimonde was also used to describe homosexual men.


Fenton is dead and we have met the vampire. It already has Mina and now it wants Vanessa. Let’s hope Victor and Van Helsing find that cure. Will Ethan and Dorian be more than BFF’s and will we ever learn Ethan’s dark secret? You’ll have to return next week, my little pennies, to find out.

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