An examination of the "Seance" scene from the Showtime series "Penny Dreadful"

A Potpourri of Vestiges Feature

By Murtaza Ali Khan

Today, I want to talk about the "Seance" scene from the Showtime series Penny Dreadful. For the uninitiated, the show is a gothic romance set in the Victorian Era London that's rife with all kinds of literary characters ranging from Dr. Frankenstein to Dorian Gray to Abraham Van Helsing to Henry Jekyll.

So coming back the scene, it features the show's mysterious female protagonist named Vanessa Ives, portrayed by the inimitable Eva Green. The scene takes place during the second episode of the first season of Penny Dreadful. The setting is a high profile party, hosted by a historian named Ferdinand Lyle, featuring a known spiritualist named Madame Kali who famous for performing seances. As she makes the guests sit on a round table and starts to contact a spirit named Amunet she suddenly realises that she is not really in control owing to the presence of someone else at the table. Instead, it is Vanessa who ends up summoning the spirits to talk to the crowd, serving as a medium instead of Madame Kali.

What ensues is inarguably one of the greatest scenes ever filmed as far as the long form narrative is concerned. The scene is of course owned by Eva Green. She shakes and trembles, writhes and convulses, and hisses and puffs emanating fear and panic, ensnaring us with a serpentine gaze inspiring awe and terror just like Lord Shiva's dance of death. This is really the finest moment of Eva Green's acting career thus far. And I have no hesitation in saying that Vanessa Ives is certainly one of the most enigmatic characters in all of fiction.
The scene also features the legendary James Bond actor Timothy Dalton who plays the series' protagonist Sir Malcolm Murray. While it is Green's breathtaking performance that makes the scene truly unforgettable it is impossible to imagine the scene without Dalton. His expressions in the scene and in particular how he responds to the possessed Vanessa's accusations without uttering a single word elevates it to another level altogether.
You can watch the full scene at the following link:
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