What's Worth Watching: Danse Macabre

Matt Roush
Jonathan Hession/SHOWTIME

Penny Dreadful

Penny Dreadful, "Glorious Horrors" (Tuesday, June 9, 10/9c, Showtime)

Penny Dreadful isn't merely an elegantly sinister pastiche of Victorian-era horrors, artfully mashing up archetypes from Frankenstein, werewolf, witch and other supernatural lore. It's also unusually topical in its depiction of characters—or "freaks," if you will—who live outside the mainstream, embodied by the hedonistic desires of pansexual Dorian Gray (Reeve Carney), whose current obsession with the transgendered Angelique (Jonny Beauchamp) fuels this week's outstanding episode, which premiered Sunday. (You may have missed it, with the NBA Finals, the Tony Awards and another searing episode of Game of Thrones fighting for attention.)

"In this house, we celebrate the unusual. We set the tune, and the world follows," Dorian tells Angelique, extolling "the thrill of the forbidden … Let them gape at our uniqueness." To give Angelique a "proper coming-out," Dorian announces a grand ball, at which many of the series' principal characters convene. And as fans know by now, any situation that puts the vulnerable Vanessa (Eva Green) in proximity with the scheming Evelyn Poole (Helen McCrory) and her lethal daughter Hecate (Sarah Greene) isn't likely to end without incident. And so it is with this deluxe episode's baroque climax. Don't say you weren't warned.

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