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"Night Work" is the premiere episode of the supernatural drama series Penny Dreadful. It was directed by J.A. Bayona with a script written by series creator John Logan. It first aired on Showtime on Sunday, May 11th, 2014 at 10:00 pm. The series takes place in London, England during the late 19th century. It focuses on elements of the supernatural including creatures such as vampires set within the Gothic environs of Victorian-era Europe.

Synopsis Edit

Penny Dreadful 1x01 015

Vanessa Ives praying.

In a poor section of London, England in the year 1891, a woman of low means awakens and goes off to the bathroom. Something smashes through the window and snatches her. The noise awakens the woman's daughter, who gets up to investigate. Approaching the room, she lets out a scream.

Elsewhere, a woman named Vanessa Ives kneels down in a spartan room and prays before the cross. Spiders suddenly begin crawling across her body. A demonic voice from deep within her beckons, saying "I hunger".

September 22nd, 1891: Ethan Chandler is a sharpshooter and the star attraction of Colonel Brewster's Wild West Show and Emporium of American Curiosities. During a show, he spins a tall tale about an adventure with General George Custer and Crazy Horse. His bravado causes the female attendees in the audience to swoon; all but one. Vanessa Ives observes the show, but her interest in Chandler is something other than libidinous. She meets with Ethan after the show to get a feel for the "man", not the performer. Intrigued by what she sees, she asks him if he would interested in a little "night work". Understanding that this work might involve unsavory action, he nonetheless considers it. She gives him an address by which to meet her.

Penny Dreadful 1x01 019

Ethan, Malcolm, and Vanessa in the Demimonde.

Ethan goes to the address at the prescribed time where he meet with Vanessa and an older man named Sir Malcolm Murray. They tell him that they are hunting something, and take him through an opium den. They make their way to an area behind the den, which is littered with bloody corpses and rotting severed limbs. Several gaunt individuals emerge from the darkness. They are vampires. Sir Malcolm and Ethan begin fighting the vampires while Vanessa avoids the conflict in favor of searching for something else. After vanquishing the creatures, they turn to Vanessa who tells them that the one they seek is not here. Ethan notices some movement coming from the pile of bodies. At first it appears to be a rat, but then a master vampire emerges and lunges forward. Malcolm Murray impales him with his sword cane.

Penny Dreadful 1x01 020

Vampire corpse.

They bring the body of the master vampire to the Resurrection Men - underground surgeons and medical students conducting autopsies on random donated bodies. They find a surgical assistant named Victor Frankenstein and show him the vampire. Victor is impressed as he conducts a preliminary analysis, and admits that this is something unlike anything he has ever seen. They discover that underneath the epidermis is a layer of skin etched with dozens of ancient Egyptian hieroglyphs. Taking a moment to take it all in, Ethan asks, "Who the fuck are you people?"

Malcolm invites Ethan to meet him at his residence the following day. Ethan is exasperated, but commits to coming to Malcolm's estate at 8 Grandage Place. He meets Malcolm's manservant, Sembene, and finds that Vanessa Ives lives there as well. She brings him to a library where she conducts a tarot card reading for him. While arranging the cards, Vanessa reveals that Sir Malcolm's daughter, Mina, was taken by a creature similar to the one that they killed, and he will do anything to get her back. Before Ethan takes his leave, Vanessa asks him to select a card from the Tarot deck. He draws The Lovers.

Penny Dreadful 1x01 021

Ferdinand Lyle inspects the hieroglyphs.

Later that day, Malcolm Murray and Vanessa Ives visit Ferdinand Lyle of the Department and Egyptian and Assyrian Antiquities at the British Museum. Lyle is an aloof and gracious host, and elated to meet someone of Sir Malcolm's bearing. Murray shows Lyle a photograph of hieroglyphs taken from the body. He asks if Lyle can decipher the hieroglyphs. He reveals that the hieroglyphs speak of a blood curse. He also notices something else, but is reluctant to divulge what. He tries to change the tenor of conversation by inviting Malcolm and Vanessa to a soiree that his wife is throwing the following Friday. Only if they agree to come will he then continue to research the nature of the hieroglyphs. As Malcolm and Vanessa take their leave, Ferdinand Lyle concludes by saying that the hieroglyphs come from the Egyptian Book of the Dead.

Elsewhere, the bodies of the mother and daughter who had been killed are discovered. The remains have been completely dismembered and are strewn about in a blood-soaked mess. Inspector Granworthy and a photographer are present to document the crime scene. Ethan Chandler passes by the building as police constables are bringing the body out. There is a crowd gathered, and some fear that Jack the Ripper might be back. Ethan has a look of disgust and consternation upon his face.

Penny Dreadful 1x01 022

Malcolm meets Victor at the Explorer's Club.

Malcolm Murray has Sembene deliver a suit and an invitation to Victor Frankenstein. Victor responds to the invitation and goes to the Explorer's Club at 4 Pall Mall. The two meet with one another in a general reception area. Murray is intrigued by Frankenstein's ability and comes to find that his scientific acumen applies exclusively to trying to pierce the veil between life and death. A man such as he, one who is not afraid to "pull back the skin", is of great value to Malcolm and his goals. Frankenstein scoffs at the notion of other scientists and explorers who seek to plant their flag on the truth for discovery's sake alone, and says he has no interest in joining some occult club. Malcolm barks back that he has no interest in forming one, but heeds Frankenstein's expertise in order to formulate a strategy by which to rescue his daughter, and asks him to join his cause. Frankenstein considers the offer.

Penny Dreadful 1x01 023

Frankenstein's creation.

Later that evening, Malcolm returns home. While undressing in his room, he has a sudden visitation. Mina appears before him, looking like one of the undead. She calls to him, but as she draws close, she makes a monstrous shrieking sound then disappears. Malcolm tells Vanessa of the incident. He doesn't understand why she suddenly came to him.

Meanwhile, Victor Frankenstein returns to his room. He has a private laboratory located behind a secret door. He has been conducting his own experiments with life and death, and there is a body strapped down to a table. Victor fiddles about with some medical equipment as a storm rages outside. Following a flash of lightning, Victor turns around and finds that the body on the table is gone. In the dark corner of the room, he sees the man. He is naked and covered with scars, having been stitched back together as part of Victor's work. The scared creature stumbles forward, and Victor settles him down. He keeps the creature serene and calmly says, "My name is Victor Frankenstein".

Cast Edit

Principal Cast Edit

Guest Stars Edit

Co-Stars Edit

Crew Edit

Presented by Showtime. In association with Sky.
Created by John Logan.

Appearances Edit

Characters Edit

  • Beautiful young woman: A young blonde-haired British woman attended Colonel Brewster's Wild West Show and Emporium of American Curiosities and was entertained at the showmanship of sharpshooter Ethan Chandler. At the close of the performance, Ethan made it a point to shoot an object right behind the woman's head, signaling his interest in her. After the show, Ethan and the young woman had sex outside his trailer in broad daylight.
  • Ethan Chandler: Ethan Chandler was a gunslinger who turned his talents towards the entertainment industry by starring in Colonel Brewster's Wild West Show and Emporium of American Curiosities. Her performed during a tour in London, England which is where Vanessa Ives first caught sight of him and recruited his talents for some night work. Ethan accompanied Vanessa and Sir Malcolm Murray to an opium den where they fought up against a horde of vampires. The following evening, Vanessa explained to him about the demimonde - a place where the real world meets the spirit world, and invited him to continue working with them. She had him pick a card from her tarot deck and he picked The Lovers.
  • Malcolm Murray: Malcolm Murray had Vanessa Ives recruit Ethan Chandler. They fought vampires in an opium den and killed their leader. He brought the body to Victor Frankenstein for inspection. He visited Ferdinand Lyle to have him translate hieroglyphs found on the corpse. He then invited Victor Frankenstein to the Explorer's Club and asked him to join his group in helping him search for his missing daughter, Mina.
  • Mother: The mother was an unidentified vegetable trader with a 7-year-old daughter named Charlotte who lived in an upstairs flat. She got up in the middle of the night to use the toilet when some unseen force yanked her through the window. Her dismembered remains were discovered the following day.
  • Mortuary boss: Malcolm, Ethan and Vanessa brought the body of a dead vampire to the Resurrection men. The mortuary boss asked if they found it in the river, as it would be no use to him once the fishes got to it. The man then directed them to Victor Frankenstein.
  • Police photographer: The police photographer was a portly man with a bowler hat. He took photographs of the dismembered remains of the mother.
  • Vanessa Ives: Vanessa Ives attended Ethan Chandler's performance at Colonel Brewster's Wild West Show and Emporium of American Curiosities. She later met him at a pub and gave him a comprehensive profile of the sort of man she believed him to be. She then offered him a job doing some night work that also included the possibility of murder. Vanessa met with Ethan again that evening, along with Sir Malcolm Murray, and they traveled to an opium den where they fought up against a horde of vampires. Vanessa stood in the way of the lead vampire, giving Sir Malcolm the chance to impale from behind with his sword. She then accompanied Malcolm and Ethan to a underground mortuary where a young doctor named Victor Frankenstein performed an autopsy on the body. Vanessa journeyed with Malcolm to the British Museum where they consulted with Ferdinand Lyle, who agreed to translate Egyptian hieroglyphs they found carved on the monster's corpse. She met with Ethan Chandler a second time and did a Tarot card reading.
  • Victor Frankenstein: Victor Frankenstein worked as an assistant to a mortuary boss in London, England, experimenting on medical school cadavers. Sir Malcolm Murray, Vanessa Ives, and Ethan Chandler came to him to analyze the body of a dead vampire. Frankenstein discovered that the creature had a secondary epidermis. After cutting it away, he found the monster's true skin beneath, which was covered in Egyptian hieroglyphs. Later, Sir Malcolm Murray invited him to the Explorer's club where he solicited Frankenstein's talents in the hopes of finding a cure to the vampire condition which he intended on using to safe his missing daughter, Mina. Frankenstein returned to his secret laboratory where he then brought to life a creature stitched together from body parts from corpses.


  • Woman #1: This unnamed woman was part of a throng of people gathered at the murder site of a young woman and her daughter. Along with her friend, she posited the notion that Jack the Ripper had returned and was murdering once again.
  • Woman #2: This unnamed woman was also a member of the group of people gathered at the crime scene. She stood next to woman #1 and observed the London police gathering body parts from the scene of the gruesome murder of a mother and her daughter.

Locations Edit

  • 8 Grandage Place: This is where Malcolm Murray lives along with Vanessa Ives and Murray's manservant, Sembene. Ethan Chandler visited here and Vanessa invited him to continue working with Sir Malcolm. She had him pick a card from the Tarot deck and he picked the lovers.
  • 4 Pall Mall: This is the street address of the Explorer's Club, which is where Malcolm Murray has his meeting with Victor Frankenstein to invite him to join his cause.
  • British Museum: Ferdinand Lyle worked at the British Museum and was the head of the Department of Egyptian and Assyrian Antiquities. He had a butler on hand named Felix, whom Ferdinand believed had poor posture. On September 23rd, 1891, Sir Malcolm Murray and Vanessa Ives visited his office with a sample of Egyptian hieroglyphs that required translating. He correctly deduced that the writings originated with the Egyptian Book of the Dead. The source of these particular hieroglyphs though were taken from carvings upon the skin of a dead vampire.
  • Spitalfields: This was where the mother lived with her daughter. It is the sight of her murder. The London police came to her flat to collect her remains.

Items Edit

  • Crucifix: There is a cross on the wall in Vanessa's prayer room.
  • Opium: Several individuals partake of opium at the opium den.
  • Six-shooter: Ethan brandishes a six-shooter at his wild west show and also uses it to fight off vampires that evening.
  • Sword-cane: Sir Malcolm brandishes one to fight off the vampires and impales at least one vampire with it.
  • Tarot cards

Races/Creatures Edit

  • Humans: All of the named, and most of the unnamed characters presented in this series are human.
  • Reanimates: There is one reanimate in this episode, revealed at the very end as the creation of Victor Frankenstein. He is later given the name Proteus.
  • Vampires: There are several vampires seen in this episode, including the lead vampire, who appears more monstrous than the rest. The vampire familiars have the traditional fangs of a vampire, whereas the lead vampire has a row of sharpened teeth. Female vampires are presented as albinos with white hair.

Animals Edit

  • Birds: There are two birds in a cage in Ferdinand Lyle's office. Vanessa Ives peers closely at them, which causes them to become startled and fly about in a state of agitation.
  • Carrion beetles: Ferdinand Lyle of the British Museum uses carrion beetles to eat the flesh off of some human remains, leaving the skull and bones intact. Lyle's breed of carrion beetles originate from Suffolk.
  • Horses: Several horses are seen pulling carriages through the streets of London.
  • Scorpions: The likeness of a scorpion upon a person's chin is depicted in The Lovers tarot card.
  • Spiders: During her prayers, Vanessa sees spiders crawling all over her body.

Organizations Edit

  • Department of Egyptian and Assyrian Antiquities: The Department of Egyptian and Assyrian Antiquities is a department of the British Museum in London, England. Ferdinand Lyle worked at the British Museum as the head of the Department of Egyptian and Assyrian Antiquities, though by his own account, held little approval or regard for the Assyrians.
  • Explorer's Club: The Explorer's Club is an exclusive gentleman's club for travelers and explorers and enthusiasts thereof. It was founded by Major-General Robert Clive and is located at 4 Pall Mall. This is where Malcolm Murray met with Victor Frankenstein to invite him to become part of his crusade to rescue his daughter.

Explicit content Edit

  • Dismemberment: The main vampire was hiding beneath a pile of body parts. The remains of the mother were found in pieces on the floor of her home.
  • Gunshot victims
  • Impalement: Sir Malcolm impales the lead vampire through the back with his sword cane. He impales several female vampires through the chest in short order.
  • Male rear nudity
  • Profanity
  • Smoking
  • Throat injuries

Miscellaneous Edit

  • American
  • Autopsy
  • Clairvoyance
  • Corpse
  • Fangs
  • Medium
  • Mortuary
  • Necropsy
  • Opium den
  • Orangutan
  • Resurrection men
  • Surgeon

References Edit

  • Africa: Malcolm Murray told Victor Frankenstein at the Explorer's Club that he had spent most of his life in Africa.
  • Belgian Congo: As an explorer and hunter, Sir Malcolm Murray spent a great deal of time in the Belgian Congo, and even discovered a mountain; not the tallest mountain in Africa, by his account, but not the smallest one either.
  • Crazy Horse: During his performance, Ethan Chandler made a reference to Crazy Horse. Even by 1891 standards, Crazy Horse had become a well-known historical figure and the mention of his name, in addition to Chandler's theatrics, elicited a pleasing response from the crowd.
  • Ethan's father: Ethan Chandler's father left him a pocket watch inscribed with a message to him. Ethan wears the watch on the night he goes to the opium den to face the vampires.
  • Fish: The mortuary boss tells Sir Malcolm that he hoped he didn't bring in a dead body that had been found in the river. If the fishes had gotten to it, it would be useless to him or his assistant.
  • France: This was where Colonel Brewster's Wild West Show and Emporium of American Curiosities was scheduled to continue their tour after finishing up their show in London. Ethan Chandler told Vanessa Ives that they were leaving for Paris very shortly.
  • George Custer: George Armstrong Custer was an American U.S. calvary commander who died at the Battle of Little Bighorn in 1876. Ethan Chandler tells a tall tale about having served with Custer at his performance at Colonel Brewster's Wild West Show and Emporium of American Curiosities.
  • Jack the Ripper: The murders of the mother and her 7-year-old daughter proved to be so gruesome that people in Spitalfields began to fear that Jack the Ripper had returned. A newspaper headline, asserting a similar notion, only served to sensationalize the crime.
  • Montana: This was the site of the 1876 skirmish, the Battle of Little Bighorn, in which General George Custer lost his life. Ethan Chandler makes the erroneous claim during his performance of having served with George Custer, but he would have been too young to have fought in the battle.
  • Paris: This was where Colonel Brewster's Wild West Show and Emporium of American Curiosities was scheduled to continue their tour after finishing up their show in London.
  • River Thames: The mortuary boss frowned at the thought that Malcolm Murray might have brought him a body that had been pulled from the river. A body in such a condition would be of no use to him and his work.
  • Suffolk: Ferdinand Lyle of the British Museum used carrion beetles to strip the flesh off of skeletons. Though he considered them an exotic creature, he actually had them imported from Suffolk. Vanessa Ives plainly corrected his enthusiasm by citing, "...not exotic at all".
  • Waveney: Waveney is located in Suffolk. This is where Ferdinand Lyle acquired his carrion beetles for the Department of Egyptian and Assyrian Antiquities.

Notes & Trivia Edit

  • This series was produced in association with Sky.
  • This episode is rated TV-MA.
  • This episode had a viewership of 0.872 million people. [2]
  • The 7-year-old girl is the first character seen in this series. She is also the first character with speaking lines. She is identified by the name Charlotte in "Séance".
  • Getting yanked while you are on the shitter is a terrible way to go.
  • Vanessa Ives is the first of the main characters seen in this series. The very first shot is from behind and she is kneeling on the floor with her head lowered. The shot actually looks as if she doesn't have a head however.
  • The disembodied voice that beckons to Vanessa during her prayer time is unidentified at this time. This likely relates to the "true friend" that Vanessa mentions later.
  • Victor Frankenstein's profession in this episode is that of a mortuary assistant.
  • The placard for the Explorer's Club reads:

The Explorer's Club
Established Major-General Robert Clive
First Baron Clive, KB. MDCCLIL
Members exclusively.

Allusions Edit

  • The title of this episode is taken from a job description presented as a piece of dialogue between Vanessa Ives and Ethan Chandler. She asks him if he would be willing to use his talents for some night work, alluding to the notion that it might include some unsavory requirements such as murder.
  • The characterization and career of Malcolm Murray is similar to that of Allan Quatermain, who was the central character from the novel King Solomon's Mines and its various sequels by author H. Rider Haggard. The notion of an older, retired Murray who becomes a hunter of the supernatural may have been inspired by Alan Moore's critically acclaimed series of comic books, The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen.
  • Jack the Ripper is the best known name given to an unidentified serial killer or killers generally believed to have been active in the largely impoverished areas in and around the Whitechapel district of London in 1888. The name "Jack the Ripper" originated in a letter written by someone claiming to be the murderer that was widely disseminated in the media. The letter is widely believed to have been a hoax, and may have been written by journalists in an attempt to heighten interest in the story and increase their newspaper's circulation.
  • Mina Murray is a character featured in the 1891 novel Dracula by author Bram Stoker. She is the main female protagonist and is the betrothed of Jonathan Harker and a close friend of Lucy Westenra. Mina becomes the target of affection for the vampire lord, Dracula, who uses his supernatural gifts to seduce her, forcing Harker and a team of associates to mount a rescue expedition to save her.
  • Victor Frankenstein is the title character and protagonist of Mary Shelley's 1818 novel Frankenstein; or, The Modern Prometheus. He is a scientist who, after studying chemical processes and the decay of living beings, gains an insight into the creation of life and gives life to his own creature (often referred to as Frankenstein's monster).

Quotes Edit

....

....

  • Vanessa Ives: You didn't tell the truth. By my reckoning you were a boy when General Custer died and 'tis well known there were no survivors.
  • Ethan Chandler: What we call a tall tale, darlin'.
  • Vanessa Ives: Exceedingly tall.
  • Ethan Chandler: Vice of my nation. We're storytellers.

....

....

...

....

....

  • Victor Frankenstein: Well, it would appear you have an Egyptian man, of no particular age, who at some point in his indeterminate lifespan decided to sharpen his teeth, cover himself in hieroglyphics, and grow an exoskeleton. Or you have something else altogether.

See also Edit

External Links Edit

Episode links

Series links

Footnotes Edit

  1. Credited, but does not appear in this episode.
  2. Sunday's Cable Ratings & Broadcast Finals: "Good Wife," "Game of Thrones" Top Viewers, Demos". The Futon Critic. May 13, 2014. Retrieved May 14, 2014.


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