What follows is rife with many a SPOILER. You have been warned!
Now that the finale of the first season of Penny Dreadful has aired, with more than a few surprises (as well as few plot twists many of us saw coming from miles away), let us consider the vampires in this series. Not least because we have a clear hint that such creatures may yet re-appear. Mina Murray and Professor Van Helsing we’ve met, Jonathan Harker we’ve heard of. There wandered on a pretty little girl named Lucy. One wonders if the names Renfield, Seward, Holmwood might be forthcoming?
Off hand we seem to have caught glimpses of at least four possible “types” of vampire.
In the opening episode, we saw two or maybe three types. Sir Malcolm Murray drove the blade of his sword-cane into the heart of a Nosferatu-esque being with red eyes and a mouth worthy of a shark. Interestingly, we don’t know much about that blade. When examined by the eminent young Dr. Frankenstein, this vampire’s body proved to have a flesh exoskeleton hiding a body covered with ancient Egyptian tattoos. Anyone familiar with the history of tattoos and human inking in general might well suspect that to be no real indication of age. With the finale, “Grand Guignol,” we see another vampire seemingly of the same type. We never see him speak.
But interestingly, both of these strange bald beings seem surrounded by chalk-white girls with red eyes, fangs and claws. None of the girls seem very active while he himself sleeps, and none seem all that difficult to kill. More, they collapse like marionettes with their strings cut once their ‘master’ is destroyed. So what are they? A harem? His personal bodyguard? Some combination of both?
Now consider this–male creatures also serve both Alphas (to coin a term). Both seem pale, but not utterly white. Rather they look sick. Just as their eyes lack the total inky dark redness of the Alphas or the females we might as well call Betas.
These Gammas (to continue a naming scheme) seem fierce, even animalistic but not so much in a supernatural way but as might someone insane. Rather than monsters, one might look upon them and see only a lunatic. Like the Betas, Gammas can apparently die by relatively normal trauma such as bullets in the brain or the slitting of a throat. From Fenton, the one we saw captured, we know they can only eat blood and perhaps viscera. Van Helsing examined his blood and found it not at all normal.
But Fenton also seemed in direct psychic contact with his Alpha, leading him to Sir Malcolm’s home in London where the creature attempted to bite Vanessa (fortunately out on a date at the time).
Consider now the finale. Once the Alpha is destroyed, all his Betas collapse even though they were succeeding in overpowering three strong and well-armed men. Mina appears, bringing a tear-filled smile to Sir Malcolm’s face and a frenzied hug from Vanessa. But within moments we learn the truth. Mina is a vampire now. Her eyes turn inky red, darker than blood red, while fangs appear in her mouth. She speaks, referring to her “Master.” We’ve heard him mentioned before. But never by name. One half expects this to be Dracula, but of course the possibilities are greater than that, starting with Lord Ruthven from Polidori’s The Vampyre. Maybe even Varney! Hopefully we’ll find out more next season!
But Mina! She speaks! None of the other female vampires did! Nor is all the color bleached from her hair and flesh. Likewise her fingers resemble claws not at all! She cannot be a Beta! Yet does she show any of the signs of an Alpha? Hairless? No. A shark-like mouth of fangs? No, again. She hardly seems like the sickly Gammas.
We seem to have a Delta vampire here. One of a different type again. And then the questions naturally occur–is this Delta form that of her Master, i.e. presumably Count Dracula? Or is yet another kind of vampire waiting in the wings, an Epsilon?
Is it possible we might even have already met him? Just a thought. What do you think?