Review: The Frankenstein Chronicles (S2 E1/6), Wednesday 1st November, ITV Encore

NB: SPOILER INSIDE

The Frankenstein Chronicles was an exceptionally dark re-imagining of Mary Shelley’s infamous tale, starring Sean Bean as Detective John Marlott. What began as a relatively straightforward murder procedural descended into something altogether more grim and twisted, and was well received by fans and critics alike on its debut run. The period crime drama now returns to ITV Encore for its second season, and after the shocking revelations that ended the first season, what fresh madness lies in wait for John Marlott?

We return to London in 1830, three years after the shocking revelations of the murder investigation that led Marlott to the gallows, only to be ‘reborn’ at the hands of Daniel Hervey. Marlott is now incarcerated in Bethlem Asylum, trapped within his own mind searching the vale beyond death for the remnants of his past life that might bring him back to reality. Reverend Ambrose discovers him there and realises who he truly is, only to be cast out by the man driven almost insane and unintelligible by the brutal electric shock treatment he has been receiving as a ‘cure’. But the impact of his presence jolts Marlott back to sanity, wrenching his chains free and brutally killing a guard before making good his escape from imprisonment.

Reeling from his treatment at the asylum, he returns to the place of his rebirth and recalls his treatment by Hervey; there he finds Jemima (Vanessa Kirby) alone, who implores him to seek out Daniel and exact his revenge. Alas, this was all but a dream – Marlott wakes from slumber on the verge of reaching the slums of London. Marlott finds his way back to Ambrose, who provides him with a safe place to rest at his church, where the Reverend beseeches John not to lose faith in God. However, John no longer knows his own place in the world; “I’m not John Marlott. He’s dead,” is his reply. Ambrose sends him out to meet the seamstress Esther Rose, who fits John out in some less distinctive clothes than his recent prison attire. Their sweet interaction suggests this isn’t the last we’ll see of Esther this season.

Elsewhere, Sergeant Nightingale is tasked to investigate the murder of an Archdeacon – a headline slaying that is causing serious political divisions as both the Parish Watch and Metropolitan Police struggle for investigative control. Talk is abroad of a lunatic freshly escaped from the local asylum as a potential suspect, and upon visiting Bethlem it’s not long before Nightingale is connecting the evidence that suggests Marlott survived the gallows. The warden advises the Sergeant that Reverend Ambrose was the last man to see the convict before he escaped – but before he can delve deeper into that mystery, poor John awakes back at the church to find it on fire and the unlucky Reverend horrifically eviscerated on the altar. As he escapes once again, the Parish Watch see him disappear – and so, the hunter will become the hunted. But there’s one final twist of the knife – a figure stalks John’s cell at Bethlem and by the candlelight is revealed to be none other than Hervey himself. The game is afoot…

It’s a suitably sinister return for the series, and with all the key players re-established before the episode ends, it’s looking like this will be another rollercoaster ride through the dark streets of London as both men will face their fates.

Andy D

For all our Frankenstein Chronicles news and reviews go here

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