NB: SPOILERS INSIDE
The Frankenstein Chronicles returned last week with a fairly meandering revisitation of the original series’ characters and environment. Luckily for viewers this week, the plot of the previous season was mostly left on the shelf in favour of new characters and a new mystery, as the former detective John Marlott became embroiled in a deepening conspiracy of murder as the Church and State battled for control over London.
We caught up with John Marlott, still reeling from the brutal murder of Reverend Ambrose. While he lurked in the shadows of Pye Street avoiding capture, control for the crime scene rapidly degenerated into a pitch battle between the Parish Watch and the Metropolitan Police. The Parish Watch were keen to propagate the story of a demented monster as the assailant – but Sergeant Nightingale was unsure, having found John’s locket on Ambrose’s body before being forcibly ejected from the church.
Last week we were introduced to the seamstress Esther Rose, whose role seems increasingly to provide an intersection between the story of John with a new plot and potential villain – that of the profoundly odd aristocrat Frederick Dipple (Laurence Fox) and his dark desires. Dipple’s sister Ada visits Esther in need of a dress repair, but insists she must complete the task at the Dipple residence. In a very gothic fashion, the house is imbued with a dark and sinister atmosphere, where Frederick is seemingly obsessed with dolls and marionettes – and in one very creepy scene, seemingly at work on a life-sized replica when his maid happens upon the very realistic head of a woman amongst all the doll parts. Will Dipple be this season’s Hervey and present more danger to John and Esther than his old adversary? Only time will tell…
Meanwhile, John found work as a corpse bearer for Spence, a former priest turned criminal. Director Alex Gabassi did a great job in the resulting scenes, bringing the sheer bleakness of the London slum dwellers succumbing to fever and death with a truly grim flair. In protecting a wandering child from an exploding coffin during his work in the burial pits, poor John took a slab of wood to the stomach and visits Esther, whose skill with a needle comes in handy to stitch up the former detective. Rather conveniently, she offers him lodgings at her shop as he has nowhere else to go – despite there being a madman running around the area killing priests – so it’s clear she sees something in John and his former military background that resonates with her.
Despite being a dead man on the run for multiple murders and now using the pseudonym Jack Martins, elsewhere John was surprisingly ineffective in keeping a low profile this episode. He barrelled into the Evening Chronicle’s office and assaulted the sleazy journalist Boz to gain information on the whereabouts of Hervey – who duly offered up a rumoured synopsis as to the villain’s fate – that he might have survived the fire that killed Jemima and then escaped to the continent.
Boz wasn’t the only one to be spooked by an unexpected visit from a corpse; Sergeant Nightingale had not one but two opportunities to capture the man he saw hang for the murder of his beloved Flora, but was outwitted both times, literally by being told ‘look behind you’ on the second occasion. Surely they teach you better than that in the fledgling Metropolitan Police? The policeman wasn’t having much luck anywhere this episode – whether being denied access to the autopsy report for Ambrose at the hands of the Church doctors, having his authority challenged by the Parish Watch or generally not making much headway in an investigation that nobody wanted solving but him.
The cliffhanger came when John and Spence visited the resting place of the Archdeacon, only to discover the supposed evisceration of the holy man was a lie – his heart being the only organ removed. Not only is there another murderer in their midsts, but there is a conspiracy to hide the truth underway too…
For our episode one review, go here