NB: SPOILERS INSIDE
The Frankenstein Chronicles draw to a close this week, as John Marlott must make stark choices in order to save those he loves and end the madness and murder stalking Westminster once and for all.
We left John Marlott in a particularly bad way last week – mortally wounded and at the feet of his arch-nemesis Daniel Hervey, just as he’d finished killing Esther with his ‘life tonic’. Unfortunately for the resurrected detective, things weren’t going much better in this week’s episode, awaking to find himself locked up in chains within Hervey’s lair. Suddenly overcome by an urge to tell Marlott the whole truth, Hervey admits he killed many people in his pursuit of achieving eternal life. Frederick Dipple is actually the son of his mentor Johann, who taught him the art of resurrection – and that the german aristocrat has “lived longer than any man”. John lies helpless as the sinister duo perform surgery on Esther and create the third member of the living dead posse.
Meanwhile, Renquist is spurned by the Dean of Westminster when he asks for his protection as the investigation closes in on the Church’s role in the recent murders. In a desperate bid to extract himself from suspicion, he gives Pye Street journalist Boz the real autopsy reports and lays the blame squarely at the Dean’s door before instructing Winlocke and the Parish Watch that Frederick Dipple is the man responsible for the clergymen murders. Not to be outdone, the Metropolitan Police are also gearing up for a second arrest of the man, after Queenie finds Sergeant Nightingale’s pocket watch in the corridors beyond the locked door at Dipple’s house.
With both forces converging on the Dipple residence, he demands the life tonic Hervey administers so he can make good his escape. But Hervey needs the scientist’s final secret to master his art of resurrection, and so they have an unconvincing fight for a few minutes whilst the police try and kick down the laboratory door. Once through, they are too late to apprehend Dipple – who swiftly escapes with a barely conscious Esther – but instead slap the cuffs on Hervey, caught red-handed (literally) in his creepy operating rooms. Dipple agrees to free John if he can show him a way out from the capital, and the trio go on the run pursued by the Parish Watch.
Esther struggles with her new rebirth as they find sanctuary in Spence’s old rooms, and Dipple explains he needs her to live and “in time you will come to realise you need me too”. Presumably now imbued with some sort of zombie super strength, Esther finally comes to her senses after six episodes and knocks him out cold with a chamberpot, proclaiming “I am no one’s property!” before escaping into the night with John. That’s that relationship done and dusted then.
The next morning brings the news of the King’s death, and with it the ascension to the throne of his socially progressive brother. Sir Robert Peel suddenly has the upper hand again and with that, the Dean of Westminster realises he must clean house immediately to avoid any leads coming back to him. Renquist is quickly stabbed to death by the Church’s henchmen and dumped into the unmarked grave of a plague victim, whilst poor Boz is sacked from the Pye Street newspaper after trying to print the truth of the Dean’s plans. Crucially, the Dean will not vouch for Hervey anymore, leaving him languishing in prison and facing the gallows when Peel refuses to help as all the evidence points to him being the Pye Street Murderer. With his one source of life tonic about to perish, Dipple forlornly skulks back to his house to die now his sustaining tinctures are gone forever.
And…that’s it. John sees Esther off as she travels out of London with Billy Oates’ circus and ponders his own future as he faces out to sea, finally free of his tormentors. Done. A thoroughly damp ending for a drama that never threatened to ignite. Whilst there was an inkling of something entertaining underneath the leaden direction and lamentable dialogue throughout, the series never really had enough confidence in itself to try something new. Clearly, it had little confidence from it’s broadcasters also, shoved unceremoniously into the schedule back end of a digital-only channel. What could have been a great premise for a horror and crime hybrid instead settled for a cosy and comfortable period drama which underwhelmed every step of the way. Unfortunately, with all the key players still alive at season’s end, the greatest scare it ever produced is the thought they might re-commission it for a third series.
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