"Night Work"
Series Penny Dreadful
Season 1, Episode 1
Penny Dreadful 1x01 007.jpg
Air date May 11th, 2014
Writers John Logan
Director J.A. Bayona
Producers Nicholas Brown; Sheila Hockin; James Flynn; Morgan O'Sullivan; Chris King; Belén Atienza; Karen Richards; Pippa Harris; Sam Mendes; John Logan
Starring Reeve Carney; Timothy Dalton; Eva Green; Rory Kinnear; Billie Piper; Danny Sapani; Harry Treadaway; Josh Hartnett
Episode guide

"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 | edit source]

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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 | edit source]

Principal Cast[edit | edit source]

Guest Stars[edit | edit source]

Co-Stars[edit | edit source]

Crew[edit | edit source]

Notes & Trivia[edit | edit source]

  • This series was produced in association with Sky.
  • This episode is rated TV-MA.
  • This episode had a viewership of 0.872 million people. [4]
  • 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 | edit source]

  • 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 | edit source]



  • 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.

Appearances[edit | edit source]

Main article: Penny Dreadful: Night Work/Appearances

See also[edit | edit source]

External Links[edit | edit source]

Episode links

Series links

References[edit | edit source]

  1. Credited, but does not appear in this episode.
  2. Credited, but does not appear in this episode.
  3. Credited, but does not appear in this episode.
  4. 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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