Penny Dreadful concludes its second season with one of its most emotionally wrought episodes in memory. There is no victory here for our monstrous players, and worst of all, they find themselves alone.
Because of his small stature and failing mental health, Penny Dreadful’s “John Clare” postulates that the real Clare most likely “felt a singular affinity with the outcasts and the unloved. The ugly animals. The broken things.” Those ugly animals and the broken things are at the forefront of this week’s episode, “Above the Vaulted Sky.”
The mysterious and secretive figure of Alan Turing has undergone something of a political and cultural renaissance in the UK over the past few years. A young mathematic prodigy, Oxford graduate, and cryptographer par excellence, he was ushered into the ultra top secret Bletchley Park programme during the Second World War and tasked with the impossible: to break the German military codes through a captured sequencer which could potentially offer billions of responses to any clandestine communication. Socially incompetent and ruthlessly dedicated, Turing willingly threw himself into the arena of cerebral combat, along the way erecting much of the intellectual and theoretical infrastructure of the modern computing world. But as a closeted homosexual his treatment at the hands of the authorities in the post-war period should cause the great British bulldog to hang its head in shame, with he and his team’s contribution to the continuation of civilisation remaining cloaked for over half acentury due to the Official Secrets Act. Former Prime Minister Gordon Brown would later make an official public apology on behalf of the British government for “the appalling way he was treated,” while the Queen granted him a posthumous pardon on Christmas Eve 2013.