The Frankenstein Chronicles S01E02 “Seeing Things” REVIEW
Airing in the UK on ITV Encore, Wednesdays
Writer: Benjamin Ross, Barry Langford
Director: Benjamin Ross
Essential Plot Points:
Episode The Second: in which our inspector is haunted by a red dress.
- We learn that The Anatomy Act also seeks to combat grave robbers, by giving the bodies of the poor to anatomy schools; a fate previously reserved for victims of the gallows.
- Mary Shelley appears; it seems she has already written Frankenstein.
The difficult second episode, also known as “stretching it out a bit”. Inspector John Marlott (Sean Bean) is getting into the swing of things working out of Bow Street for the home secretary.
Still on the search for the stitcher of bodies, Marlott concentrates on grave robbers in this episode. They maintain that robbing graves is an honest way to make a living; after all, stealing something that doesn’t belong to anyone isn’t a crime. However, the Anatomy Act seeks to put them out of business, by making all bodies available to anatomy schools after death. They may well feel aggrieved about this, and certainly have access to the raw materials to create the abomination we saw in the first episode. To this end Marlott pursues a gang of grave robbers as they go about their ghoulish business.
Next on his list of suspects is Sir Bentley Warburton (Elliot Cowen), another vocal opponent of the Anatomy Act. He conspires to interrupt a lecture on the “galvanic response of dead tissue” with a flock of sheep.
We also meet William Blake (although he doesn’t last very long) and Mary Shelley. The Inspector reads her recently published novel Frankenstein, which gives rise to more Mercury-induced hallucinations. Is the story of “The Modern Prometheus” a work of fiction, or based on the macabre goings on at the school of medicine?
Mr Marlott is also still getting other people to do his legwork for him: Nightingale (his fellow Bow St Runner); a grave robber; and the political reporter known as BOZ, who seems to turn up in all the same places as the Inspector.
After a pleasing and suitably dark opening episode, we’re in for more of the same. Which isn’t necessarily a bad thing; it might have been nice just to move things along a little quicker. It still looks great and acting is excellent all round. A particularly awkward meeting between Inspector Marlott and Lady Harvey (Vanessa Kirby) is – suitably – particularly awkward. Talk of searching for “a beast with the face of a man”, and some of Blake’s other dark imaginings (briefly shown in the book Blake bequeaths to Marlott) give us hope for some more monstrous episodes to follow.
- The Book of Prometheus and the inclusion of Frankenstein: The Modern Prometheus make for interesting mythos.
- Not a lot here to move the plot along, just make it more complicated.
- We still haven’t met anyone actually called Frankenstein.
- Frankenstein was published in 1823 (second edition, the first was anonymous). William Blake died August 1827. Robert Peel was home secretary between 1822–1827 and again between 1828–1830. So the dates pretty much add up for this being relatively accurately set in 1827.
- BOZ was a pen name used by Charles Dickens, who started his career as a political journalist.
Review by Arthur Scott
• Read our review of the first episode of The Frankenstein Chronicles.