Penny Dreadful : Little Scorpion

This week’s episode is an Ethan/Vanessa vehicle. Fewer plot threads are introduced, which is a good thing because it’s easy to lose track of how many people aren’t talking to somebody,  even though there’s less than ten people in the cast.

Vanessa’s symbol is the scorpion. Its been part of the shows iconology since season one. The nickname was given to her by the witch that trained her, The Cut-Wife. After making the decision to protect Vanessa from Ms. Poole/Mme Kali, at her cabin, Poole maneuvered the local landowner to burn her alive because she was being magically restricted from setting foot on the property herself, and needed to get Vanessa out in the open. Most of this episode takes place at the cabin.

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Last week,  Ethan asked Sembene to watch over him while he turns into a  werewolf. And it’s a beautiful, naturally lit, opening scene, where Sembene explains to Ethan what he witnessed. He’s surprisingly alright with it because his people are not unfamiliar with the idea of shape shifting. He reassures Ethan that this is not necessarily a curse because he can see that Ethan is a good man.

I agree. I think Ethan is a very dark soul, but essentially a good man, who has done some very horrible things. The fact that he’s intelligent enough not to try to justify the horrible things he’s done and tries to do better, even if he  fails, speaks well of him as a character. Of course, this is only something that’s true on screen. In real life people like that are repulsive.

The family, (and from hereon, I’m going to refer to the group as a family, as it’s what they’re slowly becoming, despite all  their secrets), discuss what happened to Vanessa at the party the night before. None of the people present witnessed  anything and Vanessa calls into question their ability to protect her if the danger can get so close to her, and none of them see it. She decides she needs to leave. She wants to go back to the Cut-wife’s cabin. Ethan tells her he will accompany her. Lyle is the one who  suggests Vanessa not tell the group where she’s going.

And Lyle is a very interesting character. He is supposed to be working for Ms. Poole but is definitely coming to care for these people he’s supposed to be betraying. He makes that suggestion because he knows he’s compromised and that Malcolm is thoroughly roofied. Ms. Poole can find out anything from the two of them and Lyle really does seem to want to keep Vanessa safe. So while he does, in fact, work for Ms. Poole, he appears to be doing so under great duress and works to thwart her activities, as and when he can.image

But Vanessa does tell Victor. She is very warm and loving to him and  treats him much like a little brother. I think its very telling that while it’s Ethan who accompanies  her to the countryside, because he wasn’t at the party, it is Victor she trusts with her location, against Lyle’s advice.

She and Ethan arrive at the cabin and spend the day cleaning and collecting food. Later that evening, they have a lovely exchange of stories about their past and Vanessa teaches Ethan how to waltz. But later Ethan, feeling restless, warns her that he must leave and she is to make sure the door is locked. After he changes, we see him eating some neighbor’s sheep.

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The next day, Ethan takes it upon himself to cut down the tree where the Cut-Wife was burned by the estate owner. This man was another who had fallen under the sway of Ms. Poole. Later, while out walking, Vanessa and Ethan encounter this man, riding with his pack of hounds. He’s still as nasty as ever and decides he should add degrading and threatening Ethan, by comparing him to his well-trained dogs, to his list of sins.

Vanessa makes the decision to kill him before he can become a problem. I’m all for getting rid of potential problems before they become actual problems. I know that sounds blood thirsty but I’m pragmatic. If someone has threatened to become an obstacle to your happiness, why wait for them to get started. (Keeping in mind, that this works great in movies because no one ever goes to jail for preemptive murder. Not so workable in real-life.)

Ethan cautions Vanessa against killing this man because it will damage her soul and goes out to do it for her. But Vanessa spells the man’s dogs to attack and eat him before Ethan can shoot him in cold blood. When he gets back to the cabin, lightening strikes the cabin and after she and Ethan put out the resultant fire, they share some wet kissing. After a minute, Vanessa cuts that shit short because she knows its a “bad idea”.

And here’s  why:

According to Lyle’s interpretation of the artifacts of the Devil’s Bible, the “hound” (otherwise known as Ethan), is the protector of the Devil’s favorite , hereinafter referred to as Vanessa). The hound is apparently the only thing that can thwart the devils plans for her, as he gets a lot of shout outs in the artifacts.  At the same time, there’s a dark soul that, should it become conjoined with Vanessa’s, could bring about the apocalypse. Ethan fits both criteria, (while Dorian only fits one of those), so make of that what you will.

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BronaLilly receives an invitation to go out on the town from Dorian and Victor says he’s okay with it. He really shouldn’t be because Dorian is still trying to figure out where and when he last saw her. Naturally, they visit the Wax Museum where John Clare works. Since he’s never mentioned to anyone that he has a job, she doesn’t know this. The sheer amount of things people are not talking to each other about, in this show, is just staggering. Of course John witnesses her date with Dorian.

Instead of going home after her date, Lilly indulges an impulse to stop at a pub. She picks up a man there, goes home with him, has sex, and chokes the man to death. I don’t think this was an activity that Brona got up to when she was alive. The killing part, not the sex. Actually, I’m not at all surprised by it. I’m sure that when she was a sex-worker she hated that job and men like the one she killed. I think this is an expression of that contempt, although she has no memory of where it comes from.

So we are almost done with the season and we have more questions than answers. As much as I complain about this show, i really do love it and hey!, it could be much worse. It could have at least one rape, burning or lynching per episode, so that’s a step up, right?

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7 thoughts on “Penny Dreadful : Little Scorpion

  1. Dorian actually slept with her, after she did some modeling for him. She threw up blood on him and he seemed thrilled by that. But in his defense, at the time he’d been sleeping with a lot of people as he’d formed no singular attachments. He hadn’t yet met Vanessa.

    He and Vanessa both met her when she went to the theater with Ethan, one time. She recognized him and was appalled, I think, that Ethan knew him. She got mad and ran out on Ethan and Dorian consoled him about it later.

    And Lilly does look different with a very different accent and body language. She was a street worker, then, with a very pronounced low class accent and red hair.

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    1. barb

      “Dorian actually slept with her, after she did some modeling for him. She threw up blood on him and he seemed thrilled by that”

      Oh right! I forgot about that 🙂

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  2. I’m not sure if she was married to the guy or not. I know she was there getting or giving financial advice with him. I don’t recall her being present at the CW’s death.

    I have to go back and watch it again. That episode was erased from the DVR, so it will take a minute.

    Yes, Victor has so many unpleasant qualities. He stole Ethan’s girlfriend. Ethan still doesn’t know. Did this to Brona without any kind of consent, after hastening her death with a pillow. Stole John’s hope of being with her.

    And none of the people around him has any idea what a Sociopath he is. This is probably a much more accurate depiction of that character than we’ve ever seen in the movies, maybe.

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    1. barb

      “And none of the people around him has any idea what a Sociopath he is.”

      That’s why I am scared that Vanessa trusted him!

      I wonder if Dorian has realized Lily’s not a regular girl. I don’t think he recognized her-Did he met her for more than a few minutes? I can’t remember. Anyway, Dorian’s a fickle dude!

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  3. barb

    Ethan Vanessa and Lyle are my favorite characters, so I loved the last episode. Poor Lyle does try to help-at the party he kept telling Vanessa she wasn’t safe.( Does she not recognize Mrs Poole??) I told my husband I like Lyle which means he will probably die LOL I loved the reveal that Ethan is the hound, and I agree that hes not a bad person when hes human.

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    1. I was under the impression that Vanessa never got a close look at the witches when they came to taunt the Cut Wife at the cabin and when the Cut Wife died, Poole was conveniently not present. She was just there to goad the landowner into doing what she couldn’t do. The Cut Wife needed to be removed because she was more powerful than her and was an obstacle between her and Vanessa.

      Oh, no cynical we are! It’s funny but you’re probably right. I don’t know how I feel about Lyle. I want to like him. I think he’s a good man who is under a great deal of pressure.

      I waffle back and forth between pity and hatred for John Clare and Victor, although I find their relationship fascinating. But Vanessa and Ethan are my favorites. I like Semben as he seems completely unperturbed by all the house shenanigans.

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      1. barb

        “I was under the impression that Vanessa never got a close look at the witches when they came to taunt the Cut Wife at the cabin ”

        Wasn’t she married to the guy with the dogs? I thought she was there when they killed the Cut-Wife?

        “I waffle back and forth between pity and hatred for John Clare and Victor, ”

        I hate Victor (he was touching Lily when she was dead uhg) I actually was hoping John Clare would end up with the blind girl (perfect,right?)but not after the last episode!

        “Oh, no cynical we are! It’s funny but you’re probably right. I don’t know how I feel about Lyle. I want to like him. I think he’s a good man who is under a great deal of pressure.”

        Yes I am cynical! 🙂 I agree that he is a good man. Semben is cool! I loved his reaction to Ethans secret. He was so calm and cool about it-and understanding.

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