Penny Dreadful Series Three Finale (?)

Penny Dreadful Series Three Finale (?)

The Penny Dreadful season finale consisted of a two episode arc titled Perpetual Night and The Blessed Dark. I’m still not sure how I feel about this season or the finale. I’m still processing the ending. It appears that  Lily’s and Vanessa’s stories are truly over. I’d love to see more of Kaetenay in the future and we still never got to meet Mr. Hyde. Basically the other character’s  stories…

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Penny Dreadful Series Three Finale (?)

The Penny Dreadful season finale consisted of a two episode arc titled Perpetual Night and The Blessed Dark. I’m still not sure how I feel about this season or the finale. I’m still processing the ending. It appears that  Lily’s and Vanessa’s stories are truly over. I’d love to see more of Kaetenay in the future and we still never got to meet Mr. Hyde. Basically the other character’s  stories aren’t over and I’d love to see their conclusion, but I’m told this is the last episode for the series. I really don’t want to believe that. It sees so abrupt, with so many threads left dangling. I believe the show could endure without Eva green because the other characters are all very compelling, but we can only hope that the PTB will see it that way.

Also, this season felt  shortened. Wasn’t there supposed to be twelve or thirteen episodes? The season seemed to be moving at the usual leisurely pace of a twelve episode season, when suddenly Vanessa is throwing herself on Dracula, the world is ending, and then she’s dead and everything is back to normal, only without her. I’m not satisfied with the explanation given by the shows writer that basically he meant to do that. I think there much more to the story than that. The show ended much too abruptly, and even introduced brand new characters I’d love to see more of, like Seward, and Jeckyll.

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In the previous episode, titled Ebb Tide, Vanessa discovered the shocking truth about Dracula. She confronted him but eventually surrendered to him, bringing about a kind of vampire Apocalypse, but only  in London, which is where we begin the finale. This isn’t  the most fascinating episode, or even the most interesting event, although I was reluctant to believe Vanessa would do such a thing. No, the most fascinating  event turned out to be Lily’s and Dorian’s story, and the dynamic between Kaetenay and Ethan. I also had finally decided that I liked Catriona, who turned out to be a total bad ass, and I hope there is a next season because I’d like to know who she is, where she came from and if the Mummy storyline will be introduced through her and Lyle, because I’d watch the Hell out of that.

Perpetual Night and Blessed Dark are fairly straightforward episodes, though. I wont recap them, just cover the highlights because there’s not a whole lot of plot. Even during the finale, the show manage to keep that same leisurely tone, as if wasnt about to end in 90 minutes.

Ethan , Kaetenay and Malcolm arrive in London and find  the entire city fogbound, people getting sick from some kind of plague, (from the mal aria), and that Dracula’s minions are roaming the streets as they please, taking whom they will, just like the prophecies stated.The highlight is when Ethan wolfs out among a bunch of minions and is  joined by Kaetenay, who is also a werewolf. Apparentl,  Ethan didn’t know this. Kaetenay says he kept it a secret from his own family even. Well, I’d kind of speculated about  what happened between them. Kaetenay was the one who turned E. into a werewolf.

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Victor sets Lily free after the two of them have a heartfelt discussion about why he shouldn’t obliterate her memories of who she was, and why she did what she did. She harbors a lot of rage for about her dead daughter, the things she felt she had to do for her, and her daughter to survive, because of the life restrictions placed on women at that time. I never thought Lily’s anger or reasons were illegitimate ones. Hell, I was angry for her. Hell, the British trampled every culture and continent they encountered. She wasn’t the only person getting shafted by Englishmen, at that time. I just didn’t think that slaughtering them, one by one,  was the answer to that particular dilemma.  I don’t care how mad you are, that’s a lot of killing.

John, the Creature, witnesses the death of his son. He’s implored by his wife to take him to Victor to be resurrected, but John refuses, and buries his son at sea. That story felt truncated too. In an ideal world there’d be a fourth season where John had made a different choice.

Hyde confronts Victor about not using the formula on Lily and informs him that his father has just died. He is Lord Hyde now, having inherited his fathers titles and estates. We never got to see Hyde at all, and the funny thing is, this finale is something of a surprise to the actor as well, because in some earlier interviews he mentioned the conventional makeup used to create him.

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The three men are still looking for Vanessa, when Dr. Seward comes calling. She takes them to Bedlam where she has imprisoned Renfield. They need to find Dracula’s whereabouts, so  Seward hypnotizes Renfield into giving up the location.

Dorian goes back to his home and kicks out Lily’s army of women. When Justine refuses to leave, he kills her. Lily discovers her broken body on the floor of the ballroom, and after saying goodbye to both of them, decides to leave Dorian, which I thought was a fitting response. They’ve got no more to offer each other. He betrayed her to Victor, and killed her girl, after claiming she bored him, although I really think he thought she would decide to stay with him. Once again, because of his ennui and cynicism, Dorian ends up alone and I gots no sympathy for him.

The Five; Seward, Kaetenay, Malcolm, Ethan, and Catriona, arrive at Dracula’s lair, where there’s a long drawn out battle with Dracula’s minions. I’d like to point out the fight choreography is great here, as Catriona gets in some really nice stunts, and Drac’s minions have some great body movement. I’d like to believe Cat’s not entirely human, and it would’ve been nice to find out what she was, and if Dracula, or Amenhotep, had something  to do with that. Ethan finds his way down a long hall to a room full of candles, (which is something I always find especially funny. Who takes the time to light all these tiny damn candles?). He finds Vanessa, who convinces him that the only way to stop the end of the world is to kill her, so he shoots her. Everything stops. The minions all stop, the sun comes out and Dracula simply flies away. Why wasn’t he killed?

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Later , everything goes back to normal, as London cleans its streets, the group bury Vanessa, and all go their own ways.Its cute and touching to see Victor grabbing and hugging Ethan, like a little brother. I’m still mad at him for being a dick to Lily, so it’s not that cute. I’m not gonna be shipping these two anytime soon.Later, Ethan, who has nothing to go back home for, decides to stay home with Malcolm, who is the closest thing he has to family now. That’s fitting.

The world spins on without Vanessa being miserable in the middle of it, and the series ends with waaay too many dangling plotlines and characters , we will never get to see.

Oh well…

 

Penny Dreadful : Episodes 5&6.

“Everybody Wants To Rule The World” – Tears for Fears

This World is Our Hell:

Last week, we learned a lot about Ethan and Hecate, as the two of them trudged through the desert to reach his homestead. Ethan’s plan is to go back home, confront, and possibly, kill his father.

Ethan and Hecate get to know each other as they slowly dehydrate but that doesn’t stop them from having sex. In fact, I’m not surprised they did. The entire time they’ve been together, Hecate has been telling Ethan what a wonderful creature he is, and how they will take over the world, or something. This is much more believable coming from Hecate, than it is from Lily, who we didn’t get to see in this episode. Unlike with Lily,  I’m actually afraid of what Hecate might do.

It also appears as if Ethan is slowly coming around to Hecate’s way of thinking, on this issue, as he stops protesting, and side-eyeing her. Maybe she’s just worn him down, or he’s starting to like her, or he’s just pretending to care about what she says. It’s hard to tell with Ethan, as he likes to play his tenderest emotions close to his vest.

The two of them are  still being pursued by Rusk and his men, most of whom get killed when Hecate works some arcane magic to call snakes out of the sand to attack them.  During the chaos, Kaetenay gets bitten while trying to steal the posse’s horses,  and things do not look good for him. He and Sir Malcolm make a getaway, but it’s not clean.

Malcolm eventually meets up with Hecate and Ethan, who are on their last legs and about to die, but all of them are apprehended by Ethan’s father’s men. It turns out that Kaetenay is an Apache, one of fiercest and most rebellious tribes, during the time period before they were mostly wiped out. There’s no love for Kaetenay, in this crew, so Ethan tells them to abandon him in the desert. I’m not sure if Ethan is doing this to spare Kaetenay’s life, if he knows Kaetenay will be alright and come rescue him, or if he really doesn’t care.  Again it’s hard to say what Ethan knows, but I’m inclined to believe that he knows Kaetenay will come for him.

Earlier, Kaetenay  outlined to Malcolm, Ethan’s great sin, which was aiding in the massacre of his tribe and family. I’m still unsure if Ethan was cursed at the time this happened, or if it was something Kaetenay did to him afterward, which would be incredibly ironic. Cursing the man who massacred his family to murder any other people he comes in contact with, (including his own family), sounds like the sort of vindictive , horrible, yet mordantly funny thing, Kaetenay might do. His sense of humor is very odd. At any rate, Ethan must have killed scores of people in his, relatively young, life.

At Ethan’s home, Malcolm and Ethan’s father have words. Malcolm is not greatly impressed by the man, although they seem to have much in common. I think the difference is that Malcolm, as hard headed as he is, eventually learns when he fucks up, and Ethan’s dad, not so much. Dad still insists on making the same mistakes he made before, hoping for a different outcome. As evidenced by his actions when he tells Ethan why he insisted on bringing him home.

In the movie Seven, one of the detectives mentions something called “Forced Atonement”.” It’s when you regret your sins but not because you love God. It’s because you have a gun to your head.” That’s what I thought about when Ethan’s father held a gun to Ethan’s head to make him beg God for forgiveness, and make atonement for what he thinks is Ethan’s great sin, killing his wife and daughter, Ethan’s mother and sister. He says he wants Ethan to pay for what he did, but I’m still not sure what threatening Ethan is going to accomplish.

It really would be interesting to find out that the Apache they let go in the desert is the person who is indirectly responsible for what happened to Ethan’s family, which doesn’t bode well, for the relationship between John and Vanessa. This show likes to mirror characters, and if the relationship between Ethan and Kaetenay is a mirror of the one between Vanessa and John, then there is some hard  news for us viewers, later.

On a side note, we watch as Victor and Henry work on his serum together. Their goal is to get the effects of the serum to be permanent. So far, we’ve seen no sign of Mr. Hyde, but we have seen some startling and disturbing glimpses of Henry’s rage at the world, and how it’s treated him, at the bigotry of the English, and the disregard of his father. This is a man with a deep well of rage, and from time to time, he can’t seem to keep it underneath. Is he already taking the serum , or is this leading up to him taking it, or being given it by Victor?  This also unclear. It wouldn’t surprise me in the slightest if Victor did such a thing. Twice now we’ve seen him admonish Henry for displaying his anger. Testing the serum out on Henry isn’t something that’s out of bounds for him.

 

No Beast So Fierce:

So far, Hecate and Ethan want to rule the world, with Kaetenay  and Malcolm trying to nip that in the bud. Lily and her charge, Justine, want to rule the world with Dorian. Satan tried but lost his bid, but that’s okay because Dracula has put in his application to rule the world  with Vanessa. Who the hell even knows what Henry wants and John  just wants to take care of his family.

Dr. Sweet and Renfield:

Renfield is still giving Dracula  regular updates on what Vanessa has been telling Dr. Seward, including her last session, in which she found out his name, for which he is being rewarded by being made Dracula’s favorite. Dracula now knows that Vanessa knows his name. My thoughts while watching this scene: Dracula has got them (bishies) in check.  A mere twitch of his fingertips is enough to have his followers, minions, (or whatever) groveling on the floor in front of him. Now, that is control!

Vanessa and Lyle:

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Unfortunately ,this seems to be the last we will be seeing of Lyle, as Vanessa catches up with him just before his expedition to Cairo, something he says isn’t strictly voluntary on his part. Vanessa asks him for the name of someone who knows as much about the occult as he does, and this is how Catriona Hartdegan, a new female character and Thanatologist, is introduced, for this season. (Note that famous Egyptian name that Lyle drops before his departure.)

Vanessa goes to see Cate at her fencing lesson, to ask her to investigate Dracula’s name. Cate is definitely a modern woman, bold and snarky. I’m not sure I like her just yet, as she seems very brittle and scratchy, so far. She’s not unlikable, just skritchy. I think one test of whether or not I’ll like her, is how well she gets along with Vanessa, who seems intrigued by her, and how well she handles the situation with Dracula.  I also think its important to learn whether or not she can shoot a gun.  In other words, is she as bad-ass as she likes to think she is, and does she have Vanessa’s back.

Lily, Justine, Dorian:

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“No beast so fierce but knows some touch of pity. But I know none, and therefore am no beast.” -Shakespeare

Oh boy, do I have a lot to say about these relationships this week. Now I’m intrigued by the introduction of Lily’s little girl and I’ve decided I’ll call her by her name this week, Justine. Things are definitely heating up between these three, but not in the way you might think, which does not bode well for either Lily, or Justine. I have decided to apply the above quote to Justine and Ethan, although it could apply to just about any of the characters in this episode.

Somebody gon’ die!

Lily has begun to draw up her army. They are mostly prostitutes, and other fallen women, whom English society has disdained as worthless. They’ve been gathering, mostly quietly, at Dorian’s estate and learning from Lily how best to gut and stab their male clients. I watched Lily’s demonstration on Dorian, and I think Lily forgot to factor in that there would be arterial blood spray, if you cut someone from the front. (You really want to do that kind of shit off to the side, or from behind, where the blood wouldn’t hit you.)

Anyway, her biggest problem isn’t that she is teaching incorrect murder classes, but that Justine, who has pledged herself to Lily, has pledged herself to Lily alone. When its time for Justine to demonstrate on Dorian, Lily can barely restrain Justine from cutting his throat. I think Dorian not dying would be a surprise to all of them. He doesn’t actually look scared but he does look nervous. Either he hasn’t told Lily what he is or he’s worried about how little control he has over these women. I’m guessing, the latter.

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At any rate, its not Lily who is the wild card in this scenario, it’s Justine, who will take orders from  no man, including Dorian. Justine basically looks him in the eye,  and tells him to fuck off, something I’m pretty sure Dorian isn’t used to from women he’s  actively sleeping with. At any rate, the future doesn’t look good for Justine. Dorian killed Angelique just for finding out what he was. If Justine can’t be controlled by him, in his own house, then she has a very short future. And if he kills Justine, then he can forget about having a happy relationship with Lily.

Victor and Henry:

The two have finally gotten the serum to work. Victor makes plans to kidnap Lily so he can administer it to her. Henry, long ago, sussed out the real reason Victor is obsessed with saving her. Victor is that creepy stalker, who believes he’s a nice guy.

John:

There’s a little of John’s situation this episode as he goes to visit his family. His son is suffering from some disease and is very sickly. When his wife leaves him alone, John sneaks down from the attic to see him. John manages to give the child a single hug before the boy wakes up  to see a strange man, who looks suspiciously like his father, standing over his bed, and begins to scream. Its heartbreaking to think that this is the only opportunity John will have to touch his child.

 

Victor and Lily

All that happens is Victor gets captured at Dorian’s house. The only reason Justine doesn’t kill him is because of the amount of control Lily has over her, and Lily’s mercy. She warns him not to try it again, or he’ll be killed.

Hecate, Talbot, Malcolm 

 

The set piece of the episode is the final dinner and shootout at the Talbot corral. Everyone is calmly sitting and eating dinner as if guns weren’t being brandished a couple of hours earlier. Guns get brandished again when Rusk asks Hecate what she is, knowing what she did to his men with the snakes, and she reveals her true face to every one at the table. That’s some next level shit to everyone, as the room  immediately erupts in gunfire. We get to see Ethan’s gunfighter skills come into play and Hecate gets taken down by a bullet from Papa Talbot. No future Queen of the Earth for her, I guess.

Talbot barricades himself and his men in the chapel where he’d earlier threatened Ethan, but Kaetenay, who simply refuses to die, comes through, in the cut. With the two biggest influences in his life dead, Ethan is free to leave with Malcolm and Kaetenay. The all need to return to England NOW! because Vanessa is falling further into Dracula’s clutches.

Vanessa and Dr. Sweet

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After a visit with Dr. Seward, who urges her to mend fences with her friends, Vanessa goes to see Dr. Sweet, who goads her into talking about her problems with him. He is still sweet?talking her, with his opinions about creatures of darkness, and loneliness. He seems surprised that she has turned up to see him because he thought all his hard work in wooing her had been wasted.

A lot of the things Sweet tells her are about himself, and she seems, on some level, to understand this because they end up having sex in the exhibit. Yeah, this does not look good. All evening long, Sweet seems as if he’s on the verge of telling Vanessa his real name, but keeps thinking better of it. Shit is gonna hit that fan when that happens.Vanessa: betrayed yet again!

Obviously, Vanessa cannot be left alone to choose her own friends, and must needs adult supervision.

Let’s hope Ethan reaches her quickly before something horrible happens.

 

Of Note:

It’s interesting that Dracula, despite his nefarious purposes, really seems to actually love Vanessa. His behavior towards her is so incredibly convincing, as Dr. Sweet, that even I occasionally forget what he is. I know he’s probably lying to her quite a lot, but I still can’t help but feel a great deal of sympathy for his evil ass. This a testament to the skills of the writer and the actor. (Plus, it doesnt hurt that that actor is really really hawwt!)

Penny Dreadful : Predators Far and Near

SPOILER ALERT

The title of this episode is especially apt, this week. Yes indeed, there are predators very, very close to Vanessa, and some far away in America, which we catch an unfortunate glimpse of this week. Including a surprisingly unsurprising revelation about Dr. Sweet, Vanessa’s zoologist/taxidermist crush, about which I’m sure you can probably guess, just as I did. After all, Dr. sweet is the only new introduction to the season who has absolutely no backstory. The guy came out of nowhere and conveniently landed near Vanessa? C’mon!

Anyway we get another taste of the story from Sir Malcolm and Kaetenay’s point of view, including some interesting tidbits about Kaeteny’s history with Ethan. We don’t see what John is up to , but we find out what Dorian and Lily are doing. It’s not good, but still not scary. I’m still waiting to be impressed by the two of them. And we find out where Ethan is and what he’s doing.

But first we get to find out what England’s  most unimpressive couple gets up to in their spare time, and that’s attacking bougie gentlemen in bdsm clubs. Okay, it’s not bdsm, because that would imply that the people participating are consenting adults. It’s a sadistic club for grown men to beat up little girls.

I had always considered British men of that time period to be somewhat vile creatures but this strikes a new low, (and really this sort of violence against children need only be suggested to be effective, but apparently cable TV is more interested in being edgy than subtle). Anyway, Lily and Dorian  walk in and dismantle the clientele with guns and  straight razors, and for the first time I’m impressed with their level of carnage, but I do wonder where Lily picked up her martial skills. Did Dorian teach her this in between waltzes?

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Later, Lily and Dorian’s waltzing is interrupted by the young girl they saved the night before, and Lily recruits her to fight in whatever imaginary battle against the patriarchy that is playing out in her head. They sort of remind me of moody, vengeful, energetic, versions of Morticia and Gomez Addams. I’m still not impressed by Lily’s plans for the future. Does she plan to individually straight razor every man in England? She better get to work then, because there are a lot of them. If you’re sensing I have some contempt for this couple…you’re right! They’re like all those vengeful teenagers in movies, who plan to get all the ones who laughed at them, but without any actual, you know…plans. Maybe they’ll do something impressive later in the season.

I’ll wait.

Henry Jeckyll takes Victor to lunch and shows him his workplace, Bedlam Asylum, the most notorious insane asylum in England, during this period. When he gives his spiel to Victor about how awful his workplace is, he’s not wrong. It was pretty much the place where poor people with mental disabilities went, to get regularly hosed down like lawn furniture, or die. (Rich people got sent to wellness spas, which were only slightly less awful with better food. Hosing optional).

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Listen to Henry’s speeches about the duality of man for insight into his character, and the motivation behind Hyde’s creation. Henry takes Victor to the bowels of the asylum and experiments on one of the screaming, raving patients there. After forcing his elixir into  him, the man becomes calm,  genteel and refined, asking for water.  Henry promises Victor he will do the same for Lily.

Later, we see Victor looking pretty bad, as Henry is trying, I think, to ween him off his morphine addiction. Victor goes to sit outside Dorian’s  house and watch Lily through the windows. I was never a huge fan of Victor, since he killed Brona, but this is pathetic and stalkery, making me like him even less. Lily comes out to see him, telling him to go away. I think Victor doesn’t seem to understand that there is no personality  to change Lily back to. I think this is Lily’s authentic self, an angry, bitter sex worker. What he wants is to bring Lily to heel and make her submissive to him, which is so very Warren of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Victor. Really! I don’t know what’s stopping Victor from killing some other woman and making her his bride. It’s one of his skills. If you’re noticing a certain level of contempt for Victor… You’re right!

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Vanessa is still seeing her therapist and has been persuaded by her to tell her story, while Renfield  acts creepy and nervous, in the background. Dr. Seward insists she can handle whatever story Vanessa throws at her, and appears to be as stoic as always during, but the moment Vanessa leaves, she breaks down in tears. Actually I was kind of heartened to see that. It makes her more human and not the ball breaker she wants people to think she is.  I’m not sure what the tears are for. Is it because it was a heightened emotional experience for her? Is she sad that Vanessa is so broken? Does she even believe her? I’m inclined to think she just doesn’t believe Vanessa and is appalled by her level of insanity. Later, we see Renfield listening to the tapes that Dr. Seward made of her discussion with Vanessa.

Next up,  Sir Malcolm is on a ship, with Kaetenay, being seasick. Kaetenay is a morbidly funny fellow, whose not so impressed by Sir Malcom that he won’t make small jabs at him. I was surprised to find out Malcolm got seasick, as I thought of him as some great world traveler. He says it’s the reason he never traveled to South America. It says a lot about his relationship with Ethan that he will brave all this to save him. When Kaetenay asks if he’s ever hated someone so much that he wanted them to live and suffer, but that later, it became a form of love, Malcolm says yes he has, and you figure out that he’s talking about Vanessa.

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Kaetenay performs a spell that allows him to talk to Ethan in his dreams.  It turns out that he and Ethan have a much more complicated relationship than father and son, as Ethan seems to hate him and threatens to kill him when he sees him. But at the same time Ethan also confides his feelings to him too. It’s deliciously complicated. I wasn’t expecting this because Kaetenay spoke so lovingly of Ethan. I don’t know why,  but I also had the impression that Kaetenay may be  a witch, or werewolf, too. He seems to be trying to form a bond with Malcolm through their shared relationship with Ethan, as he keeps referring to Ethan as “our son”, which sounds really weird, considering they just met.

Ethan seems to have only the most complicated relationships with all the men in his life. He seems to be rebelling against all of them except Dorian. It’s very telling that the most uncomplicated relationship he has had with any man on this show was Sembene, who he later ate; and Dorian, who he slept with,  who is now sleeping with his late-ex-girlfriend.

Just parse that out for minute or two.

Dr. Seward orders Vanessa another homework assignment. The week before it was go out and do something she’s never done before, and this week it’s go do something with no agenda beyond it being fun. So she goes back to see Dr. Sweet, who is giving a lecture on insects, but when he sees Vanessa is present, switches it up to talking about scorpions. There follows one of the sweetest, and cutest meet-cutes you can imagine for this show. It’s as adorable as when she met Dorian, and if you’ve been watching the show, you remember how that ended. 😊

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Vanessa invites Sweet to accompany her of an evening and she takes him to “see the cinematogragh”, as  she has heard ‘it is a wonder of the civilized world’! And he really does seem to enjoy it and his time with her. And Vanessa seems to be enjoying herself too, which made me smile. Watch Vanessa’s face as Sweet watches the movie. She is thoroughly enamored of him, like a crushing schoolgirl, checking to see that he’s happy. When she invites him for coffee afterward, he declines. I think that’s when I suspected who he might be, because who vehemently declines coffee? (For the coffee is the life.)

Good news! Rusk survived the train massacre and is still hunting for Ethan. He plans to track him  back to Talbot territory.  I had the idea that he was planning on getting ripped apart by Ethan before reaching Talbot territory, as that’s more likely to happen than apprehension.                   Hecate overhears this conversation and makes plans of her own.

Ethan’s kidnappers have stopped at a little hacienda, in the middle of nowhere, for a pit stop. The native woman who recognizes him as Kaetenay’s protege is an actress I remember from Dances with Wolves. I think her name is Red Crow or Red Crow Feather. I’d been wondering where she’d gone off to as I’d seen her in only a few projects since that movie. I was happy to see her here and that, warned by Ethan, she managed to escape the later carnage. Ethan refers to her relative,  Kaetenay, as “the old demon”  and calls her Mother, although I think that’s more a kind of title. She seems to know exactly who and what he is and when he tells her to go, she skedaddles.

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Ethan changes and kills everyone in the hacienda but is stopped in his tracks by the appearance of Hecate who has been trying to cozy up to him since she found out what he was. I think, once again, she’s not going to get what she wants out of this relationship, unless she has a spell to control him, or something. I just don’t see Ethan’s dark side being cowled by whispered endearments, and the offer of va-jayjay, which is all Hecate seems to have in her repertoire.

Yeah, Ethan’s breakout was still more impressive than Lily and Dorian at the top of the show. Interesting how the show started with a massacre and ends with…a massacre. And lets stand back and admire Ethan’s werewolf, which is a callback to the original Wolf Man imagery, from 1941, starring Lon Chaney Jr.

Renfield reports to Dracula’s lair to tell tales about Vanessa. He demands blood, Dracula acquiesces, and we pan up to see that it’s actually Vanessa’s new boyfriend, Dr. Sweet.

Penny Dreadful: Season Two Finale

WOW!

The two part season finale had some awesome confrontations taking place between all our major characters. Most especially the highly anticipated blow up between Evelyn Poole and Vanessa.

The least interesting portion of the show was Dorian and Lilly, so let’s get that out of the way. I really like Reeve Carney and I love Billie Piper but I’m not feeling the enthusiasm.  Also, I saw that sexing coming a mile away, even though I could’ve done without the ear biting. I’m probably not attached to them because I don’t know where John Logan is taking this particular plot and Lilly’s Dr. Evil mindset seemed to come out of nowhere.

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At any rate, Lilly sold Dorian the same bill of goods about immortality and ruling the world, that she fed to John/Caliban.Dorian seems to be buying it, but I wonder when he’s going to get bored with her, too. I guess one of tonight’s revelations is that he does remember Brona. I can’t wait to see what happens when Ethan finally meets her but knowing John Logan, he’ll probably make the whole thing as anti-climatic as possible.

John Clare gets suckered into trusting that sweet, little blind girl routine and is now trapped in the basement of the museum, to be used as a sideshow attraction. He looks more upset about her betrayal than he does about his entrapment. I don’t expect him to remain there for long anyway, if he’s as strong as Lilly. When he killed Victors first creation, he did it with one punch, so yeah.

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So,  how many of you want to see the Putneys get broken? Show of hands!

The next most interesting relationship is between Ethan and Vanessa. The bounty hunter, Roper, confronts the two of them at the cabin. He spends some amount of time threatening  Vanessa, after which she and Ethan take turns  whoopin’ his  ass,  until he’s dead. After burying the body, Victor shows up to let Vanesssa know that Malcolm is in trouble. He is such a strange bird that he doesn’t blink an eye at their disheveled appearance or even ask what they’re burying.

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When they get back to town, Rusk confronts Ethan with his real name – Talbot. Oh, How very Lon Chaney of Mr. Logan. I still would love very much for Rusk to meet Ethan’s bad side, up close and personal-like. Even more, I’d love for Ethan’s father to show up at some point. That meeting would be epic.

After that reveal, we get Lyle turning traitor on Evelyn. I knew he cared about this crew and I wondered when he’d realize where his real loyalties were. Unfortunately, we don’t get to see his actual confession, which would’ve been nice to watch. He does look suitably contrite afterwards, though, and is willing to go into the lion’s den to save Malcolm, even if he’s only carrying a tiny gun. I still think his crush on Ethan may have played at least a small part in his change of heart.

While waiting for nightfall, Hecate confronts Ethan by simply walking through his room mirror. Yet another indictment against the ownership of large mirrors. She is trying to hook up with what she thinks is a good deal, with Ethan. I think she believes Ethan is the Anti-Christ. Judging by his reaction, so does Ethan.  But in fact, he’s probably the Lupus Dei that Lyle spoke of, at the beginning of the season.

Lyle’s studies of the Verbis Diablo said that the Lupus Dei, The Hound of God, is actually the Protector of Lucifer’ favorite, so I don’t think Hecate is going to get whatever she thinks she’s going to get out of their relationship.

Everyone advises Vanessa to wait until the next day to rescue Malcolm, which is a complete waste of breath as she just sneaks her hard-headed ass, right over to the witches home that night. The time when the Nightcomers powers are at their strongest.

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So, now the rest of the group, Victor, Lyle, Sembene and Ethan have to go rescue Vanessa and Ethan is naturally reluctant because he knows his change is coming on that night. He and Sembene have a very touching bff moment. I like these two, so much. They just seem like they should be natural friends.

We also get some backstory that Sembene used to be a slave trader, but this doesn’t actually make me like him any less because I love a good  atonement story.

They arrive at the haunted house where Lyle pauses to say Kaddish, after which Victor becomes trapped in the same cursed room with Malcolm, beset with all of his worse secrets, while Lyle is trapped outside, being accosted by Hecate, who is still desperately trying to make her subplot stick.

Ethan and Sembene get trapped in a hallway when Ethan’s change comes on and he attacks Sembene. I won’t believe Sembene is dead until there’s a funeral so…

So, the Hound of God is at large, Victor and Malcolm are trapped by the memories of their ghosts and Vanessa and Evelyn engage in a bit of verbal jousting before Evelyn introduces her to Doll-Vanessa. I do recall my exact thought upon seeing that doll, was that if its eyes open, I’m gonna totally freak out.

I only shrieked a tiny bit.

Vanessa, then,  has to fight her own doll for posession of her soul. It turns out that Lucifer requires her consent and either the doll speaks for Lucifer or is Lucifer, I’m not sure, but he and Evelyn spend some time trying to get  Vanessa’s  consent to sign over her soul, using the technique of convincing her she’s already corrupt and tempting her with the idea of living a normal life with Ethan. While this is one of Evelyn’s tactics that seem to be working on Malcolm and Victor, this doesn’t work with Vanessa.

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This is a tactic that only works by inducing guilt about  life choices in people who have lied to themselves about the decisions they’ve made. You can understand this in what the phantoms say to their victims. Malcolm’s ghosts keep hammering him with the knowledge that he is ultimately responsible for their deaths and Victor’s  ghosts chastise him for his lack of humanity, which is why he can only ever create monsters. All this does is make me wonder if I would be susceptible to such a tactic. Since I have a nasty habit of being blunt, coupled with a complete inability to lie to myself, I try not to engage in behavior I’m going to need to run from, or lie about later.

Vanessa, though, is the type of person who does all manner of bad things but is perfectly okay with the decisions she makes. She doesn’t like the decisions she makes but she  accepts that she made them, and she’s gonna live with them. It’s extremely difficult to shame somebody with things they are well aware of. Vanessa gives the devil the verbal smack down and cracks the doll open, releasing a flood of “little scorpions”, her namesake. Evelyn totally loses her shit but before she can attack Vanessa, WolfEthan shows up and rips her head off.

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As uncontrollable as he is in that state, he has the presence of mind not to attack Vanessa, though. When Evelyn dies, all her spells die with her. It turns out that the witch attacking Lyle is not Hecate but one of the others. Lyle shoots her, and Malcolm, now free of Evelyn’s spell shoots the other. The only witch left is Hecate who burns her mother’s castle to the ground, on her way out the door.

The season ends on the saddest tones.

Sembene is actually dead but since this is a series featuring dead people walking around and talking, I’m not sure how to feel about the only Black guy on the show, getting fridged to aid Ethan’s storyline. Yeah, alright! I don’t like it. On the other hand, since the only Black guy on the show just died , the writers  will have to fill that quota with his brother, uncle or an Asian or Native American next season. Remember people…there can be only one! Any more than that and White people will find it impossible to watch the show, I guess.

Well,  at least we have Lyle, who gets one of the best lines in the entire series when he tells the witch, “Never underestimate a queen with lovely hair.” I now love Lyle, who is the only gay, Jewish, senior citizen, in a primetime television series.

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Victor and Lily part ways, as she and Dorian go full on Doctor Evil. He shoots them both but that doesn’t kill them and they just go one dancing, as if he hadn’t interrupted them, at all. I can think of some pretty inventive deaths for them, though. They might not die but they’d be just as useless when I m done with both of them. They don’t even impress me as villains. Mostly they’re just deeply annoying, with their talk of “we’re superior beings, let’s take over the world” BS. What’s superior about that? Human beings already know how to be assholes to each other, without being immortal, so it’s not like they’d be teaching us anything new.

The most satisfying moment is the deaths of the Putneys, except for their blind daughter. I saw that coming a mile away. I knew that cell couldn’t hold John for long. And c’mon! They really were asking for it by taunting him relentlessly, about his looks,  mostly. And the worst thing he could’ve done to little Miss Future Matchgirl, was let her live. In that particular era, and with no one to support her, she’s in for a short, brutal life of misery and I hope people are as kind to her as she was to John.

The most tearful moment is when John asks Vanessa to leave England with him and she kisses him goodbye.

Followed by Vanessa asking Ethan to come away with her and he leaves. She doesn’t get a kiss though.

Malcolm takes Sembene back to Africa. All he has left now is Vanessa. He is truly not a fortunate man, to have survived the deaths of all the people he loved.

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I guess the death of Sembene was the last straw. Ethan turns himself over to Inspector Rusk and gets extradited to America.

Vanessa is all alone in Malcolm’s house. She burns that cross that was on the wall. The one she spent so much time praying in front of. That’s all over now, she thinks.

Only Lyle gets to ride off into the sunset.

With the witches dead and everyone scattered to the four winds, how will the next season set itself up, I wonder? Will everyone contrive to come back together? Will we get to meet Ethan’s father and is he cursed too? Will Victor resurrect yet another dead person, or has he learned his lesson yet? Will Dracula make an appearance this time? Will Lilly and Dorian try to take over the world, (I’ve decided I’m going to call them “Dilly”), or just be killed in some embarrassingly low key incident, like being run over by some horse drawn carriages? Will Malcolm bring back another Black guy to replace his dead butler?

Stay tuned for the next installment of Penny Dreadful, coming next year.

Penny Dreadful : Momento Mori

We have two episodes left in an extended season and events are beginning to reach their peak. All season, John Logan has been ratcheting up the tension like a vise. The finale is going to be  a huge release for everyone. This episode featured some not quite epic confrontations, but still very satisfying.

There was no Ethan or Vanessa in this episode, nevertheless their presence was felt, as the story begins to coalesce around what Vanessa will do during the finale, and how things between her and Evelyn will play out, although I have no doubt Evelyn will lose. Like the best plots, Vanessa’s victory may create a situation that’s even worse.

Yes, there are still too many secrets for my taste but I have come to understand the underlying theme of this season seems to be eternal youth and immortality.

You have Victor Frankenstein, who has found a way to cheat death, through Science. You’ve got Dorian Gray, whose backstory everyone already know, ,if you’ve read the book. We have the Nightcomers, Evelyn Poole and her daughter Hecate. Apparently Evelyn is pretty old, something which makes her daughter think that she is weak and ineffective. She thinks her mother needs to be  supplanted by someone more youthful, like herself.

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And  there’s Evelyn’s cats-paw, Lyle. I thought she held some horrible secret over his head to keep him in her clutches, but it turns out that her only hold over him is vanity. He wishes he were younger and prettier, so he could more easily attract the young men he lusts after .As for why Evelyn wants Vanessa – vanity. To keep her youth and immortality, she has promised to procure Lucifer’s favorite.

Whether or not Lilly and John will age remains to be seen. Technically, they’re already dead but this is not without its issues. They’re stronger and faster, something Lilly proved last week,  but are completely  amoral and have no qualms about harming people.

Just like Dorian, who, after discovering that Angelique found his secret, poisoned her with a glass of wine. And this is another theme  to be discussed. Up til now, we’ve all been quick to dismiss Dorian as just a pretty wastrel, mostly harmless and charming. We tend to forget that he is nothing like that. For the first time we get to see the painting that shows what he actually looks like and yeah, it’s  as awful as you imagine.The man in the painting is disgusting, with a scowling, leering expression.This is what Dorian actually looks like and its all the more frightening because not only do you like Dorian, you want to like him. When I mentioned earlier that the Gentlemen of London were not Gentlemen because of the way they treated Angelique, well, Dorian is not a Gentlemen either and never was.

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Many of the people on this show are pretending to be something they’re not. Evelyn states as much to Lyle. John is the only monster that looks like one. Lilly, the Nightcomers, Ethan, Vanessa and Dorian all have some very pretty packaging. I think the difference is in how each of these character approaches their monstrousness.

Lilly has decided to embrace her inner monster. She is a woman with a deep well of hatred for men, and that’s understandable considering the life she led before her resurrection.  When John confronts her about the men he’d seen her with and thinks to hit her, she has this great monologue, infused with all her rage and contempt at how she was treated in her old life. In fact, she so totally forgets her present, that right in the middle of her speech, her accent changes back to her  Irish brogue, and so smoothly, that if you’re not looking for it, you miss it. Billie Piper is wonderful here.

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John is pretty shaken by this. He’s  speechless, as she tosses him around the room like a doll. He totally didn’t see any of that coming.

Victor, in a touching moment with Sir Malcolm confesses his addiction to Morphine. Its interesting to watch Victor become a warmer, more approachable person. I think this is due to his acceptance by the group and them treating him like family. Even Sembene behaves tenderly towards him, and Malcolm is understanding and kind when he makes this confession to him.

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Earlier, after finding him in a stupor, John threatened to kill Victor, again. How many times per episode is that going to happen? John is very big on threats but the only person we’ve ever seen him kill is Victor’s second experiment, who was technically already dead. John also  threatens to take Lilly away, declaring that she belongs to him. Well, Lilly makes it clear that she has very different ideas about her life and that he won’t be the only one, wearing the pants in their relationship.

Sir Malcolm seemed to be coming out of Evelyn’s spell.  Ms. Poole, pushing her luck too far, started a working over the doll she created of him and it backfires. I’m not sure what the spell was supposed to accomplish but Sembene put a stop to it, by reminding Malcolm of his past. When the spell breaks, Evelyn, who seemed to actually care about her relationship with Malcolm, was very shaken. I’m guessing no one had ever willed them-self out of one of her spells, before.

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Sir Malcolm is also confronted by Inspector Rusk, who is circling closer and closer to Ethan. Watching the two of them verbally jousting is almost as entertaining as watching Rusk and Ethan. What do you want to bet that Rusk gets exactly what he wants and meets Ethan’s monster, face to face?

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Realizing what had been done to him, Malcolm hies off to confront Evelyn about it and their confrontation is the highlight of the episode, as we’ve all been waiting for it. Malcolm thoroughly rejects her. Are her tears real or fake? At its conclusion she drops a tiny scorpion in his lap and leaves him alone with the  hallucinations of his dead wife and children.

I’d also like to point out some of the parallels we’ve seen in the actions of certain characters from first season to this one. At one point we see Vanessa teaching Ethan how to waltz. Earlier in the season we saw her teaching another monster how to waltz. She reassures John that he is not the monster he thinks he is, and Sembene does the same thing for Ethan in an earlier episode. We also see Ethan bonding with Victor while teaching him to shoot and later we see him do the same with Vanessa.

Next week we’ll see if Vanessa reaches Sir Malcolm in time to save him from himself and possibly a final showdown between her and Evelyn. At some pint everyone is going to have to deal with Ethan’s secret, and Dorian’s as well. And things between Victor, Lilly and John reach a moment, but its also possible, these may be the cliffhangers for next season.

Penny Dreadful : Evil Spirits In Heavenly Places

The third episode of this season, titled The Nightcomers, chronicles Vanessa’s coming out, and reaction to, her realization that she is a Witch, with superpowers. How she learned to deal with her special abilities and how this has shaped her, is the focus. It touches on her history with the witches, Evelyn Poole and her daughter, Hecate, and how they have been trying to procure her for their master, Lucifer, for a number of years, and how she managed to escape them.

The following episode deals with the aftermath of Vanessa’s confession, to the group,  about her past and how she came to know about the Witches and how they have pursued her and why.

In Evil Spirits In Heavenly Places, there are a number of enchantresses at work, too.

Sir Malcolm is still courting Evelyn Poole, also known as Madame Kali/Leader of the Witch’s Coven. She has already placed an enchantment of some kind on him,  in an effort to get him to betray Vanessa at some future point. Its fun to watch him be flirty and happy around Evelyn, even when you know its going to all end in tears, as she’s just deceiving him to get to Vanessa.

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Victor Frankenstein has become thoroughly enchanted with the re-risen Brona, whom he has renamed Lily. He created her for His Monster, John Clare, but she appears to be falling in love with him, and he with her. He goes to Vanessa to help him choose a suit of clothes for his cousin, “Lily”, and mostly lies to Vanessa too, but she can tell he’s very taken with the young lady, whom she hasn’t met since her resurrection. She doesn’t know that Lily is Brona, Ethan’s late -girlfriend. On the other hand, Lily has no recollection of her past life and even has a different accent than the lower class one she sported as Brona.

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Ethan is approached by Hecate, Evelyn’s daughter. The witches are fascinated by  Ethan, believing him to be Vanessa’s champion. Hell, that’s understandable. Ethan is a fascinating man and one day we’re going to get his backstory. If they can turn him to their own ends, that would be yet another avenue by which they can suborn Vanessa’s  trust in her friends and take her for themselves. But Ethan manages to detect Hecate’s lies,  when  she pretends to be an American while trying to seduce him. Ethan has so much depth. Hopefully the witches will not discover he’s a supernatural creature and use him to hurt his new family.

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This episode is notable for Ethan reaching out to Sembene. It’s fascinating to watch the beginning edges of this gentle and tentative friendship blooming between them, mostly spurred by Ethan as Sembene is very close mouthed. I suspect they have much in common and would get along splendidly if each of them could let their guard down enough to do that.

In fact its interesting to watch all these characters behaving as a real family now. There are a lot of outside forces that are aligned against them, and they all have so many secrets, that its important that they finish the growing pains of last season and start to develop actual relationships and caring for one another. They will need it.

It’s not just the witches they have to deal with. It’s some of the choices that have been made by some of the characters, namely Victor. There’s Victor’s betrayal of both Ethan and John. What will happen if Vanessa meets Lily first? What will she say and do? Brona actually met Dorian before but Victor and Dorian are not in the same social circles, so its unlikely they will meet. Ethan was just on the verge of telling Vanessa his secret, I think, but he stopped and none of his friends know about him or that he was the cause of the massacre at the Inn, that’s been so much in the news.

Sir Malcolm takes Vanessa to visit a soup kitchen/homeless shelter where she meets John Clare, who is homeless after losing his job at a theater. He now works for a waxwork museum, whose owner has a blind daughter, who can’t see how ugly John is and has won his attention. Also, the owner has some nefarious purpose in mind regarding John, that involves making money off John’s unfortunate looks.

Dorian, on the other hand, now that Vanessa has forbidden him to be with her, lives a separate lifestyle from the other characters. He has fallen in with a transgender woman named Angelique. I’m waiting with suspense to find out what her secrets are. That she’s transgender is not the secret. That’s only shocking to the denizens of Victorian London, but I hope she also doesn’t turn out to be one of the witches or some other kind of supernatural creature.

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I appreciate that the writers are trying to involve Sembene in the action and dialogue a bit more this season but I dont expect a whole lot because this show is still very much a vehicle for Eva Green. But it is nice to watch him do something else besides shoot things or serve food. This time we get to watch him fight over washing dishes with Ethan. It would be nicer still if the writers felt confident enough to give him some real dialogue and a purpose. Here is  a hint writers: just write him the way you would any other character on the show.

Detective Rusk is getting closer to Ethan after the massacre at the Inn last season. The only survivor is one of the men who was the catalyst, for the massacre, in the first place. A man hired by Ethan’s father to retrieve him by any means available and take him back home.

I still wonder exactly how much Ethan knows about what he is and what he can do. At one point, the witches infiltrate Sir Malcolm’s house, to retrieve a lock of Vanessa’s hair, so that Evelyn can finish her Voodoo doll of her. The witches have the ability to blend into the background, like chameleons. Only Vanessa and Ethan are able to detect their presence. Vanessa because she’s just hyper-aware of everything and Ethan because I think he smelled Hecate. So his senses are exceptionally keen, no matter what form he’s in?

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Also, this scene is Hella creepy.

The witches manage to get Vanessa’s hair, which I still think, is a fairly elaborate way to go about doing it but it gives us several butt-shots of the witches, I guess. So there’s that. We really should get some butt-shots of Ethan, at some point. That would be much appreciated because, hey! It’s Josh Hartnett. We’ve had several butt shots of Dorian and I remain unimpressed because Twinks aren’t really my bag and I don’t think anyone wants to see Malcolm’s bottom.

The show is much more interesting than last season. It continues to be both sexy and deeply weird and creepy, like nothing else on television. There’s a concrete villain, even though her goal is somewhat nebulous. She’s  much more interesting than the Dracula we never saw, or the demonic entity that possessed Vanessa.

This season has a lot more depth and I’m looking forward to the rest of the season, when all of Victor’s  lies and deceptions start catching up with him and we get to see more of Ethan’s story about how he became a werewolf and why his father is willing to send hardened bounty hunters after him. What will Sir Malcolm do when or if he finds out about Evelyn? What will this new family do when they find out about Ethan?

Next week: I’ll be finishing up my overview of season 10 of Supernatural, binge watching Sens8, which I’m getting very excited about. Check it out on Netflix on June 5th.  And reviewing Sunday’s episode 5 of Penny Dreadful, titled Above the Vaulted Sky.