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 : Good and Evil Braided Be

 

The titles are especially apt this season. This episode we get glimpses of all the characters, most specifically their good and bad sides. Most of this episode consists of people dealing with their memories and coping with their aftermath. We find out what John has been doing, a curious setback for Vanessa and Dr. Sweet, we follow Ethan and Hecate’s travels, and our horny little immortal couple, Dorian and Lily. The episode hops around from person to person,but rather than recapping it in that manner I’m going to tell what each character was doing individually.

Ethan and Hecate:

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These two are riding around in the desert getting shot at by Rusk and his posse. Ethan wakes up in a barn and finds Hecate waiting for him to come back to his senses. She insists that the two of them have a future together, even after Ethan makes it clear that he hates her guts. (Ethan seems to hate everybody but Vanessa.) Hecate is blindly devoted to him, normally an admirable quality, but for that reason alone, she should probably come to a bad end.

She and Ethan stop to steal some horses from a small ranch, but when the owner protests this via shotgun, Hecate slits his throat and then proceeds to kill the rest of the family, too. Ethan can’t seem to do anything but watch in horror. Does that make him complicit in their deaths?

 

Kaetenay/Malcolm:

Kaetenay and Malcolm are hot on Ethan’s trail. Kaetenay tells Malcolm that if they don’t recover Ethan the destruction of the world is imminent. He even knows all about Hecate and has visions of Ethan, so  I wonder if this is just  the typical Mystical-Indian tropes or something more than that? Malcolm asks why Kaetenay needs him and susses out that maybe Ethan doesn’t  actually trust Kaetenay, no matter how lovingly K. talks about him.

He and Malcolm find the  bodies of the rancher and his family, and Kaetenay’s behavior becomes more desperate. You can tell because his attitude becomes even more snippy than usual. I am loving Wes Studi in this role. He appears to be having waaay too much fun.

Renfield/Vanessa:

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Renfield has been listening to Vanessa’s  therapy sessions which Dr. Seward has been recording. He continues to behave nervously around Vanessa, and has become so obsessed with her, that he writes her name over and over again (ala The Shining) in his journal. We also catch the classic moment when he eats a fly. This is a very juicy (pun intended) role for this actor and I hope he’s really enjoying it. Keep in mind, that what Renfield  overhears in Vanessa’s therapy sessions, will later be conveyed to Dracula, and his minions, which is something that will play out in the rest of the episode.

 

Vanessa/Dr. Seward:

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Vanessa and the Doctor argue about Vanessa’s  confessions to her in therapy, including the fact that they’ve met before. The Doctor insist that what Vanessa told her is nothing but delusions. At one point, Vanessa grabs the Doctor’s  hand and reads her tragic past. Only then does the Doctor look half convinced. Vanessa asks to be hypnotized, so she can see the part of her past that was lost to her memory, and the doctor agrees. This is something that will play out in the rest of this episode and the next.

 

John:

John (Victor’s creature) is finally back in England. He stops in Limehouse, where he finds Vanessa just standing about, but she’s actually waiting for Dr. Sweet. The two of them have a date and John is delighted to see her happy and holding hands with him.

Some of John’s memories of his human life have been returning and he’s decided to seek out the family he left behind when he died. He finds them but their situation is dire. His little boy is dying, and his wife is so poor, that she has gone to work in one of the many smokestack factories dotting the landscape of Victorian England. It’s a horribly dirty life for the two of them and John is naturally brought to tears. They were not rich when he was alive but at least he held a steady job (which we will find out at the end of the episode, exactly what that job was) and they were all relatively happy and healthy, living in Limehouse.

 

Victor/Henry:

“Good and evil braided be”, seems to be some kind of catchphrase that Victor invented because even though it sounds like a book quote, I couldn’t find that quote anywhere. (If anyone knows where that quote is from, let me know becasue my Google-Fu was no good with that phrase.) He and Henry discuss the serum Henry created and Henry relates how it only has temporary effects on his patients. Victor says he can solve that problem, simply because he is awesome.

During their conversation, Henry becomes more and more excitable, and manic, and I kept expecting him to Hulk Out  at any second, but the show is being very coy about the existence of Mr. Hyde. I do wonder if Henry has been taking the serum, but I’m not convinced, as he’s been trying to ween Victor off  morphine and him being addicted to something would be both  paradoxical and hypocritical.

Dorian/Lily:

I have no idea what Lily’s new young ward’s name is so I’m going to call her Lily 2. What happens between Dorian, Lily and Lily 2 , is the most disgusting part of the episode, which is saying something when we were just watching Renfield eat bugs.

Lily and her protege take lunch at an outdoor cafe and Lily is being coy about her plans to destroy, or take over, the world. I’m not clear on exactly what she wants to accomplish, but she disdains the efforts of the Suffragettes, who are too loud and boisterous to get anything done. I get the feeling she has no firm plans either, but it does seem to involve an army of former sex-workers, I’m guessing. It’s disturbing listening to Lily 2 talk about her abusive past. I know she must be an adult but she looks all of twelve years old. She has this dewy little face, like a baby, so its even more  disturbing when Dorian has her kill her father, later that evening,  and then the three of them have bloody sex over the corpse.

I know this was done for shock value because it went on for way too long, and I was kind of bored and kept getting distracted by the liveliness of the blood, which still looked pretty wet, right up til morning. I just kept wondering why it wasn’t getting tacky, and why  the three of them were  able to move, without getting stuck together. No, I’m not going to show a picture of them cuz…yuck!

Dr. Sweet/Vanessa:

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Honestly, this is the sweetest, cutest, most delicious relationship in the show, since we already know that Sweet is Dracula and that he’s been pursuing Vanessa for years. We already know that his endgame is for her to become his bride, to that end, we get to watch him actually trying to woo her, and he’s fairly successful at it. Hell, I love the guy, even knowing who he is and that he’s a big fat liar.

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The two of them meet in Limehouse because Sweet asked Vanessa out this time. (For their first date, Vanessa had asked him.) So, the two of them have been regularly seeing each other. At one point he tells her she’s beautiful, in a kind of off-hand way, that makes Vanessa smile, and he holds her hand when they visit the house of mirrors. So even though he is evil personified, he is doing everything right that you do on a date, and I wonder where he got his skills cuz I would totally date this guy, (except for the whole, “he’s a lying bloodsucking fiend, who has been spying on me” thing.)

Based on the things Vanessa told Dr. Seward, Dracula spins her a sob story about how he’s also in mourning for his lost wife. (I have no idea if this is a real story, or one he made up to win her sympathies, but I suspect its a lie.)

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At the House of Mirrors, Vanessa is approached by one of Dracula’s minions, who has been following them all evening. He insinuates that Dracula is very close by (well, yeah!) and that she’s met him  before, in the place of her lost memories and Vanessa is very shaken by this. She was trying to leave her past behind, with Dr. Seward’s help, but it just won’t leave her alone. She abruptly breaks off her date with Sweet ad tells him she can’t ever be with him.

Sweet doesn’t like this shit at all. He has been working really hard for possibly weeks, months even,  to woo this woman, slowly and very, very carefully, winning her trust, getting her to like him, bringing her out of her shell, and enjoy his company, and its all been completely undone. Now he’s got to try some other tactic to get close to Vanessa and he doesn’t like that one bit.

When he figures out that it was his own minion, who undid all his hard work, he has his other minions eat him.

Vanessa undergoes a hypnosis session with Seward which reveals she spent some time in a padded room at an insane asylum, and that one of her orderlies was John.

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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 : 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?

Penny Dreadful: Glorious Horror

Well, not much happened and yet a lot happened. There was serious ratcheting up of the tension, as friends and rivals circle closer and closer to each other, and to a final showdown, of some kind. This episode takes place in the immediate aftermath of last weeks episode.

Everyone gets up the next morning and, right away, they start working on the culmination of all this drama. Mme. Kali takes a lock of Sir Malcolm’s hair, so she can finish up her voodoo doll of him. She’s taken his blood and hair, so he’s pretty much her beeyotch for the rest of the season. I wonder what is the outcome of all this maneuvering? Is she just doing this for her own entertainment? To hurt Vanessa? So, its dolls all around, I guess. Meanwhile her daughter Hecate makes her own quiet plans to usurp her mother’s authority.

Malcolm wakes up smiling, happy and complacent, exactly the way Kali wants him, and then continues to behave like a brain removal patient for the rest of the episode, leading all of the other characters to question  his mental status.  Especially after he remains  completely unbothered by the news of his wife’s horrific suicide, only remarking on how he’ll need to change the carpeting in the house. Now, that’s some cold shit and all the characters seem to understand that, especially Sembene, who was present at the death of Sir Malcolm’s son, and knows this reaction is just all kinds of wrong.

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Victor, after sleeping with BronaLilly, realizes its a bad, bad thing he just did, and that John is going to beat his ass, when he finds out about it. Not if. When. Because that’s how this show rolls.

Dorian wakes up and decides to throw a grand ball, as a coming out party for his new paramour, Angeligue. I can’t help but think that the only reason he is so smitten with her is because he has a fetish for her uniqueness, and as soon as Angelique’s novelty wears off, she’ll be kicked to the curb. I think Angelique knows this, having been kicked to the curb, after use,  several times before. And I think we’ve already established that Victorian Englishmen are not gentlemen. Will she find out Dorian’s secret? How will she react when she does? Not if, but when.

Vanessa confronts Victor about his love for his “cousin”. She mentions  her friend, John Clare and Victor puts two and two together and realizes just how little she knows about what he gets up to when he’s on his own. Victor’s got nothing but secrets. I guess that makes up for his lack of character. If he engaged in less deception or had better people skills, maybe he wouldn’t have so many.

Dorian stops by the house to issue an invitation to the ball and Vanessa says yes. She attends, unescorted, when Ethan, who has much larger issues to attend to, turns her down.

Ethan ran into Rusk at the Wax Museum where John Clare works. The Museum has put on a showing of the massacre at the Inn, where he used to live, and Rusk confronts him about it again. They do that little verbal dance, that I enjoyed so much in the last episode, where Rusk keeps throwing chum in the water and Ethan keeps nimbly dodging the bait.

John Clare and the blind sculptress at the museum are  edging closer to being friends, when she realizes that there’s something very wrong with him because he has clammy hands. This frightens her and she confesses her misgivings to her employer.

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Ethan is also visited by the bounty hunter who survived the massacre, and he threatens to slit the throats of all the members of the household, late one night.  I just had to raise my eyebrows at that because  part of me was saying, “I wish he would! He don’t know who he’s messin’ with.”  If he tried something, he’d be in for a  surprise. Nobody in that house is a pushover. Okay, maybe Malcolm is. But, as far as I can tell, Sembene never sleeps  and Vanessa could probably make him burst into flames with a sharp look. So, yeah, right dude!

So, everyone who is anyone, is invited to the ball. Ethan and Sembene are the only ones who don’t attend. The two of them have bigger concerns. For a household that’s supposed to be under siege, everyone is very lax in their safety. It’s like they’ve completely forgotten about the recent home invasion, and the house battening and sage burning of the last episode.

Victor and Lilly show up and Lilly thinks she remembers being in that house. Dorian meets her and is intrigued by his own feelings of déjà vu. He’s had so many sexual partners, what’s one long absent,  consumptive, whore. Of course he can’t remember her, but he wants to. This exposes the first chink in Angelique’s armor. She’s very jealous of Dorian’s attention to this sweet, shy, fragile looking, and cis-gender, blonde. How is this jealousy going to play out later, if at all? The writers keep introducing new plot threads and resolving none of them.

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Lyle tries to talk Hecate out of whatever she plans to do to Vanessa that evening. And then  tries to talk Vanessa into going home. I’m pretty sure Vanessa knows about Angelique’s gender status. Her reaction to meeting her was very interesting. I didn’t see that coming and I wonder if it will have any meaning in the future. Or maybe she was reacting to something else about Angelique, that we don’t know.

Hell, if I know.

Mme. Kali arrives with Mlacolm and she and Vanessa exchange some sugar coated barbs. Instant antipathy between the two of them, was not at all surprising. Before she can leave, Vanessa is approached by the other witches and hallucinates a blood rain before losing consciousness. It’s one of the most striking scenes  I’ve ever seen in the show. I’m not sure if this is a result of Vanessa’s precognitive abilities or if the witches sent her this vision.

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That evening Ethan approaches Sembene with a request. He tells him he needs  to be locked in irons and watched carefully. That no matter what happens, he is not to set him free or leave. Puzzled by this request, but willing to go along, probably becasue Ethan is one of the few people I’ve actually seen speaking to him, he is surprised and horrified to see Ethan turn into a werewolf.

We’re halfway through the season and the plot is moving so very slowly. I have no clue where any of these plot threads are heading, although I can see the slow convergence of all the characters. I’m starting to suspect that the writers are either  stalling for  time or just winging it. Do they have any idea how they’re going to wrap all of this up?

Stay tuned to find out.

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.