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May the Lost Souls Be Found: Penny Dreadful, season 3 episode 7, “Ebb Tide,” Review and Recap

Spoilers:
Dark, Dreadful, Delish

“Ebb Tide,” the 7th episode of Showtime’s deliciously dark homage to Victorian horror literature Penny Dreadful, created and written by John Logan, left viewers breathless as it rushed down the strait, shadowy corridors toward its 2-episode, season 3 finale (Sunday 19 June). Virtually everyone was in danger, and because at least one of the storylines was neatly (and happily) tied up — without the show’s being renewed for a 4th season — I fear that the series, not just the season, may be coming to an end.

John Clare
aka The Creature
aka The Orderly

John Clare (Rory Kinnear), also known, this season, as the Orderly from the Banning Clinic, and as Frankenstein’s first Creature, visited Vanessa Ives last night, telling her he was in need of a friend. He told her he’d found his family but feared that they would reject him, given his appearance “from the accident.” Vanessa was as loving and accepting as she always is: she told him she saw the man he is inside, and urged him to give his family a chance to take him back into their lives. She also revealed that she knew the scarred man before her is the same man who was the Orderly at the Clinic. John Clare did not recall her from the time in the clinic, nor did he recall the clinic, but she assured him that he had been good to her and that she loved him for it. It was typical non-demon-possessed Vanessa: loving and accepting of the shunned, the different, the alienated.

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Part of Clare’s fear regarding his family was his own looks. Part of it was his son’s reaction from last episode: while Clare cared for the consumptive boy, who had his eyes closed, the boy spoke affectionately and longingly to his father. When the boy opened his eyes, however, he began to scream, causing Clare to run out into the streets, into an alley, where he grieved.

(These scenes as the Creature, along with those of Kinnear as the Orderly who is possessed by both Lucifer and Dracula as they attempt to seduce Vanessa, should, at the very least, garner Kinnear some award nominations. He is consistently strong and powerful in this role.)

Last night, after what seemed like hesitation but what ultimately may have been disbelief and shock, Clare’s wife threw her arms around Clare and hugged him tightly. She listened to his story, then assured him that he was the same man she had always loved. He told her he’d done things that were cruel and unnecessary — out of rage — but she said that he was now back home. Then she took him to the flat and told their son, Jake, that someone had come to visit, to stay, and Clare entered the room. The boy was silent and wide-eyed for a while, but when Clare knelt and helped with the model-ship, the boy grasped his hand, then hugged him. Clare was moved to tears, though this time from happiness over the love and acceptance of his family.

I was moved to tears, too (though it’s this happy ending for one of creator-writer Logan’s favorite characters that makes me fear, along with the fact that season 4 of Penny Dreadful has not been announced, that this may be the final season of the series).

Lily, Dorian,
Frankenstein, & Jekyll

Billie Piper has really come into her own since she was “transformed” from Brona to Lily. As Brona, she only had a relatively small part — as the consumptive lover of Ethan, as the presumptive bride-to-be of Frankenstein. As the re-animated Lily, Billie has been able to embody female rage at societal restrictions and at males’ abuse of females. Billie Piper may join Eva Green in the Emmy and Golden Globe nominations this season.

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Over at La Maison Gray, Lily (Billie Piper) gave the entire graduating class of Whore University their first “world experience” assignment: find “a bad man” and cut off his right hand. Dorian looked mighty uncomfortable as all the whores cheered.

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Next scene with the group, the women were “blood-drunk” and having an orgy,

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while a pile of bloody hands was shown on the table. Dorian seemed repulsed, though that may not be the right word for the look on his face, since he’s not a man who is easily revolted. Justine (Jessica Barden) asked him for a dance, which he declined, then taunted him about his manners, which are always perfect and upper-class.

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Dorian confronted her and eventually grabbed her throat; he told her that she was just learning the language of violence but he’d written the book on it; he called her “Kitten” and told her that if she wanted to play with him, she’d better show him her claws.

Since Dorian has his portrait to help him maintain immortality, Justine will not be able to defeat him. If she tries to kill him, it will just make a wound in the portrait, which viewers rarely get to see anyway, and which I know more about from the novel on which Dorian’s character is based than on the show itself. Take my word for it, however: the hidden portrait is the secret of Dorian’s longevity, beauty, and disdain for the rest of the world. I don’t believe Lily knows about it. Justine certainly doesn’t. If she did, she wouldn’t waste her time threatening Dorian: she’d just destroy the portrait, which would kill Dorian.

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Later, walking with Lily, Dorian told her that he was bored with her “revolution,” having been through so many of them before, and that one of them “had to change.” Then a carriage stopped and out jumped Victor Frankenstein (Harry Treadaway, below R) with Jekyll (Shazad Latif, below L) driving.

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Dorian seemed to be doing just another break-up with one of the women in his life, but he was actually helping Frankenstein and Jekyll kidnap Lily and take her to Bedlam. When she recovered consciousness, she was understandably frightened, and that was before she discovered that she was chained by the ankle. Bedlam (St. Bethlehem’s) is such a frightening institution that even Americans know what “Bedlam” stands for: insanity, imprisonment, no escape. Lily was reduced to “rebelling” by calling Dorian the nastiest name she could think of for a man, which he found amusing. Then the Boys told her they were going to “cure her, make her well, restore her,” etc.

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With fear on her face, Lily asked them what they were going to make her “better than,” and told Victor again that he had been the happy one in their relationship: not both of them, i.e., not Lily herself. They ended the scene with the nightmare-words heard by every woman who has ever not fit into society’s prescribed female role: we’re going to make you a proper lady.

Nightmare-City, Lil.

Ethan, Sir Malcolm,
& Kaetenay

Back in the Spanish-desert-pretending-to-be-the-American-Southwest, Ethan (Josh Hartnett), no longer dressed like Zorro but now going hatless in the desert heat, and his Apache surrogate father Kaetenay (Wes Studi), also hatless, argued about whether or not Ethan was “done with Hell.” Ethan claimed that he was, but Kaetenay informed Ethan that Hell wasn’t done with him. It was one of the better lines of the evening.

Then Kaetenay proved his status as the current season’s Wise Old Man archetype by falling back against a fence and having a vision.

A vision of Vanessa, whom he doesn’t even know.

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In the vision, Kaetenay saw Ethan return to Vanessa, whom he loves, as he informed Kaetenay last night. (And viewers finally got to see the much-anticipated “reunion” of Ethanessa: these photos have been circulating the ‘Net since before the series began its third season.)

The doomed couple’s feelings for each other are still strong.

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However, when Ethan went to Vanessa in the vision, though they love each other, she told him it was “too late.” Then the Lost Boys broke through the windows of Sir Malcolm’s mansion, where Vanessa is now living alone.

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That first vision was involuntary. Once Sir Malcolm (Timothy Dalton, below, background), Ethan, and Kaetenay were on the ship, Kaetenay induced a vision with his “bones” and “trinkets.”

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In this vision, Kaetenay himself was with Vanessa. At first, he seemed to want to help her.

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Then he called her a few TV-MA-rated words, saying that he loved her for who she was. That seems to be Vanessa’s theme song this season, although it may have always been her tune.

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In any event, Kaetenay ended the vision by saying that he knew Vanessa was made for the “day,” not for the night. Her eyes turned red like the vampire-Creature’s as she told him he was mistaken.

Kaetenay was freaked by the vision. He told Malcolm to get the Captain to hurry up, ’cause, you know, if you have a boatload of monies, you can get a ship to go faster across the Atlantic…

Anyhow, while Kaetenay was taking a post-vision nap in the cabin, Sir Malcolm (Timothy Dalton) and Ethan got caught up on some surrogate-father-son bonding, each revealing that they now feel themselves family to each other. It was a touching moment, but it made me wonder which one of them is going to get killed in the finale.

Not that I want to lose either of them: Ethan is, after all, the Lupus Dei, the Hound of God that protects Vanessa from Lucifer and Dracula, as well as an important component of Ethanessa; and Malcolm is, well, he’s played by Timothy Dalton, the only really sexy man my age on the show… sigh…

Vanessa & Dracula et al

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 In addition to appearing in Kaetenay’s visions, Vanessa was briefly mentioned by Dr. Seward (Patti LuPone), who was listening to the recordings made while Vanessa was hypnotized. Seward thought she was alone in the office at night, but Renfield (Samuel Barnett), in a super-spooky scene, appeared at the doorway.

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After Seward claimed that Vanessa was a multiple personality — in a serious breech of professional ethics, even if it was a new field –Renfield startled Seward with his creepy, non-sensical talk (à la the Lost Boy who cornered Vanessa in the Hall of Mirrors and told her that the Master had already visited her in the White Room).

If Dr. Seward is more than she seems to be, or if she has any of her “ancestor” Joan Clayton the Cut-Wife in her, Seward better do something quick, or Renfield is going to have her as his “sweetie,” and I don’t mean in the metaphorical or romantic sense, but in the same way as he meant when he asked Dracula for some “sweeties” and gorged himself, with Dracula’s permission, on the body of the dead man hanging in the warehouse.

The actor playing Renfield doesn’t have much of a part, but Barnett does a super-creepy job with his few scenes. Renfield is traditionally portrayed as deranged — that’s how he is after his encounter with Dracula in the Bram Stoker novel — and Penny Dreadful’s Renfield seemed to be going that direction earlier this season when he was sitting at his desk, writing Vanessa over and over and over, right before he snatched up and fly and crammed it into his mouth. Last night’s episode let the actor revel in the creepity-creeps while still acting scared bloodless himself by the appearance of his Master, Dracula. Renfield crawled up to the sleeping Vanessa (Eva Green), posed like Sleeping Beauty on a Victorian Fainting Couch in the Museum, licked her neck, then appeared to be about to bite her with his baby vampire teeth…

But wait…

Who’s that creeping up behind you, Renfield?

 A not too happy Dracula, still in the guise of Dr. Sweet (Christian Camargo).

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I gotta tellya, having grown up in the fang-baring, cape-as-bat-wings, bug-eyed era of Dracula (Bela Lugosi, in his iconic role, below),

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I’m fascinated by Camargo’s performance as the Master of all Darkness on the face of the earth. He rarely raises his voice, only occasionally tosses minions across rooms, and seldom is seen is the presence of extremely-recently-dead creatures. Furthermore, when the recently dead animals are human, this Master of Darkness on the earth is not feeding on the humans himself: instead, he’s talking about Vanessa.

No matter what the love-of-his-undead-life Vanessa tells him, like that “a Creature” is seeking her for his bride,

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Camargo doesn’t blink an eye.

Metaphorically, that is.

And his sexier-than-dark-chocolate voice is super-duper-calm when he asks her quasi-outré things (that he already knows the answer to), like, “And does this Creature have a name?

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Yowza!

This is why I’m a writer and not an actor. How does Camargo do it? I don’t have a clue, but he’s really spooky good at it, my lovely Dreadfuls. With writer John Logan’s script as the basis, Camargo has totally re-invented Dracula and put new spin on the spook factor.

But back to “Ebb Tide”…

Eva Green as Vanessa Ives and Samuel Barnett as Renfield in Penny Dreadful (season 3, episode 7). - Photo: Patrick Redmond/SHOWTIME - Photo ID: PennyDreadful_307_0478

Renfield was doing the kissy-neck on Sleeping Beauty when Dracula (Christian Camargo) walked in behind Renfield, grabbed him by the throat, lifted him off the ground — just enough to let the minion know that the Master was none too happy about the physical-sexual intimacy with the Girl of his dreams — and, while holding Renfield by the throat, Dracula ever so slightly shook his head in warning.

You can bet Renfield took off as soon as Dracula released him.

Then Dracula played the lovey-dovey-sweetie role for Vanessa, who said he was “too good” to her, to which Dracula-Sweetie replied, “I hope you’ll always think that.”

Poor girl.

Reeled in by the very best of them.

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Back at Sir Malcolm’s Manse, Vanessa has been doing all this research on Dracula, which the thanatologist Catriona Hartdegen (Perdita Weeks) dismisses as superstition, myth, literature, and a lot like “reading the Bible for history.”

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Cat  then told Van that Dracula would be “unexceptionable” so that he would, in effect, blend in. I mis-heard that line originally, thinking she said “unremarkable,” and it made me laugh since Camargo as Sweet-Dracula is most decidedly not “unremarkable looking.” His eyes alone are “remarkable,”

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and his voice is unusual enough to make him stand out.

Note: When I watched “Ebb Tide”  for the third time, I realized that Cat said “unexceptional” rather than “unremarkable.” I tried to think only of the character instead of the actor playing Dracula. Is the Director of the Natural History Museum “unexceptional”? I understand what Cat was trying to tell Vanessa, but it seemed an odd choice of words: whether it’s “unexceptional” or understood as “unremarkable:” Cat was telling Vanessa that Dracula will blend in. (Okay, perhaps it’s being picky, but when things bounce out at you like that, it means that something is “off,” whether or not you originally mis-heard the line. Thus, my reaction to the line.) End Note.

That issue aside, when Cat tells Vanessa that Dracula will “live among the Night Creatures,” you can bet she recalls that Dr. Sweet is preparing an exhibition of the Night Creatures — how can she forget since that’s where the two of them made passionate love and spent the night together?

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Now Vanessa knows that Dr. Sweet and Dracula — the mild-mannered milquetoast who kept forgetting her name, and the Dark Master of the earthly realm who has been seeking her — are one and the same. Armed in a low-cut gown and sporting a pistol, Vanessa returns to the museum to confront Sweet.

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He’s waiting for her.

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She makes the mistake that far too many people with pistols in dramas make: she doesn’t go ahead and shoot. She talks to him first. She tells him how hurt she is, how truly cruel he is (even more so than she ever imagined he would be), how he twisted her heart, blah blah blah. 

First mistake in drama when a character has a pistol: too much talk.

Then Vanessa makes an even more serious mistake: she lets him talk.

Oh, Vanessa, when will you learn not to listen to the Darkness?

Of course, he tells everything she wants to hear.

He tells her everything she’s always wanted to hear.

He loves her just as she is, how he doesn’t want her to change for him, how he doesn’t want her to be as society-family-doctors expect her to be, how he doesn’t even want her to be good, how he wants her just the way she is.

He admits that he was “seeking” her, but insists that he fell in love instead.

He doesn’t want her to “serve him” — instead, he wants to “serve” her, as the Mother of All Darkness…

Oy, vey, what red-blooded woman could resist?

Even if their union would start the Apocalypse.

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Meanwhile, with every line, he’s walking closer and closer.

She points the gun at him.

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He tells her to go ahead and shoot, saying something like, if he can’t have her the way he wants, then what’s the point of living any longer?

Does she shoot him?

No, she does not.

Instead, she lets him get even closer, like this.

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He keeps right on talking in that sexy-smooth totally “unexceptional” (cough, cough) voice that he has, telling her that she’s all he’s ever wanted, and that he only wants her just the way she is. He tells her that she will never be alone again. He says he will love her until “time ceases to exist.”

He keeps talking in that unexceptional voice until she’s like this:

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“Do you accept me?” he says.

“I accept,” she says, “myself.”

Dracula bares his teeth and bites her neck.

Vanessa’s voice comes over the two of them — as they stand there in some sort of erotic ecstasy — saying something about the end of life-as-we-know-it on earth and all the Darkness in the universe settling on the face of the world or something very like that.

If Logan had made that the cliff-hanger, I would’ve gone berserkers.

Fortunately, though season 4 of Penny Dreadful has not yet been announced and though the Creature’s storyline seems to have closed for all time and on a happy note, we have at least one more, 2-hour, season finale episode remaining.

Be there, my Dreadfuls, or be very scared.

Related Posts

Loving the Darkness:
Penny Dreadful, Season 3, Episodes 5-6,
Review and Recap

Embracing the Darkness:
Penny Dreadful, Season 3, Episode 4,
Review and Recap of “A Blade of Grass”

No Mercy Anywhere:
Penny Dreadful, season 3 episode 4,
“Good and Evil Braided Be,”
Review and Recap

Behind the Masks:
Penny Dreadful, Season 3, Episode 2,
“Predators Far and Near,”
Review and Recap

All the Unloved Ones:
Penny Dreadful, Season 3 Premiere,
“The Day Tennyson Died,”
Review and Recap

When Lucifer Fell:
My Penny Dreadful Blogs,
Seasons 1-2, Review and Recap

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Embracing the Darkness: Penny Dreadful s3e4, Review & Recap “A Blade of Grass”

Spoilers,
Most Dreadful

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Viewers of Showtime’s Penny Dreadful, created and written by John Logan, were treated to an acting tour de force in “A Blade of Grass.” Despite the episode’s rather innocuous name, which made me think more of poet Walt Whitman than of any of the Victorian horror writers whose work is featured and imaginatively re-invented on the show, the third season returned to Vanessa Ives’ past once again. And what a scary return it was.

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As in season 1 episode 5, “Closer than Sisters,” we were given another glimpse into Dr. Christopher Banning’s Clinic for those suffering from psychiatric maladies, which really meant for women, especially, who’d done something society disapproved of, or who didn’t fit in. After Vanessa (Eva Green, above L) seduced her best friend’s fiancé on the eve of their wedding, losing her friendship and destroying the relationship between the two families, Vanessa’s parents put her into the clinic, not knowing what else to do.

Viewers already knew some of what had happened to Vanessa there, and it was horrifying.

What viewers didn’t know — ostensibly because Vanessa had repressed the memories of it — was that she had met the evil “Master” while in “the white room” at the clinic. Told this by one of the Lost Boys in an earlier episode this season,

Vanessa insisted that Dr. Seward (Patti LuPone, below L) hypnotize her so that she could remember the events in the white room: a padded cell.

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The first thing Vanessa recalled was that she was alone there in the white room.

Except for the orderly who’d brought her the food.

So, the first shock the viewers got was at the end of the previous episode, when the Orderly with the food turned out to be Frankenstein’s Creature, also called John Clare in season 2.

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Since Penny Dreadful had been showing us images of actor Rory Kinnear, who plays the Creature, without his creature-makeup, with his family before he died and was transformed into Frankenstein’s Creature, we knew what he looked like.

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Though Vanessa had a relationship of sorts with John Clare in the second season, she could not have recognized him as the Orderly since she would have known the Orderly before she helped serve meals to the homeless, which is where she met John Clare.

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I feared that Vanessa was going to kill the Orderly, if only because she gets violent when she’s being hunted by the Master, and because we know that Rory Kinnear’s character has to have died in order for Frankenstein to have had his corpse available to re-animate it into his first Creature.

While Vanessa did attack the Orderly, who never gave his name since it was “against regulations,” and he briefly gave us a glimpse of his underlying violence by making a fist after she jumped him,

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he kept himself under control.

And she didn’t kill him.

Yet.

Whew.

Still, the chemistry between Green and Kinnear, who had virtually the entire episode to themselves, set the screen on fire.

First the Orderly just wanted Vanessa to eat. So there wouldn’t be consequences. Which meant so he wouldn’t have to put a tube down her throat to force-feed her. (It was a most dreadful scene, and had me grabbing my own throat protectively.)

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He gave her a blanket when she was shivering on the floor of the padded cell after the “hydro-therapy” (though he had to take it away from her in the morning before he left).

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He took the gag out of her mouth,

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and put some of his wife’s makeup on Vanessa, following his wife’s instructions.

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He fed her with a wooden spoon he’d brought from home; he read poetry to her from a book that someone gave his family after his son was born.

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He resisted her when she took off her gown and tried to seduce him, although he did begin to return her kisses and put his arms around her.

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Altogether, the Orderly appears to have been the most humane and decent person in the Banning Clinic. This fits with his character even as the Creature, who is consistently one of the most humane and decent characters in Penny Dreadful, despite his technically being a monster.

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With the help of the Orderly, who admitted that he loved her at the end of the episode, after telling her that he was no longer going to work there — with the implication being that he wouldn’t be able to bear to see her after the “brain surgery” which might make her a vegetable — Vanessa learned to be kinder.

To him.

To herself.

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The development of the relationship between the Orderly and Vanessa alone was worth an entire episode. But viewers got even more than they’d bargained for.

Throughout the episode, Dr. Seward’s voice — then Dr. Seward herself — came into Vanessa’s memories. Sometimes, Dr. Seward simply questioned Vanessa, e.g., asking her why she had wanted to starve herself.

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At other times, more poignantly, Vanessa begged to be brought out of the hypnotic trance, and Dr. Seward told Vanessa she was in a “fugue state,” from which Dr. Seward, who had even burned Vanessa on the back of the hand with a cigarette, could not awaken her.

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Each time Dr. Seward was with Vanessa, the two of them were physically closer, symbolic of Dr. Seward’s dropping her professional distance and becoming emotionally closer to Vanessa.

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At one point, they even grasped hands, indicating that Dr. Seward is in this with Vanessa in her distress and despair.

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Then  Dr. Seward asked Vanessa what her “friend, Joan Clayton, the Cut-Wife” would have said to Vanessa if she had been in the White Room with her. “Be true,” said Vanessa, as she laid her head on Dr. Seward’s leg. Dr. Seward stroked Vanessa’s face, comforting her physically, while she comforted her emotionally with Joan Clayton’s words, “Be true.” Dr. Seward told Vanessa that the two of them would get through this emotionally traumatizing event together.

It’s the most human and vulnerable Dr. Seward has even been in Vanessa’s presence.

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But creator-writer wasn’t done with the scenes between actors Green and Kinnear. After the Orderly offered to try and help Vanessa by simply listening to her, their relationship exploded in completely unexpected ways.

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Initially, when she told the Orderly that she’d been chosen by Lucifer, she said she couldn’t talk to him about it because the Orderly didn’t even believe in God. He suggested that she tell him anyway. When he asked why Lucifer would have chosen her, she explained that God had abandoned her, that she had done bad things to the people she loved (like her best friend Mina), and that she hadn’t resisted Lucifer and his evil attraction hard enough.

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Vanessa then asked the Orderly, “If you were Lucifer, why would you want me?” In a moment so brief that some viewers missed it the first time around, the Orderly’s eyes turned black, and his voice deepened slightly as he told Vanessa that he would want her “because [he] loved her.”

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Understandably, Vanessa freaked. He continued speaking to her. As Lucifer.

This time, the Master was more direct.

Give-me-your-name.

When she asked what his name was, he told her that her favorite, of all his names, was “Lucifer.” While she cowered in the opposite corner, he spread his arms wide and told her he wanted her he wanted her to embrace him.

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His shadow turned into a giant snake and wrapped itself around Vanessa.

Holy-moly.

Talk about the serpent in the Garden.

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In a super-creepy scene, he got down on the floor of the padded room, and, like some sort of snake or scorpion, crawled toward Vanessa — who crawled toward him in the same way.

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While he regaled her with “visions” of their being together long ago in the past, and with visions of what it would be like if they were together now, the two actors contorted their bodies in a pose that mimicked the Yoga “Cobra” before grasping each other’s hands in a sort of ecstasy.

It was the creepity-creeps and the shivery shivers, my lovely Dreadfuls,

And if that weren’t enough to scare the bejesus out of Vanessa, the Master appeared in his other guise — as his twin brother  — and tried to seduce her.

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When she asked what name she should call him, he told her: “I am the Demon. I am the Dragon. My name is Dracula.”

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As the two brothers argued over her in that claustrophobia-inducing white room — one wants her physically, the other wants her spiritually — Vanessa figured out what the other characters in the show determined from the “puzzle” last season.

They are brothers.

They are two of the fallen angels who were ostensibly cast out by God from heaven: two brother angels who seemed to have led the rebellion against God (originally, this concept of Lucifer rebelling against God and being cast out of Heaven appeared in John Milton’s Paradise Lost, 1674).

In Penny Dreadful, one rebellious bother-angel was cast to Hell: his name is Lucifer.

The other rebel-brother-angel was cast to earth, to reign in darkness and to feed off humans and their blood: his name is Dracula.

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Though viewers know that Dracula is also the milquetoast Dr. Sweet (Christian Camargo), whom Vanessa believes that she has been courting, Vanessa herself does not yet know that Dr. Sweet is, in reality, Dracula.

Therefore, in the fourth episode of this season, when Dracula appeared to Vanessa in the White Room, he had the face and body of “his brother” Lucifer, who had the face and body of the Orderly.

Dr. Seward insisted that Vanessa was putting the Orderly’s face on Lucifer — and thus, on Dracula — because it was the only face she recalled from the White Room.

That didn’t make those scenes between Eva Green and Rory Kinnear any less spooky and hair-raising, you can bet on that.

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Then the scene snapped to the Orderly, sitting in the chair beside the bed, asking Vanessa why Lucifer would want her. This could lead viewers — and Vanessa herself — to believe that all the visits from Lucifer and from Dracula were nothing more than Vanessa’s imagination. Though other characters in the series have seen her levitate, heard her speak in tongues, and listened in shock while she revealed very private things about their own lives to them, no one, as far as I can recall, has actually seen Lucifer other than Vanessa. Renfield and the Lost Boys have seen Dracula, but when he was played by Christian Camargo.

In the White Room, having the same actor play both Lucifer and Dracula — and play the Orderly who “nourished” inmate Vanessa physically and emotionally, besides — was a coup on the part of creator John Logan. That way, Vanessa does not know whether or not she has imagined the visitation. The viewers don’t know about Lucifer, but we know that if Dracula did come to her in the White Room, he looked different from how he appears as Dr. Sweet. So, what does he really look like?

While Vanessa may know that both Dracula and Lucifer want her to be the Bride, but she still doesn’t know who Dracula is, although he was revealed to viewers at the end of the second episode. Neither Vanessa nor the viewers know what Lucifer himself looks like.

We got the names, but we don’t got the faces.

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Still, our Vanessa is one feisty little thing.

She threatened both Dracula and Lucifer.

She told them they didn’t know evil at all.

Then she started her speaking-in-tongues routine and levitated right up off the floor.

The evil, fallen-angel brothers seemed awed.

Viewers were understandably awed by the fact that entire episode, featuring only two actors for about 95% of the show, was as frightening and breath-taking as any of the more violent scenes, as any of the scenes with Creatures and monsters, as any of the previous scenes concerning the Banning Clinic and psychiatric “therapy.”

Polish up those Golden Globes and Emmys, Hollywood.

We believe in curses. We believe in demons. We believe in monsters. We believe that Eva Green (Vanessa) and Rory Kinnear (the Creature, John Clare, the Orderly) deserve to win both awards this season.

Each.

Oh, and get one ready for writer John Logan while you’re at it.

Related Posts

No Mercy Anywhere:
Penny Dreadful, s3 e4

Behind the Masks:
Penny Dreadful, Season 3, Episode 2,
“Predators Far and Near”

All the Unloved Ones:
Penny Dreadful, Season 3 Premiere

When Lucifer Fell:
My Penny Dreadful Blogs,
Seasons 1-2

Leave a Comment

Filed under Actors, Authors, Books, Horror, Movies/Television, Penny Dreadful, Recap, Review, Videos

No Mercy Anywhere: Penny Dreadful s3 e3, Review & Recap

Spoilers, Most Dreadful

Despite its tongue-twisting title, “Good and Evil Braided Be,” episode 3 of Showtime’s popular Penny Dreadful continues to demonstrate strong writing, by creator John Logan, and acting, by all the principals, as it ramps up the intensity and the blood-spill. Viewers learned more about characters’ secrets, characters learned more about themselves and their pasts, and characters spilled blood galore — and reveled in it.

Ethan & Hecate

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The witch Hecate Poole (Sarah Greene) is gravely mistaken if she thinks she will win Wolf-Man Ethan’s (Josh Harnett) heart by committing more atrocities than he does. After all, by the very nature of his curse, Ethan doesn’t consciously choose to be evil and massacre people. In fact, during all of the first season of Penny Dreadful, Ethan didn’t even realize that he was a werewolf, though he did acknowledge that there was a string of dead bodies at his back, and he assumed that he was responsible for them. It wasn’t till season 2, when Ethan asked Sembene (Danny Sapani) to watch over him — as he was chained to the basement wall during the first night of the full moon — that Ethan finally discovered what happens to him during his blackouts. Still, despite being a Were-Wolf or a Wolf-Man, whichever you prefer, Ethan has consistently been one of the few characters in Penny Dreadful who seems to consistently have a conscience.

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Though Hecate helped Ethan escape from the men his father hired to kidnap him and bring him home to Talbot Range, Hecate seems to be completely misinterpreting Ethan’s character. In episode 3, after she’d slaughtered a small rancher and his wife, she told Ethan that, essentially, the two of them were the same kind of people. I guess she missed the look on Ethan’s face as he stared up at her over the body of the murdered rancher. Ethan obviously recognizes that his killing people during his wolfman-induced-blackouts is not the same as consciously killing innocent people, as Hecate does. She seems to believe that the two of them are soul-mates, and insisted that she is trying to bring out his true nature.

Ethan seems unconvinced.

And extremely wary.

Sir Malcolm & Kaetenay

Sir Malcolm (Timothy Dalton) and the Apache Kaetenay (Wes Studi) arrived in the American West, where they are hot on the trail of Ethan, whom they now suspect is not traveling alone. Finding the dead bodies, Malcolm remarks that such atrocities could not have been committed by the Ethan Chandler that he knows. Kaetenay remarks that, no matter what kind of person Ethan may have been in the past, Sir Malcolm and Kaetenay are morally bound to destroy the evil creature that he may have become.

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That makes viewers, again, question Kaetenay’s role in this search for Ethan.

Kaetenay has already proven himself unreliable by not revealing to Sir Malcolm the animosity that exists between the Apache and Ethan (which viewers know from the vision of Kaetenay and Ethan in the desert). Even after Sir Malcolm confronted Kaetenay on the train, questioning why Kaetenay needs Malcolm’s help, Kaetenay claimed only that Ethan trusted Malcolm more. From Ethan’s vision-behavior, I’m guessing that Ethan doesn’t trust Kaetenay at all. But he’s keeping this secret from Malcolm to get to Ethan. We don’t know what Kaetenay wants from Ethan: the Apache guide claims to be his spiritual or surrogate father, along with Sir Malcolm, but also continually says that he and Malcolm are obligated to destroy Ethan.

Malcolm doesn’t seem to believe Kaetenay. That’s reasonable, given that Sir Malcolm is a man who “murdered and raped” his way across the African continent — according to Vanessa in one of her trance-induced episodes of revealing other characters’ lives to them — so he doesn’t seem the sort to blindly accept everything Kaetenay is telling him. Malcolm already questioned Kaetenay while they were on the train, although Malcolm later defended him from ignorant cowboys who insisted that “Indians ride with the luggage.”

It seems that Sir Malcolm is as wary of his traveling companion as Ethan is of his.

The Creature,
aka John Clare

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Frankenstein’s first Creature (Rory Kinnear), who was using the name John Clare last season, is looking to his past this season. Having had a glimpse of his family while on the ship in the premiere, he returned to London in last night episode. Finding the predominantly Chinese neighborhood where he and his family rented lodgings — and briefly glimpsing Vanessa and Dr. Sweet together on the streets — Clare went into the room he shared with his family. Then he set off in search of them. He found his wife and son, who is dying from consumption, in another rented room, spied on them from above (in a homage to the novel, where the Creature spies on a family from an adjoining structure), wept at their condition, then stole a watch from a rich man, and left it for the wife to find.

John Clare, previously called The Creature, has often been more humane and decent than most of the human characters in the series. Last night, his weeping over his wife and son, as he himself remained hidden from them, revealed his suffering. At this point, viewers are still not aware of how John Clare died in the first place: only that Frankenstein re-animated him, then abandoned him in terror.

Will Clare reveal himself to his wife and son?

Or will his monstrously scarred visage prevent him from doing so?

Dorian, Lily, & Justine

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The story of this trio started with Lily (Billie Piper, above R) and Justine (Jessica Barden, above L) at an outdoor café while female suffragettes staged a protest, agitating for the right to vote. The police responded with violence. Thinking, I suppose, that Lily wants the same thing as the suffragettes, Jessica commented on them. Viewers know Lily’s feelings about men, as well as her rage toward them. Despite any apparent moral or socio-economic connection with the suffragettes, however, Lilly ironically revealed that she does not, in fact, want mere equality with men: she wants to dominate and conquer them.

PennyD 3.2 Dorian Girl_zpstl3ecyja

Then, in a series of scenes so gruesome and bloody, they could have been part of the grotesque (novel and film) American Psycho, Dorian (Reeve Carney), Lily (Billie Piper), and Justine (Jessica Barden) had an orgy after committing atrocities. Dorian and Lily presented Justine with the bound and gagged man who had taken Justine when she was 12, used her sexually, then hired her out after he tired of her himself. Dorian and Lily taunted Justine, calling her “whore” other things, as if they thought she had no rage.

They were mistaken.

Justine, it seems, has almost as much rage as Lily. Grabbing the knife from Dorian, Justine slashed the throat of the man who used her, then stabbed him so often that she was covered in blood. Dorian kissed her.

Cut to the three of them in bed, covered in blood, having an intense — and apparently quite satisfactory — sexual encounter.

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These three amply demonstrate the “excitement” (physiological arousal) from having the power of life and death over another human being that serial killers interpret sexually. The three had sex, covered in the blood of their victim, then laid out the plan to conquer the world.

Or, to start a war, in Lily’s version, and to found a religion of sorts, in Dorian’s.

Either way, Justine, who is neither re-animated, like Lily, nor living an abnormal life, like Dorian, is in for a penny, in for a pound, as they say.

In her case, in for a drop, in for a bucketful, I guess.

Drs. Frankenstein & Jekyll

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Victor Frankenstein (Harry Treadaway, above L), having been suitably impressed by Jekyll’s (Shazad Latif, above R) serum on a crazed and violent Bedlam patient, interviewed the patient on his memories during his calm vs violent phases. Right in the middle of the interview, however, to Frankenstein’s surprise — though not to that of viewers familiar with Robert Louis Stevenson’s novel The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde — the patient suddenly and dramatically reverted to his violent self (only without the mouth restraint).

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That allowed Jekyll to rant and rave, not on his favorite topic of British Imperialism and racism, but, rather, on the short-acting nature of his serum. Instead of blaming himself — because, of course, he’s infallible — Jekyll seems to blame the serum itself, as if he were not the one who formulated it. Bordering on violence himself, Jekyll insisted, in his almost out-of-control, maniacal rant, that man could be separated from his evil self, leaving only the good intact.

By which, I suppose, he means, make man other than what he actually is: a combination of good and evil.

Dang.

If only that serum would do what it’s supposed to.

Permanently.

Victor jumped on that train to Fantasy Island with Henry Jekyll, asserting that if his own method of electricity were combined with Jekyll’s elixir-serum, they would conquer evil by separating it from the good.

Which is what Victor wants to do with the re-animated Brona-turned-Lily, returning her to an “innocent” state, which viewers know was probably an act, so that he can have her back as his love and his lover.

Neither Frankenstein nor Jekyll seems to question where the evil goes once it’s driven out of the test-subject.

Neither seems to believe that he himself is evil either.

I wonder why.

Vanessa & Dr. Seward

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Like John Clare, Vanessa is attempting to recall her previous life, trying to learn how to live her life now, and in the future, by remembering what happened to her in the past. Eva Green, as Vanessa Ives, and Patti LuPone, as Dr. Seward (above), continue to display their on-screen chemistry and their superb talent as actors in this episode of Penny Dreadful. Dr. Seward, whose character originated in Bram Stoker’s Dracula, is practicing “Alienism,” a new science that seems to be the precursor to psychiatry-psychology and talk-therapy. Last night, Vanessa, pacing like a caged animal, exploded at Dr. Seward.

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Vanessa felt that Seward was being condescending: saying Seward believed that Vanessa believed in vampires, witches, and the Devil, rather than actually believing in them herself. Seward insisted that the distinction wasn’t necessary for them to continue to work together. Vanessa insisted that Dr. Seward is the Cut-Wife Joan Clayton (played by Patti LuPone in season 2, above), resurrected or re-incarnated or somehow returned to life as Dr. Seward.

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Then, in a move similar to that which the Cut-Wife forced Vanessa to do, Vanessa grabbed Seward’s wrist and revealed part of her past. Vanessa claimed that Seward killed a man before he was able to kill her. And we know from experience that whatever Vanessa “sees” when she does this, it’s the truth.

Startled by Vanessa’s other-worldly ability, Seward agrees to hypnotize Vanessa so that she can recover her memories from her time in the Psychiatric Clinic of Dr. Banning where, as Vanessa correctly reports, she was “tortured.”

Vanessa & The White Room

After a conversation in the Hall of Mirrors (more on that later in this post) about The White Room, where past and present don’t exist, with one of the Lost Boys (Jack Greenlees, below),

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Vanessa decides that she must be hypnotized to recall her confinement in the padded room of Dr. Christopher Banning’s Clinic (from season 1). Despite Dr. Seward’s warnings that repressed memories are repressed for a reason, Vanessa (Eva Green, below) insists on revisiting that horrifying place, if only in her memory.

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In a brief image that revealed Dr. Seward’s profile against the wall of the padded room, we were given the impression that Dr. Seward might have the metaphorical or otherworldly ability to be with Vanessa in that White Room (which would explain the image above, circulating on the Internet, with Dr. Seward comforting Vanessa in said “prison”).

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Vanessa claims to have had no visitors while in The White Room besides the orderly who brought her meals and the attendants who came to take her to “treatment,” which viewers know included torturous cold water baths and fire-hosing, as well as skull-drilling — in an attempt to release the madness or the demons or whatever Dr. Banning thought he was getting to by drilling holes in the poor girl’s skull.

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To the surprise of viewers, Vanessa remembered the face of the orderly who brought her meals while she was locked in the padded cell: it was none other than the former self of the Creature, John Clare (Rory Kinnear).

This leads to startling questions, especially as to the manner of Clare’s death, which enabled Frankenstein to acquire his corpse and re-animate him as the first Creature.

We know he must have died: otherwise, he could not have been brought back to life by Frankenstein. Now we wonder if Vanessa herself, who is known to have been quite violent during her time before, during, and sometimes after, her stay in the sanatorium, is responsible for the death of John Clare.

A man with whom she formed an unlikely but charming friendship in season 2.

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We don’t know yet whether Vanessa will associate the living “John Clare” — the shy, scarred man she met while volunteering to feed the poor and homeless — with the orderly in Banning’s clinic, but the viewers have no doubt of it. From the first episode on this third season, we have been treated to images of actor Rory Kinnear without his Creature-makeup, so we know what he looked like in his previous life with his wife and son.

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When the orderly announced that he’d brought Miss Ives’ food, and the camera panned up to his face, we saw exactly who that orderly was.

“John Clare,” in his previous life.

Now we wonder if Vanessa was the one who killed him.

Vanessa & Dr. Sweet & Dracula

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Last week, it was revealed to viewers, though not to his prey Vanessa Ives, that the pseudo-milquetoast Dr. Sweet (Christian Camargo) is, in reality, the terrifying Master, Dracula. Despite Sweet’s continually feigning to have forgotten Vanessa’s name, we now realize that he knows exactly who she is, since he has been hunting her since season one. In the first season, Dracula was never shown, though his Creatures were.

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At the end of the first season, Mina thanked her father, Sir Malcolm Murray, for bringing Vanessa to her at the Grand Guignol Theatre, where Sir Malcolm’s group had just encountered yet another of the red-eyed Creatures and killed him. Mina said that the Master, which viewers assumed to be Dracula, wanted Vanessa as his bride. (In a surprising move, given that he’d been searching for his daughter throughout the first season, Sir Malcolm shot his vampire daughter Mina in order to save Vanessa’s life.)

Now, viewers know that Vanessa is in more danger than she herself realizes. Lulled to inattention by Dr. Sweet’s apparent harmlessness, Vanessa seems to actually be falling in love with the man. Despite her previous sexual encounters, all of which have led to unleashing the darkness within her, when the Dark Master, whoever he is, speaks to her and invites her to love him, Vanessa is pursuing the relationship with Dr. Sweet. In last night’s episode, he met her in London’s Chinatown (where John Clare briefly spotted her, his face alighting with a smile, before he saw Dr. Sweet arrive and take her arm). Sweet then took her to the Hall of Mirrors, or some such place, where the two gamboled and laughed and mocked their distorted appearances in the mirrors (leading a couple of reviewers to remark on seeing Dracula-Dr.-Sweet’s reflection, but this show traditionally takes the fictional sources as well as the traditional legends and turns them into something brand new).

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Suddenly, Vanessa found herself alone, in a maze of mirrors, where she was confronted by one of the Lost Boys (Jack Greenlees) who’s been following her all around the town. After speaking in a sort of nursery rhyme-riddle, the Lost Boy revealed that Vanessa had previously met the Master, though she didn’t recall doing so.

Lost Boy, in the mistake of his undead life, told her she’d met the Master in The White Room.

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This revelation caused Vanessa so much distress that she “broke off” the blossoming relationship with Dr. Sweet, telling him to consider her leaving him a sign that she feels “something, like love” for him. In a scary move, he shattered the teacup after she left.

Then he confronted the Lost Boy who’d tipped the Master’s hand.

Dracula was not pleased, to say the very least.

Ever since the startling Reveal, in episode 2 of the third season, that Dr. Sweet was Dracula, I’ve wondered how seemingly mild-mannered Christian Camargo was going to pull off the scary threat of the Master of Darkness on Earth, who’s searching for Vanessa as his bride so he can start the Apocalypse.

Let’s just say, Camargo did an outstanding job making us believe that he was, indeed, the evil Master of Darkness.

As punishment for revealing something that Vanessa had forgotten, the Lost Boy was literally thrown across the room of the abandoned warehouse before being offered as “food” to the other Lost Boys.

Yeppers, looks like this Dracula is going to be even scarier than we thought.

Already, though we only have three episodes of the third season of Penny Dreadful available for viewing, we’ve been shown just how intricate the plot of this marvelous series is. Creator-writer John Logan is masterfully weaving together the disparate storylines, not just so that the characters interact with each other, but so that they seem to have been fated to encounter each other.

“Poor characters,” I’d say, if I weren’t so thoroughly enjoying the show, “each of them is in a most dreaful nightmare.”

And there seems to be no mercy anywhere in sight.

Related Posts

Behind the Masks:
Penny Dreadful, Season 3, Episode 2,
“Predators Far and Near”

All the Unloved Ones:
Penny Dreadful, Season 3 Premiere

When Lucifer Fell:
My Penny Dreadful Blogs, Seasons 1-2

Leave a Comment

Filed under Actors, Horror, Movies/Television, Penny Dreadful, Recap, Review, Violence

All By Myself: PENNY DREADFUL s2 Finale

Warning: Spoilers, Most Dreadful

1pennydreadful2100004rjpg-9c6cd0_640wThe season 2 Finale of Showtime’s Penny Dreadful was gory, frightening, and sad, even if some of the characters’ actions were a bit predictable. Their ultimate fates seemed almost like an ending to the series, so it was with relief that I read — before watching — that the series has been renewed for another season. Oh, there were plenty of loose ends that would allow for a “cliffhanger” finale, and this season’s finale surpassed the first season’s in many ways. But the entire “family” that’s been formed over this season was torn apart, leaving virtually all characters completely alone, both physically and emotionally.

Sembene

images-12Yes, grab your tissues, my Dreadfuls, for Sembene (Danny Sapani) is, indeed, dead.

Not that we would have expected him to survive having his throat torn out by Ethan (Josh Hartnett) after Hecate (Sarah Greene) locked them in a narrow passage of stairs, closed off by un-breachable doorways.

Still, it’s sad. The relationship between Ethan and Sembene has been one of the most interesting stories in the season. It’s delightful to see that men can honestly and deeply love each other without sexuality being involved.

images-25Poor Ethan was devastated by the fact that he’d killed Sembene, though he could not have prevented it. He attempted to — by trying to commit suicide before he changed into a wolf — but Sembene stopped Ethan, reminding him, “You are chosen by God.” All the while knowing that there would be no way to defend himself from Ethan.

images-3What we didn’t know was how attached Sir Malcolm (Timothy Dalton) was to Sembene. He’s always referred to him as a servant, albeit a trusted one. But after Malcolm was released from the locked, enchanted room — where his dead family members were trying to convince him to kill himself and join them — he was shown holding Sembene in his arms. Weeping. I don’t recall seeing Sir Malcolm weep in this series, not even when his children died.

Sir Malcolm was on a boat at the end of the finale, taking Sembene’s body back to Africa.

This showed his great respect and love for Sembene, since Sir M didn’t even bring his own son’s body back from Africa for burial.

Evelyn & Hecate

images-6I think most viewers were reasonably confident that Evelyn (Helen McCrory), the leader of the Night-Comers, would not be able to successfully capture Vanessa, and not only because her own daughter Hecate opened the door that allowed Ethan as Wolf to come into the doll-factory and tear out Evelyn’s throat.

No, Evelyn was already failing before her throat got ripped out.images-2Because Vanessa — whether she is good or evil — proved herself more powerful than Evelyn and than the “Master.”

images-4Evelyn had already begun to age, screaming at her failure to deliver Vanessa to Lucifer as his bride, when Hecate showed herself the more clever opponent by releasing the Lupus Dei to kill her mother. With Evelyn out of the way, Hecate packed up her mother’s box of witch-y instruments, set fire to the doll factory, and strolled out of the house, singing “The Unquiet Grave,” which we heard Evelyn singing in the premiere, as she bathed in a tub of blood.

No doubt Hecate has her own plans for serving Vanessa up to the Master, whether it be Lucifer, who rules in Hell, or his brother, the Dracula figure, whom we have not actually ever met, and who rules on earth.

Victor, Dorian, & Lily

images-1Poor Victor (Harry Treadaway). As if being tormented by his creations in Evelyn’s locked room (while Sir M was being tormented by the ghosts of his family) wasn’t painful enough, he was released from that enchantment to a much more painful reality.

Lily (Billie Piper) does not love him.

Never has.

Never will.

After Victor went to Dorian’s (Reeve Carney) mansion and found the two newly pledged immortal lovers dancing, he shot Lily. Then Dorian. I guess Victor forgot that Lily, at the very least, was immortal. He quickly discovered that Dorian was as well. As he stumbled out, the two “lovers” danced on, blood spilling on the hardwood floor from their wounds.

BN-JF942_billie_G_20150705220005Afterward, no doubt thinking of the lovely but heartless Lily, Victor stuffed himself with enough morphine to make me wonder if he’d die of an overdose.

Too bad it wasn’t enough to ease his broken heart.

Ethan & Vanessa Eva Green as Vanessa Ives and Josh Hartnett as Ethan Chandler in Penny Dreadful (season 2, episode 7). - Photo: Jonathan Hession/SHOWTIME - Photo ID: PennyDreadful_207_4078

So what was Lucifer’s great temptation for Vanessa (Eva Green)?

To be normal. To have an ordinary married life with Ethan. To have children. To be happy.

And it was really creepy to have the fetish-Vanessa-doll talking in Eva’s voice as the “Master.”

How much more satisfying for the viewers and for the show itself when its entire theme is the evil within each of us. How much better than to portray some winged beastie from religious documents over the centuries. Vanessa confronts the Master of Evil, and he speaks to her in her own voice, from an image of her own face.

It worked.

imagesOnly one evil could really tempt Vanessa.

The evil in herself.

Vanessa proved herself a worthy opponent to her own inner demons. Matching the devil-doll virtually word-for-word in Verbis Diablo, Vanessa was able to vanquish the doll, then crush it, saying, “No, meet your master.”

images-9Realizing and releasing her own inner evil may have caused Vanessa to weep, but it didn’t stop her from winning.

Ethan

images-7When Vanessa found Ethan again, he was in her room at Sir Malcolm’s. She invited him to share a life with her, knowing full well what he is. And with him knowing full well of what she’s capable.

But what would any love story be without its obstacles?

In this case, Ethan apparently cannot live with his own inner beastie, now that he knows what it is, and now that he’s killed Sembene. Ethan turned himself in to Inspector Rusk, confessing to the murders at the Mariner’s Inn. Ethan expected to be jailed or hanged, perhaps, before the next full moon. But the Inspector had an Extradition order ready and waiting.

An extradition order for Ethan Lawrence Talbot, which is Ethan’s real name (and a tribute to the 1930s Werewolf films starring Lon Chaney, whose character’s name was Lawrence Talbot).

images-5The final scene of Ethan was with him in a cage in the hull of a ship, his head shaved — or so it seemed — and Inspector Rusk sitting in front, watching.

On their way to America.

John Clare

images-19It was rather surprising that the Putneys, beasties though they be, were able to imprison Frankenstein’s first Creature, now going by the name of John Clare (Rory Kinnear). After all, even Lily is frightfully strong, and she was only a small female in her former life.

So it actually was not a surprise that, in the finale, Clare — after agreeing to be a “good little freak” and help train the other freaks, soon to be present in the Putney dungeons — simply broke down the doors of his cage and swiftly broke the necks of Mr. & Mrs. P.

Their blind daughter Lavinia, who had so treacherously betrayed Clare by pretending friendship before locking him in the cage herself, was left alone, unharmed, screaming for her parents as Clare walked away.

By leaving her alive, the Creature has once again proven that he is more humane than most of the human characters in the show.

images-10One of the most poignant moments of the finale came when Clare, who has decided to leave all mankind behind, met Vanessa for the last time. He asked her to go with him. She declined.

Clare was shown on a ship in the Arctic, which is where the Creature ends up in the novel after the death of the book’s Frankenstein.

It was a sad and lonely scene.

I do hope he’ll long to return to humanity.

After all, he’s the most human of any of the characters.

And he’s one of the show’s most interesting “creations.”

Vanessa

images-9No, she can’t have Ethan. Not as a normal woman with a husband and children. Perhaps, she can’t have him even though each knows the darkness and evil that lies at the other’s center.

At least, not yet.

Ethan is caged, on a boat bound for America, unbeknownst to her.

1pennydreadful2100004rjpg-9c6cd0_640wFurthermore, Sir Malcolm has abandoned his great house to take his friend and companion Sembene back to Africa. His ward, Vanessa, whom he claims to love like a daughter, is alone.

Completely alone.

Not as the new Cut-Wife of Ballantrae Moor.

But as Vanessa.

The one whom the Master still seeks above all.

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Monsters, All: PENNY DREADFUL s2e9

Warning: Spoilers Most Dreadful

Penny-Dreadful-serieThough the penultimate episode of season two of ShowTime’s wonderful gothic horror series Penny Dreadful, created and written by John Logan, was officially titled, “And Hell Itself My Only Foe,” it actually revealed that almost all the characters are capable of being monsters.

Even those you would least suspect of having any evil intent.

Roper

images-10Of course, we know Roper (Stephen Lord), a Pinkerton hired by Ethan’s father to bring him home, even if in manacles, was a bad guy. Even with the scars from his attack when Ethan changed into a wolf, there wasn’t much reason to empathize with the guy. After all, he threatened Ethan even after he knew what Ethan was capable of doing. Roper crawled in through the window of the Cut-Wife’s isolated cottage, indicating that he’d been following Ethan (Josh Hartnett) and Vanessa (Eva Green), and threatened to kill them both.

Unknown-1He ordered Vanessa to manacle Ethan, but I guess this Roper guy lost some of his brains in the attack at the Mariner’s Inn. Even manacled, Ethan proved himself a formidable foe — and that’s without his turning into a wolf. Vanessa just kicked herself some ass, too, without any spells or enchantments, and without using the gun as Ethan had taught her.

Unknown-3She stabbed Roper repeatedly in the chest. And if those wounds weren’t mortal, Ethan helped her out as much as he could with his hands manacled.

If I’m ever in a fight, I want these two at my back.

images-1Though Vanessa “mourned” that they were both murderers now — almost as if she’d forgotten that she’d set Sir Geoffrey’s dogs on him and killed him by a Verbis Diablo spell in an earlier episode — the two only defended themselves against another monster: Roper.

I call self-defense.

Vanessa

images-6Vanessa thinks she’s a monster now, though she’s always acknowledged that she had “demons” inside, because she murdered Roper. That must be her weak spot because that’s what Evelyn got the fetish to say to Vanessa in the basement: “Murderer.”

Vanessa was more of a monster for going alone to Evelyn’s house, ostensibly to rescue Sir Malcolm, but instead putting all her other friends and defenders in jeopardy by forcing them to go, without a clear plan, to the Night-Comer’s home to rescue Sir Malcolm and Vanessa herself.

How monstrously thoughtless of her.

Hecate & Evelyn

images-4Oh, that Hecate (Sarah Greene), she is one wicked, little girl. Not only did she intensify the conflict with her mother Evelyn (Helen McCrory), she came right out and insulted her, calling her a “Dinosaur” and warning her that “Dinosaurs should know when Mammoths are hunting.”

Evelyn was a little too preoccupied “feeling [Vanessa] coming closer” to be on sufficient guard.

images-23Besides, Evelyn didn’t know till later in the episode that Hecate had gone to visit Ethan, easily getting by all their defenses and fetishes, which only have power, as she told Ethan, “for those that believe in them.”

Even when Hecate told Vanessa, in front of Evelyn, that she’d gone to Ethan and kissed him, she neglected to mention that she’d also told Ethan, who is clearly now regarded as the Lupus Dei, that she would worship him and help him destroy God.

I guess she didn’t think that information was important to her mother, revealing Hecate’s treachery goes deeper than Evelyn thinks.

images-20I suppose Hecate’s also missed the definition of Lupus Dei — The Wolf of God — and the fact that he is a Protector. Lyle (Ferdinand Russell Beale) explained this when he and Ethan were in the basement of the museum, gettting ready to steal Father Gregory’s “puzzle” of Verbis Diablo and Ethan saw the shield (or family motto) with Latin on it about wolves. Lyle said the mottoes and shields weren’t so much to scare the enemy as to protect the bearer.

Ethan is the Protector.

Too bad little monster Hecate doesn’t know that.

Lyle

images-17All the viewers have probably been thinking that Lyle was a monstrous bad guy, what with his letting himself be blackmailed by Evelyn into betraying Vanessa.

Of course, the other characters and most of the viewers probably guessed that he was a closet-homosexual long ago: he has a terrible crush on Ethan, and flirted outrageously with him, which Ethan seemed to mostly find amusing. images-24

None but the viewers knew Lyle is Jewish until this episode, and viewers only discovered it after Ethan instructed everyone to use every spiritual practice and belief he knew to help protect Vanessa from the Night-Comers. While Ethan was using Native American chants and passing smoke over himself and the entry-way, Lyle snuck down to the basement where, glancing around beforehand, he donned his yarmulke, kissed his prayerbook, draped his prayer shawl over his head, and began to daven and pray in Hebrew.

UnknownWhen Lyle and Dr. Frankenstein were left alone at the front of Evelyn’s house — while Ethan and Sembene went to find a back entrance — Lyle paused to say the opening lines of the Kaddish, also known as the “Mourner’s Kaddish,” the Jewish prayer for the dead, which is actually more about praising God than about the dead, so it was literally and symbolically appropriate considering they’re entering a witch’s house and facing death. Afterward, when Lyle looked at him, Victor made a comment like, “Far be it from me…”

imagesNone of the characters surrounding Vanessa knew that he was “in league,” albeit involuntarily, with Evelyn, to help her capture Vanessa, but the viewers knew his secret.

images-6For the last couple episodes, however, he’s shown that he’s actually on Vanessa’s side: he urged her to leave the ball, telling her she wasn’t safe there; when Vanessa said she had to leave London, he encouraged it, telling her that she should go immediately and without telling any of them her destination; and since he actually didn’t know where Vanessa had gone, Evelyn was unable to get that information out of him with her threats of torture.

images-12In E9, he confessed his duplicity. After Frankenstein (Harry Treadaway) questioned their ability to trust him now, Vanessa was quick to forgive him, saying, “No one here is above guilt.”

images-5When the men went to “rescue” Vanessa from Evelyn’s house/castle, where Vanessa had gone alone to “rescue” Sir Malcolm (Timothy Dalton), Lyle went with them. Though he declined Ethan’s offer of a gun and took what looked like a pocket-knife.

images-6Lyle’s consistently been demonstrating that he is not, in fact, a monster.

Just a man with secrets.

And jittery nerves.

The Putneys

images-24How ’bout them Putneys, eh?

Them Putneys (David Haig as Oscar P, above R; and Ruth Gemmell as his wife, Octavia) with their wax museum of horrors and crime scenes and “beasties.”

Them Putneys with their pretty, blind daughter Lavinia  (Tamsin Topolski) who’s so sweet to the Creature, now going by the name John Clare (Rory Kinnear)…

images-54Sweet, blind Lavinia, who made no comments when she touched Clare’s face, but “grew uneasy” when she felt how cold his hand was, and told her parents there was something wrong, something “dead” about him…

images-43That Lavinia showed herself to be one of the most vicious monsters of all, along with her parents, when she lied and manipulated John Clare into a “secret” part of the museum, claiming to want to know what her father was building, telling Clare, “You are my true friend,” just before she locked him in a cage.

He’s going to be part of their “Freak Show.”

Against his will.

If that weren’t bad enough, Lavinia, little horror-show that she is, insulted his poetry, too.

John Clare

images-33Poor John Clare (Rory Kinnear), Frankenstein’s first Creature. All he wants is love. All he wants is companionship. All he wants is poetry. All he wants is to “fit in,” even if it means learning how to dance.

images-27What does he get?

Nothing but betrayal.

He’s metaphorically been in behind bars for the entire two seasons.

At the theatre watching the performers,

images-20In his basement “living quarters,” sobbing after the “ingenue” Maude rejected his advances,

images-17Watching Lily (Billie Piper) go out with Dorian (Reeve Carney) after Frankenstein (Harry Treadaway) made her specifically to be Clare’s mate.

images-18Now Clare is in a real cage.

Imprisoned by real monsters, who consider him nothing more than a freak, when he is the most loyal, loving, passionate “creature” of them all.

Sir Malcolm

imagesSir Malcolm (Timothy Dalton) should be a monster. After all, he did rape and pillage and murder his way across Africa. He did neglect and emotionally abuse his family. He did use Vanessa to find his lost daughter Mina. He did shoot his own daughter in the head, to protect Vanessa.

Now Sir Malcolm’s cowering in a locked room in Evelyn’s house, surrounded by the ghosts of his family, all of them reminding him of his past misdeeds.

images-8Instead of dancing at a phantom ball with his family members, which is how he broke Evelyn’s enchantment last episode,

images-15Sir Malcolm is trapped with the ghosts of his family, screaming so loudly that the other characters can hear it all through the house.

This is the only part of the show that didn’t work for me.

Unless his “breakdown” is due, in part, to more enchantment, Sir Malcolm is too much of a monster himself to be broken by ghosts, even if they are the ghosts of his family, and even if they are telling him the “monstrous” things he did to them.

Because, you see, Sir Malcolm already knows what he is.

And he already knows what he’s done.

Lily-Brona

images-16If, despite her brilliant tirade against men and how they “use” women in e8, if any viewers or other characters had any doubts that Brona-turned-Lily (Billie Piper) is, indeed, a monster, they can toss those doubts out with the metaphorical window. This episode, Lily sought out Dorian (Reeve Carney) herself.

reeve-carney-as-dorian-gray-in-penny-dreadful-season-2-gallery-photo-courtesy-of-showtimeTaunting him with the line, “You tell me your secret, and I’ll tell you mine,” she made love to him on the floor of his portrait gallery, then bit off his ear.

Ouch!

She called him her “Monster” and told him to go heal himself.

Any viewers who had not read the book The Picture of Dorian Gray got to see his own portrait in the episode when he killed his transgender lover Angelique (Johnny Beauchamp) for discovering it. Anyone who didn’t know he was a monster before certainly knew it then.

In e9, we learned that Lily knows perfectly well that she was Brona in her former life, that she was a prostitute in her previous life, and that Frankenstein did something “monstrous” to her.

images-9Looks like she’s out for revenge, this little Monster.

Against all men, whom she wants to “kneel before [her].”

As Dorian so obligingly did.

Before she bit off his ear, of course.

Sembene

images-25For two seasons now, Sembene (Danny Sapani) has claimed that he “had no story,” as he told Ethan when asked. But since they are the only two real warriors in the show, they have become close. Ethan trusted Sembene to tell him what happened during Ethan’s blackouts.

images-1Sembene revealed that the scars on his face are not tribal initiation marks, as I’d thought and stated in a previous blog, but marks of a slave trader.

Hated by his own people as well as by whites.

In short, Sembene has been a monster for most of his life, even if he’s attempting to atone for his sins and treachery now.

The growing bond between Sembene and Ethan has been marvelous.

Hecate ended that by trapping the two of them in a narrow passage of stairs, knowing that the moon was going to be full that night. Realizing that he could not stop the change, and not wanting to hurt Sembene, Ethan attempted to commit suicide.

Sembene prevented it, reminding Ethan that he was “chosen by God.”

images-11Then, as Sembene braced himself for the inevitable, Ethan changed into the monster-wolf that he is, and tore out Sembene’s throat.

Even if Sembene claimed that he, too, had once been a monster, I’m so sad…

The Finale

images-3I have no predictions about what will happen in the Penny Dreadful Season 2 Finale — my heart’s still broken because Ethan killed Sembene — so I’ll leave you with this teaser from ShowTime.

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