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

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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

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So Many Monsters: The PENNY DREADFUL Finale

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Warning: Spoilers Galore

Cast of PENNY DREADFUL (L to R): Danny Sapani as Sembene, Reeve Carney as Dorian Gray, Billie Piper as Brona Croft, Josh Hartnett as Ethan Chandler, Timothy Dalton as Sir Malcolm Murray, Eva Green as Vanessa Ives, Rory Kinnear (in doorway) as Frankenstein's Monster/Creature, Harry Treadawell as Victor Frankenstein

Cast of PENNY DREADFUL (L to R): Danny Sapani as Sembene, Reeve Carney as Dorian Gray, Billie Piper as Brona Croft, Josh Hartnett as Ethan Chandler, Timothy Dalton as Sir Malcolm Murray, Eva Green as Vanessa Ives, Rory Kinnear (in doorway) as Frankenstein’s Monster/Creature, Harry Treadawell as Victor Frankenstein

The finale of season one of Showtime’s new Gothic horror thriller Penny Dreadful was both exciting and, I’m sorry to say, a bit disappointing. I was looking forward to the finale so much that I watched the Penny Dreadful Marathon the day before. And I’d already watched virtually every episode at least two or three times. I loved the dialogue, the characters, the ever-improving writing, the entire concept of the show itself. Despite the fantastic episodes “Séance” (2), “Closer than Sisters” (5), and “Possession” (7) — where the literary storylines and imaginary characters seemed, at last, to be meshing — the flaws that have plagued the show from its inception were still sadly present in the finale.

From the beginning of the show, I’ve admired the costumes, the atmospheric settings, the makeup, and the hairstyles. All of that placed Penny Dreadful‘s world firmly in the Demi-monde — the world between light and dark, between the living and the dead — of Victorian England. All of those wonderful things are present in the finale as it revisits some of its earlier sets: the theatre, most particularly, where Sir Malcolm and his crew once again encounter the vampires they’re hunting.

The cast, too, has been strong. Led by the powerful performances of Timothy Dalton as Sir Malcolm Murray and Eva Green as Vanessa Ives — father and childhood friend of the lost or kidnapped Mina Murray (from Bram Stoker’s Dracula) — the remaining ensemble cast includes Josh Hartnett as American gun-for-hire Ethan Chandler with Billie Piper as his consumptive lover Brona Croft, Harry Treadaway as Victor Frankenstein and Rory Kinnear as The Monster/The Creature (from Mary Wollstonecroft Shelley’s Frankenstein), Reeve Carney as Dorian Gray (from Oscar Wilde’s The Picture of Dorian Gray), and Danny Sapani as Sir Malcolm’s servant Sembene. Guest appearances included David Warner as Dr. Van Helsing from Stoker’s Dracula.

Cast of PENNY DREADFUL (L to R) Josh Hartnett as Ethan Chandler, Billie Piper as Brona Croft, Harry Treadawell as Victor Frankenstein, Eva Green as Vanessa Ives, Reeve Carney as Dorian Gray, Timothy Dalton as Sir Malcolm Murray, and Danny Sapani as Sembene.

Cast of PENNY DREADFUL (L to R) Josh Hartnett as Ethan Chandler, Billie Piper as Brona Croft, Harry Treadawell as Victor Frankenstein, Eva Green as Vanessa Ives, Reeve Carney as Dorian Gray, Timothy Dalton as Sir Malcolm Murray, and Danny Sapani as Sembene.

Early in the season, the disparate stories were too disconnected. Some characters disappeared for episodes at a time. Others seemed to have no point even being in the series. In the finale, more of the stories came together. The writing was a bit stronger, and the performances more impressive.

The only literary character who simply never fit in well is Dorian Gray. His portrait was never shown the entire season — not even in the finale — and unless one is familiar with Wilde’s book, the portrait that Dorian sometimes looks at in private, and which heals his wounds from rough sexual encounters while he gazes upon it, could very well be a portrait of Jesus Christ or the Virgin Mary. In reality, it is of Dorian himself, and should reflect all his moral ugliness and physical injuries, while he himself remains outwardly beautiful.

Reeve Carney as Dorian Gray

Reeve Carney as Dorian Gray

Unless the viewer is familiar with the book, however, Dorian Gray’s story in Penny Dreadful makes no sense whatsoever. His portrait should have been shown in the finale so that viewers not familiar with the book would know what he’s always looking at. I still don’t know why Dorian Gray was in the show, even after the finale.

The only character with less screen-time and less of a story than Dorian Gray is Sir Malcolm’s African servant Sembene. Even when Ethan Chandler asked, in “Possession” (episode 7) what Sembene’s story was, he replied, “I have no story.” Sadly, that is true.

Danny Sapani as Sembene

Danny Sapani as Sembene

I had hoped there would be a revelation concerning Sembene’s and Sir Malcolm’s connection. Alas, there was not. Sembene did get to help out killing more female vampires (who, for some unexplained reason, all look exactly alike) when he accompanied Sir Malcolm on a final hunting expedition for his daughter Mina. That might be Sembene’s entire story: killing female vampires, and answering the door when someone comes to Sir Malcolm’s big mansion.

For a long time — in fact, for the first 7 out of 8 episodes — Dr. Frankenstein could have been Dr. Fill-In-The-Blank, or Dr. I-Can-Check-Your-Pulse-And-Make-Up-Theories-About-Women’s-PsychoSexual-Disturbances-Too, or Dr. Anybody-Who-Happened-To-Have-Made-A-Sentient-Creature. He was rarely with his Creation, brilliantly played by Rory Kinnear — who lurked throughout the entire season rather than viciously menacing (except for murdering Van Helsing) while waiting for Frankenstein to make a Creature Bride.

Harry Treadaway as Victor Frankenstein

Harry Treadaway as Victor Frankenstein

It wasn’t till the finale that Frankenstein actually demonstrated some of the arrogant evil and selfish cruelty his character exhibits in the novel. So Frankenstein’s character was weak during most of the season, but finally reached its potential in the finale when he smothered Brona Croft, already dying of consumption, instead of mercifully letting her die of an overdose from his own stash of morphine (to which he is addicted).

Rory Kinnear as Frankenstein's Monster, also called The Creature

Rory Kinnear as Frankenstein’s Monster, also called The Creature

Throughout the season, Frankenstein’s Creation and the male vampires who are mistaken for “The Master” are referred to as “Creatures.” In the finale, Rory Kinnear’s stunning performance demonstrates that The Creature, though he claims to be filled with malignancy and rage, which, he reasons aloud, explains his exterior ugliness, is actually more decent, faithful, empathetic, and affectionate than any of the other characters.

The humans in Penny Dreadful are the “creatures” in this drama: cruel, heartless, unfaithful, disloyal, unempathetic, violent, unkind. In short, they are the “monsters,” and Sir Malcolm, despite his elegant looks, dress, and language, is one of the most vicious of them all.

Timothy Dalton as Sir Malcolm Murray, searching for his lost daughter, Mina, taken by (unnamed) Dracula, called the Creature.

Timothy Dalton as Sir Malcolm Murray, searching for his lost daughter, Mina, taken by (unnamed) Dracula, called the Creature.

In the finale, one of Sir Malcolm’s nastiest secrets is revealed, in a show where everyone has secrets. He bluntly tells Vanessa, who has been helping him search for his daughter Mina, that, given the choice, he will (a) choose Mina over Vanessa, (b) that he would kill Vanessa if it would save Mina, and (c) that, in fact, he’s hoping he will get the chance to kill Vanessa.

Yes, there be many monsters here, indeed.

Imagine, then, Vanessa’s — and probably every viewer’s — surprise when, at the crucial moment, having found Mina, who is attempting to harm Vanessa in order to subdue her and take her to The Master, Sir Malcolm shoots his own daughter Mina dead. I was so happily surprised that I cheered. Perhaps Sir Malcolm himself was astonished by his “choice” of Vanessa over Mina in the finale.

Throughout the season, various characters have stated that “each has his secrets,” “each has sinned,” and, despite regrets, none can “unmake the past.” After a while, it got tiresome hearing so many people saying the same thing so many times. Then Frankenstein said something amazing: that each person was morally bound forever to those he had hurt. Very intriguing philosophical commentary. One that fit the show and the finale well.

Though Penny Dreadful is set in the Victorian era and was influenced by the literature of the period, the characters constantly quote Romantic poetry. In the Romantic period, which took place earlier in England than in America, artists of all genres and media believed that man could commune directly with the Divinity — however it was perceived — through nature.

Thus, Wordsworth, Keats, and Shelley were extremely popular poets, and their work has often been recited in Penny Dreadful. Keats, who was dying of consumption, had some of the darkest yet most erotic poems, while Wordsworth had some of the most optimistic ones, despite their expressing regret for lost childhood or unrealized dreams. The Romantic poetry quoted and beloved by these monstrous, constrained, secretive, deceptive, yet ultimately fascinating characters — who constantly question each other about their faith in God as well as the meaning of life — was a wonderful irony couched in beautiful and famous poetry.

In the finale, Frankenstein’s Creation recited some lines himself — not from a Romantic poet — but from Milton’s Paradise Lost. It was very effective.

I’m not going to pretend that there were no weaknesses in the finale. There were, and, unfortunately, they were major ones.

Josh Hartnett as Ethan Chandler and Eva Green as Vanessa Ives at the London Zoo at night, just before the encounter with the wolves

Josh Hartnett as Ethan Chandler and Eva Green as Vanessa Ives at the London Zoo at night, just before the encounter with the wolves

In one of the earlier episodes, the group is drawn to the London Zoo in the middle of the night, where they expect to find Mina and the (vampire) Creatures. Instead, they find a pack of wolves. Ethan orders everyone to stay still. Then he lowers his body and holds out his hand. One of the male wolves, snarling, approaches and tentatively takes Ethan’s hand gently into its mouth, acknowledging Ethan as the Alpha male.

The Alpha male wolf.

From that episode on, bloggers and reviewers of the show began predicting that Ethan’s secret was that he was the Wolf-Man, though there is no literary piece of the period dealing with such a creature. There is a Penny Dreadful which features  a Wolf-Man — Wagner the Werewolf — but no literature. Guy Endore’s 1933 novel The Werewolf of Paris was the first literary exploration of the Wolf-Man. I assumed that the bloggers, critics, and reviewers who were proclaiming that Ethan was the Wolf-Man had to be mistaken since creator & writer John Logan has repeatedly stated that Penny Dreadful mixed Victorian literary characters, re-imagined, with his fictional characters.

I was convinced that Logan would introduce one of the most famous novels of the period which explores the nature of good and evil, Robert Louis Stevenson’s The Mysterious Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. The Wolf-Man simply does not fit into the entire scheme of Penny Dreadful, where the characters choose to do good or evil. The Wolf-Man is cursed or bitten or somehow turned into a violent and dangerous creature against his will. He doesn’t consciously decide to go around tearing people apart and eating some of their internal organs.

In Stevenson’s novel, however, Dr. Jekyll makes a conscious choice to explore the evil aspects of his personality by concocting a formula which will allow his personality to separate into two parts: one entirely good, the other completely evil. Mr. Hyde is the evil, immoral part of Dr. Jekyll.

The importance of Jekyll and Hyde versus the Wolf-Man to Penny Dreadful and Ethan Chandler’s secret is choice. Choosing to do evil, choosing to harm others for selfish reasons, intentionally hurting others to achieve personal satisfaction or pleasure at the others’ expense — these are all themes of Penny Dreadful, and all of the characters make these choices repeatedly (though Dorian’s evil or cruel choices are not shown: I know this from the novel itself). Even Ethan’s consumptive lover, Brona Croft, tells him how she went out and intentionally had sexual relations with a stranger for money after her fiancé in Ireland physically hurt her.

Just as the characters in Penny Dreadful consciously choose to do evil and to hurt others to satisfy their own selfish desires or to exact revenge, Dr. Jekyll chooses to allow his evil side to come out. As Edward Hyde, he seriously hurts children, dismembers women, and murders famous politicians. Hyde enjoys it.

Dr. Henry Jekyll enjoys it, too, because it allows him to do whatever evil he wishes — as Hyde — while maintaining his good reputation and respected standing in society as Dr. Jekyll. Unfortunately for Jekyll, Hyde also has free will, and he chooses to take over Jekyll’s life to the point where Hyde can gain control of their shared body at will, without any potion, and Jekyll is unable to get it back. Jekyll commits suicide when he realizes that the good part of himself is being subsumed by the evil part of himself.

Therefore, if the bloggers and reviewers who predicted that Ethan’s secret was that he was a Wolf-Man, it took away Ethan’s choice to do evil, which goes against the very premise of the show. It also eliminates the literary basis for his story since no Wolf-Man literature existed till 1933, and the show takes place in 1891. I just couldn’t believe that Ethan’s secret would be that he was a Hollywood-Lon-Chaney-style Wolf-Man.

Imagine my dismay when, in the penultimate scene of the finale, Ethan did transform into a Wolf-Man and murder the Pinkertons his father had sent from America to forcibly bring Ethan home, as well as everyone else in the restaurant-bar-hotel where Ethan was staying.

It wasn’t just a disappointment because Ethan’s being a Wolf-Man didn’t fit with the rest of the show: it was a disappointment because so many people had predicted it weeks beforehand, and they were correct. That’s just bad writing.

One of the vampire Creatures

One of the vampire Creatures

(Note to creator and writer John Logan: my boyfriend was really annoyed that, after viewing the “unimpressive vampire Creatures” all season, he didn’t get a sufficient look at a “really cool Wolf-Man with good makeup and everything,” and he “didn’t get to see Ethan as the Wolf-Man tear all those people apart” after “sitting through countless vampire killings.” In fact, my boyfriend didn’t even realize Ethan was turning into a Wolf-Man. He had to ask me what was happening because he couldn’t tell. And I wasn’t absolutely sure myself until the full moon was displayed above the building where the killings were taking place.)

Another constantly circulating prediction that, unfortunately, turned out to be right was that Brona would die of consumption and become Frankenstein’s Monster’s bride. Actually, the consumption didn’t quite finish her off: Frankenstein himself did, for the express purpose of getting the “subject” to accede to his Creature’s demand for a bride just like himself.

Again, the pundits were correct early on in the season. That makes it bad writing, not good guesswork since there were no clues that Brona would be his bride. After all, the Creature had a crush on a young woman from the theatre, not on Brona.

Billie Piper as Brona Croft

Billie Piper as Brona Croft

The last disappointment in the finale of Penny Dreadful was Vanessa’s going to a priest who actually asked her if she really wanted to get rid of the evil inside her. I almost laughed out loud. Since when has a Catholic priest, fictional or real, ever asked someone if he wanted to keep the devil inside him or have the devil exorcised?

Though Vanessa didn’t answer the priest, it was a disappointing “cliff-hanger.” Throughout the season, she has chosen to remain as she is, with her knowledge of the dark side of human nature, even if it does cause her to have fits, seizures, and to be possessed. Whether she is possessed by the Devil, the Master, or Amunra — who wants her to be the Mother of Evil — is not clear.

Eva Green as Vanessa Ives, "possessed"

Eva Green as Vanessa Ives, “possessed”

With the death of Mina, the relationship between Vanessa and Sir Malcolm changed, as if Vanessa’s decision to hurt Mina when they were younger was the only reason Sir Malcolm and Vanessa chafed at each other. Their animosity seemed to have suddenly and miraculously disappeared. They even hugged as Sir Malcolm wept and Vanessa comforted him (though she actually held him, while, with his arms around her, his hands were in fists). Sir Malcolm even talked about their getting a Christmas tree. Vanessa responded by suggesting they “invite the boys over to decorate it.” If that conversation had made any sense, I might have laughed. As it was, I began to fear for season two of Penny Dreadful.

Mina is dead, so no more searching for her. What is Sir Malcolm’s purpose in life going to be? Brona is going to be Frankenstein’s Creature’s re-animated bride. Ethan has been revealed to be, not Jack the Ripper, not Edward Hyde, but the Wolf-Man who ravaged the mother and child in the beginning of episode 1, and the prostitute at the beginning of episode 2.

One of the Wolf-Man's first victims

One of the Wolf-Man’s first victims

If Vanessa chooses to have the evil inside her exorcised, then she basically has no part in the show. If she chooses to remain as she is, then there will be more episodes where she’s possessed. Those episodes were some of the best of season 1, but three of them were plenty, thank you very much.

Suddenly, the gaslights dim, the candles flicker, the wind howls, the full moon comes out from behind the clouds, the glass table cracks, the windows shatter, Vanessa’s head turns 360°, Sir Malcolm faints, Sembene does not answer the door, and I have a terrible vision of season 2 of Penny Dreadful.

It’s going to be nothing but The Exorcist, The Bride of Frankenstein, and The Wolf-Man.

Unfortunately, I’ve already seen all those films.

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