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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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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.

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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

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

Behind the Masks: Penny Dreadful s3 e2, Review & Recap “Predators Far and Near”

Spoilers
Most Dreadful

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“Predators Far and Near,” the second episode of Showtime’s third season of its horror classic Penny Dreadful, created and written by John Logan, once again showed us that every character wears  a mask in order to get what he most desires. From Sir Malcolm’s Apache guide Kaetenay to Ethan Chandler, from Dorian Gray to Lily and Victor Frankenstein, from Vanessa to Dr. Steward and Dr. Sweet, everyone wears a mask to hide his evil and his secrets. And, as expected, it’s when the characters take off those masks that we viewers get the frights and the shudders.

Dorian & Lily

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In season 1, the storyline of Dorian Gray (Reeve Carney) was virtually completely separate from those of the other characters. Though Dorian and Vanessa (Eva Green) had some interactions, one of them sexual, Dorian existed at the fringes of the major story: that of Vanessa, Sir Malcolm, and Ethan Chandler hunting the Creatures that had kidnapped Sir Malcolm’s daughter Mina. Dorian’s story, disconnected as it was — and unfamiliar to viewers who had not read Oscar Wilde’s novel The Picture of Dorian Gray — was confusing, to say the least.

This confusion was eliminated in season 2 when Dorian began a relationship with the transgendered Angelique (Jonny Beauchamp), then revealed his innate cruelty when he virtually abandoned his live-in love Angelique for Lily (Billie Piper). Dorian’s previous connection with Lily was when he hired the consumptive prostitute Brona — Lily’s identity before Victor Frankenstein killed her and re-animated her as a Bride for his Creature. When Lily revealed that she remembered her previous life, that she was filled with rage against men, and that she was attracted to Dorian because of his dark side, Dorian’s story became more integral to the other events in the show.

Now, with this episode, Dorian and Lily have moved to center stage, where they jointly commit atrocities. Last night, dressed in evening finery, the two of them went into a cellar, where the Bouncer informed them there would be some “butchery.” Dorian replied, with a smile, “I believe that’s what I paid for.” In the cellar, Dorian and Lily sat in a circle of  well-dressed, upper-class men, for a “show” which appeared to be a sort of “snuff film” in the flesh. A masked man brought in a naked, bound prostitute, who may have been slightly drugged. As the masked man picked up a whip to torture the girl, Dorian and Lily sprang into action, killing not only the masked man, but every one of the gentleman at the show. Dorian used a pistol and Lilly used a knife. It was gruesome but thrilling in a scary way. Then Lily walked up to the nude girl and said, “Now you are mine.”

Yowza!

What did these two have in mind?

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They took the girl — Justine — home to Dorian’s house, where Lily is living, and the young girl awoke in a magnificent bed, wearing a silk gown. When she went downstairs, she was a bit confused, wary, and overwhelmed by the beauty of her surroundings as well as by the cultured beauty and manners of Dorian and Lilly. It was Lily who told Justine (Jessica Barden) that they are going to seek revenge-retribution for all the men “with two bob” who made the girl “kneel” to them for sexual service.

Ah, Lily’s complaint from last season, in her tirade to Frankenstein’s Creature.

Lily has a lot of anger issues, there’s no doubt about that. Instead of talk-therapy, however, she plans to use violence to make herself — and the girl-prostitue Justine — feel better. That’s right up Dorian’s alley. I mean, this is a man who killed his transgender lover Angelique after she discovered his hidden portrait, which revealed that he is an aged, ugly “monster” inside, i.e., morally, and in the portrait, while he remains young and beautiful on the outside.

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Dorian rarely takes off his mask, but with Lily, he doesn’t have to: she seems to see beneath it. That makes him more comfortable with her than with any other woman he’s been with. And it makes him a perfect foil for the rage-filled, murderous Brona-turned-Lily.

I’m not sure why they need the girl to go on a killing spree, if that’s what they intend to do, but Lily told the girl that they will have a “monumental revenge” before kissing her like a lover.

Sir Malcolm, Kaetenay,
Ethan Chandler, and Inspector Rusk

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Continuing the plot line introduced in the premiere of season 3, Sir Malcolm (Timothy Dalton) has joined with an Apache named Kaetenay (Wes Studi), who claims that both he and Malcolm are surrogate fathers to Ethan Chandler (Josh Hartnett). As said fathers, they are morally obligated to rescue him from Inspector Rusk the Intrepid, who extradited Ethan to America,

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as well as to rescue Ethan from the brigands who, on Ethan’s father’s orders, kidnapped him in order to return him to his family home: The Talbot Range.

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Last week, viewers were left with the impression that Kaetenay had Ethan’s best interests at heart. In episode two, however, after Kaetenay has a vision — he actually summoned the vision — we learned that a fierce antipathy exists between Ethan and Kaetenay, at least on Ethan’s part. Kaetenay reached out to Ethan in the vision, found him in the New Mexico Territory desert, and Ethan attacked him.

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We know Ethan doesn’t like his biological father, whom we have never seen, but who is always sending Pinkertons after Ethan, but it was a surprise to learn that, even in the vision, Ethan reacted violently to Kaetenay’s presence and attacked him. Kaetenay never revealed this to Sir Malcolm. Instead, he continued wearing his “Wise Old Man” mask, and told Malcolm simply that Ethan was aware that they were coming.

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Considering the fact that, in the vision, Ethan fought with Kaetenay and threatened to kill him, we were left wondering what secrets Kaetanay is keeping from Sir Malcolm. And why Kaetenay needs Sir Malcolm’s help “rescuing” Ethan. After all, Kaetenay seems an adequate warrior, as demonstrated when he helped Sir Malcolm defeat the bandits who attacked him. Kaetenay has the further ability to not only see Ethan far away in New Mexico, but to communicate with Ethan.

Ethan did not welcome Kaetenay in his vision.

He threatened to kill Kaetenay if he shows up in person.

Kaetenay did not reveal that to Sir Malcolm.

More masks.

More secrets.

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Meanwhile, in the American Southwest, Ethan is simply biding his time, waiting for the moon to turn full, when he now realizes he will turn into a Wolf-Man, so that he can indiscriminately kill anyone around him. Since he’s made it clear since his capture that he knew it was only a matter of a few days or weeks until the full moon caused his transformation, Ethan hasn’t seemed unduly distressed by his captivity. Last night, the full moon came out, Ethan changed into the Wolf, and killed virtually everyone in the place where his captors were buying supplies.

Virtually everyone.

In a surprise move, the Witch Hecate helped Ethan.

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Hecate (Sarah Greene) was shown eavesdropping on Rusk the Intrepid as he told US Marshals that he was the one who was going to recapture Ethan Chandler, whom he calls by his biological name, Lawrence Ethan Talbot. (The name is an homage to the 1941 Wolfman film which starred Lon Chaney Jr. as Lawrence Talbot [below], as is the makeup designed for Ethan’s character in Penny Dreadful.)

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Though Ethan doesn’t appear to be able to control himself when he is on a rampage as the Wolf, he did not attack Hecate, who appeared in her Witch/NightComer guise as she helped him kill the people in the trading post. When the two of them came together at the end of the scene, Ethan-as-the-Wolf stopped before her. And she gazed up at him, mask-free, scarred and naked, and said she’d missed him.

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Very romantic.

But has she missed him because she’s drawn to Ethan’s dark side or because she wants to use him to get to Vanessa? After all, Ethan is the Lupus Dei — the Hound (or the Wolf) of God — who protects Vanessa. And Hecate is the daughter of the murdered NightComer Evelyn Poole, who was attempting to ensnare Vanessa for the Master, Lucifer.

Hecate and Ethan may seem to have faced each other without their masks, but Hecate seems to have more than a couple masks.

Watch out, Ethan

I’m guessing, considering Ethan’s curse, it should also be, Watch out, Hecate.

Frankenstien, Jekyll,
and company

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Poor Victor Frankenstein (Harry Treadawway, above R).

For a man who brings dead people back to life, he sure has crumbled emotionally after losing his lover Brona-turned-Lilly to Dorian Gray. Victor can’t eat, can’t sleep, can’t get off the morphine. And now he’s working with Dr. Jekyll (Shazad Latif, above L) on a way to “tame” Lilly.

As if…

Snort.

In a super-cool plot complication, the casting directors of Penny Dreadful used a British-Indian actor, so he gets to rant and rage about whites viewing him only by his skin color — “once a Wog, always a Wog” — and about his being an unaccepted “half-breed,” as well as permitting his character to make other political comments about British Imperialism while appearing only to be railing about racism and his selfish, white, rich, British father (who abandoned his “exotic whore” Indian mother).

Jekyll revealed last night that he works at Bedlam, not being welcome at any other British medical institution. At Bedlam, home to the most violent, crazed, and forgotten mental patients, who are treated like prison inmates, he gets to perform experiments on them. I’ve read Robert Louis Stevenson’s The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde many times, and I was still creeped out by the fact that, in Penny Dreadful, Dr. Jekyll is experimenting on mental patients rather than only on himself.

Excellent writing, Mr. Logan.

Excellent socio-political commentary woven into Jekyll’s character.

Jekyll wants to put the mask of cultivated, tamed, controlled, civilized society on the most rabid and violently dangerous patients-criminals.

Victor, who helps him inject a violent, crazed criminal, and who witnesses the transformation from violent to civilized, wants to do that to Lilly.

Oh, if only he’d read the book…

Danger, Victor Frankenstein, Danger.

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To make matters worse, the love-sick Victor is stalking Lilly, sitting on a bench outside Dorian Gray’s house and watching her in her bedroom. She sees him and comes down to confront him.

Lilly warns Victor to go away, telling him that he will not like what she is becoming. We know Victor’s not going to listen to that: he wants to have Lilly-with-her-mask back in his arms and his bed again.

Despite the fact that Lilly took off her mask and told him that she is not the woman he thinks, that she is dangerous, that he would not like her, and that she is not in any way interested in him, Victor still did not get the message.

She’s taken off her mask several times.

But Victor is too blighted with unrequited love to see anything other than his unrealistic, romantic vision of her.

Much heartache and damage ahead for this fellow.

Vanessa Ives,
Dr Seward, and Dr. Sweet

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Poor, unlucky-in-love Vanessa (Eva Green, above, bottom).

The girl simply cannot win.

Despite the fact that she thinks she is filled with evil, she really tries to be a good person. Most of the time, anyway.

Like when she’s not seducing her best friend’s fiancé on the eve of the wedding.

And when she’s not setting Sir Geoffrey’s hounds on him to kill him as revenge for his burning the Cut-Wife at the stake.

This season, Vanessa has entered therapy: it’s a “new science,” and I’m not sure what name it’s called. In any event, Dr. Seward, who has already admitted to being related to the Joan Clayton (Cut-Wife) family, pushes Vanessa to discuss things “beyond murder.”

Like sin.

She’s recording all Vanessa’s sessions. Ostensibly, so she’ll save herself time taking notes. But really so that, behind her back and without her knowledge, her secretary Renfield can listen to the sessions and report back to his new Master, Dracula.

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Dr. Seward (Patti LuPone) did something beyond-strange in last night’s episode: at the end of the session, after Vanessa had her “homework” — to do something that gives her pleasure — and had left the office, Dr. Seward began to weep.

What on earth?

But perhaps that is, indeed, a mask Dr. Seward is wearing.

Perhaps she is more than “related” to Joan Clayton, the Cut-Wife who was burned at the stake for being a Witch.

Perhaps, at the last moment, as the flames engulfed her, the Cut-Wife learned that she did value life more than she’d realized.

Perhaps she finally made a bargain with the Devil.

To deliver Vanessa.

I can’t think of any other reason for a therapist to weep.

Something is going on behind that mask of hers.

I’m almost afeard to know exactly what it is.

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To find some pleasure, Vanessa (Eva Green) returned to the Natural History Museum, where she once again encountered the rather self-centered milquetoast Dr. Alexander Sweet (Christian Camargo). Once again, he forgot her name.

How many times, I wondered, is this man going to forget the name of a woman who is startlingly unusual looking, given the standards of the time period, and who is clever, articulate, and intelligent?

Vanessa invited him out for a “show” about Captain Nemo, whom Sweet had revealed as one of his childhood heroes. He seemed to enjoy himself. When she asked him to join her for coffee afterward, he declined. Then he kissed her hand, vowing that he would never forget her name again.

Talk about mixed messages.

And Vanessa keeps coming back.

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I’ve known from his character’s introduction last week that Dr. Sweet had some secret. Creator-writer John Logan is far too talented and careful to introduce a character that is a throw-away. So, it was just a matter of time until we discovered Sweet’s secret.

Until he took off his mask.

In one of most astounding reveals ever, Sweet took off his mask at the conclusion of last night’s episode.

To the viewers, not to Vanessa.

When Renfield returned to Dracula’s lair with information about Vanessa, Dracula — also known as The Master by the Lost Boys, who are following Vanessa all around the city — rewarded Renfield with some of the Master’s blood. As Renfield greedily lapped up blood from Dracula’s proffered wrist, the camera pulled up and back, revealing Dracula, who let his head fall back.

Holy Wooden Stake, Batman!

Dracula is none other than Dr. Alexander Sweet.

Talk about dropping a mask.

This milquetoast who can’t remember Vanessa’s name is the Master of Darkness on earth: Dracula?

That means he can, in fact, remember her name, because he’s been hunting her.

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So, how did she just happen to end up at his museum?

Dr. Seward told Vanessa, at the end of their first session, to do something she’d never done before, and she went into the museum, where she met Dr. Sweet. Then, at the end of the next session, Seward told Vanessa to do something that would make her happy: she returned to the museum, reconnected with Dr. Sweet, asked him out for the evening, and asked him for coffee, though he declined the latter.

All this leads to many questions. Is Dr. Seward somehow connected to Dr. Sweet? He appears to be well-established at the musem, but viewers now know he is Dracula. If Dr. Seward is the Cut-Wife, Joan Clayton, did the Cut-Wife promise this Master the soul of Vanessa Ives in return for her own life? Wouldn’t the Cut-Wife have made a bargain with the Lucifer, who is the other Master in the show, reigning over Hell while his cast-out brother, Dracula, reigns on earth?

Much dropping of masks in “Predators Far and Near.”

Much shivery and shuddery happenings, my Lovelies.

Be afeard.

Related Posts

All the Unloved Ones:
Penny Dreadful, Season 3 Premiere

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

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