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More Free Scary Stories

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(8-14 October 2018)

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This is The End, My Only Friend, The End: Penny Dreadful Series Finale, Episodes 8-9, “Perpetual Night” and “Blessed Dark,” Review & Recap

Spoilers,
Most Dreadfully Dreadful

Josh Hartnett as Ethan and Eva Green as Vanessa Ives in Penny Dreadful (season 3, episode 9). - Photo: Patrick Redmond/SHOWTIME - Photo ID: PennyDreadful_309_1596
We knew it would end some time, that deliciously dark and dreadful exploration into faith, into good and evil, and into mankind’s choice to do moral or immoral acts. The end came last night when Penny Dreadful completed its three-season run with a two-part finale, including episodes 8 and 9: “Perpetual Night” and “Blessed Dark.”  John Logan’s thrilling horror story Penny Dreadful did not end because of low ratings, series cancellation, or unavailability of the actors. Instead, like Soderbergh’s and Cinemax’s 2-year series The Knick,  the series Penny Dreadful ended because its creator and writer ended it, because he had always intended ending it at the conclusion of the third season, because it was the logical and reasonable end to the stories of its characters.

There is much grief among viewers over the loss of Vanessa (Eva Green), one of the belovèd characters of fictional drama. There is grief and mourning over the fact that the star-crossed lovers, Ethan (Josh Hartnett) and Vanessa did not, in fact, end up together, despite their great love for each other. There is some disbelief, and outrage, about Vanessa’s choosing the darkness, in the form of Dracula (Christian Camargo), because she is such a good person.

Those “outraged” viewers are ignoring or forgetting the evil in Vanessa herself. They’re also forgetting Vanessa’s previous choices to consciously do evil. Vanessa seduced her best friend’s fiancé on the eve of their wedding, knowing full well that the infidelity would betray her friend Mina and pollute the marriage, even if the act itself were never discovered. When Vanessa confronted the fetish of herself in the basement of Night-Walker Evelyn Poole’s mansion, she told it to “meet [its] Master” just before she destroyed it, proving pretty well that she could take care of herself when confronted with evil. When Vanessa intentionally said the Verbis Diablo in a spell that set Sir Geoffrey’s hounds on him,  she embraced the evil within her, knowing that she could never go back from that act. It was, fact, this evil act that turned Ethan away from her morally. Vanessa has consistently proven that she can consciously choose to do evil, especially when it benefits her. Even if those benefits are short-term.

Of course, the Apocalypse is not supposed to be short-term: it’s supposed to be the End of everything. Once again, in “Blessed Dark,” Vanessa displayed her moral ambivalence about the evil inside her by using her own death to subvert her previously conscious choices.

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Like all the characters in Logan’s Penny Dreadful, Vanessa is both good and evil, and she made a choice, earlier, to abandon her faith, to abandon God, and to embrace her dark destiny as well as her evil nature. For three seasons, we have seen Vanessa struggle against the two Dark Masters who have been hunting her as their Bride. The “fallen angel brothers,” Dracula and Lucifer have been sparring over her soul and her body for the entire run of Penny Dreadful.

It wasn’t really such a surprise that she eventually gave in to Dracula, who promised her eternal love, devotion, and companionship. However heart-wrenching it was for viewers who knew that Vanessa’s surrender to Dracula meant the End of Days for everyone else, it seemed a logical emotional choice for Vanessa.

How long can one person be expected to hold out against the eternal forces of Darkness, especially when said forced are continually presented as physically and emotionally attractive, as unwavering and articulate lovers, as devoted companions, as eternal and never-ending love?

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Vanessa tried to bind her destiny to that of Ethan Chandler (Josh Hartnett), but at the conclusion of season 2, Ethan left her and turned himself in for his crimes, ostensibly because he expected to be executed immediately, not extradited back to America to face his crimes there, or to face his father. It doesn’t matter to Vanessa why Ethan left her: only that he left her, and that she felt abandoned. That is one of the things that clearly shaped her decision to give in to her fate, her destiny, her tragic and ominous union with the Dark Master.

Dracula knew all about the Lupus Dei, the Hound of God who protects Vanessa and who threatens Dracula himself. He knew that Ethan is the Hound of God, though he often called him the “Wolf of God” instead. Dracula knew, furthermore, that Ethan was no longer there to protect Vanessa. When Dracula asked her about her former love, she said he had abandoned her. Dracula knew exactly what to say to the damaged and vulnerable Vanessa.

Dracula won the Vanessa-prize because everyone else abandoned Vanessa: Ethan, Sir Malcolm, Lyle. There was no one to whom she could turn except Dr. Seward (Patti LuPone), who unwittingly advised her to seek out Dr. Alexander Sweet, who was Dracula in his human form.

That doesn’t mean Vanessa was entirely happy with Dracula. After all, she embraced him saying that she was “accepting herself,” rather than “accepting him,” as he’d asked. I suppose he took her words to mean what he wanted them to mean, not a surprising thing given the Victorian setting of the drama, and the way men often treated women they desire. The Dark Master got what Vanessa gave him: it may have been only her body, it may have been the Apocalypse, it may have been her soul, albeit briefly (he claimed in The White Room that he had no need for her soul, and that, furthermore, his brother Lucifer was “welcome to it”).

We got a brief glimpse of something less than accord between Vanessa and Dracula when one of the Lost Boys reported on the Wolf-induced carnage outside the abandoned slaughterhouse. With her hand on his shoulder, Vanessa told Dracula that she could smell “the fear” on him. When he moved his hand to take hers, she moved away, while he looked vaguely surprised and distressed. It seems that all was not well in Apocalypto-Land, despite Dracula’s having the woman he’d searched for since the beginning of time.

Despite Vanessa’s being the Mother of all Evil, despite her being worshiped by all Dracula’s minions and Lost Boys, despite her being with the companion of her choice, Vanessa is not entirely happy.

This is one of the common themes in literature of the Victorian era, no matter the country of the author’s origin, and no matter the gender of the author. No matter what a fictional Victorian woman chooses, she will not be completely happy. No matter what a woman does, she will be “punished.” No matter a woman’s choices, her life is, in fact, severely constricted by her society. A woman must pay for whatever freedom and happiness she manages to attain.

Consider Flaubert’s Madame Bovary, where Emma’s adulterous affairs and self-indulgent debt lead to her husband’s ruin financial ruin. None of Emma’s lovers care for anything but their own self-satisfaction. Once they have Emma sexually, she loses attraction for them. Eventually, in despair, she commits suicide.

In Tolstoy’s Anna Karenina, Anna’s adulterous affair with the love of her life, Vronsky, leads to Anna’s loss of her son as well as to the loss of her status in Russian society. Eventually, it leads to her drug use, jealous rages that alienate her lover, and to her eventual suicide.

In Hardy’s Tess of the d’Urdervilles, the young and naïve Tess falls in love with her “cousin,” gives in to him sexually, and bears a child that dies shortly after; later, after marrying and revealing to her husband her initial sexual relationship, she is abandoned by her husband because of her “immorality;” Tess kills her first lover in the hopes that it will bring her husband back to her. Instead, she is executed for her crimes.

In Charlotte Brontë’s Jane Eyre, Jane must first “pay penance” for loving a married man, despite the fact that she did not know he was married when she fell in love with and agreed to marry him herself. She “punishes” herself for her “sins” by leaving him and by being unhappy. Even after she returns to Mr. Rochester, he is blind, and needs her as much as a caregiver as a companion. Jane’s ultimate “happiness” is purchased at a great price.

In Emily Brontë’s Wuthering Heights, Catherine and Heathcliff never do find happiness; instead, Catherine dies giving birth to (their?) child, cursing Heathcliff for having abandoned her, though he insists that it was Catherine who initially abandoned him by claiming she could never marry Heathcliff. She haunts Heathcliff after her death: the two are never together in life.

Even in American literature, women of the literary era are punished for sexual alliances and for love. Hawthorne’s heroine Hester, in The Scarlet Letter, bears her lover’s child after the older husband of her arranged marriage is pronounced dead. Because Hester will not reveal the name of her illicit lover, and because he never comes forward to claim her and the child, Hester is forced to endure the public scorn and repudiation of her society. Her lover dies without ever claiming the two of them. Hester’s “reward” for her loyalty and her love is a lifetime alone.

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One could argue that, in making Vanessa Ives choose death as the logical conclusion of her moral choices, creator-writer Logan was merely creating yet another doomed Victorian heroine. Furthermore, by  having Vanessa request that the love-of-her-life Ethan kill her, to release her from her own moral choices, Logan is showing that Vanessa must have a man help her “atone” for her life choices and actions, as though she is unable to do so on her own.

I realize that death seemed the sole, logical conclusion for Vanessa’s moral choices, according to Penny Dreadful’s male creator. I realize that having the Apocalypse and the death of all mankind on one’s conscience would be an extremely heavy burden. But what happened to the Vanessa who “accepted [herself]”? Where was the woman who consciously embraced her dark side?

She defined herself, again, by a man, and by a man’s actions.

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Ethan may be considered her “saviour,” but, in the end of Vanessa’s story, he was simply the man who decided her fate: it was Ethan who ultimately pulled the trigger and killed her. One could argue that Vanessa decided her own fate by asking Ethan to kill her, but other Victorian heroines have chosen to end their own lives, and not asked that a man do it for them.

What was Vanessa but another Victorian heroine who had to suffer for being different? A Victorian heroine who could not fit in to society’s definition of a “proper woman.” A heroine of Victorian-era literature who was not “allowed” to be happy, who was not permitted to be either sexually or emotionally content.

Ah, well… we could wonder all we want at what Logan was attempting to do. I would argue that Logan, while re-inventing some of the characters from the literature of the Victorian era, fell into the same constricted societal judgements of all persons, but especially of women, who are different from that which society expects.

A woman without a man is incomplete.

A woman who chooses sexual independence is morally repugnant.

A woman who chooses sexual or moral freedom must be punished.

Logan and Penny Dreadful gave us yet another doomed Victorian woman who must die, or otherwise by “punished,” for her sexual and moral choices.

That doesn’t mean I don’t love Vanessa Ives and Penny Dreadful. I think she is one of the finest characters ever created, and the series is one of the best ever written. I’m devastated to see it end. It simply means that, as a woman, I’m saddened to see yet another fictional heroine forced to “choose” death as the “punishment” or as the ultimate end of her moral and sexual choices.

Still, Vanessa’s fate was, no doubt, decided long beforehand, and with her constant pleas to others, and especially to Ethan, to end her “suffering,” her death shouldn’t have been a surprise to any viewers.

Vanessa died. By Ethan’s hand. At her request.

Then, to appease anyone who was too tremendously upset about Vanessa’s having chosen Dracula and the Darkness instead of waiting for Ethan to return (though mating with him would have also been a morally dubious choice, given that he’s a WolfMan), Vanessa began to pray again, half-way through Ethan’s recitation of The Lord’s Prayer, while he remained silent, just before he shot her.

As if her being able to pray again weren’t clear enough for viewers, Vanessa claimed to see “our Lord” as she was dying.

In case anyone thought that Lucifer might scoop her up as she attempted to avoid the consequences of her having chosen, in life, his earthly brother of Darkness, Dracula.

It was sad to lose her.

But, somehow, it was not a surprise.

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Meanwhile…
The Remaining Stories

Dorian (Reeve Carney), having given Lily to the love-lorn Victor Frankenstein so that Victor and his colleague Henry Jekyll could “make her into a proper woman,” returned to his mansion, threw out all the whores, and killed Justine (Jessica Barden), who didn’t want to live in a world without Lily. When Lily returned, she viewed Justine as another “dead child,” having related earlier, to Victor, her loss of her natural born child, Sarah. Despite Dorian’s assurance that life without emotional engagement was the only way to survive immortality, and that he was the only partner suited for her, Lily left Dorian alone.

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Dorian’s story has never been as integrally woven with the story of Vanessa and the others, and this end was no different. Despite Dorian’s being sexually involved with Vanessa in season one, Dorian is ultimately alone. An outsider in the world of Penny Dreadful.

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Victor Frankenstein (Harry Treadaway, above L) gave up trying to mold Lily (Billie Piper) into a “perfect woman,” by which he meant a woman who loved him but had no independent thoughts, life, or impulses. After Lily begged him not to take away the memory of her dead child Sarah, Victor finally saw her as a human being with desires and a life separate from his own.

Despite Jekyll’s (Shazad Latif, above R) insistence that Lily could have been changed, and Jekyll’s lament that he never should have left Victor alone with Lily, Victor won the moral high ground in this “battle” over good and evil. Though Jekyll gloated that he, at last, had inherited his father’s estate and title, and would thereby achieve societal acceptance as “Lord Hyde,” viewers probably guessed that Jekyll-Hyde would never be part of the society as he wished, even if they’ve never read the book on which his character was based.

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Frankenstein’s first Creature (Rory Kinnear, above, center), also sometimes known as John Clare, was reunited with his family only to be confronted with the death of his young son. After his wife insisted that he take the boy’s body to Dr. Frankenstein so that the boy could be re-animated as was the Creature himself, Clare was faced with a moral decision. He had to choose life with the woman who claimed to love him and accept him totally, but who insisted that he have their son “re-animated” so that she could love him again, “better this time,” or Clare had to choose life alone. He chose to “bury” his son in the ocean rather than to have him re-animated and to suffer as the Creature himself had.

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Dr. Seward (Patti LuPone) was not revealed as the re-incarnated Joan Clayton, which LuPone played in Season 2, but she did come to Vanessa’s aid. She acquitted herself admirably alongside Sir Malcolm (Timothy Dalton), Ethan, Catriona (Perdita Weeks, below), Frankenstein, and Kaetenay as they fought Dracula’s minions, the Lost Boys.

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After Vanessa’s death, Sir Malcolm, who was wounded by a vampire but had his wound cauterized by thanatologist Cat, bonded with Ethan. Each affirmed that they had to find a new life now that Vanessa was no longer alive, but that they considered each other family. Malcolm and Ethan have become the ideal father and son that neither had in reality.

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After finding a dead wolf hanging in Vanessa’s room at Sir Malcolm’s mansion, but before finding Vanessa herself, Ethan learned that it was his spiritual father Kaetenay (Wes Studi) who turned Ethan into a WolfMan. Though Ethan’s hostility toward Kaetaney has been present from the beginning of the season, if only in visions, Ethan did not know that Kaetenay intentionally turned (and cursed) him until last night.

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(I’m actually not sure what happened to Kaetenay, which could mean I was too absorbed in the group’s search for Vanessa to notice. On the other hand, it could mean that Kaetanay’s fate was not remarkable enough for me to notice. I’ll update the post after I watch the episode again.)

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Dracula (Christian Camargo) vanished tout de suite after Ethan appeared, bearing Vanessa’s body. Everyone else seemed to be paying too much attention to Ethan to notice that Dracula had escaped. He was never mentioned again.

Rory Kinnear as The Creature in Penny Dreadful (season 3, episode 9). - Photo: Jonathan Hession/SHOWTIME - Photo ID: PennyDreadful_309_3197

The Creature appeared at the cemetery during Vanessa’s funeral, and his poignant Voice-Over of Wordsworth’s famous “Ode: Intimations of Immortality from Recollections of Early Childhood” was a lovely tribute to the entire show.

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Were there loose ends? Unfortunately. We never got to see how Amunet or Amun-ra were related to either Dracula, Vanessa, or Lucifer, the other Prince of Darkness. As I wrote earlier in this post, Dorian’s story was never as integrally tied into the remaining tales, but we know that he’s alone. We don’t know what happened to Lily, but if she’s like Frankenstein’s other Creature, she’s going to be roaming the world an an immortal being, always alone. Frankenstein himself, after pining after and plotting over Lily all season, seemed relatively quickly resigned to life without her. Jekyll’s story didn’t have near the moral consequences that it does in the novel, when its protagonist tries to separate his evil impulses from the good ones, failing when the evil side cannot be conquered unless the physical body is destroyed. Renfield ended up in a cell in Bedlam. What happened to Dr. Seward and Catriona, the other two strong women in the show? They helped save Vanessa. That seems to be their sole purpose. What happened to Dracula? We’ll never know.

It’s over, my fellow Dreadfuls.

It’s been quite a tumultuous ride.

Related Posts

May the Lost Souls Be Found:
Penny Dreadful, Season 3 Episode 7,
“Ebb Tide” Review & Recap

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

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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

Share

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

Betrayal of the Blood: PENNY DREADFUL, S2 E4-6

Warning: Spoilers Galore

0d4019175dcb46f5c6230367526d9b88After the flashback in “Cut-Wife” (S2E3), where we learned how Vanessa discovered her true identity and how to harness her unusual abilities, Penny Dreadful has been busy entangling virtually all the characters in dangerous, potentially deadly, erotic, and exotic relationships. Beginning with S2E4 and culminating with a grand ball that turned disastrous in E6, some characters are intentionally setting traps to catch other, unwary characters, while others are merely betraying characters who trust them.

The Fetishes

images-1 copyThe witches, or Night-Comers, led by Evelyn Poole (Helen McCrory), long-lived and still beautiful sister of the Cut-Wife Joan Clayton (Patti LuPone), are busy weaving a web to snare Vanessa. Evelyn is trying a many-pronged approach.

She made a “fetish” — something like a voodoo doll — of Vanessa (Eva Green) in a basement that is filled with hundreds of dolls: evidence of Evelyn’s evil and power.

images-25She put a live baby’s heart into the fetish of Vanessa, chanting Verbis Diablo, and when the fetish was complete, Vanessa felt her own heart lurch.

images-38To make the fetish more effective and powerful, Evelyn sent her daughter Hecate (Sarah Poole), along with the two remaining Night-Comers, to Sir Malcolm’s mansion. There, the three of them blended into the wallpaper. Though Ethan (Josh Harnett), wolf that he is, smelled something suspicious each time he went by one of the hidden Night-Comers, he could not discover what was wrong until it was too late.

images-1 copyVanessa is doubting her sanity since she is, at times, able to see the Night-Comers, but they disappear so quickly that she fears she’s going mad. Ethan comforts and reassures her, letting her stay in his room with him on guard.

images-35Unfortunately, Hecate was able to get some of Vanessa’s hair by ripping it out of her scalp when the Night-Comers invaded the mansion, and Hecate later wove it into the fetish. I can only assume that this will make the fetish more potent.

images-56Now that Evelyn has gotten Sir Malcolm’s attention, she’s also made a fetish of him, massaging the baby’s heart until it began to beat. Sir Malcolm is already losing his own grip on reality.images-18Evelyn made a fetish of Sir Malcolm’s wife Gladys, but she cracked open the skull of that fetish and put hot spikes in it, driving Gladys mad with pain, causing convulsions and hallucinations, and eventually causing her to commit suicide by cutting her throat with her husband’s straight-razor.

No divorce necessary now.

Sir Malcolm is free to become involved with the widow Evelyn Poole.

Which is exactly what she meant at the shooting range when she told Malcolm that it was always good to have something “to aim at.”

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The Night-Comers

images-20Apparently never one to lack imagination or tenacity, Evelyn Poole has also been using other ways to get at Vanessa. She is blackmailing Mr. Lyle (Simon Russell Beale) with photos of his homosexual encounters (which would have sent him to prison, lost him his wife, her money, and his position at the museum and in society).  She wants him to get her closer to Vanessa and to continue helping them solve the puzzle of Verbis Diablo. He offered to “mis-lead” them, but Evelyn said, “No, let her follow the breadcrumbs to me.”

images-14Lyle vainly tried to warn Sir Malcolm about his interest in Ms. Poole, advising him to “proceed with caution,” but I don’t think Sir Malcolm even heard him.

images-39Evelyn attempted to send her daughter Hecate after Ethan, but he wasn’t fooled by her claim that she was an “American abroad” trying to “finish her education.”

images-13Despite their physical contact when Ethan saved Hecate from a carriage in the street, which Hecate planned, Ethan was unmoved by her story. Her “un-American” accent betrayed her.

images-26 That attempt to make a connection with Vanessa failed.

But Evelyn and the Night-Comers have attained some power over Vanessa. At Dorian’s ball for Angelique (discussed in detail later in this post), they made her hallucinate that blood was spilling down on everyone.

images-58And then they made her lose consciousness.

Bad witches, them girls.

The Entanglements

images-1Despite Hecate’s failed attempt to engage Ethan emotionally, several other characters are becoming emotionally attached and sexually engaged.

Lyle & Ethan

Lyle is not only sexually attracted to Ethan, but may actually be in love with him. Lyle flirts outrageously with Ethan, even in front of others.

images-24But the attachment seems to be deeper than flirtation, at least on Lyle’s side. Lyle and Ethan are often left alone in the mansion to work on the “puzzle” of the Verbis Diablo. The other characters are involved, mostly, in sexual encounters, and are not available much of the time. Besides, Ethan knows Latin, which helps in the puzzle-solving, and in impressing Lyle.

images-6Though it’s clear that Lyle is sexually attracted to Ethan,  he seems to value their time alone together most: that’s when Lyle drops his silly façade and shows his scholarship and caring side.

Ethan & Vanessa

960Though Ethan and Vanessa are clearly attracted to each other, she fears getting sexually involved because her past sexual liaisons have “unleashed” the dark side. Ethan, for his part, knows he has blackouts, and that people die during them.

images-52Though he may not realize he is a Wolf-man, he knows he’s dangerous. He doesn’t want to hurt Vanessa.

Unknown-6They seem to be the only couple who are mutually sexually attracted to each other who have not had sexual relations.

Not even a kiss.

Just a wistful glance and a touch of the face on the stairs.

Dorian & Angelique

images-51I really admire the fact that creator-writer John Logan, Showtime, and Penny Dreadful are tackling the long-taboo or ignored subject of transgender persons. The show has touched on homosexuality, but only in Lyle’s vain love and admiration of Ethan: the affection and attraction is not mutual.

With the entrance of Angelique (Johnny Beauchamp), Dorian (Reeve Carney), who has had homosexual encounters — including one with Ethan in S1 — gets a chance to have an actual relationship with a “woman” who’s been born into a man’s body.

images-11From its inception, the writer has made it clear that Angelique knew she was different from early childhood, and shunned by her family. Believing that prostitution was the only life-option, she turned to that.

PD S2 dorian and angeliqueDorian is intrigued at first — how that ageless bad-boy likes novelty — and their fully nude sexual scene was handled tastefully. Now Dorian seems to be genuinely falling in love, as evidenced by his letting her buy some clothes and leave them at his home, his defending her in public, his kissing her gloved hand in public after she was insulted by another man, and his throwing her a “coming out” ball.

images-47My BF immediately objected to the term “coming out,” insisting that it was an anachronism. I explained that Dorian meant something more along the lines of a debutante’s “coming out” ball, where she was introduced to society as an eligible marriage candidate. (My BF hadn’t heard of that kind of “coming out” — he retracted his objection.)

images-44Unfortunately, the jaded Dorian, after dancing only one dance with Angelique at the ball he was sponsoring for her, immediately seemed to become enamored of Brona-turned-Lilly (Billie Piper), who is meant to be the bride for the Creature.

Angelique was understandably hurt.

So was Frankenstein (Harry Treadaway), who has fallen in love with Lilly himself.

My only problem with the Dorian-Angelique storyline are the same ones I had with the Dorian plotline in the first season.

  • No one who is unfamiliar with Oscar Wilde’s The Picture of Dorian Gray knows what’s up with Dorian, beyond the fact that he likes to have sex with a lot of people — of either sex or gender — has some unknown and unrevealed portrait hidden away that he likes to look at once in a while, and lives in a big house with lots of money.
  • Dorian’s story, even with Angelique, is not interwoven with the stories of any of the other characters. Just like last year, Dorian could be completely erased from the show, and its storyline would not be affected. (Reeve Carney’s fans may be dismayed, but the storyline of Penny Dreadful itself would not be significantly altered.) This is not good.

I realize that this has the potential to change if Dorian and Victor get into a spitting contest over Lilly.

Then again, I was sure Dorian would eventually get more involved in the major story events last season, and, sadly, it simply never happened.

Victor & Lilly

images-45Unbeknownst to the Creature, Victor and the Creature’s intended, Lilly, are falling in love. Victor is filling her head with tales of Lilly being his cousin, and of all their childhood days together.

images-2Victor asked Vanessa to help him buy clothes for Lilly, including intimate undergarments.

images-32Victor took Lilly to lunch with Vanessa, who immediately recognized that Victor is in love with Lilly, “though he may not know it.” images-34(And, yes, I agree with the commenters on forums about the fact that Vanessa’s not recognizing Lilly as Brona, whom she met with Ethan last year, is not realistic. Despite the change of accent and hair-color, Lilly has the same face, and it is not a bland, unremarkable one. To make Vanessa “blind” to her identity, or even to her physical similarity to Brona, is just silly.)

Victor took Lilly to Dorian’s ball.

images-46Victor and Lilly had sexual relations, and they are falling in love with each other (although they may not realize it themselves).

images-19To make matter worse, Dorian’s past with Lilly-as-Brona, and Dorian’s inherent infidelity to anything, may cause some problems.

The Creature & Lilly

images-22Poor Creature, now going by the name of John Clare (Rory Kinnear, above L). He is so lonely. He so wants female companionship. He wants a life-long mate. That’s why Victor (above L) smothered the dying-from-consumption Brona Croft (Billie Piper), who was Ethan’s lover and love, and turned her into the amnesiac Lilly.

For the Creature.

images-10Lilly feels uncomfortable with the Creature, however.

So uncomfortable that she acts cold and distant around him.

He is hurt, confused, and lonely.

The Creature & Lavinia

images-54I thought the blind Lavinia, daughter to the Creature-as-John-Clare’s new employer, would become a viable love interest for him. She cannot see his deformity, and made no remarks about the scars on his face when she touched him in order to “meet him.”

images-43Unfortunately, in E6, during a friendly conversation at work, she took the Creature’s hand, remarked on its being so cold (as if his face isn’t) and then told her parents that there was something strange and “dead” about him.

I guess there’ll be no love story there.

The Creature & Vanessa

images-23Of all the women in the series, Vanessa is the Creature’s equal: emotionally, philosophically, theologically, and intellectually. The two met down in the poorer quarters, where Sir Malcolm sometimes works “to find a sort of peace,” and where he took Vanessa.

Since their initial meeting, Vanessa and Mr. Clare, as she knows him, have not only had many intriguing and interesting discussions, but she taught him to dance when he confessed that he did not know the rules or engagements of “courting.”

Unknown-4Sadly, even if the creature were to fall in love with Vanessa, I think she’s already falling for Ethan.

UnknownMeanwhile, Victor’s already stolen the heart — and body — of Lilly.

I think the Creature is in for an even greater heartbreak than that he experienced last season when the actress Maude rejected his affection and physical advances.

He turned violent last year after his heart was broken, killing Professor Van Helsing (David Warner) in front of Victor because Frankenstein had not yet fulfilled his promise to find the Creature a mate.

Who knows what the Creature will do when he discovers that his intended bride, Lilly, has been “seduced” by Victor?

Sir Malcolm & Evelyn

images-4Yes, I know it’s all witchcraft and enchantment.

images-2Yes, I know Evelyn’s only using Sir Malcolm to get closer to Vanessa, preferably by marrying him and living in the same house with Evelyn’s true object of desire: Vanessa, as a bride for the Master, Lucifer.Unknown-7Yes, I know she’s, like, what — 250 years older than Sir Malcolm, and only looks his age and is only still attractive because of her having sold her soul to the Devil.

images-15And, yes, I saw all the scenes where Evelyn pricked Sir Malcolm with her ring, making him desire her sexually. I know she pricked him during the sex act itself. I know he’s so bewitched by her evil power that when he heard of the suicide of his wife, his only comment was that he’d “have to replace the carpet” since it had been covered with blood.

Unknown-8He’s so bewitched by Evelyn Poole, Sir Malcolm even shaved his beard for her. The beard Vanessa reports he’s had all his life.

images-42Yeah, yeah, I know it’s not real love. Not on Sir Malcolm’s part because he’s enchanted and controlled by witchcraft. Certainly not on Evelyn’s part because she only loves herself and her Master, the Devil. She’s already been shown to manipulate the men in her life — and others — to get the only things she really wants: Vanessa for the Master.

images-41Despite knowing all that, it was wonderful to see an actual sex scene between actors who are not in their twenties. I think both Helen McCrory and Timothy Dalton are not only very fine actors, but they’re very physically and sexually attractive.

So it’s an even braver thing to show the two of them enjoying sex than showing Dorian and transgendered Angelique having sex. It was so brave, I’m going to put up the photo of them together again.images-13I admit it. That scene between Sir Malcolm and Evelyn had me as breathless as the scene between Ethan and Vanessa on the stairs.

Talk about erotic.

(Note to Showtime and anyone else concerned: I would have liked to see more of Sir Malcolm’s chest during the act itself. His shirt was unbuttoned, but still almost closed. I’m not asking for full nudity, but it would have been really nice to see his chest and back, at least. And from the scene with Sir Geoffrey in “Cut-Wife,” we know that actress Helen McCrory (below, not in costume for the show) has a fine body, too, and she doesn’t have to show all of it for us to determine that.

180px-Helen McCrory copyOlder people are still active sexually, and they’re still attractive. Be brave in this area, too, please.)

Ethan as Wolf-Man
& Sembene as Protector

images-52Finally, it looks like Sembene (Danny Sapani) is going to have a greater role than opening the door when someone knocks, or sitting watching it when it’s locked. In the final moments of E6, Ethan was not present at Dorian’s ball. At that time, Ethan was at the mansion with Sembene, asking him to chain Ethan to the wall.

Sembene, without further explanation but with a concerned expression, did so. Ethan showed his trust in Sembene by doing this. Though Ethan knows he has blackouts, after which there’s “usually blood,” and no survivors except himself, he does not apparently know that he’s a Wolf-Man. He doesn’t know what happens to him during the full moon, beyond the fact that other people die.

He’s about to reveal his darkest secret, which he himself doesn’t even know, to the only other true warrior in the show: Sembene.

Chained to the basement as Fenton was last season, Ethan then waited.

Seated in a chair in front of him, so did Sembene.

And things got wild.

 ♥

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