Penny Dreadful: And Hell Itself My Only Foe Review (S2 E9)

Sunday night’s penultimate episode of Penny Dreadful Season Two left a lot of questions going into the finale, though many of them are well-answerable by the end of the season. A few hunches from earlier in the season were confirmed, and there were a few truly shocking moments as the show laid the framework for closing out season 2. (Warning: Spoilers lurk below!)

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Roper, the survivor of Ethan’s werewolf attack on the Mariner’s Inn, has tracked Ethan and Vanessa to the Cut-Wife’s cottage. He barges in on them, ordering Vanessa to cuff Ethan. When he threatens her, though, Vanessa grabs a knife; in the scuffle, Ethan is stabbed in the shoulder and Vanessa pulls out the knife, using it to kill Roper.

Well, there’s that neatly wrapped, though there is still the Inspector to worry about. (Apparently, he’s traced down Ethan’s real name–Ethan Lawrence Talbot—and his military record. He seems on the cusp of realizing something supernatural, but using phantom limb to explain it was really bizarre.)

Anyway, Victor Frankenstein suddenly arrives in a coach, come to fetch Vanessa and Ethan to help Sir Malcolm. Lyle recounts his treachery, vowing to help the group in any way he can. Vanessa is ready to go into the witches’ den, insisting that they go that evening. Ethan protests because He Has a Thing (the kind that happens on the full moon, and guess what—the moon’s full!). Also, Ethan points out that the witches are stronger during the nighttime. I’m not sure if this is true, but I’m sure they aren’t called “nightcomers” because they do their best work in the daytime. It’s a sound enough theory, and everyone appears to agree.

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Across town, Evelyn looks exhausted as she stands and listens to Sir Malcolm’s screaming. She’s leaning on the wall in the puppet room, but she still seems winded, and her skin has a clammy look to it. Hecate is more openly disdainful than before, more transparent about her feelings: her mother is old, and she is young; youth is everything. It’s only what she’s been taught.

Hecate decides to pay Ethan a bedroom visit. She’s still quite bent on corrupting him, and it just might work. It’d seem that Ethan would understand “wolf of God” as a good thing, but his fears about himself are sometimes what brings out the worst in him.

And speaking of the worst in Ethan…Everyone’s going to see it. Because suddenly, everyone notices that Vanessa is gone to rescue Sir Malcolm. And that’s exactly what the witches want. Ethan refuses to stay behind, chained up. He asks Sembene to do what must be done if the time comes.

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Meanwhile, Lily and Dorian are chatting in Dorian’s portrait room. They’re both being a bit coy, figuring one another out. And then Dorian (who I’ve though this whole time must recognize her) calls Lily “Brona.” He does know, indeed. And Lily knows something, too. “How old ARE you” she purrs. She demands that he tell her what he is—-insists by biting off his ear and asking him to heal himself. And Dorian does. There are sexy-times, of course.

Across town, the Creature is not having nearly the day that Lily and Dorian are having. When Lavinia Putney asks him to take her to see the new wing of the museum that is under construction, he reluctantly does so. He sees rows and rows of cages, makes a joke about a zoo. All I can think is “run.” But he doesn’t. And in return, Lavinia locks him in one of the cages. The Putneys are, in fact, creating a zoo—only it’s a human one, and the Creature is their first capture. Oh, Mr. Clare. Oh, Caliban.

And finally, we’re back at the witches’ castle. The group splits up when they arrive: Sembene and Ethan go one way, while Lyle and Victor go another. It’s Victor and Lyle who find Sir Malcolm. When Victor goes into the room, he’s locked in by one of the witches. At first, Frankenstein’s mind is clear; he’s speaking with Sir Malcolm to try to get him to return home. But suddenly, he’s also talking to the Creature, and to Lily, and to…Proteus. Oh, Proteus.

Sembene and Ethan aren’t have much luck, either. A trap door closes, and they’re stuck, stuck in a tiny space with a full moon rising. Ethan is panicked; he tries to kill himself. Sembene intervenes, though. “I’m just a man,” he says. “You have been chosen by God, my friend.” A few moments later, a werewolf version of Ethan lunges at Sembene. Nooooo!

Upstairs, Vanessa walks into the puppet room. She sees the doll like her. But then—it opens its eyes. Eep! And oh, it starts speaking. “Murderer,” it says.

*Shudder*

Next week, it looks like we’ll see the final battle with the witches. I’m also hoping we’re going to get a teaser introduction to Dracula, since we’ve now learned that he’s Lucifer’s other half/brother/hell-spawn-compatriot.

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