Penny Dreadful: And They Were Enemies Review (S2 E10)

All apologies for our lateness with my review of this week’s season 2 finale of Penny Dreadful. I have had a bit of a busier weekend and start to the than intended because of some family and work circumstances, but I’m back now. And my, oh my, what a note did the show go out on this season. In the finale, we saw the finale battle with the nightcomers and a disbanding of the fellowship that brings lots of questions about season 3. (Warning: Spoilers below here!)

When last we saw our group, they’d invaded the witches’ home and split up in searchEthan of Vanessa and Sir Malcolm; that turns out to be a prophetic sort of ending, mirroring the characters’ eventual separation.

But first: Sembene is well and truly dead. I’d supposed as much but hoped for better. And Vanessa is walking farther and farther down a dark path. And naturally the battle with Evelyn really comes down to Vanessa facing herself—looking into the life-like eyes of that fetish doll and seeing herself reflected back.

Or really, what Vanessa sees is an illusion, a vision of what she most desperately wants: two adorable, mischievous children and a loving husband, one Ethan Chandler, who dote on her. It seems as though Vanessa might give in to this promise—but no. She doesn’t want “normal” anymore.

And something in her snaps. She chants the Verbis Diablo, and when she touches
vanessa2the puppet, it shatters, sending scorpions crawling everywhere. “Beloved, know your master,” she says.

Things escalate quickly. Evelyn begins rapidly aging, and it sends her into a panic. Hecate, who has been watching from a safe distance, releases Ethan from the room he and Sembene were trapped in. Ethan runs in, quickly slashing Evelyn’s throat. So long, Mistress Kali. But he seems almost to recognize Vanessa. The monster in him recognizes the monster in her, perhaps. She’s about to touch his face, but he runs away. A scorpion crawls into her palm to rest there instead, and she somehow absorbs it.

Evelyn’s death releases Victor and Malcolm, who were thisclose to committing suicide, from their enchantments. Lyle is able to kill one of the witches with his gun. Another is killed in the scuffle. Only Hecate is left, and she seems to have disappeared entirely.

Back at the mansion, the group begins to deal with their losses. Sir Malcolm declares that he is going to return Sembene’s body to Africa. Vanessa declares her love for Ethan—but he’s too caught up in what he is, too stuck in guilt. He writers her a letter saying as much and goes to turn himself into Rusk. Only, surprise!, there’s an extradition order. Ethan is going home.

creatureThe Creature, though is still locked in the Putney’s soon-to-be freak show. They offer him certain privileges for his cooperation, such as a cut of wages to buy more books and perhaps eventually some time out of the cell if he behaves properly and plays as a “father” to the freak show they are trying to build.

But the Creature has other plans. He is, in fact, strong enough to rip through those bars, and after he does so he kills both Mr. Putney and his wife. When Lavinia comes looking for them, she is still spouting horrible things. But the Creature leaves her to discover her parents’ bodies. He exits the building, and moments later we hear Lavinia’s screams echo down the street.

She goes to the cholera dens, where she finds the Creature. The two discuss their mutual sorrows. The Creature reveals that he is leaving, and there’s a beautiful moment where we almost get a season 3 of the two living in the Cut-Wife’s Cottage. One can dream. Ah well. Tehy bid one another goodbye.

We see Sir Malcolm on a ship with Sembene’s coffin next to him; and we see Ethan on a ship, locked in a cage. Rusk stands close-by. The Creature is on a ship, too, and we see it arriving in somewhere incredibly icy. The Creature is leaving civilization.

byebyeAnd then there’s Vanessa. Now at home, she’s turning off all the lights in the mansion, and perhaps the most symbolic is the first–the room where we’ve seen our characters group so many times before as they’ve had discussions and shared confidences.

As Vanessa shuts her bedroom door behind her, the camera pans in her point-of-view and lands right on the cross that’s hung on her wall. We’ve seen her kneel and pray so many times right in front of that cross. She walks up to it, lifts it, and throws it into the fire.

Victor, meanwhile, has returned to an empty home. He decides to confront Lily and Dorian, and to that end, he packs a pistol in his belt. Lily and Dorian are in the reallyreallyimmaculateportrait room, dancing. They’re both immaculately dressed in white. Victor confesses his love for Lily, asking her to come back home. When she refuses, he shoots her.

That doesn’t work, of course. Lily is too well made for that. She reveals to Frankenstein that she’s always know what she is. This time, Frankenstein aims for and shoots Dorian, and he is terrifically confused when Dorian only laughs. While Dorian and Lily debate what to do with him Frankenstein looks more and more horrified.

In the end, Victor is sent home. He contemplates his day as he rolls up a sleeve to reveal an arm that looks terribly painful, revealing the extent of his drug habit as he has to use a vein in his finger. Lily and Dorian, meanwhile, are dancing through the room, a trail of blood in their wake. Oh, my.

And that’s all for season 2, folks. There will be a season 3 of the show, and you can catch me here blogging it when it happens! 🙂

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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.

Penny Dreadful: Memento Mori Review (S2 E8)

We’re back this week with more Penny Dreadful Season 2–and I’m delighted to say that there will be a season 3 of the show and that we’ll be blogging it here again! Now, on to this week’s episode, the 8th of this 10-episode season. And my, what an episode it was. We *finally* see the picture of Dorian Grey; Lily goes on a feminist rant; and Lyle deciphers the Verbis Diablo. (Warning: This post is dark, and full of spoilers.)

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We open with Lily, and she’s pretty much where we left her last week—in bed with the corpse of a man she’s just strangled. On the way out, she knocks over a rather tall house of cards the man had been building—and one can’t help but see it as a symbol of all sorts of things that Lily would like to knock over.

The Creature, meanwhile, is tearing up Frankenstein’s lab and terrorizing his maker. He wants to make sure that Frankenstein remembers why he’s made Lily. Lily isn’t for Dorian or for Victor or for anyone else—she “belongs” to the Creature. I can’t help wondering what Lily is going to think of that, how she’s going to handle “belonging” to someone and being “created for” them.

When Lily does return home, Victor is eager to get her out of the city. He proposes a holiday away from London. Lily, though, says there’s more to teach her. More to do. It’s her new home, at any rate, and not one she’s keen to move on from. This is the first time I notice that Lily is talking without any impediment, without any strange diction, but I think it’s actually been happening since Dorian’s party.

Victor goes out to see Sir Malcolm. He’s worried about what love has done to him, mementomori3how it has changed him. Sir Malcolm is surprisingly close to the mark when he claims that love is an enchantment.

Lyle is making his way to the Murray house after an awful meeting with the witches. They’re concerned about where his loyalties lie and whether he’s telling the truth. It’s glaringly obvious now that Hecate has plans to overthrow Evelyn; she corners Lyle on his way out of the house to try and get more information about Vanessa and Ethan.

Back at Frankenstein’s home, the Creature visits Lily, stops by her room, and we get an idea of why Lily isn’t ready to leave London. She’s tired of being told what to do and when–she’s tired of corsets and high heels and so many of the restrictive mementomori1gender norms that marked her in life and now hold sway in death. She gives the best speech about it, and I remember again why I adore Billie Piper. Now beyond death, Lily is Something Else. She’s someone never to be used again.

And Lily has a completely developed sense of what she is, knows that Frankenstein has created her and that he created the Creature–I wonder how long she has known, how much of her relationship with Victor has been an act. Now, she swears men will bow to her—and she offers the Creature a place by her side.

Detective Rusk is also sniffing about. He discovers Sir Malcolm’s past visits to Scotland Yard and makes a visit to the Murray home in an attempt to discover why those visits stopped and how Mina Murray died. Sir Malcolm claims that the circumstances of her death were embarrassing to the family, and he absolutely denies knowing Ethan Chandler. Rusk is unconvinced but leaves anyway.

 

And Lyle has finished translating the Verbis Diablo. He reads the story aloud to Frankenstein, Sembene, and Murray, who are all stand around the table where the various artifacts that make up the Verbis Diablo are gathered. Murray is having trouble concentrating—perhaps because Evelyn is whispering devilish language into the ears of his fetish puppet.

Lyle reads the story aloud from the translated artifacts. It is the story of a fallen angel, yes—but it is also the story of his brother. When the rebellion had ended, God cleaved the brothers in two, throwing one into Hell to feed on souls (Lucifer) and sending the other to Earth to feed on blood. Only the Mother of Evil can reunite them. There’s some chatter about vampires, about why Vanessa is the chosen one, about why there’s always a woman as the evil conduit.

Helen McCrory as Evelyn Poole in Penny Dreadful (season 2, episode 6). - Photo: Jonathan Hession/SHOWTIME - Photo ID: PennyDreadful_206_0270

Sir Malcolm points out that the repeated phrase is “wolf” not “hound” of God right about the time that the enchantment of Evelyn is able to break through. Sir Malcolm’s eyes turn black and he upends the table, shouting and breaking the artifacts. Sembene is quick to his aid, though. He wrestles Murray out of the room and into an empty, dusty room. “Know who you are,” he shouts. And suddenly, Sir Malcolm has a vision and is able to break Evelyn’s enchantment.

Across town, Angelique is less-than-thrilled at being left home while Dorian is going out with Lily yet again. As he leaves, she she sees a draft of air, and she finds the portrait. Upon his return, he realizes what she’s done. There’s a bit of chatter, and despite Dorian’s kind demeanor, I’m on edge as he and Angelique talk about the portrait. And apparently, I was right to be. Right after saying she can accept him as mementomorihe is, as he truly is, the two share a toast—and then it’s goodbye Angelique, as she falls to the ground. The camera pans, and I’m worried it’s going to stop, but then—-we finally see The Picture. Dorian is old, disfigured. His skin is flayed off in spots; he is chained by the hands and feet, crouching like an animal. He’s hideous and sad.

But oh, now Sir Malcolm realizes that he’s been enchanted and is mad, mad, mad. He sneaks from the house alone with lots of ammo and a big gun. But of course, those things are virtually useless. He’s quickly captured by one of the younger witches and brought to Evelyn. She’s underestimated him, though. The tears she cries and her efforts to get him to join her are entirely unsuccessful.

She leaves him locked in a room with his hallucinations: three coffins for the members of his family. The lids creak open, and just as his family rises from their coffins, we cut away.

Next week, in the season’s penultimate episode, it looks as though we’ll see Vanessa and Ethan make their return to London and the characters readying for a final battle with the witches.

Penny Dreadful: Little Scorpion Review (S2 E7)

“Little Scorpion”, the 7th episode of Penny Dreadful Season 2, takes us back to the Cut-Wife’s cottage. The episode focuses almost entirely on Vanessa and Ethan, who make the journey together in hopes of finding a weapon–that book Vanessa was only supposed to touch in the direst of times, I would hope. Indeed, this seems the direst of times for the group, as Ethan battles the wolf inside and Frankenstein comes to terms with Lily’s growing independence. (Warning: spoilers are lurking below!)

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Despite Sir Malcolm’s reservations (and really in part because of his strong objections), Vanessa and Ethan leave without telling anyone in the group where they’re going—except Frankenstein, because of course Someone Has To Know. Prudent thing to do and whatnot.

At the cottage, Vanessa and Ethan spend a lot of time talking about monsters, redemption, and damnation. Oh yes, and she’s afraid of dolls. She doesn’t trust them, never has. Dear me. Ethan always seems to be talking about himself, and Vanessa seems quick to note that. And if that weren’t enough, Ethan bolts off into light of the full moon one evening, demanding that Vanessa bolt the door until morning.

The sexual tension that the show has been building between the two characters becomes even more obvious, though it’s also a bit confusing. In exchange for dancinglessionsshooting lessons (something she’s unsurprisingly good at), Vanessa agrees to teach Ethan to dance. After saving the cottage from a fire, the two embrace in a big, Notebook-style kiss. But Vanessa quickly pushes Ethan away. They’re dangerous, apparently.

But Ethan is still swearing to protect Vanessa. And it’s about this time that the two encounter Sir Geoffrey, the land owner who attempted to rape Vanessa and who killed the Cut-Wife. There’s a tense moment, but it passes. Back in the cottage, Vanessa vows to avenge the death of the Cut-Wife. Ethan warns her that killing isn’t something one can return from, but Vanessa doesn’t especially care.

Back at the mansion, Lyle is still trying to sort out the Verbis Diablo. That “hound of god” phrase is still troubling him. He thinks that the repetition is caused by the demon ruminating on something—probably something that represents a threat. Is this Ethan? And somehow we’re back to Amunet and Amun-Ra, immortals Lyle mentioned in season 1 who desperately loved one another but had to be kept apart because their union would bring about the apocalypse. Oh, great.

Ethan decides to go after Sir Geoffrey himself. But before he does, Vanessa reads from the Verbis Diablo. There’s lots of thrashing about and guttural sounds, and Eva Green’s fantastic ability to look like a madwoman shines as Vanessa reads a passage that makes Sir Geoffrey’s small pack of very large dogs turn on him and tear him to pieces.

Frankenstein is also dealing with the complex feelings he has for Lily when she goeslilydorian out with Dorian. She notices Putney’s Wax Museum, and since she’s never been to one before, he takes her inside. They’re looking about the museum when they stop in front of an exhibit and have a wee chat about grave-robbing. Lily looks both horrified and perplexed, and Dorian looks like he knows far more than he’s sharing.

On her way home, Lily stops for a drink. It’s an odd sort of moment—she brushes past a lot of men in the bar, finally stopping at an open stool beside an older gentleman. They chat for a few minutes, but then they’re off to the bedroom. And while they’re there—–Lily chokes him. To death. What is this?!

It looks like next week we’ll see more murdery things from Lily and perhaps some more of those pesky witches, who were mostly off the grid this week.