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 search 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
the 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.
The 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.
And 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 portrait 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! 🙂