Penny Dreadful: And Hell Itself My Only Foe

Penny Dreadful

OMG what just happened? Full disclosure: I watch everything with closed captions on because I’m a dialogue whore, but when I watch online, captions aren’t always available, so I miss some things. I watched this online and the very last scene was unfolding almost in slow motion as I pieced together, without the exact dialogue, what the hell was unfolding. We’ll get to that. So. Much. Staging.

Next week is the finale, and thank God it was not this episode, because CLIFFHANGER.

The episode begins with dumbass Roper confronting Ethan and threatening Vanessa and in spectacular tag-team fashion, they kill him. It’s an epic scene that was just amazingly choreographed — every time Vanessa stabbed him, a handcuffed Ethan kicked the shit out of him. It was glorious. Ethan takes a knife to the shoulder, though.

Then Victor comes calling and brings them back into London, where Ethan is immediately accosted by Rusk, who seriously has some sort of hard on about seeing Ethan in a noose. He taunts him some more about that, and then outs him by addressing him as Mr. Talbot.

When Ethan gets back inside, Sembene establishes it’s a full moon that evening and we’ve missed Lyle’s confession (which was weird to not see how that conversation even started). Vanessa assures him they are all culpable of one thing or another and all is forgiven. She says they’ll go fetch Malcolm that evening, and thinking of the full moon, Ethan says morning is better, and the gang confirms day is the best time to fight the Nightcomers.

Vanessa being Vanessa, she doesn’t heed that, and heads over to confront Evelyn on her own. Meanwhile, Malcolm is still having his psyche assaulted by the visions of his family. Back at the manor, Victor shoots up as Vanessa sits beside him on the couch and offers him comfort about Lily and then leaves him to his high.

Evelyn and Hecate have a conversation about how Malcolm is essentially as useless as all other men, and when Hecate oversteps in chastising her mother, Evelyn reminds her of her place. Hecate excuses herself to go visit Ethan and they have a bizarre conversation where she essentially offers him the keys to the kingdom if he’ll be her wolf for Lucifer. He agrees and I think that’s a big bait and switch, but like I said, no captions.

When Sembene tells him Vanessa has bailed on them, they head over as a team to go get her. Outside, Lyle stops to pray and a suddenly sober Victor stands quiet, admitting he is not on to judge. Ethan asks Sembene to swear he will kill him if he threatens any of them. Sembene says he will.

Once they’re inside the house, they’re separated. Hecate sets upon Lyle, Victor is locked in the parlor with Malcolm, plagued by visions of his creatures. Down in the catacombs Vanessa and Evelyn are having a surprisingly civil conversation as her doll opens its eyes.

Ethan and Sembene head to the catacombs and are locked inside the stairwell when they trigger a booby trap. Ethan feels himself starting to turn and realizes what that means for Sembene so he puts his gun to his head and Sembene stops him, reminding him he is a creature of God with a purpose. Ethan transforms and Sembene is terrified as Wolf Ethan lunges at him and kills him.

Outside that house of horrors, Lily seduces / is seduced by Dorian, who finally calls her Brona and she says she is some sort of hybrid of both. She gives him a variation on the speech she gave John and then bites of one of his ears and tells him to go heal himself. He returns whole, and she has sex with him on the floor in the portrait gallery.

At the wax museum, John watches the people, and Putney sees him and comes to visit him later in the shop. They talk philosophically about the evil of men and Pandora’s Box. Later, the daughter chats with him about the super secret rooms her father has been building. She asks him if he’s seen them and he says no.

She charms him into taking her, which made me super queasy, and with good reason, because she lures him inside one of the cells with a book on the floor, and then she locks him in. Her parents appear and Putney tells John he’s home now. John says he can’t do that, and he says it’s done. He’s tasted success and now he wants more. UGH.

And that’s our setup for the finale. I HATED the turn of events with John even as I saw it coming all season. I hope John either a) kills them all or b) is rescued by Lily (who kills them all) or c) is rescued by Vanessa (who kills them all).

I was surprised we didn’t finish the showdown with the witches in this episode and wrap up next week with the aftermath of it, so I really hope they wrap it in the first act of the finale so we can close that arc completely before next season.

It goes without saying, but I’ll say it, that I loved the open with Ethan and Vanessa — that he pulled her to his side immediately and that they called bullshit on being menaced. And Roper was so vile, threatening to assault and murder Vanessa, that he honestly had it coming. The hook there was that he showed them the damage to his face from the wolf, so now Vanessa knows something, but Ethan didn’t get to tell her because Victor drove up.

Losing Sembene was AWFUL. I sort of thought we might go there when he and Ethan had a quiet conversation in the kitchen and Sembene said he, too, had done terrible things, and Ethan told him he was proud to be his friend. I am fully assuming Ethan will survive, but what kind of shape will he be in? Will he start to see value in Rusk’s temptation of death as a kind of peace / penance? I HOPE NOT.

I’m ready for the whole thing with Rusk blatantly stalking Ethan to stop. Is this really his only case?

And what exactly is Vanessa’s end game? Is she going to take them all out with Verbis Diablo, or give herself over to save her family? The cordial nature of her arrival at Evelyn’s was very unusual.

Lily and Dorian = what exactly? Not sure. She’s collecting men who will do her bidding. Where does that leave Victor, if he survives the parlor?

One episode left!

Penny Dreadful airs at 10 pm E/P Sundays on Showtime and The Movie Network and repeats throughout the week and online.

Photos courtesy of Jonathan Hession/SHOWTIME

About Heather M.

Heather M. is a longtime TV addict (she’s admitted the problem and has whittled herself down to a *reasonable* number of shows) and writer/editor. She pays the bills by writing marketing communications in the tech sector. She’s been writing about genre TV since Invisible Man and Dark Angel and loved Jensen Ackles before you did. You can read more of her TV writing at TV Goodness and follow her on Twitter @approximofnice.