Penny Dreadful: And They Were Enemies

So, that left me a sniffly mess.

We closed out Penny Dreadful‘s second season by casting some of the key players to the winds, quite literally on ships bound for faraway lands. The pacing played out much like I expected it to, with Evelyn dispatched in the first act, again with an effective, impressive tag team effort by Vanessa and Ethan.

While Victor and Malcolm continue to be molested by their past misdeeds, Vanessa is down in Evelyn’s lair holding a completely normal conversation with her doll self, whom Lucifer is speaking through, in her own voice. That’s not creepy AT ALL. They talk about faith and souls and the Verbis Diablo and he tells her he cannot take her; she must come willingly. She asks what’s she’s to receive for such a surrender and he tells her the life she always wanted.

She tells him she wants for nothing he can provide, and he digs a little deeper and taps something because she recoils when he suggests he can give her normal. He shows her what that would look like, in a vision bathed in white, down to the furniture and the clothes, where she’s the mother to a mischievous son and precocious daughter and Ethan is her loving husband. She snaps out of it, but the wound is made; her face is tear-stained.

Lucifer tells her it’s hers for a kiss, a surrender, and she asks what will become of her friends. He says they will be free. He tells her she will live a long and happy life and when her body dies, she will take her place beside him. She moves in to kiss him and then stops, and taunts him that he doesn’t know her. “You offer me a normal life. Why do you think I want that anymore? I know what I am. Do you?”

From the pit of her stomach, her rage boils up and her voice cackles as she starts incanting at him. He starts his own and they’re fairly bellowing at each other as the house starts to rattle. Vanessa finishes by crushing the doll’s face as his voice dies out. Scorpions emerge and she’s undeterred.

Evelyn starts whimpering as the room falls silent and then she starts to age. Hecate frees wolf Ethan, who has killed Sembene, to come in from the stairwell and he immediately rips out Evelyn’s throat. He stops at Vanessa and she’s alarmed but not terrified. She reaches out to him and he shrinks back and runs away. She finds one last scorpion still on her shoulder and takes it in her palm and it absorbs into her skin.

Upstairs, the spell breaks on Malcolm and Victor and Lyle gets the upper hand, shooting the witch tormenting him. The men shoot one more witch and then find Vanessa crouched over Sembene’s body. Later Hecate packs up the Nightcomer tools and leaves her mother’s house to burn. Lyle takes Victor home and tells him he is a friend if he needs one.

Back home, Vanessa and Malcolm comfort each other and he tells her Sembene was a proper man, that he had not know many, and he will take Sembene’s body home. Vanessa retreats upstairs and finds Ethan standing in her bedroom. She walks right up to him as he asks her if she knows what he is. “Yes. And here I stand.”

She tells him Malcolm is leaving and they can go, too. He grieves what he is, that they cannot walk away from it, and she corrects him, what they are. She puts her hands on his face and then holds him. “I’ve run from the darkness for so long only to find myself in a place darkest. Walk with me.” She reminds him of the night he was a comfort to her and asks him to stay with her that night. “And tomorrow?” “I promise you, tomorrow we will be less afraid.”

He holds her face in his hands and wipes her tears, but they don’t kiss (dammit). He says he has to think about it (red flag!). He asks her to forgive him, and she says she does. Then he leaves, and does the thing I said last week I did not want him to do. As penance for Sembene, he turns himself into Rusk, who is satisfied, but reveals there’s been another play at work all along — he’s extraditing Ethan to the States. DAMMIT.

Vanessa wakes up alone. She goes to see John, who earlier has a fantastic scene with the Putneys when they offer to give him privileges if he will help them with their others acquisitions and he says yes but then moves to the doors of his cells, slams them against the couple, snaps her neck and bashes his head in. When the daughter arrives, he’s remorseful, until she calls him grotesque, and he leaves her to find their bodies. We hear her screaming as he gets to the street.

In the catacombs, Vanessa finds him packing and asks if he’s leaving and he says yes, forever. He says his dream is gone so he must go where he cannot be hurt anymore. Vanessa confides that she has thrown away her own happiness, and he reminds her that God is always waiting. He asks her to come with him, as she is so lost, and she says she cannot impose her darkness on him. She leaves him with a kiss and tells him he is the most human man she has ever known. He sobs as she walks away.

Victor goes to find Lily at Dorian’s and walks in on them dressed head-to-toe in cream, dancing in his candlelit ballroom, and I’d daresay they married, but that doesn’t come up. But she does throw at Victor that she knows what she is, and what he did, and that they will be the superior race, etc. Victor responds by shooting her, and she bleeds but doesn’t drop. He shoots Dorian — same thing. Lily asks Dorian if they should murder him, and he says it’s up to her.

She decides to keep him around and Victor flails away and goes home and shoots up between his fingers before passing out, leaving Lily and Dorian to waltz (I think) as her dress wipes their blood all over the floor — seriously one of the most wackadoodle things they have done on this show, and that’s saying something.

We close with Ethan’s letter to Vanessa being read by him in voiceover while she turns all the lights down and goes to bed. We see Malcolm at sea, sitting beside Sembene’s coffin. We see John arriving in some iced over barren land on a ship of his own. We see a caged Ethan, hair shorn, under Rusk ‘s watchful eye in the cargo hold of a freighter. And Vanessa takes her cross off the wall and puts it into the fire.

This is what we hear Ethan reading:

Dear Vanessa,

Your many kindnesses I will always carry with me. Such generosity has not been a part of my life and I thank you for your affection and understanding.

In my most frightened and lonely moments, you were there, and such light you brought to me. But I am made for the dark, as we both know.

I am fit for only one place, and should have been there long ago, deep in the cold clay on a forgotten hill.

Your road may be difficult, but mine is doomed, so we walk alone.

Written, with love, Ethan.

“So we walk alone” is Vanessa’s last line as she looks out from her bedroom, alone in a darkened house.

Damn John Logan.

This is where we leave them, scattered, broken, victorious but at what price?

I feel like we are most certainly in for a time jump of some sort and I kind of hate that idea, but I’d rather we pick up with everybody coming back together than wallowing with them in their despondency.

I don’t think Vanessa will stay wholly turned away from the light. I think we will probably find her at the Cut-Wife’s cottage when we pick up. The bookends there are that she began the season in prayer, searching for some kind of calm, and she ended the season abandoning it, no more at peace but with a certain kind of defiance.

We don’t know why Ethan’s father has been so hell-bent to get his son back to the States. Is it because he’s a wolf? Is it something else? The reveal of his last name last week as Talbot was a wink nod to The Wolf Man, I think. Why was Rusk so easy to make a deal, and take him back himself? Whatever happens, I don’t want Ethan and Vanessa on separate continents next season.

The stuff with Lily and Dorian really did feel like the setup for another show. And Dorian has never seemed off his nut, but here he did — so enthralled with Lily that he was no longer himself. They were almost robotic in a way. Their wardrobe in cream mirroring the fantasy scene of the happy Chandlers, except soaked in blood and plotting world domination, was an interesting dichotomy of a happy couple that were actually sort of bonkers together.

I was glad John freed himself, and that he had a last goodbye with Vanessa. I have to wonder what would bring him back to London. To stop Lily?

All told, I loved this season. I especially adored the friendship, and relationship, between Vanessa and Ethan. An idyllic scene of a happy life for them was the last thing I ever thought we’d see, but it was a lovely moment of light. I wish Ethan had seen it, and I’m intrigued whether on some level Vanessa still hoped for some version of it in the aftermath of the battle when she asked Ethan to walk away with her.

I’m thrilled Josh Hartnett had a chance to do such good work here. I want him and Eva Green back in the same room together fairly immediately in Season 3. They are so very good together, and there was far too little of them in the same room in the finale. If that means she has to go fetch Ethan and kick his daddy’s ass, I’m completely down with that.

We’re due for nine episodes next season, and John Logan told The Hollywood Reporter tonight that the third season story only needs nine, so I’m excited for him that he already knows the arc. Just send those scripts on over and I’ll keep it under my hat. Promise swear.

Penny Dreadful starts filming Season 3 this fall in Dublin, and will air next year on Showtime and The Movie Network. Reeve Carney will be at a booth at SDCC next week, but there will not be a full panel this year.

You can catch up on Season 2 online at Showtime and The Movie Network.

Thanks so much for spending this season with me!

Photos courtesy of Jonathan Hession/SHOWTIME

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