Penny Dreadful is probably Showtime's best show at the moment. It's thoughtful, cool, wickedly fun, and unlike most shows on television. The first season's eight episodes weren't afraid of taking their time to explore these characters, and the show was better for it. While watching the gang search for Sir. Malcolm's (Timothy Dalton) daughter and battling vampires was a ball, it didn't compare to episode five of Penny Dreadful, when creator/writer John Logan gave us a whole episode dedicated to Vanessa Ive's (Eva Green) past. Vanessa's final line of that episode remains far more haunting than a bunch of vampires.
"I love you enough to kill you," was the perfect line to wrap-up a perfect hour of television.
Even on the "bottle episode" where they perform an exorcism on Vanessa, Logan found time for great character moments amongst all the madness. These characters, which Logan refers to as a "family" at Comic-Con, have a whole lot more problems to solve than fighting evil forces. At the Penny Dreadful panel Logan teased what obstacles his team will face in season two.
The SPOILER-HEAVY panel featured Logan, Josh Hartnett, Harry Treadaway, and Reeve Carney, but Logan dominated the entertaining hour long discussion. We made sure to take notes of what they -- or, well, mostly Logan -- had to say about his fantastic new show.
1. "Ethan, Vanessa, Brona, and Sir Malcolm were my creations. They had to fit into what this show was about. What I think this show is about is the monster in all of us; it's what we must embrace, what frightens us, and what makes us who we are. When I started thinking about Ethan Chandler -- who's our eyes into this world as an American -- I went hiking, which is very important to me. I'm a native Californian. I would see coyotes. Occasionally I would see mountain lions. So, I thought, there you have it: he's a werewolf." - John Logan
2. "The show came from reading a lot of romantic poetry about 10 years ago. I was at a period in my life where I was at a cross, so I found solace reading poetry. That led me to reading Mary Shelley's 'Frankenstein', which I hadn't read in years. I read it and I wept. I was so moved by those two monstrous creations, who are both partly angel and partly devil. I thought it was such a fascinating world. Really, it was about how I grew up as a gay man, before it was as socially acceptable as it is now. I knew what it was to feel alienated from my family and my community. I realized the thing that made me different was who I am, so I decided to write about that. That's where Penny Dreadful came from." - John Logan
3. "The real inspiration for bringing these characters together was the second generation of Universal horror films. All of the sudden the characters and the origins started mixing. You had all these monsters coming together, forming a new cosmology. That's what I wanted to do." - John Logan
4. "I think when you're constructing a character who has monstrousness that will eventually come out it's good to get the audience interested in what's inside of them, maybe in a jerky way make them love somebody they may eventually hate. For Ethan, he has a lot of compassion, in particular for the women in this world. I think Ethan may had been hurt in a specific way when he was younger. When you're hurt in a specific way when you're younger you have a visceral reaction to violence, and maybe this curse is a direct reaction to what he's most afraid of in himself." - Josh Hartnett
5. "One of the great joys for all of us is episode five, which went into Venessa's background. All hail Eva Green. She's probably the most fearless actor I've ever worked with. I'm delighted to say, next season we'll do something similar. I hope we'll continue to do that for all the characters, because I personally find their backstories as riveting as what they're doing in the contemporary stories." - John Logan
6. "As a gay man, I thought it'd be corrupt not to deal with all forms of sexuality on the show. I believe we try to deal with all iterations of what it is be human, from the romantic to the psychosexual to the horrific to the psychological to the theological. I wanted to explore that in every way that I could. I've been asked a lot, 'Is Ethan gay? Is he bi? What's Dorian's story?' To me, the question is almost irrelevant. I believe human beings behave in the moment that's true to them. Let's face it, it's 2014. We can have people act true in a sexual way." - John Logan
7. "I killed Van Helsing as a provocation, fan-to-fan, to say, 'Yes, I cherish the sacred text, but we are not recreating the sacred text.' One of the joys for the people who know the novels, the movies, Hammer films, and every iteration is they know where we lie comfortably with the mythology and where we break it completely. To dispense of one of the major characters from "Dracula" for our story was a joyous act. To the audience, it says we're liberated." - John Logan
8. "The über question of Penny Dreadful is: who is Vanessa Ives? What lives is she going to touch? I had lovely discussions with Eva [Green] about whether she invited this posession in or did it take her. I think the answer is somewhere in the middle. The joys of the second season is really delving into that more deeply. Not only in terms of her backstory, but in terms of her having to make decisions based on her relationships with the other characters about good and evil. In the first season, we present the question. In the second season, we begin to answer it." - John Logan
9. "As the series go on, you'll meet new characters who will lead us to the Dracula origin story. I thought a lot about Doctor Moreau, who is one of my favorites. I hope someday we'll get to the island of lost souls, but we'll see how long Showtime likes our show. Next season is very different. Having spent 10 years building this world I pretty much have the first three seasons in my head. The second season throws them into a much more threatening theological world." - John Logan
10. "Ethan has set his life to the cycle of the moon. I think he lives very little of his life not in fear of when the full moon is going to come. He knows when it'll come, he just doesn't know what will happen. Ethan knows he's going to commit some violence. When those guys come in at the end and he sees the full moon coming, it couldn't be better for him. Perfect timing for Ethan." - Josh Hartnett