The Wolf, The Alienist, and the Vampire
This week we got a nice tight episode of Penny Dreadful. We got some more ravenous violence and a big reveal at the end so let's waste no time and get into it.
So we caught up with Dorian and Lily, continuing their quest for the destruction of mankind. They've started with people who it's fair to say could use some killing. They rescue a young girl from a sick torture club and taking her in to assist their quest for revenge. Just two episodes in and this season has been noticeably more violent with the train massacre from episode 1 and 2 big, violent action sequences in this episode the show is definitely beginning to embrace the violence adherent to the genre. The torture club was a strange and sick situation where old, rich white men sit in a circle and watch a young girl be brutally tortured for their amusement, so I didn't feel too bad when Dorian and Lilly took to murdering all of them.
When we catch up with Vanessa she is at her second session with Dr Seward, who again is played wonderfully by Patti Lupone, and Renfield has begun to look more and more like his weaselly character from Dracula. I imagine each week he will descend more and more, until he's sent to Bedlam. More on that later.
One difference in this therapy session was Dr Seward recording their session, on an Edison Wax Cylinder Recorder. Those hold only a few scant minutes of scratchy, tinny, lo fi lovin', and the geek in me was screaming, "Shenanigans!" at the screen. Then I remembered it's a show about zombies, monsters, vampires, demons, and... women doctors, and I suspended my disbelief.
I enjoyed the session as it allowed Vanessa to truly open up about what she's done, in an environment free of judgement, and social masks. We also got hints of the potential return of her demonic tormentor from season 1 (music, erratic behavior), so perhaps we'll see her return to a state of possession.
Before Vanessa begins her tale she warns Dr Seward, "If you believe what I say you'll never sleep quietly again." This is a dire warning of the world Dr Seward is about to step into. The Vanessa/Seward stuff was very similar to last weeks session. Vanessa is given a homework assignment, simply to do something that makes her happy. This draws her back to Dr Sweet, they discuss his love of Captain Nemo (a fun reference to the league of extraordinary gentlemen), and tales of adventure despite his own inability to go adventuring himself. This leads to a date between the two which from the looks of it went extremely well.
Last of the... Apache
So let's bounce over to Malcolm section of the show, him and his new buddy Kaetenay are on a ship bound for America. believe it or not Malcolm hates the sea. Kaetenay performs a ritual which allows him to enter Ethan's dreams and converse with him. This was a strange scene considering Kaetenay seems to consider Ethan a surrogate son but Ethan seems to harbor nothing but animosity towards Kaetenay (did Kaetenay turn Ethan into a werewolf?) . I'm excited to see where this story goes and how soon it gets there. I'm sure Kaetenay's story and his history with Ethan will make for some incredible television. I'm truly hoping they don't take the whole season to bring everybody back together, but we'll see.
So Ethan wolfed out once more and was able to slaughter his captors with a timely assist from Hecate (naked witch daughter from last season) hence our third big, violent action scene this season. Penny Dreadful really seems to be swinging for the fences here and I'm cool with that.
The Native American woman recognized Ethan, and seemed to know about his wolfishness. This is an interesting situation that's building up re: the Apache that are part of Kaetenay's (and Ethan's?) tribe. I'm curious about this facet of the show. I hope it is rewarding.
So that brings us to Victor and Jekyll. After a bracing English breakfast, they found themselves in Jekyll's lab in the basement of a mental asylum (Bedlam. The Ur-Nuthouse) which got an ominous introduction. Think a Victorian Arkham Asylum. Soon they'll begin trying to domesticate Lilly. Jekyll showed Victor his miracle, which was the ability to take a mad man who a minute before was foaming at the mouth and injecting him with a serum that rendered the man docile and polite. This serum is no doubt how Jekkyl will end up unleashing the monstrous Hyde.
There was also a tender moment between Victor and Lilly outside Dorian's manor, where Victor was creeping. Lily simply came outside and very softly told Victor to leave her alone and stay away from her. It showed that she still has some love, or at least compassion, for Victor and she still has some connection to her humanity.
Some people have said that the Victor stuff is the weakest aspect of this season but I disagree. This show is all about seeing past social masks, and when watching Victor and Jekkyl the viewer has to do just that and see that both men are monsters. It is incumbent upon he viewer to look deeper, and find what makes the Victor/Jekkyl arc so fascinating, queer read aside.
So that brings us to the big reveal at the end. Dr Sweet is in fact Dracula himself, which many people have suspected. The show did the right thing here by revealing him so quickly. It kept the surprise by not allowing he viewer enough time to figure it out for themselves. This was a refreshing change, especially compared to shows like Game of Thrones or The Walking Dead which give us months to wait before we find out how things will play out, such as Jon Snow returning or Glenn surviving the zombie horde.
Now it's left to be seen whether the Dr Sweet persona was a full on act or if there are dashes of who Dracula was before he became a vampire (if he was ever anything else, he is the other half of Lucifer remember). It also remains to be seen how deep into Dracula's mythology the show will go, will he be Vlad the Impaler, will his story be the same? similar or completely different? to that of the novel. Needless to say I'm extremely excited to see his arc play out, and if he will be killed this season, or if they'll save him as a recurring villain for possible future seasons.
People have been saying that with the introduction of Dracula and the shortened season order that this could be a final season, but I truly hope not, Penny Dreadful is among the best and most inventive series on television right now, and it should NOT end up on the list of shows that ended well before their time such as Deadwood, Hannibal and Rome. So if you want to see a 4th season head to twitter and let them know at #RenewPennyDreadful.
No John Clare/Monster this week, is he still walking?
Ok, peeps. What did we miss? What did we get wrong? Or right? Or what do you think is going to happen? Let's talk.