Hello everyone, and welcome to this week’s edition of the adult sundae bar, aka Penny Dreadful, season 2 episode 7!
And this week’s offerings at the sundae bar were…bitter, perhaps? Maybe a bit dark? Not that those offerings are bad, but this week’s flavors were a little different that last week’s…
But enough of that, here is my review and recap for this week’s episode of Penny Dreadful!
And as always:
The episode begins in Malcolm’s mansion, after Sembene has battled Ethan in his werewolf form. Vanessa argues that London is no longer safe for her, and that she must leave. Ferdinand Lyle (perhaps feeling guilty from his treachery) agrees with her, and tells her to leave town, but to not tell anyone where she is going. Malcolm argues that leaving town will further endanger Vanessa, but is overruled by the group, with even Victor arguing that Vanessa should leave town. Ethan states that he accompany Vanessa and offer her protection. Vanessa tells Ethan that they will flee to the cottage previously occupied by Joan the Cut-Wife. Vanessa also tells Victor where she is going, as she feels Victor is one of the few she can trust.
Vanessa and Ethan arrive at the cottage, which has clearly not received any upkeep since Vanessa’s previous departure. Vanessa sets to work making the cottage habitable, and also begins to gather herbs, and sets a snare to capture rabbits. Ethan chops down the charred tree on which Joan the Cut-Wife burned, as the sight is disturbing for Vanessa.
Ethan and Vanessa begin to bond during their time at the cottage. Ethan teaches Vanessa how to shoot, and the two tell each other tales of their childhood. Vanessa also teaches Ethan how to dance. Ethan brings up the subject of Brona Croft, and states that she was his true love. However, Ethan leaves the cottage at night, and orders Vanessa to keep the door bolted. Ethan transforms into his werewolf form and slaughters livestock while in werewolf form.
While out on a walk through the woods, Ethan and Vanessa encounter Geoffrey Hawkes, the man who was responsible for the death of Joan the Cut-Wife. Vanessa becomes upset and talks about seeking revenge on the man. Ethan is troubled, but tells Vanessa to avoid bloodshed if she can, since taking a life will ultimately change her personality for the worse.
Back at the mansion, Victor and Ferdinand continue to research the matter of Verbis Diablo, and how that may relate to Vanessa’s problems. The information that they find is troubling, and both men resolve to help Vanessa however they can.
Lilly informs Victor that Dorian Gray has invited on her on a date. Lilly is worried that Victor will be angry, but Victor tells her to go out with Dorian, as he has work that he needs to do. Dorian takes Lilly to the wax museum. Caliban sees the two but does not make a move on the couple. Dorian and Lilly view the exhibits, and Lilly takes special interest in one depicting a resurrection. Lilly then boards a carriage, presumably to go back home.
The cottage is struck by a lightening storm and catches on fire. Ethan and Vanessa struggle to put out the fire and are successful. They share a passionate kiss, but Vanessa breaks it off, claiming that their dual natures make any kind of relationship dangerous. Vanessa again speaks of revenge against Geoffrey Hawkes, and Ethan attempts to dissuade her. However, Vanessa will not hear it and begins to study the book of spells that Joan left for her.
Lilly does not head home, and instead heads to a bar where she meets an older gentleman. Lilly ends up in bed with the gentleman, and the two begin to make love.
Ethan sneaks to the home of Hawkes without Vanessa, and contemplates shooting the man with his gun. However, Hawkes is then mysteriously attacked and killed by his previously loyal dogs. Ethan realizes Vanessa is responsible, and confronts her at the cottage. The two argue, and Ethan again reminds Vanessa that she cannot take this act back and that she will never be the same now that she has taken a life.
The tryst between Lilly and the older gentleman suddenly turns violent. Lilly becomes possessed of superhuman strength, and strangles the man, killing him with her bare hands.
Obviously, this show is dark. The setting alone (turn of the century London), is not cheerful. And when Frankenstein, Dorian Gray and the rest of the crew are thrown in, Penny Dreadful can make even poor Eeyore seem kind of cheerful…
However, this episode has taken dark to another level. In this episode, even the darkness became extra dark, if that makes any sense…
One of the reasons this episode was so dark was because of the on-screen deaths. Now, this show has had its share of deaths, but in this episode, the deaths were violent, and nothing was held back…no censorship, in other words!
First of all, there was the death of the livestock, which Ethan was responsible for. This was probably the most primal death in the episode. We all know that livestock die (often, that is their primary purpose in life: to die so that they may feed us), but there is something about seeing it, with all the blood and guts, that is quite disturbing.
Which leads me to my next point: the writers of this show seem to want to emphasize that when Ethan undergoes his transformation, he becomes a true wolf. In other words, his humanity is gone. He is all animal. The human part of him is gone. Vampires do not sparkle, and neither do werewolves (at least in the Penny Dreadful universe). This may seem to paint Ethan as an unsympathetic character, but I actually think it does just the opposite. Ethan is truly not in control of himself when he transforms into the werewolf, so I actually find it easier to sympathize with him, as the human part of him has no say for the actions that the wolf takes. And we all know what a wolf is: a predator. That is the nature of the wolf, and can we expect anything else from a wolf?
And let’s talk about Lilly. What. The. Fuck. That’s the only way I can describe it. One minute, we have a sweet innocent lady who jumps because the exhibits at the wax museum scare her (and really, a wax museum? You could not pay me to visit one of those creepy places!) The next minute she appears to lead an “innocent” man to the sack, and proceeds to strangle him. With her bare hands. And it looks like she enjoyed it, to boot. And was this man really innocent? Lilly was a prostitute in her past life, so could this have been one of the Johns who wronged her? So maybe she has not forgotten it all, like Victor would like her to believe? And this cannot possibly be a good thing for Victor, as he was responsible for her death last season. And what does this mean for Ethan? Ethan did mention Brona to Vanessa at the cottage, and somehow I don’t think this was coincidental. As they say, shit is about to get real, and I have a feeling that this was a major advance in the Brona/Victor/Ethan story line, and that we have not heard the last of that story line.
Speaking of not innocent: Vanessa. Well, she has been possessed by a demon, that is true. But she had never laid a hand on anyone and did not have a mean bone in her body. Until this episode. For once, we see Vanessa overcome and unable to control her emotions. And the demon(s) did not have thing one to do with it. No, this was all Ms. Ives, who went from “good little wifey” (seriously, Ethan?!) to hellcat in a lot less than 60 seconds! The death of Mr. Hawkes was also another genius moment in this episode…I can’t say I felt too bad for him, although the manner of death was disturbing. And watching his dogs attack him and kill him…shudder is all I can say!
Ethanessa. Yes, Ethanessa has reared its head again (or is it his and her head?) and I don’t know what to make of it. One minute, Ethan and Vanessa are adorable, as Ethan confesses that he did in fact, get bested by a horse aptly named Diablo, and Vanessa confesses her fear of dolls (don’t judge, I understand that completely). But the next minute, they appear almost ready to kill each other (after Ethan finds out Vanessa is responsible for the death of Geoffrey Hawkes), but also appear to want to fuck each other silly and get that out of the way first. The show is teasing us with Ethanessa, and I can’t wait to see what comes of this (pun not intentional).
So that’s it for this week’s edition of the adult sundae bar, aka Penny Dreadful. Join me next week, as we further review and dissect the adventures of our favorite literary Avengers!