Seeing Double: My Review of The Outsider

Ho, ho, ho!  Merry Christmas?

…in May?

Yes, in May.  It is a little known fact that December does not actually have the monopoly on Christmas!

And the reason why May got to have a little fun this is…

You guessed it…

Stephen King!

The Master is no ordinary author, after all.

Ordinary authors do not make Christmas happen in May.

But when you are The Master, you can call in favors.

Favors like giving the rest of the world Christmas in May, because you gifted us mortals with a brand new book!

Yes, we got a gift that keeps on giving this May, in the form of the latest Stephen King book, The Outsider.

No, not The Outsiders!

No one was telling those pesky kids to stay golden, although we could argue that a certain sewer dwelling clown is a Soc.

This Outsider was part police procedure, part detective story and part supernatural thriller, liberally seasoned with the dread and creepiness that only a novel written by The Master can contain.

Or maybe that was just a little nutmeg added to spice things up a bit…

So, let us sit back and sip at this Christmas in May beverage titled The Outsider, and delve into those spices!

And, as always:

 

 

 

 

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Penny Dreadful: Season 3 Finale Recap and Review

For once, I am at a loss for words.

And no, I don’t exaggerate.

I am literally speechless.

Last night, I watched what I thought was simply the season finale to Penny Dreadful, which is one of my favorite television shows.  And that is saying something, since I don’t care about most television shows.  I read books.  I hold things to a very high standard.

In other words, it takes a lot to impress me.  A lot.

And Penny Dreadful impressed me.  It impressed me, and did so much more.

I fell in love.

I fell in love with the characters.  I could see a bit of myself in every one one of them.  Even the ones who were not “human.”

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I fell in love with the dialog.  This is one of the most quotable shows I have ever watched.

I fell in love with the setting.  This show has gorgeous visuals, there is no other way to put it.

I fell in love with the story lines.  Some of the story lines were better than others, but I loved them all.

And I may have taken this show for granted.

Not that I expected a long run, but I thought we would get more seasons.  If a show is this good, we get more seasons, right?

Well, no.  Last night, I watched the finale to season 3.  Turns out this is also the series finale.

In other words, I said goodbye last night.  And it was gut-wrenching.

I had an ugly cry.

My nose got stuffed up.

My eyes turned red and bloodshot.

My makeup ran all over my face.

In other words, it was beautiful.

Gut-wrenching still, but beautiful and cathartic.

ugly cry

Endings usually are.

So, without any further ado, I bring you my recap and review of the series finale of Penny Dreadful.

And, as always:

Homer spoiler


Synopsis

Dr. Seward finds her receptionist, Renfield, in her office listening to her sessions with Vanessa.  Renfield exhibits odd behavior and attacks Dr. Seward.  Dr. Seward realizes that she is dealing with a supernatural creature, and is able to fight him and capture him.

Ethan, Kaetenay and Malcolm arrive in London and immediately notice that things have gone awry in London.  They are told that the air has become poisonous, killing thousands of people.  They hurry back to Malcolm’s mansion, concerned about Vanessa.

Once Ethan, Kaetenay and Malcolm arrive at Malcolm’s mansion, they are almost immediately accosted by vampires.  Malcolm is bitten, but saved by the arrival of Catriona, who cauterizes his wound.  Dr. Seward also arrives, and tells the group that she has captured Renfield, who can help them find Vanessa.

Caliban dines with his family, and they discuss moving away from London,  Caliban’s son Jack expresses a desire to return to the beach when he is well.  However, Jack becomes overtaken by his consumption, and Caliban helps him to bed.

Ethan leaves the mansion to find Victor, as he feels that Malcolm needs a doctor.  A mysterious boy is awaiting him at Victor’s apartment, and promises to lead to him  to Victor.

Dorian returns to his mansion, and demands that the women who have gathered there on behalf of Lily leave.  Most leave, but Justine stays, and challenges Dorian’s authority, stating she will not return to her old life and that she would rather be killed by Dorian.  Dorian obliges her, snapping Justine’s neck.

Victor holds Lily captive in Henry’s lab in Bedlam.  He tells Lily that the serum will make her better, but Lily disagrees.  She then proceeds to tell Victor the story of Sarah, her daughter who died in infancy.  Lily was forced to prostitute herself so that she and her daughter could survive.  One night, Lily was badly beaten by one her of customers.  By the time she arrives home, Sarah has died from the cold, and Lily is heartbroken.  Victor has a change of heart, and lets Lily go.

The mysterious boy leads Ethan right to Dracula, and Dracula unleashes his creatures upon Ethan.  Ethan fights back, but turns into a werewolf because it is the full moon.  He is joined by another werewolf, who turns out to be Kaetenay.  Both wolves fight off the creatures, and transform to their human selves.  Ethan realizes that it is Kaetenay who cursed him and is angered.  Kaetenay tells Ethan that he cursed him in order to help save the world, and that Ethan has the ability to help Vanessa, despite his curse.

Victor tells Henry that he has allowed Lily to go free.  Henry chides Victor for this, telling Victor that his work in science will amount to nothing.  Henry then tells Victor that his father has died, leaving his estate to Henry.  Henry demands that Victor address him by his proper name:  Lord Hyde.

Dr. Seward leads Malcolm and Catriona to Bedlam, where she has locked Renfield in a cell.  They also meet up with Victor, Ethan and Kaetenay.  Dr. Seward hypnotizes Renfield, and deduces where Dracula is holding Vanessa captive.

That night, Caliban awakens in the middle night and checks on his son.  He discovers that his son has passed away from consumption in his sleep.  Marjorie and Caliban make plans for his burial, and Marjorie demands that Caliban ask Victor to resurrect their son.  Caliban refuses to do so, stating that he will not curse his son to eternal life.  Marjorie then tells Caliban that if he does not resurrect their son that he can leave their home.

Malcolm, Kaetenay, Ethan, Catriona and Victor hunt down Dracula.  They are again accosted by vampires, but fight back using various weapons, such as guns and stakes.  Ethan escapes the creatures and finds Vanessa in a room lighted by candles.

Ethan tries to persuade Vanessa to escape with him, telling her that he will protect her from the dark forces that seek to possess her soul.  Vanessa tells him that this is impossible and the she wants her suffering to end.  Together, they recite the Lord’s Prayer, and Ethan shoots Vanessa with his gun, ending her life.  Before she dies, Vanessa tells Ethan she sees God, and He is waiting for her.

After Vanessa dies, the sun comes out from behind the clouds, and Dracula flees.

Lily returns to Dorian’s mansion, where she finds the body of Justine.  She tells Dorian that she cannot be with him any more, and leaves.  Dorian is skeptical, and predicts that she will return to him.

Caliban buries his son at sea, against the wishes the wishes of Marjorie.  He returns to living his life in the shadows.

A funeral is held for Vanessa.  Malcolm says that he will not return to Africa, as he will stay in London to properly grieve Vanessa and the rest of his family.  Ethan states he will also remain in London, as he considers Malcolm his only family now.

The episode ends with Caliban visiting Vanessa’s grave, reciting a Wordsworth poem, in honor of his friend.


My Thoughts

So many thoughts…such as long blog post.

And I don’t really care about the length.  After all, this is my last post in regards to this show, so I may as well make it count, right?

This post will probably wind up being a bit emo, so let’s talk about some of the lighter moments in the finale, as there were a few.  After all, you can’t have a series finale be all about the feelsies, right?

I loved the action scenes in this episode.  In fact, I think they were my favorite part of the episode.  I can be a sucker for moments that don’t require mountains of tissue.

One of the best action scenes was the Werewolf Bowl.

That’s right.  Game of Thrones got its Bastard Bowl.  Therefore, Penny Dreadful gets its Werewolf Bowl!

bastard bowl 1

Ethan was kicking ass on his own, but then he is joined by the “gray wolf.”  Who is none other than Kaetenay!  How about that?

And it turns out that Kaetenay was actually responsible for Ethan’s curse, and that he had a good reason for putting that curse on Ethan…who knew?

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I also loved the gun fight that took place between the Scoobies and Dracula’s groupies.  Malcolm and Victor were bad ass, but in my mind, they did not hold a candle to Miss O’-Nine-Tails, aka Catriona.

On a side note:  did anyone else think of Danny Glick when they saw that kid vampire, or was that just me?

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That’s right, I misjudged Miss O’-Nine-Tails.  Turns out that she was not on the side of evil, but on the Scoobies’ side the entire time.  And a valiant fighter.

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She swung from rafters, for Pete’s sake.  And cauterized Malcolm’s wound without a second thought.

In other words, she was a total fucking bad ass.  The only bad thing I can say about her now is that she was only in a handful of episodes…sniff…

In fact, Buffy herself would have been proud…a turn of the century Slayer?  Hey, I can dream, right?

Oh, and let’s not forget Renfield.

Renfield munching on a frog and tendering his resignation to Dr. Seward…priceless!

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As always, the visuals for this show did not fail to impress me.

In particular, I was struck by the scenes of Ethan walking down the street, with the Japanese lanterns in the background.  The contrast between the colors was beautiful, and made things look that much more eerie.

One thing is for sure:  the visuals on this show have spoiled, and pretty much everything I watch will be held up to the standard that Penny Dreadful has set.

I would also like to talk about character arcs for a moment.

For instance, the ones I find fascinating are Dorian’s, and Caliban’s (we will talk more about Vanessa later.)

Dorian Gray 1

On the surface, these two may not have very much in common.  But that’s on the surface.

Both are immortal.  Both have lived in the shadows, so to speak.

In fact, when the show started, Dorian and Caliban lived in the shadows.  And neither cared very much about the lives of others, although often, they would use other humans as a means to an end.

However, one character took a different path from the other, and became a better person for it.

Rory Kinnear as The Creature in Penny Dreadful (season 3, episode 7). - Photo: Jonathan Hession/SHOWTIME - Photo ID: PennyDreadful_307_1030

That’s right, Caliban is the one who experienced growth.  In fact, out of all the characters, Caliban may have been the character who experienced the most growth.

Slowly, throughout the series, Caliban found his humanity, through the memories of his family, and his relationship with Vanessa.  The same cannot be said of Dorian, however.

Caliban has learned from his experiences.  For example, he chooses not to resurrect his son, even though it costs him his relationship with his wife.  Dorian does not learn from his experiences, however.  When  he grows tired of Lily, he discards, along with Justine and all the other women who had a been a part of Lily’s army.

And while both Dorian and Caliban may continue to live in the shadows, only one has seen the light.  And that would be Caliban.

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Ok, time to talk about the feelsies…

And there were so many of them, in what turned out to be the series finale for a spectacular show.

Finally, we got a little more information on Lily, when she told the story of what happened to her daughter.  Did anyone else feel the oxygen getting sucked out of the room, or is my imagination just that vivid?

The story of Lily’s daughter was tragic.  It also brought up an interesting point:  our memories, both good and bad, make us who we are.  And to rob someone of his/her memories, as Victor intended to do, would be a cruel act.  Myself, I have plenty of bad memories, as I am a domestic abuse survivor.  But if I were robbed of those memories, I would not be me.  Like Lily, being a shell of myself, and not having those memories, some of which are painful, but essential to my being, would be the cruelest punishment of them all.

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Then there was Caliban.  Which made me cry more, the death of Vanessa, or the sight of Caliban burying his son at sea?

I don’t know, but the two are pretty close.

I thought a bit of Pet Sematary, which I read earlier this year, when watching this episode.

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Caliban was kind of the anti-Louis Creed.  He resisted temptation, and gave his son a proper send off, so that his son would not be damned for all eternity.  And boy, was this painful to watch.  I heard a splintering noise and figured that was the sound of my heart breaking wide open.

Before I conclude this post, let’s talk a bit about Vanessa and her arc.

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Now, I wasn’t happy that Vanessa died.  In fact, I was anything but.  I hated it!

I hate this ending, but I also feel that this was the only ending.  While this ending sucked, it was definitely the right ending.

Some may vehemently disagree with me on the ending, along with the fact that John Logan did not let us know that this was the last season of the show.

However, I agree with Malcolm:  Vanessa never would have found happiness, had she lived.  She was doomed for all eternity, and would have been fleeing from the darkness all of her life.  Not even Ethan would have been able to protect from those forced that sought her soul.

Timothy Dalton as Sir Malcolm in Penny Dreadful (season 3, episode 1). - Photo: Jonathan Hession/SHOWTIME - Photo ID: PennyDreadful_301_5002

So Ethan performed the ultimate act of love:  he shot her and ended her suffering.  However, he used his powers as Lupus Dei to bring her back to her God, so that she found peace before her death, and (hopefully) salvation in the afterlife.

Josh Hartnett as Ethan and Eva Green as Vanessa Ives in Penny Dreadful (season 3, episode 9). - Photo: Patrick Redmond/SHOWTIME - Photo ID: PennyDreadful_309_1688

And I agree with John Logan that this was really Vanessa’s show.  Vanessa touched the lives of many, including Ethan, Malcolm, Caliban and even Dorian.  So without Vanessa, there is no show.

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Announcing the end of the series would have been a spoiler of sorts, as any intelligent person (probably) would have deduced the death of Vanessa.  And where would the fun have been in that?  Personally, I enjoyed this season.  Knowing that it was the last season would have put a damper on my fun, although I still would have watched it.

The Rainbow comes and goes,
And lovely is the Rose,
The Moon doth with delight
Look round her when the heavens are bare,
Waters on a starry night
Are beautiful and fair;
The sunshine is a glorious birth;
But yet I know, where’er I go,
That there hath past away a glory from the earth.

And what better way to end the series, than to have Caliban recite a Wordsworth poem, in honor of his friend?

Vanessa touched the lives of everyone she met, but I believe that she had the greatest effect on Caliban.  When she was a patient in the Banning Clinic, he was the orderly tasked with caring for her.  However, it could be argued that she helped him much more than he helped her, as she brought out his humanity even then, making him the best man he could be.

Rory Kinnear as The Creature in Penny Dreadful (season 3, episode 9). - Photo: Jonathan Hession/SHOWTIME - Photo ID: PennyDreadful_309_3197

And even after he became an un-dead Creature, Caliban’s relationship with Vanessa still made him a better man.  It inspired him to reunite with his family, even though that ultimately proved painful, with the death of his son and the loss of his relationship with his wife.  However, these losses served to bring Caliban back from the dead, so to speak, and proved that he was not in fact the monster everyone saw on the outside, but someone more human than almost everyone else on the show.

Nothing is more beautiful than a man who recognizes what true humanity is, and strives to make sure that everyone is afforded it, no matter the cost to himself.

Rory Kinnear as The Creature in Penny Dreadful (season 3, episode 9). - Photo: Jonathan Hession/SHOWTIME - Photo ID: PennyDreadful_309_3066


Well, that’s it. That’s it for Penny Dreadful.

We have been so lucky to have been blessed with such a wonderful show.  The acting, the visuals, the dialog, the writing…all of it was superb, and I would not change a thing, as this show has been simply perfect.

So, I am tearing up a little, but I bid the series goodbye, and am thankful to have had the privilege to watch it, and spend so many hours writing about it and discussing it.

The series may have been cancelled, but it will live on in my heart forever.

mash 1

 

 

Penny Dreadful: Season 3, Episode 7 Recap and Review

According to my internet dictionary, an ebb tide is a period of rest between the high tide and the low tide.

In other words, an ebb tide is the calm before the storm, or the eye of the hurricane.  It may seem safe for the time being, but you better know what you are doing, so you can get out of the way quickly.

ebb tide 1

Or else.

And after watching this week’s episode of Penny Dreadful, it seems that we are in for a big dose of “or else.”  Actually, we have no choice but to walk straight into the tide, as all the other avenues are closed off to us now.

Uh, whee, I guess?

So, without further ado, here is my recap and review of this week’s episode of Penny Dreadful, titled (coincidentally) Ebb Tide.

Oh, and as always:

Homer spoiler


Synopsis

At the beginning of the episode, Lily is visiting the grave of her daughter, who died in infancy.  Lily vows to never allow any more suffering, especially at the hands of men.

Vanessa is asleep in the natural history museum.  While she is sleeping, Renfield attempts to sneak up on her, and begins to lick her neck.  This angers Dr. Sweet, who lifts Renfield up by his neck, reminding him of who is in charge.  Vanessa awakens, and thanks Dr. Sweet for a lovely night before she leaves.

As she is walking on the streets of London, Vanessa runs into Caliban, who tells her he needs a friend.  Caliban tells Vanessa that he has suffered a horrible accident and become disfigured as a result of that accident.  Caliban is afraid to reunite with his family, but Vanessa encourages him to seek out his family, as they should still recognize the man he is inside.  Vanessa also points out that she knew Caliban from her time at the Banning Clinic and that he was kind to her then.  Caliban does not remember, but Vanessa encourages her friend to do the right thing.

After speaking with Vanessa, Caliban tracks down Marjorie, his wife.  She tearfully embraces him, and he tells her the story of his resurrection, expressing his outrage of Victor’s treatment of him, and confessing that he has committed violent acts that he is not proud of.  Marjorie tells him that this does not matter and that she still loves him.  Caliban and Marjorie return to their home, and Caliban also tearfully reunites with his son, Jack.

Lily makes a speech at Dorian’s mansion, while she has a party for women who have been oppressed.  She encourages the women to cut off the right hands of bad men, as a show of their power.  Dorian is not impressed, and appears to be feeling left out of the plans.

Back in America, Malcolm secures passage for himself, Kaetenay and Ethan to return to London.  Kaeteney warns Ethan and Malcolm of the upcoming apocalypse, of which he has seen in his visions.  Kaeteney also speaks to Vanessa in his visions, and tells Malcolm and Ethan that it may be too late, as Vanessa has already succumbed to the darkness.

Dorian and Lily take a walk around the city, and Dorian expresses his concerns to Lily regarding her plans, telling her that she is bored.  Lily is then kidnapped by Victor and Henry, who take her, along with Dorian, back to Henry’s lab.  Lily refuses Henry’s serum and is angry at Dorian for kidnapping her, but the men plan to administer the serum to her anyway, as they believe it will make her a better woman.

Vanessa is researching Dracula when Catriona shows up.  Catriona tells Vanessa that all she knows about Dracula is wrong.  Dracula cannot be killed in his real form, but can be killed when he is human.  Catriona also tells Vanessa that Dracula would be hiding among the creatures of the night.  Vanessa has a revelation, and realizes that Dr. Sweet is actually Dracula.

Vanessa then confronts Dr. Sweet with the knowledge that he is Dracula.  She threatens to shoot him, but is unable to carry through with her threat.  Dracula tells Vanessa that he has fallen in love with her, and that he wants to rule the Earth with Vanessa by his side.  Dracula also tells Vanessa that he loves her and accepts her for who she is.  Vanessa then succumbs to Dracula, allowing him to drink her blood.  Outside, Kaetenay’s visions start to become true.


My Thoughts

Takeaways from Penny Dreadful.  Sit tight, I have quite a few.

Vampire sex is kinda hot.  Actually, vampire sex is pretty hawt!  And I’m not ashamed to admit that, either!

And Vanessa doing the walk of shame, turn of the century style (instead of a cab, she gets a horse and carriage from her gentleman er gentle vamp) was pretty entertaining too!

Catriona.  I dig her, but what’s up with her?  That chemistry she has with Vanessa (even though they’ve had only a few scenes together) is undeniable.  Cat calling herself Cat-o’-nine-tails was just…well…just there.

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But it seemed like getting Vanessa to figure out that Dr. Sweet was Dracula was so easy.  Cat just mentions a few things, and one of them conveniently happens to be where the night creatures hide, aka the natural history museum, and Vanessa just has a light bulb moment, and realizes that her “sweetie” (see what I did there) is actually the King of all Big Bads, and the brother of another Big Bad.

And it only took her how long?

Christian Carmargo as Dr. Sweet and Eva Green as Vanessa Ives in Penny Dreadful (season 3, episode 2). - Photo: Jonathan Hession/SHOWTIME - Photo ID: PennyDreadful_302_5057

So, why so easy?  Is Miss Cat-o-nine-tails who she says she is?  In other words, Lyle’s friend who just happens to be the expert that Vanessa so desperately needed?  Pretty convenient, if I do say so myself…

Or perhaps Cat is not who she says she is.  After all, Dracula can influence and corrupt (more on that, aka Renfield, in a minute.)  Is she working for Dracula after all?  She seems to know a little too much about him, and was little eager to give Vanessa all that info, and Vanessa didn’t have to work very hard to make her deduction, and appear to walk right into the arms of the enemy.  But there are two episodes left, so plenty of time to find out if Miss Nine Tails is on the Scoobies’ side or not!

Renfield.  I have not talked about him too much this season, which is something that needed to be remedied.  Stat.

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That opening scene, where Renfield is licking Vanessa (seriously, how do you not wake up, Vanessa?  I would wake up and be running through a brick wall to get away from that creep, but that’s just me, I suppose) was pure gold.  Dracula/Dr. Sweet picking Renfield up by his neck (Vanessa still didn’t wake up, will we find out next week if she can really sleep through Armageddon?) was just the cherry on the sundae.

Should I have been laughing that hard? Probably not.  But I don’t regret one chuckle.  Not a one.

Caliban.  In other words, the one who has become just a little less Creature-y, and a lot more human.  In fact, I think he may have the most humanity out of any of the characters on the show.  I know that he wins it for the feelsie moments, hands down.

penny dreadful 3 17

And he may be responsible for the biggest feelsie moment that this show has seen, period, when he reunited with his family.  How could you not cry?  How could your heart not melt when his wife threw her arms around him?

Then there was the reunion with his son…

Normally, I avoid stepping in feelings like I would avoid stepping in dog poo, but the poo er feeling pile was just big when I watched this episode.  So I got knee deep in it.  The feeling pile, that is.  I mean, how could I not, especially after he embraced his son, who didn’t scream his head off this time?

Rory Kinnear as The Creature in Penny Dreadful (season 3, episode 7). - Photo: Jonathan Hession/SHOWTIME - Photo ID: PennyDreadful_307_1030

And, speaking of too easy…

Caliban’s story wrapped up nicely this week.  Or so it seemed.  Is he really going to get a happily ever after?  My heart wants to believe this, but my gut is telling me not to get too complacent.  I have had a feeling that someone is in for a horrible tragedy this season.  And my gut is telling me that it may be Caliban.

We know his son is extremely ill, and has been for some time.  I am rooting for Caliban (perhaps rooting for him more than anyone else) but I don’t think it’s going to be that easy for him.  Something terrible is going to happen to Caliban, unfortunately.  Ebb tide:  can’t be lulled into a false sense of security, as the waters will begin crashing again.

Caliban 1

Vanessa and Caliban shared another scene in this episode.  They’ve only shared a few scenes, but I treasure each and every one of them.  Somebody, can these two have more scenes together?  Do I need to start an online petition for this?

Oh, and Vanessa does remember Caliban from her time at the Banning Clinic!  I almost started clapping my hands when that was revealed.  And my eyes got a little leaky when Vanessa encouraged him to reunite with his family, telling him that his family would still love him for the man he really is, even though he is now horribly disfigured.  Gotta see someone about my eyes, can’t figure out why they keep leaking like that, when I watch this show…

Penny Dreadful 3 41

Lily and Dorian.  Until last night, that part of the story was floundering a bit, even though I still enjoyed it.

But then Lily crawled on a table and made a rousing speech.  Seriously, I thought of Kevin’s speech on American Pie, and I was kind of half-expecting Lily to shout “We will get laid!”  I wasn’t too disappointed though, as there was a table full of right hands.  Anyone else curious about the owners of those hands?  How do you explain that to your family, if you have one?  It’s one thing to come home smelling of someone else’s perfume.  It’s another thing to come home without your right hand.  How do you explain that one to your family?  I would love to hear the excuse for that one, since I don’t think the old “I accidentally ended up in bed with this tramp” line would go over very well, but what do I know?

Penny Dreadful 38

And the look on Dorian’s face when Lily made her speech…priceless!  I was a master of bored, disdained looks as a teenager (and still am, especially when I am forced to leave my bat cave er house) but I bow down to Dorian…I wanted to frame that shit and hang it on my wall!

Reeve Carney as Dorian Gray in Penny Dreadful (season 3, episode 7). - Photo: Jonathan Hession/SHOWTIME - Photo ID: PennyDreadful_307_2135

Has Vanessa really surrendered herself to the dark side (she needs a t shirt that says that she surrendered to the dark side and all she got was this lousy shirt and no they didn’t even have cookies)?

The signs point to yes, I suppose.  So now it is up to Ethan, Kaetenay and Malcolm to try to save Vanessa, who may not want to be saved now.  Oh, and avert the apocalypse and save the poor Earth while they are at it…all in a day’s work!

In other words, time to get the band back together!

Penny Dreadful 3


So that’s it for Ebb Tide.  Join me next week for the recap and review of the two part season finale, titled Perpetual Night and Blessed Dark.

Tune in next week…same bat time, same bat channel!

batman and robin

 

 

 

Penny Dreadful: Season 3, Episode 6 Recap and Review

Well, I am in recovery today, folks.

No, I didn’t go out and partake in a wild night of drinking, where I did things (like get married, hehe), that I have to piece together the next morning.

Hangover 1

Rather, I watched the sixth episode of this season’s Penny Dreadful, titled No Beast So Fierce.

And what a ride it was…

I’ve always been kind of curious to see what Quentin Tarantino’s take on a period horror drama would be (seriously, I want to see Quentin Tarantino’s take on pretty much anything, but I digress.)

And I got my wish last night.

In other words, I got my period horror drama (as always.)

Ethan and Vanessa 1

But, there was comedy.

There was a gunfight.

And there were ridiculous lines that may have seemed ridiculous, but somehow, they still worked.

In other words, Quentin Tarantino is an un-credited writer for Penny Dreadful.  I tell you, it’s the only thing that makes sense, as this was an entirely new turn for a show that has been filled with surprises almost from the get-go.

So, buckle yourselves in, and prepare for the recap and review of No Beast So Fierce.  And try not to fall out of your seat, ok?

And, as always:

Homer spoiler


Synopsis

The episode begins with Renfield meeting with Dracula, begging Dracula to feed him.  Renfield discloses the names of some of Vanessa’s friends, including Malcolm and Ethan.  Dracula then allows Renfield to feed on a nearly dead corpse, reminding Renfield of who is really in charge.

Vanessa pays a visit to Dr. Lyle and requests his assistance.  Lyle tells her that he is leaving for Egypt, and that this time, the visit may be permanent.  Vanessa is heartbroken to be losing yet another friend, but Lyle gives her the name of another acquaintance who may be able to help her.

Back in America, the stand-off between Ethan and his father Jared is interrupted by the arrival of Inspector Rusk, who announces that he is arresting Ethan, so that Ethan may stand trial for his crimes.

Caliban has recovered some memories of his past life, and looks in on his sleeping son.  The boy is ill and in discomfort, but recognizes his father’s voice.  However, once the boy opens his eyes and sees Caliban in his form as the Creature, he begins to scream.  Caliban is heartbroken, but vows to obtain medicine so that his son may be cured.

Vanessa attends a fencing match, per the instruction of Dr. Lyle.  She finally meets Lyle’s friend, Catriona Hartdegen.  Catriona is an accomplished female fencer, despite the accusations against her of cheating.  Vanessa tells Catriona her story, and requests help in her fight against Dracula.  Catriona agrees, but reminds Vanessa not to isolate herself, as there is strength in numbers.

Vanessa then has a drink with Dr. Seward.  Dr. Seward tells Vanessa that she understands what it is like to be alone, as she killed her husband in self-defense and was forced to stand trial for murder.  Dr. Seward encourages Vanessa to seek the company of Dr. Sweet, to decrease her risk of isolation.

Henry and Victor put the finishing touches on their serum, and Victor leaves for Dorian’s mansion, in the hopes of injecting Lily with the serum, so that she may revert to her docile self.

At Dorian’s mansion, Lily teaches a self-defense workshop of sorts to prostitutes who are forced to endure abuse from men.  Lily uses Dorian as a model to demonstrate her techniques.  However, Justine cuts Dorian’s throat in the demonstration.  This prompts concern from Dorian, who states that Justine has forgotten her place in their lives.

Malcolm, Ethan, Jared and Inspector Rusk sit down to a dinner in Jared’s ranch.  Jared forces Ethan to say Grace, and harasses Ethan until he complies.  This prompts Malcolm to come to Ethan’s defense, reminding Jared that his son is still a good man, no matter what the accusations against her are.  Hecate also tells Ethan that she will unleash her magic, if he will just give her the word.

Victor then visits Lily at Dorian’s mansion.  He is held at knife-point by Justine, and tries to convince Lily to allow him to inject the serum into her, telling her that it will make her memories of her troubled past vanish.  Lily refuses, and Justine offers to slit Victor’s throat.  Dorian says that this act of violence would be senseless, and Lily ultimately agrees.  She frees Victor, but states that she may have use for Victor and his services at a later time.

Vanessa visits Dr. Sweet at the natural history museum, and confesses her troubles to him, stating that she is being hunted by a creature called “Dracula.”  Dr. Sweet is not frightened, and tells Vanessa that he loves her for what she is.  The two then consummate their relationship.

Violence erupts at Jared’s mansion back in America.  Jared shoots Ostow, who had accompanied Inspector Rusk in his quest to bring Ethan to justice.  Rusk then asks Ethan and Hecate about the snakes that were conjured in the desert.  Ethan and Hecate then spring to action, as does Malcolm.  Hecate reverts to her nightcrawler form and is shot by Rusk.  Rusk is then shot by Ethan.  Malcolm is cornered by one of Jared’s bodyguards, but is saved by the sudden appearance of Kaetenay, who has recovered from the snake bites.

Hecate dies in Ethan’s arms.  Ethan teams with Malcolm and Kaetenay, and they find Jared in his chapel.  Ethan shoots the gun out of his father’s hands, and his father taunts him to pull the trigger.  Ethan is unable to pull the trigger, and walks away from his father.  Jared then taunts Ethan further, promising him that he will still hunt him down.  Malcolm then shoots Jared, killing him instantly.


My Thoughts

Again:

ermahgerd 1

So.  Much.  Going.  On.  In.  This.  Episode.

Where to start, then?

Well, let me begin with my favorite character of the series, aka Caliban aka The Creature.

Rory Kinnear as The Creature in Penny Dreadful (season 3, episode 7). - Photo: Jonathan Hession/SHOWTIME - Photo ID: PennyDreadful_307_1030

It is true that poor Caliban only had but a few lines of dialogue in this episode…

But let me reiterate:  poor Caliban!

His son recognized his father’s voice.  And started talking about joining the angels (my heart was torn out of my chest.)

And then his poor soon opened his eyes.  And (rightfully) screamed his head off.

Then we saw Caliban openly weep, vowing to obtain medicine to cure his son.  And not seeming to care to be back in his family’s life, either.  All he wants to do is something so that his son no longer has to suffer.

I never thought of him as The Creature.  I have called him Caliban because…well…because I just happen to like the name, and I think it suits him.

But now it is especially hard to think of him as The Creature.  He has displayed probably more humanity than almost anyone else on the show, and has been responsible for so many Feels.  So calling him The Creature is a disservice, and I will hear none of it!

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Next, T-Dal.  Let’s talk about T-Dal.

Timothy Dalton has been officially upgraded to T-Dal.  And he has earned it.

Timothy Dalton as Sir Malcolm in Penny Dreadful (season 3, episode 1). - Photo: Jonathan Hession/SHOWTIME - Photo ID: PennyDreadful_301_5002

Malcolm Murray is a bad ass.  Malcolm Murray can throw down some serious shade.  You do not want to meet Malcolm Murray in a dark alley.

Last week, Malcolm Murray referred to Jared Talbot as “vainglorious”, and then complimented his whiskey.  In the same breath.  I thought that couldn’t be beat.

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Oh, how wrong I was.  After watching this week’s episode, I need to recant the error of my ways…

Malcolm telling Kaeteney that he was too mean to die.  In the midst of a gunfight that would make this guy proud:

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Malcolm 1, rest of the world, 0.

Malcolm standing up for Ethan, trying to get him out of saying Grace.

Malcolm 2, rest of the world 0.

Malcolm putting a much deserved bullet into Jared’s skull, after Ethan backed down (see a pattern here?)

Malcolm 3, rest of the world forfeits and concedes to Malcolm.

In other words, the moniker T-Dal is a sign of respect, and to not use it is just sacrilege, dammit!

Also, I need a moment here…

Yes, a moment to mourn the fallen, as there were a few in this episode.

Such as Hecate.  Technically, she is a villain, who did some pretty terrible things last season.  But her ill-advised hookup with Ethan was such fun to watch, in a car wreck sort of way.  So, we can mourn her.

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We also have Jared Talbot.  Two episodes just were not enough.  Is there more Ethan backstory that could be told in flashbacks, so we can get more of you?

Inspector Rusk.  Or rather, Bartholomew “I am a stubborn bastard who just cannot fucking die already” Rusk.  But finally, you met your end.  And went out in a blaze of glory, as you should have.  Kudos, buddy.  Now let’s reunite the Scoobies in London already.

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Ethan was another reason why I loved this episode.  I have always loved Ethan’s character (even that crazy wolf half), but this episode was quite important for Ethan.

First of all, some of Ethan’s lines were comedy gold.  Well, maybe comedy that is blacker than how my dad takes his coffee, but that’s still comedy.

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Ethan saying Grace, but perverting it the way he did has to be the best thing I have seen on television in 2016.  Maybe even ever.  Or at least it makes my top 10 list.  And this is not just for Penny Dreadful.  We are talking about television, period.

The (literally) bloody dinner, and the gunfight that followed it, was also some television gold.  Again, if Quentin Tarrantino was a secret writer for Penny Dreadful (there can be no other explanation, natch), then this is how it would unfold.  Ethan and Hecate casually cutting their meat, while a dead body sits at the table, along with Hecate chomping at the bit to (again, literally) unleash all Hell on Jared and co.  Doesn’t get much better than that.

This episode was also important for Ethan’s character, in that he appears to have come back to the side of the good.

in Penny Dreadful (season 3, episode -). - Photo: Jonathan Hession/SHOWTIME - Photo ID: PennyDreadful_302

Ethan was given the chance to unleash Hecate and her magic on his father.  He did not do that, and chose to fight for himself.  And he actually mourned Hecate, as opposed to treating her like something to be used.  In other words, he behaved like a decent human being.

Sarah Greene as Hecate and Josh Hartnett as Ethan Chandler in Penny Dreadful (season 3, episode 5). - Photo: Jonathan Hession/SHOWTIME - Photo ID: PennyDreadful_305_0087

But more importantly, Ethan had the chance to kill his father.  He has only been talking about that all season, after all.

However, Ethan was unable to pull the trigger.  Instead, Malcolm stepped in to protect his surrogate son.  In other words, Ethan talked a good game, but refused to walk down a dark path from which there was no return.

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So, has the apocalypse been averted?  On Ethan’s end at least, the answer appears to be yes, as he has returned to the side of the light.  Now to just get the band back together and square off against Dracula, the ultimate Big Bad…


So, that’s it for No Beast So Fierce.  Tune in next week for the review and dissection of the seventh episode, titled Ebb Tide.

Tune in next week, same bat time, same bat channel!

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Penny Dreadful: Season 3, Episode 5 Recap and Review.

Pssst…

You there!  I see you!

Don’t try to run and hide, because you can’t!

Now that I have you in my snare, you may as well confess…

Since we know you did (not) it!

That’s right, you have committed a crime!

As in, you are not watching Penny Dreadful, that awesome TV show that is criminal not to watch!

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But don’t worry, it’s never too late to start, and and atone for your sin (unlike someone of the characters in the show, who seem past the stage of atonement, but I digress.)

Yes, this show still has me hooked.  And I can’t stop watching.  Or bending everyone’s ear off about it.  The story lines keep getting more compelling, and dragging the viewer in deeper.  And that is the mark of some good television, my wayward friend!

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So, without further ado, here is my recap and review of the fifth episode of season 3, titled This World is Our Hell.

And, as always:

Homer spoiler


Synopsis

Back in London, Henry and Victor continue to experiment on Balfor, the mental patient who had threatened to assassinate the queen.  They inject the man with Henry’s serum, but are surprised when the man has no memory of the two scientists, or why he has been institutionalized to begin with.

Ethan and Hecate continue to make their way across the New Mexico desert.  They discuss their childhoods, and of how both of their parents made them into unwilling recruits:  Hecate’s mother forced her into witchcraft, while Ethan’s father forced him into the US Army.

Night falls, and Ethan shares his story with Hecate.  Several miles away, Kaeteney shares Ethan’s story with Malcolm.  Ethan and his fellow soldiers attacked and killed a defenseless tribe of Apache Indians.  Ethan’s commanding officer dragged the body of a boy into the river, using the boy’s blood to poison the water.  The commanding officer told Ethan that the boy was not worth the bullet, and bashed the boy’s face in.  Ethan then shot and killed his commanding officer.

After killing his commanding officer, Ethan rode into Kaetenay’s village and begged the old man to take his life.  Instead, Kaetenay forced Ethan to fight against his home army.  Ethan told the tribe where to find weapons and supplies at his father’s ranch.  Kaeteney promised to lead a non violent raid, but broke his word and murdered all of Ethan’s family (his mother, brother and sister) except for Ethan’s father.

Kaeteney reminds Malcolm that Ethan is descending into darkness, and tells Malcolm of the horrible visions he has had of Ethan and the apocalypse that he says will be brought upon mankind if Ethan cannot be saved.

In the meantime, Ethan and Hecate join forces to cast a spell that brings rattlesnakes out of the earth.  The snakes attack Inspector Rusk’s men, and all the men are killed, except for Rusk and Marshall Ostow.  Malcolm and Kaeteney invade Rusk’s site and steal horses.  However, Kaeteney is also bitten by a rattlesnake.  Malcolm and Kaetenay then manage to escape Rusk and his lone surviving member of the search party.  Rusk then vows to kill Ethan, no matter the cost.

The situation becomes desperate for Ethan and Hecate, who have no water.  Ethan is forced to shoot his horse, as it is dying of dehydration.  Ethan and Hecate spend the night in a cave, which contains drawings depicting the Apache story of creation.  Hecate argues that the drawings may actually be a story of how the world ends.  Ethan then succumbs to Hecate, and they make love, with Ethan swearing that he is done trying to be on the side of the good.

Over the next few days, Ethan and Hecate lose their last horse.  Ethan carries Hecate across the desert for a time, but then gives up, thinking that they will die from dehydration.  However, Ethan is saved by Malcolm, who has finally caught up with them.  Malcolm gives Ethan the last of his water, which Ethan shares with Hecate.  Malcolm threatens to shoot Hecate, but Ethan will not have it.

The standoff is interrupted by the arrival of the men sent by Ethan’s father.  Malcolm, Ethan and Hecate are then dragged back to Ethan’s father’s home.  When asked what should be done with Kaeteney, who is suffering the effects of the rattlesnake bite, Ethan advises the men to leave him to die, telling them the old man is not worth the bullet.

While Ethan and Hecate are recuperating at Ethan’s father ranch, Ethan’s father, Jared Talbot, has a long conversation with Malcolm.  Jared intensely dislikes the Apache tribe, and derides Malcolm for teaming with Kaeteney.  Malcolm becomes self-righteous, but Jared points out some of the acts against Africans Malcolm committed during his time in Africa, reminding Malcolm that he is also a racist.

After Ethan recovers, he dresses and prepares to kill his father.  He then learns that Jared has no desires to make amends, and wants Ethan to atone for his sins, and suffer in the meantime.  Jared walks Ethan through the family chapel, where members of the Apache tribe murdered the rest of the family.  Jared demands that Ethan repent for his sins, and pulls his gun on his son.  Ethan states that he is done repenting, and that he belongs in hell.


My Thoughts

Well, whew…

I underwent therapy after watching last week’s episode, A Blade of Grass.

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My recovery was progressing nicely.

Well, until I watched this week’s episode, at any rate.

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And now I will have to find another, understanding therapist, who is familiar with what shows like Penny Dreadful do to a person, and why we are still helpless to stop watching them.

Yes, this episode was intense.  And also unexpected, in some ways.

Let me talk about our favorite werewolf, aka Ethan, for a few minutes.

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For the past three seasons, the show has been hinting that Ethan has committed some terrible crimes and needs to answer for those crimes.

It was hinted at early on in the first season that Ethan is actually a werewolf.  That fact was also revealed at the end of first season, via the Mariner’s Inn Massacre, where Ethan transforms into his wolf half after the death of poor Brona, and kills several people while in his wolf form.

Of course, I was expecting that all the terrible things that Ethan has done, and is on the run from, had to do with his curse.  He transformed into something horrible, but the acts were involuntary, as he (probably) did not wish to become a werewolf.

in Penny Dreadful (season 3, episode -). - Photo: Jonathan Hession/SHOWTIME - Photo ID: PennyDreadful_302

Well, I was wrong.

So far, all the things that Ethan is running from have absolutely NOTHING to do with his curse.  Rather, they all have to do with human fuckery (something that is really the biggest horror of them all.)

At the beginning of the season, I had thought that Kaeteney was actually responsible for Ethan’s curse (and this theory may still be true.)  When Ethan came to Kaeteney with blood on his hands, begging Kaeteney to kill him, I thought that Kaeteney’s punishment was the curse of the werewolf.

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However, that appears not to have been the case.  The old man actually did much, much worse to Ethan, by forcing him to fight against the army, and committing an act of treachery that left the blood on Ethan’s hands, along with unimaginable pain and suffering, for both Ethan and his father.

So we still know very little about the actual werewolf, who seems to be tame compared to its human counterpart.  But, we have four more episodes left this season, and I am patient.

The pairing of Ethan and Hecate is also another thing that I am loving about this season, although this relationship is almost as ill-advised as Dr. Frankenstein’s attempt to tame and and capture Lily.  In other words, Ethan shacking up with Hecate is simply NOT going to turn out well, but will provide us with some nifty entertainment.

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Ethan and Hecate’s interaction this episode was fascinating:  those two really are cut from the same cloth.  They both had domineering parents, although I think Hecate wins that one.  Being clawed by Lucifer Himself at age five is hard to beat.  Both have darkness in them, although Hecate has embraced hers (maybe she did get cookies when she came to the dark side), while Ethan struggles with his and is still trying to figure out what to do with all that darkness (somehow, doing in Inspector “How the hell are you still alive” Rusk doesn’t seem to be on his bucket list.)

Side note:  next time Hecate surrenders herself to the dark side, she may want to ask for powers other than the ability to conjure snakes out of nowhere and kill (almost) entire search parties.  You know, like the ability to conjure up water for when you need to spend an untold number of days trekking across the desert with a werewolf who can tell you Apache folk tales on demand…cookies be damned!

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All season, the show has been hinting at dual natures.

We have Ethan, who is also a werewolf.

There is Vanessa, who apparently had a big chunk of her past that was forgotten until recently.

We have Caliban, who is (slowly) beginning to remember the person he was before he became The Creature.

And pretty much every time Dr. Jekyll opens his mouth, we get some sort of lecture about duality.  Although I will listen to that lecture in that voice all day long, no complaints here!

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This episode also placed an emphasis on duality, with the introduction of Jared Talbot, Ethan’s father, whom we have been teased about for several episodes, at this point.

Finally, Ethan reunited with his father.  And not just Jared, as Ethan also managed to reunite with Malcolm, who conveniently made an appearance before Ethan and his witch gal pal succumbed to the desert and all the pleasures it had to offer.

Malcolm has been a father of sorts to Ethan almost from the beginning.  Those two seem to have an understanding, and although it did take some time, a respect for one another.

Malcolm 1

Eventually, we knew we would meet Ethan’s father.  And that meeting would be interesting, to say the least.

Finally, we got that meeting.  And it was beyond interesting.  The final third of the episode was when it really kicked off, giving us some tense story telling, and interactions that were just genius.

For instance, the interaction between Malcolm and Jared was one for the ages.  The similarities between those two men are pretty striking when you think about it.  Both have lost almost their entire families.  Both are culpable, to an extent, in the deaths of their family members:  Jared set in motion a chain of tragic events by forcing Ethan into the army, and Malcolm forced his son to accompany him on one of his trips to Africa, which did not end well.  Both men are obsessed with achieving success, even if that success comes at a cost (which it did.)

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So seeing them exchange words was just beautiful.  And bonus points to Malcolm, who managed to call Jared “vainglorious (pot meet kettle), and compliment him on his whiskey, in the same breath.  Malcolm one, Jared zero!

The reunion of Ethan and his estranged father has also been hyped.  And it lived it up to that hype, as we finally got more information on why his father was so (rightfully) angry.  Hearing about what happened to Ethan’s family (which is really a result of his father’s controlling nature and his need for perfection, his son’s best interests be damned) was heartbreaking.  And then guns were drawn.

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Now we have to wait until next week, to find out how this reunion will conclude.  Somehow, I see more tragedy, although I may be wrong about that.  But I don’t think so.


So that’s it for This World is Our Hell.  Join me next week for the review and dissection of the sixth episode, titled No Beast So Fierce.

Tune in next week…same bat time, same bat channel!

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Penny Dreadful: Season 3, Episode 4 Recap and Review

Sometimes, all you need is a big, ugly cry.

You know, the kind where your face ends up covered in snot, your nose and eyes are swollen and you share the same coloring as a ripe tomato.

ugly cry

And sometimes, you need this, but you don’t know you need this.  So, it’s up to someone, or something, to let you know that you need this, so that ugly cry doesn’t stay trapped within your soul forever, turning you into some kind of horrible monster (or is that just me?)

So, enter one of my favorite television shows…

No, not Buffy the Vampire Slayer, although thanks to the Scoobies, I learned the meaning of “ugly cry” at a relatively young age.

No, I am talking about the “other” show about vampires.

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Yes, that’s right...Penny Dreadful!

I know, makes sense, right?

You need some catharsis, so just watch a period horror show series and you’re good, right?

Josh Hartnett as Ethan Chandler, Timothy Dalton as Sir Malcolm and Eva Green as Vanessa Ives in Penny Dreadful (season 1, episode 1). - Photo: Jonathan Hession/SHOWTIME - Photo ID: PennyDreadful_101_3501

Well, actually, the answer is yes.

Penny Dreadful may be that “literary show period show with monsters”, but once again, it has proved to us that it is much, much more than that.

I mean, if you’ve been faithfully watching the show from the beginning (or binge watching, I won’t judge), you have probably realized this already:  that Penny Dreadful is much more than meets the eye.  It has shown us that it, in fact, is much more than meets the eye time and time again.  And that is the reason why I love the show so much.

But just when I think I can’t get blown away again, it happens.  I watch, as is my custom on Monday nights right now, and I get my socks knocked off.  And all for the price of just under one hour of my time!

So, let’s get to it, and review and dissect this week’s episode, titled A Blade of Grass.

As always:

Homer spoiler


Synopsis

The episode begins with Vanessa trapped in a fugue state.  Vanessa has traveled back in time to her days as a patient in a mental institution, the Banning Clinic.  Dr. Seward tells Vanessa that she is trapped in this state until she comes to some kind of resolution, but that she will not abandon her.

Vanessa is trapped in a padded cell at the Banning Clinic.  Her only reaction is with the orderly who would later become The Creature.  At first, the orderly plays by the rules, and tells Vanessa that she is not being tortured, and that what is being done to her is being done in the name of science.  However, the orderly gradually comes to believe that this is, in fact, not true, and begins to show compassion towards Vanessa.

One day, the orderly brings Vanessa a blanket, after she is forced to undergo hydrotherapy and is shivering and wet.  The orderly comes back later and takes the blanket from Vanessa, as it is against regulations.  Vanessa reacts by clawing him in the face.  The orderly subdues Vanessa, and Vanessa is then confined to a straight jacket.

Because Vanessa is confined to a straight jacket, the orderly is forced to feed her himself.  He brings a wooden spoon from his house, as the wooden spoon will not hurt her mouth.  Vanessa complains that she is being tortured because she must become “normal”, as the current social structure will not accept a woman like Vanessa, who deviates from the norm.

The orderly begins to open up to Vanessa.  He will not reveal his name, but talks about his wife and son.  Vanessa tells him that she thinks that she has been touched by Lucifer.  The orderly leaves the room, but turns to Vanessa, and tells her he believes her story about Lucifer, as he was there.  His eyes then shine black.

Vanessa begs Dr. Seward to pull her back to the present, but the doctor tells her that is impossible at the moment, as Vanessa must work through these memories.

During her time in the institution, Vanessa is robbed of her ability to speak, as she is gagged.  One day, the orderly removes the gag, and brushes her hair and puts some makeup on her, to restore her sense of dignity. Before removing the makeup and mussing up her hair again, he holds a mirror before Vanessa’s face, and reminds her that this is who she is.  The orderly reads Vanessa poetry, and fantasizes about a day when they can walk out of the institution together.  The orderly then leaves the room, telling Vanessa that it is Christmas day, as he shuts the door.

Over time, Vanessa becomes closer to orderly.  One day, she removes her gown and attempts to seduce him.  The orderly responds to her kiss, but pulls back, and puts the gown back on Vanessa.  He begs her to get better, as he has seen what happens to Dr. Banning’s lobotomy patients.

The orderly then begs Vanessa to talk to him about her problems, and pulls up a chair.  Vanessa brings up Lucifer, and the orderly’s eyes turn black, and he introduces himself as the devil.  The devil tells Vanessa that her God has abandoned her, and that if she gives herself over to him, they can rule the earth together.

A laugh then echoes through the room.  Lucifer cowers in the corner, as the devil’s brother, also wearing the orderly’s face, appears to Vanessa.  We find out that this second entity is Dracula, and unlike Lucifer, he wants Vanessa’s flesh and blood.  Vanessa nearly gives herself over to Dracula, but snaps out of it, once she hears his name.  Vanessa then cites the Verbis Diablo and levitates, coming back to reality with the orderly next to her bed.

Taking the advice of the orderly, Vanessa pretends to be “normal,” in the hopes that she will be released from the clinic. However, she refuses to deny her faith, and the doctor refuses to release.  Instead, he shaves her head and schedules her for a lobotomy instead.

The night before Vanessa’s surgery, the orderly pays her a visit and tells her that he has tendered his resignation, as he believes that his employer is engaging in inhumane practices.  However, he promises Vanessa that he will not leave before she receives the anesthesia, as he wants that last face she sees to be the face of someone who loves her.  Vanessa kisses him, and both weep.

Vanessa then comes to in Dr. Seward’s office.  The doctor is startled and apologizes for the cigarette burn she gave to Vanessa in an attempt to rouse her.  Vanessa states that she remembers everything, and reminds the doctor that she has told her in the past that people name things that frighten them.  Vanessa says that she is no longer frightened, and that the creature who had frightened her previously is named Dracula.


My Thoughts

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And on so many levels, too.

First of all:

All.  The.  Feels.

Now, Penny Dreadful is kind of a feelsie show, but this episode really outdid itself.  Really outdid itself, in fact.  Let me count the ways…

Now, Vanessa and Caliban (whenever are we going to find out his government name?) have had a handful of scenes together.  In particular, there was the poetry scene last year (somewhere along the line The Creature developed a taste for poetry, who knew?)

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And there was the scene in the last episode of the second season, where the two shared a dance…

Eva Green as Vanessa Ives and Rory Kinnear as The Creature in Penny Dreadful (season 2, episode 5). - Photo: Jonathan Hession/SHOWTIME - Photo ID: PennyDreadful_205_1509

But now, we have this episode.

I don’t normally care about awards (Emmy, cough, cough) but really, this episode not winning SOME kind of award is simply criminal!

I mean, this episode was (mostly) done by two actors (although Patti Lupone did a fabulous job, as always.)  It mostly took place in one room.  And the special effects were minimal (although the shadows that appeared when Lucifer and Dracula took over were pretty cool.)

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And this episode was mind blowing.  In fact, it may be one of the best episodes that the series has ever put out.  Which is saying something.

We also had one actor (Rory Kinnear) play three different roles in one episode.  All in his orderly get up.  This brings the number of roles played by Mr. Kinnear up to four (The Creature, the orderly, Lucifer and Dracula.)  Is there anything this man can’t do?

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Let’s talk about Mr. Kinnear for a minute, too.

Many of the accolades for this episode are probably going to my girl Eva Green (and this is not necessarily a bad thing), but Mr. Kinnear simply blew me away after I watched this episode.

I have always had great love for Caliban.  He is one of my favorite characters on the show.  But, to be honest, I never thought (or cared) much about his pre-Creature life.  I knew that he had one, but it never really crossed my mind.

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Until now.  And I had made some assumptions last week.  And we know what happens when you assume…ASS!

This character arc was NOT what I expected.  For some reason, I had thought that maybe Caliban’s job as an orderly had hardened him.  At the beginning of the episode, my assumption was correct.  He was pretty rough with poor Vanessa there for a bit, with the force feeding and having to subdue her when she scratched his face.

But, as this show likes to do, it all got turned upside down.  And in a good way.  The orderly began to read Vanessa poetry.  And he brought a wooden spoon from home, so Vanessa’s mouth wouldn’t be hurt.

And the brushing of Vanessa’s hair and application of make-up, to remind her of who she was…beautiful.  Although when he removed her make-up and clumsily mussed her hair back up again…I think that was actually the most heart-wrenching part, as it symbolized Vanessa having to shed her humanity yet again.

I also loved his story about building a ship with his son, and the realization that people (as in Vanessa) are often forced to live where it’s cold and lonely.  But having even just one person who believes in you can make the cold and loneliness vanish, at least for a little while.

Rory Kinnear as The Creature in Penny Dreadful (season 3, episode 7). - Photo: Jonathan Hession/SHOWTIME - Photo ID: PennyDreadful_307_1030

This episode may be considered to be “Vanessa-centric”, and that thought would not necessarily be wrong.  However, I consider this episode to actually be more about Caliban than anything.  Clearly, the time he spent with Vanessa changed him, and he came away a better person because of that.  And his character became much more interesting because of that.

Of course, I need to throw some accolades at Eva Green.

As if you couldn’t figure that out…

I don’t know how she does it.  Very few people can make crawling on a ground, being nose to nose with what may be (literally) evil incarnate, look classy, but Eva Green has that ability, and should get an award for it, if such a thing exists.

And even when she is clawing a poor orderly’s face, she still manages to evoke sympathy.  I mean, who does that?

My girl, that’s who!

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Before we are done here, I want to talk about the ending a bit.

It would have been easy (and logical) for the episode to end after Vanessa threw down some shade via the Verbis Diablo.  But this is Penny Dreadful.  So nix easy, and (sometimes) you can nix the logical with that, too.

It was pretty clear to me that, along with being Caliban-centric, this episode was about Vanessa not forgetting her humanity, even though she has not one but two forms of (literal) evil incarnate fighting over her.  The scene at the beginning with Dr. Seward telling Vanessa that she would not abandon her for anything (another gem in this episode, aka Patti Lupone proving she is worth her paycheck) was some pretty good foreshadowing of this fact.

Christian Carmargo as Dr. Sweet and Eva Green as Vanessa Ives in Penny Dreadful (season 3, episode 2). - Photo: Jonathan Hession/SHOWTIME - Photo ID: PennyDreadful_302_5122

Vanessa has clearly spent much of her time alone in her struggles, with no one to turn to.

Then, enter the orderly.  Although I still believe that this episode is actually Caliban-centric, as his time with Vanessa effected a massive change in him, it is pretty clear that Vanessa benefited from this friendship as well.

I think that perhaps Vanessa needed a reminder that relying on others is not necessarily a bad thing, so her mind forced her to remember someone who was kind to her.  Someone who loved her.  Someone who was willing to sacrifice for her.

In short, someone who reminded her that she is worthy of love and support, no matter what other-wordly forces that would try to lame claim to her.  A worthy human, in other words.

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So that’s it for Blades of Grass.  Join me next week for the review and dissection of episode 5, titled The World is Our Hell.

Tune in next week…same bat time, same bat channel!

batman and robin

 

Penny Dreadful: Season 3, Episode 3 Recap and Review

Sometimes, I think that I have become a bit too desensitized.

All these years of reading The Master, watching horror movies, spending some quality time with the merc with the mouth (such a good cure for blah-ness, by the way) and basically being incapable of watching or reading something that does not make me its emotional bitch (thanks, Kurt Sutter and Sons of Anarchy) have left me a bit…apathetic, to say the least.

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Nothing can surprise me, horrify me or gross me out (so I think, at least.)

But I think I have found a cure for my ailment…

You guessed it:  watch an episode or two of Penny Dreadful, as if you couldn’t figure that out!

Finally, I have found something that can manage to surprise me every now and again.

And this week’s episode was no different.  And I learned quite a bit, actually…

Like that a threesome involving Dorian and Lilly will be interesting, to say the least.

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And that if you are a character on this show, and don’t have an alter ego of some type, well you probably won’t survive in this particular universe.

So, let’s get to it, and review and recap this week’s episode of Penny Dreadful, already!

Oh, as always:

Homer spoiler


Synopsis

The episode opens with Ethan having a vision of Kaetenay, who is covered in blood.  Ethan awakens in a stable with Hecate, who tells him that she wants him to realize his true werewolf self.

Lilly has tea with Justine, and they watch the police use brutality against suffragette protesters.  Lilly tells Justine that their approach will be different, they will move silently and accumulate power before striking.

Lilly and Justine then return to Dorian’s mansion, where they show Justine her tormentor, who had purchased her to be his whore when she was 12 years old.  They tell Justine that she has choices, and list the man’s crimes against her.  Justine then slits his throat, and has a threesome with Lilly and Dorian.  All three bathe themselves in the man’s blood.

Caliban returns to London.  He sees Vanessa with Dr. Sweet, and smiles, as he is happy that Vanessa seems to have found happiness.  Caliban’s memories of his previous life are also slowly returning, and he remembers that he had a wife and son.  Caliban tracks down his family, who have been forced to move into run-down housing.  His son also appears to be quite ill, but still insists on learning to read and write.  Caliban robs a man of his watch, and leaves the watch for his son’s mother, so that she may sell it.

In America, Ethan and Hecate steal horses so that they may travel across the desert.  In the meantime, Ethan is still being hunted by Inspector Rusk, who now suspects that Ethan has an accomplice.  Rusk also warns the American authorities that occult forces are involved, and it is dangerous not to believe in the occult.  Ethan and Hecate are nearly accosted by the authorities, but manage to escape on their stolen horses.

Vanessa speaks to Dr. Seward and is distraught that the doctor does not fully believe her story.  Vanessa then touches Dr. Seward’s wrist, giving the doctor details about her past, which startles Dr. Seward.

Vanessa also accepts a date with Dr. Sweet, and the two attend a carnival.  Dr. Sweet persuades Vanessa to go into the house of mirrors, although she is reluctant.  Vanessa agrees, and all is well at first.  However, Vanessa encounters one of Dracula’s familiars, who recites morbid nursery rhymes, and tells her that they have met before, when Vanessa was institutionalized.  Vanessa becomes badly frightened, and ends her date with Dr. Sweet, telling him to stay away from her.

Dr. Sweet becomes angry at his familiar for revealing himself to Vanessa too soon, and tells the creature that he wants Vanessa to become completely vulnerable to him.  Dr. Sweet then sets the rest of his vampire familiars on the creature as punishment.

Malcolm and Kaetenay travel across the American Southwest by train, in the hopes of saving Ethan.  Kaetenay tells Malcolm that a great disaster will occur if they do not get to Ethan in time, and that if Ethan can’t be saved, then they must kill him.  Malcolm and Kaetenay then find evidence of the massacre at the saloon, and Kaetenay tells Malcolm that Ethan has an accomplice in Hecate, which makes the situation even more dangerous.

Vanessa returns to Dr. Seward, and demands that she be hypnotized, as she believes that she was tortured when she institutionalized.  Dr. Seward reluctantly agrees to the request, warning Vanessa that some memories are better left as un-recovered.  Dr. Seward then hypnotizes Vanessa, bringing her back to her time in the institution.  Vanessa is then taken back to her time in the institution, where she was locked in a padded room.  An orderly then enters the room, and is revealed to be none other than Caliban, in human form.


My Thoughts

I watch this show on Monday, most of the time.  At the advanced age of nearly 38, 10 PM on Sunday is too late to stay up.

In other words, Tuesday through Sunday are my antsy days, since I have to wait the next episode, which is an unfortunate side effect of actually watching a current show, instead of waiting the five or six seasons until said show is nearly done, and then spending a shameless number of hours binge watching said show…sniff…boohoo…

I constantly think about Penny Dreadful.  This is actually not anything new, but my thoughts seem to a little more intense this season.  And for good reason, since it seems we get a twist in every episode (more on this later.)

Ethan and Vanessa 2

One thing I loved about this particular episode was…you guessed…more of my friend, Caliban, aka the poetry quoting monster!

Caliban has always been a fascinating character to me.  Actually, he won me over completely last season, when he quoted William Blake’s Auguries of Innocence.  Oh, that beautiful monster!

Rory Kinnear as The Creature in Penny Dreadful (season 3, episode 7). - Photo: Jonathan Hession/SHOWTIME - Photo ID: PennyDreadful_307_1030

In all seriousness, I was glad that we got more of Caliban in this episode.  The theme of the episode was duality (even the title, Good and Evil Braided Be…shiver) and if anyone knows about dual natures, it is surely Caliban.  Out of all the characters, Caliban is the most knowledgeable, even over Dr. Jekyll.  After all, he has literally lived two lives!

I have never given much thought to Frankenstein’s monster, before this show.  I pitied him, because he did not ask to be created, but was an experiment at the whim of his creator.  I never thought of who he may have been before his corpse was dug up and revived.

Well, until this season of Penny Dreadful, actually.

Caliban 1

So, it appears that The Creature had a life (see what I did there) before he became The Creature.  And by all counts, it was not a happy life.

However, it was still his life, and my heart broke wide open while watching this episode.  Obviously, Caliban loved his son very much, along with his wife.  And now, his memories are starting to come back, and we see that he is something other than a gruesome resurrected corpse (although I knew that all along, anyone who can quote William Blake like that has at least a little humanity.)  He was, and still is, a man who loved.  And I think that his character arc will be fascinating:  will he try to reconcile with his family?  And if he does, how will that go (probably not well, given the fact that this is the Penny Dreadful universe, but still)?  Are we in for more heartbreak?  I think the answer is a resounding yes on that part.

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So, more about Caliban later, when we talk about the ending, obviously.

Again, I want to talk about the visual component of this show.

As always, it was excellent!

I wasn’t too sure about having part of the story take place in America, at first.

But, as usual, my doubts have been proven wrong.

The shots in the desert are quickly shaping up to be one of my favorite parts of this season.

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I am loving seeing Ethan in the desert.  There is just something ominous and foreboding about all that open space.  Maybe it’s because it plays on our fear of the unknown.  It is (or was) unknown territory, and there is always a great of that.  Whatever the case, the show has captured that aspect perfectly.

I also loved the scene in the house of mirrors.  I always hated those as a child, and when watching this week’s episode, I remembered why.

I definitely understood Vanessa’s reluctance to enter that particular attraction.  There is just something about seeing multiple, sometimes distorted, reflections of yourself that is unsettling.  This particular scene brought me back to my childhood, and bonded me to Vanessa even more, as we both also share a hatred of dolls.

Of course, I never encountered a vampire in any of the fun houses I went in as a child.  Poor Vanessa!  And that has to be one of the creepiest things I have ever seen: a bunch of distorted fun house mirrors, along with a vampire reciting a gory little nursery rhyme of some kind, while dropping a huge bombshell on Vanessa…eeek!

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And then the effect was compounded, when the vampire scampered away, but scampered BACKWARDS.  Yes, backwards…why is that so creepy?  I think maybe it is so creepy because vampires are corrupt creatures and are evil.  Evil is the opposite of good, so it would make sense that evil creatures are the reverse of us, and would therefore do everything backwards, including scampering away into the night.  Creepy stuff, regardless.

Christian Carmargo as Dr. Sweet and Eva Green as Vanessa Ives in Penny Dreadful (season 3, episode 2). - Photo: Jonathan Hession/SHOWTIME - Photo ID: PennyDreadful_302_5122

So, we are back to Caliban again.  Let’s talk about this week’s ending.

Really, who on this show doesn’t have a secret identity or past of some kind?

Dr. Sweet is Dracula.  That has been established.

We have Dr. Jekyll.  Need I say more on that?

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(Side note:  with the way this is going, my identity as the Green Arrow is going to get leaked soon…oh, oops.  Hope my secret is safe with both all of you readers).

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Ethan is a werewolf, and we are (hopefully) going to find out just what he did in his previous life.

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And now, we have Caliban.

As I stated before, Caliban is someone who has actually lived two lives.  In the first one, he was apparently a regular dude, with a wife and family.  And now he is resurrected Creature, trying to recover his memories.

Well, he is recovering his memories pretty slowly.  We know that he remembers his wife and kid, but the memories of what he did for a living are taking their sweet time resurfacing.

And his previous occupation has suddenly become much more than a footnote, as he was apparently an orderly at a mental institution.  And not just any mental institution, either.

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Caliban was an orderly at the mental institution that housed Vanessa for a time.  This time appears to be significantly important to Vanessa and the mythos of the series.  In other words, Caliban is no longer an interesting side story.  No, he is now directly tied to the “main” story, and probably in a really important way.

penny dreadful 3 7

Something tells me that Caliban played a huge part in Vanessa’s time at the mental institution.  We know that she encountered vampires there, along with other supernatural creatures.

Now, Caliban is a part of this.  And it is likely that he was a part of those encounters.  Did this have something to do with his death?  It is quite possible.  Did this have something to do with Victor obtaining his corpse for his experiment?  Also quite possible.  Did Caliban possibly agree to the experiment before his death?  Again, quite possible.  And I can’t wait to find out where the show takes this.


Well, that’s it for Good and Evil Braided Be.  Join me next week for the review and dissection of the fourth episode of the season, titled Another Demon.

Tune in next week.,.same bat time, same bat channel!

batman and robin

Penny Dreadful: Season 3 Episode 2 Recap and Review

Sometimes, things just go together.

Like peanut butter and jelly…

Macaroni and cheese…

Netflix and chill…

Jason Statham and well…anything…

Jason_Statham_2007

(Seriously, that man could be covered in tar, and I would still try to lick it off of him…yum.)

Eva Green and Patti Lupone

Dr. Jekyll and Dr. Frankenstein…

penny dreadful 3 3

Vanessa Ives and the Undead…

Yes, I just watched the second episode of this season’s Penny Dreadful last night, in case you can’t tell.

And saw some interesting combinations.  I am sure some of them, like Jekyll and Frankenstein, along with Eva Green and Patti Lupone, will become instant classics!

Of course, some combinations, such as Vanessa and supernatural creatures, were not unexpected.  But still, these combinations (like Jason Statham covered in tar), were fun, and I definitely want to see more of them.

So, without any further ado, here is my recap and review of the second episode of season 3 of Penny Dreadful, titled Predators Near and Far.

And of course:

Homer spoiler


Synopsis

The episode begins with Lilly and Dorian Gray, who make their way into the underground sex scene.  There, they rescue a young woman named Justine, who is set to be sexually tortured by a group of older men.  Lilly and Dorian shoot the men, and take the young girl back to Dorian’s mansion.  When Justine awakens, Lilly promises her that they will seek revenge upon the men who abused her.

Victor speaks to Henry Jekyll about his desire to transform Lilly into the woman he thinks she is.  Henry tells Victor that he is employed by Bedlam, a mental asylum, and is experimenting on his most psychotic patients, in a hope that he can find a cure for their ailments.  Henry brings Victor back to the asylum, and demonstrates his “cure” on a deranged man accused of conspiring to murder the queen.  The cure appears to work, as the man becomes docile and no longer raving, and asks for a glass of water.

Malcolm and Kaetenay continue on their travels, heading to America in the hopes of helping Ethan.  Kaetenay reveals to Malcolm that Ethan supposedly killed his family, and he has let Ethan live as a punishment.  Kaetenay then smokes something and appears to Ethan in some sort of vision.  Ethan is angered by seeing the old man, warning him to keep his distance, as he is being returned to his father and wants to seek revenge against his father.

The full moon rises when Ethan is in a saloon along with the bounty hunters who are tasked with bringing him back to his father.  Ethan speaks to an elderly Apache woman who appears to have ties to Kaetenay.  Ethan tells the woman to leave the bar immediately.  Shortly after, Ethan transforms into a werewolf and murders everyone in the bar.  He also receives some assistance from Hecate, who tells him that she has missed him.

Vanessa begins her sessions Dr. Seward, and tells her entire story, which is recorded on audio.  Even Dr. Seward is visibly shaken after Vanessa finishes her story, and tells Vanessa to do one thing that would be unexpected of her, yet make her happy, and report on it next week.

After her session with Dr. Seward, Vanessa makes her way to the natural history museum, where she listens to one of Dr. Sweet’s lectures.  She leaves him a note inviting him to attend a performance of 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea later that night.  Dr. Sweet accepts, and the two have a pleasant evening.  Vanessa also invites Dr. Sweet to have coffee with her, but her declines the invitation, and tells her that he will see her again soon.  Vanessa is then followed by Dracula’s minions on her way home.

Victor sits on a bench outside of Lilly’s mansion, lovelorn and heartsick.  Lilly speaks to him, telling him that she does care for him, but that he needs to stay out of her way, as what she is planning will be dangerous.

At the end of the episode, Renfield returns to Dracula’s lair to give the creature his intel on Vanessa.  Renfield then begs the vampire for blood, and Dracula obliges.  Dracula is then revealed to be Dr. Alexander Sweet.


My Thoughts

This week’s episode was an interesting one, for sure (well, duh.)  But it was interesting for quite a few reasons, and most of them don’t actually have much to do with “horror.”

First of all, this was not an action heavy episode (except for the end, which we will talk about in a bit.)  I view this episode as more of a “bridge building” episode, as opposed to one that would really advance the plot.  And there is nothing wrong with that, as some more was revealed about the characters (never anything wrong with that!)

Rory Kinnear as The Creature in Penny Dreadful (season 3, episode 7). - Photo: Jonathan Hession/SHOWTIME - Photo ID: PennyDreadful_307_1030

And speaking of characters, let’s talk about Dr. Jekyll for a minute.

While we are talking about “interesting”…

First of all, The Hulk er Jekyll has always been a fascinating character, at least to me.  We all have a dark side, after all.  Usually, we are supposed to keep that dark side hidden, and it is not acceptable to unleash that upon the rest of the world.  But there is no denying that dark side, and that side can just sometimes make an appearance, whether it is “acceptable” or not.

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In pretty much every depiction I ever seen of this character, he has been pretty…well…white.  Not that there is anything wrong with this, just putting this out on the table.  And the reason for his anger is never made clear, just that he has evil urges that he represses.  And we are all pretty familiar with what happens:  Jekyll hulks out into Mr. Hyde, goes on violent rampages and nothing good happens when Hyde is around.  This particular story seems to serve as a warning to all of us about our dark side, i.e. everyone has one, even the nicest guy, and when it gets unleashed…watch out, that’s what you get for having anger issues and not dealing with them.

Well, this is Penny Dreadful.  And Penny Dreadful likes to take the “traditional” and stand it on its head.  You can always put a twist on something, even something that is classic, like the story The Strange Tale of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde.

And the show has done this by depicting Dr. Jekyll as a man who is half Indian, in turn of the century London.  Go big or go home, right?

This “change” (after all, this is a work of fiction and not immutable) has actually paid off dividends, even though we are only two episodes into the season.

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First of all, variety is the spice of life.  Nothing wrong with vanilla as a flavor, but why not mix it up a little sometimes, and add some spice?  Even turn of the century London didn’t consist of all white folks, and modern day society sure doesn’t.  So seeing other flavors on any television show is never a bad thing.

But (and this a big but) the fact that we have some variety on the show is not the only reason why making Dr. Jekyll half Indian has worked so well.

Being a person of color is hard, even in “modern” times.  However, being a person of color today cannot possibly hold a candle to being a person of color in turn of the century London.  Even though Dr. Jekyll is half-white, he is seen as Indian by almost everyone.  To add insult to injury, he is also an outcast in India, and would probably be seen as an Untouchable, just like his mother, who had a child by a white man and then contracted leprosy, which she later died from.

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So, Dr. Jekyll is marginalized.  He may be even more marginalized than The Creature or even the ladies on the show, as he cannot really fit in anywhere.  He has no place among the white folks, and no place in India.  Jekyll is educated and intelligent, with much to offer.  However, the best he can do is to work with the “other Untouchables”, aka the mentally ill.  Even there, no one respects him, and he has to remind people to address him as “Dr”, a title he has rightfully earned.

And what happens to someone who is marginalized?

Well, I would be pretty angry if I was treated like that and had my options in life limited because my skin color wasn’t “right.”

And it’s pretty evident that Dr. Jekyll is angry.  I could hear it when he reminded that man of his proper title.  I could also hear it when he told Victor the story of his background, and how his father discarded him and his mother like a piece of trash.

In other words, Penny Dreadful‘s version of Dr. Jekyll does not have unexplained “evil urges.”  He is someone who has been kicked around by life, and legitimately has a chip on his shoulder.  And that chip on his shoulder will (probably) emerge as Mr. Hyde.  And I am sure that Mr. Hyde will somehow buck “tradition.”  And I can’t wait.

I also need to give a shout out to the visuals on this show.  The first two seasons impressed, and it looks like the third season is continuing the trend…

The opening was probably my favorite.  The red Japanese lanterns against that ominous backdrop…can you get more ominous than that?

I also loved the vision sequence, when Ethan receives an unwanted visit from Kaetenay.  The desert against the dark sky…talk about surreal!

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So, let’s talk about this ending…

While I enjoyed this episode, it was a bit ho-hum…

Well, until the ending, that is…

We have been teased about Dracula for going on three seasons now.  Last week we got a voice.  And this week, we can put a name to that scary voice.

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And the name is…Dr. Alexander Sweet?

I know that I made the statement that with a name like that, Dr. Sweet had to be either a vampire, or vampire bait, at the very least.

Christian Carmargo as Dr. Sweet and Eva Green as Vanessa Ives in Penny Dreadful (season 3, episode 2). - Photo: Jonathan Hession/SHOWTIME - Photo ID: PennyDreadful_302_5122

But, still this came as a bit of a surprise to me.  Revealed this early on in the season?  Kind of like going all the way on a second date, eh?

(As a side note, I feel a little better about my own previous dating life.  Can’t say I dated Dracula, but I am sure I at least hooked up with his familiar a time or too.  Poor Vanessa!)

So, now we know that Dr. Sweet (appears) to actually be the biggest Big Bad of them all.  So what happens now?

I can’t answer that question.  But it sure has gotten interesting.

How long will it take Vanessa to figure out that her new boo is the bloodsucker responsible for the death of her best friend, Mina?  Vanessa seems pretty smitten with the new doc, so I think this may take her a while.  So far, she doesn’t appear to have noticed the wannabe fan boys who have been stalking her as of late, but she’s not dumb either.  So there’s that.

Christian Carmargo as Dr. Sweet and Eva Green as Vanessa Ives in Penny Dreadful (season 3, episode 2). - Photo: Jonathan Hession/SHOWTIME - Photo ID: PennyDreadful_302_5057

And will anyone else, such as Dr. Seward, figure out what’s going on?  I am not sure that the good doctor entirely believes Vanessa’s story, but it looks like she may also be afraid not to believe it, either.  Not to mention that her secretary is now Dracula’s bitch…

in Penny Dreadful (season 3, episode -). - Photo: Jonathan Hession/SHOWTIME - Photo ID: PennyDreadful_302

Speaking of which, we have Dracula.  The biggest Big Bad of them all, as stated before.  Has he been working in a natural history museum (makes a weird sort of sense if you think about it, actually) right there, under our noses the whole time?  How long has he had Vanessa in his hooks?  Why is he moving in on her now?  Who else will he either murder or turn into a creature of the night in order to get at Vanessa?

Like Dr, Jekyll, I am sure that the show will turn the character of Dracula on his fanged head.  And again, I can’t wait to see what they do with him.


Well, that’s it for Predators Near and Far.  Tune in next week for the review and dissection of the third episode, titled Good and Evil Braided Be.

Tune in next week…same bat time, same bat channel!

batman and robin

 

 

Penny Dreadful: Season 3, Episode 1 Recap and Review

After months of anticipation and excitement, it finally happened.

I turned on my television last night, and there they were!

My Avengers came back!

No, not those Avengers, although I am looking to spending some quality time with them soon, especially my man Iron Man.

No, I am talking about my literary Avengers!

In other words, I watched the first episode of the third season of Penny Dreadful, aka my adult sundae bar, aka my literary Avengers last night.

Rory Kinnear as The Creature in Penny Dreadful (season 3, episode 7). - Photo: Jonathan Hession/SHOWTIME - Photo ID: PennyDreadful_307_1030

And, I felt a sense of homecoming.  Some may say that familiarity breeds contempt.  And sometimes this is true.

But familiarity is not necessarily a bad thing.  And the episode I watched last night proved this in spades, as much of the characters and ideas have been seen before.  But, this is Penny Dreadful, and there is always a twist.  In other words, the sundae bar had new flavors.  And new flavors are not necessarily a bad thing.  In fact, they provide a welcome addition to what has already established itself.  I am always looking for additions.

So, without any further ado, here is my recap and review of the first episode of the third season of Penny Dreadful, which is titled The Day Tennyson Died.

And, as always:

Homer spoiler


Synopsis

The episode opens to a depressed Vanessa Ives.  Vanessa is now living in squalor in what was once a beautiful mansion.  Vanessa has stopped caring about her appearance, and also appears to spend most of her time alone.  Mr. Lyle knocks on her door, and forces his way inside.  Lyle notices the squalor and Vanessa’s appearance, and gives her a referral to a psychologist.

Ethan has returned to the States, and is being escorted by Inspector Rusk to face justice for the crimes he is accused of committing.  Ethan and Rusk are traveling by train.  The train is held up by would-be robbers, and chaos ensues.  Several people are shot and killed, but Ethan and Rusk survive the attack. Hecate is also a passenger on the train, and she also survives the attack. It is then revealed that the would-be robbers are actually bounty hunters, who have been sent by Ethan’s father to capture his wayward son.

Malcolm has buried Sembene in Africa, which no longer holds any allure for him, and he is eager to leave the continent and return home.  On his way out of a bar, he is nearly mugged, but saved by a man named Kaetenay. Kaetenay tells Malcolm that he must not die before he serves his intended purpose, and that there will be a confrontation with the forces of darkness.   Kaetenay also tells Malcolm that Ethan is in trouble, and needs his help.

Caliban has become stranded on a ship that is frozen in place somewhere in the Arctic.  His fellow passengers have become desperate, and are thinking of resorting to cannibalism to survive.  One of the fellow passengers is an infant who is dying.  Caliban sings to the child, and has memories of an unidentified man comforting a child in a similar manner.  Caliban then kills the child, viewing the act as one of mercy.  Caliban then exits the ship, and begins his journey via foot.

Dr. Victor Frankenstein requests a meeting with an old friend and colleague, Dr. Jekyll.  Victor discusses his discoveries with Dr. Jekyll, and confesses that he wishes to destroy Lilly, as he fears that she has become an evil creature incapable of any good.  Dr. Jekyll attempts to talk Victor out of murder, and speculates that they can possibly bring Lilly over to the side of the good.  Victor reluctantly agrees to try this, but says he will destroy Lilly if this experiment fails.

Vanessa meets with Dr. Seward, the shrink recommended by Lyle, and receives a huge surprise because Dr. Seward bears more than a passing resemblance to Joan the Cut-Wife.  In fact, Dr. Seward tells Vanessa that she is descended from the Claytons, and may actually be a relative of Joan’s.  Vanessa commits to the therapy, and Dr. Seward advises her to do something for herself that she has never done before, and report on the experience in their next session.

To fulfill her commitment to Dr. Seward, Vanessa visits the London Natural History Museum, and makes the acquaintance of Dr. Alexander Sweet, who confesses that, like Vanessa, he also loves broken creatures, as he feels that someone needs to care for them too.  On her way home, Vanessa encounters a strange boy who demands money for a cause related to Alfred Lord Tennyson, who has recently passed away.  Vanessa obliges the young man, and we also see another young man take away the money donated by Vanessa.

Upon returning to her home, Vanessa proceeds to clean the mansion and bring back its former glory.  She also writes a letter to Malcolm, confessing that all has not been well, and that she is suffering from a depression which threatens to take over her life.

At the end of the episode, the secretary who works in Dr. Seward’s office steals the money Vanessa left for services and heads to the questionable part of town, and pays for a prostitute.  However, the man is captured by the same creatures encountered by Vanessa earlier.  The creatures bring the man to their Master, who introduces himself as Dracula.  Dracula then forces the young man to do his bidding, as he has business with Vanessa.  The young man’s name is revealed to be Renfield.


My Thoughts

I’ve said it before, and I will say it again:

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So much love, and this is only the season premiere.  So the bar has been set,  The bar has been set really high.  But don’t worry actors, producers, writers, etc…you guys got this, I know you do!

After watching this episode, I foresee a lot major reveals (maybe.)  And I have been wanting some reveals, so hopefully this prediction comes true.

For instance, there is my wolf, er man, Ethan.  Finally, we may get an Ethan origin story!  The show has spent two full seasons teasing us about the wolf and Ethan’s past, but we still don’t know the story of how he turned into a wolf, why he is on the run from his family and just exactly why he defected to England.  What did Ethan do in the States that made him a wanted man, even before the incident on the last episode of the first season?  Was he born a werewolf, or was he cursed by someone or something (and this may have tie-ins to something Native American, given that mysterious man who has been spying on Malcolm)?

werewolf 1

And just exactly what is going on with Ethan’s father?  Does he have something to do with that fact that Ethan is a werewolf?  And why has he gone to all the trouble to send bounty hunters after his son, who was in the custody of law enforcement officials anyway?

Yes, tons of questions, I know.  But legitimate ones, and I hope that the show has decided to answer at least some of them this season.

And it looks like that my literary Avengers have finally found their Hulk…

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No, not that Hulk!

I am talking about the introduction of the character of Dr. Jekyll.

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Although he claimed he no longer “hulks out” (my translation for his quaint, turn of the century speak in regards to his “rages”), I don’t buy this.  Nope, not at all.

In other words, I am sure that Mr. Hyde will make an appearance.  He did seem rather possessive of that beautiful monster, Victor.  So will that bring out Mr. Hyde?  Maybe.  Or will he fall for Lilly too?  Since he is probably a glutton for punishment, too, I can buy this, and things could get ugly pretty quickly between him and Victor (I love how the show casually implied that these two were at least roommates in the past, with possibly something more between them.  What a way to bring together two classic characters).  So Hyde would make an appearance.  And I can’t wait to see how the show and the actor interprets Hyde.  I am sure the interpretation will be a bit off the wall, but somehow make perfect sense.

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As always, Vanessa.  Yes, I know, I may be the president and founding member of Club I Obsess over Eva Green and Therefore Vanessa Ives Too, but I can’t help it.  My girl Eva Green is just a freaking genius!

I loved how, in this episode, there were so many faces of Vanessa.

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We started off with feral Vanessa, who needed a kindly reminder from Mr. Douche er Lyle to pick up her hairbrush.

Then we had funny Vanessa.  That interaction between The Cut-Wife  Dr. Seward and Vanessa was just priceless…I loved it!

Somehow, Eva Green managed to make hand-scrubbing floors a classy act…who does that???

Eva Green as Vanessa Ives and Rory Kinnear as The Creature in Penny Dreadful (season 2, episode 5). - Photo: Jonathan Hession/SHOWTIME - Photo ID: PennyDreadful_205_1509

The scene in the natural history museum was also a good one.  Dr. Sweet?  I am figuring he is either a vampire in disguise or possibly a future victim of a vampire, given his name and his personality.  I just don’t think anyone by the name of Sweet is NOT destined for something terrible in the Dreadful Universe.

Oh, and speaking of vampires…

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Yes, *that* vampire!

Finally, we have at least a voice for something else the show has been teasing us with for the past two seasons:  we heard Dracula speak!  So we have a voice for the icon now, even if we don’t have a face.  But still, that voice sent chills up my spine when I first heard it.  And now, anticipation is in the air…

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Oh, and speaking of chills down my spine…

The end of the episode.  You would have thought I was watching a Colts football game where Andrew Luck made a miraculous play and took a substantial lead away from some crazy team in Detroit, from the way I reacted (true story, by the way.)

(I also told my husband that if we ever get another cat, its name must be Renfield.  Really, he was laughing with me, not at me!)

As I stated before, there is something to be said about the familiar.  We are all familiar with the character of Renfield.  In fact, I remember reading Dracula in college, and finding that bit about Renfield somewhat amusing, but more than a little bit disturbing.  The guy lives in an asylum (predecessor to Arkham, I am sure), suffers from “delusions” and eats insects.  But he’s sensitive too, as all he wants is a kitty…go figure!

In other words, this is another classic character who will get an updated interpretation, courtesy of this show.  What kind of role will he play, and what will he fate be?  Definitely some interesting questions, and I am looking forward to the answers.  Again, the anticipation is in the air!

in Penny Dreadful (season 3, episode -). - Photo: Jonathan Hession/SHOWTIME - Photo ID: PennyDreadful_302

in Penny Dreadful (season 3, episode -). – Photo: Jonathan Hession/SHOWTIME – Photo ID: PennyDreadful_302


Well, that’s it for The Day Tennyson Died.  Join me next week for my review and dissection of episode 2, titled Predators Far And Near.

Tune in next week…same bat time, same bat channel!

batman and robin

 

 

 

A Blood Curdling Look at Small Town Life: My Review of ‘Salem’s Lot

Ah, autumn…

Is there anything better/

What’s not to love about my favorite season?

The temperatures are finally cooling down…

(The fact that I live in South Carolina and am still wearing capris and a tank top while typing this is completely irrelevant.  I originally hail from the Barony of Indiana…and…well…you can take the girl out of Indiana, and I think we all know the rest…)

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And the food too.  I can finally make soups and drink hot mulled apple cider without looking ridiculous…yum.

(But no pumpkin spice.  I am already pretty white, and ingesting anything with pumpkin in it…well, I just might be washed out!  Plus pumpkin spice is just plain nasty anyway.)

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And Halloween is almost upon us!

Not that horror really needs a season…Michael Myers, Jack Skellington and Pennywise the Clown are welcome (in my head at least) any time of year!

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As are Stephen King and his various creations! And not just in my head, either! Heck, if The Master wanted to visit me at my humble abode, who I am to turn him down?  (Hey, an obsessed fan can dream, can’t she?)

Stephen King

So yes, we are back to Stephen King.  A total surprise on the blog, I know.

But, again.  It’s fall.  It’s the season for monsters.  And serial killers.  And scary clowns.

And let’s not forget one of the baddest Big Bads of them all…

Yes, the vampire!  Those blood sucking, nasty evil creatures!

And for the record, real vampires don’t sparkle!  That’s right folks, you heard it on this little blog first!

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No, I am talking about the ones that are bad ass motherfuckers!  The ones you DON’T want to run into in a dark alley!  The ones who may still be sexy in a creepy way, but who will still murder and/or enslave you in a heartbeat!

And vampires have permeated our culture.  They are everywhere, from the world of Anne Rice, to the Twilight trilogy (shudder) and have even made appearances as characters in professional wrestling.

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So much love for the vampires.

But none of these guys would likely be here and would be discussed in this little old blog if it wasn’t for The Master

No, I am not talking about their creator, whoever (or whatever) he/she may be.

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No, I am talking about the novel ‘Salem’s Lot.  Written by The Master.

Yes, Stephen King is responsible for the birth of the “modern” vampire.  In essence, he is the “father” of the modern vampire.

Before ‘Salem’s Lot, you had Bram Stoker and Dracula.  Which were (and still are) awesome.  But even King himself said that Dracula probably wouldn’t make it in modern day New York City.  Would probably get mowed over by a cab or something, and that would be the end.

So King, being The Master, did what a good Master does:  he improvised.  He moved Dracula to small town USA.  And it was brilliant:  the result was the masterpiece we call ‘Salem’s Lot.  With (my imaginary) subtitle:  Dracula discovers 20th century small town life.

And it’s a bloody good book…it doesn’t suck (see what I did there.)

And here it goes:  here is my attempt to recap and review this masterpiece…

So buckle up, all both  of you, and let’s take a journey to that unfortunate hamlet known as Jerusalem’s Lot!


 

Synopsis

The book begins with the introduction of an unnamed man and unnamed adolescent boy.  We are told that the boy and man are not in fact, father and son, even though many people make that mistake.  The man and boy appear to be on the run from something, and end up traveling the country, but they eventually settle in a village in Mexico.  The man buys an American newspaper, and is looking for information on a town in Maine called ‘Salem’s Lot.  He then reads an article stating that the town has become a ghost town, and that several people from the town are inexplicably missing. The man tries to speak to the boy about ‘Salem’s Lot, but the boy clams up. The boy, who has become fluent in Spanish, then seeks out a Catholic priest to make a confession.  With the help of an interpreter, the boy makes his confession.  The priest and the interpreter later speak to the man, confirming the veracity of the story.  The priest tells the man that it is one of the strangest stories he has ever heard in his lifetime.

The story then switches over to the perspective of a man named Ben Mears.  Ben is a writer who has moved back to his hometown of Jerusalem’s Lot (‘Salem’s Lot for short) so that he may gain inspiration for his next book.  Ben meets woman in park named Susan Norton, who happens to be reading one of his books.  Ben immediately notices that Susan is reading his book, and also immediately notices how attractive Susan is.  Ben takes Susan out for an ice cream soda, where the two reminisce about their childhood in ‘Salem’s Lot.  Ben asks Susan out on a date, and she accepts.  Ben and Susan’s chemistry becomes more apparent on their date, and Susan invites him to her house the next evening, so that he may meet her parents.  Ben also talks some more about his childhood, and tells Susan that he attempted to rent the old Marsten House, the local “haunted” house.  Ben tells Susan about an experience he had as a boy in the Marsten House:  he accepted a dare to enter the Marsten House and steal a “souvenir.”  Ben stole that souvenir, but also encountered what he believed to be the ghost of Hubie Marsten, the house’s previous owner who had killed his wife and committed suicide.  Ben believes that he has seen Hubie Marsten right before his death, and his description is gruesome.  When Susan asks him why he did not rent the house, Ben informs her that the house has been sold and is not available to rent.

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The book begins to introduces some other characters.  These include:  Mike Ryerson, a grave digger who finds the body of a dog who has been crucified; Mark Petrie, a pre-teen boy whose family has just moved into town and who has a confrontation with the school bully; Matthew Burke, an English teacher at the local high school; and Larry Crockett, a real estate agent who sells the Marsten House to a man named Richard Straker, in a questionable deal where Crockett also promises Straker that he will keep all of their dealings a secret from the rest of the town.

The next evening, Ben has dinner with Susan and her parents.  Susan’s dad approves of Ben, while Susan’s mother does not.  That same evening, two local boys named Danny and Ralphie Glick leave their parents house to visit Mark Petrie, the new kid in town.  On the way to Mark’s house, the boys sense an unknown presence in the woods.  Hours later, Danny returns to parents’ house, minus his brother Ralphie.  Danny is unable to tell his parents and the local authorities what happened, and seems to be dazed.  Danny later collapses at home, and is rushed to the hospital to be treated for an unknown ailment.  A dark presence is said to be prowling the local cemetary, and appears to be carrying the body of a child.  Two men who were hired to help Larry Crockett move some packages for Richard Straker see what appears to be the body of a child when moving those packages.

Ben continues to spend time with Susan.  He discusses his research on the Marsten House with her, telling her that Hubie Marsten likely murdered children while he was alive.  Ben is worried because the house is occupied again, and a child has disappeared.

Ben heads to the local bar one night for a beer.  He meets Matt Burke at the bar, and the two become fast friends.  Matt asks Ben to speak to one of his classes, and Ben happily obliges.

Danny Glick suddenly passes away and the causes are unclear.  His funeral is officiated by Father Donald Callahan, a Catholic priest who is an alcoholic.  The entire town, including Ben and Susan, is shocked by the death.

Mike Ryerson is tasked with burying Danny Glick, and feels that something odd is happening when he tries to bury the boy.  Mike begins to feel ill and not himself almost immediately.  Mike encounters Matt at the local bar.  Matt becomes considered for his former student, and invites him to spend the night at his house.  However, Matt hears some odd noises in the middle of the night, and checks on Mike.  It appears that Mike had died in his sleep.  Matt becomes upset and calls Ben, who immediately comes over to help Matt.  Matt also requests that Ben bring him a rosary or a cross.  Ben then suggests that Matt call the police, along with a doctor.  The local police come to Matt’s house, along with one of the local doctors, Jimmy Cody, who is also one of Matt’s former students.  Dr. Cody confirms that Mike has died, and the police ask Matt and Ben the routine questions.  The authorities also notice that the window is open and the screen door is missing.  Matt realizes that something odd is going on, and tells Ben that he believes Mike was attacked by a vampire.  Ben is skeptical, but is also afraid to not believe what Matt is telling him, as he believes Matt to be a credible source.

Susan argues with her mother over Ben, and tells her parents that she plans to move out.  Susan’s mother becomes upset, and insinuates that Ben may be involved in the recent disappearance of Ralphie Glick.  Susan mother also tells her that Ben was involved in a motorcylcle accident that resulted in the death of his wife.  According to the research by the local authorities, Ben was was cleared of any wrongdoing, although Susan’s mother is still suspicious.  However, Susan receives a troubling phone call:  her ex boyfriend, Floyd Tibbits has attacked Ben, putting him in the hospital with a concussion and several other injuries.

Susan visits Ben in the hospital, and Ben gives her some information about what is going on in the town and what happened at Matt’s house.  Susan then visits Matt, who fills her in on the rest of the story.  Susan is also skeptical, but does not quite disbelieve Matt.  Matt then hears an odd noise in the guest bedroom, and goes upstairs to investigate, holding his cross, while Susan stands guard.  Matt then encounters a creature who resembles the supposedly deceased Mike Ryerson.  The creature tells Matt that “he will sleep like the dead.”  Matt brandishes his cross and the creature vanishes.  Matt then suffers a massive heart attack and is rushed to the hospital.

We also learn that Marjorie Glick, Ralphie and Danny Glick’s mother, has passed away.  Before she dies, Marjorie tells her husband that her deceased son is visiting her in her dreams.  Marjorie also appears to be feeling unwell, but her husband chalks that up to grief, and believes that her dreams are also the result of grief.

Floyd Tibbits has also passed away in his jail cell.  Floyd’s demeanor was noted to be very odd by the local authorities, as he was avoiding sunlight and sleeping throughout the day before he passed away.

Ben, Susan, Matt and Dr. Cody meet in the hospital.  Ben and Matt tell the story of what is going on in the town to the doctor, and also tell the doctor that they believe the town is being attacked by vampires.  Susan is still skeptical, but Dr. Cody has a more open mind.  Dr. Cody also tells the group that several bodies of the recently deceased have disappeared, including the body of Mike Ryerson.  Dr. Cody volunteers to exhume the body of Danny Glick and perform an autopsy, to see if there is anything out of the ordinary.  Matt has begun his research on vampire mythology, and tells Ben and Susan to keep crosses on them at all times.

In the meantime, Mark Petrie also has an encounter with a creature that appears to be Danny Glick.  Mark remembers that vampires must be invited, and refuses to succumb to the creature.  Mark is also able to fend off the creature with a plastic cross that is part of his monster toy set.

The next night, Ben (who has been discharged from the hospital) and Dr. Cody sit with the body of Marjorie Glick, to test Matt and Ben’s vampire theory.  The theory is confirmed when the body of Marjorie Glick comes to life and attacks Jimmy Cody.  Ben is able to fend off the creature with a cross, but the body disappears, and Ben and Dr. Cody must come up with a cover story for the local authorities.

Susan pays a visit to the Marsten house, and meets Mark there.  Both desire to confront Straker and Barlow in regards to the odd events that have occurred in the town.  But both Susan and Mark are captured by Straker, who intends to turn them into vampires.  However, Mark is able to escape and kills Straker, who is actually Barlow’s human familiar.  Susan is not so lucky and becomes one of the Undead.

Father Callahan visits Matt, and the two discuss a way to rid the town of the vampire infestation.  The infestation is becoming quite bad, as many people in the town begin to exhibit unusual symptoms and behavior.

Mark meets with Ben, Matt and Dr. Cody, and informs Ben that Susan is now a vampire.  The group makes a plan to try to attack Barlow, as Barlow is the master vampire.  Father Callahan, Ben and Dr. Cody head to the Marsten House to seek out Barlow and kill Susan.  They do not find Barlow there, but do find a taunting letter from him.  The group also finds Susan.  Ben reluctantly drives a stake through Susan’s heart, so that she may achieve her final peace.  Father Callahan also blesses the house to rid it of evil.

The next day, Father Callahan accompanies Mark Petrie to speak with Mark’s parents, to make them aware of what is going on in the town.  Mark’s parents are skeptical, but are attacked and killed by Barlow, who has crept into the house.  Mark flees, and Father Callahan attempts to face Barlow on his own.  However, the priest’s faith falters, and he is unsuccessful in his attempt to defeat Barlow.  Barlow forces Callahan to drink from his blood, rendering Callahan unclean.  Father Callahan attempts to go back to his church, but is unable to enter, as he has partaken the blood from Barlow, and also burns his hand on the door of the church.  Father Callahan is disgraced, and flees town on a Greyhound bus.

Mark makes his way back to Ben and tells Matt, Ben and Dr. Cody what happened to his parents.  The men make plans to attempt to destroy the vampires, but do not know where Barlow’s new lair is.

Dr. Cody and Mark meet at the boardinghouse Ben is staying in, so that they make as many wooden stakes as possible to attempt to destroy the vampires.  Jimmy realizes that Barlow’s new lair is actually the boardinghouse and warns Mark, but Jimmy is killed by a booby-trap placed in the cellar by Barlow, who is seemingly one step ahead of Ben and his remaining friends.

Mark flees back to Ben and tells him what happened to Dr. Cody.  Ben attempts to contact Matt, but is told by the hospital that Matt has died of a massive heart attack.  Ben tells Mark that they must try to destroy Kurt Barlow if the town has any chance of survival.

Mark and Ben then make their way back to the boardinghouse, and find the body of Kurt Barlow, along with several others from the town who have been transformed into vampires.  Ben is able to kill Kurt Barlow with a stake through the heart, but several of his vampire offspring remain in the town, and most of the other inhabitants of the town are either turned into vampires or are killed.  A few, such as Ben and Mark, are able to flee town.  Ben and Mark eventually end up in Mexico, where Mark confesses the story to a Catholic priest.  Mark and Ben then decide to return to town to finish the job.

Mark and Ben return to ‘Salem’s Lot almost a year after the horrible events.  They set fire to the town, but it is unknown if the fire is successful in destroying the vampires.  Mark and Ben leave town again, their business in ‘Salem’s Lot finished.

'Salem's Lot 4


 

My Thoughts

So.  Many.  Thoughts.  Such.  A.  Long. Blog.  Post.

‘Salem’s Lot is a book about vampires.  And it is a great book about vampires…

But there are couple of other things that we need to talk about, in order to have an intelligent discussion about this book.

Surprise, there is more to ‘Salem’s Lot than the vampires!  I know, more to a Stephen King book than meets the eye…who knew???

A part of that “more than meets the eye” is the Marsten House.  King has written about haunted houses, haunted hotels and even haunted towns (Derry is a prime example of that) in other books, but ‘Salem’s Lot was his second book published under his name.  So it’s possible that ‘Salem’s Lot and the Marsten House was simply a “warm-up” for him, for later books like The Shining or even Black House

black house 1

But man, does he do the haunted house aspect of ‘Salem’s Lot well.

Yes, ‘Salem’s Lot is also a haunted house book.  It may actually be a haunted house book almost as much as it is a vampire book.  The Marsten House is another character, just like Ben and his friends, and plays a huge role in the book.  Not only does it provide a creepy setting (the head vampire bunks there, natch), it allows the reader to get to know Ben.  That house was a huge part of Ben’s childhood, and seeing it through Ben’s (borderline obsessive) adult eyes is fascinating.  The house has probably colored much of Ben life, such as his choice of a career, and his decision to return to town after so many years.  The house may have even played a role in Ben’s decision to become a writer, because it made him aware of the mysteries of the universe and so forth.

'Salem's Lot 3

Plus, that house is just plain creepy!  It’s on unhallowed ground because its namesake committed suicide on it?  Shudder!  And it was the site for so many evil acts (Hubie sacrificing children and then killing himself and his wife).  I think King could fill a book with that house’s story…maybe someday he will do just that, if we are lucky!

Speaking of characters that are not people per se…

‘Salem’s Lot.  Yes, the town itself.  I am also going to count the town as a character…

No, I have not lost my mind (you can’t lose what you never had, so I am told).

All kidding aside, the town is a character as well.  We are given so much information about the town and the people that live there.  The gossipy old lady Mabel Worts.  The boy on the farm who wants to drop out of school.  The proprietor of the drugstore who looks up women’s skirts.  The town bully.  An alcoholic priest who listens to everyone’s sins, including the lady who beats her baby.  A wife who cheats on her husband with the telephone company guy.  I could go on and on…

I grew up in a small town.  I have since moved on to bigger and better, and sometimes I look back upon my childhood with a certain amount of nostalgia…

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Until I read a Stephen King book (since so many of them are centered around small towns).  And the king of horror (see what I did there) gives me a reality check.  Yes, small towns can be charming.  But like almost anything else (well, except for Furbies…I don’t see any good in those fuckers), they have their dark side.  ‘Salem’s Lot is a reminder of that.  It is quaint.  We can’t argue that.  But it is ugly too.  Men beat their wives with no recourse.  Bullies rule the schoolyard with iron fists.  There are residents who are just tragic, such as the Weasel Craigs, good men who drink their pain away and become shadows of their former selves.  So I become objective about my childhood once again, and see all sides of the pancake.

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Stephen King writes the small town really well.  ‘Salem’s Lot was  the first one (Derry, Castle Rock and Harlow are just a few more later examples) and will probably not be the last.  Again, the man knows how to realistically depict a small town, weaving together a tapestry where the whole is greater than the sum of its parts.

So.  Vampires…

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Whew, finally getting to them…

I know no other way to put, so I will come out and say it…

These vampires are scary as fuck.  There is no other way around it.

I hold a special place in my heart for Dracula (don’t want to run into him in a dark alley).  And the vampires on Buffy the Vampire Slayer (good old William the Bloody, although I don’t care for his poetry too much).  And let’s not forget Louis and Lestat.

Spike

But these vampires…

Vampires are scary enough.  Maybe the scariest of the Big Bads.

But again, these vampires!

sparkly vampire 1

The notion of a child (Danny Glick) turning into one of the Undead is just horrible.  Profane even.  But awesome too.  If you are going to scare someone into a change pants, combine the sacred (a child) with the profane (a vampire).  And watch the pants come a’flying off!

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And Kurt Barlow himself (Straker is not a picnic either).  He is scary because he is a vamp (duh) but also because he reminds us again and again, that he is not human (well, duh).  The booby trap that he sets for poor Dr. Cody is something that Ted Bundy would have been proud of, it is that ingeniously evil.  And he kills Mark’s parents by bashing their heads together right in front of Mark…I just have no words.  And none of these acts are supernatural.  They are just good old fashioned (in)human fuckery.  Simply brutal, because they have a touch of realism and could happen to any one of us.

Hell, the creature is so evil that his teeth are still alive even after he is killed.  His teeth bit Ben…ewww!  Can’t get much more evil than that, folks!

'Salem's Lot 2

 

 


 

Well, what a trip that’s been!  Do they make t-shirts for this?  Maybe one that says “I survived my trip to ‘Salem’s Lot, but all I got was this lousy bite mark on my neck!”  Too soon. you say?  Maybe, maybe not.  But, it is fall now.  And almost Halloween.  And ‘Salem’s Lot will also have a special place in my heart (near the jugular, actually), no matter what time of year it is.

'Salem's Lot 1


 

Connections

‘Salem’s Lot is a very early King work, but there are quite a few connections to his other books, and it is an important part of the King universe.  Here are the connections I found:

-Donald Callahan is the most obvious connection to King’s other works, mainly The Dark Tower series.  Callahan’s back story is told in book five of The Dark Tower series, The Wolves of the Calla.  Callahan becomes an integral member of Roland’s ka-tet, and plays a huge role in Roland’s quest for the Dark Tower in books six and seven of the series, The Song of Susannah and The Dark Tower, respectively.

Father Callahan

-In the novel Pet Sematary, Rachel Creed passes by a sign that gives directions to the town of ‘Salem’s Lot, and thinks to herself that it is not a very pleasant place to live.

pet semetary 1

-As stated before, ‘Salem’s Lot was King’s first foray into the concept of a haunted house.  However, it is not his last.  The Marsten House seems to be similar to a few other houses and buildings in King novels, which include the house on Neibolt Street (It), Black House (book of the same name), Rose Red (movie of the same name), the house on Dutch Hill (The Wastelands), and even the Overlook Hotel (The Shining).  It is possible that these structures are all Twinners to each other, as they share some similar traits.

gorg_and_mr_munshun

-The dog that is slaughtered in the beginning of the novel is similar to a dog encountered by Roland in the short story, The Little Sisters of Eluria, which is part of the collection Everything’s Eventual.  Both dogs have similar markings, which include a marking on the head that resembles a cross.

Sister Mary 1

-King has also written a prequel of sorts to ‘Salem’s Lot, a short story called Jerusalem’s Lot (Night Shift), along with a sequel of sorts, One for the Road (also part of the collection Night Shift).  Both of these stories provide some information in regards to the cursed town of ‘Salem’s Lot, but also raise many more questions that they answer.

the worm 1