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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The Mist: Episode 6 Recap and Review

So, we are on to the sixth episode of The Mist, titled The Devil You Know.

To be fair, I had pretty low expectations of this series when I first heard that this story was going to become a television series, even though Frank Darabont gave us a movie based on the source material a decade ago (I know, naive me, given Hollywood’s tendency to revisit, to put it nicely.)

And has this show been perfect?

Far from it, to be sure.  It has its issues, with a plot line that seems to meander off the path sometimes, and with characters whose actions don’t always make sense.

But its not terrible.  Far from it, actually.  The show actually seems to be finding a footing of sorts, especially in the latter half of the season.

It is introducing some interesting ideas, such as what is the nature of the mysterious Mist, and what people will do when resources begin to run low, and they must confront something that no one really understands.

Overall, I had low expectations going in regarding The Mist (almost no expectations, really), but I have been at least somewhat pleasantly surprised, especially over the last couple of weeks.  And I hope to continue to be surprised, as the show builds on what it has established over the past few weeks.

So, without further ado, here is my recap and review of episode 6, titled The Devil You Know.

And, as always:

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Welcome to the Inscape: My Review of NOS4A2

Lately, confusion seems to be rampant in our world.

As in, we are confused as to what the difference is between between the beast that we call a fact, and the lesser known distant cousin of the fact, otherwise known as an “alternative fact.”

Since I myself am a survivor of the Bowling Green Massacre, let me educate you on the difference between facts and alternative facts.

kellyanne-1

The following information is brought to you by BARF (Bureau of Alternative Real Facts.)

Fact:  Killer Klowns from Outer Space is a classic movie, and should be required viewing for all school age children.

killer klowns 3 - Copy

Alternative fact:  Jupiter Ascending is classified as a film.  And one that people are allowed to watch, to boot.

Fact:  The Colts are the coolest team in the NFL and Andrew Luck and co. are never given the credit that they deserve.

NFL: Denver Broncos at Indianapolis Colts

Alternative fact:  The Patriots have won their fifth Super Bowl under Tom Brady and a now a dynasty.  As a Colts fan all I have to say is #notmySuperBowl, dammit!

And now, for the factiest fact that you ever facting heard, motherfacters!

Joe Hill is a bad ass.  A motherfacting bad ass, in fact.

Joe Hill 2

And if you don’t agree with me, well then fact off, you facter!

In other words, I just finished reading NOS4A2, written by The Master 2.0.

And I assure, I survived my trip to Christmasland, although, between you and me, the inhabitants of that place are kind of hostile.  In fact, they will suck the life right out of you…

So, gear up your Rolls Royce Wraith, strap in and get ready for the recap and review of NOS4A2.

And, as always:

Homer spoiler

 


Synopsis

The story begins by introducing the reader to a nurse named Ellen Thornton.   Ellen works in a prison infirmary, where most of the patients are comatose and unresponsive to any form of human contact.

One of these patients is a man named Charlie Manx.  Manx is extremely elderly, and was also convicted of terrible crimes:  he was convicted of kidnapping and murdering young children.

One night, as Ellen is making her rounds, something unexpected happens:  Manx appears to awake from him comatose state, and speaks to Ellen.  He specifically refers to Ellen’s son by his full name, and makes references to some place he calls “Christmasland” and someone named the “Gas Mask Man.”

Ellen calls for the doctors, as she is badly frightened.  However, Manx exhibits no sign of consciousness once the doctors arrive, and Ellen is not believed, despite the fact that Manx grabbed her hard enough to leave bruises, and the fact that Manx referred to her son by his full name.

The story then switches to the perspective of a young girl named Victoria McQueen, also known as Vic.  Vic’s father Chris also calls Vic The Brat.

At first, Vic seems to be an ordinary young girl.  However, we find out that Vic is anything but ordinary.  Vic possesses the ability to teleport herself between faraway places.  Vic does this by riding her bike, and envisioning a bridge she calls The Shorter Way Bridge, which seems to magically appear when Vic wants to find a lost object.  The bridge takes Vic to the place where the object was lost, and then takes her back to her original location.  However, Vic’s talent also comes at a cost:  she experiences headaches and becomes extremely ill when she uses this ability.

We are then introduced to a troubled man named Bing Partridge.  One day, as Bing is leafing through some old magazines, he comes across an ad promising employment in a place called “Christmasland.”  The ad is not specific in regards to the job details, but Bing is enchanted, as he loves celebrating Christmas, which brings back happy memories for him.  Bing sends away his application for employment in Christmasland, desperately hoping that he gets a response soon.  We also learn that Bing killed both of his parents as a child, and spent time in a mental institution before he was released.  Bing is employed as a janitor, and has access to certain kinds of gases that can turn a person into a zombie, along with his own gas mask.

Almost immediately, Bing begins to have visions of past Christmases with his parents, and begins to dream of Christmasland.  However, days go by, and he does not get a response to his application.

Bing also begins to see a mysterious vehicle circling his work place.  The vehicle is an old Rolls Royce Wraith, and is black.  However, the driver of the vehicle continues to remain a mystery.

One day, Bing finally meets the driver of vehicle, who introduces himself as Charles Talent Manx.  Manx convinces Bing to go for a ride in the vehicle, so he can describe the opportunity that awaits Bing in Christmasland, if Bing chooses to accept.  Once he is in the vehicle, Bing begins to feel sleepy.  Manx tells him that is okay, as Bing will be entering another reality of sorts.

Manx tells Bing that he saves children from a life of pain and abuse by taking them to an alternate reality he calls “Christmasland.”  In Christmasland, the children never have to grow up, and it is always Christmas, every day, all year.  Manx says that the children are his, but that Bing can do what he wishes to any parents or any other parties that may need to be subdued, as most will not want Manx to take their children away.  Bing eagerly accepts the employment opportunity, and he and Manx get to work.

Over the years, several children vanish under mysterious circumstances.  In many of these disappearances, a mysterious Rolls Royce Wraith is spotted.  However, none of the disappearances are ever connected.

Vic is now a teenager.  She has used her bike many times to create the Shorter Way Bridge, so that she can locate lost objects.  Vic is also a budding artist who has received recognition for her work.

One day, Vic uses her talent to locate a missing photograph.  In doing so, she badly startles the school janitor, who relapses back into alcoholism.  Vic feels extremely guilty and begins to question her use of this ability.  The Shorter Way Bridge makes another appearance, and Vic rides her bike through it.

The Shorter Way Bridge deposits Vic in a library somewhere in Iowa.  There, she meets a young woman named Maggie, who seems to have been expecting Vic to make an appearance.  Maggie dresses in a colorful manner.  Maggie is also afflicted with a bad stammer, which makes her speech difficult to understand.

Vic is bewildered, but Maggie attempts to reassure her.  Maggie tells Vic that while her abilities may be a bit unusual, she is not alone in being gifted with these abilities.  According to Maggie, many highly creative people (Vic is an accomplished artist and Maggie is gifted in the use of language and also an accomplished Scrabble player) possess the ability to alter reality.  Maggie compares this to someone who uses a knife to make cuts in various objects, and refers to these altered realities as “inscapes.”

We also learn that Maggie has the ability to create her own “inscapes” and alter reality.  Sometimes, Maggie’s Scrabble tiles will spell out sentences on her own.  This is how Maggie knew to expect Vic:  her Scrabble tiles told her of “The Brat” (but not Vic’s name, as no proper nouns are allowed in Scrabble.)

Maggie also states that her Scrabble tiles have indicated that Vic can find someone or something known as “The Wraith.”  Vic demands to know who or who “The Wraith” is, but Maggie tries to change the subject, telling Vic that The Wraith is bad news and dangerous to Vic.

At Vic’s insistence, Maggie breaks down and gives her what information she has on The Wraith.  According to Maggie, The Wraith is another person who possesses abilities similar to hers and Vic’s.  However, The Wraith uses his abilities for evil, as he kidnaps children to steal their souls so that he may achieve immortality, trapping the children in an “inscape” of his own creation.  Maggie then sends Vic back home, warning her once again to stay away from “The Wraith” as he is dangerous.

When Vic returns home, she becomes extremely ill as a result of her latest journey.  Her parents become extremely worried, and confiscate her bicycle, as they believe she has an unhealthy fixation.  Vic eventually recovers, and resumes her normal, every day life.

In the meantime, more children disappear.  Once again, a Rolls Royce Wraith is spotted when some of these disappearances take place, but the cases are never connected.

Vic grows into a troubled teenager,  When she is fourteen years old, her parents divorce, and her father abandons Vic and her mother.  Vic acts out, turning to alcohol and drugs.  Her grades in school are mediocre, although her art teacher notes that Vic has a talent for art, although Vic does apply herself.

One day, after an argument with both of her parents, Vic sneaks back into her house and falls asleep.  When she awakens, she searches for some of her belongings that were confiscated by her mother, and finds her old bicycle.

Vic begins to ride her bicycle, and remember happier times during her childhood.  However, it is not long before the bicycle leads her to trouble, which happens to be the lair of Charles Manx, or The Wraith.

Almost right away, Vic realizes that something is not right.  She encounters what she thinks is a young child, but the creature only resembles a child in name only, as it has sharp teeth and appears to be breathing some sort of vapor or smoke when it speaks.

Vic also encounters Charles Manx, who attempts to entice her.  When Vic refuses, her Shorter Way Bridge vanishes, leaving her stranded.  Manx also sets fire to the house, intending to trap Vic in the house so that she will perish from the fire.

However, Vic escapes the house.  She is assisted by man named Lou Carmody, who happens to be in the area, riding his motorcycle.  Lou takes Vic to a nearby gas station, so that she can attempt to get help.  Vic realizes that she is actually in Colorado, instead of her home of Massachusetts, and that she has been missing for two days.  Vic indicates that she has been kidnapped, as she knows that no one will believe her story about the Shorter Way Bridge.

As Vic is telling her story, Charles Manx and his vehicle make an appearance at the gas station.  The men at the gas station attempt to apprehend Manx, and a fight ensues.  However, Manx is apprehended in the end, and arrested for his crimes.  The official story is that Vic was kidnapped, and there is no mention of any of the stranger elements to her story.

Some years later, Vic moves back to Colorado, under the pretense of attending art school.  She pursues a relationship with Lou Carmody, and the two have a child together named Bruce Wayne Carmody, who they call Wayne.  Vic loves Lou and Wayne, but is afraid to admit, as she feels that she is not good enough for either of them.  Vic also receives troubling phone calls from children who state that they are residents of Christmasland.  These phone calls frighten her, but she does not tell anyone about them.

Bing Partridge is never apprehended by the authorities for his role in Manx’s crimes. and anxiously awaits the return of Manx, as he believes that he will receive his eternal reward in Christmasland.

Vic notices that when she engages in some kind of creative active, such as painting, that phone calls from Christmasland stop.  She keeps herself busy by painting motorcycles and also by writing and illustrating children’s books.  However, the mysterious calls start again, and Vic’s behavior becomes increasingly erratic.  Lou moves out of their house, taking their son with him, but he is worried about Vic.  Vic then burns down her house in an attempt to silence the calls from Christmasland.

In the meantime, Manx’s vehicle has been purchased at an auction by a man and his daughter.  One day, the vehicle comes to life, killing its new owner, as Bing has found it, so that he may reunite with Manx.

Charles Manx is thought to be deceased, but his body goes missing from the mortuary.

Vic is institutionalized for her erratic behavior, and comes to believe that her experiences with the Shorter Way Bridge and mysterious telephone calls are simply vivid hallucinations caused by her abuse of alcohol and other drugs.  When she is released from the mental hospital, she temporarily moves back to Massachusetts to spend some time with her mother Linda, who is dying of cancer.  Vic also makes plans to spend the summer with her son Wayne, as she feels that she has failed him as a mother.

Tragically, Linda passes away just as Vic is able to secure a cottage for the summer.  However, Vic still makes plans to spend time with her son Wayne, and Lou sends him to his mother for the summer.

In the meantime, we find out that Bing has managed to steal the body of Charles Manx, who is actually still alive, although barely.  Bing sets up camp in the house across the street from Vic’s childhood home, killing the home’s owners, and placing Charles Manx in the bedroom.  Bing waits for Vic, as he intends to murder Vic, and hand Wayne over to Manx.

Vic returns to her childhood home sometime in July, as Lou has arrived in town to spend Fourth of July with his son.   Vic is greeted by a face from her past:  Maggie, the woman from Iowa whom she met as a child.

While Vic recognizes Maggie, she is not happy to see her, as she still believes Maggie to be a delusion from her past.  Maggie begs Vic to help her stop Charles Manx, who she insists is alive and on the hunt for Vic and Wayne.  Maggie hands Vic a file containing some paperwork on Manx, but Vic chases Maggie away from her house, and threatens to call the police.

Later, Wayne finds the folder on Manx and peeks at it, as he is curious.  Bing spots Wayne from the house he is commandeering, but is unable to do anything, as Lou arrives, and Bing does not want to be seen.  Bing realizes that Vic is in the neighborhood, and makes preparations to capture Vic and Wayne.

That evening, Vic speaks to Lou, and finds out that Wayne has mentioned Manx to his father.  Vic tells Lou about her childhood experiences with the Shorter Way Bridge, and the real story of how she encountered Charles Manx.  Vic recognizes that she may be delusion, and indicates this to Lou.  Vic also tells Lou that she thinks Maggie was a patient at the mental hospital, who is sharing in Vic’s delusions.  Vic makes plans to move back to Colorado that fall, so that she can be closer to Wayne.

Wayne believes that Charles Manx is nearby, and becomes frightened, even though he thinks that he is imagining things.

Vic and Wayne work on a motorcycle that was left at the summer cottage, fixing it up and giving it a new paint job.  Vic decides to take the bike for a spin, and tells Wayne that she will return shortly.

Vic rides the bike, and is able to conjure the Shorter Way Bridge, just as she had been able to do as a child.  However, Vic continues to believe that she is delusional.

Wayne waits at the house for his mother.  He hears a knock on the door, and encounters Bing and Manx, who tell him they need to use the phone, as they have run Wayne’s dog Hooper over with their car.

Bing and Manx then proceed to kidnap Wayne.  Wayne shouts for his mother, who is just now returning from her trip and does not realize what has happened.

However, Vic soon does realize what has happened, and runs to the car in an attempt to rescue Wayne.  She fights Manx, who attacks her with a hammer.  Bing shoots at Vic, but misses Vic and hits Manx in the ear instead.  The men then escape, with Wayne trapped in the car.

Lou is at the airport, awaiting his flight.  Lou receives a panicked call from Wayne.  Wayne tells his father that he has been kidnapped, and then hangs up the phone.  Lou then collapses, due to a sudden heart attack.

Wayne tries to escape, but Bing douses him with gas so that he cannot think and becomes very sleepy.  Manx tells him that he is going to Christmasland, and that he will never see his parents again.

Vic meets with the authorities at her mother’s house.  The FBI has been brought in, as the authorities believe that Wayne’s kidnapper may cross state lines.  Lou also meets with Vic and the authorities.  Vic’s mental illness is brought up by a FBI agent, Tabitha Hutter, who does not agree with Vic in regards to Manx returning and seeking vengeance.  Vic also describes her earlier experience with the Shorter Way Bridge. Lou tells Vic that he believes her, and Vic tells Lou that she will do whatever she can to rescue their son.

Manx drives his vehicle through his inscape, giving Wayne a glimpse into Christmasland.  Wayne falls into a trance, and becomes excited about living in Christmasland.  However, the ghost of Wayne’s grandmother soon appears in the vehicle.  She appears to be speaking in reverse, and gives Wayne a cryptic message before she vanishes:  he must speak in reverse.

Manx then stops at Bing’s house so that he can rest and recover from his wounds.  Wayne then notices that the vehicle has peculiar properties:  objects seem to vanish and then reappear.  Wayne also finds some Christmas ornaments.  He becomes fixated on one that resembles a moon, but has a face.

Wayne is then questioned by Manx, who promises him a phone call to his mother.  Manx tricks Wayne into giving him some information about Maggie, along with Vic’s new motorcycle, and does not allow Wayne a call to his mother.

At her home, Vic is growing more and more worried about her son.  Lou is attempting to fix her motorcycle for her, so that she can conjure the Shorter Way Bridge and rescue Wayne.  Vic receives a phone call.  The caller is Maggie.  Maggie tells Vic that her son is still alive, and that she will help however she can.

After Vic hangs up the phone, she is confronted by Agent Hutter, who has heard the entire conversation.  Hutter attempts to arrest Vic, but Vic escapes from the house, and uses her motorcycle to drive away.  Eventually, she is able to conjure the Shorter Way Bridge, and is able to arrive at the house where Wayne was being kept.

In the meantime, Manx leaves with Wayne in his vehicle, promising that he will take Wayne to Christmasland.   Manx does not allow Bing to come with them, as he says that Bing has failed in his duties. Wayne’s personality is beginning to change, as he is horrified to remember that he pulled the wings off of a butterfly.  Wayne is also fixated on his Christmas ornament, constantly touching it.

Vic realizes that Wayne and Manx have left, and becomes upset.  A man allows her to use his phone.  Vic does not realize that this man is actually Bing, until he attacks her.

Wayne continues to travel with Manx.  He sees visions of Christmasland and is anxious to arrive.  However, he receives a visit from the ghost of his dead grandmother, who again tries to warn him that he must think in reverse.  However, Wayne dismisses the old woman’s ghost, as his personality has begun to change.  Wayne has also begun to loose some of his teeth, and appears to be growing small fangs in their place.

Vic fights Bing.  She manages to escape, but sets the house on fire.  Before she escapes, she receives a call from Manx.  Vic pleads with Manx to release Wayne but Manx refuses.  Manx allows Vic to speak to Wayne.  Vic senses that Wayne’s personality is changing due to his exposure to Manx, and tells Wayne that he must fight Manx, and that she will do whatever it takes to rescue him.

After she speaks to Wayne, Vic then speaks to Lou and Agent Hutter over the telephone.  She tells Lou that she has a plan to stop Manx and rescue Wayne, but that she will need a large amount of explosive material to accomplish this.  After Vic hangs the phone, Lou suffers from a heart attack and is rushed to the hospital.

Vic uses the Shorter Wayne Bridge to locate Maggie.  She arrives at Maggie’s library in Iowa, which was destroyed by a flood a few years back.  However, Maggie is there, and Vic recounts the events of the past few days.

Maggie tells Vic that Manx does possess the same abilities that they possess, but that he uses his abilities for evil.  She tells Vic that Manx’s car must be destroyed in order to destroy Manx.  Maggie also tells Vic that the use of their abilities comes at a cost: Maggie’s stammer has worsened, Vic’s brain has been damaged and Manx has lost all of his empathy, and now revels in the suffering of his others.  The children Manx has kidnapped have also been stripped of their humanity, as they exist for pleasure only, and do not comprehend the suffering of others.

While Vic falls asleep asleep due to exhaustion, Maggie consults her Scrabble tiles for information in regards to Manx.  As she does this, a young boy enters the ruins of her library with firecrackers.  At first, Maggie thinks that it is a local child playing a prank, but realizes that the boy is Wayne, who is acting under the influence of Manx.  Wayne utters some incomprehensible words (his human side knows that what he is doing is wrong) and lures Maggie out to Manx and his car.

Manx immediately attacks Maggie with his vehicle.  Maggie puts up a fight and refuses to give any information about Vic, who is still asleep inside.  Maggie is killed by the impact, and Manx exits the scene.

Lou has been hospitalized due to his heart attack.  However, he escapes in search of his son.  Agent Hutter and her partner are aware of the escape, and plan to use Lou to track down Vic, who they still believe to be responsible for her son’s kidnapping.

Vic arrives at her father’s house.  Lou and her father are waiting for her, with the explosives that she has requested.  However, the FBI agents have tracked down Vic, who refuses to surrender.  Agent Hutter realizes that there may be something to Vic’s story, but her colleagues do not, and open fire on Vic and her family.  Vic’s father is shot, but Vic escapes with Lou on her motorcycle.

Once again, Vic conjures the Shorter Way Bridge.  She leaves Lou in handcuffs, as she feels that this a job for her only.  Vic then makes her way into Christmasland, via her motorcycle and the Shorter Way Bridge, to confront Manx and rescue her son.

Manx sends his children after Vic, and they attack.  Vic fights back and is stabbed by one of the children.  The explosives go off, causing mass destruction.  Wayne realizes that his mother has come to rescue him, and escapes from Manx, hopping on the motorcycle with his mother.

Vic escapes Christmasland with Wayne.  Manx follows her, but his vehicle (and there Manx himself) is destroyed by a flock of bats that emerge from the Shorter Way Bridge.

Finally, Vic emerges with Wayne back into their world.  Her job done, Vic perishes from her wounds and the effects of creating the bridge and traveling to Christmasland.

Several months later, Wayne is living with his father.  Lou has lost weight after angioplasty procedure, and is in a relationship with Tabitha Hutter.  However, Wayne knows that something wrong with him, as he is aroused by anything violent and even thinks that he can feel an extra set of teeth in his mouth.

One day, Lou and Tabitha take Wayne for a ride.  They arrive at the house Manx had used to keep his children captive.  Lou realizes that Wayne’s soul is trapped in one of Manx’s Christmas ornaments.  Lou, Tabitha and Wayne begin smashing the ornaments.  Several children that Manx had kidnapped emerge, restored to their human selves.

Eventually, the ornament containing Wayne’s soul is destroyed.  Wayne sobs with relief, happy that his humanity has returned.


My Thoughts

Okay, let’s talk to Captain Obvious for a moment.  So, just bear with me.

Joe Hill is Stephen King’s son, in case your head has been buried under a rock for…oh…the past 10 years or so.

Stephen King mit Katze "Clovis", tierischer Held des Films "Schlafwandler". Der Meister des Horrors wird am Sonntag (21.09.1997) 50 Jahre. Mit 50 hat er mehr als 30 Romane veröffentlicht, ein Sachbuch, fünf Geschichtensammlungen und neun Drehbücher. dpa (zu dpa-Korr vom 17.09.1997) nur s/w

(And hey, no judgement, being buried under a rock can be pretty comfy sometimes!)

And while I like to evaluate Joe Hill on his own merits, let’s be realistic.

Let’s get it out of our system, and talk about how he is the son of Stephen King.

Well, writing-wise that is.

We can leave the family drama for those better equipped to handle it, and not put TMZ out of a job.

Other than the fact that NOS4A2 reads a bit like an older King novel, in that it has build and will scare you into a change of pants, it is the novel that most screams:  I am the son of the master of modern horror, and if you dare to forget it, well, let’s not even go there!

NOS4A2, in other words, has tons of Stephen King Easter eggs.  In fact, this book may have even more King Easter eggs than some King books.

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First of all, the obvious connection.

I am speaking of the one to Doctor Sleep, the follow up novel to The Shining (both written by The Master himself, but you knew that.)

Rose the Hat

I can tell you that I definitely sleep better knowing that Charles Manx and The True Knot have some silent truce between themselves, that they both can go on (literally) sucking the life out of children and if one gets found out, we know that the other did not rat on them.  Definitely useful information to have.

And, oohhh, direct reference to Derry, along with Pennywise’s Traveling Circus!  Again, whenever I have trouble sleeping at night, I can rest in comfort knowing that Manx and Mr. Bob Gray were likely on a first name basis at some point!

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Vic yelling “Hi-yo Silver!” as she jumps on her bike was added bonus.  Not that I am complaining, although a few tears did spring to my eyes as I recalled some fond childhood memories of murderous clowns…

Then there is the similarity between The Sleigh House (geez, these jokes kill me sometimes) and Black House, another house in a King novel of the same name.

black house 1

The way the children start coming out of the house at the end of both books is so similar, not to mention the fact that Charles Manx is pretty similar to Charles Burnside, another villain who gets his rocks off on kidnapping and hurting kids.

I can also take comfort in the fact that Maggie’s “creatives” (more on that later) may be able to travel to the world of our friendly neighborhood gunslinger.

gunslinger

Is Jake Chambers one of Maggie’s creatives?  An interesting question, but one for another day.

And don’t let me forget the nod to The Stand (and the Dark Tower series) when Bing utters those famous words:  My life for you.

Trashy 1

Oh, and apparently Bill Hodges and company had to hunt down a certain missing vehicle that just happened to be a Rolls Roy Wraith…funny how that works out!

Well, now that it is out of our system (feel better?), let’s talk about Joe Hill and NOS4A2 on their own merits.

So sorry, Uncle Stevie, you have been relegated to another blog entry!

One thing about NOS4A2…it is one scary book!

Well duh, it is written by Prince of Modern Horror, who is the son of the King of Modern Horror.  So we shouldn’t be surprised by scary, right?

Yes and no.  Am I entirely surprised that it’s scary?

Christmasland 1

No, I am not.

What is shocking is the fact that NOS4A2 is essentially a vampire story, but modernized.

After all, who isn’t familiar with Dracula?

Dracula 1

Or Kurt Barlow from ‘Salem’s Lot?

Well, now we can add Charles Manx to that list of fictional vampires.

'Salem's Lot 2

Now, Manx is not like Barlow or Dracula, at least on the surface.

He’s old, but not centuries old.

His victims are usually kids.

Charlie Manx 1

He drives a bad ass vehicle.

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Somehow, I don’t think a rosary or garlic would phase him very much.

(Did anyone else think of this guy when Manx was introduced, by the way?  Or is it just me?)

phantasm 2

But, back to Manx.

He may not drink blood, like Barlow and Dracula.

But he is still a vampire, nonetheless.

His preferred food is not blood, but the souls of children.  Since he is all modern-like.

As a bonus, like Barlow and Dracula, he has a human familiar in Bing, who may be even more demented than either Straker or Renfield, if that’s possible.  At the very least, he holds his own.

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And Manx does not need to be able to fly or even move quickly, as he has a vehicle that allows him to travel to back and forth between realities.

Who said that newer necessarily means inferior?

Manx can hold his own!

Speaking of holding one’s own, let’s talk about Vic for a moment.

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Now, there is is someone who can hold her own and then some.

One thing I have noticed about Joe Hill is that he writes female characters extremely well.

Harper (The Fireman) was a great example of this.

Even Georgia and Merrin (Heart Shaped Box and Horns, respectively) were well written characters, despite the fact that that Georgia is the girlfriend of the main character in Heart Shaped Box, and Merrin is the dead girlfriend of Ig in Horns.  Even though we mainly see them from the eyes of a male, both are fascinating and sympathetic.

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But, Mr. Hill decided that having a woman as the interesting girlfriend of a main character just wasn’t good enough.  And then Vic was born.

To put it simply, Vic kicks ass.  There is no way around that statement.

While Vic may not always be easy to like, it is understandable as to why she may be unlikable at times, due to her upbringing (watching your dad wash his hands because they were bloodied due to beating your mom may cause a girl to have some issues.)

Vic’s character has a great arc.

She starts off as a spunky girl, morphs into a rebellious teenager, turns into a still troubled adult and then transforms into a mother who will stop at nothing to save her child from a vicious predator.  And I loved every minute of it.

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One of my favorite parts of the book is when Vic handcuffs Lou, leaving him behind so she can venture forth into Christmasland to save Wayne.

Vic was no damsel in distress.  She knew that she had to be one the one to save (and ultimately sacrifice herself) in order to save her son.

Now, NOS4A2 may be a scary book.

But, like the books of dear old dad, it is so much more than that.

I love what this book has to say on art, artists and the creative process in genera.

I may be a bit biased, as someone who spends so much time creating her own “inscapes” but bear with me.

In fact, I love the idea of an “inscape” itself.

Because that is exactly what happens when someone creates something:  it is actually an escape from the “real” world into an entirely new one, whether that is a painting, a book, a song, etc.

And let’s not kid ourselves.  Those made up worlds become “real,” especially if the creator uses enough love and care in the creation of these worlds.

Middle Earth, Mid-World, Hogwarts.  How are those not “real,” along with the Harry Potters, Roland Deschains, Aragorns, and so forth who live in them?

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And when something happens to the people who populate these worlds, is the effect not felt in ours?  When Harry Potter realizes that Voldemort has been resurrected, for example, did the reader not fear for him, and join him in his grief for a lost friend and classmate?

So it stands to reason that there are “creatives” out there, whose gift is especially powerful (like Joe Hill, his father, JK Rowling, Tolkien and countless others) who can use their knives to cut reality (in Maggie’s words) and create new realities.

And the knife is just the tool, like Maggie so eloquently stated.

Sometimes, the knife is not harmful, and results in children’s books, paintings, etc.

But sometimes, some sick individual (like Charles Manx, who is actually all too plausible) will create a new reality.

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But this new reality is terrible, and only brings hurt to others.

And this is not uncommon, as so many predators who are similar to Charles Manx exist in our world.  They believe that what they are doing is actually a good thing.

It is then up to someone (a Vic McQueen, if you will) to try to put a stop to it.

Sometimes, that is successful.

Sometimes, it is not.  And that knife continues to cut, leaving blood behind.


Well, I am still a bit confused on what is a fact, and what is an alternative fact.

But I do not need an agency such as BARF to tell me that Joe is a fantastic writer, and that he will (hopefully) continue to churn them out, for many years to come.

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So that’s it for NOS4A2.  Join me later this month as we delve back into the world of dear old Dad, as we read and dissect an oldie but goodie, aka Christine!

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Top 10 Women in Horror Movies

So, guys and ghouls, it is that time of year again…

Oakland Raiders v Indianapolis Colts

Well, yes it is football season, but that was not what I was referring too.  I mean, do you think I want to be scared into a change pants?  Come on, now!

Well, actually I do.  And watching Indianapolis Colts football is one way to be scared, although many other emotions tend to be involved, which include extreme anger, exhilaration, puzzlement, denial, bargaining and resignation.

But, there are lots of other things that I can watch, other than Colts football, if I don’t want to experience the different stages of grief in a four hour setting (NFL math is funny that way:  one hour of football somehow turns into four hours yelling myself horse (you are welcome for that one) in front of my TV.)

In other words:  horror movies.  Horror movies everywhere…

At this time of year, I feel that autumn is right around the corner.  And this starts right after Labor Day, when the Christmas merchandise at the stores is on display!

And to counter the sight of Christmas decorations when the temperature is still at least 90 F, there is only one thing we can do…

That’s right, watch some horror movies.  Or maybe lots of horror movies.  All right, a metric shit ton of horror movies!

And so many movies to choose from.

We have our classics, like Carrie, Halloween and Friday the 13th.

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Or “new school,” like Horns.  You gotta admit, seeing Harry Potter as the devil is fun!

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Or, we don’t have to limit ourselves to movies.  There are plenty of good, horror themed shows not titled American Horror Story to chose from.  And most are available via the miracle of the 21st century otherwise known as Neflix.  Cable schmable, right?

Now, one thing about horror movies:  they seem to have an audience.  And no, not necessarily horror junkies.

Let’s face it:  most horror movies are geared towards white males.  That is often who your horror movie protagonist is, with a few exceptions, like Night of the Living Dead, which was decades ahead of its time for featuring an African American guy as its protagonist.

And it’s not to say that those movies are not good movies.  In fact, movies like Phantasm (I dare you to cross The Tall Man, boooyyyy!), The Shining, Horns and many others are either classics, or on their way to becoming classics.  And I have no problem with that, they are great movies and deserve their accolades.

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But, I feel like I am missing something when I watch certain movies.  In fact, I feel like I may be missing at least half of something…

That’s right, where are my ladies?  I mean, we make up half the population, right?  So where are we?  Where are we in one of my favorite movie genres?

Well, it turns out that if take the time (after all, rushing us is bad, on so many levels, haha) and look, you can find us ladies in horror movies.  And some bad ass ones at that!

In recent years, we have become even easier to find in the horror, genre and science fiction categories.  After all, Game of Thrones, anyone?  Plenty of kick ass women there!

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And The Master and The Master 2.0 have gotten in on the act, as both Stephen King and Joe Hill have managed to write convincing female characters, who have an identity beyond the wife or girlfriend of the guy who winds up kicking ass.

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So, if you look, we are there in horror movies.  Sometimes we get horribly victimized.  Sometimes we victimize others.  But other times, we throw down some serious shade, and you do not want to meet us in a dark alley!

With that being said, here is my list of top 10 women in horror (both on television and film.)  Keep in mind that this is my opinion only, and could be subject to change at any moment…

And, as always:

Spoiler alert


10.  Sally (The Nightmare Before Christmas)

Well, I may be a little biased with this statement, but I will say it anyway:

Gingers rule!

And as soon as we have enough freckles, we plan to take over the world!

Okay, I am kidding (you hope.)

But this entry on my list has earned her spot on it.  And yes, she just happens to be a ginger.

Guys and ghouls, I bring to you…Sally!

Now, Sally may literally owe her existence to a man.  However, do not underestimate her, as she is tough, smart and resourceful.

After all, a chic who clearly knows her poisons.  Who would want to cross her?

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Sally is a love interest in the movie The Nightmare Before Christmas (and one half of one of one my favorite onscreen couples ever), but to me, she is so much more than that.

For most of her life, Sally is held in captivity by her creator.  She understands that that she may be selling herself short, and she works to build a life for herself beyond captivity, and to connect with the outside world in a meaningful way.

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Sally also brings a message of self-acceptance.  After all, she literally falls apart, but that doesn’t stop her from picking herself back up and continuing on with her life.  That message of self-acceptance is one that Jack Skellington badly needs to hear, as he finally accepts that it is okay to be the Pumpkin King, and leave “Sandy Claws” to those who are better qualified for that job.

Is it a Halloween movie?  Is it a Christmas movie?  It’s an existential crisis!  But an awesome existential crisis!

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9.  Mrs. Vorhees (Friday the 13th)

Every movie needs a good guy (or bad girl.)  This is especially true of horror movies.  After all, where would we be without The Tall Man, Pennywise the Clown, Reverend Kane, along with many other bad guys that make these movies memorable?

Well, we can add Mrs. Vorhees to that list as well.

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When I bring up Friday the 13th, most people think of the guy in the hockey mask.  I then have to gently remind him that he is the protagonist in the 19 or so sequels that the franchise has generated, along with the awesomely bad crossover where Jason and Freddy meet…spoiler alert:  they don’t meet for Netflix and chill!

So, let’s go back to the beginning.

In other words, the infamous Camp Crystal Lake.  And a few horny teenagers.  And of course, the campers.

And…the camp’s cook?

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Yes, the camp’s cook.  And the mother to Jason Vorhees, who (supposedly) drowned due to the horny camp counselors not doing their job, due to fact of being…well…horny.

Again, Jason is a non-factor in the first film of the franchise.  We do see the “Jason half” of Mrs. Vorhees personality, as she rationalizes killing teenagers, but Mrs. Vorhees is responsible for all the blood and guts.  All.  The.  Blood.  And.  Guts.

All of it!

I personally love a lady vs. lady show down.  There is something much more fierce about those, and so primal.

Well, I got my wish when I watched Friday the 13th, in one of the most epic onscreen lady vs. lady show downs in the history of film and television!

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It doesn’t get much better than that, folks!


8)  Sidney Prescott (Scream)

When I watched Deadpool, I found it amusing that the title character seemed to be self-aware.  He knew he was in a movie, and made reference to that fact throughout the movie.  It was good for plenty of yuks!

The movie Scream also uses the concept of “self aware”, and perhaps one of the best uses of that concept.

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After all, Scream constantly makes references to horror movies throughout the movie.

In fact, in the opening scene, the killer begins by asking trivia questions (see the above entry.)  And that is just the beginning.

Scream pokes fun at the horror genre.  A lot.  After, we now all know to never say, “I’ll be right back?”  Or to drink or have sex in a horror movie, as those acts also mean certain death.

However, underneath the humor, Scream is still a horror movie.  With a protagonist who kicks ass.

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And oh yeah, this protagonist just happens to be a girl!

Sidney’s plight is something that is all too familiar:  her mother was raped and murdered.  The murderer was supposedly caught and put in jail, but Sidney is struggling to come to terms with her mother’s death, and the repressed emotions that come with the trauma.

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And then people start getting killed.  Sidney is still struggling with her trauma, and is now unsure of who she can trust.  Sidney is also now unsure that she did correctly identify her mother’s killer, and fears that she may have put the wrong man in jail.

Throughout the movie, Sidney shows herself to be a fighter.  From the reporter who will not stop harassing her to her friend and boyfriend who turn out to to be the killers, Sidney proves that she is resilient, and a force to be reckoned with.

Processing trauma and coming out on the other side is difficult, but is rewarding when it is finally accomplished.  The character of Sidney Prescott is a wonderful example of this.

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7.  Nancy Thompson (A Nightmare on Elm Street)

Often, I joke (well, sort of) that I am in a relationship with…my bed.

Hi, my name is Leah, and if I don’t get my sleep, I will cut a bitch!

In other words, my bed is a refuge, as is my sleep.

Well, sleep usually is.  Although sometimes I am given to having nightmares…

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But I am lucky in the fact that my nightmares, no matter how real they seem (that one featuring the Tall Man and strange Lovecraftian creatures was certainly a doozy), are just dreams in the end.

They can’t hurt me.

The subject of this particular entry, however, was not so lucky.

Poor Nancy.

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Falling asleep became dangerous for her, so no refuge for her.

I mean, she dozed off in class and nearly got killed for it.  Makes the detention one would normally expect seem kind of mild, right?

However, Nancy sleeps on it (see what I did there) and decides to do something about the evil creature who has been tormenting her and her friends in their dreams.

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First, she recruits her boyfriend, Glenn, to help her catch Freddy. But when that doesn’t work, she doesn’t give up, and instead persuades her father to help trap Freddy.

Nancy just will not take no for an answer, and will stop at nothing to destroy Freddy Kreuger for good (or at least until the next sequel, at any rate.)

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She will not go down without a fight, and I have always loved her for it.

Freddy Kreuger may be one of my favorite horror movie villains of all time, but let’s face it, without Nancy, he would be nothing.  And that is not just because he needs dreams from teenagers so that he can exist.

The fact that my favorite horror villain has to face off against a woman is just icing on the cake.  Wait, I take that back.  Nancy is the cake, icing and all.

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6.  Willow Rosenberg (Buffy the Vampire Slayer)

Now, I often tell people that high school was hell for me. And it was.

I spent most of my time isolated.  And being isolated was actually the good part.  When I was “only isolated,” I considered myself to be lucky, as least I wasn’t being tormented.

The lesser of the two evils, I suppose…

But what was that saying that I heard way back when, about a guy with no shoes who meets a guy with no feet and gets some kind of new perspective?

In other words, I should be lucky that my school was not built on a Hellmouth, right?

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Isolation and bullying is one thing.  We can talk about the lesser of two evils and so forth…

But when your school is built on a Hellmouth, and when you have to deal with vampires, werewolves, and all kinds of other Big Bads, I think we are beyond the discussion of the lesser of two evils.

In fact, you may just piss one of those Big Bads off by referring to him/her/it as “lesser.”  And that would be dangerous indeed.

And in the midst of all this…well…Hell, we have Willow Rosenberg.

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Now, Willow may be a classic “sidekick” to Buffy, who had the fortune (or is it misfortune?) of moving to Sunnydale, CA, where her destiny as The Slayer awaited her, but make no mistake about it:  Willow is also a bad ass herself.

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Not only did she fight along Buffy’s side (along with Xander, Giles and a few others), Willow also, like so many of us, struggled to find her identity in the Hell otherwise known as high school.

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As a result, one of the most fascinating character arcs in television history emerged.

How often do you see someone go from high school computer nerd, to fledgling witch, to full fledged witch, all the while never losing her integrity, making the arc seem so natural?

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Oh, and Willow also came out as a lesbian somewhere in there too, making her one of the first major characters in a TV show to be openly gay.  And it was all so natural too.  When Willow finally coupled up with Tara, it seemed so right, and to be true love, as opposed to some kind of fetish.  Her friends accepted her as gay, and nothing really changed between them…I loved it!

Oh, and any time I think any of my break ups were bad (along with my high school experience), I just think what was done to poor Willow in the name of entertainment for the masses.  I think this is where that term ugly cry comes into play.


5.   Carrie White (Carrie, 1976)

Yeah, see above…

I will say it once and I will say it again:  High school, aka government babysitting is overrated at best.  At worst, it is Hell.  And the high school in question does not even need to be built on a Hellmouth to suck.  High schools do that quite well on their own, thankyouverymuch.

And again, my high school experienced sucked.  It sucked bunches.  My best memory, other than finally graduating, was getting a 100% on a calculus test.

The teacher must have though I was a freak…

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Well, I am a freak.  But I actually think my freakage is pretty mild, compared to this particular entry.

Meet Carrie White.

On one hand, Carrie is your typical high school reject.  At best, the other students ignore her, and she is invisible to pretty much everyone.

But the at worst part is just horrible.  Getting pelted by tampons, while you are having your first period at age 17 and thinking you are dying…well, I think I would trade going to high school on the Hellmouth for that one!

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However, on the other hand, Carrie is not your typical high school reject.  For one thing, she has a religious fanatic for a mother at home, who shames her for getting her period, getting asked to prom, and pretty much shames her daughter for existing.

Carrie also possesses telekinetic powers.  And this turns out to be bad news for everyone.  When a high school prank goes horribly wrong, and Carrie is humiliated at prom, everyone is at the brunt of Carrie’s revenge.

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Carrie’s powers are unleashed, and the results are epic, to say the least.

I have always said that the villains in this movie are Margaret White, along with Carrie’s cruel classmates.  Carrie is the most innocent among all the characters.  How could you expect her not to finally retaliate, after the happiest night in her tormented life is ruined?

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I shed more than a few tears when Carrie died (see the part above about the ugly cry.)

And for the record, my high school classmates should be lucky that I did not possess telekinetic powers…

Very lucky…

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4.  Lydia Deetz (Beetlejuice)

“Well, I’ve read through that handbook for the recently deceased. It says: ‘live people ignore the strange and unusual”. I myself am strange and unusual.”

Oh, the above quote…

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When I first heard it, there were so many emotions to process…

Happiness was one of them, of course.

And, believe it or not, relief was one of them as well.

I may have fallen in love a little that day, with a fictional character.  I have a bad habit of doing that, it seems.

Of course, I am speaking of Lydia Deetz.

As a 90’s kid, “Goth” was a thing.

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We all had them in at least one class.

The kids who wore all black, even in the summertime.

Often, they loved horror.

They had an affinity for creepy things.

Their taste in music was cutting edge, to say the least.  Nine Inch Nails, anyone?

Lydia Deetz started the Goth culture.

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She rocked the all black and pale-face make-up before it was cool (I mean, I was pale-face before it was cool, but no make-up needed here.  Gotta love being a soul stealing ginger, AmIrite?)

In case I have not made this clear, I was not a kid who fit in.  In fact, I didn’t really belong anywhere.

Growing up, I felt like a ghost.  Sometimes I wondered if I was actually dead, and everyone knew it but me and forgot to tell me.

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And like Lydia, I lived in a world of my creation.  I loved to read and write, and create art.

Those interests don’t exactly make one’s phone ring off the hook on Friday night, but I tried to remain true to myself.

That was the thing I admired most about Lydia:  she remained true to herself.

She preferred the company of ghosts over people (well, I preferred the company of animals, but close enough, right?)

Things that repelled most people attracted Lydia (to this day, my parents still think I am some kind of literary leper for loving Stephen King.)

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Being different is a good thing.  But often, it is lonely.

Characters like Lydia Deetz remind us of how awesome different is, and make the journey a little less lonely.


3.  Eleven (Stranger Things)

“She’s our friend and she’s crazy!”

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Stranger Things is my show and it’s awesome!

Now, no matter what else happens in 2016 (and we still have the presidential election to get through, so the season finale is still a bit far away), we can at say, “At least we had Stranger Things.”

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And there so many things to love about Stranger Things.

It is a tribute to all things 80’s.

It pays homage to all kinds of horror, including John Carpenter films, Wes Craven and even H.P. Lovecraft.

It is a gold mine for Stephen King fans.  The story line of people with PSI abilities is classic King (Firestarter, anyone?), not to mention the fact that The Master’s name is lovingly brought up in an episode.

I could go on and on, actually.  Lots of reasons to love Stranger Things

At least eleven, I would say…

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Oh, right.  Eleven.  The subject of this entry!

If you told me that the show Stranger Things centered on the subject of four friends (who are boys) and their entrance into adulthood, along with the loss of innocence they experience, you would be correct.

On the surface, that is what Stranger Things is about (along with a monster christened Mr. Tulip-Head and his band of merry slugs.)  That statement would not be incorrect.

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But, like the books written by a certain famous writer, Stranger Things is so much more than that.

Enter Eleven, everyone’s favorite waffle loving, bald-headed escapee from an evil government lab run by the creep known as Dr. Pedophile.

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And oh yeah, Eleven possesses PSI abilities, along with being on the run from “Papa” (shudder.)

At first, Eleven serves as kind of homing beacon, to help Mike and his friends try to find their missing friend Will, whose disappearance just happens to coincide with Eleven’s appearance.

However, the boys, especially Mike, grow to like Eleven on her own merits.  A friendship develops, and Eleven becomes fiercely protective of her new friends (see the opening sentence to this entry.)

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Through their friendship with Eleven, the boys mature, and also come to the realization that the world is not a safe place, nor is it always a fair place.  Eleven brings out the best in Mike, who begins to fall in love with her.

The realization that the world is not a safe or fair place comes in the final episode, when Eleven (seemingly) sacrifices herself to the alternate dimension known as the Upside-Down, when she battles the monster that was responsible for kidnapping Will.

Out of all the characters on the show, Eleven proves herself to the most selfless of the bunch, who takes the meaning of friendship to a new level, when she sacrifices herself for another child who she does not even know.  She also proves herself to be a tough fighter, in her journeys to the Upside-Down and her battle with the extra-dimensional monster.

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And a fierce protector of Eggo Waffles everywhere.  Do not, I repeat, DO NOT mess with that girl’s waffles, if you know what’s good for you!

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2.  Vanessa Ives (Penny Dreadful)

I love Eva Green

Oh, how I love Eva Green!

Eva Green is the bomb.com!

Did I mention that I love Eva Green?

Okay, just wanted to make my point clear.

And the reason I fell in love with Eva Green was her portrayal of Vanessa Ives on the show Penny Dreadful.

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I have problems.  I really do.  Sometimes they feel like they number around 99, although I am really not sure if a bitch accounts for more than a few (although my crazy dog could be put into that bitch category.)

But then, I can go watch the period horror/drama known as Penny Dreadful, and I get some perspective.

In other, my problems are pretty damn mild.  Or maybe even non-existent, really.

After all, I don’t have the Devil Himself after me.

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Or Dracula, for that matter.

I may have guys hit on me and give me unwanted attention, but at least they aren’t evil incarnate.

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(On a side note, no one has ever seen my ex and Lucifer in the same room together.  Fun fact of the day!)

Nor am I harassed by a coven of witches who are willing to hand me over to at least one of the above.

Oh, and I don’t live in Victorian London, where women are limited to only a couple of roles, and if they don’t fit in, then well, that’s just too bad, isn’t it?

I have just described a day in the life of Vanessa Ives, the main character of the show Penny Dreadful.  Yikes much?

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But somehow, despite all of the horrors she has to endure throughout her life (both supernatural and non-supernatural), Vanessa Ives is able to maintain a kind of grace that one rarely sees even in people who have not been cursed by an unknown evil force.

Vanessa makes everyone around her better.  Her influence is something to behold, as she brings out the best even in those who may not be the best humanity has to offer (Victor Frankenstein and Sir Malcolm being prime examples of this.)

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Vanessa’s influence even extends to the ‘non-human” characters in the show, including Caliban (otherwise known as The Creature) and Ethan, the werewolf.

Caliban, in particular, benefits from his friendship with Vanessa.  Even before he became “The Creature,” Caliban was in danger of his losing his humanity due to his employment with the Banning Clinic.  However, when he is forced to care for Vanessa, he begins to see his patients as individuals, as opposed to numbers, and realizes that his employer is in the wrong in its treatment of its patients, and that he can no longer work for them.

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

(Another side note:  anyone who watches the episode A Blade of Grass without tearing up at least a little bit has ice water instead of blood in his/her veins, and we cannot be friends.)

Even after Caliban is transformed into The Creature, Vanessa extends her friendship to him, reminding Caliban that he is more than a corpse stitched together and brought back to life as a science experiment.

Vanessa’s character serves to make the ending even more poignant, as she sacrifices herself so that others may live.

Vanessa’s friends mourn her death, but it is clear that she lives on in each of them, as her influence continues, even after her death.

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


And now, for my number 1 woman in horror…

drum-roll-please

I give you…


Dana Scully (The X Files)

OK, let’s get one thing straight…

That’s Dr. Scully to you!

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Now, in case it wasn’t clear, I was a nerd growing up.

I liked math and science.

I read books on theoretical physics for fun.

A wild day for me consisted of visiting the library and finding five books.  OR SIX BOOKS.  SIX BOOKS!

So, as you can imagine, my social calendar was clear until approximately February 30th, 2087.  Although these days, I’m a little more booked, because that calendar is clear until May 32nd 2072, although if you need something, I may be able to shuffle things around and pencil you in.

But, in the fall of 1993, things began to look up.  Well, a little bit, at least.

For that is when we had the debut of The X Files.

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Before I watched The X Files, I did not see a lot of representation of women in my world, aka the world of nerd.  Now, this did not necessarily bother me much, at least on a conscious level.

However, deep inside, I knew that something was missing,  I could not tell you what, but I knew that my world was lacking.

But then Agents Fox Mulder and Dana Scully made their entrance to the screen.

And right away, it became evident of what my world was missing.

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You see, the world of horror and general nerdiness had been waiting for a woman like Scully.  Finally, she arrived.

And she did not disappoint.

Scully was smart (see the opening sentence to this entry.)

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Not only was Scully smart, she could throw down some serious shade.  And usually, she was wearing heels of at least three inches while doing that.

And her autopsies were so cool!  They almost made me want to go to medical school, just so I could throw around medical jargon like that.  Almost.

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Scully also kept her partner Mulder grounded.  Mulder could get a little nutty at times with his (literally) out of this world theories, but Scully was able to reign him in, and was the yin to yang.  They made a great team.

While Mulder often had to rescue Scully from cannibals, a death fetishist and a few other horrors (both human and supernatural), Scully often often rescued Mulder.

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I loved seeing her storm in with those heels, pointing her gun and flashing her FBI badge.  Sometimes her efforts backfired, and Scully would end up in a dire predicament as well.  But many times, Scully was able to get Mulder out whatever predicament he found himself in, and the two could go on to kick ass for another episode.

Scully also faced the same sexism many of us in the “real world” have to face on regular basis.  Sometimes people were reluctant to respect her, or would ignore her in favor of her male partner.  But Scully always handled that so well, and could silence her naysayers with a single look or sentence.  And I loved her for it.

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And I have one thing to say:  Representation matters.  I am someone who has spent her life feeling invisible and ignored.  And its not fun.  I do not wish that on anyone.

But when we create characters such as Dana Scully, the world becomes a little brighter.  And a little less lonely.

X Files 3

At last, someone gets us.  And the journey becomes exciting,  At last, we begin to see the hope.


Well, that’s it for my top 10 ladies in horror.

I am sure I missed a few, but compiling this list was not an easy task.  So a shout out to any I may have left out:  You are not forgotten!

So, if you don’t feel like being horrified by Indianapolis Colts football, pop in one of these movies, or tune in to Netflix and watch one of these shows.

At the very least, you can kill a few hours.  Or maybe, just maybe, you can appreciate one of these films or TV shows in a new light, after seeing some kick ass ladies!

Happy watching!

 

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.”

penny dreadful 3 17

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.

pet sematary 11

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 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!

blood threesome 1

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!

Penny Dreadful 3

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.

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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.

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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!

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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.)

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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.

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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.

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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!

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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…

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(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…

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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!

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