Penny Dreadful / Screen

Penny Dreadful: “And Hell Itself My Only Foe”

It’s weird that this episode begins with the storyline I’m least invested in, one of Ethan’s pursuers finding his way to the Cut Wife’s cottage to confront Ethan and Vanessa. Ethan’s always been the least interesting character in Penny Dreadful‘s ranks, and he hasn’t gotten a whole lot more interesting this time around. The insistence on keeping his lycanthropy a secret from everyone who wouldn’t be immediately disturbed by the information (and would actually find it quite relevant) is tedious, particularly after Victor’s confessed to his addiction and Sembene confides that he was a slave trader,  and the threat of the truth coming out isn’t all that pressing.  So the confrontation between him and the Two Face Pinkerton isn’t much fun until the fighting starts, which ends up being pretty brutal and very stabby. Vanessa and Ethan both get in on the action, and both get their butts kicked a bit, before the Pinkerton’s dead and buried in front of the cottage and Ethan and Vanessa are off to save Malcolm.

And just like that, one storyline concluded.

Vanessa insists on going to save Malcolm immediately, though everyone else has their doubts about doing so. Everyone makes good points, but why any of them actually expect Vanessa not to go after her father figure alone is a question that never quite gets answered. None of them anticipate her going off on her own and scurry to catch up with her.

Malcolm’s being driven mad by the visions of his dead family, who remind him of his terrible treatment toward all of them. As a fan of Malcolm being called out on his lacking personality, there’s a thrill in seeing him have to face his demons. Whatever later understanding he gleaned about having let his family down so thoroughly doesn’t erase what he did beforehand. And having to take in his wife’s gaping throat, the bullethole in Mina’s head and watching insects crawl from Peter’s mouth, is quite the punishment

Unfortunately the episode runs into the same question mark as some of last season, in wondering just how they expect to accomplish anything. Lyle and Victor are next to useless against super powerful witches. Malcolm is a more experienced marksman and even his attempt at going up against them was ridiculous. Sembene’s got skills to work with, but Ethan’s about to turn into a werwolf at any given moment, and if he isn’t one, he’s not that great to have around either. In short, Vanessa going alone is probably a much better idea. As to be expected, she’s the only to actually accomplish anything. Lyle ends up fighting for his life, Victor’s trapped in the same room with Malcolm, Sembene’s trapped with a transforming Ethan, and Vanessa’s led to the master, apparently hanging out in her puppet, which speaks to her with her own voice and calls her a “murderer”.

The rest of the episode is equally interesting if not at all related. The rest of the episode is equally interesting if not at all related. With Lily now moving up the ladder in terms of villainy, I’m way into her. The Creature is even musing on the seductive nature of her evil, unaware of Lavinia’s plotting to trap him so he can be an attraction at her father’s museum. He hasn’t been quite evil since we’ve met him, though he’s certainly had his share of anger issues, but now that his thirst for companionship is leading him to Lily and he’s gotten a taste of how terrible people can be, he’s going to be all too eager to help her put her plans for world domination into effect. I imagine  Someone, likely Lily, will surely come to retrieve him, and this is only going to cement the Creature’s interest in Lily’s cause. They want to take over the world, and what’s the Creature going to think about that when the people he’s encountered are as awful as these? I anticipate them all dying bloody deaths in the next episode.

Meanwhile Lily meets with Dorian again and completely sheds her flighty, flirtatious demeanor. She does this even before Dorian confesses to remembering who she is. He’s Dorian Gray after all, and while he looks initially surprised by Lily calling him “boy” and commanding him to kneel and tell her his secrets, he does so anyway. And of course he’s only turned on by her choking him and then biting a nice chunk of his ear off.  That Lily demands to see Dorian’s powers in action is thrilling. We don’t get to see them ourselves, but he visits the painting and then returns in perfect condition for more loving with Lily, apparently sealing their bond as partners. Lily’s clearly trying to build up a team of her own, with Dorian and the Creature as her first allies.  The Creature is hungry for love, and Dorian loves anything strange and beautiful so Lily’s slowly forming monster squad, to eventually go up against our heroes (in season three perhaps?), is going to be formidable indeed.

Stray Observations

  • Lavinia: “Not everyone shares your mania for poetry.” Lavinia is rude as hell, but she wasn’t wrong.
  • I’m very, very disappointed that Sembene’s dead. Very, very. You have one not white character in the whole cast and you kill him off without hardly giving him any character development so he can help a white man rise to his true potential? Really?
  • I love Vanessa but she’s not the greatest judge of character. Her scene with Victor was sweet, but I’m forever annoyed by people pretending Victor isn’t the actual worst. They’re all monstrous and terrible, I know, but is anyone as bad as Victor?
  • Two Face’s death doesn’t solve all of Ethan’s problems since that annoying inspector appears to tell Ethan everything he suspects.

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