@HellingsOnFilm reviews and recaps...
CONTAINS FULL SPOILERS
The werewolf Ethan Chandler (Josh Hartnett) rises angrily and bloody from the dead body of Sembene (Danny Sapani) to find himself still trapped in Madame Kali’s house, much to the relief of Hecate (Sarah Greene) who goes downstairs to watch her mother (Helen McCrory) and Vanessa Ives (Eva Green). Vanessa’s mannequin (the Devil) talks to her in an attempt to get her to give her soul freely, calling her a murderer who has already given herself to him by using the Verbis Diablo. Madame Kali also seeks to convince Miss Ives, telling her that she has already shown the darkness within her by using her powers in evil ways. “Know yourself” says the Mannequin. How will Vanessa figure a way out of this one?
Upstairs, Victor Frankenstein (Harry Treadaway) and Sir Malcolm Murray (Timothy Dalton) continue to be tormented, Victor by his three creations urging him to join them in death by taking his own life; Sir Malcolm by his wife and two children urging him to do the same. The words of the spirit illusions of Madame Kali are seductive and convincing. Can our two heroes free themselves of the spell?
In the basement, the Lucifer mannequin and Madame Kali offer Vanessa an image of the one thing she has always wanted: to be normal. It is a vision to tempt as we see Miss Ives in a domestic situation, happy with two children and married to a loving Ethan. In the basement, tears fall from Vanessa’s eyes, accusing the mannequin of being “very cruel”. A gloating Madame Kali and a manipulative mannequin see it as kindness, offering Vanessa what she truly wants.
Upstairs, Victor prepares to self-administer a syringe to end his days, egged on by his three creations, the doctor seemingly decided on accepting the peace being offered, just as Sir Malcolm seems to be with a gun in his hand, his ‘family’ urging him on.
Hecate watches as the Devil mannequin continues its offer to Vanessa: a life with Ethan and children, freedom and safety for her friends, in return for eternal life as the Devil’s bride after her death. All it takes is to kiss the mannequin. “You offer me a normal life. Why do you think I want that anymore? I know what I am. Do you?” asks Vanessa as she begins to recite the Verbis Diablo in a battle with the Devil, the room beginning to collapse, much to Madame Kali’s terror. The battle has begun. Vanessa destroys the mannequin. Madame Kali begins to age. Hecate frees wolf Ethan in attempt to gain the upper hand. As Madame Kali moves towards Vanessa with a sacrificial dagger, the werewolf Ethan is in the room and slices open Madame Kali’s throat, near decapitating the witch (hoorah!). But will he do the same to Vanessa? He doesn’t, a bond clear between them. He rushes off, uncertain of his actions.
Upstairs, with Madame Kali’s death, the evil spirits have gone, freeing Victor and Sir Malcolm from the spell. Ferdinand Lyle (Simon Russell Beale) pinned to the wall by a Nightcomer, shoots it through the heart and head, killing it, whilst delivering one of the best lines of the series: “Never underestimate the power of a queen with lovely hair, my dear”. Sir Malcolm helps Victor to his feet before Lyle unlocks the door to release them, the three going off in search of the others. A Nightcomer attacks them, but Sir Malcolm shoots it in the chest, then twice more in the head for good measure. Nice! (If only Timothy Dalton had gotten that deserved third outing as James Bond. Oh, well.)
In the basement, a scorpion crawls on Vanessa’s shoulder. She picks it up, watching it in the palm of her hand as it is absorbed into her skin. Is this a good thing or not for the future? She has accepted the darkness within herself. With a last glance at the basement, Vanessa exits the room. Sir Malcolm, Victor and Lyle find her sitting by Sembene’s dead body. She reveals that Madame Kali (Mrs Poole) is dead and that Ethan is ‘safe’. The work is seemingly done.
At the Putney’s waxworks, Mr. Putney (David Haig) and his wife Octavia (Ruth Gemmell) come to gloat at The Creature (Rory Kinnear), their imprisoned exhibit to be. They offer him a share of the profits if he plays the part of the happy freak for the expected audiences or misery if he refuses. He can even have a blanket, a candle, some books, and if he proves his ‘fidelity’, be allowed out on occasion. He can be “King of the Freaks”. Or, of course, he can just rip the metal door off its hinges, snap Octavia’s neck, then smash Mr. Haig to death against the brick wall. Never was a couple more deserving of the fates they meet than Mr. and Mrs. Haig. And who comes looking? It’s the treacherous daughter Lavinia (Tamsin Topolski). And you really do think: 'Yes, kill her too, Creature, kill her too!'
Unfortunately he doesn’t, even enduring the blind woman’s insults before he escapes into the night.
At Madame Kali’s, a singing Hecate takes her mother’s box of scalpels and tools, drops a candle onto the floor, and leaves the house to burn as she departs. What a first class daughter she turned out to be.
Ferdinand Lyle and Victor travel by coach, Mr. Lyle in need of a friend and offering an ‘ear for listening’ should Victor ever need one. Victor exits for his home. Lyle a man of sadness and reflection is alone. He’s proved a character that is genuinely worth liking. Victor enters his attic laboratory to find no sign of Lily, Dorian’s flowers only fueling his sense of anger as he rushes out. Never love a corpse, Doctor Frankenstein.
At Dorian Gray’s, Victor enters to find Dorian (Reeve Carney) and Lily (Billie Piper) dancing. In his outrage, Victor shoots Lily, without effect, and then Dorian, also without effect. Victor is terrified in the realisation that Lily knows the doctor was her creator. They only spare him as they may need him sometime, but Victor must live in fear. He leaves and Dorian and Lily return to dancing, leaving a trail of blood on the floor. Poor Victor, he really is paying for his sins and may have created a monster in Lily that’s far worse than The Creature. Good job, Victor. Good job.
Daytime at Sir Malcolm’s, and the man himself mournfully tells Vanessa that he plans to take Sembene’s body back to Africa to give him a proper burial. Vanessa heads upstairs to find Ethan. He recognises that she knows what he is. Vanessa does, but wants them to be together anyway. They are both living in the darkness. Ethan departs, needing time to think. Is this a couple that will ever be allowed by fate to be together? Probably not, but it would be a better match than Lily and Dorian.
Morning and Ethan stands outside the police buildings on the Thames. Is he going to hand himself in? Vanessa wakes to find a handwritten letter that has been pushed under her door. It is a goodbye from Ethan, we assume?
Ethan hands himself in to Inspector Rusk (Douglas Hodge) and confesses to the murders, asking for a quick hanging. Rusk says that it won’t be quick and it won’t be there as he takes out a warrant of extradition. Ethan’s worst fear: he is to be sent ‘home’ to America, (proving once more that honest is not always the best policy).
At Victor’s, the brokenhearted doctor injects himself in the hand, having run out of veins in his arm, lying in a stupor of misery. How much lower can Victor sink?
At the cholera clinic by night, Miss Ives sees The Creature. She is there in need of a friend. He is leaving forever in search of ‘a desolate shore’. He invites her to go with him. She cannot, refusing to allow him to drawn into the dark shroud that surrounds her. She calls him the ‘most human man’ she has ever known, kisses him, then leaves The Creature weeping. These scenes between two cursed characters have been the finest of the series.
A ship moves across the seas. Sir Malcolm is taking Sembene back to Africa (lucky that they got the body out in time before the Madame Kali barbecue).
In a polar region, another ship is carrying The Creature. He has found his desolate shore.
An ocean liner carries a caged Ethan back to America, watched by Inspector Rusk. We hear the words of Ethan’s letter to Miss Ives as she stands alone in Sir Malcolm’s house: his gratitude for her kindness and understanding, for all that she brought to his life, and his love. His recognition that her road may be difficult but his is doomed and he is going to a place he belongs: the grave. Vanessa turns off the gaslights and removes the large, wooden crucifix from the wall of her bedroom, placing it into the flames of the fireplace to burn, and abandoning her belief in God. She watches the dark city from the window, now destined to walk alone.
END OF SEASON TWO.
And They Were Enemies was a fine conclusion to Season Two. Madame Kali and Lucifer were vanquished (although the Devil tends not to be completely out of any picture for long); Vanessa has accepted who she is and hast lost her faith; Ethan has accepted his doom and is now on the way to the last place on earth he wanted to go; Victor is down and out in a drug haze having seen exactly what he has created in Lily; Lily and Dorian have plans of domination with the Immortals ruling the world; Dorian has been revealed for the truly unpleasant egomaniac and narcissist that he is; Sir Malcolm is free of manipulation and the past and is en route to Africa to bury Sembene (a character that’s been badly underused for two seasons and is now dead); and most of all, our adventurers have been scattered to the four winds.
The high points were wolf Ethan half decapitating Madame Kali; Vanessa kicking Lucifer’s ass; Ferdinand Lyle coming good; Victor seeing exactly what a nightmare he’s created in Lily; The Creature killing the Haigs (woops of delight at that one); Ethan’s extradition; and Vanessa’s abandonment of God.
And They Were Enemies was an excellent conclusion to Season Two.
On 16th June, 2015, Showtime officially announced the renewal of Penny Dreadful for a third season. Filming is set to begin in Dublin Autumn 2015. Season Three will be nine episodes and exist in other parts of the world as well as London.
Will I be back for Season Three? Hell, yes.
David Paul Hellings
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