Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Penny Dreadful, Season 3, Episode 3: Good and Evil Braided Be

Ethan and Hecate continue their wandering through the old west which is all full of deserts and death as we’re reminded frequently. No really, everyone has to tell us how deadly the landscape is probably because we’re not seeing a lot of said deadliness.

Except Hecate. She totally wants to follow Ethan to his dad’s and kill lots of people so they can all be super dark and evil rulers of… everything? It’s an ambitious albeit vague plan. Ethan is against this and her murdering people to get their horses (though he still takes the horses and supplies. That’s a convenient evil companion to have around – don’t want to do anything morally questionable? Let your evil companion do it, judge them and then enjoy the result).

Hecate isn’t exactly on side with his judgement, or moral grey areas. She doesn’t particularly see a whole lot of moral room between her choosing to kill people and Ethan losing control and killing people – the bodies are still on the ground. Obviously there are flaws in her reasoning but it also begs the question of how much Ethan must restrain himself before the murders he causes are intentional. Especially when they are convenient – like escaping his captives.

They’re being followed by Inspector Rusk who continues to have a lot of class and coolness. He tries to introduce Marshall Franklin Ostow to the concept of the occult.

They’re also being followed by Kaetenay, the endlessly cryptic and Malcolm. Kaetenay predicts all kinds of spooky bad things happening if they can’t keep Ethan on the side of goodness. His prediction sounds almost apocalyptic… albeit vague. It isn’t helped when he discusses Hecate’s presence with Michael and they find the bodies she left behind

Malcolm also champions Kaetenay against some nasty racists… there really feels like a kind of forced redemption narrative with Malcolm this season. Taking the imperialist explorer with the characterless Black servant and now making points about how imperialism is wrong and racist segregation is terrible? I mean, obviously they are wrong and terrible, but it feels more like an attempt to make it clear Malcolm isn’t like Those Imperialists more than anything else.

John Smith, Caliban, the monster, has arrived back in the city to try and chase his memories. After moving through several poor parts of the city, seeing the pain and poverty people are suffering, he seems to find his son and his wife… he doesn’t introduce himself to them. Especially since his son is sick.

He does see Vanessa, but backs away when he sees she is happy with Dr. Sweet

Of course Vanessa’s apparent happiness is complicated to say the least. Dr. Seward continues to be toweringly awesome and every scene she’s in is beyond amazing but Vanessa insists that she has to believe Vanessa’s story rather than assume they are delusions caused by her pain. She can back that up with a display of her psychic skill – and a reminder that her stare is intense enough to stop a vampire in its tracks. I think Dr. Seward is going to have to rapidly reassess things

Vanessa and Dr. Sweet – Dracula - do continue on their happy little outings, until one of his minions decides to confront Vanessa, and reveal that his master once saw her when she was locked away in a mental institution. Reminded that dark things haunt her, Vanessa realises she’s putting poor Dr. Sweet at risk (especially after he has just revealed he is vulnerable after the recent death of his wife) and she cannot drag him into her world. Tragically she breaks off their friendship

Dracula is Not Pleased with his minion, which because creepy minion food for the other minions. And yes, they are very creepy

Vanessa returns to Dr. Seward seeking hypnotism. I’m actually impressed by how non-dramatic the hypnotism is and how Seward is quick to point out its limitations and the risks of uncovering sealed memories (and can I say again how awesome she is). Still Vanessa manages to revisit her past and drag up a memory: one of the orderlies in the mental institution

Speaking of – in Bedlam Henry and Victor continue their experiments – and Victor seems to think he can make Henry’s serum permanent: so mankind doesn’t have to constantly fight their base urges which Henry thinks is an inherent struggle of humanity. It will be interesting to see what each side considers a “base urge” since both “lust” and “ambition” have been listed

Lily, Dorian and new protégé Justine continue to plan their ruthless take over of the world with a brutal murder to mark the recruitment of Christine: murdering the paedophile who raped and enslaved her. They try to make a point about how morally difficult this is and how she will never come back to it – she doesn’t even hesitate and kills him before the echoes have died. Justine has no moral issues with murdering her evil tormentors.

Then they all have an orgy covered in blood, obviously.

There’s an interesting moment when Lily and Justine see the suffragettes struggle and Lily is adamant that they’re not like them: both in tactics (Lily prefers low key suffering) and in goals (they want mastery not equality). I think it’s interesting because though Lily has some epic speeches about misogyny and the abuse she and Justine and so many women have faced, it’s also likely they’re going to go into further and further acts of violence (and blood soaked orgies) and it’s unlikely all of their victims will all be as obviously deserving. While we can wave flags for Team!Lily now, it’s not likely we will continue to do so. There’s a real risk of straw!feminism here: where feminists are presented as violent haters of all men stab them all RAWR. The point of “we have the same enemies, but we are not them” may be expressly not to label feminism with the potential crimes they will committ

It remains to be seen how this is going to develop