Wednesday, June 8, 2016

Penny Dreadful, Season 3, Episode 6: No Beast So Fierce

In the US, Ethan and his dad are still having a battle of wills with Daddy Talbott wanting Ethan to repent and Ethan having gone full-dark-sideish and not really into the repenting thing. The stand off is delayed a little when Rusk and the Marshall turn up and decide to arrest everyone. Just the two of them. While Daddy Talbott has a small army

It doesn’t go well for them

After The Most Awkward family dinner in which Ethan is forced to recite the Lord’s Prayer and rather childishly blasphemes it instead while Malcolm is sat there chanting “he’s a good boy really”, the Marshall decides to dispel with pleasantries

I’m sure shooting one’s dinner guests before pudding is not good etiquette. I thought murder really should wait until the brandy is poured.

After everyone eats without a care about the bloodstains on the flooring (really, think of the housekeeper) all hell, inevitably, does break loose. Lots of disposable goons are shot, Malcolm is also shot but Kaetenay launches himself out of nowhere (nope, no-one actually thought he was dead. You’re kidding if you did) to save him. Hecate is shot ending her rather shallow non-characterisation (what did she want? Why was she there? Did she care for Ethan or just the demon wolf? And why? Yup none of that) and also we all belatedly realise season 2 would have been a WHOOOOOOOOOOOLE lot shorter if just SHOOTING the witches worked consistently.

This leaves the inevitable Ethan, Kaetenay and Malcolm left (Rusk got shot. And until I see a body I’m going to assume he’s going to get up and come after Ethan AGAIN) with a handful of disposable extras and Daddy Talbott in a showdown in the chapel where Ethan’s family was slaughtered.

Guess how long the extras last?

Still Ethan can’t kill his dad as his moral compass has hastily jerked back the other way and killing daddy in a house of god is too far now Hecate is dead. He walks away, refusing to be taunted, refusing to be a brutal killer like his dad

Malcolm shoots him instead. Problem solved.

I know it’s the problem with Penny Dreadful having such terribly short seasons with such a lot to squeeze in, but this whole storyline felt rushed. Characters were introduced, morality yo-yoed back and forth and then death.

Back in London we have another storyline picked up with Lily and Dorian and Justine and now a large number of other followers. Only all is not peaceful among their little murderous gang: Dorian is getting bored

He thinks Justine is getting above herself and doesn’t really see why Lily is all that invested in what she was – in the pain and debasement Brona suffered – when she can now pretend to be so much more. In some ways it shows what a shallow character Dorian is, he does what amuses him, then he flits on to something else. There’s no substance to him beyond his current amusement, he bores easily and doesn’t really have anything that truly matters in his life. He also matches, in an oddly mirrored way, with Victor and all his intense stalking and kidnap attempt (and he really should have been stabbed). Like Dorian he doesn’t understand why Lily would hold on to her pain or anger or rage or why she wouldn’t want it all to vanish, not realising what else of her character, her personhood, her history would also have to vanish with it. Ultimately neither Dorian not Victor care about Lily. They care about what Lily can be for them: Dorian cares for another shocking titillation. Victor cares for the idealised image of the meek and mild love he envisages. Neither care about her and both of them casually expect her to cast aside chunks of herself to fit the mould they want.

And these are the man who most passionately declare how much she means to them.

It does seem we are increasingly characterising these women who want to be free from male cruelty, especially Justine, as “kill all the men!” caricatures which is a shame: even though the show has made an effort to distance them from suffragettes, painting the female fight against oppression as “man hating” is an old trope and a damaging one

Now to the star – Vanessa. She’s realise she needs help with Dracula stalking her and turns to Lyle… but Lyle is leaving the show (damn, I’ll miss him). He’s going to Cairo (not to camp, emphatically not to live in a tent). But he does have a recommendation

The swashbuckling, fencing female Thanatologist (student of death) Catronia Hartdegan who is going to be a lot of fun and knows quite a bit about Dracula. Well this world’s version. She does connect him to Tepes – only in Penny Dreadful she says he was a man who CAUSED the war between the Ottomans and Holy Roman Empire so he could have lots and lots of blood to feast on

I rather think there may be some Romanians who would be quite annoyed about that, given how ferociously Vlad thought to defend Wallachia from the Ottoman Empire (AND the control of German nobles for that matter).

She also has some advice (after saying “oh yes, let’s get this vampire!” Because they’re going to be so much fun) – she needs to not be isolated. She needs friends around her. Which is a nuisance since all her friends are leaving the continent.

That leaves her with Dr. Seward who is an awesome drinking friend (and reveals some more of her history and her abusive husband she duly murdered – and how she understands how essential it is to both of them to be independent). She points out that Vanessa needs to get out there if she wants friends and not to be isolated which, unfortunately, directs Vanessa back to Dr. Sweet – Dracula.

She tries to keep him informed, telling him all about the supernatural monster who is stalking her and how dangerous it could be. Oh Vanessa, she tried. He turns it round saying both that hr will fight to protect her AND that blood sucking monsters of the night are just how god made them and are totally sympathetic guys

He words it a bit more ornately than that. Because it’s Penny Dreadful and beautiful and gothic and glorious. Because above everything else, Penny Dreadful is beautiful.

Duly convinced, Vanessa has sex with Dracula – and aie it’s slightly heartbreaking. Poor Vanessa setting herself up for more pain. Less pain, more Catronia and Vanessa shenanigans!

Speaking of eternal pain – we have John Smith visit his son, comfort him in his sickness and the little boy gasps that his dad is an angel… and his mum’s friend said the angels would come for him sooon.


And then he sees his caring father… and screams in terror

ALL THE ANGST. All of it! Shovel that angst with a shovel