Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Penny Dreadful, Season 3, Episode 9: The Blessed Dark

This is the end…

The end of Penny Dreadful


We’re ending here?!

No no no NO!

This cannot end here. This cannot be the ending. I refuse to let this incredibly beautiful show end. I refuse to let it end so… disappointingly.

I shall begin with the good – because if this is my last chance to say it then I must: this show is beautiful. The settings are gorgeous, the atmosphere unparalleled, the acting unsurpassed, the music perfectly chosen – every scene is a work of art; a work of pure beautiful art. Every line is a poem, every last moment of this show was crafted to perfection. It was a joy to watch.

This show certainly laid the groundwork for that with devastating tragedy – opening with a grief stricken song and the inevitable awful death of Joh Clare’s son. It’s fitting this episode begins with this death and, at the close of the episode, we see him lower his son’s body into the Thames: despite his wife begging him to take the boy to Frankenstein to be reborn like him. John’s self hatred cannot let him be happy, cannot let him follow a clear path to happiness – he sees no hope or happy ending only more tragedy

And isn’t that Penny Dreadful through and through? Beautiful and tragic. No happy endings here.

So no-one getting a happy ending? Yes, I could see that. That’s the essence of this show. Everything being so sad and grim with its ending isn’t what is disappointing – it’s the anti-climax, it’s the fizzle and it’s the wasted potential.

Waste potential the first: Dorian and Lily. While Dorian FINALLY pulls off the jaded immortal with a rather epic speech that truly encompasses the cost of immortality and with a nice reference to his portrait. It’s a good speech but it’s far too damn late after a season of whiny petulance. Lily reacts to Justine’s death and all her minions fled by… walking away. Her whole revolution is just a footnote in Dorian’s story of jaded immortality! It’s not even Lily’s story any more.

Disappointment the second – After making a few references to Jekyll’s attempt to get into high society which would have been interesting if this show had spent more than 2 seconds trying to develop this story, Victor leaves him (why is Jekyll so invested in Victor and Lily anyway?) oh and Jekyll has inherited his father’s title so he’s now Lord Hyde. Yes, that’s the story of Jekyll and Hyde.

They gang finally gathers together to find Dracula, with Dr. Seward hypnotising Renfield with the horrifying revelation of just how horrendously underused she and Catriana have been (we spent those episodes following Ethan around the wild west for this?!). Using her excellence they manage to track down Dracula through the creepiest of creepy surroundings until they face off against him and his minions

Awesome fight scene commence! And yes, it’s awesome and yes Catriana has been really really really badly underused

The minions die easily… Dracula not so much. He merrily knocks the whole group around while Ethan sneaks through his catacombs to find Vanessa

There we have, of course, a beautiful touching scene of Vanessa and her lost faith… not just in god but in herself. She can see only one way out of it – pointing out all the darkness was caused not by Dracula, but by her. She asks Ethan to kill her and in, yes, a beautiful scene, they kiss, they pray and he shoots her.

Vanessa is dead. Dracula flees. The Day is saved. Penny Dreadful is over

Penny Dreadful is over with Vanessa’s death

Her 3 seasons of solid torment and suffering ends with her death. Her three seasons of nothing but degradation and loss and desperate crawling for happiness ends in her death and the male characters’ grief. Vanessa dead, Lily fled and the men remaining standing – and grieving; the last ones left

Penny Dreadful could have done so much better and will now never have a chance to be more. Even as it closes in beautiful tragic poetry with everyone paying tribute to Vanessa, it is disappointing. The whole show closes on dead and defeated women, bit part, dead and barely used POC, LGBTQ people dead or used for brief (hey remember when Ethan kissed Dorian? Yeah we never ever mentioned that again) titillation or as code words for debauchery.

Penny Dreadful you deserved a better ending than this