Series Issues: Penny Dreadful 2×9 – And Hell Itself My Only Foe

(Source: Showtime)

(Source: Showtime)

Spoilers will come in the night.

The best laid schemes of mice and men oft go awry in this week’s Penny Dreadful 2×9: And Hell Itself My Only Foe. If at this point you don’t know that spoilers are about to jump at you, please stay away from mirrors. It’s time to throw caution to the wind and just face the enemy. Let’s get into it, shall we?

First, we deal with one leftover nuisance as Roper the Pinkerton tracks down Ethan Chandler. There’s a messy showdown between him, Ethan and Vanessa Ives. This is a bit of a dirty fight in which all take hits but eventually Roper gets his comeuppance. He’s not the only one getting what has been coming to him in this episode, but before we get to that our duo needs to get back to London. Dr. Frankenstein shows up, carriage and all, to bring them back home and help rescue Sir Malcolm.

It’s never that easy though. As much as everyone is itching to load up and storm the castle (it’s literally a castle, folks) it’s time for Sembene to be the voice of reason and make sure that they reconvene for doing this in the daylight. Actually, it’s also the episode where Sembene gets the most lines. I’m so glad that he’s there to bring everyone’s tempers down and notch because it would be foolish to raid the place during nighttime. Right, Vanessa? Vanessa… Goddammit, is that freaking steel door just for show?

But before we go raid 666 Devil’s Lane, let’s check in with John Clare because… Well, basically we finally see one development at Putney’s Wax Museum. The creature gets swindled by a blind girl and a poetry book into walking into an open cell with the door firmly closed beside his ugly mug. Show of hands, who saw this one coming all season and knew that everything in between was just filler? Yeap. I can’t really feel empathy for Mr. Poetry here. Yes, Lavinia found all her conversations regarding poetry dreadful. We could really have skipped over every single scene of the two yapping about and just ended here four episodes ago. The rest of the Putney clan even shows up to gloat.

Back at Dorian’s Lily is trying to discover what secrets he keeps from her. Turns out he calls her out by her previous name, Brona. To this point, I’m not 100% sure she remembers being Brona, although it does seem she knows she was someone else. So she goes full body contact on Dorian in what looks like a passionate romp, becomes a choking hold that threatens to be murderous. At this time Dorian states he can’t be killed, so Lily goes Mike Tyson and bites part of his ear off. The whole idea, is she wants to see him regenerate. It doesn’t appear she does, as Dorian later reappears behind the painting having left Lily outside. It does seem like Lily might have chosen a new partner for world domination.

But let’s go back to the main storyline. In case everyone needs a breather, the Nightcomers / Witches are actually enticing them to come. It’s not going in that will be the issue, it will be coming out. Ethan gets an advanced preview when Hecate appears to offer him a deal, already expecting her mother to go down in flames. So to speak. Or perhaps literally. Anyhow, Hecate does know how to make an appearance… and even better how to make an exit.

Vanessa’s flown the coup. She can’t really leave Sir Malcolm to his own devices. I empathize, but this is close to suicide. She enters the castle alone while the rest of the team is just discovering her disappearance. Vanessa demands to see Malcolm. Instead, Evelyn Poole takes her to meet her facsimile, a puppet that opens her eyes and calls her murderer. Also, I am not sleeping a wink tonight. Can we really stop it with the creepy puppets?

Meanwhile, the fearless vampire killers turned witch hunters cross the gate and decide to split up while I scream NOPE NOPE NOPE at my screen. Up front, it’s Lyle and Victor. Going through the back, it’s Sembene and Ethan. Shouldn’t the strongest fighters go in front… Ok, nevermind. The witches leave the doors open and then trap Sembene and Ethan inside the tower steps. Victor finds Malcolm but the door slams shut behind him as the other Nightcomer grabs Lyle. To add insult to injury, Ethan turns into a wolf as Sembene refuses to kill him.

Meanwhile, Victor tries to shake Malcolm away from the ghosts that torment him but Malcolm sees Peter in his place. The young physician is not immune to the effects of the room, as soon enough his own demons appear before him. It’s Caliban, Lily and a surprise appearance by Proteus as Dr. Frankenstein finds himself scared out of his own mind in a demonic version of Scrooge.

Highs/Lows

  • PUPPETS. Holy fuck. And they talk now. Goodbye, sleep.
  • I think most of the dirty fighters in Game of Thrones would have approved of the fight between Roper and Vanessa and Ethan. It’s clumsy, messy and everyone gets hurt. The numbers win in the end but only because Vanessa doesn’t really go down even after being hit in the face.
  • Malcolm rushed in. Vanessa rushes in. The rest of the gang rushes in. Everyone gets captured. I guess there was never a plan on the good side. Instead, this goes exactly as Evelyn predicted.
  • Hecate seems to be ready to replace Evelyn in perfect Sith-like fashion. Could she become a wild card that our heroes can use? I don’t really see it, but it’s really hard to read what her intentions are.
  • Did I mention puppets… Ok, ok, sorry.
  • The scene with John Clare / Caliban / Creepy Mr. Mild Mannered Monster Who Treats Women as Property didn’t really make me empathize for him. Not that I really root for the Putneys either. Are we supposed to hate Lavinia and therefore not condemn Caliban when he chokes her or leaves her to die in a fire or some other scene in which we excuse her murder because she wasn’t a helpless fawn? No. I really hope it doesn’t go down like that but then again that’s what I say right before it does.
  • The scene where Lyle accepts the really small gun. Priceless.
  • There was something of a cry for help in that scene where Victor drugs himself while talking to Vanessa. It’s like she has zero judgement and complete empathy for him, but also the mercy of a sister for a younger brother. I can’t quite explain it, but it was a beautiful scene. Victor is a monster himself in many ways, but very human in a sociopathic yet familiar way in others.
  • Sembene gets some exposition, but a slave trader? I get they wanted a dark past for him to run from.
  • Speaking about dark pasts, I didn’t mention Inspector Bartholomew Rusk confronting Ethan yet again. He also has discovered his real last name, Talbot, and a sordid past from which he threatens to produce evidence to put him behind bars. As a few other sites have mention, Talbot is the same last name as the first werewolf character on the film The Wolf Man.

That will do for now.

(Source: Showtime)

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