Series Issues: Penny Dreadful captures the Ebb Tide

Spoilers might steal you in the night.

(Source: Showtime)

(Source: Showtime)

Usually it’s a good thing when I don’t know where the show it’s going, but this week’s latest developments are not particularly hopeful. Renfield is fast becoming the least likeable character in the show, the way he was creeping around Vanessa. Don’t worry, Dracula goes full Darth-Vader-choke on his neck past this scene. With that, it seems that Alexander Sweet was firmly implanted in Vanessa’s blindspot until a conversation with Catriona Hartdegen brings up a literal reference to the house of the creatures of the night that Dr. Sweet used last week. But we’re jumping ahead. The creature is back. After a conversation with Vanessa, learns that he used to be an orderly. He has no recollection of that (perhaps for the best) but he does recall his family which he’s reluctant to join. Vanessa steers him in the right direction.

We also get Kaetenay straight up mind-melding with Vanessa to warn her of the impending danger. Actually, he does more than that and flat out lets her know she’s a literal lightning rod for the apocalypse in less than kind words. “Great fertile bitch of evil,” was the expression used. Kaetenay needs to work a bit on his approach. Now he’s fully on board with Sir Malcolm Murray and Ethan Chandler (we’re calling him Chandler again, I guess) returning to London to rescue Vanessa Ives from her fate.

(Source: Showtime)

(Source: Showtime)

Back in the house of Gray, Dorian is downright miserable as Lily works up her female fighting force into a frenzy. Dorian is less than enchanted by Justine, who is the only one that seems to see him only to antagonize him. Dorian is downright hostile to her, challenging her to bring our her claws. It’s obvious that Dorian is no longer on board. As Lily and Dorian take a walk alone, ugly truths are revealed and in a much more planned move than the previous pitiful attempt, Lily finds herself drugged and captured. When she comes to, she’s in the dreaded chair at Dr. Jekyll’s lab at the asylum. She’s in the clutches of Dr. Frankenstein, but her hatred is fully directed at a smirking Dorian. While Victor is doing this out of an delusional idea of love which is more like obsession, Dorian Gray has gleefully betrayed Lily out of spite. I’m not quite sure what Henry Jekyll’s motivation is here, perhaps scientific curiosity without morals. The more chilling phrase comes from Dr. Frankenstein, “we’re going to turn you into a proper woman.”

(Source: Showtime)

(Source: Showtime)

After the conversation with Catrina, Vanessa has figured out that her dear Dr. Sweet must be none other than Dracula. What she finds is a mirror image than what Lily has with Victor. Victor wants Lily to be changed into his idea of what she should be, regardless of what her feelings or desires are on the subject. Dracula says he wants Vanessa to be what she really is, not what doctors and society deems she should be. But while Lily is forcefully imprisoned against her will, Vanessa is being made slave of her own desire for a person. Lily didn’t chose Dr. Frankenstein. Vanessa seeked out Dr. Seward. Lily has embraced who she is, who she wants to be. Vanessa seeks to rid herself of past influences and scars that prevent her to be who she is. Is Vanessa Ives freely giving in to Dracula or is her mind clouded? Is she submitting to her own passions or his?


  • Despite the supernatural aspects of this show, which are plenty, there’s always a baseline that seems to go back to identity and a discovery of the self. Vanessa Ives has a complex relationship with her own psyche which always seems to be borderline between good and evil. More important than that, her view of the world seems to be always skewed by someone else’s. Being completely alone becomes such a crippling fear that she’s willing to accept the company of monsters.
  • Lily on the other hand, is a woman who has accepted who she is without any entanglements. However, she has a stalker in Victor who claims to know what’s better for her. For this and other matters, Dr. Victor Frankenstein might be the scariest monster in the show. And yet, that self delusion of thinking you can bend the universe and the will of people to fill your own mould is way too familiar. A genius in the art of reanimation and electricity but a self-absorbed teenage boy in matters of the heart make a dangerous combination.
  • Are we going to see a conclusion for Lily vs. Victor? We’ve seen this devolve into victim and stalker. Could we have Victor actually grow up and let go of his obsession? The wrong show for that. More than likely now is that Lily will break out of Victor’s hold and murder him.
  • The movement. Has it really lost focus? Is Lily releasing a bunch of female avengers or just starting a murderous cult? Did it ever had a chance of being a kick in the pants of a conservative chauvinistic society or was it doomed to become a group of delusional followers out for blood? It does seem like there is an underbelly of London that delights itself in abusing and torturing women. If so, that’s an enemy worth fighting.
  • I must say I’m extremely disappointed. We’re not going to use any of the vampire’s lore? No stakes? No mirrors? Sunlight? Nothing? Sorry, that was heartbreaking to hear. At least Dracula still has fangs.
  • Okey cards on the table. Are we going to get Mr. Hyde or not? Is that something we’re leaving for next season?

That will do for now.

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