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Penny Dreadful – Predators Far and Near – Review

Normally the second episode of a season doesn’t excited me as much as the first, but this week’s Penny Dreadful is an exception. Perhaps it’s the way the show is delving in to each of our protagonist’s stories, or the fact that Penny Dreadful is taking time to expand on so many plots, while at the same time giving them each their due. Either way, I’m much more intrigued and invested than I was with the season opener. I’m still not wholly impressed the newest threat to Vanessa, but the reveal at the end of the episode promises to make things a bit more interesting.

Ethan Chandler is a character whose backstory we’ve yearned for for the past two seasons. While I was not excited initially for Penny Dreadful to take the leap across the pond to the West, the idea of these American tales playing against the European horror we’ve already seen is becoming more appealing. I’m ready to learn how Ethan became someone who is so pardoned with purpose, to learn the secrets of his werewolf condition. I’m also looking forward to the reunion between Ethan and Sir Malcom, which seems to be the first and most inevitable meeting of characters we will see on the show. Slowly, all our protagonist are being drawn back together once again. I am curious and a bit leery at what Hecate is up to. Can we consider her friend or foe?

Vanessa’s recovery continues to be the high point in the episodes for me, with the developing mysteries of Dr. Jekyll in a close second. But we’ll talk about that in a minute. Penny Dreadful is deconstructing Vanessa Ives before our eyes and it is fascinating to see her scenes with Dr. Seward. It breaks my heart since Vanessa appears to be taking to her treatment quite well and improving when we know a new danger is both figuratively and literally lurking in the shadows. I am intrigued by Penny Dreadful’s take on Dr. Seward. They are breathing interesting life into the Dracula character. Often Dr. Seward is not a strong stand out character in portrayals of the Dracula story. This version is a mystery to me. What is her connection to the Cut Wife, or is there even one at all? Could this be Vanessa projecting the image of someone she trusts on this new ally? Only time will tell, but the more we see of Dr. Seward the more entranced I am in Patti LuPone’s performance. Her direct, brusque manner is a refreshing contrast to the more roundabout methods of communication our protagonists normally employ. And even without words, her reactions and actions speak loudly and leaves me questioning her motives. This is a fine addition to Penny Dreadful.

Dr. Jekyll is another excellent addition to the cast. I’m glad we finally got around to seeing him and enjoy his shared past with Dr. Frankenstein. The detail that Jekyll works in Bedlam, an asylum whose name has become synonymous with chaos, is apt. Jekyll is about bringing order to the darker desires of man and I think we shan’t be disappointed in what Penny Dreadful has to offer in their interpretation of this character. I’m not a huge fan of how he tells Frankenstein he can “tame” Lily though. That choice of words doesn’t sit right with me. I can’t wait to see what Jekyll’s transformation into Hyde will be like. In most other adaptations, it’s the same actor using make up and a change in motion and speech to convey the animalistic Mr. Hyde. We saw a small preview of just how changed a person can be under the influence of Dr. Jekyll’s serum, so I greatly look forward to how this show, which always brings such chilling visuals, will portray this character. One final note, Dr. Jekyll’s lab is now my favorite set on Penny Dreadful. I believe I called it “sumptuously macabre” on Twitter. It’s a blend of laboratory and study, all bathed in the soft blue glow of whatever abominations the good doctor is cooking up. It just looks great on screen and is such a contrast to the drab, cluttered apartment Dr. Frankenstein lives in.

Lily and Dorian have finally returned and in doing so ratcheted up the gore factor for this season. There was something so satisfying seeing them work in sync to murder a room full of rich perverts. It was as if they were dancing. They seem to be the most content characters on Penny Dreadful now, though what plans they have for the new addition to their household are beyond me. It was as if Lily was rescuing a past version of herself. Will this girl be the only one they take in, or is there more in store? With Lily and Dorian, I would love to see them in every episode and yet it worked that we only got a glimpse or two into their activities as opposed to a much stricter focus. Lily’s conflict with Frankenstein will not end well though and while that’s to be expected, I’m not looking forward to their final confrontation.

And finally, Dr. Sweet. I was actually taken by surprise at the reveal at the end of this episode; the possibility that he was Dracula only occurred to me moments before the camera panned up. While I’m still not entirely invested in another foray with vampires, the idea the Dr. Sweet is the predator that is near to Vanessa is interesting. Their budding friendship and romance was sweet (pun intended) to watch, particularly the scene at the movies. Vanessa took such care in choosing the activity, she’s growing and healing, but this will all end in tears which now casts a new light on their interactions.

It feels as if our protagonists are forever locked in their web of intrigue which spins them closer and closer to reuniting. I look forward to what is next in this season. Season two and the addition of the witches set such a high bar for me, but I’m already sensing great things with Dr. Jekyll and Dr. Seward, among other elements, that I am quite looking forward to how the rest of season three plays out.

Tune in next week for “Good and Evil Braided Be”!

About the Author – Ashley B
Ashley is as serious as a sleeping curse when she says television is her life. Professional event planner, avid movie viewer, convention enthusiast, and resident sass master, Ashley writes reviews for ABC's Once Upon a Time, Once Upon a Time in Wonderland, and Galavant, as well as Showtime’s Penny Dreadful. She looks forward each week to the weird and wonderful world her favorite television programs provide.
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