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Penny Dreadful - Series Finale - Review + Season and Series Review & POLL

21 Jun 2016

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And so we have reached "The End." An unexpected series finale that in some parts felt a tad bit rushed, but can all be ultimately forgiven for what was a heartbreaking and fitting conclusion.

That opening credits first of all was absolutely haunting and spine tingling. It really captured the essence of Penny Dreadful and seemed oddly final, before being confirmed by the end credits.

'Perpetual Night' and 'The Blessed Dark' saw Ethan, Sir Malcolm, and Kaetenay returning to a London overcome by sickly fog to rescue Ms. Ives. Not enough time was given to Ethan and Vanessa over the course of the series, thus the inevitable reunion did not have the impact it should and could have. In season 1 they were, for the most part, separated by their respective affectations for other persons. In season 2, their own personal demons kept them apart, and now this year they were divided by borders. For this very reason their relationship throughout the series has been rather tragic and heartbreaking due to them not finding time together, but this constant separation also made it hard for the viewer to feel any sort of connection to the fated couple. The chemistry just wasn't there because they were not given enough time to build it.

The true emotional backbone for this series was the deep friendship between Ms. Ives and John Clare. Two broken souls who have been shunned for contrasting reasons, yet they relate to each other in such a profound way. It was thus a fitting final sequence before cutting to black to see the Creature sombrely touching the grave of his dearest friend. Him reciting Wordsworth's Imitations of Immortality added such heartbreak to the events unfolding at the end.

The finale was not without its flaws. In particular, there were one too many coincidences occurring for the sake of narrative fulfillment. The full moon just happening to be on the evening Ethan is ambushed by the vampires was way too coincidental. Nevertheless, it led to quite a riveting scene that saw werewolf Chandler tearing a new one into the vampires, followed by grey wolf Kaetenay joining the fray, who is later revealed to be the one that turned Ethan.

Another coincidence was Frankenstein just happening to be in the room next to where Sir Malcolm and co. were interrogating Renfield, and then exiting at the same time as them. The good doctor joining the final battle was great to see, but it felt rushed, some time was needed to integrate him back into the team.

The new additions to the cast shone in this finale. It was great to see Catriona Hartdegen getting in on the action. All the "who are you's?" added some levity and humour to this dark finale and it is too bad we only had just a couple episodes to explore her character. More seasons are needed just for more Catriona! Even a spinoff involving her character could be interesting.

Another great addition to the cast was Dr. Seward. It was surprising to see her involved in the final battle and her line, "I'm a New Yorker," in response to Sir Malcolm's inquiry of if she can handle herself was classic.

Some of the side stories added depth to the proceedings of these episodes. The end of Dorian's storyline concluded as it should have, with him finding himself alone in his house - such is the misery of being immortal.

We also saw Brona's heart wrenching monologue about her past life and the tragedy involving her daughter and why she is the way she is. Frankenstein's response, "it is too easy being monsters, let us try to be human," as he released her chains was one of the more resonant quotes spoken in these two hours.

The only thing missing was the humour of Mr. Lyle. Did they have to make him go to Egypt before the finale? He should have been there at her funeral, it just felt incomplete.

Overall, the episode ended this series the right way. Ms. Ives had endured such pain and inner turmoil for her to live on - there was no happiness left for her in the world and her death was the peace she needed. Ethan and Malcolm, two men who saw their families ripped apart, found the family they both sought in eachother. Who knows what the future holds for the Creature, Lily, and Frankenstein, but there is a sense that their experiences helped them find a peace of mind and a better sense of self.

This entire series was handled with such grace and beauty, and the finale and how it ended was no different. All the little touches from the opening credits to the Wordsworth poem at the end, all helped to make a very complete episode and conclusion.


Season and Series in Review:

The season took a risk with separating Ethan from the rest of the team and expanding into America. This risk paid off as we got some much needed, deep exploration of Ethan Chandler and his background. His separate storyline allowed Hectate to shine as a devil on his shoulder, wonderfully portrayed by Sarah Greene.

Season 3 also saw separate storylines involving Dorian and Lily, Frankenstein and Dr. Jekyll, and The Creature. Some parts of these storylines felt uneven and did drag in certain episodes, but they also helped hone in on their respective characters, leading to some profound character moments, Lily's monologues come to mind.

Among our new additions to the cast only one, the character of Dr. Jekyll, was weak. He felt more like a plot device that was only there to give Frankenstein someone to talk to. However, Patti Lupone, Wes Studi, and Perdita Weeks really shone as Dr. Seward, Catriona Hartdegan, and Kaetenay, respectively.

In fact, my only qualm was that the season brought us these three very intriguing characters only to reveal that the series has ended. There is so much left to explore for these trio of individuals and it is a shame that we will never get to see those stories told.

Season 3 also delivered some fantastic episodes. 'A Blade of Grass' in particular showed us the incredible acting of Eva Green that, along with the ambitious writing of the episode, gave us a harrowing portrait of someone enduring extreme mental distress.

With regards to the series, there is a lot of great television out there, but Penny Dreadful was more than that, it was an experience. An experience full of heartbreak, tragedy, terror, and through it all, hope. The show had a knack to grab your emotions and wrench it anyway which way it pleased, and it was able to express those emotions with such profound beauty and grace. The ending was too soon, but at least it told a complete story.

How did you think season 3 compared to seasons 1 and 2? Sad to see Penny Dreadful end? Vote on the season in the poll below and share your thoughts below!

About the Author - Kollin Lore
Kollin is an entertainment writer and a film and television, in particular genre TV, freak having grown up during the 90s and early 2000s a dedicated fan of Buffy and Angel. Current shows like Person of Interest, Supernatural, Ripper Street, Penny Dreadful, Grimm, The Blacklist, Game of Thrones, and dozens of other shows are currently occupying Kollin’s nightly hours.
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