Review: Penny Dreadful ep 8: Grand Guignol

Posted: November 12, 2014 in gothic, horror, television, Uncategorized, victorian
Tags: , , , , , , , ,

grand guignol

Sitting at a parlor table, Vanessa tells Sir Malcolm that the images she has recently seen took place in the theater in which she watched a play.  “I believe Mina is trying to get out.”

To this, Sir Malcolm responds he hopes this time they might be lucky.

“And if we are not?”

Sir Malcolm promises to try to save Mina- if not, he will end her suffering.

Understandably, Vanessa doesn’t seem convinced that he will be able to kill his own daughter.

“And will that bring you peace?”

“Don’t be foolish.  It doesn’t suit you.”   He rises, and before leaving the room, informs her to call in the others.

So thus begins the season finale of Penny Dreadful

It is only fitting the last episode should culminate at the Grand Guignol- that famous theater of bloody delights.  Right, the Victorians were sooo prudish.  Can we finally dispose of that myth once and for all?

#

Mr. Gray comes by to see Miss Ives.  As he notices her tarot cards, he asks if she might tell his future.

“I’m not sure if you have one.”

“Everyone has a future.”

“No not everyone.” She studies him carefully.  “Some only have a past.”

#

Chandler holds Brona’s hand as he prays for her.  When he leaves her home, he is followed by two men.  One of whom is told to be patient, to enjoy the hunt…

#

Sir Malcolm comes across Madam Kali while shopping.  She who seems very interested in how Vanessa is doing… Now, of course, this might be natural curiosity.  After all, it’s not every day you see a woman become possessed and spew out obscenities at a dinner party…yet I’d wager a bet there is more to just that behind her questioning.  And when Sir Malcolm says he hopes to see her again, she replies that she is sure that they will.

Innocent flirting, or is there something cryptic behind those words?

#

Meanwhile, Caliban is watching his favorite actress practice a scene with her boyfriend.  When he has trouble with the props, Simon threatens not work there anymore as long as the monster is employed.  While his anger at being left hanging from the rafters is understandable, his insults border on the abusive, and when Maude returns to apologize for the oaf’s behavior- and kisses Caliban’s forehead- I was definitely wondering if that accident might plant a murderous seed inside of him.

caliban and maude

However, the moment he walked into Maude’s dressing room, I correctly began to fear for her life.

“You shouldn’t be in here.”

“Simon does.”

Oh, so that gives you the right?  Uh huh…

It’s pretty obvious what is about to ensue.  And yup, within the next few moments, Caliban’s near sexual assualt becomes almost a murder when he nearly chokes her to death.   Thankfully, he possesses at least a tiny morsel of morality- and stomps away.

#

Vanessa meets Dorian Gray at their botanical garden where she confesses there is a connection between them but it is too dangerous.  “That very intimacy released something unhealthy in me.  Something I can not allow.”  Gray, thinking she is merely afraid of her sexual desires tries to ease her fears, but she tells him goodbye.  As she walks away, he wipes a tear, which he looks at in wonder.

Vanessa and Gray

#

Caliban seeks refuge with Dr. Frankenstein who understandably refuses to forgive him for the murder of Van Helsing.  In a rare moment of self-reflection, Caliban notes his monstrosity has shifted from without to within.  “This shattered image only reflects the abomination that is my heart…I would rather be the corpse I was, than the man I am.”  He shuts his eyes, telling his father to pull the trigger which he cannot.

chandler and his hunters

Will the doctor come to rue this decision?

Before we can muse further upon this, Chandler arrives to say he needs his help and brings him to the dying Brona. As she admits her fears, the Doctor tries to reassure her that she’s only going to walk through a different door.  That there is a place between heaven and earth, a place of salvation but if she wants to go there, there is a price.  And as she stares at him in confusion, he lifts a pillow and smothers her breath.

“I’m sorry,” he says when Chandler returns to the room.  “It is over.”  And as Chandler breaks into sobs, he promises to take care of the body.

#

Poor Chandler doesn’t have much time to mourn before his hunters meet up with him at a tavern, announcing that his father misses him.

#

While Chandler escapes from their clutches, he has no time to rest as he meets with Sir Malcolm, Sambene, and Vanessa.  Together, the group head to the theater.

Inside they are attacked by more of those blonde vampiresses who vanish when a male vamp is killed by Sir Malcolm.

“Vanessa.”

They turn as Mina comes out from hiding.

“Mina.”

The best friends embrace, but the joyous moment is short-lived.  Mina’s eyes darken and she twists Vanessa around.  “You’ve brought her to me.  Good job, father.”

When Chandler makes a move, she warns him not to try anything.  “You don’t have a role in this play.”

Sir Malcolm begs his daughter to remember who she is, but she insists this is who she was meant to be.  “You will understand when you join the Master.  When you all join him.  And now that he has his bride, they will sire generations.”

In a moment which shocks Vanessa, Sir Malcolm chooses her, after all.  Shooting Mina dead, he announces he already has a daughter.

Mina shot

Meanwhile, father Frankenstein brings Brona’s corpse to Caliban…

While Chandler unleashes his hidden self…

And Vanessa enters a church, seeking an exorcism.

final thoughts:

Much played out as I expected, which is fine. Just entertain me. I don’t need twists for the sake of twists. Surprises are fun, but let them be organic, not put into a script just to say, “gotya.”

And entertain, Penny Dreadful did.

Was this season all it could be? No, as mentioned, at times it did feel a bit too restrained, a bit too afraid to put that heart on the sleeve. But the acting, scripts, direction, and art direction was all top-notch and the show definitely captured the feeling of a Victorian Gothic.

– am disappointed to see Mina killed off so quickly. Definitely wanted to see more of her storyline. Seems a waste to end it so abruptly. But I suppose there’s always a chance she could be brought back, and the Master is still out there…

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Comments
  1. This was really really a good episode.For me it was really sad because everyone lost someone. A lover, a daughter, love, and the possibility of love. Well played out. That every story need to have a down time as well as a climax to heighten back the viewer attention.

  2. I also don’t mind the quiet ending for the reason you stated, but feel there should have been some more oomph in the fight before that.

    But still, an excellent ep! 🙂

  3. Stephen Thom says:

    I had not heard of this show, I will look it up. I am a bit addicted to the X Files again these days. How is your writing going tasha? Do you have any more short stories? Ps. I read a short book called The Well by Elizabeth Jolley recently, apparently it is a modern Australian classic, very dark new-gothic psychological type book, you might like 🙂

  4. Hi Stephen!

    Always so nice to hear from you. I haven’t written any other short stories as am concentrating on my novel writing. Thanks for asking!

    And thanks also for the book suggestion. I’ll definitely look that up. 🙂

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