Season 2, Episode 10
Air Date: Sunday, July 5, 2015, 10PM E/P on Showtime
“…In my most frightened and lonely moments, you were there. And such light you brought to me, but I am made for the dark as we both know…your road may be difficult, but mine is doomed; so we walk alone.” – Ethan
The climax to last week’s penultimate episode, “And Hell Itself My Only Foe,” comes hard and fast in Penny Dreadful’s game changing season two finale, “And They Were Enemies.” While I would have preferred the conclusion to the ultimate face-off between Vanessa (Eva Green) and her devil possessed doppelgänger doll to last a little longer, I appreciate the way series creator and writer John Logan ties things up swiftly. This allows him to utilize the remaining 45 minutes of “And They Were Enemies” to set up what can best be described as a cryptic third season to come. Our adventures, Vanessa, Sir Malcolm (Timothy Dalton), Ethan Chandler (Josh Hartnett), Victor Frankenstein (Harry Treadaway), and Ferdinand Lyle (Simon Russell Beale), must continue “moving forward,” and some must go on their journey alone.
After last week’s phenomenal penultimate episode, I was quite anxious to see what the finale would hold. As I began watching, the build-up of anticipation continued to mount within me and as if by surprise, the conclusion to the confrontation with Vanessa, her doll, and Evelyn (Helen McCrory) hit like a lightning bolt – fiercely fast and fleeting. I had to pause and rewind the episode to make sure I actually saw what I saw. Not that it wasn’t good; it was amazing, but like any hot and heavy summer romance, the moment doesn’t last long enough.
It’s no secret I have a crush, so to speak, on Penny Dreadful. From Logan to the entire cast, I am completely smitten and crave watching these fantastic characters in my living room each week. The intensity of the showdown between Vanessa and the doll took my breath away. As Vanessa chants, the doll chants. Seeing the doll’s mouth moving, hearing Vanessa’s voice coming out of it is eerie and surreal. Green does a resplendent job throughout “And They Were Enemies.” The emotions in this particular scene range from confusion, anger, distrust, curiosity, and sadness to a reckoning within Vanessa to accept and own who she is. It’s an absolute brilliant performance that I hope will be richly recognized come award season.
While I don’t want to spoil anything for those who haven’t seen the episode, I want to reflect on something I noted in my review of last week’s episode that has to do with John Clare’s (Rory Kinnear) strength. Although I didn’t anticipate how John would escape his cage, I knew there would be an awesome display of his unnatural brute strength. Although John has physical strength, this isn’t the side of him that surprised me in “And They Were Enemies.” In a scene with Vanessa, John shows a sort of strength that doesn’t require muscles. It is such a poignant moment; I was nearly in tears, empathizing with John as he and Vanessa exchange farewells. Both his physical and emotional abilities seem to be a revelation to John as well. Kinnear does a stellar job of instilling the immortal creature with a sense of humanity. As Vanessa eloquently puts it, “You are the most human man I’ve ever known.” Indeed.
Not all our adventurers fare so well. As you know, we lost the great Sembene (Danny Sapani) in last week’s “And Hell Itself My Only Foe.” While Ethan didn’t know what he was doing, he blames himself for what happened. Perhaps this guilt is what propels Ethan’s actions in “And They Were Enemies.” The look on Inspector Rusk’s (Douglas Hodge) face reeks of ill-gotten satisfaction. There is something about Rusk that doesn’t sit well with me and what he does with Ethan sets my teeth on edge.
One of the more disarming scenes in this season finale takes place inside Dorian’s (Reeve Carney) home. As he and Lily (Billie Piper) dance in circles wearing white formal attire, I began to wonder if Victor stepped into another enchanted room, living out his worst fears as he did in Evelyn’s house. The hurt on Victor’s face when Lily finally reveals her secret borders on the kind of pain one feels when learning a loved one has died. What transpires within this scene bewilders me still, and I can only hope it will be clarified next season.
They say the devil promises you things your heart most desires. A so-called “normal” life for Vanessa seems to be so tempting; I truly thought this finale would end differently. Seeing Vanessa so happy kind of threw me off. I’m not saying I don’t want her to be happy but the picturesque scene with Vanessa, Ethan, and the children isn’t my idea of a fairytale life; although seeing Vanessa and Ethan together did make me smile. The use of light colors in their clothing adds such a great contrast to the darkness of not just the episode, but the series itself. White and beige are symbols of purity or rebirth while the rich burgundy tones, deep purples, and shades of black represent all manner of sin and depravity, and are expertly used throughout “And They Were Enemies.” I must give a huge round of applause to the make-up and costuming departments for their excellent work throughout the entire season.
“And They Were Enemies” not only perfectly concludes the events of the entire season, but sets up what should be an interesting third season. Perhaps we’ll see a bit of Ethan’s roots back in America and possibly a bit of Sir Malcolm’s time in Africa as he lays his friend Sembene to rest. The one aspect I’m hoping to see is Vanessa saving Ethan from himself. The guilt Ethan feels will be his downfall unless Vanessa can rescue him in time. I wonder where John will end up and whether he’ll reunite with Lily. Now that Dorian is in the picture, I’m not sure how this strange love triangle will pan out.
Let me know what you think of “And They Were Enemies.” Leave me a comment below or tweet me @judybopp. Looking forward to hearing from you.
Penny Dreadful will return in 2016 for a third season, only on Showtime.
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© 2015 – 2016, Judy Manning. All rights reserved.
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