Previously on Penny Dreadful, ‘And Hell Itself My Only Foe’
EthanWolf bangs at the door as Sembene lays dead in the stairs. Hecate peers through the archway to hear Vanessa’s simulacra wonder how many corpses she’ll leave in her wake. Vanessa asks, “And you speak for the fallen angel?” “Much the most gentle appellation you could give me, Beloved” But she must give her soul freely. Vanessa questions how Evelyn could believe the Father of Lies’ promises; Evelyn answers that Vanessa’s own actions betray her—using the Verbis Diablo, honing her midnight powers. She’s left God behind, so what’s ahead? Everlasting power to rule the darkness. Candelabra flickering between Vanessa, Evelyn, and the simulacra, the demon says, “There is no more powerful inducement to me than this: Know yourself.”
Victor’s creations force him to see his cruelty embodied in them: Proteus the lamb, Caliban’s abandonment, Lily’s abuse. “Don’t blame the children for the father’s cruelty.” He protests—“Conquering death is an ennobled calling.” Malcolm denies responsibility for the demise of his family. Yet, these memories, these creations, walk with their sin, haunting the twilight. The monsters press for atonement through the peace of suicide. “Walk into the river. Let it bring you quiet.” Mrs Murray hands Malcolm a gun, “the engines of the future,” and Caliban hands Victor a syringe to embrace his calling: “piercing the tissue between life and death.”
The demon offers Vanessa an old dream, the “engine of all creatures,” a glimpse at normalcy. She’s softer, in white. Two children, Clare and Charles, run in and fuss over their drawings. Ethan walks in wearing cream and offers to judge their children’s horse drawing. Under her loving gaze, he encourages her to send the kids to the park for an hour before tea with Mina and Jonathan. When the children return, he jovially declares the horse fat. Her smile fades, tears on her face, and she declares Lucifer cruel. “A kindness,” it protests.
Victor contemplates the needle, seated in the coffin surrounded by his monsters. “Be the man you are, Malcolm,” his wife pushes. Lucifer promises a life of peace with Ethan, death surrounded by family, and an eternity following by his side—the peace of being who she is. Vanessa leans to kiss its lips, then stops, no longer induced by normalcy. “I know what I am, do you?”
She retreats and growls, chanting; Lucifer counters. The room convulses. Evelyn’s works crash down into the pentagram as she screams. Vanessa and Lucifer’s curses synchronize. She grabs her counterpart, shattering the face under her fingertips and scorpions pour out. “Beloved. Know your master,” she finishes, crushing it. Evelyn’s face ages rapidly, and Hecate lets Ethan in for the slaughter—a single stroke, and Evelyn Poole is dead. Bloodied, the wolf approaches Vanessa, but recognition dawns. She reaches up to his face, but he rushes away.
The spell breaks for Malcolm and Victor. Witch 2 lifts Lyle high enough for him to reach his tiny pistol, and he shoots her: “Never underestimate the power of a queen with lovely hair, my dear.” Malcolm gathers Victor and Lyle, descending the stairs, and kills Witch 1.
A scorpion crawls over Vanessa’s shoulder into her hand, merging into her skin, her true nature incorporated. Malcolm finds her with Sembene’s body and he closes Sembene’s eyes.
The Putneys bring Caliban dinner. “I’m not made for screaming.” “Some scream, some cause others to scream, eh?” Putney brags on his new Harrods silk suit and proposes a partnership if Caliban eases the other freaks’ transition. “Go on,” Caliban urges, approaching. They offer more bribes, partial freedom for loyalty. “A father to all the other freaks. King of the freaks.”
At that, he rips open the doors, snaps Mrs. Putney’s neck, and bashes Mr. Putney’s face in. Lavinia comes looking, wondering if he’s sleeping. “You’re probably handsome in your dreams. I’ll bet you wish you could sleep every second. No such luck, you grotesque animal.” He leaves her calling for her parents, exiting as she screams.
The Unquiet Grave echoes through Poole’s estate. Hecate packs the simulacra tools and drops the triple candelabra, igniting the pentagram. The home explodes in flames.
In the carriage home, Lyle reminds Victor he wasn’t alone and asks him to keep his religion secret, the only remaining secret he must worry about. “Beneath these silken tresses, I have a good ear for listening, should you need one.” Victor finds his sad apartment empty, the white roses dead. He crushes one.
He breaks into Dorian’s, finding every candle lit and them waltzing in white. He begs Lily to come home. “I am home, darling.” Dorian shames him—Lily is too good for his tenement. He pulls a gun and they laugh condescendingly. Home to her “bed in the storm?” She mocks taking his virginity. Shocked, he shoots her left breast. “Please, Creator, you made me too well for that.” She’s always known. Dorian licks the blood. He shoots Dorian, who scoffs.The two immortals savor their ascendancy, deciding not to murder him. “Let him live with what he’s created, a master race. Soon he will kneel to us… Live with the knowledge of what you have spawned, and suffer.” He backs out, leaving them to waltz as blood pours down their white finery, puddling in swirls behind them.
Malcolm tells Vanessa that he’ll bury Sembene in his native earth, finally an excuse to return to Africa. Sembene was a proper man. Vanessa kisses his cheek, and he smiles, fatherly. Spent, she retires; Ethan waits by her window.
“You know what I am.”
“Yes, and here I stand.”
She takes his face in her hands, saying they should leave together. But he argues—he can’t walk away from what he is. What they both are, she reminds. She runs from the dark only to find it darker still. “Walk with me.” She asks him to stay tonight, promising they’ll be less afraid in the morning. He struggles, needs to think. She leans in, but he breaks away.
Ethan stands across from the police station, relieved, as Vanessa wakes to a note on the floor. He walks in to Rusks office and confesses to the Mariner’s Inn. Rusk smiles, offering him a chair, and lights a cigarette. Ethan will confess to everything if they’ll hang him quickly, but surprise: Rusk hid that he’s had extradition papers for weeks.
Victor’s run out of veins, holds up 3 fingers, and plunges in the syringe, sobbing in desolation.
Left friendless, Vanessa seeks Caliban in the tunnels. He’s preparing to leave mankind behind forever.
“This dream I had this long dream of kinship with those unlike me, it is gone.”
“When you have seen that with you are capable, when you have stood in blood long enough, what his there but to wade to a desolate shore away from all others.”
For her, there is no place far enough, having thrown the immortal part of her away. He holds her hand, assuring her that God is still waiting, despite his atheism, but that dream is gone. He asks her to come with him. “There is around me a shroud that brings only pain. I won’t allow you to suffer. Not you… I think you are the most human man I have ever known.” She kisses his lips. He sobs.
Malcolm sits vigil over Sembene’s casket of an ocean liner. Caliban sails a frozen ship into the Arctic. Rusk and his man watch a shorn Ethan in another ship’s cage. As Ethan’s voice narrates his letter, Vanessa turns the lamps off around Grandage Place. He thanks her for her affection, understanding, and kindness. “Such light you brought to me. But I am made for the dark, this we both know. I am fit for only one place and should’ve been long ago. Deep in the cold clay on a forgotten hill.” She extinguishes the lights by the lion head, this chapter closed. “Your road may be difficult, but mine is doomed. So we walk alone. Written with Love, Ethan.” She shuts the bedroom door behind her, and removes the crucifix, placing it in the fire. She stands at the window and repeats, “So we walk alone.”
In the tantalizing quest for peace and quiet, the dreams of normalcy within the Dreadfuls were extinguished. Vanessa and Ethan have their final chance with the gauzy curtains aglow, but they can’t cross the barrier. Ethan’s dream of atonement is alive in the morning London mist, but denied when the sun gleams into the office. John Clare/Caliban releases his dream of acceptance in human society in the foggy railway caverns. Lily’s roses dead and crushed, Victor opts for a drug-induced fog a little while longer. If only they could sleep every second.
The final battle between Vanessa and Lucifer through the simulacra was phenomenal and satisfying; she borrows from Ethan’s Diablo story, commanding the demon to “Know your master,” and finally accepts the power of her scorpion nature, allowing Ethan to perform his calling as Lupus Dei and finish off Evelyn, making way for Hecate to blossom. Malcolm and Victor are soundly shamed for their vanity, while Sir Lyle finds power within as the threat of public exposure abates. The queens arise indeed. And Lily, of course, partnered chillingly with Dorian in their waltz of blood, admits at last that she knew her nature from the start and reaches out for her own addictive taste of ascendance. For skin-crawling creepiness, I urge you to watch the season back through and take note of her scenes in this light.
Thematically, this episode might be called “The Unbestowed Kiss.” Vanessa refuses to kiss the simulacra and join Lucifer’s side. Offering it instead to the other part of the eternal circle, Lupus Dei, this time she is denied as Ethan seeks the peace of absolution rather than consummation. Finally, she bestows it upon Caliban, christening him as too human and thereby cauterizing his break with the rest of monstrous humanity.
Mirrors were notably absent, replaced by flames of self-knowledge. Single flames, showing the assimilation of the true self: the torches in Poole’s mansion after Malcolm, Victor, and Lyle are released; the lantern as Putney plays his final monstrous card; the lamp in Victor’s squalid apartment; and the individual fires under the railways as Caliban accepts his future from Vanessa.
By contrast, Ethan was the only Dreadful without a light, hoping to die, until he walked into police headquarters and Rusk lit a cigarette, revealing his extradition. Vanessa is left not only with her own single fireplace but two lamps—Lucifer is not so easily dismissed, and his brother, the Master, awaits a turn. Hecate extinguished her mother’s candelabra and accompanying dreams of an unholy trinity, but leaves five flames shooting from the mansion windows, her own witchcraft fueled. Lastly, every candle in every numerical combination lights Dorian and Lily’s home as the pair reveals their ultimate goal in world domination, to rise above every power and superstition and rule, immortal. A perfectly Gothic ending.
When will we meet again, sweetheart?
When will we meet again?
When autumn leaves that fall from the trees
Are green and spring up again.
Editor’s Note: This Friday, July 10th, we’ll be giving away a copy of *The Art and Making of Penny Dreadful, an official companion guide to the series.
Each week, we’ll end the recap with a trivia question from the episode. This Friday, July 10th, you’ll be able to enter your answers into our Penny Dreadful leaderboard. We’ll randomly pick a winner from the entries with the most correct answers.
Here are the questions for episodes 1-10:
Episode 1: What percent did Victor say to turn the charge down to before the lightning struck?
Episode 2: Which institution has the largest collection of historical pornography besides their own museum, according to Sir Lyle?
Episode 3: Which herb, when hidden in the left pocket, serves for the protection of travelers?
Episode 4: What does Angelique say the ping pong ball is made from?
Episode 5: What date did Ethan arrive in London?
Episode 6: What jewelry does Lily notice Hecate wearing?
Episode 7: How old was Ethan when he rode Diablo?
Episode 8: How does Victor like his eggs?
Episode 9: What date did Ethan join the cavalry?
Episode 10: How much did Putney’s suit cost?
*While the copy being given away was provided by Showtime, they are in no way responsible for choosing the winner. Project Fandom takes full responsibility for the contest, including winner selection and prize disbursement.