Penny Dreadful Recap: The Devil You Know

The following contains spoilers from this Sunday’s episode of Penny Dreadful.

Showtime’s Penny Dreadful certainly has its own share of patchwork monsters, but if Sunday’s episode proved anything, it’s that the real monsters look quite human.

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ROSEMARY’S CRAZY | It would appear that Vanessa’s calmed down somewhat since last week’s “spinning” episode, as she lies back and ruminates about beauty and death (“To be beautiful is to be almost dead, isn’t it?”) while Malcolm looks unsure whom or what he’s dealing with. When he does speak with her, she unleashes an objects-flying-around-the-room hell until Sembene knocks her out with a one-two punch.

Later, Victor visits Vanessa and gives her a check-up, despite her initial protests (“And where did you receive your medical degree, Dr. Ives?”). The entire (almost charged) exchange plays out like an awkward seduction-by-medical-check-up (“I fear I’m not looking my best.” “Nonsense. Your visual responses are perfectly adequate.” “High praise. No wonder you’re not married.”). But the flirtation consultation quickly ends when a possessed Vanessa teases Victor about his his extra-curricular project. (Side note: Maybe if Frankenstein didn’t spend all his free time reanimating the dead he’d have better bedside manner with the living.)

ELEMENTARY, MY DEAR MALCOLM | Once back with Malcolm, Victor puts on his best deerstalker and quickly deduces the events that led to Vanessa’s current state (with a few Freudian observations slipped in) but he’s interrupted by more than two seasons worth of spiders emerging from under Vanessa’s laid out tarot cards. As the many creepy crawlies swarm both men, they hear a scream from her bedroom.

She’s still screaming when the cavalry Ethan arrives, guns not so blazing. They rush upstairs to find Vanessa doing her best Gollum-if-he-was-possessed-by-the-devil impression before she tells Ethan — who is clearly trying to do his “I can calm a wolf” trick — that they (and Brona) share the same bedfellow: Dorian Gray. Then she has a fit and has to be sedated by Victor (who has quite the morphine problem himself).

THE POSSESSED BRIDE | A week later, Ethan visits Vanessa, only it isn’t Yankee Doodle Eye Candy, but the devil himself. Turns out, the man from the Realm Down Under wants to make her his queen. (And why not? Vanessa is fifty shades of great.) While all of this is happening, the real Ethan shows Victor how to shoot a gun (“Go crazy, Dr. F!”) before sitting down and swapping cooking tips and colonization travel stories with Sembene outside Vanessa’s door.PDRecap_EthanVictor_DW

When it’s his watch, Malcolm asks Vanessa to use her tortured state to track down Mina’s real whereabouts — and suddenly it’s unclear who’s worse, him or the devil. Luckily, Ethan shows up and orders Malcolm away, accusing him of doing this to her on purpose, but Victor interrupts to point out she’s dying — clearly Frankenstein would know. Eventually King Lear Malcolm agrees to call in a priest and let Vanessa receive her last rites.

THE LEAGUE OF ORDINARY GENTLEMEN | Only the priest proves useless as Vanessa bites a piece of the man’s cheek off and easily escapes the ropes tying her to the bed. She then quickly dispatches Malcolm and tosses Victor out the door.

Finally, Ethan seems to get through to Vanessa as he calls out her name. But once she emerges, the old Vanessa only begs to be killed. So Ethan reaches for his gun, places the barrel on her chest and… reaches for the St. Jude medal Brona gave him. (Not such a lost cause after all!) As he presses it to her face he busts out some Latin and starts exorcising her himself. (Seriously, who is this guy?) Once she’s back in bed resting, Ethan leaves the building. However Vanessa’s dreams are anything but sweet and the next morning she finds Malcolm and tells him, “I know where Mina is.”

What did you think of Penny Dreadful‘s penultimate episode? Did you miss Dorian Gray? Are you just about ready for answers? Hit the comments with your thoughts!    

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  1. Cindy says:

    I love this show so much! The season finale is next week? Seriously, it seems it just started.

  2. valarie says:

    Ok so can Eva get performer of the week. Wow.

  3. Alichat says:

    I was impressed with the fake-out……..having Ethan at her bedside not be Ethan at her bedside. For a moment I thought he was possessed, and that was his secret….not the lycanthropy. Then I realized it wasn’t him. That was well done. And him teaching Victor how to use a gun, bonding with Sembene, and calling out Malcolm on being the selfish ass that he is…..all good. But, then to have him perform an exorcism on Vanessa…….annnnd ya lost me. So, all they needed to do was press a St Jude’s medal to her forehead, recite some Latin, and then she’s good? Huh???

  4. ? says:

    Okay, so Josh Hartnett used to be a priest? Like maybe in one of those Native American re-education schools he was talking about? And now I’m pretty sure he’s a werewolf gunslinger. Everything I just wrote sounds crazy and ridiculous, and yet somehow this show makes it work.

  5. Kel507 says:

    This show is just amazing!!! I am completely taken with all of the characters, but Ethan is so intriguing and Josh Hartnett is doing an incredible job playing this role. The honest connections he is forging with all of the other characters is great to watch. Can’t wait for next week, but so sad the season is already over!

  6. LABete says:

    I love this show so much! Thanks for doing a recap!! Eva Green was amazing as usual, but Josh Hartnett really surprised me. The scene when he was Devil-Ethan was so shocking, and the scene when he became Exorcist-Ethan was absolutely heart-breaking. I read on another board that he wasn’t reciting the rite of exorcism but rather the prayer for the intercession of St Jude (patron saint of lost causes, as we were told by Brona when she asked Ethan to wear her medal). That would probably indicate that he is also a lapsed Catholic, not necessarily a former priest.

  7. Scott Johnston says:

    Thank goodness we’re getting a second series. I can’t see how the show can wrap up anything next week.

  8. Kim says:

    I love this show! But! I was so lost last night. Thanks for recap

  9. Connie says:

    So who is Ethan ? Is he a former priest or a werewolf ? I am still confused

  10. Jake says:

    I am sorry but Eva Green is owning this show. Her acting is superb…The seance episode was amazing and she totally rocked. She so deserves an award for her role on Penny Dreadful. That said, the rest of the cast is amazing. I truly enjoy watching this show.

  11. Samuel baker says:

    I do not miss Dorian Gray. But I am curious where Ethan learned Latin since he obviously didnt know it when it spoken earlier in the episode. Or maybe it was Italian, since he was speaking to a demon. Either way it brings a new dimension to his character.

  12. Hmm says:

    This show is so bizarre but I am in love with it. Josh Hartnett plays Ethan with the perfect amount of mystery. Eva Green is killer. I am like Malcolm less and less and have no use for Victor, to be honest. Love the mystery shrouding Dorian Grey and want to know what his deal is. And also would love to learn more about Ethan’s past like we got with Vanessa’s. Ugh this is a great show.

    • Julianna says:

      I also love Ethan and Vanessa, am not pleased with Malcolm, and didn’t care for Victor. I like Victor a slight bit more, however, after this episode. Something about him showing his flaws (morphine addict, anyone?) and getting so excited about his gun lesson with Ethan, made him more endearing to me. And only a couple glimpses of Caliban to remind me why I hate him! I love Dorian Grey also. I have loved the story of Dorian Grey since high school. If you’re the kind who can’t wait to know what’s coming, read the book of Dorian Grey. If you want to be surprised, stay away from it. But without giving anything away, this actor portrays the character perfectly. It’s like he walked out of my teenage mind when I was reading the book!

      • Lena120 says:

        I love Ethan and Vanessa. Sir Malcolm is an A-hole but Timothy Dalton plays the hell out of the role! Victor has his moments, but I absolutely loathe Dorian. I like the literary character but I’m not a fan of the actor playing him. Also, I like Billie Piper but not Brona. Or maybe I should say Ethan and Brona together. They don’t have chemistry to me. I feel like Ethan has a deeper connection with Vanessa, as we saw in this week’s episode. Ethan says he loves Brona but it seems pretty superficial. There’s something missing with them. I just don’t buy it.

  13. hep2thejive says:

    I know that everyone is thinking that Ethan is a werewolf. But I haven’t been 100% convinced. After this past episode, I am leaning more towards Ethan being a fallen angel. I know I sound crazy but here is my theory:

    Before Noah’s time, angels where able to take on human form. During this time, angels looked upon man’s daughters and started to list after them. They took on men’s form and married these women. Their off spring where called nephilim. These angels where cast out of heaven not because they didn’t love their father but because they let their desires rule them. This explains so much of Ethan. He loves his father he wants to see his father but he knows he can never go back. Why he is so empathetic. Why he loves women. His disgust over the animals fighting. His perfect use of Latin. Why he was hesitant to receive Brona necklace but then keeps it close to him. I end my theory. I can be totally wrong.

    • LABete says:

      I really like your theory and would prefer fallen angel to werewolf for Ethan’s dark secret. Even though he was praying to St Jude during his “excorcism” of Vanessa, I kept thinking he might be ArcAngel Michael the way he was going after that Devil!

  14. Maria Protz says:

    Don’t forget that Ethan snuck into her room again just before the priest arrived and was alone with her again after giving Sembene some food. I think he loosened her straps. I also don’t think at the end that he exorcised her with Broni’s St. Jude medal. But rather, although she had asked him to shoot her, in the end she gave into him as Satan once he used the medal on her forehead. So she has conceded to the devil after all although she swore she would never give him her soul. Although she looks calm and is sleeping peacefully it seems at the end, it is really because she has agreed to be Satan’s co-ruler.

    One question, why was Ethan spending so much time there with her rather than being with Broni who needed him just as much. Maybe he had used her too.

    Maybe one of these episodes she will also become the bride of Frankenstein’s monster. He’s so lonely and is waiting so patiently.