Penny Dreadful Season Finale Recap: Blood, Threat and Tears

Penny Dreadful Season Finale

As thrilling as the second season finale of Penny Dreadful was — and, between the demon/Vanessa showdown, the Were-Ethan rampage and the Creature’s unique “contract negotiations” with his captors, it was pretty damn thrilling! — we still finished “And They Were Enemies” less excited about this episode than about the seeds planted for Season 3.

What can we expect? Read on. We’ve got a lot of ground to cover.

SOUL SURVIVOR | While Evelyn’s visions of Malcolm’s family and Victor’s “children” encouraged their patriarch and father figure, respectively, to kill themselves, the demon — speaking through the witch’s creepy Vanessa puppet — enticed its “beloved” with a peek at the life it could offer her as Ethan’s wife and the mother of his children. Though affected by the sweet scenario, Vanessa didn’t succumb to temptation. Instead, she began yelling in tongues, prompting the demon to do the same. When all was said and done — well, shouted and done — she’d shattered her doll’s face, trashed the showroom and robbed Evelyn of her most prized possession, her beauty. Watching as all of this unfolded, Hecate chose the moment before her mother attacked Vanessa to release Were-Ethan, and — just as the sneaky young sorceress intended — he killed Evelyn. (You slayed us, Helen McCrory!) However, the wolfman did not harm a hair on Vanessa’s head. On the contrary, he recoiled from her touch and ran off into the night. Finally, after Malcolm and Mr. Lyle shot the B-player witches — the latter with the priceless line, “Never underestimate the power of a queen with lovely hair, my dear” — they, Victor and Vanessa discovered that the evening hadn’t been a total success: Sembene was dead. As for the baddies, only Hecate emerged unscathed. When last seen, she had gathered up her mother’s tools of the trade and, on her way out the door, set fire to the house.

BIZARRE LOVE TRIANGLE | Returning home to find Lily gone, Victor made a beeline for Dorian’s place and (barely) lived to regret it. First, the former Brona mocked him so mercilessly that he shot her. “Please, creator,” she scoffed. “You made me too well for that.” So next, he shot Dorian. Also pointless. Finally, the doctor just listened in horror as the new power couple debated whether or not to kill him right then and there. In the end, Lily decided to leave him be, on the off chance that he might prove useful down the line. But — and here’s the Season 3 tease that we’re so stoked about — she didn’t just let him go, she let him go with a warning about the rise of the immortal “master race.” “When our day has come,” she said, “you will know terror.” (Can’t wait!)

THE MOMENT OF TRUTH | The following morning, Ethan and Vanessa came face to face for the first time since she learned of his true nature. Ashamed as he was, she wasn’t put off in the least. On the contrary, she suggested that when Malcolm left to lay Sembene to rest in Africa, they lock up the house and run away. Even if theirs were not the kind of troubles one could ever really escape, at least, they could walk the path together. And he clearly wanted to accept her offer of unconditional love — near-misses don’t come any closer than the kiss that he wouldn’t allow them to share. But, next thing we knew, he’d left her a note thanking her for her kindness and affection, and turned himself in to Rusk, who delighted in informing him that he wouldn’t be hung in London but extradited to the US.

HOUSE OF WHACKS | When the Putneys offered the Creature a deal — a little money and the chance to be let out of his cage occasionally, if only he’d do a few tricks for their customers and act as “a father to all the other freaks” — the softhearted monster snapped, broke out of his cell and brutally murdered the villains. Just then, down came Lavinia, every bit as awful as her parents. “You’re probably handsome in your dreams,” the blind girl taunted, unaware of the bodies on the floor. In spite of her complete and total horridness, the Creature let her live. Later, Vanessa — in need of a friend — sought him out at the shelter and learned that he was heading “away from mankind.” (As in Mary Shelley’s novel, his destination appeared to be the North Pole.) Since she, too, was at a sad crossroads, he invited her to join him. But, rather than inflict upon him the suffering that seemed to shadow her, she declined. Before they parted, however, she kissed his lips and said, “I think you are the most human man I have ever known.”

What did you think of the season finale? Won’t you miss the divinely wicked Evelyn? How hard are you shipping Ethan/Vanessa? Grade the episode below, then hit the comments!


Comments are monitored, so don’t go off topic, don’t frakkin’ curse and don’t bore us with how much your coworker’s sister-in-law makes per hour. Talk smart about TV!

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24 Comments
  1. Christian says:

    Fantastic second season. How will the all regroup?. Eva Green is a goddess and Our Rose, Billie piper is right there with her. Glad sir Lyle is alive and the wonderful Mr. Clare. Ethan is the surprise character of this season also the wonderful Harry Treadway. Sorry there is only 9 eps next season, but at least it lives on another season!

    • nate says:

      Why only 9?

      • Michael says:

        because that is how the story folded in season 3 from HR:

        Interviewer: The first season had eight episodes and two was upped to 10. Moving to the third season, you have nine episodes. Was this a Showtime decision?

        Logan: It just broke down to nine hours. Showtime is happy to do as many hours as the story warrants and next season’s story happened to break down to nine hours. It could have been 12 or 13, but it just happened to be nine.

  2. Kay says:

    The second season as a whole was outstanding! Looking forward to how each member (minus, sadly, Sembene) comes back together to deal with Dr. Frankenstein’s “immortals”. I hope Mr. Clare is back from the North Pole to join them.

    • abz says:

      I personally hope he isn’t. I’m kind of been over John Clare’s brooding and whining and poetry. I get the character, just not a fan.

  3. Ian says:

    I’m not really shipping Vanessa and Ethan at all. Vanessa deserves much better than him. Better than Josh Hartnett as an actor, and better than Ethan as a character, who sticks his d*ck in everything, basically spit on Vanessa a couple episodes ago for killing (effing hypocrite!), and was in love with Brona last season and can clearly be tempted by Hecate. It defied all credibility he never crossed paths with either Lily or Dorian this season.
    Not really even excited about these seeds for next season either, because Lily is all talk. What power do she and Dorian actually have? I’d be more worried about Hecate, honestly. Though I expect the main story in season 3 will involve Caliban taking the lead as Victor’s first creation against Lily, and Victor needing to discover their weaknesses and doing more science.
    All in all, I think John Logan’s jumped the shark and it’s diminishing returns at this point aince about the middle of this season.

    • abz says:

      Yeah I was pretty annoyed with how they didn’t have Ethan cross paths with Brona or Dorian. When Dorian threw a ball a few episodes ago, I was like yes, about damn time. Ethan’s gonna see Dorian (awkward); He’s gonna see Brona alive (WTF). It would’ve been fun to watch, but they made him reject Vanessa’s offer to be her date. So disappointing. (Side note: I don’t know if I missed it but did they ever explain why Vanessa didn’t recognize Brona/Lily? I can’t remember if they actually met before in the first season, but it feels like they had.)

    • Corey says:

      I think you are all forgetting that time isn’t always passing between episodes. Some of these events are happening relatively close together. They are also all a little preoccupied with things to do I would say and maybe not a lot of free time to run into each other. Its a big city. And Brona does look far different then her original hooker self. Also my first reaction if I saw someone who reminded me of a deceased friend wouldn’t be to assume they have come back to life. And I don’t think Lily is all talk. Clearly they have un-human strength, can’t be killed and have some evil tendencies. I call that a problem. I thought it was a good season. Numerous story lines to explore next year. I’m ready.

    • KevyB says:

      Well said, Ian. This show is like a box of chocolates, and 2/3 of them are filled with coconut! For every good character, there’s a boring one and an awful one (and that isn’t even a comment on Josh Hartnett’s inability to bring emotions to his facial features). This show wants so desperately to be the gothic True Blood, but even when True Blood was less than stellar, it was still fun. And, more important, it was full of great characters. Where are the great characters here? Of the core characters, Lily and the Creature are great. James Bond used to be pretty cool but he was boring this season. Josh Hartnett and his character both suck. Dorian is a total snooze, and his portrayer is bringing nothing to the table. Victor is a character that has forever been searching for a way to become interesting, but then Lily went from boring to annoying almost instantaneously, and he become a drug addict which is ALWAYS a treat to watch! UGH! Sembene and Ferdinand were both fun, but Sembene was pathetically underwritten and his outcome was so obvious early in the season that it made that issue even more annoying.

      I’m dumping Showtime and all I will truly miss will be The Affair and Masters of Sex. Thank gawd for Netflix!

  4. kara says:

    I was surprised at how quickly they resolved the witches/devil plot (although not completely, given Hecate’s exit), but I still enjoyed it…and by “enjoyed it” I mean it made me die a little inside. One of the saddest season finales I’ve seen, even if very beautiful. The Ethan/Vanessa and Vanessa/Creature farewells were particularly painful. I’m curious to see what S3 will look like…a year from now.

  5. abz says:

    Billie Piper has really stood out to me these past couple of episodes. She’s been amazing. And this is coming from someone who couldn’t stand the character in the first season and couldn’t bare hearing that awful accent. However, next season they need to have her actually do something. Brona/Lily is all talk and no action. Same with Dorian. I like the Dorian Gray character and Reeve Carney is great but sometimes I find myself questioning what is his purpose. All Dorian does is have sex and dance. Maybe this episode was a set up for him actually being a part of a plot and he and Lily will raise hell next season….I thought the ending of the witches storyline wasn’t necessarily satisfying, but I still enjoyed the episode. Hecate is probably going to be back….I don’t really care much about Vanessa/Ethan together. Ethan is one of the few characters on this show along with John Clare that I haven’t really cared for. The only interesting thing that happened with Ethan that shocked me was when he slept with Dorian last season, but they just abandoned that story. I don’t think I’d really miss the character….It was so great seeing Proteus again. I so wish he’d have lived instead of John Clare….Eva Green NEEDS to be nominated for an Emmy this year. (I had one question though throughout this season and I don’t know if I missed an explanation or something: Why did Vanessa not recognize Brona/Lily at all?).

  6. James D says:

    very sad finale but a beautiful one. There is no greater writer working in film or television today than John Logan. He writes such incredibly deep and flawed characters but each one has something undeniably charming about them. if this show doesn’t pick up more than a few Emmys I’m going to be PO’d. can’t wait for next season certainly in the top three shows on tv right now. BTW How amazing was the scene with Billie and Rory (know it wasn’t in the finale but i was thinking about it while writing this comment) best scene of the season by far although the dancing scene with Lily and Dorian was very good too.

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  8. joel f says:

    Great season finale. So sorry to see Evelyn go. Can’t wait til season 3!

  9. Penn says:

    I love Ethan and Vanessa together. This is a Gothic melodrama not a comic book meant for little boys who go “ick” at romance. The romance is as essential a part of the story as the terror and mayhem.

  10. KCC says:

    Billie Piper is doing a remarkable job. Some people are saying they couldn’t stand the Brona character in season one but like Lily this season. I wouldn’t say Billie failed last season but the difference in the characters is what made her performance stand out more this season. Lily is a much more interesting character. I’m not certain about Lily’s master race taking over the world plans. There’s only 3 immortals that we know of and except not dying they don’t seem to have any other special talents. Dorian Gray could be locked away or his picture destroyed and he’s out of the game and John Clare doesn’t appear to be interested so that would just leave Lily. Unless she gets Frankenstein to start mass producing monsters she’d be all alone.
    I don’t get some people not seeing Dorian’s purpose in the story. His interaction with several of the characters has triggered several major plot points. His seduction of Vanessa sent her into her long “possession” and near death. After his date with Lily is when she appeared to become more self aware of what she is. It also triggered Victor’s jealousy and increased his use of drugs. I think the Dorian character’s main purpose, so far, has been to show the danger of giving in to seduction. The point of the Ethan/Dorian scene was to show how great Dorian’s power of seduction is in getting people to do things that are not in their overt nature.
    All-in-all a very good season I’d say. It ended the way it should have IMO. These are tragic people and I wouldn’t believe happy endings for any of them.

    • LunaSkya says:

      I think Ethan’s adorable reactions to Mr. Lyle’s equally adorable flirtation show that his night with Dorian is not entirely “not in his nature”. It’s pretty obvious the character is written as at least casually bi.

      • KCC says:

        I used the term “overt nature” in that I don’t believe Ethan was aware himself of his bisexuality before his encounter with Dorian. The point being Dorian’s powers of seduction are so strong that he can make people act on even the most suppressed impulses. I got the impression that, until the night with Dorian, Ethan was a manly man from the wild west. I never noticed anything that would hint at his being bi-sexual and was quite surprised when he was seduced by Dorian. I kind of thought that was the point of the scene, otherwise it was just gratuitous sex.

  11. Ricky Lee Jones says:

    This show got exponentially better the second season. Can’t wait for the third.

  12. BrianR says:

    I give the season a B because there was no naked Eva Green at all this year.

  13. Deion says:

    While I enjoyed the season, I really had Dorian pegged as this neutral character who would occasionally interact with the main group. It’s nice to know there is a plan for him, but him being a bad guy saddens me, as much fun it will be.

    Loved the season! Can’t wait to see how they all come back together.

  14. kace jonez says:

    Great show! Very addictive.