Penny Dreadful Season 3 Episode 5 recap

Penny Dreadful Recap: West and Cursed

Lovers of tortured heroes no doubt swooned while watching this week’s Penny Dreadful, in which woebegone werewolf Ethan alternated between brooding dreamily and making self-loathing proclamations like, “The only decent thing about me is the guilt I feel.” But around the midway point in “This World Is Our Hell,” he did a complete about-face, setting the stage for… Well, keep reading. You’ll find out.

‘EMBRACE YOUR SINS’ | As the episode began, Ethan and Hecate were only two days away from his father’s ranch, yet their safe arrival was anything but a foregone conclusion: The river at which the sharpshooter intended to water their horses had dried up since he’d last visited. (D’oh!) Meanwhile, if anyone was more determined than Rusk to get to Ethan, it was Kaeteney, who told Sir Malcolm that the marshals would be well-advised not to get between him and the wolfman. “To save my son, I would slaughter an entire army,” said the Apache — even though “Ethan will kill me the first chance he gets.”

That night, Hecate softened up Ethan by noting that “I didn’t choose the master I serve” — that was her mother’s doing. (R.I.P., Evelyn.) In turn, the werewolf confessed that, after helping to murder Kaeteney’s family while an enlisted man, he’d wanted to die himself. Instead, the Apache had condemned him to join in the Indians’ (losing) battle against his own army. Blaming God’s world for all of the horrors her companion had seen, the witch convinced him to let her use his blood to sic the creatures of the night on the marshals.

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‘I’M DONE TRYING TO BE GOOD’ | As snakes rose from the sand and attacked Ostow’s men — just as Kaeteney was slitting their throats as they slept — Hecate and Ethan held hands. “Listen,” she said as the marshals screamed. “Such music my master makes.” The following morning, Rusk told fellow survivor Ostow that “whatever code I have followed, I hereby disavow.” He not only intended to do away with Ethan but “butcher all his kind.” That is, if he got the chance. Nearby, Ethan’s horse collapsed of thirst, and if Hecate’s perished, too, “so will we,” he noted.

That evening, upon revealing to Sir Malcolm that he’d been (likely fatally) bitten by one of Hecate’s vipers, Kaeteney explained why it was so important that Ethan not be allowed to give in to his baser instincts. “If we lose Ethan to evil, the night will never end” — according to a vision that the Apache had had. Unfortunately, evil seemed to be winning over the wolfman more and more. Holed up in a cave, Ethan explained to Hecate that the paintings on its walls told the story of the first Apache, a boy who won back the day from the creatures of the night. Was he that boy? she asked. Or was he the wolf that loved the night? In response, he turned to the dark side and made love with the enchantress (who, during sex, instructed him to kiss his guilty conscience goodbye by saying, “Lucifer, I am your animal” when he killed his father).

‘LET HIM BURN’ | The following day, Ethan and Hecate were forced to continue on foot. By the time Sir Malcolm and Kaeteney found them, Hecate had collapsed, and Ethan, exhausted from carrying her, clearly was next. (He wasn’t so pooped, however, that he didn’t draw his pistol to prevent Sir Malcolm from finishing off Evelyn’s daughter.) Just then, Papa Talbot’s men arrived on the scene. “Your daddy will be real happy to see you,” one told Ethan before inviting him to decide what to do with the Apache. Leave him, Kaeteney’s “son” said. “Let him die slow. He ain’t worth the bullet.”

At the Talbot ranch, Ethan’s father, Jared, tended to him kindly — at least it seemed so. He also warmly welcomed Sir Malcolm. Of course, beneath the surface, Jared was utterly vile. Sure, he shared a toast with Sir Malcolm “to building a better tomorrow.” But he also spoke of Apaches as subhuman and scoffed at the idea that he and his guest were alike — because, unlike Sir Malcolm, Jared still had a living child. (Da-amn!) Furthermore, there would be hell to pay if the Englishman didn’t help Talbot keep Ethan on the homestead.

‘I BELONG IN HELL’ | After awakening in a room full of dolls, Hecate visited Ethan’s quarters to remind him of what must be done. Not that he’d forgotten. On the contrary, “I intend to enjoy it,” he said. But when he went to his father — presumably to murder him — Jared told a tale that made Ethan’s blood run cold.

Turned out, when Ethan brought the Apaches to the ranch to steal guns and horses for their fight with the army, the Indians didn’t stick to the plan. Rather, they speared Ethan’s brother Paul, scalped their mother, and their little sister Mary… oh, poor Mary. She “suffered as the saints were made to suffer” — with both her eyes and her tongue cut out, Jared said. “You brought the devil to my door, son, and you gave him the key.” As horrified as he was by his unwitting role in his relatives’ demises, Ethan refused — even at gunpoint — to get on his knees and beg for forgiveness. “I’m done repenting,” he said. At that, his father cocked his pistol.

‘SHE WAS PERFECT’ | In the only other story playing this week, Victor — continuing to be a condescending prick to Henry — seemingly permanently rid patient Balfour of his insanity by injecting an electrified dosage of Jekyll’s serum into the madman’s prefrontal cortex. When Henry wondered whether Victor would really be able to put his beloved Lily through the same harrowing procedure, Frankenstein insisted that he would, because, before she changed, for one magical instant, he had known true happiness with her.

What did you think of the episode? Have you begun to miss seeing “the gang” together? 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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  1. N!loofar says:

    WOW 😮

  2. Dan says:

    Do you have any video of that? I’d like to find out some
    additional information.

  3. Shaun says:

    lol,a room full of dolls….almost like home!

  4. Ian says:

    I don’t find Ethan sympathetic or even interesting. I could barely make it through this episode.

  5. Jeanna says:

    Not sure which way Ethan is going to go. Kind of would like to see him embrace the dark side – but that would be bad, right? Like end of the world bad?

  6. kathleen says:

    this episode I’m puzzled. I am wondering if I missed something in the last few seasons.
    So all the characters in this show have their mysterious motivations, their mysterious past that propels them forward. Surely we know the most about Vanessa.
    However with Ethan, I saw him as a troubled soul ( aren’t they all though?) but who was a sure and steady moral force in some ways. Surely he could love deeply and he was instinctual in where he put his faith and loyalty as with Vanessa. His faith in God and knowledge of the bible shown in his exorcism of Vanessa in session one. I thought his secret anguish came from at first finding carnage around himself when waking from a state of amnesia and then realizing and then confirming that he was a werewolf. The fact that his father was searching to bring him home as well as there was a warrant out for him back home seemed linked to that no doubt.
    In the end of the second season where he causes the death of a loved character as well as now knowing himself guilty for the deaths at the tavern he turns himself in, thinking to find a righteous end there in England. But no ( and still I don’t understand this either) the Scotland Yard man intends to bring him back to justice in the U.S.
    He leaves Vanessa who has a strange and almost spiritual and romantic connection to him there in England and she is mourning him I think most of all when we first see her the beginning of the third season. Yes she has lost her connection to God, but actually she lost that as the cutwife said she would when she opened that book of magic and killed with it.
    So these two partners, both wanted by satan for different reasons, go on their own journeys.

    Up to this point I felt I sort of understood Ethan. He does have a very spiritual side, like Vanessa, and he seems consumed by guilt- like Vanessa- but guilt I thought connected with being a werewolf and helpless against his own nature now to violence.
    There is , in every season, a balance of opposite forces, good against evil, pure versus tainted and so forth. This is seen the most in the struggle that Vanessa has.
    So now Ethan is tested and on the end of his journey back to his crimes. He feels his guilt is the best thing about him.
    Here’s the problem? what is his guilty about? About killing as a werewolf? Now finding out he helped wipe out an Indian tribe? Because the abrupt conversion of the above Ethan to now choose Lucifer is just not relievable to me. It’s not even believable that he is seduced by Hecate either. Up to this point he really seemed to have such a strong moral center- as if he could not be corrupted. ( well wait there is that moment with Dorian- but everyone gets down and dirty with Dorian- he kind of brings that out in people)
    Now we find out his crime in the U.S is that he knowingly ( not as a werewolf) killed his captain in response to his murder of a young apache.
    His guilt then is for persecuting and killing this last tribe and his connection to them. Again not enough explanation.And where is the werewolf connection. He is enlisted and with other men killed almost all of them but the brutal murder of an apache boy now brings on guilt? They don’t explain that epiphany either. Why then does he feel he has done wrong. And he blames being there in the first place because he wanted to please his father. So he wants to atone ( see this is ethan’s character) and goes to the remaining tribe.
    Then the apache tribe has him help them kill as many white soldiers as possible as he is told that is the only way to absolve his guilt.
    So Ethan’s guilt then is due to his killing of the Indians. something that Frankenstein hinted at snarkily intuitive. Or is it?
    So why now, running away from the law that you willingly allowed yourself to be taken by, you get an epiphany, pushed to this point by Hecate that you are going to embrace your inner animal and go with Satan and not God. God equals Guilt. Satan equals No Guilt.
    Then we get to his father’s house and his father reveals why he wanted him home so badly.
    Does Ethan feel guilty? No he is done with Guilt.
    I just don’t buy this turnaround in this character. I still am not quite sure what he is so guilty and sick of it that he will go the other way now? He has killed a lot of people at this point and is indirectly responsible for his mother, brother and sister.
    Did he know the Indians he let in killed most of his family. Is that his guilt??? that is pretty powerful actually. But why is his father responsible, why does he want to kill his father???

    I think the writers of Ethan’s story should have given us more back story or some sort of character stumble earlier on, or a sign that he might be drawn to the devil ( as Vanessa is a bit) or some inkling of this change. Perhaps they will later. I was puzzled. Ethan as a character now seems like a mystery. Though at least we now have met the father and are out of the desert with dying horses and snakes. Maybe not? ..
    Brian Cox as the father is great though- although the banter between him and Sir Murray seems unnecessary and unless it is foreshadowing not needed. Perhaps it told us something about the father’s character. Frankenstein is so irritating He seemed more humble and miserable before. Like my cure is so much better than yours because I used electricity. Was looking around for the grounding pad with that electrical shot- otherwise that mental patient was dead. And the obsession with Lilly and washing her nightgown. Honestly I think he just needs to get laid. Did someone tell him that yet.
    Where were Dorian and Lilly? Perhaps we see them next week. This season has so many different stories going on that I’m concerned that they will not resolve them all. Frankenstein and Jekyl. Vanessa and Dracula. Sir Murray, Ethan and others in Arizona. Dorian and Lilly and their army. Did I miss anyone?