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.
‘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.