Sunday, 2 November 2014

Penny Dreadful: Season One, Episode 8 (Grand Guignol)

"Why do you think I want to be saved?"

Well, that was eventful. Quite the season finale, with many threads coming to an end, but it's pleasing to see that the episode opens as many doors as it closes. We end with the prospect of Frankenstein using Brona's body to make a bride for Caliban (that'll go well), with Ethan shown to be some sort of werewolf, able to rip his pursuers to shreds (is this why he left America, leaving tears and "a whole mess of blood"?), and with Vanessa contemplating the long, hard road of exorcism. There's plenty to fuel a second series.

In the meantime, though, there's a first season to wrap up. Obviously, there's the climactic hunt for Mina, ending in the revelation that Mina is loyal towards "the master" and the shock of Sir Malcolm shooting his daughter. Still, the hints continue that he sees Vanessa as his daughter.

It's fun to see Vanessa dumping Dorian in the same arbour where he first properly seduced her. And yet, symbolically, the flower is no longer in bloom. We, like Vanessa, are amused Dorian Gray is made to feel rejection for the first time.

Brona's death is heartbreaking, although Frankenstein's smothering her is somewhat unexpected. He's complex; on the side of the goodies yet capable of being so callous. And yet this callousness is done out of a paternal affection for Caliban.

Calibans tale is the most tragic; once menacing, he is reduced to a pathetic figure. He misinterprets Maud's kindness in making up his face and visiting her room, and is stunned by her rejection, forcibly kissing her and burning his bridges with the theatre. Maud may have sympathised with him, but she also looked down on him. He can never be attractive to a woman... except perhaps one like himself?

This is a superb finale, but it's fantastic to see how much time is spent setting up the next season.

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