Penny Dreadful: Posession
June 22, 2014 8:18 PM - Season 1, Episode 7 - Subscribe

Vanessa has an episode.
posted by oh yeah! (22 comments total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
According to the Showtime episode summary, this episode took place over the course of four weeks. I don't know if it was mentioned in-show and I just wasn't paying attention, but I had no idea it was supposed to have been such a long time.
posted by oh yeah! at 8:32 PM on June 22, 2014 [2 favorites]

at one point someone tells Vanessa that she's been asleep for a week, and her possession goes on for a long time after that, so I guess it does make sense - but who's been taking care of Brona this whole time?
posted by 5_13_23_42_69_666 at 10:54 PM on June 22, 2014

Wow. That was the densest mindfuck I think I've seen in a long while. If you are on the fence with this show, this is the episode to hold out for. It's not even a built up payoff, it's a dark alcove that opens into a massive, brutal cavern full of spiders.

I wondered near the beginning while Vanessa was touching folks and revealing so many secrets why she didn't have anything to say about Sembene. (The black guy, I had to look his name up.) And then 2/3s in we get that great, short scene with him and Chandler where the writers have him say "I have no story." I hope he gets a whole episode next season.

Victor Frankenstein fires a gun the William Burroughs way, high on the good dope. Do you need any other reason to watch this show?

Eva Green deserves an emmy for this episode. I know it'll go to the Orphan Black gal, or neither, as horror and sci-ish fi really get shortchanged. But this relentless episode has Green blasting through the whole range in an unholy aria.

Harnett and Dalton are both superb, too.

I only wish those kids at the end had hit Caliban with a snowball.
posted by Catblack at 11:51 PM on June 22, 2014 [5 favorites]

Here's a good, long interview with the actor who plays Dorian Gray.
posted by Catblack at 12:14 AM on June 23, 2014 [1 favorite]

That was a really fantastic episode, I actually watched it twice.
posted by 5_13_23_42_69_666 at 1:39 AM on June 23, 2014 [1 favorite]

I kept thinking, "Brona's gonna be really pissed or dead poor thing!"

posted by pearlybob at 5:05 AM on June 23, 2014

That "touch my shit, get eaten by spiders" security system on Vanessa's tarot cards is a beauty to behold.
posted by Jilder at 8:18 AM on June 23, 2014 [1 favorite]

Could Ethan be a sin-eater ?
posted by Pendragon at 12:03 PM on June 23, 2014

And Josh Harnett is great, I don't remember him from other roles, so I had no expectations, but he is great as Ethan.
posted by Pendragon at 12:06 PM on June 23, 2014

Could Ethan be a sin-eater ?

That would be a good explanation.
posted by homunculus at 12:07 PM on June 23, 2014 [1 favorite]

I knew from the second that the priest sat down on the bed that things weren't gonna go well for him lol.

Loved Ethan's exorcism thingy. I thought the audio during that sequence was really well done
posted by Strass at 11:56 PM on June 23, 2014

I like the sin-eater explanation. It would at least explain why he didn't lead off with that right away, which, you know, if it's just something he can do with no real drawbacks, it becomes harder to explain why he waited four weeks. (Also, Ethan, it's very rude to leave the door open behind you. And when it's snowing! Think of Malcolm's heating bills, jeez.)

I hope the priest gets some kind of additional wrap-up or send-off at least. He was sitting there on the steps on Ethan's way out, clutching a bandage to his face...I feel like after getting his cheek bitten off he should maybe at least apologize for not being willing to do an exorcism.

And I too hope for a bunch more Sembene next season.
posted by mstokes650 at 7:04 AM on June 24, 2014

Eva Green deserves an emmy for this episode. I know it'll go to the Orphan Black gal, or neither, as horror and sci-ish fi really get shortchanged. But this relentless episode has Green blasting through the whole range in an unholy aria.

As mind-bogglingly spectacular as Eva Green is, I think Tatiana Maslany still deserves the emmy. It's sort of an unfair competition since Maslany is playing several different parts flawlessly. Anyone not already watching Orphan Black should really check it out.

But yeah, I wouldn't be surprised if neither of them get recognized since the emmys don't seem to give equal time to fantasy and sci-fi.
posted by homunculus at 11:20 AM on June 24, 2014

It would at least explain why he didn't lead off with that right away,

I was thinking that maybe he knew how to do an exorcism because they had tried it on him to cure the werewolf. It didn't work, so he doesn't believe in it, but when faced with either trying it or killing her, he tries anyway.

And, it may make you guys happy to hear that Tatiana Maslany did get a CSA award for best actress in a series.
posted by 5_13_23_42_69_666 at 12:32 PM on June 24, 2014 [1 favorite]

I was thinking that maybe he knew how to do an exorcism because they had tried it on him to cure the werewolf.

I hadn't thought of that.

It was as if Ethan, under extreme duress, suddenly became possessed by some kind of force or spirit of good. He pressed the St. Jude medallion against Vanessa's forehead ... Was he possessed by St. Jude? One of the Trinity? A long-forgotten saintly priest? Can he be a werewolf and also at the same time be suddenly possessed by a higher power of light (a sin-eater)?


Maybe Ethan was a priest a long time ago? Before his Indian fighting days?

Whatever the case, Ethan is almost as big a battleground between good and evil as Vanessa.

It was a great episode. A lot of fun. Showtime was lucky to assemble this group of actors.
posted by cwest at 8:25 PM on June 24, 2014 [1 favorite]

I was thinking that maybe he knew how to do an exorcism because they had tried it on him to cure the werewolf.

Interesting theory, but unless he's rocking a previously-unmentioned photographic memory I'm not sure I buy that he'd remember all that Latin from having it chanted at him.

The possession-by-a-good-spirit theory is interesting though. We've all been assuming he's a werewolf but maybe he's not, maybe his interaction with the wolves was channeling the spirit of good, too? Maybe he just worries he's a werewolf or murderer because of his blackouts, but when he blacks out he's actually wandering the streets performing miracles and eating sins?

I dunno but at this point I think he's the most mysterious member of the group. Except Sembene, Mr. "I believe in everything."
posted by mstokes650 at 8:28 AM on June 25, 2014

I had to look up what a Sin-eater is. Wikipedia helpfully tells us "Not to be confused with the '80s pop singer Sinitta." Which is very true.
posted by Grangousier at 8:28 AM on June 25, 2014 [1 favorite]

I had never heard of sin eaters. Really good catch, if that pans out.

I still see a lot of werewolf hinting going on, even in the choice of language Ethan uses, like when he is threatening Sir Malcolm, 'I will rip out your throat' .

Eva Green has been incredible. I can't imagine how harrowing it must have been for her, filming all those scenes. They've done a masterful job with makeup and lighting and the rest to emphasize her skeletal, vulnerable states and also the abrupt morphing into spooky creepiness, but the raw emotion she puts into the role is what draws you in and gets you invested in the character.

In fact, we have had to rewind scenes because we were so transfixed by her expressions we were missing the importance of her words. One such scene recently was when she was lying on the couch, murmuring to Sir Malcolm, and you can see this languid sensuality coming over her and she seems so relaxed and comfortable in her body and yet, watching it, you just *know* that Vanessa can never really let go, so you are tensed up, dreading what will come. I look back on earlier episodes with Eva Green seeming so poised, her perfect posture and stillness, and how all of that is really Vanessa fighting to keep that rigid control over herself so that seething passion, lurking dangerously close to the surface, is kept at bay, and I am impressed with Eva Green's talent all over again.

By the end of this last episode, much as I love her character, the suffering was becoming unbearable to watch. I was yelling at the screen in frustration, "What is the matter with these people?! How much more of this can she take?!" Get a priest already!" "Kill her NOW!"

So uncomfortable to watch, and the impressions linger in disturbing ways even now after the episode is over. Good stuff!
posted by misha at 9:52 AM on June 26, 2014 [1 favorite]

In a completely different vein, a couple little things I noted:

Dr. Frankenstein's obsession with those lines by Shelley, the poet (and how clear they were in the first reference to say "Percy Bysshe Shelley"!) are a nice callback, reminding us that Mary Shelley was the creator of the Frankenstein mythos.

The creature comes *this* close to being sympathetic--so lonely and alone, hiding away in the shadows and knowing himself a monster, but still working hard, pathetically grateful for the slightest mercy and human--just before he brutally, dispassionately kills again. That he does so after he feels spurned by the actress is chilling, especially when you consider how closely this mirrors the conception the recent spree killer (not giving his name here because I don't want to feed into the publicity angle) had of himself as an unappreciated human being looking for love. Ironically, the conception is more valid in the Frankenstein creature's case than the other IRL monstrous one.
posted by misha at 10:13 AM on June 26, 2014

Finally just watched this episode. I agree that, in some sense, this was the pay-off for watching the preceding episodes that, cumulatively, I just wasn't sure about. That's why I only now watched this episode, despite having it for over a week.

I'm in the camp of people who think that The Exorcist is the scariest movie ever made. Which is sort of weird, seeing as I'm an atheist. Although I saw it as a kid (!) and I wasn't an atheist then. Generally, I find explicitly satanic stuff to be very frightening and I'm not sure why that is. But I do.

So this episode was, for me, far more immersive than the others. I wasn't watching it and enjoying it with half a mind of ironic detachment. I mean, well, I can't avoid some ironic detachment watching this show because it's so enormously affected. Even so, this episode engaged me in a deeper and stronger way than usual. I totally understand why someone would watch it twice in a row, although I don't quite understand how you'd have the stamina for it.

I agree that this episode was going to succeed or fail on the basis of Green's acting and so she deserves enormous credit for it. But I also think it easily could have failed if all sorts of other things weren't exactly right. But I'm hard-pressed, off the top of my head, to think of any wrong notes. The pacing was great (and grueling), the character moments just right (on balance, I think the Dr. Frankenstein Has A Gun! scene worked for a couple of different reasons), we learned important things about all the characters depicted, and the photography, sound design, editing, and direction were all working together very well. In a way, this level of consistent quality is something I strongly wish were true of all the rest of the season.

It's interesting to ask why all the pieces of this show's machinery worked so well this episode when, otherwise, it's been a bit creaky.
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 12:21 AM on July 1, 2014 [3 favorites]

idk I'm assuming that Ethan is some kind of Victorian Winchester at this point. ON TO FINAL EP BRB
posted by elizardbits at 6:14 PM on July 6, 2014

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