Penny Dreadful: The Blessed Dark
June 19, 2016 8:06 PM - Season 3, Episode 9 - Subscribe

Dr. Seward hypnotizes Renfield; the Creature must make a moral decision; Sir Malcolm, Ethan, Kaetenay, Dr. Seward and Catriona try to save Vanessa. (Season finale)
posted by oh yeah! (37 comments total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Well that was pretty fucking unsatisfying. Did Eva Green want off the show? Is that why they introduced Catriona, like, let's just throw a new woman in there in case we manage to get a season 4 pick-up? Ugh.
posted by oh yeah! at 8:13 PM on June 19, 2016

well that was a bizarre and frustrating series finale
posted by poffin boffin at 8:53 PM on June 19, 2016 [1 favorite]

But the opening titles were pretty damn good! But...yeah.

Plus, if you want to have to have two hour finale, then have one. Splitting it up into two separate episodes makes no damn sense.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 5:05 AM on June 20, 2016 [1 favorite]

Someone over in the AV Club comments said that Logan always planned the show to be 3 seasons. Which, fine, but, was this really how he planned to end it? Forgiveness and redemption for all the awful dudes, and suicide by proxy for Vanessa? I felt much like I did watching the Sleepy Hollow S3 finale - "Well, they couldn't have killed her, she's the lead..where is this going? Wait, she's dead dead? For real dead? What the hell, show?"
posted by oh yeah! at 5:44 AM on June 20, 2016 [3 favorites]

I feel as though we were fucking OWED Lilly gutting some male. If not Victor, then Dorian. But really, either one would do. Both would have been nice. They shit they pulled calls for nothing less.

Jesus Christ, what a waste of Eva Green in this last two episodes. Vanessa would have taken her own life, not waited for Ethan to do it.

And what the fuck with Victor sitting around with Ethan and Malcolm. Yes, they all have dark pasts, but something about Victor's sniveling "I must possess her" rankles and marks him as mostly irredeemable in my eyes. Sure be a innocent slaying werewolf, but damnit, don't try to control people, that's just unforgivable.

Dr. Seward saying "Fuck him," was priceless.

If Eva Green is off the the show, there's really not much reason to watch. She was the brilliant anchor and without her, the show just doesn't work without her. Unless its Dr. Seward investigating mysteries.

Seriously, couldn't she have sacrificed Ethan in place of herself and at least lived happily ever after having adventures with Lyle and Dr. Seward?
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 5:56 AM on June 20, 2016 [5 favorites]

Lilly should totally have gutted Dorian, lopped his head off and then left it wailing for his body in front of the painting. Enjoy your immortality now, you bastard.

I too am underwhelmed. Compared to the other two season finales this was weak fucking sauce. We don't get to find out what's up with Catriona? Or what happens with Hyde? I mean I get the suggestion that he turns into a bastard once he's got a title but come on. That's a bit subtle.

AND NOT EVER ENOUGH EVA GREEN. God, after A Blade Of Grass its criminal to not have her do something more kickass than just be sad in a different white room. I was waiting for something glorious, you can't reference that episode then nothing with it.

Ugh. UGH!

posted by Jilder at 6:29 AM on June 20, 2016 [4 favorites]

The only bits of sanctification I got from the finale came from Dr. Seward's actions. Be it stabbing Reinfield, finding Vanessa or just uttering "Fuck him," those were all delivered with the right balance of acting and appeasing the audience. If she took over as the main lead, I'd stick around and check out a new season.

But I'd still complain from time to time about Vanessa being gone.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 7:07 AM on June 20, 2016 [1 favorite]

So, for three seasons I thought I was dancing with a dark, dangerous, mysterious lady... then the mask comes off and I discover I was dancing with a pale, wrinkly, worried looking Irish-American Catholic. Thbbbt!
posted by cwest at 9:31 AM on June 20, 2016 [1 favorite]

I'm honestly kind of stunned by how mediocre and disappointing that was. Um, where the fuck did Dracula fuck off to? Is he just going to diminish, and go into the west and remain Dracula? Are he and Lucifer just going to bitch at each other for all eternity about missed opportunities? What was the POINT of Catriona? There's NO comeuppance at ALL for Frankenstein?? Who put all the candles in Vanessa's tile hallway? Was that just her serene Candle Room where she liked to go hang out and recharge after a long day of Mother of Evil work? Why was it necessary to transform Ethan to a werewolf all those years ago in the first place, if his fulfillment of his "role" was just gonna be shooting her, in his human form?

And for chrissake, when you're in a situation where you need to shoot a loved one dead to ward off an apocalypse, you fucking well shoot them in the HEAD or the HEART, not in the gd gut like some amateur ASSHOLE.
posted by Ornate Rocksnail at 9:50 AM on June 20, 2016 [10 favorites]

To continue it past Vanessa’s death would be, for me, an act of bad faith.

Ok, so at least one content creator has a clue. Too bad the same couldn't have been said for the gormless baboons at Sleepy Hollow.
posted by poffin boffin at 9:52 AM on June 20, 2016

Hey, there's need to insult gormless baboons with that comparison!

I'm honestly kind of stunned by how mediocre and disappointing that was.

Seriously, Chekhov's Female Rampage demands that you do exactly that. A stack of hands on the dinner table doesn't cut it!
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 9:59 AM on June 20, 2016 [1 favorite]

One word: disappointing.

Only good bit of the last two episodes was the scene where Lily talked about her dead infant.

What a waste of Eva Green.
posted by Pendragon at 1:54 PM on June 20, 2016 [1 favorite]

I agree the show couldn't really continue past Vanessa's death. Having said that, it doesn't mean you give her a TOTALLY CRAP DEATH. Ethan's much discussed and prophesied werewolfing? Nothing to do with it. And Dracula just...wanders off? Like "Uh...guys sorry about that whole apocalypse thing. Anyway...gotta see some dude about castle. Have fun!" I mean you don't put Dracula on center stage and NOT give him a resolution. That whole Lucifer and Dracula fight we JUST found out about a few eps ago? Apparently not so relevant.

Lily simply exists stage left, which I don't believe for a fucking second. Dorian has killed Justine and certainly used Lily when she was alive. I'm reasonably confident, she would like to slash and burn that portrait to bits and have every reason to do so. She went from "Fuck all these abusive men" to "It's totally ok to let these abusive dudes I wanted to kill live with their pain and continue taking it out on others." Seriously. I can see her realizing maybe her problem was her rage wasn't selective enough in terms of victims.

And, of course, we end it with the Creature continuing to be totally abandoned and sad with no hope.

In short, I really want to say while the show was fun that was an incredibly awful finale.
posted by miss-lapin at 4:01 PM on June 20, 2016 [4 favorites]

Oh and it would have been nice to have Lily and Ethan meet again as we know Lily remembers him fondly as one of the few decent men. That would have been nice and maybe put a shimmer of hope on that crapfest.
posted by miss-lapin at 4:03 PM on June 20, 2016 [5 favorites]

Ye gods does that Variety interview Brandon linked above irritate the ever-living hell out of me.

Variety: I’m just struggling a little with the fact that, this was a show that was so often about women empowering themselves. And then to see Vanessa actually sacrifice herself so that these guys could learn something, and so the world wouldn’t end — can you talk me through that?

Nevins: You have such conventional ideas of life and death. If you had a less conventional idea of death, you wouldn’t feel that way.

Way to miss the point, you condescending fuckwits.
posted by oh yeah! at 5:41 PM on June 20, 2016 [3 favorites]

I tried to read it and I just...couldn't. How they could do so well for so long and then utterly hose the ending...
posted by miss-lapin at 8:11 PM on June 20, 2016 [1 favorite]

God this really feels like they where told it was the final season in like, mid-production? Right? Strong last season Angel vibes. Not that this ending isn't what they had in mind all along, but it's a super rushed , bullet point, unsatisfying kind of hack job you do when you have to finish the story NOW and also your lead actress isn't super available?

So yeah, werid, unsatisfying, and more dropped plot lines than you could shake a stick st (they where CLEARLY going for an anicent Egyptian plot line in the future to tie up all the gothic threads which would've been great cause the gothic tradition STARTED in British Egyptophilia and showing off mummies in the front parlor...and immortality is the big unifiying thread between the monsters in the series and guess what the Egyptians were obsessed with ... and also I wanted the Scottish lady to be a time traveller from the far off future of 1952 where Dracula has won and she's gone back in time to stop it cause that's what a penny dreadful should be damnit.)
posted by The Whelk at 11:52 PM on June 20, 2016 [7 favorites]

(Also, just as a story note, Dracula being some kind of anicent blood god manifesting in human culture makes more sense than like ...Lucifier's brother? Lean into your crazy Egyptophilia like the Victorians or Ann pe Rice would! Bringing in the Christian God always makes vampire stories murky.)
posted by The Whelk at 11:56 PM on June 20, 2016 [6 favorites]

Agreed on unsatisfying and sudden. I'm guessing whatever happened to the series happened just after episode 7, 'cause it went off the rails in episode 8 and 9.

On a happier note, I can now cancel my Showtime sub that I bought for the SOLE FRIGGING PURPOSE OF WATCHING PENNY DREADFUL.

But I ain't mad.
posted by Mooski at 10:07 AM on June 21, 2016 [1 favorite]

Fyi, the writer of the series says he realized he wanted to end things about midway through season 2. Higher ups disagreed, but he convinced them.

So yeah, those last two episodes have no excuse for being so disappointing.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 10:20 AM on June 21, 2016 [1 favorite]

He said it. Doesn't mean I believe him.
posted by miss-lapin at 12:07 PM on June 21, 2016 [2 favorites]

Yeah, I don't buy it either. Is there some fear of offending network people by publicly expressing displeasure or disappointment about being dropped? I don't really understand why people involved with the show are so fervently trying to defend these last two episodes and being all like "We meant to do that." What would it hurt to just admit you had roughly one more season planned but you were forced to wrap things up hastily and prematurely?
posted by Ornate Rocksnail at 4:10 PM on June 21, 2016

I don't know, I kind of do buy it. The writers had some real blind spots in season 1 & 2 - the fact that they never gave Sembene any significant subplot, and when they finally did deign to flesh him out a bit it turned out to be just because they wanted to give kill him off to give Ethan more angst; the way they seemed to want us to sympathize with the Creature when he was still such a douche-bro of a rage monster. And so many show runners seem to become convinced of their own brilliance, even when they're steering the show right off the rails. If the 'How I Met Your Mother' writers could think that their finale was a good idea, I can believe these two nitwits thought that they had come up with a good ending for Penny Dreadful.
posted by oh yeah! at 5:46 PM on June 21, 2016 [1 favorite]

Sacrifice herself to avert the Apocalypse? Wait a second, didn't we see that on a season finale of Buffy?

And really, I've never been concocted of this show's feminist credentials- like a Whedon show, it created supposedly stopping female characters, only to torture and screw them over in favor of men. So killing Vanessa really doesn't surprise me.

So was the Whedonesque writing of the characters all that good? Or was it the caliber of the acting they got?
posted by happyroach at 7:23 AM on June 22, 2016 [2 favorites]

The writers had some real blind spots in season 1 & 2

You make valid points... their ability to complete a given narrative arc in sensible and sensical fashion has always been slightly patchy.

It's just difficult for me to comprehend how they were able to tap into some pretty realistic feminine rage at the patriarchy via Vanessa, Lily, Justine, and to an extent Hecate... And then after abruptly killing off Hecate, they chose to profoundly diminish the other three by converting Justine's animal ferocity to a tearful little girl, Vanessa's recently renewed will to live to utter acceptance of the futility of her life, and Lily's murderous rage at the violent misogyny of men to (a more palatable??) grief and self-blame at the death of her daughter. Justine ends up requesting her own death from DORIAN of all men, Vanessa requests hers from Ethan, and Lily seems just... numbed?

I mean, the writers sapped the spirit from each of them, took them from active to passive and fighting to resigned and resolute anger to all-engulfing sorrow... I think frankly their view of death is much more conventional than they understand it to be. It's a hell of a disappointment.
posted by Ornate Rocksnail at 8:55 AM on June 22, 2016 [6 favorites]

It's just difficult for me to comprehend how they were able to tap into some pretty realistic feminine rage at the patriarchy via Vanessa, Lily, Justine, and to an extent Hecate... And then

I think it's like those studies where if you poll guys with the question 'have you/would you ever rape someone' they'll say 'no, of course not!' but then you ask if they have/would have done xyz rape tactics without using the word rape, the percentage of yes answers goes way up. I think if you asked the writers if they were misogynists, they'd say no. But the choices they made say otherwise. (Like that time the Creature nearly killed that woman in the theater troupe in a jealous rage, and the theater director was all "So sorry I have to fire you dear boy, women are crazy, amiright?")

I think the fact that this show had a veneer of feminism is almost entirely to the credit of Eva Fucking Green, Billie Piper, and the other great actresses they cast.
posted by oh yeah! at 11:06 AM on June 22, 2016 [6 favorites]

Ugh. For a show that was SO GOOD when it was good and at least still interesting (at least cinematographically) to watch when it was bad, to end in a big fucking bowl of male tears like that was some serious bullshit.

I felt like I was being punished for liking the show.
posted by Lyn Never at 4:30 PM on June 22, 2016 [7 favorites]

Any chance the Frankenmonster digs Vanessa up, makes Frankenstein reanimate her, and they spend a season tying up loose ends like Dorian and Dracula?
I feel like this is more a question about the realities of TV programming, really.
posted by uosuaq at 6:42 PM on June 22, 2016 [2 favorites]


So I went and had a thought about some of the rage and disappointment.

Vanessa's death is unfortunately in keeping with Victorian gothic tropes - the dangerous woman neutered in death, and absolution through sacrifice. A lot of the underpinning misogyny is a reflection of the original sources and the setting, though they demonstrated rather vigorously that they aren't slaves to the material when it suits them (Dorian and Ethan's dalliances for example) so just ugh. We can do better. We can do better with those tropes.

I would really, really have loved to see Lilly and Ethan meet. I was hoping that was ticking along towards something. Likewise the Lupus Dei thing. I mean really? It was all smoke and no fire. Anyone with a gun could have managed that.

posted by Jilder at 6:32 AM on June 23, 2016 [2 favorites]

Yeah, this season went out with a whimper. The sudden introduction of the fencing Strong Female Protagonist reminded me of that move they do in sitcoms where the ratings are flagging so they introduce an adorable moppet. I will say I was surprised by the revelation that the Native American dude was a werewolf though (although they never did address the racial politics of that storyline in any satisfying way).
posted by whir at 8:50 PM on June 23, 2016 [1 favorite]

posted by Jilder at 5:26 AM on June 24, 2016

Why wouldn't Lily just dismember Dorian? He killed her murder child! He tried to have her brainwashed!

Why would you even have that line about Ethan being Dracula's nemesis, if they're not going to face off?

What was even the point of Caliban's arc this season? Or Jekyll's?

Why isn't Victor suffering at this very fucking moment? The fucking scumbag.
posted by His thoughts were red thoughts at 6:19 AM on June 29, 2016 [2 favorites]

This is the worst finale and I am stunned and angered at both Vanessa's death and also that Lily did not leave Dorian's portrait in flames.
posted by corb at 2:39 PM on October 3, 2017 [1 favorite]

(Came to drop a last load of bile on this show but! you all beat me to it!)
Ethan fights and 'kills' dracula and then in the white room of many, many, many, many candles, Ethan should have argued he couldn't do it, he's to protect her not kill her, then they pray together she accepts god and grabs his gun and kills herself. NoWait! She says he must kill her as she can't since then her soul will be tarnished and if she's really going to go back to big papa sky-beard-man she has to go properly. Maybe they both hold the gun (ugh) or as they're both holding the gun Dracula come bursting (he's not really dead!) in and pulling away from her to shoot Dr.Sweet Ethan accidentally puts one in her. Sweet slinks away and Ethan is even more sad than he's been
Anything else
And Lilly had to rip off Dorian's head. I was ready for that, expecting that. Her just walking away was dumb.
And for Caliban to meet them at the slaughterhouse and take part in the ass kickery. Or something, because he's a great actor and all and a surprisingly true to the original depiction of Frankenstein's monster but ... I mean, was he really her orderly?
And Dr. Frankenstein is really the only monster left standing.
posted by From Bklyn at 5:59 AM on November 28, 2017

Huh. What is dead may never die: Showtime Orders ‘Penny Dreadful’ Follow Up ‘City of Angels’
posted by rewil at 4:22 PM on November 1, 2018

Just saw the spin-off announcement on Vulture this morning and came to post too (weird that the thread never popped into my Recent Activity). I'm still bitter about the series ended, can't imagine I'll leave myself open to being disappointed by the writers again no matter who they cast.
posted by oh yeah! at 5:25 AM on November 2, 2018 [1 favorite]

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