Penny Dreadful, S1E7, “Possession”

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The episode opens with Vanessa lying on a couch, uttering the line, “To be beautiful is to be almost dead, isn’t it?”  Before long, she’s talking to Malcolm in her creepy Mina voice and hurling things around the room with her mind.  It’s clear that this episode will be The Eva Green Show.
And that’s perfectly fine.  I love Eva Green, and the show really sparkles when it puts her and her considerable talents on display.  From the opening scene to the closing, we were treated to yet another fantastic performance from Eva Green.  But it wasn’t just her.  Everyone turned in a great episode.
For the most part, the entire episode took place inside Malcolm’s mansion.  The demon that had resurfaced in Vanessa during her no-pants party with Dorian was out in full force, threatening to consume her completely.

The gang was trying everything they could think of to heal her, which mainly consisted of Dope Fiend Frankenstein dosing her up when things got a little wild.  And by “a little wild” I mean ripping strips of flesh off her body, biting a priest’s face off, etc.

There was a lot of talk about God in this episode.  I forgot to count, but the question, “Do you believe in God?” was brought up at least 3 times.  My favorite response came from the cynical Frankenstein: “I wish I did.  I believe in everything but God.”  Sembene’s response of “I believe in everything” was a close second.

There was some great imagery in this episode as well.  On top of the possession stuff, there was a great scene with Malcolm and Frankenstein.  As they’re talking in the den, Frankenstein finds himself playing with one of Vanessa’s tarot cards that is sitting on a table.  The scene seems to be building towards Frankenstein looking down and finding some meaningful clue in the card.  Instead, a bunch of spiders bust loose from under the cards.  Thousands of spiders, filling the room.  While they weren’t the best looking CGI spiders I’ve ever seen, it was still a great scene.  I loved the misdirection with the tarot card.
By the way, the worst CGI spiders I’ve ever seen may have been in Urban Legends: Bloody Mary, but don’t hold me to that.

All this talk of possession and spiders makes it seem like it was a completely dark episode.  Don’t get me wrong, it was extremely dark and creepy, but it also had one of the funnier moments of the series.
The only time we see Caliban in this episode, he is lurking outside a window, staring at Frankenstein.  He could be hitting up bars for women, but instead he’s stalking his maker.  Apparently The Grand Guignol was closed that night?  We don’t hear Caliban talk in this episode (thankfully), but the intent is clear.  Frankenstein, attempting to free himself from his mistake, asks Ethan for shooting lessons.  What follows is a scene of Ethan and Frankenstein shooting at bottles in the catacombs of the mansion, giggling like little kids.  When Sembene comes down to tell them to keep it down, Ethan makes a crack about “being in trouble with Dad,” and they giggle again.  It was a light and funny scene in an episode without much humor.  I really enjoyed seeing the two of them pal around.
The “Dad” comment was the second mention in this episode to the group being a family unit.  The other was Ethan calling out Malcolm for desperately seeking Mina, yet being so cold towards Vanessa.  “You’ve got a girl dying in there.  Not some monster with fangs.  You want a daughter?  There she is.”

We got a couple allusions to Ethan being a werewolf in this episode.  The first one is when Vanessa describes her demon to Ethan as something like, “an animal scratching to get out.”  The second is when Ethan threatens to rip Malcolm’s throat out.

The possession finally ends when Ethan – in lieu of killing Vanessa – holds a pendant of St. Jude to her head and screams in Latin until the demon leaves (or, at least, goes into hiding).  Upon finishing the task, he promptly grabbed his jacket and hat and walked out of the house.  It was basically the Victorian version of a mic drop.  “Chandler out.”
I know this series got picked up for another season, but I thought I remembered hearing that it will be a different story with a different cast.  With that in mind, I thought it was at least possible that Vanessa wouldn’t live to see the next episode.  The threat of her death gave an added tension to the entire episode.

I feel like I say this every week, but I loved this episode.  It had a great atmosphere, was really creepy, and had all members of the cast giving 100%.  Even though it was confined to the house, it really helped to move things along, and set up what should be a terrific finale.  There are a lot of things that need to be resolved, and I’m not sure if they’re going to be able to do that.  But this show has earned my trust.  I’ll be sad to see it go, but I’m really excited to see what this Sunday holds.

Some added notes:

There was a really sweet scene between Ethan and Vanessa, only to turn out that the Ethan Vanessa saw was really the devil.  It went from fairly heartwarming to really creepy at a moment’s notice.  A really well-done scene.  He went from smiling slyly and saying how she might fall in love with him to uttering lines like, “I want you to be the mother of evil.”

Malcolm telling Ethan, “You’re not that good,” only to have Ethan respond with, “I know.”  Not quite Han and Leia, but I’ll take it.

I loved Ethan cheering on Frankenstein’s shooting by saying, “Take it easy Annie Oakley!”

Big fan of Frankenstein carrying around a suitcase filled with all kinds of pills.  Uppers.  Downers.  Whatever you need.  He was basically Dr. Robert.

I like when the group basically forced a terrified priest into administering Vanessa’s last rites.  He turned to leave, only to have Ethan step up and put out a hand to stop him.  I really wanted him to say, “Easy there little dogie.”

Oliver Cotton played Father Matthews in this episode.  He played Jack the Ripper in Shanghai Knights.  I doubt they used that as any kind of source material, but I enjoyed that little connection between worlds.

Your line to work into casual conversation this week: “Is there anything more comical than a fat woman weeping?”