Penny Dreadful S1E8, “Grand Guignol”

And now it’s time to say goodbye to Penny Dreadful.  I came into this season with high hopes, and I’m happy to say that it has surpassed those raised expectations.  It wasn’t perfect, but it was pretty close.  It looked fantastic, and the cast was tremendous.
In the past, I had mentioned that I wanted this story to be wrapped up by the end of this season.  As much as I love the characters involved, I was ready to move on from the stories being told.  With the way this season ended, it looks like we’ll be with these characters for a little while longer.  The good news is that they have wrapped up some of the main storylines.  Or, at the very least, they have wrapped up the storylines that had begun to grow old.  I’m glad they have shed those two storylines and will be moving forward into season 2.

Now, let’s talk about this episode.

I had grown tired of Caliban’s demand for a mate.  Or, rather, I had grown tired of Caliban.  Puffing himself up around Frankenstein (“Demon! Make me a sammich!”) and wilting around others.  It got old in a hurry.  They worked hard to force me into giving him sympathy, but I never found any for him.  Until he had his moment of clarity, that is.  Caliban finally came to terms with the fact that the only person responsible for the monster he became was himself.  “The malignance has grown, you see, from the outside in.”  He let the ugliness turn inwards, and that’s on him.  He finally saw, and he all but begged the gun-toting doctor into ending his life.  “I would rather be the corpse I was than the man I am.  Go ahead.  Pull the trigger.  It would be a blessing.”
Feeling a bit of fatherly affection, Frankenstein lowers the gun and decides to make Caliban a mate: not because it was demanded of him, but because he genuinely cares for his creation.  I loved this.  Giving Caliban a bride came out of love instead of threats.
Of course, Caliban’s gain is Ethan’s loss.  Brona was fading fast, and Frankenstein merely helped her to shuffle loose the mortal coil.  Still, I think it’s the first time the phrase, “Her passing was a thing of grace,” was used after smothering someone with a pillow.  To her credit, Brona didn’t struggle.  Perhaps it was as graceful a passing as could have been expected, given her circumstances.  “I’ll take care of the body,” Frankenstein reassured Ethan.  “We know you will,” we all said.

"I named the pillow Grace."
“I named the pillow Grace.”

A distraught Ethan stumbled to the nearest bar, seeking refuge in the bottom of a filthy glass.  He is confronted there by a pair of Pinkertons. Ethan’s father had sent them to bring him back.  He fights them off and escapes.  “We have underestimated our prey,” they proclaim, and track him down again.  But they made one grave mistake: they confronted him during a full moon, and the Pinkerton agency shrunk by two.
Finally, after weeks of anticipation, we get our reveal: Ethan is a werewolf.  We didn’t see the full transformation, but we did see him all wolfed out, and, to no one’s surprise, he looked pretty similar to Universal’s Wolf Man.  It was not a surprise, but it was a fun reveal.  Guess I’ll have to wait until next season to see if my Jack the Ripper theory was correct.

We also got an end to the Mina storyline.  In the big action sequence of the episode, the gang entered The Grand Guignol with malice towards vampires in their hearts.  We saw a vampire in the rafters in an earlier scene, and we find out that the entire theater is basically a vampire hive.  Ethan finds himself falling through a trap door (he never did learn to mind his surroundings) and being set upon by hungry vampires.  The entire group is overrun before long; it looks bleak for our heroes.  Until Malcolm confronts the leader vampire (not The Master! Not The Master!) and drives his cane through the monster’s heart.  At this point, all the underling vampires retreat into the darkness, Mina shows up, and they all live happily ever after.
Except they don’t.  Because, as we all figured out by now, Mina is a vampire.  She grabs Vanessa and is about to bite her, but Malcolm pulls out his fancy gun and shoots her.  As she lay writhing on the ground, she said, “I’m your daughter.”  His response of, “I already have a daughter,” echoed a conversation he and Ethan had in “Possession”.  And then he shot her in the head.

This whole interaction bothered me a little bit, if only because Malcolm and Vanessa had a conversation earlier in the episode in which he told her, “If I have to sacrifice you for Mina, I will.”  The obviousness of it all really annoyed me.  It was trying to raise the stakes in a situation in which the stakes were already plenty high.  We found out that his relentless pursuit of Mina was partially due to the guilt he felt over his son’s death.  Why did they need yet another conversation about what he would do for his daughter?  It seemed like they were really working hard to set up the whole, “I will choose my daughter over you,” storyline, only to pull the rug out from underneath us.  Only I knew he wouldn’t let Vanessa die.  They were trying to make it a more emotional moment, but it actually damped it a little for me.

Where was Dorian during all of this?  He tried to get back with Vanessa (“I gotta have that booty, gurl,”), only to have Vanessa reject him (she wasted his flavor…damn).  He cried, then he looked at the tear on his finger.  Maybe I’m heartless, but I laughed really hard at that scene.  After the credits rolled, Dorian started a harpsichord emo band and they totally ruled.  Glass Harmonica solo!

Some random thoughts:

– Ethan and Vanessa, hanging out by a brick wall, smoking the marijuana like a cigarette.  I thought Ethan was going to start talking about how the pimpin’ he got in his blood came from his family tree.  Is wolfin’ the same story?  Was the wolf gene passed down, like it was from Harold to Scott?  Or was it more of a “Jordy bit Oz” situation?  I suppose we’ll have to wait for the second season for that.

"Since been wolfin' since been wolfin' since been wolfin'."
“Since been wolfin’ since been wolfin’ since been wolfin’.”

– The scene of Ethan praying over Brona was really sweet.  I never totally bought into their relationship (mostly because we didn’t see them together very often), but I really liked that moment.

– I loved Malcolm buying automatic weapons in a secret room.  Even when Bond isn’t playing Bond he still has his own personal Q.
He also hit on a psychic and lied to her.  In a gun store.  Malcolm Murray’s game is unmatched.

– Vincent (the owner of The Grand Guignol) dropped a couple terrific lines in this episode.
“Show business.  All bitches.”And, after being forced to fire Caliban, “Remember us better than we are.”  I feel like that could’ve been the tagline for this series.

– I have no problem with Billie Piper, but she has some pretty big shoes to fill as The Bride.  Elsa Lanchester was amazing, and that’s the standard she’ll be held up to.
Her and Caliban have to move away, right?  They can’t very well allow them to roam the streets and have Ethan (or any of her former johns) run into her.

Your line to work into casual conversation this week: “The monster is not in my face, but in my soul.”

Penny Dreadful is done, but The Strain starts on July 13.  Get excited.

Penny Dreadful, S1E7, “Possession”

PD - Poster

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?”

Penny Dreadful S1E6, “What Death Can Join Together”

PD - Poster

I apologize on the tardiness of this.  I was out of town for the past week-and-a-half and had no way to watch this until yesterday.  I’ll have my episode 7 recap up tomorrow.

Between the flashback episode and being gone for a week, I had almost forgotten about Ethan and Dorian’s night on the town.
This episode opened with a sweet scene between Ethan The Gunfighter and Brona The Lunger.  He kissed her bloody lips and pledged to take care of her until the end of time.  When he said, “I love you with all my heart,” she responded with, “And I you.”  It was a really sweet moment.
Brona also asked Ethan where he had been the night before.  He responded simply with, “I went out with Mr. Gray,” which is the mildest possible way he could have described his evening.  I am now stealing that line for whenever I have a particularly crazy night.  (Because we accountants are known for our hard-partying lifestyles, you see.)

Dorian, meanwhile, is busy hopping from one conquest to the next.  He appears at Malcolm’s mansion in search of Vanessa, and woos her with one of my favorite exchanges of this episode.
“Do you have time for an adventure?”
“Is there any other time?”
He takes a picture of her, and they end up making a dinner date.  Dinner with Dorian only ends one way: sexytime with Dorian.  As near as I can tell, Dorian’s character description reads like this: “have sex with everything that moves.  EVERYTHING.”  I’m putting The Master on the list as Dorian’s next conquest.
But Vanessa isn’t like other girls, and the night doesn’t go quite as nicely as Dorian had planned.  In the throes of passion, Vanessa lost herself to the demon within.  She has made comments about needing to be in total control of herself to keep the darkness at bay.  In that moment, she lost control.  (I also like to think that the demon is brought on in a moment of true happiness.  Where is Jenny Calendar’s Gypsy Curse Gang when you need them?)
Eva Green has absolutely owned this show, and she has been terrific when she’s able to let the crazy out.  The episode ended with a possessed and disheveled Vanessa staggering into Malcolm’s room and promptly levitating and spinning in place.  She’s interesting because she sleeps above the covers.  Four feet above the covers.

While Vanessa is showing Dorian the darkness within, Ethan, Malcolm and Sembene decide to check out a “plague ship”.  Upon entering, they find a bunch of lifeless female bodies.  Malcolm inspects every one, looking for his beloved Mina.  “Not her.  Not her.”  I franticly shouted, “Who cares?  Kill them while they’re down!”  But it was no use.  They walked through the bodies without a care in the world.  This isn’t a field of posies, fellas.
Sure enough, the bodies all rose and attacked.  This is why you don’t walk unprepared into a nest of vampires.  Still, the three of them were able to fend off all attackers.  It was a tremendous scene.  Far and away the best action sequence of the series.
Someone kicked a lantern, and, while the ship burned, The Master emerged holding a screaming Mina and bolted.  Malcolm is still holding onto the belief that Mina can be saved, but Sembene is taking a more measured approach, ie., we’ll probably have to stake, decapitate and burn her.  For some reason, Malcolm is not overly excited about this thought.

Ethan snapped on Malcolm and dropped the line, “You’re pretty goddamn sure you know what’s going on all the time.” Through this show, Malcolm and Vanessa have been the mysterious, all-knowing entities behind all of this business, but that image is starting to crack a bit.

We get to see a bit of Frankenstein, Caliban, and Van Helsing in this episode.  I’ll tell you this much right now: Caliban is really getting on my nerves.  He’s an imposing, threatening, demanding figure around Frankenstein, but timid everywhere else.  He demands that Frankenstein make him a mate, but he doesn’t take advantage of the opportunities right in front of him.  His actress crush visits him in his lair and opens up to him, only to have him hide and not say more than two words to her.  I realize that she’s not undead, but he could have at least tried to say something to her.  Instead, he leaves her a book about Lucifer (her brother’s name, apparently) and watches from the shadows while she opens it.  As far as first moves go, it was pretty weak.
Caliban is not interested in working on anything for himself.  He wants a mate created for him.  I know dating is hard, but it’s a pretty big step from, “That girl may not like me,” to “I will be alone until someone is created specifically for me out of dead bodies.”  He wants Frankenstein to do for him what he is unwilling to do for himself.

While Caliban is totally screwing up with the actress, Frankenstein is hanging out with Van Helsing.  I love their rapport.  Very natural.  Frankenstein sees Van Helsing as a kind of father figure, and the childless Van Helsing looks upon Frankenstein as a son.  Eventually, Van Helsing educates Frankenstein about vampires by holding up a copy of “Varney, the Vampire”, a very popular penny dreadful (you can download it here) and saying, “[the author] missed the facts but caught the truth.”
Their night ends in heartbreak when Caliban shows up and snaps Van Helsing’s neck to speed up Frankenstein’s process.  That scene felt like a punch to the gut.
It’s worth noting that Frankenstein is working on creating a mate for Caliban.  Earlier in the episode, he’s scouting potential female bodies to use.  Try asking a question every now and then, Caliban.

I really liked this episode.  Where the last couple felt like they were running in quicksand, this episode really seemed to move things forward.  I’m really excited to see what the last two episodes have in store.

A final note:

Frankenstein drops a Percy Shelley line (“No more let life divide what death can draw together”), which led me to look into the timeline.  As you’re no doubt aware, it was Mary Shelley who wrote Frankenstein, and now her creation is quoting works from her husband.  It was all very meta.  Anyway, I wanted to see when the pieces were written.  Mary’s Frankenstein was originally published in 1818, and Percy’s Adonais – the poem the line was taken from – was published in 1821.  So Frankenstein would have been in existence when Percy Shelley wrote that line.  Good to know.

Your line to work into casual conversation this week: “The dead travel fast.”

Penny Dreadful S1E5, “Closer Than Sisters”

PD - Poster

Much like the Caliban-centric “Resurrection”, this episode is very heavy on flashbacks.  And by “very heavy” I mean the only non-flashback moments are Vanessa writing a letter to Mina.  The contents of that letter are what we see on the screen, which means we get the occasional voiceover from Vanessa.
After the last couple episodes, I’ve talked about how they need to move the plot forward a bit.  At first blush, a flashback episode doesn’t seem to do much of that.  But a lot of the questions this show has raised so far have been in the ambiguity of the actions of our characters.  I wanted some clarity, and this episode delivered.

PD - Vanessa & Mina

The main question that was answered was this: what’s up with Mina?  There has been chatter among Vanessa and Malcolm about how they both betrayed her, and we get to see that here.  The short version goes like this: Vanessa & Mina’s families were very close.  Vanessa found Malcolm having sex with her mother in a hedge maze (is it possible to see a hedge maze and not immediately think about The Shining?), which inspired Vanessa to try the same thing with Peter (Malcolm’s son) years later.  He refuses, so Vanessa decides to have sex with Mina’s fiance (the mustachioed Captain Branson) the day before the wedding.  Mina sees this, calls off the wedding, and finds a new suitor in Jonathan Harker.
And so we see how betrayal of Mina has led them all to this point.  Malcolm cheats, Vanessa cheats, Mina marries Jonathan and Jonathan leads her to Dracula.  It was a line of deadly, sexy dominoes that all fell.

But there’s more to it than that.  Vanessa’s demon – already seen in “Seance” – shows up here.  At an early age, Vanessa realized something was wrong, like something was always lurking over her shoulder.  While the demon didn’t seem to manifest itself as outright possession until after she had sex with Captain Branson, it seemed to be within her all along, guiding her actions.  In an early exchange with Peter, he exclaims, “I’m bloodthirsty; [Vanessa] is just ghoulish.”  He didn’t know how right he was.  That’s not to excuse Vanessa’s actions, but it’s clear that something evil was within her, and her decisions were not always completely her own.
And so we’re treated to some more Eva Green possession scenes.  And, just like in “Seance”, she absolutely knocked those scenes out of the park.  The creepy voices she uses.  The way she tilts her head.  The herky-jerky movements.  If I didn’t know any better, I would swear that Eva Green was actually possessed.
What makes Green so great in this episode is that it’s not all writhing and screaming.  She absolutely owns the quieter moments.  She’s able to flash a smile that is simultaneously sweet and sinister, with eyes that reflect the demon within.  I can see why people are drawn to Vanessa, but I can also see why they keep their distance.

"Does your soul taste as good as it smells?"
“Does your soul taste as good as it smells?”

We know Vanessa is possessed, but no one else does.  They think she’s crazy, so they ship her off to an asylum, where she promptly says creepy things to the doctor and tries to eat his face off with her chomping teeth.  I’ll say this for the girl: she knows how to make a good first impression.
They attempt to cure Vanessa through a series of terrible procedures.  Where last week’s montage would have been soundtracked by Hall & Oates, this week’s would have been soundtracked by Tool.  She’s forced to sit in an ice bath.  She’s chained to a wall – crucifix style – and blasted with a high-powered hose.  And, finally, her head is shaved and a hole is drilled in her head.  Ice water and bloodletting.  Just another Saturday night.

"I know the pieces fit."
“I know the pieces fit.”

This “cures” her in that she’s more docile than she was before, but we know she’s not cured.  The demon never truly leaves.  Peter – now several years older than he was in the Vanessa-dubbed, Infinite Jest-sounding “Year of the Inadequate Beard” – came to see her before he left on his ill-fated trip to Africa with his father, only to have her tell him, “You’re going to die there.”  (This is almost word-for-word what Regan told the astronaut in The Exorcist: “You’re going to die up there.”  Although, thankfully, Vanessa did not urinate on the rug.  That thing really tied the room together.)

PD - Vanessa at gate

In this episode, we get an answer about another burning question: “Will Eva Green get naked on this show?”  The answer is, “Yes, but it was way more creepy than sexy.”

Towards the end of the episode, we see Vanessa & Mina talking on a beach, in what appears to be their reconciliation.  But it takes a turn when we find out that Mina has already been taken by Dracula.  It’s a really quiet and sweet scene that quickly turned chilling.  It was a great way to close out their story, and it leads directly to Vanessa seeking Malcolm out and jump-starting their quest.  Malcolm’s proclamation of “We shall speak [of death] together,” wasn’t exactly a rousing speech, but it put both of them in agreement of what they had to do.

The episode ends with Vanessa finishing the letter, sealing it in an envelope, and placing it in a box containing hundreds of identical envelopes.  That led to this question: what’s in the other envelopes?  She has written hundreds of letters and has only now gotten around to writing this story?  Are the others just mundane daily details?  Or do each of them contain the exact same story?  Is repeating this story every day the only way Vanessa can deal with her guilt?  Does it keep the demon at bay?

I initially balked at the idea of another flashback heavy episode, but I really liked this.  It answered some burning questions (“thank God Malcolm didn’t sleep with his daughter!”), and featured some terrific performances.  Seeing Timothy Dalton playing a younger version of Malcolm Murray was great: he was so excited and full of life.  I was a big fan of his giddy recollection of meeting up with a tribe of cannibals.

"If the cannibals bashed my head in, all sorts of secrets would come tumbling out."
“If the cannibals bashed my head in, all sorts of secrets would come tumbling out.”

But the real star of this episode was Eva Green.  She was mesmerizing and terrifying every time she was on the screen.

Episode 105

Your line to work into casual conversation this week: “I love you enough to kill you.”

Penny Dreadful S1E4, “Demimonde”

Penny Dreadful - London

Look.  We all knew it was only a matter of time before an episode opened with a Dorian Gray orgy.  And it didn’t disappoint.  You know what they say: ain’t no orgy like a Dorian Gray orgy cuz a Dorian Gray orgy don’t stop.
Except, eventually it does, and Dorian is able to grab a drink and head down to take a look at his portrait.  We don’t see it, but I can imagine what it looks like at this point.

Beats New York in the 80s
Beats New York in the 80s

After witnessing Dorian looking vaguely bored at all the carnal delights laid out in front of him, we see Vanessa Ives, hanging out on a bench outside of a church.  A little girl by the name of Lucy (Westenra?) comes up to have a chat with her.  It’s a sweet little scene, and we get a chance to see Eva Green play Vanessa as something other than an aloof mystic.  She smiles.  She laughs.  She seems to be enjoying the company of this little girl who has recently lost her mother.
Until little Lucy drops this line: “We put mother under the ground, but I don’t think she’ll stay there.  They never stay, do they?”  Lucy was speaking of Heaven (or Hell.  Lucy can’t judge the eternal soul of her mother, and my views on the matter will have to wait for a larger space), but Vanessa immediately thought of the undead creatures she finds herself at war with.  A sweet scene turned mysterious in an instant.  It’s the Vanessa Ives way.

We got a chance to see Frankenstein (of steady hand) and Van Helsing (of steady heart) working side-by-side.  Their time together is cut short when Caliban appears, once more demanding a mate.  Apparently immortals can be every bit as impatient as mortals.  When Caliban demands a beautiful bride, Frankenstein replies sarcastically with “To match its mate?”  I expected Frankenstein to give himself a high-five after that comeback.  Although throwing shade at an undead creature of your own creation probably isn’t the best idea.  Caliban is strong and has a bit of an anger issue.  In the future, it would be smart to keep your quips to yourself, Doctor.

Fenton (aka Renfield) is still chained up at Malcolm Murray’s house.  The gang tries to cure him with a blood transfusion, but it doesn’t take.
This was an interesting scene.  Frankenstein initially asks Ethan for some of his blood, but Ethan refuses.  “Trust me, you don’t want [my blood].”  Is it because he doesn’t want his werewolf blood inside of an already deranged man?  We don’t have a definitive take on the matter, but I’ll give it a wholehearted “yes”.

Not long afterwards, Ethan leaves, disgusted with their treatment of Fenton.  On his way out, he asks Vanessa, “How far do we go?”  But he has his answer before Vanessa even opens her mouth.  In the previous episode, Malcolm said, “Pledge to go as far as your soul will allow.”  Is Ethan trying to atone for the darkness in his past (as well as his Ripperwolf present) by distancing himself from this?  Is this a last-ditch effort to save his soul?

Fenton eventually escapes the only way he knows how: by gnawing at his wrists until he can slip out of his shackles.  Free (and full on his own wrist meat), Fenton roams about house on all fours, quiet as a recently devoured cat (his appetite is insatiable).  As it turns out, Fenton isn’t the only creature stalking the house that night.  A vampire (Dracula?) shows up, and immediately retreats.
He escapes, but Fenton does not, and is eventually killed by having his head jammed onto a piece of glass.  His final word – “Mother?” – was absolutely devastating.
I’m going to miss Fenton.  He was played by Olly Alexander, who did a terrific job.  His portrayal of Renfield was right up there with Tom Waits in Bram Stoker’s Dracula.

PD - Fenton

Ethan takes Brona out to the Grand Guinol theater to watch a werewolf play called “The Transformed Man.”  I loved Billie Piper in this scene.  She was full of wonder and excitement.  Her happiness was infectious, and I found myself smiling every time she was on the screen.

19th century prom pic
19th century prom pic

It didn’t last long, though.  They ran into Vanessa and Dorian (“Didn’t you recently cough up blood on me in the throes of passion?”) after the play.  Brona felt out of place, left quickly, and ended up curled up on the side of the road, coughing up blood while people stepped past her without a glance.  It was heartbreaking.

Ethan was upset, so he dealt with it as best as he knew how: by hitting the town with his new buddy Dorian.  Watching dogs kill rats in an underground club.  Getting in fights.  Drinking lots of absinthe.  And eventually making out while listening to Wagner.  All-in-all, a pretty good first date.  I wanted it to be a medley set to Hall & Oates’ “You Make My Dreams Come True,” but, unlike Dorian, we can’t all get what we want.

Oh, the things Dorian could do with these fellas
Oh, the things Dorian could do with these fellas

I really liked this episode.  Still, I can’t shake the feeling that we’re now halfway through the season and seem to be stuck in the beginning of the story.  We’re piling up more questions than answers.  They need to start answering some of those questions soon, lest the last couple episodes be filled with nothing but answers.

There are a few reasons I love this show.  The set design is a big one, but the language is at the top of the list.  It’s a beautifully written show.  My notes for each episode include quite a few quotes, but I can’t fit them all in.  It’s poetic without feeling pretentious.  I love it dearly, and can’t believe there are only 4 episodes left.

Your line to work into casual conversation this week: “We can lose every battle except the last.”  Pretty sure I said that at work today.