“Do you really want to be normal?”
This is not the end, merely a continuation. Season 2 of Penny Dreadful has already been confirmed by Showtime and will contain 10 episodes. One wonders if the original pitch for Season 1 planned to have the same number, but was denied. Such speculation is impossible to verify, but the finale, Grand Guignol, does pack an awful lot into an hour. There were definitely some characters – cough Sembene (Danny Sapani) cough – who didn’t get enough screen time, which one hopes will be rectified next year.
Nothing feels rushed, though, except perhaps the big set piece, which sees our heroes crawling around the Guignol theatre, all shadows and cellars and high wooden walkways – perfect for swashbuckling. The action itself is directed by James Hawes (who helmed last week’s episode) but is very similar to the previous fights from the first episode and the plague ship from Episode 6. Really, by now, it would be nice to see something a little different. That doesn’t mean it isn’t satisfying – the big emotional beats for Sir Malcolm (Timothy Dalton) all hit home – but some Neil Marshall-esque splatter would have been so fitting for the location that it feels a little like a missed opportunity.
There is a lot left unresolved by design, but there are major breakthroughs. Dr. Frankenstein (Harry Treadaway) makes a decision regarding his promise to Caliban (Rory Kinnear), the trajectory of which could have easily been guessed, but when the time comes is very intimate – and all the more horrific for it. With all the death surrounding them, Victor has somehow managed to be above it. A Doctor at heart, a healer. His actions mark a point of no return, although one feels sure that he will wish it were otherwise. How soon, though? That’s the question.
With Brona (Billie Piper) fading fast and his past catching up with him, Ethan (Josh Hartnett) becomes closer and closer to losing control. Men from across the ocean come to take him away, in chains if necessary. It’s another aspect of Penny Dreadful that has been hinted at throughout the season, but this is a teaser for what’s to come as much as anything. The bounty hunters/Pinkerton agents (Stephen Lord and Julian Black Antelope) do a lot with very little screen time so if they get an expanded part in Season 2, they’d be most welcome.
Penny Dreadful is made as an ensemble, but Vanessa (Eva Green) is the real star and it is appropriate that the final note should be hers. During the episode, she contacts a priest (Henry Goodman) about the possibility of an exorcism. This priest is not like the other one, who would do his duty and no more. This priest has done it before. He’s from the valleys, you see, and it was more of a community matter . It’s like being touched, he tells her, by the back hand of God. He finishes with a question. Like so many others, the answer is dangled before us.
Next year in Jerusalem, Penny Dreadful, next year in Jerusalem.
Season 1 to 3 of Penny Dreadful are available on Sky On Demand. Don’t have Sky? You can also stream it on NOW TV, as part of a £6.99 Sky Entertainment Month Pass subscription – with a 7-day free trial. Season 1 and 2 are also available on DVD, Blu-ray and pay-per-view VOD.
Where can I watch Penny Dreadful online in the UK on pay-per-view VOD?