This Sunday, John Logan turns in the last chapter of Penny Dreadful season two. Even more than the first year, his Victorian fever dream has taken on the cadence and aesthetic of a windswept adventure of demons, horrors, and unrequited romantic interludes amongst the moors. Yet, like even the tour de force one-episode guest spot by Patti LuPone, this too must come to an end. But not before an undoubtedly Grand Guignol finale.
Thus with only so many hours between now and season two’s closing, “And They Were Enemies,” let’s give our annual educated guess for what to expect.
Two Witches, a Werewolf, and the Devil Walk Into a Parlor…
It seems like Ethan Chandler—or is that Lawrence Talbot?—will be at the center of much that happens in the Penny Dreadful season two finale. Besides having the penultimate episode end on a full moon cliffhanger with Josh Hartnett’s character embracing his furrier dark side—as well as disappointingly slaughtering the perpetually underused Sembene—the entire season seems predicated on pushing Ethan and Vanessa closer together before ripping them apart. Indeed, just like at the episode title, “And They Were Enemies.”
But before any of that, Ethan’s first order of business is to fulfill his celestial duty by being the toothy servant of God and saving Vanessa Ives from the Devil’s Brood that is preparing to offer Vanessa to her arranged intended…yet, despite a preview image of Werewolf Chandler striking out at Madame Kali, I don’t believe for a minute that her death will so anti-climactic.
Rather, I imagine that we will get a very good look at the Penny Dreadful Devil when Hecate intervenes.
Up until this point, Lucifer has only appeared in the guise of other people, taking on countenances like an Internet troll uses different names to torment the unsuspecting. But the Devil also took hold of Vanessa’s body in what is still the series’ best episode, as well as a strong spiritual successor to William Friedkin, in last year’s “Possession.” Now, it is time for the curtain to come down, much like the oft-hinted at Dorian Gray painting’s revelation.
The Devil will manifest and Vanessa will finally see her most insistent suitor in the flesh (so to speak) as the demon drags Madame Kali kicking and screaming into Hell due to some kind of mischief orchestrated by Hecate. Yet, rather than ruling as the new Queen Bee witch with Ethan Chandler at her side, Hecate will then likewise be dispatched (or disemboweled) by the werewolf. Finally, having seen the true faces of both the Devil and Ethan Chandler, Vanessa will know all…
Ethan Turns Himself In
Unfortunately for television shippers, this does not mean passions fulfilled. While it appears from the preview that Vanessa (having seemingly lost her soul to murder in a previous episode, and now likely witnessing the Devil firsthand) is open to consummating her relationship with the good Mr. Chandler, I do not think Ethan will acquiesce.
I cannot guess if the cause will be Ethan disappointed that Vanessa has strayed so far from God in recent episodes or Vanessa herself incredulous to Ethan’s months of deceit, but the romance will be left up in the air when Lawrence Talbot finally agrees to what Scotland Yard has been hounding him to do all season: turn himself in. This, for the record, would also be a great reason for John Talbot to cross the Atlantic next season.
Caliban Escapes and Slaughters the Putnam Family
Does this really even need explaining? Hardly conjecture, everyone knew the second that Lavinia shut that door on Caliban that he’d soon be shutting his fingers around her wretched throat (not to mention that of her father’s too). I will say it is a credit to John Logan for inverting the “blind person is the Monster’s friend” story beat from Mary Shelley’s novel, not to mention its most memorable reuses in Bride of Frankenstein and Young Frankenstein.
Dorian, Lily Frankenstein, and Caliban’s Reward
Which brings us back to the main Frankenstein storyline this season. First, I must commend Penny Dreadful for the entire Lily Frankenstein subplot. While I have always found it a fascinating avenue to take the Bride of Frankenstein trope, and even wrote at length about how it could evolve past her birth and rejection of the Monster, I did not imagine this Grand Guignol retelling of Pygmalion could end so bloodily. But it is fantastic that it has.
Lily Frankenstein stunned everyone to silence, including the loquacious Caliban, when she revealed she is the personification of a woman scorned.
…But I do not think she is so clever as she intends. While she tries to play Caliban and Victor off of each other, it is her confidence in manipulating Dorian Gray that will be his undoing. Dorian is quite old in Penny Dreadful. Judging by the painting, I’d even wager centuries. And last week, he hinted that he was the member of an occultist society. Somehow, I imagine he is linked to the Dracula/Lucifer fallen angels brethren, even if it’s less directly than Kali and Hecate.
He and/or his society will kill this Lily aberration, and leave the body for Victor to find. Meanwhile, Caliban will have grown bitter indeed with the fairer sex after being so artfully manipulated by Lavinia. He will henceforth choose to warn Victor, who he loves like a father despite his outcries to the contrary. Yet, when he goes to Victor, both will find what is left of Lily, and Victor will determine that Caliban is the culprit. “And They Were Enemies,” indeed.
…With that said, if Lily does die, it would be quite entertaining and welcome if Victor brings her back a second time. Oh, what games we could then have in season three!
The Company is Dissolved
Also like episode title suggests, it seems inevitable that the band will be breaking up for season three. Sembene is dead; Ethan Chandler will probably be in jail; and Lord knows if Sir Malcolm will even be sane enough to string a full sentence together.
Nonetheless, I imagine though that he will, because it seems like Vanessa is going to learn the truth this season. Evelyn Poole heavily hinted in the eighth episode of this year that Sir Malcolm is Vanessa’s true biological father. Not only do I hope this to be the case but I suspect it will be explicitly stated when a broken, old Malcolm clings to the last blood relation that he has. For this reason, as she loses Ethan, and Victor goes off into his own madness of possibly chasing Caliban out of England (and to the North?), that Vanessa will close ranks with her father.
Besides, her and Dalton’s intensely curious chemistry of familial love and personal disdain has always been a stronger dynamic than the Ethan/Vanessa shipper-baiting romance. Refocusing on these two circling the wagons for season three could be well worth a howl. This is especially true, because I suspect that we’ll be making…
A Major Step Towards Dracula
While we have not seen a blood droplet of vampire lore in season two, I imagine it will come back in a big way either in season three or (hopefully an inevitable) season four. Whichever year he might appear though, there is little doubt that he is coming since season two hinted heavily that in this mythology, Dracula is not a Wallachian Prince, but rather a brother to Lucifer.
The entire season has been marketed around “When Lucifer Fell, He Did Not Fall Alone,” and as Ferdinand Lyle helpfully translated for us, this other party is a brother and fellow forsaken angel to Lucifer. Apparently in this world, God decided that while Lucifer will rule in the pits of Hell, that one angel should be allowed to wallow in the taste of humanity’s blood on Earth. So, we have irrefutable proof that the “Master” Mina tragically fell in worship of is a different beast altogether from the one that the Poole girls covet.
Thus while the mother and daughter witches seem predestined to lose on Sunday night, it might be the ripe time to introduce Dracula proper—or at least hint at his existence. He might not even be Transylvanian. What if he is of the Egyptian variety? It would certainly help explain why they should please, please, please not kill off the lovably batshit Lyle in this week’s finale.
In any case, we have already explored how Bram Stoker’s literary Dracula is quite intentionally a secret blueprint for Penny Dreadful’s cast and story. It likewise seems inevitable that he’ll soon cast his spell again in Miss Ives’ general direction.
Those are my predictions. Agree? Disagree? Want to laugh at how wrong I was after Sunday night? Let me know in the comment section below!