Penny Dreadful, a show which deals with all things late 19th century. From witches to cholera, it’s all covered as well as so much more. Yes it can all be confusing at times, however once you get your head around it and realise that Sir Malcolm was indeed James Bond, it gets much easier.
I’m not going to lie, a lot of the stuff in season 1 of Penny Dreadful went over my head and at times I struggle to understand what the fuck was going on. I wouldn’t say that I had this problem to the same extent in season 2, however still at times Penny Dreadful is a show which really I can’t follow. It’s a show I enjoy and think is pretty damn good, it’s just a bit confusing. Penny Dreadful is sort of like how I don’t understand how it’s nice to have someone scratch your head (I’m not a cat after all) but I like it. I guess you don’t need to understand everything…or I’m an idiot…it’s one of the two.
There will be spoilers in this review of Penny Dreadful season 2.
This season of Penny Dreadful introduced the new big bad of the witches, after last season big bad the vampires had sort of been defeated. Again their main focus of desire was Vanessa, this time to seduce her to the dark side and marry her off to the devil, so as to bring upon some sort of apocalypse from the joining of their two souls, or something to that end.
It was an interesting dynamic change, going from the faceless vampire hoards in the first season, to the very noticeable witches in season two. Finally we had a face and personality to link towards the evil that was off screen, and it was pretty fucking freaky to be fair (fucking dolls…). In contrast to the vampires who threw numbers at the problem, the witches used cunning, the magic arts and womanly charms to try and achieve their final goal.
Things such as the indoctrination of Malcolm, the visions which had a tendency to end in suicide or most of all their playing about with weird dolls (including how they achieved certain aspects of the dolls), the witches were much more intimidating antagonists.
In the end the witches got theirs, however their collapse was partially caused by one of their own and her hubris. Sadly we ended up losing Sembene (to death), Ethan (to imprisonment because of the guilt from killing Sembene) and Viktor (to the old drugs again), whilst not truly defeating the witches. Which means that we now have both the remnants of both antagonists from the two seasons still running amok, which should create for extra tension going forward.
The season ended on a very sombre tone, half the cast are off to some other part of the world and another is off to the clouds so high on that sweet nectar. It will be interesting to see how they manage to get all the characters back together, seeing as one is in America, one is in Africa and another is in the arctic somewhere, you know that they will end back up in London, but the question is how, when and more importantly why?
Caliban was at a bit of a loose end in this season I felt; it isn’t that his story arc was particularly bad, more that it didn’t feel like it really contributed to the overall story very much. His meetings with Vanessa were great and handled incredibly well, a less well written show would have had them realise that they have acquaintances with Frankenstein, however by not doing so they made their scenes much more impactful. Caliban’s unfortunate interaction with the Putney’s was another sad situation for him. It doesn’t seem to matter how nice he is to others, he will always be treated as a monster, despite those who see him as such are monsters themselves.
A lot of Penny Dreadful is the main characters struggling to come to terms with who they actually are. Much like Caliban, Ethan had serious problems with his actions at the end of season one, where he went super werewolf and slaughtered a number of people. This led to an interesting dynamic of having a criminal investigation on him from Scotland Yard. It is weird how in television sometimes, you will openly support a person who is clearly guilty from receiving just punishment.
The one character I have never quite got in Penny Dreadful and I have always felt that he fells like he is an outsider (possibly deliberate) to what is actually going on, is Dorian Gray. He’s always sort of around the periphery of what is actually going on, never truly getting involved but there for a reason which can’t quite be understood. I’m not too sure that his story arc this season added anything, however by the end of the season things began to unfold which can only be good for the character.
It began by him killing Angelique for discovering his secret, only for him to team up with Lily (who got rid of the terrible accent) in a weird immortal team sort of thing. Dorian has clearly been turned into a bad guy and Lily’s long game on Frankenstein was especially cruel, made more so when you consider that he had finally thought he had found someone who could relate to him, a creation he could be proud of, only for it to be all torn away in the most humiliating manner. For the first time since watching Penny Dreadful, I am actually interested in seeing what will happen with Dorian, which makes for a nice change from wondering why what he’s doing matters to the story.
One of the things which I love about Penny Dreadful is that they film it in such a dark manner. There is a certain feel to the show which is very in tune with the subject matter, the writing and dialogue is also top notch. The standout episode this year was probably the origins story of Vanessa and her initial steps into witch hood, it was very well done and gave a greater understanding of the events of the season overall, the perfect flashback. May I add that I’d love to see an Ethan flashback for why he left America; hopefully we’ll get that in season three.
I really like Penny Dreadful, it is well crafted, the acting is of the highest quality and the subject matter is different to anything on TV currently. It can be confusing at times, and I do find myself asking what the fuck a lot, however it is a show which has really come along and with this cast, writing and a number of untouched Penny Dreadfuls, I can only imagine it will get better.
So what did you think of Penny Dreadful season 2? Are you wondering why you can’t get those dolls out of your dreams? Do you think that Ferdinand Lyle may possibly (although I’m not sure) be a homosexual gentleman? Who will Dorian have sex with next on the show? Well leave a comment and share those thoughts!
If you’re interested, then why not check out my Penny Dreadful season 1 review by clicking this link.