Welcome to the SURPRISE series finale of Penny Dreadful!
I am not happy ya’ll. The last week I have gone through all 5 stages of grief and I’m still not sure I’ve gotten to acceptance yet. So come on into my angry gif and review party
John Logan and the Showtime President David Nevins gave several interviews defending their decision to end the show after three beautiful, almost perfect seasons and I’m calling total bullshit on their spiel. Maybe I’m wrong, but I just can not believe that after SO much set up all season long, so many new characters introduced, that they decided to chuck it all away and end the series.
That’s not the only problem I have with the ending either. The character of Vanessa Ives was revolutionary. She was a woman out of her time, deeply religious, and fought tooth and nail to save her damn self, with the support and love from her found family.
What did we get here? Well, for starters in a two hour finale Vanessa was only in about five minutes of the whole thing, and for not only a main character, but the character which this entire show revolved around that’s just weird. Then we have the fact that she just gave up. She stopped fighting. Yes, she found peace in the end and personally, I always kind of assumed there was a very good chance Vanessa would die by series end.
But she would die after she had saved herself and defeated the demons that sought her soul so badly. In reality, it appears she gave into Dracula, realized she made a bad decision, waited around for the men in her life to come and find her, and let Ethan shoot her to put her out of her misery and save the world.
Honorable, but dumb as hell and not the character from previous seasons (or even previous episodes of this season).
Showtime loudly and quite often proclaimed this as the “Epic Season Finale”. So when the last ten minutes played out, when her family buried Vanessa and walked away and then infamous “The End” title card appeared, I adamantly refused to believe what I was witnessing.
I grew up in the age of Buffy the Vampire Slayer. I quite clearly remember watching Buff throw herself into a portal of energy to her death to save her sister. That was how season four ended, with Buffy Summers grave. If I am remembering correctly the show was having a renewal fight that year so it truly was up in the air if it was going to come back, but it did.
The show was renewed and Buffy was resurrected and the show continued on. So in my mind, it was quite possible that this really wasn’t the true end of Penny Dreadful. Maybe this was the end of Act 1?
Maybe Vanessa was really dead but we would continue watching the fight against Dracula and Lucifer with the amazing new characters of Catriona and Dr. Seward?
I continued on with this all the way until the next morning. I went to bed angry. Angry that a show I loved so dearly could just end like this, but still holding out hope. I spent the entire next morning talking to some friends who had also watched it and were feeling similar ways. We were all confused and honestly feeling betrayed.
I googled constantly, trying to find out any sort of news but all PD social sites had gone dark as soon as the episode started.
Finally, TvLine broke the news first. Penny Dreadful Cancelled, John Logan claims this was his plan all along.
Let’s go over what apparently Logan thought was a brilliant ending for this amazing characters he had created.
Ethan, Kaetaney, and Malcolm all finally arrive in London much different than what they left or were expecting. (Well Kaetaney probably was expecting this because of visions)
The whole city was covered in a deadly poisonous fog and all the ‘night creatures’ were rising from their hiding places to cover everything. Rats and frogs were everywhere.
The men arrive to the mansion to find it that it appears empty besides a symbolic wolf strung up bleeding over Vanessa’s bed. I really want to know who was responsible for that. Dracula taunting Ethan? Or Vanessa, taunting her past lover for leaving her?
The mansion doesn’t stay empty long unfortunetly, when a horde of vampires come crawling out of all the nooks and crannys to attack. The men are fairly useless at this moment to be quite honest and get their butts saved in a glorious fashion.
Ethan: Who the hell are you?
Cat: I believe I’m the woman who just saved you life.
I love her so much and I am so bitter I won’t get to see more of her now
During the attack, Malcolm got bit by one of the vamps and in the most hilariously masculine way, Malcolm is ready to shoot himself in the head immediately. Dude. Come on. Calm the hell down.
Cat saves the day again with a quip and a hot poker to the side of the neck. Problem solved.
Serious question, how have all these guys survived without her the past three seasons? Can we have a spinoff please?
She says they are going to need a doctor, so thats how we get Frankenstein eventually involved in the fight.
Cat also drops a curious line about how the fog has already killed thousands of people in the last couple “weeks”. Exactly how long has Vanessa been evil for? All the other storylines seemed to have barely moved at all so i’m pretty confused about this. Not like I’m ever going to get an answer about it though.
We flash over to the Science bros and their captive Lily. Thankfully we get one last glorious monologue from Billie Piper. As Victor is about to inject her with the serum that will make her forget everything, she tells him exactly why the idea of losing all of her pain and sadness is so unbearable.
Explaining about the tiny grave with saw her visiting last week, she tells the story about how once she had her child, she still had to sell herself so they could eat. One night, after she had laid her daughter by the fire, she was knocked unconscious in an alley way, and when she awoke it was morning, the fire had gone out and her daughter had died of the cold.
She talked of the love she still held for her daughter and how she couldn’t bear the thought of not remembering her anymore, even with her tragic end.
Thankfully, Victor finds the humanity inside himself and sets her free, unable to take that away from her. So that storyline ended, and while I’m quite happy that Victor couldn’t go through with his plan, it did end quite anticlimactic.
While Lily was locked away, Dorian hightailed it back to his mansion and made quick work of kicking all the women out. Justine was the only one who stayed, refusing to back to the life she had led.
“I’d rather die here on my feet than live a lifetime on my knees”
So he killed her. Again, this was a lot of build up all season for it all to go no where.
Eventually Lily shows back up at Dorians to see that all she’s build is gone in a puff of smoke and they more or less amicably split ways after different opinons on how Immortals should feel and act.
The Creature also shows up off and on, and quite honestly I completely stopped caring about his storyline again. He sits around with his family, making future plans all the while his son is getting sicker thanks to the fog.
Eventually the son dies and the wife demands that the Creature must take their son to Frankenstien to be brought back or never come back to her. They make a show about how he might not know what he will decide, but of course he does not take his son to the mad doctor. I might not love The Creature, but he wouldn’t put his son though all the misery he has been though. And honestly, who wants to be 11 forever?
Back at the Monster Mansion, Malcolm is coming back from his stint of extreme masculinity and he and Cat quip back and forth for a while, furthering my believe that she is perfect and amazing and has chemistry with this entire cast.
Soon enough a knock comes at the door and who should be on the other side? Dr. Seward!! YES! I’ve been waiting all season for her to really get into the mix with everyone else and go help her baby girl Vanessa.
I gotta love how Patti Lupone is telling Malcolm about how he doesn’t understand how much Vanessa needs their help, and how when she says they must go “among the demons” to find her she says it like this is Brand New Information.
GOD! I want more of all these interactions!!
Seward, who had previously come upon her Renfield feasting on frogs and listening to Vanessa sessions, made quick work of him and locked him up post haste.
Question to John Logan. Why the HELL would you bring back Patti Lupone for this amazing kick ass role, if you planned on ending things?
So Seward takes our Cat and Malcolm along to where she had Renfield and after an amazing attempt to try and threaten Cat, (FYI no one can threaten her, she’s perfect and she’ll most definitely kill you) the doctor hypnotizes him so she can find where Dracula’s lair is located.
I also noticed something interesting here. I had made a comment to a friend awhile back, that I didn’t think Seward could be a witch because even though she was a decent of the Cut-Wife, she had made it clear to Vanessa that she had learned to be a which while Vanessa was born one.
But I believe I may have been wrong because what she did went beyond hypnotism, she seemed to actually see what he was seeing in his head. Again, another question that shall never be answered.
Also, while all this was going on, Ethan had gone to Frankenstein’s apartment, which by all looks of things, he hadn’t been there in awhile. Who was there? Creepy Vampire Kid.
Rule number 1. Never follow the OBVIOUSLY creepy child.
What does Ethan do? Follow the obviously creepy child into obvious trap where more creepy children run around in the fog singing “London Bridge is Falling Down”. Jesus, Ethan you literally could not have fallen into a creepier trap.
Dracula shows up and taunts Ethan, the go back in forth on who loves Vanessa more and I begin to question 1. Where the hell IS Vanessa?! And 2. When did this become Twilight?
So anyways, Ethan wolfs out, because seriously that full moon is always around at the most convenient times and starts to fight, he looks like he might even lose for a minute when a plot twist that was so obvious even Stephanie Meyer laughed, Kaetenay popped up and wolfed out too!
Shocker. Well hey, we got ONE thing finally answered! I can rest easier now.
So now we start the second episode and we get a new title credit sequence and song that is just hauntingly beautiful.
Again, my in denial idiot self sat there thinking, “Oh maybe this will be next seasons title sequence! Wow they are really changing things up! I love it!”
Now I realize that it was a montage to say goodbye. It was still beautiful though.
We FINALLY get a shot of Vanessa. Looking very ummm… Morticia Addams. I mean, I’m digging it, I just wish we were getting more of it.
Dracula is legit afraid of Ethan and isn’t even afraid to say so. He knows this is the one guy who will kill him. Vanessa doesn’t seem to care however and invites Ethan to come so they can “write the ending in blood”. I have no idea what her motivations are here, or she is planning or hoping or literally anything because this is basically the only time we see Vanessa besides the very end.
Ethan confronts his Apache father and finds out that yes, he is the one who made him into a werewolf. He gave him to god because I guess he foresaw all of this?
Whatever. It seems hinted at that Kaetaney is the original Apache but guess what? We’ll never get that answer! ( I know ya’ll are sick of me saying that. I am a deep well of bitterness and disappointment. Sorry)
Oh yes and we get a resolution on Dr. Jekyll!! Have you been waiting all season for Mr. Hyde to come out? Have you been eating up all the metaphors that he’s been doling out? Well guess what! Henry Jekyll’s father has finally died and now he becomes Lord Hyde! The End!!
Frankenstein and Malcolm and Co. run into each other in the basement of Bedlam and as soon as Malcolm mentions Vanessa is in danger Victor is all over it. Gotta go save his sister. God I really miss the relationship those two had. They were just like siblings to each other and obviously adored each other.
Malcolm, Victor, Ethan, Cat and Dr. Seward roll up on the the Lair of Evil and, I’m going to hate myself for saying this, but SQUAD GOALS. They legit looked amazing. It was also very remincent of the very first episode when Vanessa, Malcolm and Ethan rolled up to those Egyptian vampires. (Btw what is happening with that storyline? Remember the Amunet story? What happened to that?! ALSO WHAT IS MR. LYLE DOING IN EGYPT? IS HE HAPPY? IS HE DOING OKAY? DID HE FIND LOVE? THESE ARE THE IMPORTANT QUESTIONS.)
So the squad rolls up and confronts Dracula and his vamps. Honestly as much as I’m bitching, this upcoming fight scene was BEAUTIFUL and wonderfully filmed and oh god why can’t we have more of this?!?!
Malcolm asks where Vanessa is, and Dracula’s first response is “She’s not yours anymore” UM. When was she anyone’s but herself? Hasn’t her entire storyline been all about her owning herself? Malcolm also brings up Mina and Dracula makes the major dick move of just basically shrugging and admitting he only took her to get to Vanessa.
Our team trade their final words before the battle and let it be noted that Patti Lupone’s only words of wisdom are “Fuck him”
As most of them are fighting a beautiful fight, Ethan runs up and finds a strangely candle lit corridor with Vanessa, all in white awaiting him at the end.
Honestly I hate this. Was she just waiting for him to save her? What happened to the past two season finale where, even though her family was fighting to get to her, she always ended up saving herself?
She doesn’t put up a fight whatsoever, just walks up to Ethan and asks him to end it. So he recites the Lord’s prayer and shoots her dead.
Dracula gets away and the Sun comes out. Yes that is actually how this ends. The Bad Guy is not defeated and our main heroine is dead. At peace she may be, but that was not the way she was meant to go out.
We get a horrible depressing montage of Vanessa’s casket being taken to the graveyard while The Creature watches on. Malcolm and Ethan trade stories about how they’ll probably end up going on adventures together or something.
And it ends. That is it. I feel cheated. I feel betrayed that I really did love this show so much, from day one, and this was the end that we got.
The thing that really ticks me off, is how John Logan is so adamant that this was how he wanted it to end. Honestly, I would have been happier with a huge cliffhanger ending and an abrupt cancellation with no ends tied up.
We could have used our imaginations to think of ways the story could go on. But now, its just bleak and feels cheap.
So, I am sorry that this was a very angry and bitter review. It’s just how I feel and I’m not sure when I can accept that this is the end we got.
I’m so happy I got to write these reviews this season and I am so sincerely sorry that I won’t get to write and rant and theorize for coming seasons but I have enjoyed this so much.
Thanks for watching along with me this season and maybe one day we’ll get the Catriona and Seward spin off we deserve.
Article Submitted by Jenn Lueck