Penny Dreadful S03 E01: The Day Tennyson Died


penny-premiere-picIt seemed an eternity for one of the best shows on television to return. But, return it did! The season two finale of “Penny Dreadful” ended with Miss Ives and her colleagues separated by a series of unfortunate incidences: Sir Malcolm takes Sembene’s corpse back to Africa; Inspector Rush extradites Ethan to America; Caliban sails to a frozen world and, Lily and Dorian dance their bloody waltz. Miss Ives is alone, but it’s time to find her dark side. Do you dare follow?


The witches have been defeated, for now. The one man worthy of Vanessa’s love is gone, forced to return to America. Vanessa (Eva Green) loves Ethan (Josh Hartnett), but he has rejected her. Maybe, for now, it had to be because we all know what happens when she does give into her passion. Sir Malcolm’s home falls in disarray as Vanessa grieves for Ethan. She is not herself and has let herself and the house fall into darkness. When food is delivered, she eats as a wild animal. Luckily, for all of us, an old friend forces her to open the door.


Vanessa is such a strong spirit and it troubles me to see her in this state of mind, but the heart wants what the heart wants. If anyone can get Vanessa out of her depression, it is the delightful Ferdinand Lyle (Simon Russell Beale) who does wonders for Vanessa with his witty sarcasm. Ferdinand tells Vanessa the latest news about Lord Tennyson’s death. It is October of 1892. Worried about Vanessa’s state of mind, Ferdinand suggests she visit a mental doctor by the name of Dr. Seward. Simon Russell Beale brings so much life and pizazz to his character that I am always happy to see him.


On the train ride home, Ethan is handcuffed and guarded by armed US Marshalls. While Rusk (Douglas Hodge) is serious on getting Ethan to face a trial for the multitude of murders that have been committed, Ethan’s father is just as serious about saving his son from the hangman.


We can’t blame Rusk for being unprepared for the Wild West, but somehow Rusk doesn’t look all that surprised when Ethan’s father’s henchmen rescue Ethan. Who is the defenseless female riding on that train? Hecate Poole, (Sarah Greene) determined to kill the wolf of God, has gone to America.


Malcolm (Timothy Dalton) writes a letter to Vanessa about burying Sembene. Unaware that Vanessa is suffering her own despairs, Malcolm bemoans the fact that Africa is not how he remembers it. He longs to return home. These are evil times and the rich are sought out and robbed. When Malcolm is attacked by a band of thieves, someone comes to his aid.


Kaetenay (Wes Studi) tells Malcolm that Ethan needs his help. Kaetenay offers to tell Malcolm his story if he goes to New Mexico with him. Is the man who made Ethan a werewolf? We have been tempted with a juicy tale but, like Malcolm, we must follow Kaetenay back to American to hear it. We eagerly agree.


Caliban is on a ship that does not sail. It is trapped in ice. His shipmates argue over eating the dead to survive, but Caliban protects a sick child from becoming lunch. Caliban will survive without food, but these men are mortal and their hunger, unbearable. No matter the situation that Caliban (Rory Kinnear) finds himself in, there is more humanity in this creature than in any of the humans he meets.


An old memory of his parents comes back to haunt him. Knowing that the child has only a day to live, he sings him to sleep before snapping his neck. Caliban leaves the ship and its crew to die in the unmerciful ice. He is going home.


There is a new face in London, but who is this handsome man and where is he going. When Dr. Henry Jekyll (Shazad Latif) finds Victor, he is upset with his friend’s condition. Victor’s arms show the losing battle with drugs. Victor (Harry Treadaway) tells Jekyll that his experiments have been successful. Victor has conquered death! But as Victor explains to Henry, the price of creation is monsters.


Victor shows off his lab and talks about his lady love and how Jekyll can help Victor kill Lily. Dr. Jekyll has his own ideas and suggests that instead of killing Lily, he’ll show Victor how to control her.

Dr. Seward

Vanessa is startled to see that Dr. Seward (Patti Lupone) looks exactly like her friend Joan Clayton. The doctor admits to being related to the Clayton family, but that is all she is willing to reveal. Seward is quite strict and there is little bedside manners coming from the good doctor, but she already knows what is wrong with Vanessa. She compares Vanessa’s actions to that of a snake eating its own tail. The questions she asks our Vanessa are harsh, unnerving, but they do draw Vanessa from her depression. She tells Vanessa to do something different for the day; something new. As Vanessa enjoys the long overdue walk, a pale man follows her. We know that evil is in play when a pale boy sells her a death ribbon to honor Tennyson.

Dr. Seward

Vanessa decides on visiting the Natural History Museum where she meets a charming man. Dr. Alexander Sweet (Christian Camargo) is a zoologist and in charge of the museum. Vanessa’s whole demeanor changes as Dr. Sweet tells her about the animals that reside in the dusty dioramas. There is something about this man that brings a seductive smile to Vanessa’s eyes and lips.


The poet has died and London grieves the death of Tennyson on October 6, 1892. But, on this day, Vanessa has done what Dr. Seward has suggested. She has gone for a walk and stopped in to a museum. I love old museums and there are several in Philadelphia that still have that quaint touch to them. If you go to the Mutter Museum you’ll see the collection of the medical bizarre behind ancient cases. The Wagner Institute has not changed since the day it was built and when you enter this museum; you step back into time.

The walk and the chat with Dr. Sweet, has encouraged Vanessa to change her dark and joyless home. She opens the windows, welcomes the sun, then begins to cleanse the dust and ilk from the house. She writes to Sir Malcolm and tells him that she was ill. She tells him that she hasn’t heard from Ethan and fears for his life. She has cast away the signs of GOD that she’d so long depended on and tells him about Tennyson’s death. “Let all be well,” she wishes upon a star, but will it?


As Vanessa enjoys the possibility of a cure promised to her by Dr. Seward, the good doctor’s secretary is enjoying his walk among the prostitutes in the street. We have guessed at Vanessa’s tormenter from the very first season. He has gone by many names. But, as the creatures of the night surround Dr. Seward’s frightened secretary, we are introduced to an old tale. This tale, my little pennies, forces us to reach out and hold tightly to a crucifix and string of garlic.

Dr. Seward’s secretary is no other than the despised Mr. Reinfeld (Samuel Barnett)… and the creature who desires Vanessa is the most horrid of monsters. Dracula has gathered his army and Vanessa will need the help of all her friends.

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