On the last episode of Penny Dreadful, the battle of all battles has begun. As one of Dracula’s imps tells his master how two great wolves have slaughtered the creatures of the night, a mother sings to her wee babe somewhere in London, and little Jack has taken his last breath. Is there no peace for our gentle creature, John Clare? Join me now for the second part of the season finale.
Dracula is worried with the imp’s report of the two wolves. It was prophesied that the Wolf of God would kill him… but he isn’t the only one that is afraid. One by one the imps drop to their knees as the Mother of the Night enters the room. Vanessa is paler than ever and the loss of blood shows in the dark circles around her eyes. “What do you fear?” Vanessa asks Dracula. She is not worried about the wolf. “Let him come!”
Vanessa has turned into something we don’t recognize. Has Dracula drained her of all hope along with her precious blood? This Vanessa is frightening and we wonder if the wolf will be too late to save her soul. Where is Vanessa’s loyalty to God? Hasn’t this show been all about Vanessa’s desire to be with God? Was it not she who claimed Joan of Arc as her hero? Did she fear that God had turned away from her?
While Victor and Dr. Jekyll argue over Lily’s release, a few cells down in the bowels of Bedlam, Renfield taunts his visitors. As Jekyll tells Victor that his father is dead and that he has inherited the land, fortune and Hyde name, Dr. Seward begins her questioning of Renfield with a constant tap… tap… tap. While Victor says farewell to the new Lord Hyde, Renfield begins to lead Dr. Seward into the dark recesses of his mind.
There were many professions that were closed to women during the Victorian Era. Women were meant to be behind the scenes; waiting on the men and doing their bidding… but the women of Penny Dreadful, as I have said many times before, were not weak and definitely not subservient. Dr. Seward showed more courage with her outcry of “Fuck him” than all the men on the show. She had killed an abusive husband in New York and she had clawed her way into the medical profession to help those who had lost their worth. After she learns the location of Dracula’s hideout, she joins the others to save Vanessa.
Lily won her freedom from Victor, a man of science, who used his power to fix what wasn’t broken. He thought Lily’s fight for independence was a sign of hysteria, a medical condition that he could fix easily by the tweaking of her brain. But, what is our sense of self if we don’t include the scars along with the joys?
Dorian was an immortal who understood the curse of his long life: everything dies around you; nothing under the sun is ever new because you’ve seen it all. How boring his life must be, and yet, when Lily tells him goodbye, Dorian holds on to the fallacy that she will return. His long life did not prepare him for a woman with her own mind.
Sir Malcolm held a title and he was a learned man, but he didn’t understand women, and just like Victor and Dorian he thought his way was the only way. John Clare, despised at first on the first season, reveals the true understanding of a learned man. He did not look down on women. He was merciful and even though he was the fabled ghastly monster of the Saturday Matinee Movies of my childhood. In Penny Dreadful, Frankenstein’s monster became my knight in shining armor.
When his son Jack died, Marjorie told John Clare to bring the boy to Victor. If Victor could reanimate her husband than there was hope for Jack, but John Clare is horrified at the thought. There is an ultimatum given: give me back my son or leave.
How many of us reworked the storyline of season two where Vanessa and Ethan lived in the cabin safe from the outside world? How many of us wished to see Vanessa’s dream of a family with Ethan come true? Ethan and Vanessa loved each other, but she was not meant for him.
Dracula truly loved Vanessa, but it was because he was stronger with her by his side. Did Vanessa go to Dracula because she thought that God deserted her? From the beginning there was only one thing that Vanessa desired. She wanted to be with God, but Dracula with his constant hounding and Sir Malcolm with his laying blame for his daughter’s death at her feet had caused Vanessa to give up hope.
The battle with our warriors against the imps of Dracula was done well, but it was merely a diversion. For you see, my little pennies, the creators of the show had decided to end the series. If the words “The End” before the credits made you think that there was more to come, this article will close the coffin not only on our little scorpion, but on the series.
The show was always about the wolf and the scorpion and with the scorpion gone…well, we were led to believe that Ethan was to save Vanessa, but his true purpose was to restore her faith in God. Yes, they loved each other, but the best proof of love is the gift of freedom. Vanessa dies in Ethan’s arms after they kiss and pray together. She is welcomed by a God who will never turn his back on any of us.
I am very upset that the series ended. There were so many new stories to tell, especially about Catriona who was played spectacularly by Perdita Weeks. I wonder how many people who’ve never read the classics began to read them when Penny Dreadful aired, or how many people took a new look at the beauty of poetry after hearing the language on this series?
At least, when the show ended, John Clare did not bring his son to Victor. He buried his son in the Thames. Then he said goodbye to the woman he loved… a true Beauty and the Beast ending. Farewell my little pennies. I will miss thee.