New Show Recap: Penny Dreadful 2×10, “And They Were Enemies”

In Penny Dreadful’s season finale, we get a lot: a slam poetry showdown with an automaton, the final battle between Evelyn and Vanessa, Caliban deciding to go to the North Pole to see Santa, werewolf!Ethan saving the day, Evelyn’s prize doll collection being destroyed, Lyle escaping the clutches of the witch holding him captive without ruining his hair, an end-of-the-world party at Dorian’s house, Natural Born Killers Victorian style, and a sad good-bye to the stalwart Sembene.

Malcolm and Victor are still harangued by the hallucinations of their respective families. Both men are urged to atone for their sins during life by joining their families in death. The only way both men can do this and avoid further torment is to kill themselves. Um, what?

Vanessa is in the spooky doll room with Evelyn. Vanessa refuses to join Evelyn’s side and become Lucifer’s bride, stating that her soul is her own. Evelyn allows Lucifer, who is speaking through Vanessa’s fetish (which oddly resembles an automaton), to try and convince Vanessa to freely give her soul to him, mocking her that in a way, she already has, since she has already spoken the verbis diablo and used her magical abilities to kill Lord Geoffrey. Vanessa sticks to her guns, even when Lucifer shows her a vision of what a married life with Ethan could be if she gave her soul up to be Lucifer’s bride. Even though Evelyn causes Vanessa to question her faith in God, Vanessa refuses to willingly offer her soul to Lucifer, and she chants in the verbis diablo to destroy the automaton that had served as Lucifer’s mouthpiece. Vanessa’s refusal to give up her soul causes Lucifer to renege on the agreement he made with Evelyn, and as Vanessa chants the spell, Evelyn’s youth starts to fade. Hecate, who has been watching this entire time, lets Ethan out of his prison, and Ethan, in werewolf form, bounds to Evelyn’s chamber, where he kills Evelyn. Vanessa stands still, staring Ethan down as her approaches her. He does not attack her, but gazes at her, as though he is ashamed that she found out his secret like this. She reaches out to touch his face, but he runs from the room. After he leaves, Vanessa picks up one of the scorpions that had been used in the construction of the fetish. It does not bite her, but gradually fades so that the mark of the scorpion momentarily shows on her hand. This can only mean that Vanessa’s power has somehow been magnified.

Evelyn’s death means the end of the spells she had placed on Victor and Malcolm. Lyle, who had been in the grip of one of Evelyn’s witches the last time we saw him, is able to escape her clutches long enough to shoot her dead. And he delivers the best one-liner this episode: “Never underestimate the power of a queen with lovely hair, my dear.” He finds Victor and Malcolm, and the three of them hurry through the castle to kill the last of the witches and find Vanessa, Ethan, and Sembene. They discover Sembene lying dead on the spiral staircase with Vanessa sitting beside him. The loss of Sembene has greatly affected Malcolm.

Once Malcolm, Vanessa, Lyle, and Victor have left the castle, Hecate emerges from her fireplace, singing the song that played during the season two previews, “The Unquiet Grave,” She takes what she wants of Evelyn’s magical equipment and sets the castle on fire, watching it burn as she leaves.

In the Putney museum, the Putneys tell Caliban that they want him to join them in their business. Caliban acquiesces, and this spells the Putneys’ doom. Caliban is able to win their trust and escape from the cage. He kills both Mr. and Mrs. Putney, but spares Lavinia, even though she is as horrible as they are. Perhaps Caliban feels sympathy for her, as her parents are the one who made her into the person she is, much as Victor’s negligence made Caliban into he is. He leaves the Putney home as Lavinia screams at the discovery of her parents’ bodies.

Lyle accompanies Victor on the journey home. Lyle reflects on the things he saw and did, and he admits that he rather enjoyed his adventure storming the witches’ castle with Victor and the gang. He tells Victor that he is willing to listen if Victor ever needs to talk about anything. Victor leaves the carriage and returns to his rooms. He calls for Lily, but his rooms are deserted. Instead, he sees a vase of lilies sitting on her bedside table, a present from Dorian. He goes to Dorian’s house to find Dorian and Lily, dressed in white, dancing in Dorian’s ballroom. He turns off the music, but Dorian and Lily don’t seem fazed by his arrival. Victor tells Lily that she must come home, but she insists that he is home at Dorian’s, and Dorian adds that Lily is too good for tenement garrets. Victor draws his pistol, again entreating Lily to come home, but Lily and Dorian only laugh at the sight of the weapon. Victor tells Lily that he loves her. Lily mocks him, laughing about the night they slept together, since it had been his first time with any woman, and Victor shoots her in anger. Of course, that doesn’t do anything, since Lily is too strong to be killed. Lily laughs at how she manipulated Victor as her wound bleeds, and Dorian licks the blood from her wound from his finger, laughing at Victor as well. Victor shoots Dorian, but that can’t kill Dorian, either. Dorian proposes that they kill Victor, since it would only show their supremacy, but Lily changes her mind and states that Victor should live and see what he has created: “A master race, a race of immortals, meant to command. Soon he will kneel to us. When our day has come, you will know terror. Until then, little man, live with the knowledge of what you have spawned and suffer.” Frightened, Victor leaves Dorian’s house. As soon as he has departed, Lily turns the phonograph back on. She and Dorian return to dancing, the blood dripping from their wounds staining their white clothes red.

In his despair, Victor returns to his rooms and shoots himself full of drugs, only to find that his veins have collapsed. He injects himself through his ring finger. His addiction has begun to take hold of him, as he believes he has nothing else to live for but that.

Malcolm will leave to bury Sembene in his native African soil, as he deserved. He eulogizes Sembene as he and Vanessa sit together. Vanessa goes up to Ethan’s room to speak with him. She now knows what he is, and she doesn’t care. She wants to run away with Ethan, but neither one of them can run from what they are. Vanessa believes that they can face each other’s darkness forever, but Ethan doesn’t believe so. After leaving a note for Vanessa, he turns himself in to Inspector Rusk, admitting his guilty of the murders. Rusk informs him that he is being extradited to the United States for some mysterious reason.

Vanessa finds Caliban under the railway arch, and he tells her that he is leaving forever, for he doesn’t fit in with this world. “When you have seen that of which you are capable, when you’ve stood in blood long enough, what is there left but to wade to a desolate shore, away from all others?” Vanessa understands, and she tells Caliban in so many words that she believes that she has lost parts of herself — her soul and her faith in God. Caliban tries to comfort her and tells her that there is still much to strive for and keep faith in. Vanessa doesn’t believe so. Caliban begs her to come with him, but Vanessa tells him that she can’t, for she would only bring him pain when he has suffered enough. She kisses him in the mouth and tells him, “I think you are the most human man I have ever known.” Caliban begins to sob as she leaves his side.

The last few minutes of the episode show each character on his or her separate journey. Malcolm is on his way to Africa to bury Sembene. Caliban has gone to his desolate shore, the North Pole, much as the creature did in Frankenstein. Ethan, kept behind bars, is on his way back to the United States in Rusk’s custody. Vanessa remains alone in the Murray home. As she turns out the lights in the house, we hear Ethan’s letter to Vanessa. He thanks her for her affection and understanding, and tells her that she had been the light to him in his darkest moments. Her road may be difficult, but his is doomed. So they must each take their separate paths, even though they love each other. Vanessa removes the cross that had once hung in her room from the wall and burns it, signifying that she has nothing left now, not even her religion, which had once sustained her in her darkest moments. “And so we walk alone,” she murmurs.

And that’s it for this season! It was truly a great one! Thanks for watching with me!

It has been verified that Penny Dreadful will return next year, but it will not premiere until mid-June and will consist of nine episodes. John Logan, the showrunner, has said that he intends on introducing a new character from Victorian literature next season. Based on what he said before this season began, he would like to introduce a storyline with Dr. Moreau and The Isle of Lost Souls, so given that half the characters are on a ship bound to a foreign country, I think it’s feasible that we’ll be seeing some H. G. Wells next season. Just no time machines, okay?

One thought on “New Show Recap: Penny Dreadful 2×10, “And They Were Enemies””

  1. Loved the ending despite quibbles with a few details. Someone suggested that Caliban left Lavinia because he knew what sort of life he was leaving her to — a blind woman in Victorian London would be unprotected — but I think he just didn’t have the heart to do it once he was free. I’ll miss Sembene and Madame Kali, bt I’m gad the latter’s storyline was wrapped up briskly. Finally, Lily and Dorian are SCARY together. I remember wondering why Billie Piper took this role — it seemed so blah in the first season. Now I bet she’s seeing it as the role of a lifetime.

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