This week’s episode of Penny Dreadful was as brilliant and insightful as ever, choosing to delve further into Vanessa’s past and give us some much-needed answers. This episode thought it would also be a great idea to rip out my heart and get me attached to a new character in under an hour, so thanks, Starz.
The Cut-Wife: The episode starts with Ethan coming into Vanessa’s room, only to find a scorpion painted in blood on the ground. Ethan then pleads with Vanessa, asking her what the Scorpion means and Vanessa concedes to tell him a story of her past she has not told anyone (Oh my adorable little ship). Vanessa begins her story with the introduction of the Cut-Wife, a witch who lives in the Moors and gives herbs, abortions, and the like to the villagers there. The entire village treats the witch terribly because allegedly she is a constant reminder of their failings as humans, it’s a catch 22 really.
Barrier: When Vanessa first arrives at the Cut-Wife’s house she is unable to get past the stones guarding her door. Apparently the stone keeps all those who are not fully human out unless invited by the Cut-Wife. Vanessa waits out the witch in the rain, and by the next day the witch comes to Vanessa asking her why she is there. The witch is none too pleased with Vanessa’s visit and tests her by asking her how she got the scar on her back. After digging into her mind, Vanessa is able to answer, someone the witch loved branded her. Vanessa explains to the Cut-Wife that she is cursed and asks her to help her figure herself out. The Cut-Wife only laughs and invites Vanessa in. After a tumultuous few minutes, Vanessa does not get the answers she seeks, so she attacks the Cut-Wife with knowledge, telling her she knows she was branded by someone she kissed. The Cut-Wife admits it was one of her sisters, and then gets out a very familiar tarot card deck and asks Vanessa to feel the cards. Vanessa pulls out a card and the Cut-Wife walks away; she pulled the devil.
Training: The witch decides to train Vanessa in the craft and asks how she became the way she is. Vanessa acknowledges that she is not pure and that she has seen her mother with other men that are not her father. The witch explains to Vanessa that she is in danger and needs to learn to make herself less noticed because everyone can feel her for miles away, including demons, and they are coming for her. Evelyn then arrives at the Cut-Wife’s house and asks for her to give up Vanessa. Evelyn cannot get within the barriers, same as Vanessa, but she is the sister that branded the Cut-Wife and is able to put a spell on her in an attempt to kill her. Luckily Vanessa runs out of the cottage and stops Evelyn from doing any harm, proving once and for all to Evelyn how powerful she is.
The Plague: Evelyn then goes through various villagers fields and kills cows, telling her husband that it is a plague and likely the witches doing (we all see where this is going). According to the Cut-Wife, Evelyn is a nightcomer and unlike a daycomer, she traded her soul to the devil for love, beauty, and power. Meanwhile, the Cut-Wife is teaching Vanessa the devils tongue, warning her of its power and to use it only for protection (slippery slope deal). The Cut-Wife also tells Vanessa that if she thinks she is a monster then she will be. We then see Evelyn doing some serious whip damage to her very, very submissive husband, showing who really wears the pants in the relationship. She is able to get him to convince the villagers and the priest to kill the Cut-Wife in order to save the village from the cattle plague.
The Deed: Meanwhile, the Cut-Wife is dying and she knows it. She gives Vanessa an ancient spell book telling her to only use it when all else fails including Vanessa herself. She also explains that she has a deed to the house from 1644 from Oliver Cromwell himself and that she wants to give the house to Vanessa to stay and practice once she is gone. The townspeople then rally around the house and pull out the Cut-Wife. She tells Vanessa her name is Joan Clayton, and then she is tarred and burned at the stake. They then brand Vanessa with the cross on her back as Evelyn watches on with amusement. The episode ends with Vanessa packing her things and anything she may need, including the deed to the house that is now in her name. She writes in blood on the stones protecting the house a scorpion, which is what Joan called her, her “little scorpion”.
Are you guys crying? Because I’m crying! Too many emotions here!
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