Penny Dreadful Shows Us That We Are Nothing But “A Blade of Grass”

Credit: Showtime
Credit: Showtime

Do you ever have that sense of dread that bad things are going to happen? Well, this is how I’ve been feeling towards Penny Dreadful all season. The show has just been too good, I am terrified that something extremely bad is going to happen to make me hate it.

Although to be fair, this show, is in its junior season and has yet to disappoint. Maybe, I just can’t believe a show can be this magnificent, but IT IS! Anyway, paranoia aside, Eva Green owned this episode – WORK.IT.GIRL.

The Office: The episode takes place entirely in Seward’s office, where Vanessa is still under hypnosis from the last episode. The whole point of this session is to figure out when Vanessa met the vampires’ master. Seward asks Vanessa who she interacted with, and we are gifted with the orderly – aka. the Creature before he became the Creature. Their friendship, if you can call it that, is so beautiful and so pure it actually touched my cold-dead heart. So, we begin our journey into Vanessa’s mind.

Making You Well: The orderly comes in every day to bring Vanessa food, which she refuses to eat. We see her in the corner scratching at the white walls, then staring at the door for hours, and eventually sitting in her bed curled into herself. Throughout all this, the orderly attempts to get her to eat. Vanessa tells him her treatments are torture, but he tells her it is science and that they are trying to make her better. He believes he is doing the right thing, that is until Vanessa shows up wet and shivering from one of her treatments – hydro-therapy. He brings Vanessa a blanket – which we all could have called was a bad idea. When the orderly comes back to retrieve the blanket, Vanessa leaps on his back and scratches his face. This leads to Vanessa being confined in a straightjacket.

We’re All A Little Bit Mad: Now confined to a straightjacket, the orderly is forced to hand feed Vanessa. Vanessa complains about the torture and her spot in society as a woman. She claims that the doctors just want to make her “normal” because anyone who deviates from the norm is a “freak.” The orderly tells Vanessa that his wife is not a cog in the machine and Vanessa eventually cries about how she is not Vanessa Ives here. One part of their constant back and forth has been the orderly’s refusal to tell Vanessa his name due to protocol. However, he eventually opens up and talks about his son. This leads to Vanessa telling him that she has been touched by Satan. The orderly tells her that he believes in her, and as she leaves the room, his face turns to her, his eyes black: “After all, I was there.” Vanessa comes to her senses in her mind and tells Seward to pull her out, but apparently it’s not possible. They have to keep going through Vanessa’s mind until they find what she’s looking for. 

Locked Down: Vanessa then remembers a time when her “treatments” took away her ability to speak. The orderly continues to care for her. In order to help make her better, the orderly removes her gag and does her make-up. He makes her feel like a person again – even though this is all against regulation. The orderly confides in Vanessa that he looks forward to a day where they can walk out of Banning together. As the orderly washes away the makeup, and is about to leave he tells Vanessa that it’s Christmas. We see Vanessa crying with the gag having been returned to her mouth.

Bro Code: Vanessa and the orderly grow closer, to the point that Vanessa undresses in front of him and pulls him into an embrace (I did not see this coming). The two kiss, and the orderly pushes her away – telling her that she needs to get better or the treatments will only get worse. Right when Vanessa is about to confide in the orderly about Lucifer, the devil shows up himself. Vanessa begins to pray, but Lucifer tells her God has abandoned her. Suddenly a laugh echoes in the room and the shadow of a bat appears on the wall. Dracula, with the face of the orderly, appears causing Lucifer to cower in the corner. The brothers’ domains are pretty clear, with Lucifer ruling over the spirit and Dracula ruling over the flesh and blood. Vanessa recites the Verbis Diablo and gets rid of them, coming back to herself with the orderly sitting next to her bed.

Normal: Vanessa then attempts to be normal, but it’s too late. Her head is shaved and she is scheduled for a lobotomy. The night before it’s scheduled the orderly comes telling her he has resigned. He doesn’t have another job, but he can’t watch this suffering anymore. But he claims he won’t leave until after she’s gone under. “The last person you see before the surgery will be someone who loves you,” he says. Vanessa then kisses him good-bye. At this point, Vanessa wakes up in Seward’s office, startling the doctor. Seward asks Vanessa if she remembers everything, and Vanessa tells her she remembers everything and not like a dream. Seward looks a little confused. The scene ends with Vanessa saying, “You once said we name things so they don’t frighten us,” she says. “I’m not frightened. His name is Dracula.” MIC DROP!

Ilene Friedman
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