Penny Dreadful Series Finale Leaves Us Feeling Thirsty For More

Josh Hartnett as Ethan and Eva Green as Vanessa Ives in Penny Dreadful (season 3, episode 9). - Photo: Patrick Redmond/SHOWTIME -
Credit: Patrick Redmond/SHOWTIME

Well, that was the most shocking thing to happen to me all year, and I’ve had a hell of a year folks. The series finale of Penny Dreadful came upon us without any fanfare or warning, leaving us feeling a little shocked, a little empty, and plenty confused.

The End Begins: Ethan, Malcolm, and Kaeteney dock in London a week after Vanessa gives herself to Dracula. The city is completely destroyed with frogs coming out of sinks, poisonous fog, thousands dead, and vampires running free. The three quickly head to Malcolm’s estate where they run into Cat, who is looking for Vanessa. She assumes Vanessa is in great danger and she isn’t wrong. The estate is swarming with vampires, which the group takes out in stride. Malcolm gets bitten by a vampire, and asks to be shot. Cat all but rolls her eyes at his dramatics and cauterizes the wound. Seward then appears at the door, after her very creepy encounter with Renfield. Seward tells the group she is a friend, and drags the group to Bedlam, where she locked Renfield in a cell. Seward tells Malcolm she knows how to get the information they need to find Vanessa, by hypnotizing Renfield using a drug and the help of some rhythmic tapping.

Ethan, I am Your Father: Meanwhile, Ethan is off to meet Dracula. Ethan tells Dracula that he and Vanessa are connected, but Dracula doesn’t buy it. He thinks Ethan is too late, and sends his minions to deter him. However, all does not go to plan when Ethan wolfs out and tears Dracula’s minions apart, with the help of Kaeteney – who shockingly is also a werewolf (the werewolf who turned him). Apparently, Kaeteney had a vision that his purpose was to give Ethan the power to save the world. Ethan isn’t too pleased with this reasoning. Now back at the asylum, Renfield has spilled where Dracula’s lair is, which means Malcolm, Seward, Victor, Cat, Ethan, and Kaeteney are off to the slaughterhouse.

Giving Up: Finally the group arrives at the slaughterhouse where Dracula is waiting. He honors Vanessa’s wishes and gives them all the option to leave, but once Dracula talks about how tasty Malcolm’s daughter was, there is no going back. Oh, did I forget to mention – Victor is back? He let Lily go free after she spilled her guts about him erasing her daughter Sarah from her memory – so Victor found his humanity and let her run free – yay. Anyway, a fight rages on between Dracula and his minions v. our dysfunctional group of heroes. All this is so Ethan can slip away and find Vanessa. He finds her encircled by candles. She greets him, saying “It hurts me more than I thought it would, seeing you.” Ethan offers to take her out of there, but Vanessa has given up. She claims that this is who she is and she needs to be stopped. 

My Ship: Ethan tries to explain that if he can come back from the edge so can she, but she says she has been lost since she burned the cross on her wall. I barely remember that even occurring. Vanessa tells Ethan that “My battle must end, you know that. Or there will never be peace on Earth.” Apparently this was always Ethan’s destiny – to kill her. Vanessa asks Ethan to kill her “With a kiss,” and he adds “with love.” Once they have kissed they recite the Lord’s Prayer and with Vanessa in his arms he shoots her. With her last breath she says, “Oh Ethan, I see our Lord.” Outside Vanessa’s death bed we see Dracula is the only one left standing. Ethan carries Vanessa’s dead body out onto the balcony and the fog lifts. The scene ends with the team going their separate ways, reuniting at Vanessa’s funeral. The Creature watches from a distance and says his goodbye.

Final Note: Dorian kills Justine as an act of mercy. He and Lily have a heart to heart after her escape from Victor. He tells her about the life as an immortal, but she refuses to live as a painting on his wall. Meanwhile, the Creature’s son has died of consumption. His wife tells him to never return unless he brings the son back to life. Obviously this doesn’t happen and the Creature is forced to wonder the world alone yet again.

So, I am not sure how I feel about this series finale. I wish that Hyde had gotten a longer and more fleshed out storyline. Same goes for Cat, Seward, and even the Creature. I don’t need endings wrapped in pretty bows, but we never even saw Dorian’s painting. Also, what was the point of the witches, and Vanessa’s strength for her to just give up so easily mid-way through the season. I felt like everything was a bit rushed. From Ethan’s break neck switch from light to dark to light again, to his origin of becoming a werewolf. What is the point of being the Wolf of God if you don’t guard Vanessa? Also, why was Vanessa the “Mother of Evil,” and why did she lose faith? I have so many unanswered questions, yet this is the end.

Ilene Friedman
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