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Penny Dreadful “And They Were Enemies” Review (2×10)

6 Jul

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“I know what I am. Do you?”

Identity may be the major theme governing the Penny Dreadful universe, but the writers expertly tie that into other topics like religion and darkness, weaving together the show’s characters in a large tapestry of past, present, and future. Going in, you might not expect this kind of depth and complexity from something that’s a horror series in its simplest form, but as you keep watching, you realize that the show works because its characters are fascinating to watch. They’re flawed individuals just trying to find some light in a room full of darkness, and that’s exactly what makes their journeys so compelling.

“And They Were Enemies” is about that light and darkness, and it steadily entwines the two as it progresses toward its conclusion. Vanessa’s given a vision of a “perfect life”, one that involves her and Ethan and several children, but she eventually rejects that and shatters her doll as a result. She has to face herself, and the key there is realizing that there’s darkness within her. She knows that a perfect life is not in her future and that her upcoming path is going to be a difficult one, and that acceptance is what allows her to resist the temptation of death. “My soul is mine,” she says, and that’s important to note for her because in the end, it’s still hers to give. It’s still her who has a choice here, even given the presence of a possible God.

And so, she, Victor, and Malcolm all have a choice to make in the opening sequence of the episode. Victor and Malcolm are faced with their creations, with the everlasting effects of their actions, and the fact that they’re all racked with guilt in some way is exactly what gets preyed upon. The ideas of creation and choice are inevitably tied together, and quotes like “let him live with what he’s created” and “live with the knowledge of what you have spawned and suffer” are painful reminders of the past for these characters. Again, though, accepting that difficult past may be the only way to avoid succumbing to the powers of evil. Perhaps accepting your own evil nature is the way to go.

Even though the Putneys and the Devil use the idea of suffering–more specifically, the lack of it–to try to get others to do what they want, they’re ultimately brought down by people who utilize their “evil” natures. Vanessa uses the Verbis Diablo and Clare breaks out of his prison cell, and we see that the two are more similar than we might expect. They eventually find their way to each other, and in one of the most heartbreaking scenes this show has produced, Vanessa tells Clare: “I won’t allow you to suffer….I think you are the most human man I have ever known.” Eva Green for an Emmy, coming right up.

Aside from being an Emmy showcase, though, it really is a wonderful scene. This is a very bleak finale, but there are moments in which you can find true beauty, in which you can see just how important others are in life. “I had this long dream of kinship with those not like me,” Clare says at one point, and when Ethan asks Vanessa if she knows who he is, she responds: “Yes, and here I stand.” Yes, Ethan is going to wind up being extradited after he confesses to the Mariner’s Inn Massacre. Yes, Vanessa will not go with Clare. Yes, Malcolm is heading off to Africa. However, as much as they may now have to walk alone, what matters is that they still had someone to look out for, someone to look out for them. They must cherish those memories, accept who they are, and move on.

“Life only leads forward. There is no going back.”

GRADE: A-

SEASON GRADE: B+

OTHER THOUGHTS:

– “Never underestimate the power of a queen with lovely hair, my dear.” I love Lyle.

– “Beloved, know your master.” Intensely talking to a puppet sounds like it would be hard to do. Eva Green pulls it off perfectly.

-Helen McCrory did a fabulous job all season. I really loved seeing her interact with Eva Green. Two brilliant actresses.

-RIP, Sembene. I wish we saw more of your character.

-Definitely themes of parenthood throughout this finale. We have the Ethan-Vanessa “perfect life”, Clare being called “a father to all the other freaks”, and the whole ‘creator and creations’ idea, to name a few.

-I’m interested to see where the Dorian-Lily dynamic takes us next year. They’re being set up as the villains of season three, and they’re extremely fun to watch.

-Hopes/predictions for season three? Thoughts on season two as a whole? Share below.

Photo credit: Showtime, Penny Dreadful

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3 Responses to “Penny Dreadful “And They Were Enemies” Review (2×10)”

  1. Anonymous July 6, 2015 at 8:41 am #

    You have captured the story quite well. Intrigued by the ambience created between the light & dark shared between the characters, Thank you for sharing your thoughts.

  2. joeyz95 July 6, 2015 at 10:25 am #

    Great write-up! I loved the season all around and found it an improvement over last season. The final three episodes this season were phenomenal, and the cast continues to kill it. I wrote a review of the season on my blog, would love it if you get a chance to check it out!

    • polarbears16 July 6, 2015 at 10:34 am #

      Definitely will head over to check it out!

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