Friday, October 24, 2014

Penny Dreadful | "Possession" and "Grand Guignol"

Like “Closer Than Sisters,” “Possession” focuses primarily on Vanessa and Sir Malcolm. It doesn’t dig more into their past though; it questions their future. Whatever has been possessing Vanessa is making a final push to completely take her over, turning the episode into an homage to The Exorcist. All the other main characters are there, but the action is contained to Sir Malcolm’s house where everyone is keeping vigil over an increasingly tortured Vanessa.

I said before that Eva Green is an incredibly game actress and that’s never showcased more than here. It’s hard to watch her performance because she’s so convincing that she’s going through something despicably horrible. How the others react to that though is telling about their characters and makes the episode compelling. For most of them, it's varying flavors of compassion, but Malcolm is the one to watch. He’s determined that Vanessa not die, but Ethan (who’s especially nurturing to Vanessa) questions Malcolm’s motivations. Whatever inhabits Vanessa is also somehow connected to Mina, so if Vanessa dies, Malcolm’s only tether to his daughter is lost.

By the end of the episode, Vanessa is freed of her demon. It’s not entirely clear how that happens, because it involves one of the characters’ displaying a previously hidden ability, but it comes off as intentionally mysterious and I bought it. That leads into “Grand Guignol,” the final episode of the season.

My biggest hope for the season finale was that it would resolve at least one of the character arcs introduced so far. It certainly does that and I kind of don’t want to spoil it, even though I’ve talked freely about the rest of the show so far. What I will say is that Vanessa has been the heart of the season and it’s appropriate and satisfying that her story is the one to get a resolution. And while that’s happening, Victor Frankenstein and Ethan’s stories both reach major turning points that will propel the show into Season Two. It’s a perfect way to wrap things up for the year.

All in all, I've loved Penny Dreadful. The plot lagged in places, but the characters were always enjoyable to watch and spend time with. Very much looking forward to the next season and I may even spring for Showtime to watch it live.

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