PENNY DREADFUL (2014): “Grand Guignol” – Season 1 Finale Review
It’s a bittersweet moment when a show ends it’s season, and even more so when the show is as a poignant piece of art as PENNY DREADFUL. After recovering from her months long fits of possession in last week’s episode, Vanessa finally knows the whereabouts of Sir Malcolm’s daughter Mina. Her visions of the theatre, lead our entire group to the very same theatre where Frankenstein’s creature worked. After a grueling battle involving the same lady vampires seen earlier in the show, Malcolm kills the head Vampire, revealing Mina to them all. Tricking Vanessa into becoming her capture for her ‘Master’, Sir Malcolm has to come to terms with the knowledge that his daughter is beyond redemption, and he ‘ends her suffering’ as he puts it earlier in the episode. The threat is over. The daughter is found. Closure can be achieved? Maybe.
All the loose ends get tied up with episode, in heartbreaking and ominous ways. Frankenstein’s creature gets fired from the Theatre after an encounter with the woman he loved there. With nowhere to go, and no one to turn to, he shows up at Frankenstein’s door and bears his heart. This show of emotion and utter heartbreak by the creature causes Frankenstein to change his mind about killing him, and almost take pity on him, before being interrupted by Ethan Chandler. Brona is dying and he needs a doctor. Hearing Brona’s deathbed fears of Hell, the Doctor, in a spur of the moment shocker, offers her everlasting life… right before smothering her with his pillow. Apparently, Victor has finally come to terms with what he’s done by creating his creature. Feeling guilty at watching this poor soul that he gave life suffer, wanting to be loved, apparently caused Frankenstein to want to set it right. It seems like he hopes to do this by providing for him the bride that he’s asked for. And even more so apparently, the bride shall be Brona. The montage sequence near the end shows Victor & his creature, father and son almost, cutting into Brona’s dead body, in the hopes of reanimating it as his Bride. Ethan, who was told she died peacefully, is going to’ be LIVID when he finds out!
Ethan himself is being hunted by other Americans who’ve come to London at his father’s charge to bring him back. After slipping from their clutches once, they once again find him in a bar. Not that Ethan was trying not to be found, but rather enjoying the full moon night before they approach him. Finally confirming my suspicions from through out the Season, when provoked, Ethan transforms into a Werewolf and rips the men apart in a glorious splatter of blood and guts.
After dumping Dorian Gray, Vanessa returns home to Malcolm, and they share the sweetest moment in the show thus far. Cancelling his trip to Africa, Malcolm observes that his room will be empty without the maps and other explorer paraphernalia. Vanessa agrees to his suggestion of getting a Christmas tree, by offering to invite the ‘boys’ to help decorate, the normalcy and sweetness of which causes Malcolm to break down in tears in her arms. The shaky and tense relationship between these two characters, I feel, make up the entire show. The other characters are as much supporting actors to the lead of Eva Green & Sir Timothy Dalton. Blaming and hating each other for their actions, the whole Season has seen these two at, as much of a necessary alliance, as at odds throughout. Sir Malcolm killing his daughter can be seen more as accepting her being beyond help, and embracing Vanessa as the makeshift daughter that he’s had for this period he’s been searching for Mina, is touching. I’d like to believe that the character is honest and genuine in this transformation from harsh and cruel man to a father crumbling under the weight of his past follies, but the grey-ness that been set up within his character in the show, I wouldn’t be surprised if it wasn’t. Their interaction in the last episode of this season is heartwarming and enduring as the two embrace, comforting each other, very much like surrogate father & daughter.
The episode ends with Vanessa at a church, seeking exorcism from a Pastor, for the evil inside of her. While PENNY DREADFUL really breaks the mold of other TV Shows, by keeping the subplots to a manageable number, combining stories in unlikely ways without overcomplicating things, it’s still provides an effective ending to Season 1, while providing closure to a lot of aspects of the story that’s unfolded thus far. That being said, story lines as still further set up for Season 2. Brona’s reemergence as the living corpse bride of Frankenstein’s creature. The eventual reveal to Chandler about it, not to mention his own Werewolf-ism. And the grander fact that… ‘The Master’, is still out there and he still considers Vanessa his bride, wanting to ruler the world and ‘sire generations’ of evil with her.
PENNY DREADFUL succeeds in so many ways, the least of which is bringing to life the prose and eloquence of Literature, into a live action TV Series format, dealing with Monsters and other things of fantastical lore. However, the creators and writers to so without an ounce of cheese or outrageous indignation. The elements of the story fit the setting perfectly, and the performances from all involved further supplement the sophistication of the scenes on screen. PENNY DREADFUL is by far one of the best Series to debut this year, and here’s hoping there is a Season 2.
What did you think of Season 1 of PENNY DREADFUL?