PENNY DREADFUL (2014): S1E7 – “Possession” Review
What an exhausting episode! Episode 7 of the amazing Showcase Original Series PENNY DREADFUL unleashes the full wrath of all things supernatural on us in an excruciatingly graphic episode tonight. After the cliffhanger of last week, we see Vanessa waking up not exactly like herself. Speaking as Mina, Sir Malcolm’s daughter, she accuses him of not being there and being unfaithful to her mother, while moving all objects in the room around in a violent fit, until being bitch slapped unconscious by Malcolm’s manservant Sembene.
Dr. Frankenstein is called in to examine her, during which Vanessa again channels someone else and professes knowledge of Frankenstein that no one else could possibly know. The violent fits of possession continue as they call in the last of their troops, Ethan Chandler. While trying to calm Vanessa down, she reveals everything of Chandler’s sexual night with Dorian Gray and goes on further in a demonic voice, before having to be restraint by Frankenstein, Chandler, Sembene and Sir Malcolm. Thus begins an episode of waiting and the characters’ suffering, as Vanessa slowly gets more and more possessed by some creature. There is 2 montage sequences showing how Vanessa freaks out day after day while our group of misfits deals with it; feeds her, clothe her, clean up, tend to her wounds and do it all over again when she… gets ‘feisty’ again, as per Chandler. It’s some great sequences as we get to see the emotional and mental toll this takes on all the characters. Most exorcism films always focus on the possessions and the fighting and all this other horror movie elements, but this episode really takes its time driving home how traumatizing it is for the people dealing with the possessed.
“Possession” is so amazingly well done, as it lets things get supremely chaotic, while weaving in some character development during it all. The episode consists majorly of Vanessa, and Eva Green‘s, yet again, amazing performance as a woman possessed by some force, and the range she displays while performing it. In between this though, there is much bonding between the 4 men trapped in the house together as they decide let Vanessa fight this thing within her, while they support her. Chandler reveals more of his time as a drifter, although they may be a hidden personal metaphor there. He speaks of Native American children, who are taken front heir tribes and made to look American, however, when they escape back home, they are unwelcome and destined to roam the earth alone. It’s almost reminiscent of how animals work in the wild. When a lion cub is taken captive, the scent of the humans, prevent the Pride of lions refuses to welcome them back. The same can be said of wolves. Given his implied werewolf origins, Chandler could’ve been talking about himself.
Chandler himself is front and center this episode. Even talking with Sembene, he has a moment with the manservant as he tries to figure out why he’s here as well. Doubting Malcolm’s intentions for wanting to save Vanessa, Chandler is proven right when Malcolm approaches a broken down and traumatized Vanessa, asking her to use her supernatural connection to find Mina. After walking on him, Chandler assaults Malcolm and forces him to call a Priest to administer Vanessa’s last rites so she can die in peace. During this, obviously, shit hits the fan as Vanessa, now fully possessed, literally bites the Priest’s face off as she telekinetically throws everyone out of the room but Chandler, who manages to briefly reach out to Vanessa. When she resurfaces, Vanessa asks Chandler to uphold the promise of killing her that he made earlier. But, as the barrel of his gun was to her chest, Chandler all of a sudden starts chanting, holding the saint medallion Brona gave him earlier, and performs, what looked very much like an exorcism. Vanessa passes out, while Chandler walks out of the house after weeks of waiting and dealing with her. The next day, Vanessa wakes up to declare that she knows where Mina is as the episode ends.
An emotionally draining episode, “Possession” was intensely shocking and stunning with constant visuals of a torn down Eva Green being progressively and painfully possessed by some… force. More confusion this episode though, as this force at one point even possesses Chandler to communicate with Vanessa, proclaiming his desire for her to be his queen and the mother of all evil. I still can’t understand if this force is Amun-Ra or, as Vanessa herself implied, Lucifer or the Devil himself. The connection to vampires is also unclear, unless otherwise explained as being evil creatures, therefore in the domain of the Devil? The end of the episode also raises many questions about Chandler’s origins, because…. well how the fuck does he know how to do an exorcism?! The scene itself was very well done scene that puts to shame other verbal exorcisms sequences. Suck on that Winchesters!
Despite the 2nd to last episode, a lot has happened in this 8-episode Season of PENNY DREADFUL, however, there is still so much left to show and do that a 2nd Season should be almost guaranteed. Frankenstein’s monster is still out there, and probably not happy that Victor is taking to long to find him his mate. What will be the fate of Brona by the end of Season 1? Who or what is Ethan Chandler? And where does Dorian Gray fit into the greater scheme of this story? What are the things you’re most interested in finding the answers to??