Thursday, July 03, 2014

Recap/Review: Penny Dreadful's 1x08: Grand Guignol

It's been an interesting eight weeks but now we're finally at the end of the first season of Penny Dreadful with a finale that pulled in a few surprising moments.

Written by John Logan
Directed by James Hawes

Which Daughter To Save: All season long you could argue that's been a question for Malcolm. Should he save the one he's been actively looking for (Mina) or the one he's actively been lying to (Vanessa)? Surprisingly when the chips were down, Mina didn't get much of a look in from her father and ended up being shot to death so that Vanessa could be spared. I have to admit after all the fuss with trying to find Mina this season, her death was a total anticlimax. Surely it would've been a lot better keeping the character and spanning her journey into the second season with some more conflict for her, Vanessa and Malcolm and this Master who we still didn't get to see in this episode. I'm hoping next season he does make a proper appearance then.

Normal's Overrated: Vanessa spent a good deal of this episode also keeping Dorian at arm's length before ultimately choosing to confront him and reject him in one fell swoop. I'm not sure I buy Dorian's intense feelings for Vanessa (something about their scenes felt off here) but I do think that Vanessa did the right thing by not wanting to pursue a relationship with him. On the other hand, her final scene with that priest who basically challenged her on wanting to be normal was odd. Vanessa's unseen response will clearly be a strong factor in whether or not she decides to embrace her darker side next season I guess too.

I Bring Death ... Then Life: While Caliban's 'make me a bride' plotline has gotten a little tedious in recent episodes, it did finally get resolved in this one when Victor decided to smother Brona (who he just met thanks to Ethan) with a pillow and then later revived her for a playmate for Caliban. It was pretty predictable over the last few weeks but if it keeps Billie Piper (dodgy accent aside) on the show, I can live with it. Though hopefully she isn't Caliban's bride and nothing more. For starters, Victor is going to have to do a lot of explaining when Ethan realises that his former girlfriend is not so dead after all.

The Wolf Strikes Out: All season long it's been hinted that there was more to Ethan that met the eye and this episode gloriously delivered on that front. Sure, he got some great scenes with Brona and Vanessa and helped the gang with the Mina stuff but seeing him wolf out and slaughtered two of the worst guest actors on this show was a glorious moment. It's amazing that Ethan went from being a bland character to becoming something a lot more interesting. Long may it last.

Theatrics: Despite this episode being titled Grand Guignol, the actual theatre itself factored pretty little into the actual episode itself. Sure, Simon continued to be a bastard and Vincent was forced to boot out Caliban after the latter tried it on with Maude but overall, the theatre wasn't a major plot point of the episode. On the plus side we got to see Madame Kali again ( her real name is Evelyn Poole) and there's an indication that she'll pop up again next season while Malcolm also talked about Christmas but that was probably to highlight the snowy backdrop of some of the scenes in this episode. We also had a brief moment where it looked like Victor was going to kill Caliban as well but that went nowhere.

It's been an interesting first season and yes, I will be reviewing/recapping the second season when the show returns to Showtime and SkyAtlantic in 2015.

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