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Penny Dreadful season 2 finale recap: And They Were Enemies

The guilt outlasts the curse.

Posted on

Jonathan Hession/Showtime

Penny Dreadful

TV Show
Current Status:
In Season
run date:
Eva Green, Josh Hartnett, Timothy Dalton
Showtime Networks Inc.
Suspense, Thriller, Drama

It was always going to come down to Evelyn’s puppet room in the end, wasn’t it? Vanessa sealed the deal when she admitted her fear of dolls, but the Creature also hinted at it last week with his theory that Pandora’s Box contained a mirror. If the face of true evil is the face looking back at us, then it’s only fitting that Vanessa would see the devil in the eyes of her look-alike puppet—that her struggle would be, as it’s always been, to come to terms with the darkness in her.

And there is something dark in her now, even more than there was before she opened the Cut-Wife’s forbidden book. The devil tempts Vanessa with the promise of a “normal” life—one that involves marrying Ethan and having cute kids and not having to worry that everyone she loves is doomed by association. She almost gives in, only to pull back and declare that she doesn’t want a normal life anymore. Snarling the Verbis Diablo, Vanessa puts her hand on the puppet’s face, shattering it and releasing a swarm of scorpions. “Beloved,” she says, “know your master.” Did Vanessa just banish the devil?

We’ll process that later. For now, Evelyn is without a master, and it’s aging her (literally). As her mother panics, Hecate seizes the opportunity to release Ethan, who slashes Evelyn’s throat. Live by the throat slash, die by the throat slash. Ethan, still in werewolf form, turns to Vanessa, but he seems to come back to himself enough to recognize her. Just as she’s about to touch his face, he runs off in guilt. A scorpion crawls into Vanessa’s hand and is absorbed into her palm.

And that’s our plot resolution. Now that Evelyn is dead, Victor and Sir Malcolm are released from her enchantment—just in time, since visions of their sins had just about convinced them to take their own lives in atonement. With two thirds of the episode still to go, everyone is technically free. But who needs spells when you have the actual consequences of past mistakes? Vanessa reunites with Sir Malcolm, Victor, and Lyle over Sembene’s dead body, with Ethan nowhere to be found.

Sembene’s death hits Sir Malcolm hard. He resolves to bring his friend home to Africa as Vanessa comforts him, then seeks comfort of her own from Ethan. She might say that she doesn’t want a normal life, but she still wants a life with him, full moons and all. “There’s no walking away from what I am,” Ethan insists, but Vanessa just pulls him closer. There’s no walking away from what she is, either—all she wants is someone to walk with her. She asks him to stay the night, but she’s being so seductive that it almost seems like the demon in her has taken over. Maybe this relationship really is too dangerous.

Ethan leaves, asking for Vanessa’s forgiveness but explaining that he needs to think. The next morning, she finds a note under her door as Ethan turns himself in to Inspector Rusk and confesses to all of his crimes. All he asks is for a quick hanging, but Rusk hands him an extradition order instead. Ethan looks more upset at the thought of going home than he does at the idea of being hanged. Maybe he knows that he’s about to be subjected to a buzz cut.

In need of a friend, Vanessa looks for the Creature at the soup kitchen—and she finds him, having no idea how unlikely their reunion would have been just last night. The Creature escaped a life as king of Putney’s freaks, broke out of his cell, and proceeded to kill his captors (except Lavinia, because he’s a Nice Guy). Now, he’s packing to leave civilization forever. “When you’ve seen that of which you are capable,” he says, “when you have stood in blood long enough, what is there left but to wade to a desolate shore away from all others?”

Vanessa knows the feeling, but she doesn’t believe in a shore far enough to distance her from what she’s done. She tells the Creature that she’s lost the immortal part of herself, so he asks her to join him. Vanessa refuses. Everyone close to her suffers, and she doesn’t want that for “the most human man [she’s] ever known.” She kisses the Creature’s face and leaves. Both of them are crying. I’m not sure Eva Green’s tears shouldn’t be illegal.

NEXT: Boulevard of broken crosses