The post is spoilery, so for those who haven’t seen the episode yet, beware! You have been warned…
So Penny Dreadful is finally back with a third season. The first episode is out on YouTube for those who want an early peek, but be warned, you will have to wait till the 7th of May to watch episode 2. Now, let’s move on to thoughts and impressions.
Season 3 sees all our protagonists spread across the world, Ethan is in the US, being taken to his father, Sir Malcolm is headed to Ethan to help him out with someone who knows Ethan and wants to protect him, meanwhile, the Creature a.k.a. John Clare a.k.a Caliban reached the North Pole and then decided to come back home. Following the departure of all of her family, Vanessa had descended into deep depression but following a visit from Ferdinand Lyle, she sees a therapist and starts to come out of her self-imposed isolation.
This season also introduces to a few new faces. Shazad Latif is Dr. Jekyll, an old friend of Dr. Frankenstein, Patti LuPone makes a return as Dr. Seward, Vanessa’s therapist, Wes Studi as Kaetenay, someone from Ethan’s past and finally Christian Camargo as Dr. Alexander Sweet, someone who befriends Vanessa and is a zoologist.
The season premier sets up the big bad without much of a preamble, the vampires are making a comeback and they seem to be more vicious than the last time around. After the end of season 2, John Logan released the list of new characters joining the show and mentioned Dr. Jekyll but didn’t say anything about Dracula, though I suspected that we would be seeing him in this season and it feels so good to be proven right (allow me to gloat for a few minutes)
OK, now onto the episode itself. Penny Dreadful usually takes its time getting started. This season premier was a little different in the sense that it immediately introduces us to the various players, both new and old. The only team missing is that of Dorian and Lily and I’m sure they’ll make an appearance in the next episode.
Vanessa has turned from her faith, which was a very important part of her life but she also knows more about herself. And while she did close herself off, she is already clawing her way back into the light. Ethan is in a more serious predicament, first he was being taken to stand trial for all the killings he did while under the influence of the werewolf but while being transported, he is ‘rescued’ by a band of killers. They are taking him to his father who, by all accounts, is absolutely horrid. Dr. Frankenstein enlists the help of Dr. Jekyll to either make Lily more ‘tame’ or in the event of failure, to kill her.
This was a great premier for the reason I stated earlier, it wastes no time and setting up the main players of the season and confirms that indeed it is Dracula who will be the primary antagonist this season. We are still unclear about the role Dorian and Lily will play, for all we know, they may be antagonists as well.
Patti LuPone, who was so acclaimed in the previous season as the Cut-Witch, returns this season as Dr. Seward and I am glad that the writers addressed that the characters look similar in a way that makes sense and is somewhat plausible.
Now, onto the Dracula, I suspect that it is Dr. Alexander Sweet. Of course, I may be completely wrong but allow me to explain; he has a strange accent, immediately approaches Vanessa and she too has a reaction to him, she is drawn to him even if she can’t see it now and when we finally hear Dracula’s voice at the end of the episode, they sound similar. In the trailers, we see that Vanessa spends some time with him and it would make sense for Dracula to use this approach because the previous ones failed so spectacularly. Also, with Ethan leaving her and Sir Malcolm away, it also leaves her emotionally vulnerable and in need of companionship. What better way for him to insinuate himself into her life than someone who she can lean on and perhaps seek friendship with. I don’t see him as a romantic competition for Ethan, no love triangles here.
Also, on a side note, we met Renfield! I don’t know why this made me happy but it did. Season 1 set up a lot of red herrings, it gave us vampires and a character who could have been Renfield but we didn’t know for sure. Well there are no uncertainties this time. His positions also allows him to spy on Vanessa and I have a feeling that he’s going to wreak havoc till he’s caught.
Now, what bothered me a little bit was the part where Dr. Jekyll spoke about ‘taming’ Lily, making her easier to handle and while I know that currently Lily is very dangerous, I find the idea of taming her, more than a little unpleasant. It almost seems to suggest the loss of free will and agency. Victor is in love with her or thinks he is but the idea of ‘saving’ her has everything to do with what Victor wants which is troublesome. His entire relationship with Lily was weird and that doesn’t seem to have changed. But I am intrigued to see it play out and also see if Mr. Hyde makes an appearance.
Penny Dreadful season 3 is off to a very promising start and I am looking forward to seeing more of Vanessa and the rest of the crew and see them face off against Dracula and his horde of minions.