So, I just finished watching the season 3 finale for Penny Dreadful and rarely am I so riled up by what I see on TV. The show has been building a couple of themes throughout its 3 seasons, among them that Vanessa might have darkness in her soul but she will always gravitate towards the light. This is something that has been explicitly stated at various times by various characters and also showcased through Vanessa’s actions.
Season 3, however proved to be her biggest challenge. But even then, she took steps to claw her way back to the light. She saw a psychotherapist in order to get better, she took a chance on a relationship, she ventured out into the world once more.
But it was all for naught. With the end of the season (and arguably the show) the writers let her succumb to that darkness and not only that, the season finale saw the death. It was such an anticlimactic moment for a powerful character. One who never apologised for who she was and who always strove to be better. What did it mean that she fell for the allure of the darkness when she fought against it her entire life. Far from being cruel and bitter, she stayed kind and loved with all of her heart. With what the writers did in the finale, they stripped away her character of everything that made her who she was. Vanessa Ives lost and the writers did that to her.
In the midst of all this chaos surrounding Vanessa, let us not forget Lily and her treatment on the show. Brona was murdered and then came back as Lily and she rebelled against everything that Victor and the society wanted her to be. She fought against the chains that bound women across social lines. She was the fury, the vengeance against what had been and what was happening to the women, their treatment at the hands of men. She was far from perfect, but in her we had a mouthpiece that voiced opinions that were extreme but needed to be voiced nonetheless. And what did the writers do? They once again put her at Victor’s mercy, her murderer. Yes, murderer, sure Brona was dying but she didn’t ask Victor to kill her, to end her suffering, he did that all on his own and for his own selfish ends. Let’s not give him credit where none is due. He wanted to play god and he wanted to save his own skin. Too bad, this experiment worked a little too well.
For a show that I loved for its treatment of women, the finale has left me feeling disappointed and frustrated and not to mention, deeply upset. After being with these characters through the course of 3 seasons, to see them treated so shoddily, just leaves a bad taste in the mouth and completely sullies the show and what it meant for me.
It is strange day indeed when I need to watch Game of Thrones in order to feel better, it is doing a stellar job with its female characters after going so wrong for so long.. Let me say no more, lest I jinx that. For now, I will revel in the greatness that is Sansa Stark.