We’ve reached the end of the line for Penny Dreadful as this is the very final episode – and yes, it will all end with heartbreak and death, but also with peace for Vanessa Ives
In the previous episode – which aired just before this last one – we saw Lily be set free by Frankenstein, while Ethan goes into battle with Dracula – only briefly though, as he allows his minions to fight for him instead. However, it turned out Ethan wasn’t the only wolf in the mix as Kaetenay sprouted fangs, claws and an impressive silver mane.
We start this episode with a woman singing a beautiful lullaby to her baby, while sitting in the streets. Then we move to The Creature’s family, where his son strugles to take one last breath, before stopping to breathe. The Creature hears this immediately and goes to hold his son’s hands. And yes, this does set the tone for the entire final episode, which starts with a beautiful new intro featuring the song we just heard a mother sing to her child. This new intro is also clearly a way to honor the story and highlight the characters, actors and crew.
That is one heartbreaking way to begin a final episode; No real hope, but a whole lot of sadness and heartbreak, so get ready for that to continue…
For The Creature (Rory Kinnear) that means being asked by his wife to take the body of their son to Victor Frankenstein, so they can have him back. Just like Frankenstein was able to return the husband and father to their little family, the wife now wants her son back. The Creature tries to explain that he wouldn’t be the same, but she makes it very clear to him: Either you come back with him alive, or you don’t come back at all. Like I said; No real hope, but plenty of heartbreak.
We see a person in a dark dress glide across the floor, and instantly know it’s our beloved Vanessa Ives (Eva Green). She goes to put her hand on Dracula’s shoulder and remarks that he is scared. Dracula (Christian Carmargo) explains that the Hound of God has been foretold to bring his own demise, so yeah, he’s a bit nervous about everything going on. Dracula reaches for Vanessa’s hand on his shoulder, but she removes it just before he can touch it, and we know two things: Vanessa is in charge and Dracula still doesn’t truly have a hold on her. Basically, Vanessa has made Dracula his bitch. However, she’s also lost herself in the process, so it’s hard to be happy about any of this.
Lily (Billie Piper) returns to Dorian Gray’s mansion. Dorian (Reeve Carney) is waiting for her in the empty ballroom – which just the night before was a dinning hall filled with Lily’s army of whores. Now only the body of Justine (Jessica Barden) remains. Lily talks of how her grand plans were reduced to nothing in an instant, as she kneels and takes Justine’s hand in hers. “Another child lost” she says, as Dorian offers her some words of condolence (sort of!) by telling her that Justine was faithful to her till the very end, and that she didn’t feel any pain as she died.
Dorian starts this whole speech about how this is the world they must accept as immortals: You can never have anything or anyone, because both things and people wither and die. I think he believes he is convincing Lily that he himself is the best option, but Lily simply goes to him, kisses him once and says goodbye. She then turns to leave and that’s the last we see of Lily.
Dorian calls out after her that she’ll be back and he will be there waiting. Once again, he’s left all alone with a never-ending life of loneliness to break him even further. Just a lonely boy, who’s – quite frankly – getting bored with both this world and this life. Even if he would never admit it. A stubborn little boy, who can control other people’s death, but not his own. And his life is empty, sad and eternal. And this is where we leave Dorian Gray.
Dr. Jekyll (Shazad Latiff) and Victor Frankenstein (Harry Treadaway) are back in Jekyll’s lab. Henry thinks Victor is both weak and a fool, so he tells him as much. Victor is very calm and continues to tell his friend Henry Jekyll that he has realized you can’t change people, just like Dr. Jekyll can’t change the way people see him, which is less than any white, British man of nobility. No matter how great a doctor and scientist, he may be, Dr. Jekyll will always be a lesser man to those he wants to impress. Dr. Jekyll informs his good friend, Dr. Frankenstein, that he is indeed much closer to nobility now that his father has just died. Victor offers to then call Dr. Jekyll by his correct title, which turns out to be “Lord Hyde” (not exactly the Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde story I know, but okay). This is where we leave Dr. Jekyll.
Ethan (Josh Hartnett) and Kaetenay (Wes Studi) won – or survived – the battle with the vampire army, and are waking up in their human form. Ethan stares at Kaetenay with that “You’ve got some explaining to do!” look and Kaetenay tells Ethan that no one else knows that he is also a werewolf. He used to head out of their Apache village and find a camp of soldiers and wait for the full moon to turn him, so he could wipe them out. However, it never seemed to make much of a difference, since more soldiers just kept coming. Oh yeah, and he changed Ethan. Yep, he’s the one who turned him into a werewolf, because he knew this was Ethan’s destiny – or that the world needed him to be this. Needless to say, Ethan is less than thrilled, but really, they don’t have time to sweat this small stuff right now.
Slowly, but surely, we see Dr. Seward finding her way into Renfield’s mind and he turns out to be the meek and gentle little boy, who found power at Dracula’s side, but is still a scared – and scarred – soul. Dr. Seward “walks with” Renfield in his mind and tries to get him to explain what they’re seeing and smelling. After a while, she sees a sign that she recognizes – and no, I can’t explain how she saw something that was only in Renfield’s mind, so they should probably have gotten Renfield to read the sign instead.
In any case, the group – now including Frankenstein – is heading to Dracula’s lair to get Vanessa back. As they arrive, Dracula is there to greet them and after making it clear that Vanessa is now his – again, wrong on that one, Loverboy, because if anything you are hers. Also, Sir Malcolm asks Dracula if he was the one who took Mina. He was. And he is all too pleased to reveal that Mina was nothing more than a trick to try and get to Vanessa.
Dracula offers to let the group leave unharmed, but, of course, they refuse and another battle begins. Once again, Catriona turns out to be the best fighter this show has ever seen. I mean, damn!
Also, Dr. Seward is a badass New Yorker by heart and goes after these pale little vampires like it’s really not that big a deal. Ethan and Kaetenay took another way into the lair and in the midst of fighting, Ethan sees his chance to go after Vanessa and takes off. And that’s were the series end… total cliffhanger. Who knew, right?! The end.
No, afraid not. We all knew – most of all Vanessa Ives herself – that there could be no happy ending for her. Ethan finds her in a white tiled room filled with candle light. The perfect sad and cold place, but filled with warm light. He asks her to came with him, but she says what we’re all thinking: Where to?
There is no escape for her, except to die, so she asks Ethan to help her do this. She takes his revolver and places it in his hand, asks for a final kiss of love and is ready to be delivered to her Lord and saviour. Ethan holds her close and starts saying the Lord’s Prayer. She takes over and speaks the last part alone, and then Ethan fullfills her wish to be released from the Hell of this world, so she can go to Heaven. Vanessa Ives dies with a smile on her face, finally free of the torments this world had given her.
The fight between humans and vampires is still going on, but all that comes to an end when Ethan shows up carrying Vanessa’s body in his arms. Dracula slithers off, and the fog lifts and the sun comes out to shine down on all of Vanessa’s true friends.
Back at Sir Malcolm’s house, Victor Frankenstein seems to be on the right track and hugs Ethan before leaving. A brighter future could be ahead for him in this world. Ethan, on the other hand, is broken and lost, having lost the love of his life and fulfilled his destiny. The same goes for Sir Malcolm, who has now lost everyone who has known him for more than a few years.
This is where we return to The Creature and sees his choice regarding bringing his son to Frankenstein. Of course, the choice isn’t difficult for The Creature at all. Obviously, he would never do this to his son, so instead we see him lay his son to rest in the ocean.
The final minutes of this series finale is a beautiful goodbye to Vanessa Ives. A woman both too powerful and to pure for this world. We see her being buried as we hear the voice of The Creature reading poetry. The Creature does also show up, of course, but remains in the background until everyone attending the funeral – Ethan, Sir Malcolm, Victor Frankenstein, Kaetenay, Catriona and Dr. Seward – has left. Then he goes to her grave and says his own goodbye. And this is where Penny Dreadful leaves us.
The End comes across the screen and remains long enough that if you watched it live – and didn’t hear the official cancellation announcement that came out afterwards – you probably knew this literally spelled the end of everything. Though of course, hope always remains. And yet, just like Vanessa Ives, that too is now dead.
There are a lot of unanswered questions (many of which I go through in this article) and most of the stories – except for that of Vanessa Ives really – are left very open-ended, so the show could easily continue with these storylines, but this was unfortunately the end of the line for our beloved Penny Dreadful as well as the final end of Vanessa Ives.
This was the official plot description of this Penny Dreadful episode:
Ethan learns the shocking truth about Kaetenay. Dr. Seward uses hypnosis on Renfield. Meanwhile, The Creature must make a moral decision as Sir Malcolm, Ethan, Kaetenay, Dr. Seward and Catriona battle to save Vanessa. Season finale.
And that’s it, I’m afraid. As we learned after the season finale had aired, it was not in fact a season finale, but a series finale! Very strange indeed since even the official plot on Showtime’s own website called this a “season finale”. Look, I’ll be honest, I think it’s a truly shitty way to treat the fans of this show; You damn well tell people that it’s ending up front and not when it has ended. That’s some devious methods of deception, which have – not surprisingly – caused the fans to be pretty torn up. Also, I don’t believe for a second that this was the plan all along. Not now and not like this!
The only thing left to do it a rewatch of the entire show, so here’s a season 1-3 super trailer to get you in the mood:
You can always follow the Penny Dreadful tag for recaps or anything else related to the show… who knows, maybe it’ll suddenly have a glorious revival of sorts? Here’s to hoping, anyway. Eternally.