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Penny Dreadful Series Finale Review

A bittersweet farewell…

I really had a hard time trying to decide how I wanted to approach this finale. The truncated way the show ended combined with the backpedaling of its creative team made this one of the more difficult pieces I’ve had to write and reminded me of how I felt when FarScape was cancelled, except in that case the creators had no idea that the rug was being pulled out from under them and the network realized its mistake and made the proper moves to rectify it.

In the end I decided to treat it as I would any other recap with some highlights at the end regarding what happened within the show itself to belie the statements of John Logan that he had no more story to tell.

Now, onto the show:

The Blessed Dark: The End

Beauty In Darkness

We begin as our beloved dreadfuls prepare for the war that’s on their doorstep. On the other side of town Dracula is realizing he underestimated Ethan on an epic scale as one of his children reports that Ethan ate the horde of vampire that Dracula set on him. Vanessa tells him that it’s all good, Ethan will come for her and she’ll handle everything from there and Dracula should’ve known something was up right then and there.

With Fathers’ Like These

Ethan wakes up with that headache you get when you overeat and confronts Kaetenay about the small matter of him turning Ethan into a werewolf. Kaetenay’s all, “Yeah about that. You’re the chosen one to save the world. Sorry, not sorry.” Ethan’s like, ‘When this is over we’re going to have a long talk about consent mothereffer.’

Bye Felicia

Over on the other side of town Brona comes back to Dorian’s to find everyone either dead or gone. Dorian tries to talk her into staying as immortality is boring and he’s lost his passion for it. Brona has no desire to do so, kisses him and then bounces. Welp. I guess that’s the end of that?

At the asylum we find out that Henry’s father is dead and he’s now Lord Hyde. Victor congratulates him and tells him to rethink the path he’s on as Victor knows it’s a dark one from personal experience. Of course Henry’s not listening but I can’t bring myself to care because it’s the final episode.

Regulators! Mount Up!

Seward uses hypnosis on Renfield to find out where Dracula’s lair is and the gang, Victor included, prepares to go rescue Vanessa. They head in and Dracula, with every vampire in London, is waiting for them. They demand Vanessa and Dracula’s like, ‘Yeah…no. But because Vanessa loves you, all of you can go.’ Ethan takes off after Vanessa on his own but the others stay behind and before everything goes down Malcolm asks why the hell Mina got snatched up in this mess. Dracula tells Malcolm that Mina was bait for Vanessa. Malcolm gets that look and tells everyone that if they stay with him they’re going to die. Seward sums it up succinctly when she says in reference to Dracula’s ultimatum: ‘Fuck him.’ Cat and Victor agree and it’s a straight up melee.

This Is Where We Say Our Farewells

While this is happening Ethan finds Vanessa, who’s been waiting for him, and tells her that he’s there to take her home. Except Vanessa has other plans. A few episodes back I noticed that when Vanessa gave herself to Dracula she was watching the moon. This is right after she and Kaetenay have their astral plane conversation. Vanessa knew Ethan was coming. She knew he’d be able to wolf out when he did. Vanessa also knows that unless they somehow killed Dracula and Lucifer, she and Ethan would always be targets. This was Vanessa’s plan the minute she realized just who Dracula was and how far he’d wormed his way into her life and under her skin.

In the most heartbreaking scene of this show Vanessa lays this out for Ethan, who begs her to reconsider. Vanessa refuses, as far she’s concerned death is the only option and she’d rather it be now, with Ethan at her side, than after she becomes something horrifying.

After Ethan’s heart shatters all over the place the deed is done and Vanessa dies in his arms. It’s gorgeous and brutal and devastating for the characters and the audience.

Dracula feels Vanessa’s death and just…gives up, realizing she’d rather die in Ethan’s embrace than live through eternity with him.

In the end Vanessa choose how she wanted to go out, no one else, and she did so with the man she loved with her, her father and friends safe and the world saved from a monster.

There are worse ways to go.

Ha’Penny Thoughts aka Things Left On The Table

  • Caliban’s arc wrapped up in the only way it could: his son dead and him giving up on having any kind of life. Rory Kinnear did the best he could with his character but I could never bring myself to care about Caliban’s misery, especially as so much of it was his own fault.
  • Pray tell, if Logan truly had no more story to tell why the hell Shazad Latif was brought on to play Jekyll? What a waste of an amazing actor who had mad chemistry with Harry Treadaway’s Frankenstein.
  • And for that matter what the hell was Brona’s truncated storyline? You mean to tell me that wasn’t building to a face off between Dorian and Brona that ended with Dorian being killed once and for all?
  • Victor continues to get off scot free for all the shite he did to Ethan and Brona. This makes no sense, especially as he was in love with both of them and hurt them both, even if Ethan didn’t know just how badly Victor messed up his life.
  • Why in the eff was Lyle not at Vanessa’s funeral? At least it wasn’t Bury Your Gays but how is Cat going to be at Vanessa’s funeral but Lyle left out?

In the end all of the above shows that the cancellation of this show had more to do with the inner workings of CBS Productions and its changing of the guard than it did with the show itself. Which is a damn shame because this show was Showtime’s Game Of Thrones: event television that took the tropes you loved and turned them on their heads.

Goodbye my Dreadfuls. You’ll be missed.

Author’s note: If you want to know more about what went down at CBS Productions and how it affected Penny Dreadful and will continue to affect your favorite shows, tune in, in two weeks.

About belleburr (448 Articles)
Actor, writer, singer

4 Comments on Penny Dreadful Series Finale Review

  1. Aside from the ending being one big plot hole, it was a betrayal of the show`s own message of empowerment and self-acceptance. After two seasons of feminist storytelling, an ending where all the women lose and all the abusers get a free pass?
    Here`s my own angry write-up:


  2. Aside from the ending being one massive plot hole, I couldn`t believe how anti-woman it was after 2 seasons of great empowering, feminist writing. Completely negated its own message of self-acceptance. I understand Logan may have been forced to end the show quickly, but why did his mind automatically go to crushing his female protagonists and letting abusers (Victor, Dorian, Kaetenay, Dracula, GOD) completely off the hook? It was a spit in the face of fans, characters, and I`m sure actors as well.
    Here is my own angry write-up:

    Liked by 1 person

  3. For a show that I really loved from the first glance I couldn’t believe how much I hated this last season. It felt like the characters instead of progressing took steps backwards. It had its moments like Rory and Eva’s episode (5 I think) but everything felt rushed , confused (on the makers part) and some huge missed opportunities for the actors. I did not like Dracula at all, he is huge as a character and here he was just pathetic. Brona and Dr Jekyll also, as you say missed opportunities for such amazing actors So many moments out of character.. Bumer it was cancelled, bummer it ended like this. Well, I guess we’ll always have those amazing past episodes, when everything was written beautifully.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Reblogged this on The Adventures of Fort Gaskin-Burr and commented:

    Penny Dreadful is over and I’m still peeved.


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