Sunday, May 8, 2016

REVIEW: 'Penny Dreadful' - Vanessa Opens Herself Up to Seward While Dracula Shows His Face in 'Predators Far and Near'

Showtime's Penny Dreadful - Episode 3.02 "Predators Far and Near"

Ethan gets help from Hecate. Evil forces track Vanessa's every move.

All of the characters on Penny Dreadful right now are on journeys for personal contentment. They each want happiness and purpose in their lives. Their lives have been defined by so many monstrous things for so long. They are each wondering if they even deserve to be happy. The darkness of this world is only continuing to grow. New monsters and danger seem to be around every corner. But does that mean the protagonists can't be happy? Do they have to be resigned to lives of death and destruction? That's such an isolating and lonely existence. They have all tried to be happy in the past and that has had so many deeply personal complications. Now, they are all faced to fend for themselves in this harsh and bleak world. But again, does that mean they have to be lonely? They have each found new people they are excited or intrigued to be around. But the darkness of this world still engulfs their worlds. All of this potential happiness is corrupted by that darkness. So where does that leave the characters as they all desperately want to better themselves in this existence?

Vanessa is determined to take her therapy sessions with Dr. Seward very seriously. The doctor laid out the rules of this process in the season premiere. And now, Vanessa is using them to her benefit in the hopes of understanding her purpose in life without believing in her God. She is a very powerful individual who has vanquished every monstrous threat that has threatened to destroy her so far. But this war has forced her to lose her faith. She is now determined that there is no God. She has survived for so long because of her actions. But where does that leave her? She has chosen to be a part of society again. She has gained that confidence already from her therapy sessions. But the work is just getting started as well. She doesn't shy away from the harsh realities of her life to Dr. Seward. She is completely honest with this woman and hopes that she'll be able to believe everything that she has said. That's a major hurdle in their working relationship. Everything Vanessa says is true. But it's a lot for any individual to accept without seeing it firsthand. Monsters live in this world. Vanessa is frequently at the center of their wars. And now, she's making herself vulnerable to someone who she'll need to trust as the world only gets more and more complicated around her.

It's not clear whether or not Seward believes Vanessa's story. She sits back and listens to it. She offers Vanessa with one minor suggestion in the hopes of putting her on the first steps towards a better life. She wants her to leave and do something that will make her happy. Seward's advice so far has been very minor. It has just been simple tasks for Vanessa to do. And yet, both times she has found herself drawn to Dr. Sweet at the animal museum. It's a sweet and charming dynamic between the two of them. It's not yet burdened by the pain and trauma of the past. She is intrigued by this new man. She sees him as the latest opportunity to be happy. She finds herself drawn to him and captivated by his world. They have a nice dynamic that is fueled by their intellects challenging one another. But again, this is a harsh and bleak world. Vanessa can't just go out and find happiness hoping that it will last in this cruel existence. She is falling back into a familiar pattern. Seward is encouraging that as well. And yet, neither of them could possibly know the darkness just underneath the surface of this new relationship. Sweet isn't who he says he is. He is actually Dracula, the new evil hunting Vanessa this season. That certainly adds to the complications. She is opening herself to this man not knowing that he is the latest servant of the Devil trying to take her soul. It's a fantastic final twist of the hour.

Elsewhere, Dorian and Lily make their debuts for the season. It's a brutal and fantastic start for them as well. They have only become more powerful and monstrous between seasons. Victor remains the only person who knows the threat they pose to this world. And yet, they are still just slowly building their plans to conquer humanity. They are quite a lethal pairing too. They rescue a young girl who was about to be murdered by her captors for the pleasure of several rich individuals. They saved this woman from a bleak and horrifying existence. They give her an opportunity to better herself and take revenge on those who wronged her. It's the same kind of climb that Lily was able to make thanks to Victor. She now sits on the precipice of this world as an immortal creature capable of so many monstrous things. She saves this girl and gives her new purpose. Her future will be one filled with hope and possibilities. That's all thanks to Lily and Dorian. They have their first acolyte to their cause. They are becoming the monsters they want to be. That's a very exciting tease of dark but wonderful things to come this season.

Victor is still holding onto the hope that he can have love with Lily once again. All of it was a lie on Lily's part to control her creator. But to him, those feelings were real. He doesn't want to get rid of them just yet. He sees the monster Lily is becoming and wants to save her. This isn't what he set out to do with his work. He has brought monsters into this world. They are his burden to carry. He has enlisted Dr. Jekyll's help in this endeavor. But Victor is still the one ultimately responsible for all of what's about to occur. Lily is proud of what she is becoming. It's her taking control of her own existence. No one is no longer forcing her to do anything. She is willingly doing everything it takes to rule this world - with Dorian by her side as another immortal. Victor wants to control her. He wants that love back. He wants to oppress her. He plans on changing her in order to fit her into his view of the world. Sure, that would ultimately save this world from the monster Lily is becoming. But Victor is doing all of this for incredibly selfish reasons. He's simply a man who wants a woman to be under his control. One who has the same moral compass as him. They help each other be better people. It's manipulative in its tragedy while still very enticing and powering. This dynamic is only becoming more tense and will likely continue when Victor tries to force his will onto Lily.

Meanwhile, so many interested parties are trying to hunt Ethan in the New Mexico territory. His father's men have him for now. But Inspector Rusk, Hecate, a federal marshal as well as Malcolm and Kaetenay are trying to track him down. All of them have their own unique reasons too. Ethan is the source for so much attention right now. And yet, he is just trying to free himself from his chains before he once again turns into a monster. His affliction has plagued him for so long. He is once again back in the land that first made him into this beast. This community is defined by his past actions. He fled for a reason. And now, he is being forced to deal with all of those consequences. However, he only succeeds in evading capture by once again transforming and killing so many people. The beast is a part of who he is. He hates that side of him. He believes he'll never be able to find happiness because of it. And yet, he does free himself and runs into one of the interested parties looking for him. Hecate is just as lethal a monster as Ethan is. She takes pleasure out of it and embraces who she is. It is so significant that when they reunite they are both in their beast forms. This is who they are in their truest sense. These are the monsters that they become. It's an existence surrounded by death. But now, they are reunited. To do what? It's uncertain. But no good can come from Ethan being a free man with a witch by his side.

Some more thoughts:
  • "Predators Far and Near" was written by John Logan and directed by Damon Thomas.
  • It's both amusing and surprising that Malcolm doesn't like being a ship. He has gone on so many excursions throughout his life. And yet, he has also been limited by his dislike for travel across the ocean.
  • Lily and Dorian took so much pleasure out of killing those men who enjoyed watching a young girl get tortured with the intent of killing her. They saved her but it is still a traumatic and bloody experience.
  • Dracula's followers have been following Vanessa. They've been careful not to make themselves known to her. Renfield has provided information in order to quench his new thirst for blood. And yet, was Vanessa drawn to Sweet because he has powers as Dracula? Or was that just one big coincidence? Probably not.
  • Dr. Jekyll has already made so much progress on the promises he made to Victor last week. He is still alienated by society due to the color of his skin. And yet, that has given him the kind of lab that allows him to run his crazy and potentially dangerous experiments. But they seem to be working too.
  • Vanessa is all alone in Malcolm's mansion. The team did fortify it last season. But she still feels like an easy target for whenever Dracula decides to make his assault on her. She would even let her guard down if he showed up first as Dr. Sweet.
  • Malcolm and Vanessa's correspondence with each other has been very important this season. And yet, she isn't telling him about going to therapy while he doesn't inform her that he's going to America to save Ethan.