Showtime’s Penny Dreadful Grand Guignol TV Show Review. Penny Dreadful: Season 1, Episode 8: Grand Guignol brought to a close the storyline that had initially brought together the majority of the characters on the show.
Sir Malcolm Murray (Timothy Dalton) had always regarded Vanessa Ives (Eva Green) as a means to an end: the locating and rescuing of his daughter Mina Harker (Olivia Llewellyn) at the possible expense of Vanessa’s life (if the situation called for it). In Grand Guignol, he told this truth to Vanessa with no ambiguity. The one thing the duo had always had between them was honesty, more so from Vanessa’s side than from Sir Murry’s side of the relationship. In Grand Guignol, they finally became equals in that predilection.
When the moment came, Sir Murray finally saw in Vanessa what Ethan had in Possession: Vanessa had become Sir Murray’s daughter, was Sir Murray’s daughter. When Sir Murray spoke the words, Ms. Ives was even shocked by them, considering the content of their earlier conversation. It was a good relationship moment between them, followed by an even better one later in the episode.
There was a subtle fondness between Ethan and Vanessa brought up briefly and then dismissed even quicker. I guess they both realized they are too complicated for each other, a fate shared by Vanessa and Dorian Grey (Reeve Carney).
Many speculated (some predicted) that Brona Croft (Billie Piper) would become The Creature (Rory Kinnear)’s mate or ‘Bride.’ I was not one of them. I thought it was to convenient for her to be the choice, especially with the ballerinas Dr. Victor Frankenstein (Harry Treadaway) had previously been surveying. Choosing Brona will make the Ethan Chandler (Josh Hartnett) / Brona Croft storyline in season 2 infinitely more compelling (and the show as a whole as well) as now there will be two new elements added to it: 1.) Brona will be a walking, talking corpse, and 2.) The Creature. Regarding the first element, just like with Proteus, Brona will begin remembering things from her past and eventually her feeling for Ethan, especially if she runs into him. Regarding the second element, if and when Ethan tries to get in between The Creature and Brona, The Creature will never allow it. The Creature has already proved that he will kill to get what he wants and would rather die than be alone.
Seeing The Creature and Ethan Chandler tussle will be very entertaining considering what Ethan was finally revealed to be. Though hinted at in bits and pieces since the very first episode, what Ethan turned out to be was obvious and satisfying. It was the only explanation for the hand-in-wolf’s-mouth moment in Resurrection (which no character present ever saw fit to bring up for some strange reason). It turns out that the wolf and Ethan were kin, distant cousins but they could smell and taste their own.
Ethan’s Pinkerton / wolf moment was executed well but I wanted to see what went on inside the bar as the camera moved outside of it. An absence of gore has never been one of the show’s failings though.
Seeing Brona cut open by Dr. Frankenstein would have destroyed Ethan but The Creature was enthralled and captivated. He bore witness to his greatest desire being realized and he was in receptive awe. It may be possible that The Creature was never happier than as he watched a recently deceased woman sliced wide in front of him by his creator.
For Dr. Frankenstein, Brona’s demise and the creation of a mate for The Creature was an act of compassion on two fronts: 1.) The Creature had gone from vengeful nightmare to pitiful outcast. Frankenstein saw his suffering, the human within, and his responsibility for the first time: a father takes care of his child and provides for it, especially when that child is suffering. 2.) Brona wasn’t so much killed by Dr. Frankenstein as euthanized by him (she was at the precipice of death, going over one way or another, no matter what action he took). This way, when she regains her memories, she’ll get to live again and without her former affliction.
With the central mission now at an end, what will the second season of Penny Dreadful hold for the viewer? What string will hold the cadre of characters together? Sir Murray hunting for the creature Mina referred to as ‘The Master?’ Whatever they decide, like this season, it will be a surprise.
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