Showtime’s Penny Dreadful And They Were Enemies TV Show Review. Penny Dreadful: Season 2, Episode 10: And They Were Enemies housed a fantastic battle, somber conclusions, and a growing, ‘resurrected’ threat. I surmised that The Creature (Rory Kinnear) would use his abnormal strength to get out of the Freak Zoo cage but one wonders why he didn’t immediately use it when he was first caged. Why let himself be caged at all? Was it to find out The Putney Master Plan or to make And They Were Enemies more exciting. I believe it was the latter and thus bad writing. The Creature is intelligent but duplicity, subterfuge, those are the domains of Lily. The Creature has always been much more direct and deliberate. The Creature not breaking out immediately served no purpose but a narrative one. The Creature ‘allowing’ himself to be caged defied the reality that he had established for himself and that the writers of Penny Dreadful had established for him.
The Creature letting Lavinia Putney (Tamsin Topolski) live was the humanity in him triumphing over the “multiplying villainies of man.” Lavinia could not even see The Creature yet she verbally beat him with absolutely no cause behind it. Lavinia must have been made fun of all of her life because of her blindness. Now there was finally someone below her station that she could make fun of, berate, and hurt verbally (as she had been hurt) and she was not going to miss the opportunity (in fact, she reveled in it). The Creature must have sensed this or the sorrow she was about to endure (her life was about to shift from difficult to nightmare – no more parents to help her along and provide for her) and let her live. The Creature had found out first hand that life is more difficult than death.
It was strange to hear Evelyn Poole (Helen McCrory)’s ‘Master’ or Amun-Ra speak to Vanessa Ives (Eva Green) in Vanessa voice (but fitting since it was a Vanessa puppet). The eyes of the puppet shifting to occasionally look at Ms. Poole was a nice, sentient touch as well. Amun-Ra knowing Vanessa’s deepest secrets was a surprise though it shouldn’t have been. An immortal entity must have ‘eyes’ and ‘ears’ much different and farther reaching than a mortal being. Amun-Ra was literally privy to the inner workings of Vanessa’s soul. I loved the double cross at play during the scene between Amun-Ra and Poole: as soon as Vanessa agreed to Amun-Ra’s terms, Ms. Poole was going to strike. No fairy tale with Ethan Chandler (Josh Hartnett) for Vanessa. Amun-Ra wanted his “beloved” in that room, at that moment in time. It was wonderful seeing all of that subtext at play. Hecate Poole (Sarah Greene)’s scheme and moment made it even more enjoyable. The viewer didn’t know what she was up to until she literally threw the switch. What she released created one of the most memorable moments of the season.
The Amun-Ra / Vanessa Ives Verbis Diablo battle was the culmination of a long conflict for Vanessa. When it was time for Vanessa to set up and defend herself, she was a combat veteran, an experienced gladiator with no intention of backing down. I mentally cheered at the end of battle, when Vanessa delivered the characteristic hero quip over the defeated foe “Know your Master.” I was happy for Vanessa. Were you?
The other important confrontation in And They Were Enemies was the one between Dr. Victor Frankenstein (Harry Treadaway), Lily (Billie Piper), and Dorian Grey (Reeve Carney).
I mentioned previously that Dr. Frankenstein was an incompetent scientist and researcher. Dr. Frankenstein proved that in And They Were Enemies but moved past both deficiencies into the realm of being a complete nincompoop.
He never tested his creations to see if they felt pain, if they could be re-killed once they had been re-animated? GTFOOH! But it’s true, it is so damnably true. This ‘Scientist’ tested almost nothing about the beings he created. His cursory testing and note-taking were very cursory and complete BS.
Penny Dreadful would be so much better if Dr. Frankenstein was a real doctor, a real scientist. Dr. Frankenstein, the one in Penny Dreadful, is at constant odds with himself: One Dr. Frankenstein makes the great scientific discovery in history. He literally conquered death. The other Dr. Frankenstein does almost everything is his power to go against what a real scientist, doctor, and researcher would do, one that been taught in medical school, had completed a medical residency, and one that had endured countless hours in a laboratory as a novice learner.
And They Were Enemies ground against itself when Dr. Frankenstein shot Lily and was surprised that the bullet had absolutely no effect on her. He should have known that already.
What was also funny about that scene was that Victor said that he loved Lily moments before, she made fun of his sexual prowess (“like a grubby little boy cramming his hand into the sweet jar” – one of the best lines of the episode, hands down), and then shot her. Is that how Dr. Frankenstein shows his affection for someone? Curious but it exemplified one of the reasons why The Creature dislikes him so intensely (Dr. Frankenstein leaps before seeing how deep the water is).
Was Dr. Frankenstein written as a lackadaisical fool only to serve the evolving narrative of Penny Dreadful and its dramatic moments? By all indications, that is Dr. Frankenstein’s purpose on the show, exemplified yet again in And They Were Enemies. Case and point: The ‘good’ doctor finds out about Lily and Dorian’s master plan and decides to do nothing. He decides to tell no one. Wait, I am mistaken. He did decide to do something. He decided to self-medicate and slip into drug-induced bliss (serving the narrative by saving the new threat for next season).
When Vanessa Ives’ secret hope and dream for Ethan Chandler and herself was brought to the forefront of her mind, she wanted to make it a reality, body and soul. When Vanessa asked Ethan to sped the night with her (and all that this request implied), I was extremely surprised that Ethan rejected the offer under the guise that he needed to think about it (and the notion of being in a relationship with her). He has wanted Vanessa Ives mentally and sexually for a long time but the death of Sembene was the emotional tipping point for him. Ethan wanted Lupus Dei killed and destroyed before it could hurt anyone else.
I admire his sacrifice of love and liberty to preserve the lives of future innocents that might fall victim to his claws.
What was also interesting was that Vanessa did something similar with The Creature. She did not want to infect him with her darkness and the misery that follows her around like a loyal pet. She had no idea who and what she was speaking to. Once again though, The Creature’s humanity was brought into the light of day, in a beautiful moment of friendship and kindness that brought him to tears. What those tears represented only he knows. The beauty of humanity? Being rejected once again? What the kiss of a beauty created in him, a longing never to be satiated? Blinding kindness and empathy the likes of which he has never known? As I said, only The Creature knows.
The episode ended like the first season of Game of Thrones began – all of the main characters going their separate ways. It was a wonderful setup for Season 3. The viewer literally has no idea about what is going to happen next season…except that Lily’s threat to Dr. Frankenstein will become more apparent to London and possibly humanity. How will Lily and Dorian Grey do it? How will they make humanity kneel? I’m guessing politically. What’s your guess?
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