Showtime’s Penny Dreadful The Nightcomers TV Show Review. Penny Dreadful: Season 2, Episode 3: The Nightcomers gave the viewer, through use of a flashback, more background on two key characters in the series. It’s rare that an actress is able to create a younger version of herself without the use of makeup but Eva Green has done so successfully twice within Penny Dreadful.
The younger version of Vanessa Ives on-screen in The Nightcomers was naive, a machinist in search of a technical manual, a student in search of a teacher. My problem was that Ives accepted what The Cut-Wife (Patti LuPone) had to offer without questioning it. The Cut-Wife, on the other hand, was not so easily beguiled by Ives.
Both characters were at opposite ends of what could be considered the same spectrum, where one had attained more power and knowledge than the other, and in vast amounts. The same could be said, to a lesser extent, about The Cut-Wife and her ‘sister.’ They represented the same forces at play in the Star Wars: quick power through following the Dark Side (the path of using power for selfish reasons e.g. self-aggrandizement) and the longer path of becoming a Jedi (the path of using power for the benefit of others).
The test at The Cut-Wife’s door was reminiscent of Fight Club and Tyler Durden’s first army-join-hurdle. I was really impressed that Vanessa wanted to speak to The Cut-Wife so desperately that she let The Cut-Wife physically check the status of her virginity and in broad daylight no less.
The spoken-word-trance-moment in Penny Dreadful showed how far one sister had progressed in her abilities and how far behind the other currently was in her necromancy. The Cut-Wife was caught off-guard and was defenseless. It was like watching a ship drawn to the gagged rocks of a shore by the Sirens’ song. It was a beautiful moment of tension escalation and high-end acting. The Cut-Wife underestimated her sister and must not have been in the company of other witches for some time. The lure of that forgotten sisterhood was overwhelming.
The “no heroes” statement by The Cut-Wife was indicative of the series. None of the would-be heroes in Penny Dreadful are perfect or imbued with the spotless past of many of the cape-wears in the Marvel ‘verse. The “heroes” of Penny Dreadful are severely flawed in some cases, many existing in a moral grey area. This is what makes their continuous machinations interesting to watch. The viewer does not know what they will say or do next.
A query: Did The Cut-Wife mean by her “no heroes” statement that Vanessa’s quest to save Nina was folly or that it was doomed before it began (that Vanessa was not equipped to surmount the obstacles that lay down that path)? I believe The Cut-Wife made the “no heroes” statement because she was jaded by her own unfortunate experiences and that she saw the world through that misanthropic filter.
During The Nightcomers, Vanessa was given an indication of how indirectly powerful she was within the supernatural world. The Cut-Wife said that she heard Vanessa from miles and miles away as she approached and that others had as well. I took this to mean that Vanessa had the metaphysical footsteps and presence of a giant. That was why the bloodsuckers did not lay a hand on her during Night Work (along with the fact that “The Master” wanted her) and why she is sought so vehemently by Evelyn Poole (Helen McCrory).
The Christian hypocrisy at the end of the episode was typical, seen throughout history and present in the politics of the modern era e.g. the villagers say they believe in the precepts and words in the Bible and then commit atrocities in the same tome’s name. They say they are doing something because they believe in God, yet always conveniently forgot sentiments (and I am paraphrasing): “Love thy Enemy” and “Let he who is without sin cast the first stone.” The latter sentiment saw a person in The Nightcomers, one who should have fallen to their knees in gratitude, become one of the chief insighters of a mob.
Vanessa has been the cause of great pain and been the victim of it as well. The events at the conclusion of this episode proved no different (I was surprised she didn’t scream during a certain moment but then her pain tolerance must be high after the events in Closer Than Sisters). Vanessa has endured so much evil at the hands of man yet she has remained so optimistic, so resolute in her Nina, Hero Quest. Vanessa is like a tragic Greek Mythic Hero, one people sang songs about long after their passing.
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