Penny Dreadful Ebb Tide Review
Showtime’s Penny Dreadful: Season 3, Episode 7: Ebb Tide featured a beautifully bleak graveyard vista and dialogue by characters that affected and changed the hearts and minds of those that heard them.
A smaller version of the major, eventual confrontation between Justine (Jessica Barden) and Dorian Grey (Reeve Carney) occurred in Ebb Tide. The advantage in their verbal combat quickly shifted to Dorian as he relented, dropped the vale, and ceased holding back for the briefest of moments. His words and his tone were enough to send a visible chill down Justine’s spine to her very toes.
Previously, the viewer may have believed Dorian to be one of the most shallow and uninteresting characters on Penny Dreadful. When Dorian dropped the vale, he showed that he may be one of the deepest and most complex of the characters.
Vanessa Ives (Eva Green) giving herself over (though she said she was giving into herself finally) to Dr. Alexander Sweet / Dracula (Christian Camargo) was a complete surprise, especially since she knew what that would cause (the mist pestilence began instantly in the skies of London). Vanessa said in No Beast So Fierce that every time she opened her heart, calamity ensued. When Vanessa found out that she had engaged in coitus with Dracula, it may have been “the straw that broke the camel’s back” for her emotionally. Vanessa was tired of fighting herself, tired of fighting the world. Any other person would have been broken long ago. Each time Vanessa persevered, it seemed she was diminished a little more and a little more each time. What she had done with Dracula in No Beast So Fierce and his outsider, shunned speech in Ebb Tide were the “nail in the coffin” for her.
Now it remains to be seen if Vanessa’s friends can pull her back from the other side of the abyss. They are going to have to fight through Dracula’s familiars to get to her.
Lily (Billie Piper) had many standout moments in Ebb Tide where her words were weighted by hidden and implicit action. The first was at a graveyard where a significant event in her previous life was revealed. The other moment was on top of Dorian Grey’s lavish dinner party table. Both scenes involved speeches about the present and the future but it was the one on top of the table that was the most rousing and darkly inspiring. Ebb Tide showed that Lily had become a leader of many, someone to aspire to, listen to, and take commands from, no matter how ill-conceived and macabre.
It was obvious that the honeymoon period between Dorian and Lily was over as Dorian stared at a platter filled with men’s right hands. Lily and Dorian’s plan, in Ebb Tide solely Lily’s plan, had transmogrified and was running itself into the ground after its very inception. Lily had initially said she would gather power and influence and dispatch people covertly. The crimes that she instigated in Ebb Tide were completely the opposite and were bound to attract police attention (or at least the covert attention of some of those wealthy men who wanted revenge for what was taken from them).
Dorian’s eventual betrayal of Lily in Ebb Tide was unforeseen. The fact that Dorian could be bored by something as radical as revolution had gone disclosed until Ebb Tide along with the fact that since he had witnessed so many revolutions, they were common to him. Dorian was able to see the entire situation (Lily’s revolution), in all of its stages, like an intricate, predictable chess board. He knew how the pattern would end because he had seen the pattern repeat itself throughout time again and again. Lily couldn’t see the pattern. She was a part of it, a nubile variable in it, full of hope and optimism for her scheme, for her revolution. Dorian saw what was going to happen with her revolution a mile away and nothing about it interested him anymore.
Changing that would-be pattern, changing the leader of that revolution, did interest him. Such a change would change the common into something uncommon. A treatment like Dr. Victor Frankenstein (Harry Treadaway)’s was something brand new in the world. To an immortal, brand new must almost be hyperbole. When the real McCoy presented itself, it must have been irresistible to Dorian (the treatment, its effect, and the intended test subject), especially since Dorian and Lily had begun to go down different paths.
Question 1: Why didn’t Lily break the chain with her hands when she learned that she had been chained? She was strong enough to forcefully throw The Creature to the ground in season 2. She didn’t even try to break the chain in Ebb Tide. Why?
Question 2: Why did Dr. Frankenstein wake Lily up? Why didn’t he keep her drugged and perform the procedure on her? It made no sense. Why monologue about how you kidnapped her and plan to violate her and her wishes? When Frankenstein said he was going to make Lily into a “proper lady,” he became the monster in that room. He was going to make his third Creature a victim of a man’s whim all over again. Love and lust had made Frankenstein completely misguided.
Hope for the future, like Dr. Frankenstein’s hope for a meaningful relationship with Lily, was a big theme in Ebb Tide. Dr. Seward gave Vanessa hope for the future in No Beast So Fierce and Vanessa passed that hope on in Ebb Tide to The Creature (Rory Kinnear). When The Creature spoke to his wife Marjorie (Pandora Colin) from the shadows then showed himself, it was the moment the viewer held their breath. The viewer was holding onto hope for The Creature because he had endured so much, and The Creature was holding onto the hope of loving again and being loved. That moment seemed to last forever. When it was broken, it was an example of love conquering all: death, disfigurement, doubt, and fear. The Creature and the viewer burst with joy and happiness.
Marjorie must have thought that she would never have another husband again and would die alone. She probably thought she would have to face the harsh, industrialized world by herself until the end of her days. As Marjorie stared at her husband reborn, she threw herself at the end of those realities. The dream of seeing her husband alive again was realized.
When The Creature’s son Jack (Casper Allpress) was reintroduced to his father, the same waiting game played out that transpired with Marjorie but with specific variations. It’s conclusion was just as satisfying, to the point were the viewer may have thought “Yay Creature.”
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