Penny Dreadful S30E08 “Perpetual Night” REVIEW

Penny Dreadful S30E08 “Perpetual Night” REVIEW

0 comments 📅21 June 2016, 22:56

Penny Dreadful S30E08 “Perpetual Night” REVIEW


stars 3.5
Airing in the UK on Tuesdays on Sky Atlantic 

Writer: Krysty Wilson-Cairns
Director: Damon Thomas

Essential Plot Points:

  • London is enveloped in a scary pea-souper fog.
  • Dr Seward braves the fog to go to work, where she finds Renfield listening to her recordings of the sessions with Vanessa. Holding a toad. As you do. And then he eats it. As you do. (Insert “toad in the hole” pun here.) When Seward challenges him, he attacks her and she barely defeats him.
  • Sir Malcolm, Ethan and Kaetenay disembark from the ship and find the docks deserted – other than one worker who tells them London is like a graveyard, and lots of rats.
  • They go to Sir Malcolm’s house to find Vanessa, but she’s not there. There’s a symbolic dead wolf hung over her bed, though, which was obviously meant for Ethan.
  • Vampires attack them! Sir Malcolm is bitten, while Ethan only manages to survive his attack by the intervention of Cat, who pops up from nowhere with a gun.
  • Cat also saves Sir Malcolm by cauterising the wound on his neck, and tells them what’s been going on: Vanessa is missing, and 7,000 people have died across London thanks to the weird fog, which contains chlorine gases from London’s factories. (“It is not a fog, Mr Chandler, it is a plague.”)


  • John, reunited with his family, is full of joy and hope for the future. But his son is coughing badly, and the smog is not helping.
  • Dorian gets home and tells the ladies living in his house that Lily has gone and they must all leave. Justine is her usual homicidal wee self and stabs him in outrage, but Dorian barely even flinches, scaring the women so much they scatter like rats.
  • Justine doesn’t want to go back to her old life, though, and Dorian breaks her neck instead. Rather sweetly, too, after a kiss, which is kind of effed-up.


  • Victor and Henry are preparing to wipe Lily’s mind, but she begs for a chance to talk to Victor alone before they do. Reluctantly, Henry leaves (but not before Lily calls him “savage”, thus adding more fuel to his bubbling rage-fires).


  • Lily gives a long, heartfelt speech about her previous life and the death of her baby daughter, begging Victor not to wipe her mind because she doesn’t want to forget about her. Moved, Victor releases her and she leaves – gratifyingly, and surprisingly, without ripping him to shreds first. It seems they’re all growing as people, eh?
  • Ethan goes to Victor’s apartment to find him to help Sir Malcolm, but he’s at Bethlem, of course. A little boy offers to take him to him and Ethan, quite rightly feeling rather suspicious, follows.
  • The boy leads Ethan to Chinatown, where Dr Sweet – okay, we should probably just call him Dracula now – is waiting for him. After a little face-off in the fog, Dracula sets his vampires on Ethan.
  • Dr Seward turns up at Sir Malcolm’s, and takes him and Cat to the asylum to question Renfield as to Vanessa’s whereabouts.
  • Ethan is struggling to win the battle against the vampires, but then suddenly an ally appears: Kaetenay in full-on wolf mode!


You’ve probably heard that this is the penultimate episode of Penny Dreadful – the show has been cancelled, but thankfully with the knowledge that the story has reached a natural conclusion and there won’t (hopefully) be any threads left hanging (see our next review, once we’ve watched the finale…!).

This sad news gives this episode a frisson it wouldn’t otherwise have had: after all, if everything’s coming to a head and there’ll be no more adventures in Victorian London, anything can happen! But that said, what we get here is actually just a series of scenarios of characters moving from A to B, asking “Where’s Vanessa?” and bumping into each other again after a series either spent apart or not being introduced yet. So the overall result is an episode that’s necessary but not exactly thrilling: the finale, however, should get us back on track.

There are still some lovely (if icky) moments that delight: Dorian asserting his power over the ladies after so long spent being a pushover, for instance, although we can’t help but feel that Justine’s surrender and consequent demise was a bit of an anticlimax for such a lively character. Ethan’s fall down the staircase is great, too, as is the Seward/Renfield opener.

But most of our praise this week must fall on Billie Piper, who delivers Lily’s heartbreaking monologue about her baby as though she’s on stage in front of a packed house and determined to reduce every damn member of the audience to tears. It’s a harrowing story, beautiful in places (“Holding her was like feeling the sun from both sides”), and when Victor succumbs to its power and lets her go, you don’t feel as though he’s made a mistake at all. The fact she doesn’t strike back at him proves that he’s right when he says: “It is too easy to be monsters. Let us try to be human.” There’s something in our eye…

Speaking of eyes, check out the puppy eyes on these two as they plead with each other. They almost look like manga characters.



Piper also gets to pick up the mantle thrown down by Eva Green, who tends to get all the soul-destroying soliloquies in this show. It’ll be good to see her back next episode, though… even if it is for the very last time.

The Good:

  • The frog-and-toad handler this week provided some fine-looking amphibians. The pile of shiny frogs in the sink look delicious.


  • Cat calling Sir Malcolm “Sir M” within two seconds of meeting him seems jarringly 21st-century, but it still made us chuckle.
  • Meanwhile, Dr Seward has her own way of greeting new people: “You must be Sir Malcolm Murray. [To Cat] You, I don’t know.”

The Bad:

  • It’s hard to dislike Cat, mainly down to Perdita Weeks’ energetic, assured performance. However, this week she does seem to be spouting some clunky, B-movie lines (“Who the hell are you?” “I believe I’m the woman who just saved your life”), and despite this series having such a strong feminist agenda this season, her aggression towards anybody who might undermine her for being a woman feels a little out of place. Perhaps if she was being set up to be a long-standing character it would seem appropriate, but her arguing with Malcolm about men being fools is a bit of a waste of time given that there’s only one more episode to go!
  • It’s all about the weather this week: not only do the clouds part in time for Ethan to wolf out, lightning flashes and thunder sounds just as Victor is getting ready to perform the procedure on Lily, and then politely disappears again while she monologues, for fear of interrupting her.

The Random:

    • While the vampire-induced smog in this episode is obviously exaggerated for dramatic effect (and we do like how they gave it a “rational” explanation for the non-supernaturally inclined, putting it down to chlorine pollution from factories), London has indeed experienced deadly pea-soupers in its time. The worst was in 1952, when a smog settled over the city that was later estimated to have led to the deaths of an astonishing 12,000 people. After this the Clean Air Act was established.
    • Best Quote: Dracula quotes one of his most iconic lines: “The creatures of the night. What music they make!”
    • Of course, the best delivery of this line goes to George Hamilton in Love At First Bite:

Review by Jayne Nelson

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