Penny Dreadful S03E02 “Predators Far And Near” REVIEW

Penny Dreadful S03E02 “Predators Far And Near” REVIEW

0 comments 📅11 May 2016, 15:29

Penny Dreadful S03E02 “Predators Far And Near” REVIEW

Dr Sweet and Vanessa

stars 4
Airing in the UK on Tuesdays on Sky Atlantic 

Written by: John Logan
Director: Damon Thomas


Essential Plot Points:

  • Lily and Dorian attend a rather strange Fight Club and save a young prostitute, Justine, from being murdered. “Now you are mine,” says Lily. A new Padawan, perhaps?
  • US law enforcement wants to hunt down Ethan, but Rusk has it covered – realising that Ethan will be heading home to the Talbot lands (“The wolf is returning to his lair”).
  • Meanwhile, Sir Malcolm and Kaetenay are sailing to the USA to find Ethan. Kaetenay mind-travels to talk to him and it seems they have a rather fraught relationship…
  • Vanessa goes to see Dr Seward and spills all her secrets. Unfortunately, Dr Seward records them using a newfangled cylinder device, which means that later that day, Renfield listens to the entire session so he can report back to Dracula.
  • Dr Jekyll takes Victor to see his lab, deep underneath Bedlam Hospital, and says he can “tame” Lily. To prove it, he straps a wild, demented patient into his chair, injects him with a serum… and the guy transforms completely, becoming quiet and civilised. Ta-daaa!
  • Dr Seward has told Vanessa to do something that makes her happy, so she goes to a lecture given by Dr Sweet of the Natural History Museum. They do some more bonding, and later she invites him out to see a slideshow of Jules Verne’s 20,000 Leagues Under The Sea. Romance is blossoming!
  • Ethan is in a bar when the full moon turns him into his werewolf self. He goes on a rampage, ACTUALLY SMACKING SOMEONE’S HEAD OFF – yup, we can’t believe that happened, either. As if that weren’t enough, Hecate appears in her witch form and helps out. Afterwards, the two monsters stand staring at each other amidst the carnage…
  • Renfield goes to deliver his news about Vanessa to Dracula. For the first time, we see his face… and it’s the lovely Dr Sweet!

Pretty scenery


Dun dun DUUUHHH! The fact that Dr Sweet is Dracula may come as a bit of a shock, because even if you’d considered that he might be the fangy one, he was walking around in daylight as bold as brass. Surely Dracula can’t do that? But apparently he can – and this also explains both his interest in Vanessa and, sadly, Vanessa’s interest in him; she is drawn to the darkness, after all. Poor Vanessa: she’s going to be gutted when she finds out the truth. (Maybe even literally.) And it was so nice seeing her smile again!

Sticking with Vanessa, her session with Dr Seward isn’t quite as lengthy as last week’s was, but it is still absolutely electric – something about these two women is so utterly compelling that you believe every second of what they’re going through. When the doctor calmly gets up after Vanessa’s shattering revelations and lights a cigarette, it’s deeply amusing – as though what they’ve shared was so intense she needs a post-coital fag. What glorious writing.

Meanwhile, Dr Jekyll gets to demonstrate a bit more personality this week as he shows Victor his work and also has a bit of a whinge about being treated like a “wog” wherever he goes. And yes, we can see his point: last week he had women hurling abuse at him from windows, and this week even the guys who work for him don’t want to call him “Doctor”. This is a man with a chip on his shoulder, and a thoroughly convincing one at that… It’ll be interesting to see what happens when/if he finally takes some of that serum himself. Racists beware!

• Dr Jekyll's cool lab

Also, his laboratory is spectacular – kudos to the set designers on that one.

There’s also some mildly diverting nonsense involving Ethan and Kaetenay which looks pretty (how nice to see this show somewhere that isn’t gloomy Victorian London) but it doesn’t really click; perhaps we’ll have to wait until the two meet outside the dream world to really get engaged. However, there’s no problem with “engagement” once Ethan gets a load of that full moon – what a brutal, carnal, disgusting slaughter session ensues! And he ACTUALLY SMACKS A MAN’S HEAD OFF! Absolutely astonishing television, and Penny Dreadful at its finest.


The Good:

  • The contrast between Vanessa pre-confession and post-confession is just marvellous.
• Vanessa pre-session

Vanessa pre-session


Vanessa post-session

  • “Everyone has sinned,” says Vanessa. Dr Seward replies: “Have they? Including you? When?” Vanessa’s response – “How long is your cylinder?” – is a funny yet poignant reminder of what hell this poor woman’s been through on this show.
  • When Vanessa visits Dr Sweet during his lecture, all of his audience are women. This is a rather lovely touch, reflecting the fact that some women towards the end of the 19th century were finally, grudgingly, allowed to better themselves intellectually – although we suspect these ladies still had to go home and face husbands who thought they were acting above their stations.
  • Did we mention that Ethan ACTUALLY SMACKS A MAN’S HEAD OFF?


The Bad:

  • Where’s John Clare? Still walking through the snow? We miss him!
  • Dorian and Lily seem to spend a ridiculous amount of time waltzing around that ballroom, don’t they? Then again, it was before the internet. There wasn’t much else to do.

• Waltzing again

  • It’s churlish to accuse Penny Dreadful of being over the top when it’s deliberately one of the most over-the-top shows on television right now. However, when Renfield goes to see Dracula in the final scene, the violinist playing away on the balcony is a little too Andrew Lloyd Webber for our liking.
  • Dracula is Dr Sweet! We’re putting this under the “Bad” section because we were really rooting for him and Vanessa. D’awwww and damn.


The Random:

• Bedlam_Bethlem in the show

Bethlem in the show


Bethlem today

  • Bedlam was, of course, a very real place: actually Bethlem Royal Hospital, which became a mental asylum in 1403. Its extremes of cruelty and craziness were so notorious that they gave rise to the term “bedlam” to describe a place of chaos. Bethlem Royal Hospital has moved locations many times over the years, but still operates today in Bromley: we can’t confirm whether it has a barber’s chair and a mad scientist in its basement, however.
  • Best Quote: Justine: “Would you have me forgive them?”
    Lily: “We shall have, my dear, a monumental revenge.”

Reviewed by Jayne Nelson


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