Penny Dreadful S30E06 “No Beast So Fierce” REVIEW

Penny Dreadful S30E06 “No Beast So Fierce” REVIEW

0 comments 📅07 June 2016, 22:56

Penny Dreadful S30E06 “No Beast So Fierce” REVIEW

Penny_dreadful_3.06_No_Beast_So_Fierce – Justine and Victor

stars 3
Airing in the UK on Tuesdays on Sky Atlantic, 10pm 

Writer: John Logan
Director: Paco Cabezas

Essential Plot Points:

  • Ethan and his father face off, but are interrupted by the lawmen, who arrest them.
  • Vanessa goes to see Ferdinand Lyle and discovers he’s leaving for Cairo – not by choice, but because London society isn’t happy about his gay lifestyle. He wishes her well, but she’s sad because all her friends are leaving her. He gives her the name of someone who might help her with her current Dracula problem.
  • Lily gives a self-defence class to a bunch of prostitutes. It’s so gloriously bloodthirsty we’re a little worried it’s giving viewers ideas. Justine, however, is the most bloodthirsty of them all, and shocks Dorian by appearing to want him dead. “Would you like to see him drown in his own blood?” she asks Lily.
  • John visits his ill son and promises to help him. Unfortunately, the moment the delirious kid stops saying “Father” and opens his eyes, he sees that John is a monster and screams the house down.
  • Vanessa reaches out to the contact given to her by Ferdinand: a death-researcher named Catriona Hardigan. Catriona tells her Dracula’s story and Vanessa asks for her help in fighting him.
  • Victor breaks into Dorian’s mansion to kidnap Lily and inject her with the serum. Unfortunately, all the brainwashed former sex-workers are there along with nasty little Justine, and he is taken captive.
  • Justine really, really, really, really wants to kill him, but Dorian talks her out of it and Victor is released. Now he owes Dorian a favour.
  • Dr Seward tells Vanessa how she stood trial for killing her husband – it was self-defence. Like Catriona just did, she urges Vanessa to surround herself with friends for protection. Unfortunately, Vanessa decides she should make Dr Sweet one of these friends… oh, the irony.
  • At the Talbot ranch, a prickly dinner party is under way, with the lawmen, Malcolm, Hecate and Ethan all squirming in their seats. Ethan breaks the ice by saying grace and changing all the words of the Lord’s Prayer to celebrate evil, while his dad looks on in horror. Kids, eh?
  • Jared shows he means business by shooting the Marshall. Maybe he’s not under arrest after all…
  • Vanessa ’fesses up to Dr Sweet, who (naturally) believes every word of her story. They then have sex while surrounded by dead, stuffed animals, which is actually way grosser in a way than that time Lily, Dorian and Justine had sex in a pool of blood. The staring
  • The dinner party erupts into gunfire. Kaetenay appears and joins in. Rusk is hit and Hecate is killed. Jared holes up in the family chapel.
  • Malcolm, Ethan and Kaetenay storm the chapel and, while Ethan can’t quite bring himself to kill his dad, dead-shot Malcolm has no such qualms. Reading between the lines: “Ethan is my son now.”

Penny_dreadful_3.06_No_Beast_So_Fierce – Lyle says goodbye


“You’ll repent, or I will send you to Hell myself,” says Ethan’s dad. Ethan replies: “I’m done repenting. And I belong in Hell.” You don’t get more dramatic opening sentences than that, do you? It’s a shame, then, that this high-stakes glaring match is interrupted by the arrival of the lawmen, and from there the impetus is lost, as their scenes are edited throughout the rest of the episode rather than playing out slowly, allowing the tension to build.

Their fantastically awkward dinner is enjoyable, however, as is Ethan’s murdering of the Lord’s Prayer (“Our Father, who art in Heaven, cursed by thy name…”), but it all feels strangely disjointed until that final, Tarantino-esque gunfight.

Still, there are a couple of shocks along the way: both the Marshal and Rusk bite bullets (though we don’t actually see Rusk die, thankfully); Kaetenay returns like a grim-faced vigilante, and Hecate dies in Ethan’s arms. All of this carnage leads to a tentative truce between Ethan, Malcolm and the old Apache, and we’ll be interested to see where it goes from here.

In gloomy London, there’s fun to be had in watching Vanessa being pushed into Dr Sweet’s arms by the two people she still trusts – Dr Seward and Ferdinand Lyle. You find yourself wanting to smack her around the head for being so gullible, but Sweet is a charmer and it’s easy to see why she’s fooled. However, the calm way he accepts her outlandish story should really have set off some alarm bells: telling her that he believes some creatures live off blood, just like Dracula, because he has a vampire bat sitting around in his office, is just plain daft. Oh, Vanessa.

Elsewhere, Lily’s grooming of Justine seems to be creating a little monster all of her own – the young girl’s so vehemently anti-men and anti-letting-men-live that she’s like a nuclear bomb about to go off. Even Lily looks shocked when she threatens Dorian. Are they creating a force of avenging, murdering ex-prostitutes who’ll go out and ravage the streets of London in some kind of Suffragette-style civil war? The mind boggles!

However, whatever goes on with this subplot, we have to give a shout-out to Billie Piper for her excellent monologue about how hard her life was as a prostitute. Genuinely shuddersome.

Penny_dreadful_3.06_No_Beast_So_Fierce – Catriona or is it Famke

Finally, a word of praise for the show’s newest character, Catriona Hardigan, played by the just-as-exotic-sounding Perdita Weeks. When you have a Victorian woman beating a man in fencing, studying death for a living (it’s called thanatology) and looking like a young Famke Janssen, you’re onto a winner. Let’s hope she saves Vanessa, because let’s face it – nobody else seems to be helping much.

The Good:

  • Lyle can’t be gone forever, surely? He was always such a joy! Let’s hope he returns from Cairo once British attitudes to homosexuality have changed. (So that’ll be, er, sometime around 1967, then.) However, the good thing we can say about his departure is that he mentions he’s going to investigate the life of Imhotep – could this be Penny Dreadful setting up the addition of The Mummy to its carnival of monsters?

Penny_dreadful_3.06_No_Beast_So_Fierce – Self defence class

  • Big issue alert! The gender politics going on in the self-defence scene with Lily and Dorian are fascinating – not just given the era in which the scene is set (when women had very little power to strike back against men), but also in what it says about modern popular culture.
    We’ve all been brought up with films and shows that feature women being threatened by men; just take a look at the recent furore surrounding the X-Men: Apocalypse poster of Mystique being strangled. And yet this entire sequence shows a calm, in-control woman explaining to her fellow ladies how to murder a man with a few simple moves; he just stands there passively, allowing them to treat him like meat.
    In countless, endless police-procedural films and shows you’ll see sex workers being murdered by men (and, sadly, in the real world too). But the sight of a man being threatened by women is so incredibly rare that this feels genuinely unsettling – particularly when Justine gives her speech (the one we won’t repeat here because it’s so rude). What an amazing sequence this is!
  • We don’t condone violence towards any gender, obviously, but it’s disturbingly refreshing to see it turned around for once.
  • Mind you, given how Dorian reacts later in the episode when he tries to dance with Lily and Justine won’t let him… he’s not feeling too happy about it all, is he? Will he be switching sides soon?

The Bad:

  • “The time is upon us,” muses Dracula. “Soon she will come to me.” We see Old Drac’s been reading The Big Book Of Cliched Phrases Used By Bad Guys.
  • Victor breaks into Dorian’s mansion to apparently kidnap Lily, but is instantly captured. His actions here are baffling: did he really think he could steal her away? We thought he was working some kind of double-cross, but it didn’t seem to be the case by episode’s end. What a nitwit.

The Random:

Penny_dreadful_3.06_No_Beast_So_Fierce – Dorian and Lily

  • So what is going on with Dorian? He’s been criminally underused this year, reduced to being nothing more than Lily’s arm candy in most of his scenes (again, an interesting flip of gender roles, as discussed above). It’s as though the writers can’t quite figure out how to use his supernatural skills to further the plot – perhaps being evil and being pretty can only go so far, dramatically. But it’s a shame, as both the character and actor Reeve Carney are being wasted.
  • Incidentally, you can next see him in the upcoming Rocky Horror Picture Show TV movie, in which he plays Riff Raff.
  • Best Quote: Vanessa, on telling Dr Sweet about her plight: “He’ll think me mad!”
    Dr Seward: “I’ll give you a note.”
Review by Jayne Nelson

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