Penny Dreadful S30E09 “The Blessed Dark” REVIEW

Penny Dreadful S30E09 “The Blessed Dark” REVIEW

0 comments 📅21 June 2016, 23:56

Penny Dreadful S30E09 “The Blessed Dark” REVIEW

stars 4
Airing in the UK on Tuesdays on Sky Atlantic

Writer: John Logan
Director: Paco Cabezas

Essential Plot Points:

  • A lot happens in this series finale, so we’ll get through it all as quickly as possible:
  • John’s son breathes his last. His mother, grieving over the corpse, begs John to take him to Dr Frankenstein and bring him back to life. If he doesn’t, she never wants to see John again.
  • Dracula hears about the two wolf men who attacked his vampires and fears that Ethan’s wolf is “the wolf of God” who is foretold to defeat him. Vanessa, who is settling very nicely into the role of being a badass vampire queen, tells him that he should let Ethan come to her: “He and I shall write the ending in blood, as it was always going to be.”
  • Dr Seward and the others continue interrogating Renfield until they find Vanessa’s location. As they leave to rescue her, they bump into Victor, who has just said goodbye to a very angry Dr Jekyll (now Lord Hyde, as his father has just carked it).
  • Dorian and Lily say goodbye. He tells her how being immortal makes him the same as one of his paintings: “Beautiful and dead, a perfect, unchanging portrait of yourself.” She doesn’t want to live her life like that, unloving and unloved, so leaves him. “You’ll be back, and I’ll be here,” Dorian Gray says. “I’ll always be here.” Let’s face it, he lives forever, so he’s probably still standing there right now.


  • The gang go to an old slaughterhouse in Chinatown and meet Dracula. Sir Malcolm finds out the truth about Mina: Dracula turned her just to get to Vanessa. Even though Dracula gives him and the others a chance to leave – as Vanessa doesn’t want them dead – Sir Malcolm is so outraged he stays, and the others follow suit.
  • An epic rumble begins, in which waves of vampires attack our humans and their two wolf-men pals, but are slaughtered by the dozen.
  • In fact, while the fight is very exciting and contains all sorts of heroics (is Cat actually Spider-Woman, climbing up the building like that?), it’s obvious that the vampires are completely and utterly shit at fighting, and therefore there’s not much tension.
  • Dracula eventually decides to get involved, but he’s not that great at fighting either, as the humans distract him for long enough for Ethan to go and find Vanessa in a giant Room Full Of Candles.


  • Their reunion is heartbreaking and poignant, as he tries to convince her that she’s really not evil and there’s still hope for her soul. But she’s given up on everything good and thinks God has deserted her. She begs Ethan to kill her, as it is the only way to stop her. And he reluctantly agrees.
  • They kiss, but before he shoots her, he recites the Lord’s Prayer – and she joins in. BANG! As she dies, she tells him she can see the Lord. She has been redeemed.
  • Dracula is mid-throttle with Sir Malcolm. He realises Vanessa is dead and flares up in a towering rage to kill all those who defeated him! Er… wait, no, he doesn’t. He just scarpers.
  • Everybody sits around being sad and miserable. Sir Malcolm doesn’t know what to do with himself now, but Ethan tells him they’re family, so that’s something.
  • John dumps his son in the Thames, therefore dooming himself not to go back to his wife.
  • Vanessa’s funeral is bleak and sad. And the series ends with a shot of John, Frankenstein’s monster, laying a hand on the mound of earth covering her coffin and weeping. The dead, mourning the dead.


  • The End.


Penny Dreadful is about many things,” says creator John Logan, “but for me it’s always been about one really simple thing, which is a woman’s journey of faith – a deeply religious woman who loses her God and then finds Him again.”

It’s a simple summation of three seasons of this bonkers supernatural gore-fest, but it’s also a perfect one, because that is exactly what Penny Dreadful has been about from the start. And how very, very satisfying it is to see Vanessa get the redemption she deserves in her final, deeply moving scene – a scene that seems wholly inevitable now that we’ve watched it. After all, can you imagine Vanessa conquering evil (maybe that should be Evil with a capital letter) and then going on with her day-to-day life, doing the shopping, going for walks, sitting by the fireplace as mentioned in this episode, and actually being happy? She’s seen too much and done too much. A glorious death was the best we could hope for, and she got one.

As always, Eva Green is stunning, and Josh Hartnett also rises to the challenge in their final moments together, making this a real tear-jerker. A few episodes ago Ethan couldn’t say the Lord’s Prayer without twisting it, but here he says it and he means it, and he gets Vanessa to mean it too. It’s a profoundly moving, incredibly satisfying moment.

Penny_Dreadful_VanessadiesAnd so Ethan has fulfilled Kaetenay’s prophecy, saving humanity, and now he can live his life. It’s the perfect conclusion for him, although we hope he doesn’t spend the rest of his days mourning Vanessa instead of moving on. We’d suggest he spends some time with Cat, but that’s assuming that (a) she’s straight; and (b) she’s not more interested in Sir Malcolm, because she definitely seemed warmer towards him than Ethan… although given the age difference, perhaps it would be better if she just left them all alone and kicked ass somewhere else. And hey, we know Ethan is bisexual himself, so perhaps that final hug between him and Victor could lead to something? Who knows. We just don’t like to think of him alone, poor chap.

Anyway, we digress. What of Lily and Dorian? We don’t know where she’ll go now, but it would seem she wants to find love and happiness, so let’s hope she does. Dorian, meanwhile, got the perfect ending for a man who lives in such gloomy ennui: he feels nothing, he learned nothing, he’ll do nothing. Oscar Wilde would have approved of this treatment of his creation.

John, meanwhile, by not resurrecting his son, has turned his back on his wife and faces an uncertain future: the last shot of him weeping over Vanessa’s grave is poignant, but where will he go now? What will he do? Oh dear. This is one loose end we’re actually not happy about, come to think of it.

Other than that, though, this is a wonderfully satisfying finale, with characters slotting into their final destinies with aplomb. There are a few issues, mind you: such as the awkward anticlimax of bringing in Dr Jekyll and not really doing much with him (Shazad Latif did a damn fine job of smouldering, but never go the chance to catch fire, more’s the pity).

And what the hell happened with Dracula? He took one look at Vanessa lying prone in Ethan’s arms and ran for it – this, from one of the oldest, most dangerous creatures in the world? Why didn’t he attack Ethan? Why wasn’t there a final showdown? He didn’t even say a word, just buggered off! This is without a doubt the worst move from the writers all season – and they’d been doing so well up until now. When your lead villain just gives up and goes home without a murmur, he needs to hand in his Bad Guy Union Card.

The Good:

  • The new opening credits and song – moody, beautiful and full of foreshadowing.
  • Vanessa and Ethan. What a goodbye.
  • Seeing the team back together after a season apart is a joy.
  • The fight choreography is exquisite – Cat in particular seems to be auditioning for Kate Beckinsale’s role in a new Underworld movie.
  • This final shot of Dorian, forever alone.


  • A passing reference, but by revealing Kaetenay to be a wolf, we find out how he survived that snake bite earlier in the season. Tough to kill, these wolves.
  • Speaking of Kaetenay: “You would have made a mighty Apache,” he tells Sir Malcolm. “I had a mighty teacher,” he replies. These two really need to be friends for life.
  • “I’m a New Yorker, Sir Malcolm. We know our way round random gunplay.” As does Dr Seward.
  • Oh, and her “Fuck him,” when asked if she wants to leave Dracula is priceless.

The Bad:

  • After all the build up with Dr Jekyll, we don’t even get to see him lose his temper big time as Mr Hyde? Really? What a swizz!
  • Given how powerful Dracula is, it’s ludicrous to think that Malcolm, Victor, Dr Seward, Kaetenay and Cat kept him busy for the huge amount of time it took for Ethan to have that sad goodbye with Vanessa. What were they doing down there for all that time? And how come nobody was even hurt?
  • A small niggle, but we don’t get to see the Kaetenay’s vision from a few episodes ago play out – remember Ethan arriving at the house and Vanessa telling him it was too late? Visions can be dodgy like that, we suppose.
  • The last time we saw Dorian’s banqueting hall, it contained an enormous table with food all over it. This week we get a completely empty room and a dead Justine on the floor. Who put the table away? Did he empty it all, do the washing up, put the table back in the attic and come back to stare at Justine some more?
  • The same goes for the wolf in Vanessa’s bedroom and all the blood all over the floor. Do these guys have very understanding cleaning staff?

The Random:

  • The poem recited over the end credits is by William Wordsworth and is called “Ode: Intimations Of Immortality From Recollections Of Early Childhood”. You can read it here.
  • Best Quote: Vanessa’s final words: “Oh Ethan, I see our Lord!”

Review by Jayne Nelson

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