‘Penny Dreadful’ Recap: ‘The Blessed Dark’ Is a Very Shocking Season Finale

'Penny Dreadful' Recap: 'The Blessed Dark'
Courtesy of Showtime

This post contains spoilers for “Penny Dreadful” Season 3, Episode 9, a season finale titled “The Blessed Dark.”

Update June 20: Check out this Variety story for an explanation of why “Penny Dreadful” is ending

“Penny Dreadful” is a narrative with many ideas rattling around inside its storylines, but fans are probably only thinking about two small words right now: “The End.”

Those words flashed on the screen just after John Clare/The Creature finished reciting a poem (Wordsworth’s “Ode: Intimations of Immortality from Recollections of Early Childhood”) at the freshly dug grave of Vanessa Ives, who died near the end of “The Blessed Dark.” Is this the end of Vanessa, or the end of the show? Because it certainly seems as though you can’t have one without the other.

Either way, those two words and the elegiac nature of the poem served a very useful purpose: They communicated the idea that Vanessa is really most sincerely dead. That is a necessary thing in this era of fake-out deaths and revivals that sometimes diminish the very idea of death. Returns from death can be dramatically effective, but sometimes it’s best for a dead character to stay dead, and though “Penny Dreadful” has of course revived characters in the past, the drama seemed pretty intent on underlining Vanessa’s exit and making it seem very final.

It wasn’t the only notable change, though it was certainly the biggest. In the last couple of episodes, various characters have demonstrated that they’ve learned something through all their travails. Clare rejected the idea of a revival for his son, at the cost of his relationship with his wife. Like Frankenstein, Clare/the Creature finally demonstrated that he was determined not to make an old mistake again. The melancholy man said goodbye to his son, and broke free of a painful old pattern. It was a a poignant scene that also made me realize that nobody drinks water on this show because there are dead bodies floating around in the Thames.

In all seriousness, “Penny Dreadful” takes death seriously. Lily rightly called out Dr. Frankenstein for reviving her for his own selfish purposes, and brilliantly dissected the ways in which he uses science to control and shape others into the people he wants them to be. Death and madness were, for him, just obstacles to bulldoze through, with heedless cruelty. The whole message of the finale was that some kinds of suffering are better than others; Frankenstein would have to work through his resentments, not take them out on yet more helpless bodies.  Clare chose not to put the kid through more suffering, even if that meant that he had to continue on alone. He would endure more pain if it meant causing less for someone else, and for a man who has been pretty petulant since he came back from the dead, this was progress.

Characters made momentous decisions that stuck as season three wound down. Ethan embraced his nature, even if it meant that his role as Vanessa’s champion forced him to kill her. Ethan also accepted his new role as Malcolm’s adoptive son.

And after fighting the dark forces for her whole life, Vanessa chose to die in the arms of someone who cared about her. She’d cause Ethan pain, but her suffering would end and the rivers of blood in the street would dry up. If she’d done all that, only to be revived and have her life drawn out, that would be the kind of emotional dodge that “Penny Dreadful” has gently castigated for three seasons. It’s a high Gothic/Victorian melodrama, and yet it’s a story in which choices have consequences, and that seriousness of intent has grounded the show’s wilder forays and flashier moments.

Vanessa believed in the Christian God, and that has a bearing on this moment of finality as well. Much of the imagery and the language of all three seasons came from various Christian traditions; there were other cultures and spiritual practices (some incorporated better than others), but to Vanessa, dying and going to Heaven and facing a real God was not an abstraction. It was a goal she lived her life around, and losing her faith was the most serious thing that ever happened to her. It would go against what Vanessa deeply believed to be brought back to life somehow in order to march through Victorian London again, clad in a truly impressive array of beaded dresses and capelets.

So Vanessa is dead, and I have no problem with that, though of course I’ll miss her presence on the TV scene, if she is gone for good. But sometimes that’s the way you pay tribute to a character — not by dragging out his or her quest, but by letting the individual find a way to achieve a core goal and exit stage left. But what about how the show arrived at this final showdown, and what about how everything shook out in the finale? That’s where I had some problems.

I have to admit, Vanessa’s death felt oddly anti-climactic; this show has made me cry in the past, but I was mostly dry-eyed during the finale. Vanessa largely exited the narrative once she gave in to Dracula; it caused me a good deal of anguish that there seemed to be more screen time devoted to Renfield, of all people, than to Vanessa in the episode that contained her death. To have her offstage for so much of the season’s conclusion seemed off. (Though I have to add that, thanks to Renfield, we got to feast our eyes on the following gloriously Victorian tableau this season.) 

Eva Green as Vanessa Ives and Samuel Barnett as Renfield in Penny Dreadful (season 3, episode 7). - Photo: Patrick Redmond/SHOWTIME - Photo ID: PennyDreadful_307_0478

I’ll also admit, I wish she’d gone down swinging against Dracula, who just wafted away once he realized the jig was up. What if she had died fighting him, instead of asking Ethan to kill her? That said, the somber, bittersweet death scene was wonderfully acted by Josh Hartnett and Eva Green.

Then there’s the image of a woman sacrificing herself so that the men at her graveside could learn something. I continue to wrestle with that, but overall, I do understand that she wanted her death to serve a purpose — she chose to end her own pain, in a way that would deny Dracula his prize and end his reign of terror in London. Even though she chose it, there was something a bit passive about her death, but I find it hard to convince myself that she should have stuck around for more torment.

If you know the story of “Hamilton,” it’s possible to view Vanessa as doing what a character in that musical does — she’s “taking herself out of the narrative.” That was how it was for many women in Victorian times (and before then, and now) — their choices were limited. Even so, Vanessa’s death is happening in a wider context — a lot of women are dying or otherwise being sacrificed so that various TV shows can meet their narrative goals. Vanessa’s exit could well become more fodder for that ongoing debate, and in any case, I acknowledge there are a lot of complex ideas to wrestle with here. 

One thing I know for sure: I was so not ready for Ethan and Vanessa to be done. Anyone with a pulse who saw “Little Scorpion,” the season two episode in which they snuck off to her cottage on the moor to wear chunky knits and trade Significant Glances, had to want a lot more to happen between those two before Vanessa’s exit from this earthly realm. The show really began to drive home the connection between Ethan and Vanessa in season two, and then in season three, he crossed a continent and and ocean to be with her — and they shared too little time together in “The Blessed Dark.” For most of the season, they were apart, and throughout the history of the show, they never had sex. [Long pause for me to shake my fist at the sky and scream inarticulately.]

And what about Dr. Seward? Of course there was the spectacular episode, “A Blade of Grass,” earlier this season; we got some of the off-the-charts Patti LuPone-Eva Green chemistry in that episode. But given that the duo’s season two origin story, “The Nightcomers,” was the show’s best-ever episode, there was not nearly enough of those two in this season, especially in the finale.

Though I have a huge amount of affection for the show, “Penny Dreadful” has always had a habit of keeping around more characters than it could adequately service, and not always following through on pairings and storylines that worked well until the show lost interest in them. It’s telling that “The Nightcomers” and “A Blade of Grass” were episodes that focused tightly on a small number of characters and worked incredibly well as a result. This is a show that lives to create emotional intensity, and those episodes allowed “Penny Dreadful” to go to the tough, beautiful psychological places that, at its best, it explored with spectacular results.

My third-favorite episode of the show so far, season one’s “Possession,” was more of an ensemble piece, but after that, the focus on Vanessa grew. And that was certainly understandable; the pairing of John Logan’s writing and Eva Green’s incredibly committed and versatile performance was one of the things that kept me tuning in. When both were on fire, the results were highly entertaining and sometimes quite moving.

But what if the show had cut down on the extraneous characters and focused as deeply on the core crew a little bit more in recent seasons? The quests, attitudes and problems of Frankenstein and the Creature/Clare were very similar to each other, and both storylines were often very repetitive. And the phrase that I’ve repeated more than any other as I’ve watched this show is, “Why is Dorian Gray still around?” He hasn’t had any real connection to the main narrative for a long time, he rarely actually mattered to anything that was going on, and a pose of studied indifference gets old quick. I always wanted more of Sir Malcolm and Ethan, and maybe it makes me greedy to say that this season didn’t give me quite enough of either. 

That said, “Penny Dreadful” wasn’t about linearity or logic or things like that: It was about creating moments — speeches, confrontations, cathartic scenes and visuals that just went for it. My guess is that Dorian was largely kept around in season two just so he and Lily could create that macabre and memorably bloody dance at the end of the season.

In any event, the show’s tendency to keep various narrative threads pretty separate and disconnected intensified this season: There was the Clare family drama, the Western narrative with Malcolm and Ethan, the Dorian-Lily storyline and the Frankenstein-Jekyll lab plot. They weren’t very connected, for the most part, until the end of the season, and even then, they weren’t really all joined up for long, at least not in ways that wrung the most resonance out of the key relationships.

But again, this is a show about moments, and thanks to Lily, we got a very powerful one in the season three finale. 

The men in Lily’s life, Dorian and Frankenstein, were threatened by the fact that she not only no longer needed them, they were entirely superfluous to her. Once she achieved true independence, they reacted with rage, petulance, mansplaining and other displays of entitled frustration.

Penny Dreadful

“Penny Dreadful” has some sketchy politics (characters of color are quite often treated as exotic Others who exist to help white characters save the day; see also Sembene). But the themes of feminist anger in Lily’s story were entertaining, even though that storyline had all the subtlety of a knife slicing through a carotid artery.

No character was more resistant to true moral knowledge than Dr. Frankenstein, but Lily finally got through to him with the story of the life and death of her daughter. That sad tale conveyed the core messages of “Penny Dreadful,” which kept me watching for all three seasons because of the humane compassion at the heart of the story.

Lily talked about how our pain is often what defines us, but there can beauty even in our most difficult memories. Regret and grief don’t destroy the joy we’ve experienced thanks to love and sacrifice. Pain and self-hatred are real, but so are connection and delight and sweetness, and it’s not possible to neatly separate any of those things from each other. Life, real life, is about how all of those things are often mixed up together in one chaotic, unpredictable ride. 

That’s not a bad description of “Penny Dreadful.” I’ll miss Vanessa, but, like a Romantic poet, she lived fast, died young, and left a beautiful corpse. RIP.

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  1. There was a time when meadow, grove, and stream,
    The earth, and every common sight,
    To me did seem
    Apparelled in celestial light,
    The glory and the freshness of a dream.
    It is not now as it hath been of yore;—
    Turn wheresoe’er I may,
    By night or day.
    The things which I have seen I now can see no more.

    —But there’s a Tree, of many, one,
    A single field which I have looked upon,
    Both of them speak of something that is gone;
    The Pansy at my feet
    Doth the same tale repeat:
    Whither is fled the visionary gleam?
    Where is it now, the glory and the dream?

  2. Sean says:

    Without reading other comments before I make this very short post, I want to say that I do note incredible significans in Dorian’s presence. He is the lonely and detached imortal. Though Lily may become this, her speech, as you noted, defies that life, it’s filled with acknowledgement of both grief and ecstacy.

    It’s especially notable because we see Venessa’s death as not only a part of the narrative, but as part of living. Dorian’s story is sad and empty. Regardless, Penny Dreadful makes no excuses for life being a pretty quilt of shambles for us all.

  3. Suz says:

    I liked the concept of the Devil and Dracula as brothers vying for the same woman, and wondered where this storyline melted away to, other than Dracula being the Earth-based character with an advantage, so to speak. As to the question of why Dorian was still around, I was hoping he would turn into the link between Vanessa and the Devil, through his particular relationship with the evil one down below. No such luck! I think the ending made sense though, while I agree that V’s death may have been with a bang but came across as a whimper. Best series I’ve watched in a long time… Restored my faith in tv!

  4. philoreia says:

    A thoughtful review, yet… I do think that you, the author of it, lacks empathy and comprehension of what you call the ‘superfluous’ characters; Dr Victor Frankenstein & Dorian Grey, in particular. They are both men with tortures and agony of their own; each in his own manner truly did love Lily — Dorian as a mirror and companion portrait of himself, Dr. Frankenstein much more profoundly, with the love of a scientist for a subject, a creator for his creation, a poet for the beauty of his poem, which he finds as soon as it is written, immortality transcendent of his mortal coils, and a soul singing out to a harmonic form. He Lily loved not as a piece of flesh or a decorative toy, but far beyond mortal desire, even to the point of effectually ending his own life for her — for though he is still walking the Earth, he does so now lost to joy. She is too riddled with anguish of her own to be truly loved, yet he would and ever shall love her if ever she could find peace enough to chose to love him equally & so freely. Have you read the Portrait of Dorian Grey? It is a tragic and lamentful a tale as can be anywhere discovered; and illuminates the depth of Dorian’s attraction to Lily. Dorian, like Lily, is in undying form wrought by the creative labours of a man who fell in love with and truly ever cared for him, and he, like Lily, in his pain uses and betrays that man due to the unending lament the procedure wrought for him. Dr. Frankenstein is akin to their plight more than one who does not share his prodigy, as I do, can know — for to be born with such a mind, such ceaseless cold fire that burns ever, night and day, that Work and Morphine alone can satisfy, that sets one apart from ones species of birth in a monstrous, terrible, and lonely fashion, that at once lends one divine serenity and sight and torments the mortal body unto waste, that explodes in the brain with poetry and science, this is also to be a mortal god among men, a creature who asked not for its fate bound to a world wherein it must suffer until eternally freed. All of these persons are riddled deep and soul-shattering grief, all have the capacity for beauty, each is as all are, you and I included, abstracted as realities into a certain frame, from and with all of the wonder and lament of the one endless totality of Existence — and so are they each, as we are all, worthy of empathy and ultimate harmony.

  5. Jed Gould says:

    This is not a typical Variety review. This is an articulate review from a fan. I agreed with every word. I might add that Dr. Jekyll was particularly underdeveloped. All other Victorian horror legends are manifested to a greater degree on Penny Dreadful. He might as well have been Doctor Smith.

  6. Michelle says:

    The End. Please say that is not the series finally. I wept as much as Lily when she told Frankenstein her daughters story. I hoped Ethan would save Vanessa and they would have time to be in Love but that is not Penny Dreadful. At least Showtime has all 3 seasons on demand now, I have started over with fresh eyes! A young Frankenstein narrated Intimations of Immortality while carrying Wordworth’s Poetical Works and walking through a meadow in season 1 episode 3. Hearing that again made me think maybe this is the End. I hope NOT

  7. Renee Rackley says:

    For the most part, I tend to agree to disagree. The sublime beauty posed by this show is lost in an age of ‘the dumbening’. In a grossly impolite society, it gave manners to the darkness. Penny Dreadful is peerless in its aesthetic impact, it is peerless in underpinning its narrative through intricate revelations of character motivations and back stories; it’s peerless in its proximity even though its core characters are continents apart. More importantly, it provided warmth to death, and accentuated the cold reality of the human psyche (metaphorically presented through 19thcentury gothic takes granted) and gave light and hope to those who should have surely given up. Without it, and its sudden exit, we can only be reminded, that art (and its demise), like life, is brief, however beautiful.

  8. N!loofar says:

    the show was too good for Showtime, sure renew shitty shows like Shameless ahead of their season premiere.

  9. Lovely ending. And – oh my god – that last shot! It is to die for….

    As to what happens to the other characters – some of their stories are already out there. Go, find, and read. For the others, let your imagination roam the possibilities….

  10. Suzanne ROSS says:

    Vanessa could come back as an angel to walk among poor souls assisting them to seek salvation and hope by turning to God. Ethan could find Lilly after all he did care for her before. I don’t normally get tied up into TV drama, not having a great deal of time for it, but this show has been intriguing and worth watching in between uni studies & work schedules. Our household hope it comes back. There are so many story lines that would be worth pursuing.

  11. I thought this was a beautiful series finale. I loved the opening song and ending it with the creature reciting excerpts from W. Wordsworth – Ode on Intimations of Immortality from Recollections of Early Childhood. Yes it was dark and on many levels the ending was unhappy but it was refreshing to see something not follow the typical Hollywood formula.

  12. Monroe says:

    I am beyond disappointed in John Logan and Showtime.

    Penny Dreadful had *just* begun to find it’s fanbase. As a long time fan of anything suspenseful and Victorian, not counting the literary characters come to life- this show was a dream come true for me. However, the first episode started out slow in Season 1 — I had to tell many friends to just give it two or three episodes because it got better. And oh, how it did. It was a cinematic masterpiece.

    So let’s take John Logan’s words at face value. If the show was always about Vanessa Ives, how come SO much of season 2 revolved around Sir Malcolm and Evelyn? Or Dorian and Angelique?

    I feel cheated, and according to the twitterverse, so does the rest of the fandom. This season felt too hurried and rushed. So many ends were not tied up.

    -What becomes of immortal Lily?
    -Why even bother introducing Dr. Jekyll? His character was thrown away.
    -Why even bother having Catriona introduced? Her introduction did not further the plot.
    -The goodbye for Mr. Lyle was also too rushed – this should have been a red flag to us. Why couldn’t he have stayed around to help with the fight to save Vanessa?
    -Dracula just wafts away, even though Vanessa was his bride. The fight between the two men who loved Vanessa was hardly even a fight. Dracula did nothing when Ethan stole away to find Vanessa.
    -We got way too much backstory for Renfield that could have been used to further characters we wanted to see more of.
    -Ethan never became aware that Brona became Lily.
    -None of the “squad” (Malcolm, Ethan, Vanessa, Sembene) ever get to know that Frankenstein is raising folks from the dead.
    -What did Lucifer have to say about Dracula having won Vanessa?
    -How did Dorian end up immortal?
    -What was Kaetenay’s backstory?
    -Why redeem Frankenstein? It was too rushed for him to have a change of heart that quickly.
    -Same for Lily. Too much time spent on her story if the focus is supposed to have been Vanessa. Who cares if she had a child? That time could have been spent more on Vanessa.
    -And how about the dalliance between Ethan and Dorian? Nothing ever became of it or was ever mentioned afterwards.
    -Dorian and Vanessa had a fling. Did Vanessa and Dorian ever meet again?

    There was so much left for Penny Dreadful to cover. If the show’s story was always to have been Vanessa’s. then that’s what it should have been instead of all of these side stories and not rushed together, as it was, as if you just figured out that you’re at Episode 8 of a 9 show season and suddenly have to try to wrap everything up with a nice bow and fail miserably.

    I also feel it was a disservice to the fans to not prepare them for the end of a series when you know that you are ending it.

  13. Lynne Charlotte says:

    RIP Vanessa Ives and Penny Dreadful.

  14. Leon Forman says:

    The ending was unexpected. I wondered what the creators prepared next, when Vanessa became a vampire. There is no return to human state, I guess.

    I expected confrontation of many characters. Ethan and Lily, Lily and Creature…
    I expected a killing of Dorian, but he has never been an antagonist, so that wouldn’t make sense or be important for the rest of the story overall. Dorian was only important for some other characters (Lily and her women) whose stories were built around him.

    I expected a death of one of Frankenstein’s creations, but they started to show their human sides (Lily at least in the end) and they became non-threat to others. Eternity and pain became their enemies and they are useless and pointless now. If there would be a 4th season, they shouldn’t appear.

    Possibility of season 4? If there will be, I don’t imagine Vanessa in it. But some things were interesting:
    – Jekyll never transformed into Hyde (I think it was kind of mentioned that he had problems with his evil side, but still…)
    – The plot had connections to Egypt and Mr. Lyle went there. In Séance episode, Vanessa was possessed by a demon (She said she was not Amunet, but much older. Was she possessed by Lucifer at that moment or something else?). It seems like Vanessa existed before her time and that’s why she was so important to Lucifer or Dracula. In 4th season the characters could search the truth of Vanessa’s previous existence, but would it matter if Vanessa will remain dead? Who would be an antagonist? Dracula definitely not. Lucifer? I don’t think so. He might be used as a character to explain some ancient stuff.

    Reading all this above, it seems stupid. Characters wouldn’t have motives and that’s why season 4 in unlikely to happen. However, I would like more information about Vanessa’s connection to Lucifer, Dracula and ancient times.

  15. Lynne Charlotte says:

    This is such a good show but the season (series?) finale was something of a disappointment. Why didn’t Vanessa kill Dracula? Why didn’t she kill herself instead of making Ethan do it? She seemed to shrink rather than gain power after accepting her “true self”, which really means she just gave in. Actually defeated, without one last great display of strength. That being said, Billie Piper’s Brona/Lily made me forget her wonderful Rose Tyler on Doctor Who. But the tedious eternity with Dorian Gray seems more a punishment than a choice. What choices did Victorian women have? I would have given Lily financial independence and a purpose. She was a good person at her core, like Mr. Clare/Caliban, despite the blood they’ve shed. And why introduce Cariona at such a late date?
    If this truly is the end of Penny Dreadful I will miss these characters and their beautiful dark nightmare world.

    • Alechandrina says:

      I can only answer you one thing, she didn’t kill herself because what defined her was mostly her religion.. and the hope of heaven. For that, she wouldn’t even dare to commit suicide.

  16. Brett Caton says:

    Lilly: “I shall do atrocities! Hahahaha!” (*proceeds to do atrocities*)

    The Straw Men of Penny Dreadful: “Rather than pointing out we’d just kill you if you were a man, we shall don fedoras, grow neckbeards and attend meetings of The Patriarchy! Oh, and turn you into a proper woman which we are now suddenly concerned about.”

    Me: “Hang on – i get that you Feministss have no empathy for men, and don’t care about her slaughter, but don’t you at least care about how many little girls will freeze and starve in the world Lilly is building?

    (*crickets*)

    Me: “Isn’t stopping her by any means a worthwhile goal? Like they did with the male terrorist? So doing it to male terrorists is ok, just not to female terrorists? Am I not being clear? Hello?”

    (*TRIGGERED*)

    Feminists: “Lilly is a strong and empowered woman, and the men are just cockroaches to be stamped under foot! How dare you question her! She’s a Feminist!!”

    Me: “I thought being a Feminist meant you wanted equality, not supremacy, and certainly not genocide!”

    Feminists: “Why do you hate women?”

    Me: (*groans*)

    • Lynne Charlotte says:

      Yes, because feminists sat slathering inches from their collective TV screens while Lily’s whore army celebrated the pile of steaming bloody severed man-hands. We hate men, we hate men, yay, and we’re not horrified at all.

  17. JRBrown says:

    I am totally shocked at how they ended this series. I was really disappointed and left wondering how given the abilities and power Vanessa had as a witch (which she managed to call upon while in the mental institution, drugged and physically weak and slightly mad), and everything else she has overcome, to just decide she has had “enough”….I kept waiting for Cat and Dr. Seward to burst in and box her ears and tell her to “snap out of it.” Something similar to Cat standing up to Sir M and commenting on “Men, always so dramatic.” And, talk about loose ends, definitely enough to continue with all the interesting characters still about….sort of along the lines of, dare I say it, The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen and Gentlewomen. Surely there are other writers out there that could carry this forward if Mr Logan also decided he had had “enough.” In the meantime, I’ll continue to speculate about Vanessa and her “death.” Surely she knows of herbs that fake death? Could it have all been staged? And, one bite from a vampire, does that give her the ability to heal herself? Ah well, guess we will never know.

  18. elizabeth Martinez says:

    I can not believe the way this ended. You would think Vanessa would destroy Dracula, even if it cause her to died. Dracula just vanished just like that. I loved this series but I just can not deal with the way it ended with Vanessa, that was to easy to weak for me. Vanessa was very powerful to died the way she did. Dracula did not fight to keep Vanessa, He was tracking her down since the beginning of this show,
    He finally got her and he did nothing to keep her, what a waste. I can not understand why this ending.
    If Vanessa had to died, than they should have made a more powerful ending.

  19. Joel says:

    I’m not sure how PD has “sketchy politics.” We’re in Victorian London. Yes, it was a melting pot, but inequality was no doubt rampant as The Empire was still fairly strong at that point in British history, particularly where characters such as Sembene and Lord Hyde were involved, hailing from “exotic” parts of the Empire. It was historical accuracy in a time when, thankfully, political correctness did not cast its ugly shadow over every breathing thing, not sketch. Well-written commentary though.

  20. Julian Grant says:

    Lovely article and well stated. There are enough story loopholes to bring back Vanessa (as a beautiful Mummy reincarnate or a glorious vampire) should Mr. Logan have free reign – but I hope that in this instance, death is truly forever. It is best to leave while strong and Ms. Green has always been the heart of this beautiful program. With Cat and Dr. Seward now onboard, there is no reason why these Victorian Ghostbusters cannot continue – but I hope they will let the true gothic cycle complete itself and not fall prey to continued storylines that rob this rich brew of its power. Farewell #pennydreadful. Memento Mori.

  21. James McDonald says:

    I shutter to think that Showtime would end Penny Dreadful to make way for Daniel Craig in “Purity”. Not one word has been said about Penny Dreadful ending with Season 3, and usually Hollywood does announce when a series is coming to an end. I am so hooked on Penny Dreadful, just as I was with the Dark Shadows soap opera. I was also shocked that “Ferdinand Lyle” left the show. I did not see that coming and he is one of my favorite characters. I guess Simon Russell Beale is a busy man. I will keep my ears open for Season 4 to be announced.

  22. Adam S. says:

    After a relatively stressful night (Game 7, GoT), I guess I let my guard down a bit when it came time to watch Penny Dreadful’s final two eps. I was expecting something intense, but this? I’m sitting here still shocked, if that is in fact a series finale.

    As Mo Ryan mentions, I’m not sure if I’d want them to bring back Eva Green/Vanessa Ives, as much as I loved her performance, because it would feel like a cheat. And that’s despite me thinking, even after “The End” flashed on screen, that they’d careen back and a hand would shoot out of that grave at night because she’s been turned into a vampire off-screen somehow. I suppose it could be something where John Logan and company arrived at the realization belatedly that where they were taking things was inevitable and trying to double-back, at least with Vanessa, would be a cop-out.

    Even then, I’m not sure I’m ready to lose this show. Eva Green was a HUGE factor in my enjoyment of this show, but I’ve enjoyed so much of the rest of it. From Rory Kinnear & Harry Treadaway’s performances, Billie Piper’s turn, my first regular Timothy Dalton outlet since Chuck, and Josh Hartnett (holy crap has he come a long way), I’m totally down for returning for those characters, even if Vanessa isn’t a part of it. I’ve watched since the first ep and am hoping for more. As much as it pains me, I understand ending things with Vanessa Ives, but I’m not ready to part with the rest.

  23. Robbi says:

    So disappointing. Why is it that Vanessa needed a man to fulfill her ( Dracula), a man to free her( Ethan)? I thought she was stronger than that.

    This is a recurring theme for all the female leads on this show.

    It could have and should have gone in a much different direction.

  24. Stuart says:

    PENNY DREADFUL is an exceptional show with superb writing and acting! How many other shows incorporate poetry and literary characters? We hope that Vanessa Ives, the witch, will return even stronger. Perhaps Dr. Frankenstein can help to revive her. Viva Vanessa Ives for Season IV!

  25. Rick Whatley says:

    Please renew this gorgeous show Showtime..please.

  26. Showtime and John Logan confirmed on their youtube channel that it was in fact, the series finale. I am not cool with punking fans who were hoping for a season 4 renewal. When episode 9 was always promoted as season finale. Just leaves a bad taste in my mouth and considering canceling showtime. Penny Dreadful was the only real show I loved on the cable channel.

  27. Nz20 says:

    Excellent article. I will miss Penny Dreadful.

  28. An extraordinary review ~ while we were crushed by the ominous “the end” before the end titles, we were as ever swallowed whole into the fog and miasma of Victorian London and the wondrous and frightening being who inhabited this world. In fact, the Vanessa Ives storyline came full circle and she gained freedom and bliss at the hand of the man who loved her enough to let her go. We wanted that love to be free to blossom, as we’re all romantics, but that wasn’t to happen. On the other hand a new chapter can begin and unfinished tales can be completed and – ! – Ethan can be reunited with his love if the hints in earlier episodes of Season 3 happen. Our favourite carrot-topped researcher was on his way to Egypt, he informed Vanessa, to ferret out a mummy or two. Consider Sir Malcolm’s talk with Victor and Ethan after the battle. He speaks of India and Egypt and the fascinating beliefs of reincarnation … dare we hope that mummy will be resurrected and possibly reunited with the forbidden lover of ancient times, a man who looks amazingly like Ethan. That’s the traditional mummy story and it would blend beautifully into Penny Dreadful’s world. Thank you, Ms Ryan, for a lovely review, told with sensitively and clarity. Perhaps it’s just that lingering romantic in me that hopes the mummy story can live again and Penny Dreadful will once more entrance her faithful viewers with another series and the beginning of a new arc. We, the faithful, deserve to have our world kept intact, in only for a little while longer.

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