Penny Dreadful: 3.03 Good and Evil Braided Be

Episode three starts off with Ethan Chandler, and his new-found yet unwanted companion, Hecate Poole – an infatuated demon in the guise of a young woman, whom we first met in season two as one of Madam Kali’s sidekicks. Hecate is there to aid Chandler with his transition to the dark side, i.e. becoming a fully-fledged man-eating werewolf, of course she might also hope to be his evil bride. Meanwhile, Sir Malcolm Murray and Kaetenay are on the way to save Ethan on a train across the dry Wild West, all the time bickering like an old married couple; indeed Sir Murray is still reluctant and unsure of Kaetenay’s motives and past relationship with Ethan.

Elsewhere in Victorian London, the sensitive monster John Clare keeps having flashbacks to his human times, specifically with his family and sick son. He makes his way down memory lane by visiting the room where they all lived, trying to piece his mortal memories back together. Sadly the Dr Jekyll and Dr Frankenstein screen time in this episode is rather short; picking up where they left off in Dr Jekyll’s lab, the patient that Jekyll temporary cured of psychosis reverts back to his deranged self as the medication wears off however Dr Frankenstein reckons he can increase the duration of the change, perhaps even render it permanent. The relationship with Dr Jekyll and Dr Frankenstein is still unclear, indeed it is still in its infancy, however their storyline holds great promise as the murderous and immortal Lily seems to be in their chemical compound crosshairs.

Meanwhile in the posh part of town, Dorian Gray and Lily have captured and tied up Justine’s pimp, the man who kidnapped her, sexually abused her and tortured her; a gory and dazzling scene ensues. With little encouragement, Justine slits the pimp’s throat and then repeatedly stabs him to death; then in a pool of his blood, the three of them engage in a ménage a trois becoming drenched, head to toe, in blood.

The highlight of the episode is, as always, Vanessa Ives. In the last episode it was revealed that Vanessa’s love interest, Dr Sweet, is in fact the utterly evil Dracula. The unlikely pair spends a date at an amusement arcade, and whilst they enter the hall of mirrors, through the confusion of multiple reflections, the pair loose contact and Vanessa is stranded. It is then that one of Dracula’s minions makes his approach and warns her that his master is not far behind. However this unplanned encounter backfires and Vanessa dumps Dr Sweet for fear of risking his life as she sees herself as dangerous to be around; Dr Sweet, aka Dracula, is furious and feeds the offending minion to his other pale-faced followers.

The episode’s ending sees Vanessa in Dr Seward’s office where she demands to be hypnotized, desperately wanting to find out more about her past dealings with the vampires, whom she encountered both in series one and before that. Under hypnosis Vanessa visits her white padded cell in Bedlam, the setting for her shocking sexual encounter with Satan himself, only to recognize the face of her warden as that of John Clare.

Episode three starts off rather slow and plodding however thankfully it does pick up super-speed midway leading to a rather dramatic and climactic end involving a blood-soaked orgy and a feeding frenzy! The wild west plot line is rather less engaging than the London plots, indeed it seems to be taking slightly too long to unfold and is an unwelcome contrast to the series overall gothic aesthetic. Hopefully John Logan has his reasons for this slow burning rescue and soon all will be revealed; however the parallel London machinations more than make up for any Wild West slowness, with their effervescence, their gory-boldness and their dark intrigue. We await the next episode.

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