July 19, 2024

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Penny Dreadful “The World Is Our Hell”

Season Three, Episode Five.

So, we’ve learned a lot about Vanessa last week, so maybe it’s time to finally get to Ethan’s backstory.

I mean, aside from a couple bits involving Victor and his old pal Dr. Jekyll, this episode is set entirely in the American west, and we learn a lot more about the young gunslinger as a result.

Oh, the two doctors?  Well, they perfect the formula to make a person permanently good, but at the cost of completely erasing that person’s memory.  Sure, Victor wants to use it on Lily because, well, he’s lonely.  That, er, doesn’t make it much better actually.

But out west, well, Ethan’s riding with Hecate and the two bond over bad parents.  And then Ethan even allows Hecate to use his blood to summon some rattlesnakes to kill most of the men pursuing them.  Sir Malcolm is at a different camp, so he’s fine.  And the Marshall and Inspector Rusk still have plot armor, so they’re also fine.  Kaetenay gets bitten, but he ain’t dead yet.  Rusk’s sidekick?  Oh, he’s dead.

Sir Malcolm does catch up to Ethan and Hecate before they both die of dehydration.  Ethan won’t let Sir Malcolm kill Hecate, and Kaetenay explains that Ethan can go completely evil, or stay good and save the world.  Hecate seems to know that too, only she doesn’t care to save the world.  But that’s when Ethan’s father’s men show up.  Kaetenay is left to die in the desert while the others are taken to see the old man played by the great Brian Cox.

Anyway, here’s what Ethan did.

We heard at some point he killed a senator’s son.  That’s true.  The kid was his commanding officer.  Jared had signed Ethan up for the army and sent him off to fight in the Indian Wars.  The Senator’s Son was being rather awful about a massacre he’d just led, so a sickened Ethan killed the jerk.  Then he went to the remaining Apaches, looking to die.  Kaetenay met him there and instead of killing Ethan, decided that the guilt of living was better punishment and had Ethan join the Apaches raiding various ranches.

One night they raided the Talbot ranch.  Ethan didn’t know everything that was going on, but the Apaches killed an older brother, his mother, and his younger sister while Jared watched.  Ethan giving the Apaches the floorplan while getting guarantees that his family would not be killed didn’t help much.  Why did Jared want his son back?  To ask God for forgiveness, or to die.  Ethan won’t ask for forgiveness.  Jared cocks a pistol and..cue closing credits.

Though, it should be worth noting Jared is no saint.  He seemed to enjoy displacing and outright killing the Apache in the region he claimed as his own. And he admits he used to beat Ethan when the guy was growing up.

Though why exactly he would kill Kaetenay on-sight if he had to is still a mystery.