Series creator John Logan wrote most of the episodes of this show, including this final episode. Aside from a couple episodes in season three, this was all his work. And when the episode ends, and the words “The End” appear, it’s earned. Logan could have easily kept things going. Showtime has been more than willing to keep shows running long past their prime in the past (see Weeds or Dexter). But this was the story Logan wanted to tell, and tell it he did.
It could only end one way, and that’s sadly.
But, you know, let’s get the other plots out of the way, starting with the one that doesn’t work. That would be between Dorian and Lily. Dorian discusses what it means to be truly immortal, how after a while, a person realizes that everyone around him or her will eventually age and die, including children, and that means life eventually grows meaningless. Lily won’t have that since life has to have some spirit, and Dorian simply tells her he’ll be right where he is if she ever changes her mind and wants to come back. That would be creepy if Dorian weren’t such a douchebag to begin with.
As for the Creature generally known as John Claire, his son dies, and his wife tells him to get Victor to bring the boy back or else John shouldn’t see her either. John knows what life is like as an undead freak, so he’s conflicted. OK, not really. He won’t do it or see his wife again.
As for Henry Jekyll, he’s furious at the newly humanized Victor for dumping their research, but his hated aristocrat father died, so now Henry can claim his father’s title of “Lord Hyde”.
Fortunately, Henry worked at the insane asylum where Renfield was locked up. After Seward used hypnosis on her former receptionist to learn where Dracula’s hideout was, Sir Malcolm, Catriona, and Seward leave the cell and immediately run into Victor. Of course Victor’s in to save Vanessa. That group goes off and hooks up with Ethan and Kaetenay. It seems Kaetenay was the one who made Ethan a wolf-man, too, and the wolf-man is the one being Dracula fears.
Splitting up, Ethan and Kaetenay breach the former slaughterhouse from the sewers while the others, all armed, go in the front door to confront Dracula. And Dracula has a ton of minions. But, really, minions go down awfully easily. Even Dr. Seward is handling them well…not as well as Catriona. Did they find her in a Matrix movie? And yeah, Victor loses his gun because he sucks at fighting, but he can still swing a crowbar with the best of them. And when the foursome are surrounded, in comes Ethan and Kaetenay, and soon the minions are all down. I think this is where we have a boss fight, but Dracula actually dodges bullets with ease and fights off, oh, everybody without breaking a sweat.
But really, while Dracula was right to fear Ethan, it wasn’t for the reasons you would think. Anyone hoping for a Dracula vs. The Wolf-Man scenario, or even have the Creature come in and toss Dracula around…nope, not that kind of show either. Heck, John Claire isn’t even involved in this. But Ethan sneaks off to find Vanessa and offers to find her somewhere safe. But she says there is nowhere safe. Ethan loves her, she loves him, but the only way to defeat Dracula is for Vanessa to die, and she asks Ethan’s help there.
He obliges her. Ethan’s role wasn’t to kill Dracula as the Wolf of God, but to be a comfort to Vanessa as she died to save the world. And it looks like she went to an eternal reward all the same.
And sure enough, once Dracula sees Vanessa is dead, he just disappears. The fog lifts. The sun comes out. The day is saved.
What will become of the group? Well, it looks like Sir Malcolm, Ethan, and Victor will stay together as some sort of pseudo-family. John Claire won’t revive his son. He’ll let the tides wash the boy’s body away. We never did get his real name. In a voiceover, he recites some poetry as we watch the other characters mourn at Vanessa’s grave, and then he comes out to do so alone. The screen flashes with the words “The End” and Penny Dreadful is over.
Damn, that was good television. Nine out of ten “Would have been a perfect ten if Dorian Gray worked in this narratives”.
What’s next for me in this space? I’m going to be handling HBO’s True Detective.
I’ve seen all of season one already, but it bears up under repeat viewings. I never finished season two, but I am the type to finish whatever I start, so we’ll see what went wrong there, won’t we?
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