TV Review – Penny Dreadful Episode 8 “Grand Guignol” (Season Finale)

“I believe in curses. I believe in demons.  I believe in monsters. Do you?”

The lines have been uttered before, but it is fitting that the season finale of Penny Dreadful ended with a response to the lines uttered by Vanessa Ives (Eva Green). “Grand Guignol” had high expectations from fans to pull something off that no one would see coming, and it is safe to say that the show did just that.

Unlike other episodes, the season finale had every major character in it and each had a storyline of import. Looking back after finishing the episode, more foreshadowing is seen that seemed weird or a little out of sorts. Unfortunately, the preview of the episode hinted heavily at an important storyline.

Dorian Grey (Reeve Carney) finally reappears after his cut short escapade with Vanessa.  He comes to check on her, asking her to go out once again. But after what woke up in Vanessa the last time, she is hesitant to pursue anything. They meet again at the Botanical Gardens where Vanessa hands Dorian his first taste of rejection. A tear forms in his eye and he stares bewildered at it after he wipes his eye. This guy is very much one who gets everyone he wants.

Penny Dreadful Season One Episode Eight TV Still 1

Brona Croft (Billie Piper) takes a turn for the worst. We see Ethan Chandler (Josh Hartnett) praying at her side using the same language he used to “save” Vanessa from Lucifer in “Possession.” No further explanation is given for the sudden appearance of his religion and his exorcism skills. Frankenstein comes to ease her pain and very hastily takes her to her death.

The Creature (Rory Kinnear) is still resolved to find love. He tries once again to woo Maud (Hannah Tointon) after she shows kindness to him. He puts on some stage makeup and finds her in her dressing room. After she says he looks silly and thwarts his advances, he gets rough with her. That ends with him losing his job at the theater. Down and out, he returns to his Creator, Frankenstein, and manages to move him emotionally by his ever-growing depression surrounding his circumstances. Frankenstein again finds himself wanting to give The Creature a mate, and he does, conveniently, with Brona Croft’s demise.

Vanessa revisits her vision from her Satan-induced state involving the theater, The Grand Guignol. She knows Mina is there and once again the entire team sets out to find Mina (Olivia Llewellyn). Doctor Frankenstein (Harry Treadaway), Ethan Chandler, Sembene (Danny Sapani), Sir Malcolm Murray (Timothy Dalton), and Vanessa find another coven of vampires. Those blond-haired vampires are quite plentiful and manage to overtake Ethan, Frankenstein, and Sembene. At the same time, Sir Malcolm and Vanessa discover the male vampire. The vampire does not harm Vanessa. It looked like he would rather investigate her than do any damage, possibly even an attraction to her. Sir Malcolm on the other hand takes a gun and sword to him and kills him.  It is then that Mina appears, but she takes Vanessa as a hostage and aims to bite her and change her. Sir Malcolm lets go of his daughter and kills her making a comment about Vanessa being his only daughter. The Mina storyline seems to have wrapped up, but they have not found the “Master” aka Dracula. I guess that is fodder for the second season.

Penny Dreadful Season One Episode Eight TV Still 2

The biggest surprise of the episode came from Ethan Chandler’s change of physical form in response to some Pinkertons from the U.S. on his case about bringing him back to his father in chains. This explains his reaction to the wolves in the zoo and his disheveled appearance and waking on the shore the day he meets Brona Croft. Those quick reflexes are not learned.

There are still quite a few questions left to be answered and whole topics of Penny Dreadful lore left to be explored. Bride of Frankenstein, Ethan’s change, Vanessa’s possession, Dorian Grey’s portrait, and Dracula are all things that we will inevitably see in the second season.

Penny Dreadful’s first season has been quite a revelation in terms of using classic literature horror stories and characters and putting them in a setting where they can be explored in new ways. I do not think anyone could have predicted what this first season has brought to television. Penny Dreadful has no comparable shows that excel at storytelling, imagination, actors, the setting, constant change of pace, and breaking the mold in terms of the flow of the episodes. I, for one, cannot wait for the second season in 2015.


Sarah resides in Dallas where she writes about films and trailers in her spare time when she is not taking care of her animals at the zoo.

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