Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Penny Dreadful 2x02 Review: “Predators Far and Near” (Your Better Nature) [Contributor: Rae Nudson]

“Predators Far and Near”
Original Airdate: May 8, 2016

Okay, as much as I love Ethan and Vanessa, Vanessa has never had great taste in men. She, like Dr. Sweet, is attracted to the unloved creatures — the broken ones, like herself. Unfortunately, that makes it pretty easy to prey on Vanessa’s nature. And when you’re being hunted by the devil himself, that’s not a good weakness to have. After going on a date with Vanessa, Dr. Sweet is revealed to be the one and only Dracula.


The reveal, in the last few seconds of the episode, was a surprise to me, though I guess I should have seen it coming. Vanessa is always close to getting caught up in the underworld, and to forget that for a second left both of us vulnerable.

The thing about Dracula is that even if he weren’t a leading figure of the underworld, Vanessa still shouldn’t go out with him. Vanessa, he forgets your name more often than not! That’s not a good sign for your dreams of romance. But go out with him she does, and she even dresses up to see him, looking more and more like her old self.

Vanessa’s return to self is also spurred by her meetings with Dr. Seward. She has begun to tell her story to the doctor, even allowing herself to be recorded on cylinders, which Dr. Seward uses instead of taking notes. This provides a great moment of dark humor, where Vanessa jokes there won’t be enough cylinders for her story, before the episode cuts back to a pile of overflowing cylinders when her story is complete. The doctor puts on a great poker face while Vanessa tells her tale of evil, murder, and the afterlife, but as soon as Vanessa leaves, the cracks in her expression start to show as she holds back tears and shakily grabs a cigarette.

I’m hoping that Vanessa’s trust in Dr. Seward isn’t misplaced — but what did I say before about Vanessa’s judgment of people? Vanessa’s therapy sessions contrast with the psychiatric hospital where Dr. Jekyll works. His hospital is a kind of hell itself, where patients are treated as worse than animals, just a nuisance the city has to deal with. It’s really dark and horrible, so of course Jekyll thrives in this environment. He believes that everyone is made up of light and dark, and the push and pull of opposing forces is what gives energy to life. Vanessa’s sessions and this hospital are two sides of the same coin, and it looks like the show is setting up themes for the season of descent into madness and how the group holds on to their sanity in the face of all they’ve lost.

This season is also dealing with duality — namely, with the introduction of Dr. Jekyll. He is the face of dual natures, but he’s not the only one dealing with opposing forces in himself. Victor is desperate to stamp out Lily’s dual nature and force her to be the docile woman he fell in love with. (It sounds super creepy because it is!)

But Lily is in charge of her own destiny, and she learned a long time ago not to rely on a man to save her. She tells Victor she doesn’t need him, and he should move on and not come back because he won’t like what she is turning into.

What she’s turning into is apparently a queen of the night who wants to train a protégé. In the crazy opening of the episode, Lily and Dorian arrive at a form of underground entertainment that makes Game of Thrones look tame. A group of men, dressed to the nines, sit in an underground room to take in the spectacle of a woman being beaten, presumably to death. Dorian and Lily, thankfully, stop the show before it even gets started by murdering everyone participating in the brutal sport. They save the girl’s life and take her back with them to adopt her into their home of sin. Lily wants to teach her how to get revenge, and their new ward is more than willing to learn what she has to teach.


Ethan, of course, deals with the duality in himself every time the full moon comes around. He is still imprisoned with the men who took him from the train, but he knows that when the full moon rises he’ll be able to break out of his chains.

I’m going to be honest here — the Ethan stuff confused me a bit. Ethan is Apachee, I think? And I cannot tell the relationship between him and Kaetenay. Are they mortal enemies or mentor/mentees? Kaetenay hates Ethan for killing his family as a werewolf, which is understandable; but he and Ethan still seem to communicate honestly with each other in a way that indicates a different kind of closeness than just hatred. I’m not sure what Kaetenay’s plan is, but I’ll gladly watch more visions where he and Ethan have enigmatic conversations on a cliff.

Ethan’s backstory with the Apachee is a surprise, but he is apparently fluent in their language and familiar with Kaetenay’s family. He meets an Apachee woman on the night of the full moon and shares a friendly, if morbid, conversation with her before saving her life before his transformation.

After he transforms, one of the witches from last season makes her appearance. I didn’t recognize Hecate last week, but apparently she followed Ethan to the U.S. I’m less than pleased with anyone who gets in between him and Vanessa, and I don’t have much faith she will have Ethan’s best interests at heart. Hopefully Ethan will stay true to the better part of his nature, rather than disappearing into his destructive side with Hecate.

Post script:
  • I love that you can see Lily’s scars above her breasts. She has emotional and physical scars, and she doesn’t forget any of them. 
  • “Do all your people speak so enigmatically?” “Yes.”
  • I am very concerned the previews keep showing Vanessa in a padded room. 
  • Josh Hartnett in his werewolf make-up is cheesy and delicious.


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