The 13th Floor

Farewell, PENNY DREADFUL

[Spoiler alert! This article contains spoilers for the most recent episodes of PENNY DREADFUL.] 

Sundays are always a big TV night in my household. GAME OF THRONES, SILICON VALLEY, VEEP, PREACHER, JOHN OLIVER… and that’s just midseason! This weekend, we watched GAME OF THRONES, then switched over to the Showtime app for PENNY DREADFUL. My husband and I were surprised to find not one, but two episodes waiting to be watched. Did Showtime accidentally post two episodes to the app? We finished episode eight and saw that episode nine was still there, so we jumped in and watched it. 

Jessica Barden as Justine and Reeve Carney as Dorian Gray in Penny Dreadful (season 3, episode 8). - Photo: Jonathan Hession/SHOWTIME - Photo ID: PennyDreadful_308_0463

We had no idea that that would be the last episode – ever. I didn’t even realize it was going to be the season finale. I wasn’t ready for it to be the last episode. But sure enough, John lost his family, Dorian lost Lily, and Ethan lost Vanessa. Like any good storybook, episode nine ended with “The End.” I hadn’t heard anything about the show being canceled; maybe this was just the end of this chapter?

It wasn’t until the next day, when I received a press release from Showtime, that I realized this was it. Showtime had not spoken of a season renewal or cancelation because this was part of the plan: a surprise ending. 

Harry Treadaway as Dr. Victor Frankenstein and Billie Piper as Lily in Penny Dreadful (season 3, episode 8). - Photo: Jonathan Hession/SHOWTIME - Photo ID: PennyDreadful_308_1472

As far as endings go, PENNY DREADFUL was quite satisfying. It was dark, it was sad, and it was honest. John was finally reunited with his family, who accepted him despite his disfigurement. But when his son dies, he gives up his family once again in order to spare his son the agony of a life after death. Despite the fact that Lily is immortal like Dorian is, he has spent so much time losing those he loves, he cannot change his lifestyle or his beliefs in order to keep her in his life. Granted, Lily was getting a little out of control, and ultimately, Dorian cannot love anyone or anything as much as he loves himself. 

In an interesting twist, Dr. Jekyll became Mr. Hyde when his father died and he inherited his title and fortune. The monster was not Jekyll’s experiments; but money and entitlement. I was disappointed that Jekyll didn’t have much to do this season. Basically, his entire plotline was there to get Lily out of the house long enough for Dorian to deal with the prostitutes. It was kind of a tease. His experiments to calm the violence of the mentally ill actually worked, with no ill side-effects. His storyline fizzled out.

Timothy Dalton as Sir Malcolm and Patti LuPone as Dr. Seward in Penny Dreadful (season 3, episode 9). - Photo: Jonathan Hession/SHOWTIME - Photo ID: PennyDreadful_309_1344

And then there was Vanessa and Dracula. Dracula wasn’t the “bad guy;” nor was Vanessa. Vanessa had literal demons inside her, and she struggled for three seasons to get rid of them, or at least keep them at bay. Even when she gave in to Dracula’s “evil,” she knew it was wrong. It wasn’t until Ethan found her that she found the strength to end her struggle. With Vanessa dead, Dracula was no longer any real threat. He lost his reason for existing; it’s like he just kind of disappeared.

Rory Kinnear as The Creature in Penny Dreadful (season 3, episode 9). - Photo: Patrick Redmond/SHOWTIME - Photo ID: PennyDreadful_309_3835

Ultimately, everyone was left alone, except Ethan and Malcolm. They have each other. Kaeteney, I assume, goes back to America, and Cat, the de facto Van Helsing, disappears as quickly as she appeared. Frankly, she wasn’t around long enough to care that much about.

Rory Kinnear as The Creature in Penny Dreadful (season 3, episode 9). - Photo: Jonathan Hession/SHOWTIME - Photo ID: PennyDreadful_309_3066

As far as season finales go, this one was way up there with SIX FEET UNDER (in my opinion, the best series finale ever). Finales are a tough thing to do. You have to wrap up storylines, and leave characters going in a resolute direction that allows fans to feel a sense of closure. It was quiet, it was dark, it was honest. 

I am disappointed that PENNY DREADFUL is over, but appreciate there being a plan. Season three was probably the best season of the series, and it is always better to go out on top.

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