Penny Dreadful Review: What is Normal Anyway?

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Some stories were resolved and some questions were answered. but many doors were left open for next season on Penny Dreadful Season 1 Episode 8.

How can I possibly put into words how much I enjoyed the season finale of Penny Dreadful? I doubt I can do it justice, but I shall try.

In the latest Penny Dreadful Round Table, I theorized that Mina would be found and Ethan’s identity discovered in this episode. Though both happened, they were far from simple conclusions and I must say that neither happened in a way that I remotely imagined.

Their Worst Nightmare

Sir Malcolm telling Vanessa that he had no problem sacrificing her for the sake of Mina and in fact was almost hope he got the chance came as no surprise. After what he did in the Penny Dreadful Season 1 Episode 7, it was clear that he was mostly a cold-hearted bastard who would do anything to get Mina back.

Or so we were led to believe. As it turned out, Sir Malcolm was just as willing to put Mina out of her misery once he saw the hold that the Master had over her and what the beast had in store for Vanessa. Once he saw Mina, I could see how it was possible for him to kill her in mercy, but I was simply not prepared for him to basically declare Vanessa as his daughter.

Mina: I'm your daughter.
Sir Malcolm: I already have a daughter.

Another prediction I made quite a few episodes back was Brona becoming Caliban’s bride but again, though it came true, it did not happen as I suspected. I didn’t think Caliban could break my heart again after acting like a complete animal and killing Van Helsing, but I was wrong. His speech as Victor came behind him with a gun nearly ended me.

In the end, Victor wasn’t forced to give Caliban his bride. He was compelled to do it when he saw his “son” crying out in pain. Victor could have killed Caliban but instead he chose to give him a chance at love.

I would rather be the corpse I was than the man I am.


Even the scene when Victor chose Brona was so much more than I could have ever imagined. Her fears about dying and his promises of a place between heaven and hell made it seem like the absolute right thing to do in that moment. Though I have a feeling Ethan won’t feel that way when he inevitably finds out.

Ah, Ethan. His was another story that had fathoms more depth than I thought possible. His obvious heartbreak after being forced to transform and kill was almost palpable. Now we know for sure what he really is, but at the same time my mind is reeling with more questions. Such as, who is his father and why is he wanted home so badly?

Finally there was that ending, which really does leave us in a great place for Season 2. Vanessa sought exorcism, but will she really want it? Does she really want to be “normal,” whatever that means? I don’t know that she exactly likes being touched by the back hand of god, but perhaps she will find it more useful than what she may have to suffer in an exorcism.

But if she does decide to go through with it, the priest did say it could last a while, which could mean that it might be the theme of most, if not all, of next season. That, plus Brona’s rebirth and Ethan’s story, not to mention (I hope) more of Dorian, spells another amazing season coming our way next summer.

My favorite bits:

  • Vanessa knowing Dorian was there to see her, even though Sembene hadn’t said his name.
  • Ethan praying over Brona. So beautiful and so sad.
  • Evelyn totally flirting with Sir Malcolm in the gun shop.
  • Maud kissing Caliban on the cheek and the pure joy on his face after it happened.
  • Sir Malcolm not only admitting that he would gladly sacrifice Vanessa for Mina, but that he was kind of hoping that he got the chance. Ouch.
  • Vincent hugging Caliban goodbye.
  • Vanessa pointing out that Dorian had probably never known the feeling of rejection before.
  • Victor slowly walking behind Caliban with a gun as Caliban was describing the monster in his soul.
  • Caliban asking Victor why he allowed him to feel and asking to be killed as it would be a blessing. MY HEART.
  • Victor reassuring Brona that she had nothing to fear.
  • Getting suspicious the moment Victor asked Ethan to go down the hall.
  • Ethan offering Brona a place of “possible salvation.”
  • Ethan showing Mr. Kidd and Warren that he had no intention of going easily.
  • The group heading into the theater like they were going to war, which I suppose they were.
  • Jumping about six feet in the air when the vampires started waking up and the floor dropped out from under Ethan.
  • Victor actually killing vampires. I wasn’t sure if he had it in him.
  • That entire battle in the theater.
  • Sir Malcolm informing Demon-Mina that he already had a daughter. I had to pick my jaw up off the floor.
  • Vanessa telling Sir Malcolm they could “have the boys over” to decorate the Christmas tree. I love how they’ve all become a family.
  • Vanessa letting Malcolm cry into her shoulder.
  • Victor showing Caliban his bride-to-be.
  • Cheering "YES! YES! YES!" like a freaking insane person when Ethan finally transformed into a werewolf. I bet my neighbors thought I was insane, but that moment was worth it.
  • Thinking for one second that we might actually see Vanessa answer that question and groaning when the credits started.

What did you think of the season finale of Penny Dreadful?


Editor Rating: 5.0 / 5.0
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User Rating:

Rating: 4.9 / 5.0 (36 Votes)

Ethan offering Brona a place of “possible salvation.” Michelle, don't you mean Victor ?

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Vincent was so kind to Caliban. I loved him for that.

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Is Vanessa smoking opium? I guess after all the horrors she has endured. She needs something to calm herself.

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I agree with all of Michelle's favorites. I might add that Caliban just breaks my heart, when the theater actress kissed him on the cheek, that just broke my heart. When the actor was yelling at him for the apparatus malfunctioning and belittling him. I hurt for him being humiliated like that. When they let him go from his job at the theater once again i was sad for him. He loves his books. Caliban just breaks my heart. Ethan is very sweet and he loved Bruanna so much. I love Ethan too.

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I could be missing something, but it seems to me everyone else has been. When I saw Malcolm carrying on his affair with Vanessa's mother in "Closer than Sisters," it seemed very likely to me that a subplot yet to be revealed would be that Vanessa was indeed Malcolm's actual daughter. In later episodes Malcolm points out their similar character traits on top of the obvious physical similarities. He and Vanessa share much more than a bond of convenient necessity. For Malcolm it is something he must always have known but not actually had physical proof of. (There was no DNA testing in 1890.) When he finally declares to Mina, "I already have a daughter," I believe he is at last stating what he has known in his heart all along. The dark-haired child with an even darker soul and penchant for destructive behavior of tragic proportions is not only his, but more of a daughter to him than Mina could ever have been. Bring on season 2!

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@ Ned

This is actually a very very good theory !!! I am totally on board ! It would make sense as Sir Malcom and Vanessa share many traits, character and physical. Or again, when she asks him why he didn't take her to the expedition... They are so much alike.

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Is there any chance that Vanessa is actually Malcolm's daughter given that her mother was carrying on an affair with Malcolm?

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I agree Michelle, though we predicted Brona's fate early on and the fact Ethan was a werewolf watching everything unfold was a treat. Nothing went down in a predictable manner and the setup for Season 2 excited me. You know Sir Malcolm won't give up until Dracula pays for turning Mina. Dorian needs more to do next season than simply seducing everyone. Also love the closeness of the characters, Vanessa will no doubt come to Ethan's aid since he helped her with the possession. Looking forward to our round table!

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I was a teeny bit disappointed at the make up on Ethan. It was a bit Lon Chaney for my liking.

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Penny Dreadful Season 1 Episode 8 Quotes

Caliban: I’m sorry Vincent.
Vincent: No, pet. Show business. All bitches.

I left my son to suffer without me. I’ll not do the same to my daughter.

Sir Malcolm