Well, we discovered Dracula's identity far sooner than I expected we would this season. He's none other than Vanessa's adorably scatter-brained Dr. Sweet!
Penny Dreadful Season 3 Episode 2 was a strong episode that complicated Ethan's relationship with the enigmatic Kaetenay and amped up the danger quotient in Vanessa's always-chaotic life.
Since this season has split our group apart, I'll address each of the major characters separately, since there's actually very little overlap between their stories at this point.
Speaking of which – it occurred to me while watching that Vanessa, Sir Malcolm, and Ethan still have no idea that Frankenstein has successfully reanimated three corpses. Crazy!
Dorian & Lily
In easily the most disturbing plot of "Predators Far & Near," these two impeccably dressed psychopaths "rescued" a young woman from what appeared to be some kind of underground torture show. This is the first we've seen of the murderous pair this season, and it was a fittingly blood-soaked entrance.
Now, you are mine.Lily [to Justine]
The young woman is billed as "Justine," according to IMDb. Her name could be a reference to the titular character of the Marquis de Sade novel Justine, or The Misfortunes of Virtue, a depressing Gothic erotica novel which I haven't personally read but sounds like fairly standard Penny Dreadful source material.
Lily has come so far since the Brona of Penny Dreadful Season 1. Before, Brona was pitiable and tragic but not terribly interesting or complex.
Now, I'd go so far as to say that Lily is one of the most interesting characters on the show. Far more interesting than any of her various gentleman callers, at the very least.
This strange blend of female empowerment and debauchery that exists in the character of Lily is so disorienting and uncomfortable, yet incredibly intriguing. On the one hand, murder is (obviously) very, very bad. On the other hand, Lily's motives are surprisingly straightforward and pure.
As Brona, she'd been abused by all manner of man, working as a prostitute on the streets since she was Justine's age. As Lily, she was abused in an altogether different manner – psychologically, by Frankenstein, who sought (and still seeks) to shape and mold her into his ideal woman.
Reborn as Lily, with enhanced strength and the bloodlust that seems to accompany all of Victor's unfortunate creations, she managed to gain a simultaneous clarity and insanity. As she said last season, never again will she kneel to any man. Now, she's found her protege in Justine, who seemed to be handpicked by Lily (based on those looks exchanged between her and Dorian, it appeared that the two were attending these tortures, seeking a worthy acolyte, for a while).
Dorian, for his part, seemed to just be along for the ride. Dorian is a who-knows-how-ancient creature and his motives thus far are more obscure. He seems to enjoy violence and debauchery for its own sake, nothing more. Finding Lily has just given him a means to channel that enjoyment towards an actual goal.
As unnerving as it all is, this storyline has a lot of promise and I'm really interested to see where they go with it – especially given the fact that Lily is apparently taking the wheel on this one.
Frankenstein & Jekyll
This storyline is obviously intertwined with Dorian and Lily's, though there's yet to be any significant overlap (save that wonderful Victor/Lily scene near the end, which I'll get to soon).
This version of Jekyll was immediately intriguing, given that they've fore-fronted his so-called "half-breed" nature. That was an inspired casting and characterization choice, given how clearly the character of Jekyll is enmeshed with themes of "duality" (the man and the monster, evil and good, etc.)
Jekyll's conversations with Victor also gave us some context for his bridled rage – he'd been abandoned by his (white) father, which led to the death of his mother from leprosy. Eagerly awaiting his father's demise, he planned to use that inheritance to open a lab and conduct his disturbing experiments.
We finally got to see Jekyll's lab, and the creepy place was very fitting for this creepy storyline. It's a subterranean lab, beneath Bedlam, the very famous insane asylum.
When Victor demanded a demonstration before subjecting Lily to the vile filth of Bedlam (oh, Victor, you silly goose), Jekyll more than delivered – he summoned a raving madman (unsurprisingly, Bedlam is more than happy to offer up their patients) and transformed him into a docile Scotsman. How's that for a demonstration?
I think we can all agree that this is not going to work on Lily. First of all, there is way too much dramatic potential in this Dorian/Lily/Justine storyline for it to be undone by Jekyll successfully making Lily "docile" and "tamed."
Second, just in terms of the mechanics of it all – Lily is really strong, and quite intelligent. How exactly is Victor planning to get her to Bedlam?
It appeared that Victor was gearing up to make his move in that regard when he ventured out to sit on a bench and stare up at Lily's room with tear-soaked eyes.
Instead of tearing him in half with her bare hands, like I was expecting, Lily was actually... relatively nice to Victor? And she kissed him goodbye? What was that about?
I am quite vocally and admittedly obsessed with the gorgeous dialogue that John Logan has written for this series.
The entire conversation between Victor and Lily was astounding, filled with some lines that I can only describe as "sumptuous" because I'm a dork. Here are just a few.
God help you if you follow my path, Victor. Take your romance and your memories, which are a most kind fiction, and go.Lily
Victor: I must save you from all of this. One way or another. You're my responsibility. I created you.
Lily: I need no man to save me. And I think, in a way, I created you more than you created me. First love, Victor. You will recover. Please don't come here again. You will not like what I'm becoming.
This conversation was a great example of why Lily is such an interesting character. This was a legitimate warning to Victor. She's trying to remove him from the crossfire of her "becoming."
Of course, Victor, being lovesick and foolish as a result, will definitely not remove himself from the crossfire and something appropriately horrid will befall him because, after all, this is Penny Dreadful.
Sir Malcolm & Kaetenay
Not a ton happening here, except that Sir Malcolm quite clearly was not a fan of traveling by sea and that there is more to Kaetenay than meets the eye.
The conversation between the two almost-fathers of Ethan drew a great explicit parallel between the Sir Malcolm/Vanessa relationship and the Kaetenay/Ethan one.
Each relationship grew from a place of mutual hate and evolved into something like love "of a sort."
Ethan slaughtered Kaetenay's people (while a wolf? Unclear) and Kaetenay wanted him to live and suffer rather than to kill Ethan. Now, Kaetenay considers himself a father to Ethan.
Though that relationship is definitely more complicated than the old Apache even began to let on to Sir Malcolm. On the bright side, I love pretty much every sentence that comes out of Kaetenay's mouth.
Hunting a man is no great thing. They are slow and predictable. They can be found always where their appetites lead them. To eat. To sleep. To fuck. Man is no great thing.Kaetenay
Ethan & Hecate
Ethan, for his part, was not so keen on seeing Kaetenay again.
When the older man visited him in some kind of dream-vision, Ethan attacked Kaetenay immediately and warned him to keep an ocean between them – a threat that Kaetenay didn't even blink at, straight-up telling Ethan that he'd see him soon.
There's blood on my teeth. And in my soul, I think.Ethan
Ethan also referred to Kaetenay as "the old demon" when speaking with the older Apache woman at the bar who introduced herself as one of Kaetenay's people. So Ethan has not one, but two, terrible dads that he wants to "end with." Let's see what the rest of the season will unveil about the history between Ethan and his sort-of father.
We all knew it was just a matter of time before the full moon rose and Ethan eviscerated everyone in the vicinity, which is why Ethan was so nonchalant and unworried about being a prisoner of the men sent by his real father.
That night finally arrived and sure enough Ethan slaughtered everyone in sight (save the old Apache woman, who he warned to leave in advance of his transformation).
He also got an assist from Hecate, in her Nightcomer form, who had tracked Ethan after overhearing Rusk tell the local Sheriff that Ethan was headed to Talbot's Range.
Hecate very passionately told wolf-Ethan that she'd missed him, so I'm thinking we're going to see Ethan embrace his dark side and get with Hecate for a bit. At least before an eventual reunion with Vanessa, which I'm counting on.
Speaking of whom...
Vanessa & Dr. Sweet/Dracula (!) & Dr. Seward
Vanessa continued her sessions with Dr. Seward, unveiling her entire sad history at the doctor's urging. According to Renfield, the doctor apparently didn't buy her story but after their session Seward did look visibly distraught. She's clearly being affected by her sessions with Vanessa as much as the younger woman is.
When Dr. Seward prescribed a dose of one happy activity, Vanessa predictably went straight to Dr. Sweet's exhibit, where she flirted with him by parroting back some of his zoological fun facts.
Vanessa was immediately drawn to the effusive and scatter-brained doctor, even going so far as to take him on a very thoughtful date to a Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea show after he mentioned that he wished to have adventures like Captain Nemo when he was a boy. She was practically floating with joy after each of their encounters.
Which made it all the more tragic when we discovered that Dr. Sweet was none other than Dracula!
I called that twist back in my review of the Penny Dreadful Season 3 Premiere because of the similarity of their voices, but based on how quickly it was revealed, I don't think it was supposed to be too much of a shock. I loved it anyway.
Also, nice touch repeatedly pretending to forget the name of the woman that is the subject of your eternal evil quest, Dracula. Real cute.
Renfield is (apparently?) now a full-on familiar, given that he's fed from Dracula himself. So now, Dracula is gathering intel about Vanessa on two fronts – via her psychiatry appointments and via pretending to be her sweet, lispy boyfriend.
- The older man who took Dorian's money at the start of the torture show warning Dorian and Lily about the "severity" of it was unintentionally hilarious. Dude, you seriously have no idea who you're warning.
- In retrospect, Dr. Sweet urging the taxidermist to up the "nocturnal danger" factor was wonderful foreshadowing. Who better knows "nocturnal danger" than Dracula?
- Something about Ethan's anger towards Kaetenay makes me think that the old man cursed him with his werewolf affliction. If that's the case, I have no idea why Kaetenay is dead-set on seeing Ethan or why he considers Ethan to be like his son.
What did you think of "Predators Far and Near"? Leave us a comment below and watch Penny Dreadful online to catch up on any episodes you may have missed!
Caralynn Lippo is a staff writer for TV Fanatic. Follow her on Twitter.