Penny Dreadful: And Hell Itself My Only Foe

timothy-dalton-as-sir-malcolm-in-penny-dreadful-season-2-episode-9-photo-jonathan-hession_showtimePreviously on Penny Dreadful: Lily decided she was just sick of all this shit and ready to take over the world, Malcolm was ensnared by Kali and re-introduced to his dead family, and Ethan and Vanessa had a murderous country getaway.

‘The things I’ve seen over the years have made me a bit mad, I think.’

‘It will be unholy slaughter.’

We’re back at the Cut Wife’s cottage, where Ethan gets a fairly rude awakening courtesy of Roper, the sole survivor of the Mariner’s Inn Massacre. They guy’s got a gun trained on Ethan and has taken the precaution of tossing Ethan’s weapons out the window. Roper calls Vanessa down and explains it’s not too hard tracking down a tall American travelling with a hot girl. Yeah, I guess not, and everyone really should have thought of that before they sent these two away together. Ethan asks Roper to let Vanessa go, but he just laughs. Vanessa calls him a repellent creature. He’s unbothered by that, and he takes off his half mask to show her what Ethan did. Scratched his face up pretty good. He hands Vanessa some handcuffs and tells her to put them on Ethan. Roper’s planning to take Ethan back to the US but wonders aloud what he should do with Vanessa. Rape and scalping is his plan, because he’s a repellent creature, as Vanessa said. He’s also a fierce one, because when Ethan and Vanessa make their moves, it takes both of them to bring the guy down (to be fair, Ethan is handcuffed). Ethan winds up with a knife in his shoulder, which Vanessa yanks out and uses to stab Roper again and again, until she’s sure he’s well and truly dead. Second time’s easier. And I guess that’s the end of Roper. I’m a bit disappointed in this season’s tendency to build up certain characters, like Roper and Angelique, and give them these drawn out storylines, only to just dispatch them suddenly like this.

They bury the guy out on the moor and Vanessa asks Ethan how he did that to the guy’s face. He doesn’t answer, and they’re distracted by the arrival of a carriage bearing Victor, who tells them they need to get back to London immediately, because Malcolm’s in trouble.

On the road, he catches them up on what’s happened and says that Malcolm’s at the witches’ castle.

Indeed he is, being tormented by his family, which is playing a fun game of ‘who gets to hate dad the most?’ He tries to convince himself that they’re not real but Mina points to his head and says that they are there, which makes them quite real. They laugh at his fear. His terrified wails echo through the house.

Kali’s relaxing in her doll room. Hecate says she looks tired and Kali assures her that it’s temporary, Also, Vanessa’s on her way. Hecate asks if she’s really confident she can deliver Vanessa, and what will she do if she fails? Kali warns her not to get above herself again, but Hecate reminds her that Kali herself trumpeted the abilities of youth over age. Kali approaches the girl and says that, if she were weaker, she’d fear her daughter. Hecate swears that she always obeys her mother. ‘Yes, but for how long?’ Kali wonders. Hecate leaves to make ‘a social call’ but promises to be back for the festivities.

Ethan, Vanessa, and Victor reach the city and find Rusk hanging around outside. He asks for a word with Ethan, who refuses to let him into the house, instead directing him on a walk. Rusk tells Ethan that Malcolm recognized his poster. Ethan tries to pass it off as Malcolm just being a fan.  Rusk says he knows something very odd is going on here. He just has a funny feeling, you know? Rusk plans to station policemen in the square to keep an eye on Ethan, and he reveals he’s figured out Ethan’s real name, which is Ethan Talbot. Rusk basically tells Ethan to give himself up, but Ethan refuses, since the man has nothing on him.

Sembene lets Ethan into the house and reminds him it’s a full moon. Ethan knows. ‘You’ll help me get him?’ he asks. Sembene nods.

He goes into the study, where Lyle has just confessed to having been an informant for Kali, insisting he was only doing it under duress. Vanessa lets him off the hook, because they need all hands on deck to get Malcolm. She wants to go that very night, but Ethan quickly says that won’t work, and Lyle agrees, since the witches are more powerful at night. He also tells Vanessa that it’s impossible for her to go. Vanessa refuses to be left behind. Sembene says they’ll go the following day, in daylight, together, and they’ll kill Kali and her coven.

At the waxworks, Cal watches from a distance as people check out the displays. Putney spots him and goes over for a chat, noting that Cal seems contemplative. Cal agrees but doesn’t elaborate. Putney asks if he has a favourite display but Cal sighs that they’re all so ugly, while true evil is seductive. ‘When the devil knocks at your door, he doesn’t have cloven hooves, he’s beautiful,’ he says. He likens the Devil to a Siren, calling you to ruinous shores.

Lily goes to visit Dorian and checks out his picture gallery, calling him an interesting man who can’t be as pure as his face suggests. ‘Are you?’ he counters. He tells her how he spends his time: holding balls, inviting members of the theosophical society over, having photography sessions. He calls her Brona and she drops all pretense and asks him to tell her his secrets. He kisses her and tells her he will, in time. ‘Tell me now,’ she says, kissing him. ‘Now, boy.’ She orders him to kneel and he does, smiling almost in amusement. She orders him again to tell her his secrets, offering her own in return.

Victor shoots up, because that’s a good idea just now. Vanessa is with him and he notes that she doesn’t seem to approve, though she says nothing. He says that this gives him a certain illusion of power in a life that has none. He’s seeking transcendence, just as Vanessa does in her prayers. Vanessa takes his hand and whispers that she’s sorry that Lily hurt him and that he feels so unloved. She calls him a beautiful monster and says that life awaits him. The drugs take hold and she leaves him to it.

[cryout-pullquote align=”right” textalign=”left” width=”33%”]You can’t get a nice nap in when there are witches about, you know?[/cryout-pullquote]Sembene sharpens a blade and tells a pacing Ethan that he should tell Vanessa everything. ‘She will take your pain and make it hers. That is what she does,’ he says. Ethan says she has enough to worry about just now. Ethan asks about Sembene and he explains that he was much hated and feared, because he used to be a slave trader. In Malcolm’s house, he’s found kindness amongst the unkind. Ethan quietly says that he hasn’t had many friends, but he’s proud to call Sembene one. Sembene smiles sadly and urges him to get some rest. Ethan claps him on the shoulder and they have a bro moment before Ethan goes upstairs to do just that.

Except you just can’t get a nice nap in when there are witches about, you know? Hecate appears in his room and reassures him that she means him no harm. She calls him the wolf of God and explains he has been chosen and has a profound destiny to strike with impunity and feed at will and stand alongside the great Lucifer as he takes his rightful place on God’s throne. He threatens to shoot her and she tells him that, if he kills her, he’ll deny himself his greatest ally. She urges him to embrace this destiny and, when he does, she’ll serve him best of all. She kisses him hard, then backs away towards the mirror, vanishing through it.

Vanessa gets undressed and takes a moment to look at the brand on her back in the mirror before getting her ‘it’s ass kicking time’ face on. She redresses and heads out.

Lavinia, at work on one of her models, asks Cal what her father’s newest project is. It’s all quite hush-hush, and she’s really curious. She begs Cal to go with her and see what her father’s doing next door and with a little persuasion he agrees. There, he finds a bunch of empty cells. He sees a book in one of them and goes to check it out, only to have Lavinia slam the door behind him. She tells him it’s a book of poetry, and he should enjoy it.

Lily and Dorian are fooling around and she starts strangling him, asking if he can die. He’s loving it and urges her to find out. She stops and says they could do so much together. ‘This sad little world is ours,’ she says, leaning forward and biting off a chunk of his ear. Even he seems startled by that. She tells him to let her see his power by healing himself.

Sembene finds Ethan and tells him that Vanessa’s gone. Ethan tells him to rouse the others so they can go after her. Lyle’s pretty much like, ‘WTF was she thinking?’ as am I. Come on, Vanessa! Ethan hands Lyle the teensiest little gun ever and they head out through the cellar. Sembene holds him back briefly and says that Ethan shouldn’t go, because he knows what’ll happen. ‘Let it,’ he growls.

Lavinia’s hanging around outside the cell, kind of taunting Cal by preening over her success in entrapping him and groaning that he’s boring as hell, going on and on about poetry all the time. Damn, girl. You could have just changed the subject or told him to shut up. Her parents join them and Putney tells Cal this is his new home and he’ll soon have compatriots to keep him company. Cal knows he’s going to be put on display. Putney proudly says that’s right, and he’s going to make a mint off of this. Charming. He pats his daughter on the cheek and they leave. Well, at least he’s got that book of poetry.

Dorian returns from his secret lair with his ear once again intact. Lily watches him approach, drawing her skirts up over her knees, inviting him. He kneels between them and kisses her.

Vanessa makes it to Coven Castle and walks right through the front door, because she’s not even bothering with sneaking anymore. She quickly finds Kali and demands to know where Malcolm is. Kali says he’s probably just barely sane at this point, and she’s getting kind of bored with him. She tells Vanessa to follow her and as they walk down the hall, she sighs that her sister was always a bit of an embarrassment, hiding away in that awful hovel, when she could have had the whole world. Vanessa asks Kali if she enjoyed watching her sister burn. ‘Not nearly as much as I enjoyed watching you branded,’ Kali replies. ‘Still stings, doesn’t it?’ ‘That flesh is dead,’ Vanessa shoots back. They find Hecate along the way and Kali sends her off to prepare the others, because the rest of Vanessa’s friends will be arriving soon. Hecate says she has a singular welcome in mind for Ethan, whom she saw earlier that evening, and kissed, even. She leans forward and kisses Vanessa, telling her that she still tastes him.

Hecate spins off and Vanessa again demands to see Malcolm, but Kali says there’s someone else she needs to see first. Vanessa guesses it’s Kali’s master. ‘‘Oh my darling, he’s your master as well,’ Kali tells her, unlocking a door and leading her down a stair.

The others arrive at Coven Castle and Ethan starts issuing orders, telling Victor and Lyle to take the front and just kill everyone. He and Sembene take off and Lyle takes a moment to pray.

Ethan and Sembene approach the back door and Ethan makes him promise not to allow Wolf Ethan to hurt any of their friends.

Lyle and Victor make their way through the castle, as do Ethan and Sembene. One of the witches peels herself out of the wall and follows them.

Lyle and Victor hear Malcolm wailing. Victor looks pretty freaked out.

Ethan and Sembene find the staircase Kali took Vanessa down and head down it, only to have a trapdoor of some kind slam shut, keeping them from going any further. On the other side of it, Hecate smirks.

Victor and Lyle find the room where Malcolm is and Victor goes in. The door slams and locks behind him, thanks to Hecate, who pins Lyle to a wall and hisses at him.

Inside, Victor finds Malcolm collapsed on the floor, moaning. He touches his shoulder, but Malcolm only sees corpse Peter, not Victor. And then Victor gets a little family reunion of his own, as Cal, Lily, and Proteus (!!) appear before him. ‘Father, your children have returned,’ Proteus tells him. If Victor was scared before, now he’s terrified shitless and probably wondering if those drugs haven’t quite worn off yet.

Sembene and Ethan struggle against the door, to no avail. Ethan’s about to transform and tries to kill himself to prevent it, because he knows he’ll be unable to stop himself going after Sembene, but Sembene keeps him from harming himself. Ethan asks Sembene to kill him, but nothing doing. Sembene reminds him that he’s been chosen by God.

Kali has taken Vanessa to her doll room, which must be completely horrifying for Vanessa, but she gives nothing away. And then the doll creepily opens its eyes and starts to call Vanessa a murderer. Now she’s freaked.

Ethan starts to transform and attacks Sembene. Aww, man!

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