Previously on Penny Dreadful: The witches were after Vanessa, Dorian threw a ball and became reacquainted with Brona/Lily, Cal got a job, Malcolm’s enchanted, and Ethan turned into a werewolf in front of Sembene.
‘All those things that mark you when you’re young, that make you what you are, you never escape them. They just wait, don’t they? The monsters inside us.’
‘We are dangerous.’
‘What is love but a kind of creature waiting to be unbound?’
The morning after the night before, Ethan’s back to his human form and Sembene has recovered from his shock enough to be philosophical about the young man’s transformation. Basically, we embody many different things throughout our lifetimes. Circle of life and all that. He wonders if this is a sickness or something else, like a blessing that they don’t fully realize yet. He thinks it’s the latter, because he sees Ethan as a good man. Ethan asks for a full rundown of what Sembene saw the night before.
A little later, Vanessa gives everyone a recap of what happened to her at the ball. She says it felt like she was being surrounded and smothered. Malcolm doesn’t believe her, earning him a great, ‘Hang on, you don’t credit Miss Ives’s ability tosense things?’ line from Victor. Seriously, if that doesn’t get the red flags waving with everyone, nothing will. Malcolm just thinks she got overstimulated in a crowded room. Vanessa decides she needs to get out of town, because London’s not safe. When has London ever been safe for Vanessa? Ethan volunteers to go with her, for protection, and Lyle agrees with all of this. He also, wisely, tells Vanessa not to tell any of them where she’s going. Malcolm tries to convince her to stay, but Victor points out that they’re faced with a danger they can’t see, touch, or fully understand, so maybe this is for the best. Vanessa goes upstairs to pack, asking Victor to come with her.
In her room, she says she wants to tell him where she’s going. Just him. He asks what she’s really up to, because it’s not like her to flee from danger. She tells him she’s off to find a weapon to use against these creatures. She writes down her destination on a scrap of paper and asks him to look out for Malcolm, because he’s losing both his heart and his head, it seems. She also advises he take it easy on Lily, because she’s just distracted by all the shiny things London has to offer. She’ll tire of them soon. He worries that won’t happen.
Ethan and Vanessa go to the Cut Wife’s cottage, where Vanessa pauses long enough to glare at the execution tree for a while before going inside.
The place has been untouched since she left. She looks around and asks if he believes that places can be haunted. Of course he does. They all should, really. He believes it because he felt it once, in an old Indian graveyard. But it didn’t bother him, because it felt like the ghost belonged there. Vanessa muses that the CW thought Vanessa belonged there, and maybe she does, doing things that hurt as much as help. She looks out at the tree and says she’s hated trees ever since the CW was killed at the one out front. Well, that seems a bit unfair. If anything, she should hate murderous villagers or fire. Or tar. Or all of those things. The tree had the least to do with it.
She heads upstairs, fingering the various talismans, and then eyes that one dangerous book the CW warned her about.
She and Ethan go foraging and she tells him that she and Malcolm have long had a special relationship, and now Evelyn is challenging that. Ethan tries to comfort her, pointing out that Vanessa’s the closest thing to a family Malcolm has, and Vanessa points out that Malcolm kind of sucks at the family thing. She sighs that it’s selfish of her to cling to him, to want him to be unhappy just to maintain their bond. He says that when he was with Brona, he felt contented and like he had a place to belong. He says that Malcolm’s just looking for a place to belong, but when he settles down, he’ll come around to Vanessa. He won’t forget her. She pauses to set a rabbit snare and he’s surprised to find her so handy. He half jokes that she’ll make someone a great wife someday.
That night, they smoke (possibly pot) and Ethan tells a story about his dad forcing him to ride some awful horse when he was eight years old. Ethan walked up to the horse and said, ‘know your master, beast!’ and got a broken wrist for his pains. Vanessa laughs with him and he asks her what she was scared of. After some pressing, she admits it was dolls. Their creepy glassy stare just made her skin crawl. Evelyn’s room is just going to be high-octane nightmare fuel for her.
They muse about the monsters that reside in all of us, and then he suddenly tells her he needs to go out, and she’s to bolt the door behind him. He asks if she knows how to shoot and, startled, she says she doesn’t. He says he’ll teach her, then goes to leave. She calls him back, but he snaps at her to bolt the door and goes.
He heads out onto the moor and looks up into the full moon. How long have they been here? A month already?
A peacefully grazing herd of sheep is suddenly set upon by werewolf Ethan, who catches one and goes to town on it. Man, the livestock in this area just can’t catch a break.
The next day, a wakeful Vanessa is pulled out of bed by the sound of chopping. She goes outside and finds Ethan starting to bring down that tree. She offers him breakfast but he claims he’s not hungry. That midnight snack will have tided him over, I guess. She walks up to him and urges him to tell her his secret. ‘We can whisper about those things that hurt us,’ she murmurs. Instead, he teaches her to shoot.
And it turns out she’s some kind of prodigy, hitting every target dead on. He goes to reload the pistol and she offers to do it instead, reaching into his belt for the ammo in a rather sexy way. He warns her that shooting a live thing is very different, and you only learn that from experience. He tells her to aim at the middle of the body and not to look in the eyes of whatever it is she’s shooting, because that’ll stop you every time. ‘Stop being human, become something else,’ he tells her.
She asks what she can teach him in return and he asks for dancing lessons. Fortunately, she’s already an experienced teacher.
Montage alert! Vanessa teaches Ethan to dance. Ethan keeps chopping at that tree. She warns him against putting too much salt in the food. The tree finally comes down. She watches him practice waltzing by himself. They plant a little garden where the tree once stood.
During a storm, they dance until the wind blows the door open. Ethan relatches it and Vanessa tells him how much she loves storms, because they’re so primordial and uncivilized and so real. While they’re looking out at the storm, something happens—maybe a bolt of lightening hits the cottage? And some of the interior goes up in flames. They desperately fight the fire and finally get it under control, and then they’re jus standing there, staring intensely at each other for a while, and Ethan goes for it and kisses her. She kisses him back like she’s ready to swallow him whole. She’s got that creepy intense Vanessa look, but then she shoves him away and reminds him that they’re dangerous. He goes outside to cool off.
In London, Lyle and Victor talk about love, which Lyle says the Egyptians used to liken to the scorpion’s sting—an eternal infection that never ended. Well, that sounds…delightful. They muse about all the different civilisations and their beliefs about the end times, which were quite similar and involved the return of the fallen. Lyle says that the fallen angel believes Vanessa is his bride, and she loves him, in her way. He will pursue her in any way he can, but he must have her, so together they can destroy God.
Lyle says he’s been looking at the relics and noticed that the same phrase, the Hound of God, keeps reoccurring. He thinks whatever that is is a danger to the daemon.
On the moors, Ethan reassures Vanessa that Lyle and Victor are hard at work and won’t let the devil hurt her. She admits that sometimes she just feels like giving up and letting the creature take her, just to end her torment. He takes her arms, looks at her and fiercely tells her that she will not die or surrender while he’s there. She sighs that he’s just one man and he says he’s more than that and she knows it. ‘We are not like others. We have claws for a reason,’ he says. She sinks into his arms and asks if he ever wonders what it’s like to be normal. He says he tries not to think about it. Easier that way.
They’re out in the woods, and who should come along but Little Lord Douchebag, who recognizes Vanessa and sneers that she’s got herself a man now. His dogs bark at them and LLD starts talking creepily about getting animals to behave by feeding them with your own hand, so they know where their sustenance comes from, and starve a couple of them every now and then, to really drive the point home. I think starving your dogs is a great way to get them to turn against you, actually. He asks if Vanessa’s learned to behave yet and offers to come visit her with a match and start another fire, because young flesh burns so nicely. Ethan steps forward to defend her, but she holds him back and just stares searingly at LLD, who gallops off.
That night, she tells Ethan that she swore to avenge her friend. He warns her not to have the man’s soul on her conscience, because she can’t handle that. He tells her that, once she starts killing, she won’t be able to stop, so she’d better just not get started at all. She angrily tells him that she’ll stop when LLD’s soul is burning, as her friend burned. ‘Fine, do what you want,’ he sniffs before leaving the cottage.
Lily’s getting ready to go out with Dorian, and Victor’s quietly disapproving. She tells him she can’t stay cooped up there forever and he agrees, telling her to have ‘an amiable time.’ She says she won’t go if he tells her not to, but Victor says it’s fine, and anyway, he has work to do. She promises to come back with stories for him, kisses him on the cheek, and heads out.
While they’re out, Lily spots Putney’s and Dorian offers to take her inside. She giggles and hides her eyes from the horror shows. Dorian tells her she seems mysterious to him, with her cool touch and constant sense of wonder and eyes that seem familiar, and yet not. They move on to an exhibit of Burke and Hare exhuming a body. She asks about it and Dorian says it was for some sort of medical experimentation. ‘What sort of experimentation?’ she asks, suddenly getting serious. Dorian doesn’t know. As they move away, Cal watches them from out of sight, looking sad and stricken.
Outside, Dorian asks to take her out again sometime and she agrees. He puts her in a cab and gives her address, bidding her farewell and using her original name, Brona. So, I guess he recognizes her better than he says.
Up north, Vanessa pulls the Cut Wife’s book off the shelf as Ethan stealthily moves through LLD’s garden. She opens the book and begins paging through it, settling on one spell and beginning to speak the Verbis Diablo.
Ethan arrives at LLD’s house as LLD comes out with his dogs and some meat. Ethan takes out his pistol, but before he can act, the dogs suddenly turn on LLD and savage him. Couldn’t have happened to a nicer asshole. Ethan watches in both confusion and horror, then realization dawns and he turns to leave.
Vanessa curls up on the floor, crying.
Lily stops the cab outside a pub, hops down, and goes inside. She walks up to the bar and some middle-aged guy immediately starts hitting on her. She turns to him with a bright smile.
He takes her home, leads her past a not-at-all symbolic house of cards on a table, and they have sex. Lousy sex, judging by the look on her face, but then she gets on top and starts strangling him. He tries to stop her but apparently being resurrected gives you some sort of super strength. He dies, and she smiles creepily. Well, this is a side effect I doubt Victor anticipated.
Ethan returns to the cottage, where Vanessa’s waiting, returns the gun to its holster, and tells her he didn’t get the chance to kill LLD, as she well knows. He asks if she feels better, now that she’s a murderess. He asks if she really knows what it’s like to walk with someone’s body around your neck for the rest of your life. He knows, and he tells her what it’s going to be like: the first time you kill, it’s hard, and you cry. Second time is easier, and after that, it’s like nothing. Oh, so, no problem then. She shouts for him to stop and he grabs her arms and tells her she’ll never get her soul back. She understands. ‘Welcome to the night, Vanessa,’ he says portentously.