Penny Dreadful: This World is Our Hell

Ethan and Hecate camp in the desert in episode 5 of season 3 of Penny DreadfulPreviously on Penny Dreadful: Victor and Jekyll began experimenting on Bedlam patients while Ethan and Hecate made their way across the desert, pursued by Rusk and the Marshal and Malcolm and Kaetenay.

After last week’s Vanessa and Cal fest, it’s time to catch up with everyone else.

Ethan and Hecate are still galloping across the desert, with the marshals close behind. Not far behind them are Malcolm and Kaetenay, who’s preparing to massacre the marshals so he can get to Ethan.

Ethan and Hecate find a spot where there used to be a river, back in the day, but it’s dried up now. Ethan tells her there’s no other source of water for days. Well, that’s not good. Hecate asks him what happened between him and his father and Ethan only says his father wants him to answer for what he’s done. She comments that he really does cling to this guilt and should just let it go and embrace his darker side. God wanders into the conversation, of course, as He tends to on this show, and Hecate notes that Ethan gets absolutely nothing from this God of his, not even the forgiveness he seeks.

At Bedlam, Victor and Jekyll have Balfour, the Mad Scot, back in the treatment chair. Victor tells him he’s figured out how to make the treatment last longer: by purifying the serum and delivering it directly to the prefrontal cortex via electricity. That sounds…pretty horrifying. Victor acts like kind of a dismissive dick to Jekyll, then gets ready to treat Balfour, who is not at all happy about any of this. Victor loads up a giant needle and approaches the patient, reassuring him he’ll have no memory of the treatment, his crimes, or really anything that came before, and who wouldn’t want that? I hope this guy doesn’t have any good memories of his past he might want to preserve, because I’m pretty sure they’ll go too.

Back in the desert, the marshals make camp. Rusk’s nameless assistant writes in his diary. The head marshal asks Rusk how he came to lose his arm. Rusk explains that, back in the day, his regiment was in pursuit of a Boer assassin and thought they had him cornered, only to walk right into an ambush. Only four of them made it out. Rusk, being crazy badass, cauterized his own wound, left the others behind, and tracked the guy himself, dragging him back to Cape Town in chains, then reporting to the infirmary. Ok. Not a guy to mess with. Message received.

Hecate looks at the marshals from a distance and hints to Ethan that the two of them could take them all on. Well, you do have supernatural powers and werewolf-ing on your side. Her horse gets restless and Ethan says the creature’s dying of thirst. Hecate goes and gets some of their water to give to the animal. Ethan’s surprised, saying he didn’t take her for an animal lover. She shrugs that she loves all the innocent animals of the world, it’s just the humans she hates. There’s some chat about where each of them learned to ride and then Hecate tells Ethan that she didn’t choose to serve the Devil, she was pretty much handed over at the age of 5 by her mother.

Ethan opens up a bit, telling her about how his dad enlisted Ethan in the army, hoping to make a man of him. His commanding officer was a horrible excuse for a human being and ordered the men to attack an Apache camp they came across at dawn one day. They slaughtered the people in their sleep, Ethan joining in, shooting an unarmed woman first. Later, while Ethan was washing the blood off his hands, the officer joined him, dragging the body of a boy whose face he’d bashed in with a rock because he didn’t think the kid was worth a bullet. The officer then dumped the body in the river to poison the water and smiled at Ethan, anticipating medals. So Ethan shot him in the head. Probably did the world a favour there. Ethan then rode to the next Apache stronghold and begged them to kill him.

And now Kaetenay picks up the story, sharing the history with Malcolm. He says that Ethan came to him wanting to die to atone for his sins, but Kaetenay thought it would be crueler to make him live and fight the men he once served with. And Ethan took to it like a duck to water, which is pretty disturbing. It wasn’t enough to save the Apache, though, because there were only 39 of them left and the army sent 5000 men to rout them. Talk about overkill. Kaetenay says that, as they died off, they turned cruel and did monstrous things.

Hecate tells Ethan that, whatever he did, God looked on it all and laughed. He has made this terrible world, and does Ethan really want to serve Him? She offers to call forth creatures of the night to eradicate their enemies and Ethan gives her the go-ahead. The hell? What made him turn so suddenly? Is he going thirst-crazy?

Kaetenay, meanwhile, tells Malcolm to get the horses while he kills the marshals, all of whom appear to be sleeping. They seriously didn’t set a watch? That seems stupid.

Hecate draws some designs in the sand, gets some blood from Ethan, and begins chanting a spell as Rusk’s assistant wakes and sees Malcolm slipping amongst the horses.

Kaetenay slits throats while Rusk’s assistant pulls a gun on Malcolm and tells him not to move. Hecate’s spell calls forth an army of rattlesnakes that come up through the sand. One slithers onto the chest of the man Kaetenay was about to kill. Kaetenay eyes the snake for a while, then kills the man and the snake, only to be bitten by another one. The men begin to wake and freak out, shooting at the snakes. The noise distracts the assistant, giving Malcolm a chance to shoot him. He grabs two horses, collects Kaetenay, and the two gallop away. Ethan and Hecate watch the chaos from a distance. The snakes disappear back into the ground and Rusk and the head marshal, the only two left alive, it seems, give each other ‘what the hell was that?!’ looks.

Bedlam. Poor Balfour has been unconscious for 24 hours and Jekyll accuses Victor of having rendered the man catatonic. This leads to a strange ‘who did our teachers hate and crap on the most’ pissing contest that’s basically just another chance for us to be reminded that Jekyll has a MASSIVE chip on his shoulder. Ok, show, we get it. Jekyll asks Victor if he would have his memories of being stepped on and laughed at eradicated, because Jekyll sure would (for the record, Victor says no). Jekyll asks Victor if he’ll actually be able to go through with delivering this treatment to Lily, in the end, considering how brutal it is. Victor says that, when Lily was all sweet and adorable, he was actually really happy. I guess he’ll cling to that to find the strength to do what he needs to do.

Balfour suddenly wakes, as calm as one can be who has no idea where he is or how he got there. He remembers nothing of the assassination attempt or his time at Bedlam. Well, as for the latter bit, he’ll get to form all new memories now!

Rusk and the marshal regroup in the morning and Rusk decides it’s time to stop being nice: he’ll shoot Ethan first chance he gets.

Ethan and Hecate continue across the desert, but Ethan’s horse collapses. He comforts it for a little while, then does the humane thing and shoots it. Hecate asks what’ll happen if her horse dies. Ethan replies that they’ll die too.

Victor returns home so he can sniff one of Lily’s nightgowns like an obsessive creep. He’s also got one of her dresses in the resurrection tub, for some reason.

Nighttime. Ethan lights a fire. By the flickering light, Hecate notices some drawings on the wall of the cave where they’re staying. She asks him what they mean and he says it’s the story of the first Apache. According to the legend, the Coyote opened a bag of darkness and the world was filled with creatures of the night while man was diseased and devoured. But then a boy was born and when he grew up he defeated the creatures and won back the day. Hecate says this could be a prophecy of what’s to come, rather than what was.

Kaetenay looks at the snakebite. Malcolm asks if he can do anything. Kaetenay just responds: ‘If I die, I die.’ Helpful! Kaetenay confesses that, after his people were massacred he came back to this land, wanting only to die, but instead he received a vision of a world cast into darkness, abandoned streets, creatures feeding, and Ethan with his face dripping blood.

Hecate wonders what role Ethan might play in this prophecy: saviour, or the wolf that loves the night? Ethan remembers camping inside the cave before, with the tribe. They had almost been hunted to extinction, but Ethan knew they could find food and guns at his father’s ranch. So he told the remaining tribe members where the guards would be and went to help steal horses.

He then decides he’s just done trying to be good, and to prove it, he and Hecate have sex. This truly feels like it’s coming out of nowhere at this point. A few days with Hecate in the desert and he’s ready to literally unleash hell?

During their tryst, Hecate tells Ethan to say, ‘Lucifer, I am your animal,’ as he kills his father, and he’ll never feel guilt again. Handy!

The next morning, they run out of water.

Three pairs make their way across the desert. Hecate’s horse finally dies, leaving them to go on foot. They make a good go of it, but finally Hecate collapses. Ethan tries to carry her, but he’s too weak to get far. Just as they’re about to throw in the towel, Malcolm finds them. At this point, Kaetenay’s in too bad shape to really notice much of anything. Ethan asks Malcolm what the hell he’s doing there and Malcolm’s like, ‘well, Africa’s so boring this time of year, you know?’ He offers water and asks if Hecate’s still alive. ‘Barely,’ Ethan tells him. Not close enough to ‘yes’ for Malcolm, who pulls out his pistol and gets ready to shoot her, only to have Ethan pull a pistol on him. Ethan tells Malcolm he really should have stayed away. Malcolm drops the gun.

And here comes a posse of men from Ethan’s dad’s ranch, ready to take Ethan home. One of them picks up Hecate while the others disarm Malcolm. They ask what Ethan wants to do with Kaetenay and Ethan tells them to let him die slowly, because he’s not worth the bullet. Malcolm’s horrified and says they can’t just leave the man there. Ethan can, apparently. Kaetenay drops off his horse, too weak to do anything anymore.

Hey! Ethan’s dad is played by Brian Cox! I’m always happy to see him!

Ethan’s been taken home and put to bed, barely alive. His father bathes his face and tells him how happy he is that he’s home.

Malcolm, too, has been taken to the house and is apparently staying there as a guest. He notices some family photographs of Ethan, his father, and what appears to be a brother.

Talbot summons Malcolm downstairs and greets Malcolm by name and welcomes him to his home. Malcolm asks after Hecate and asks to see her. Talbot says that she’s resting, as is Ethan. Talbot asks Malcolm to explain why Ethan’s been living with him for the past year. Malcolm tells him all about the quest for Mina. Talbot offers his sympathy for the loss of his child.

Hecate wakes in a room that was clearly once occupied by a young girl, judging by the dolls and the doll’s house that decorate the place.

Back downstairs, the men admire a painting, and then Talbot starts talking about how he managed to purge the land of the pesky Apache and made himself a great man. Malcolm points out that his success is empty, considering his son hates him. He asks Talbot what he wants to know and Talbot demands to know why Malcolm was riding with ‘that Apache filth’. Malcolm says he was riding with a man. Talbot asks him how many of these ‘men’ he slaughtered in Africa. They weren’t Apache, but the idea’s the same, even though Malcolm insists it isn’t.  Talbot is now determined that his son will remain on his land and Malcolm will help with that.

Hecate goes to Ethan’s room and thanks him for saving her life. She promises to return the favour many times over, then reminds him that there’s work that needs to be done. Ethan is very aware, and even looking forward to it.

He’s taken downstairs to speak with his dad, who says he doesn’t blame Ethan for hating him, but that kind of makes that even, because his father can’t forgive him either. There will be no tearful reunions here, what Talbot wants is to save Ethan’s soul. He begins talking about Ethan’s younger sister and starts to tear up a little, then tells Ethan he needs to atone for what he’s done. Ethan has no intention of repenting, but his father thinks he may feel differently if he gets a really graphic idea of what happened. Fortunately, he’s kept the stage for the horrorshow just as it was on the day it happened! This should be fun!

He takes Ethan into the chapel, which has been pretty well wrecked, and we get the full story of what happened the day Ethan helped the Apache steal from his father’s ranch.

Apparently, while Ethan was helping himself to some horses, the Apache decided to take all their well-earned but perhaps very misplaced rage out on this one family. The Talbots were having supper when the attack began, older brother Paul saying grace, because of course he was. Guards were easily wiped out, since the Apache knew exactly where they’d be. Paul brought his mother and sister into the chapel while Talbot and his remaining men tried to fight off the attackers, but they were overwhelmed and eventually had to barricade themselves in the chapel as well. Mrs Talbot knelt and desperately prayed while holding her daughter’s hand. The Apache broke down the doors, shot the guards, and pinned Talbot to the ground and forced him to watch while Paul was stabbed so many times he became unrecognisable, and his wife was scalped. Ethan takes in the spatters and pools of blood all over the room. Ethan’s younger sister, Mary, had her tongue and her eyes cut out. Jesus. Someone watched Titus before they wrote this episode.

‘You brought the devil to my door, son, and you gave him the key,’ Talbot says, before ordering Ethan to get down on his knees and beg for mercy from God and repent, or his father will shoot him right then and there. Ethan says he’s done repenting, and he belongs in hell. Talbot cocks the gun.



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