TV Review: Penny Dreadful: Season 2, Episode 9

Season 2, Episode 9: And Hell Itself is My Only Foe...

SUMMARY: Vanessa (Eva Green) sets out to rescue Sir Malcolm (Timothy Dalton) from the clutches of Mrs. Poole (Helen McCrory).

REVIEW:  Following last week's episode, which (along with the Cut-Wife standalone ep) was arguably the best installment of the season, this week's Penny Dreadful felt like every bit the penultimate cliffhanger. With only one episode to go after this, no time is wasted resolving some of the more minor subplots and propelling our heroes towards an epic showdown with Mrs. Poole and her coven.

Fittingly, the episode starts off with a bang as Ethan (Josh Hartnett) and Vanessa have a violent showdown with the mauled Pinkerton agent trailing them. This bit, where the two struggle to kill the man, felt almost like a homage to Hitchcock's TORN CURTAIN, showing just how difficult murder can be, to the extent that the violence in the scene becomes comically (and deliciously) over-the-top. Each episode this season has had its grand guignol moment, and this is the one for this hour as the rest is mostly devoted to setting up the big battle for next week.

It'll be interesting to see just how much is resolved by the end of the season, but I gather much of the plotline involving Caliban (Rory Kinnear), Lily (Billie Piper) and Dorian Grey (Reeve Carney) will be left for next season. It's interesting to see that Dorian is finally being brought into the plot in some regard as he's always struck me as the show's most extraneous figure. His dealings with Lily/Bruona suggest he's going to figure into next season's plot in a big way. One of the most intriguing twists involved poor Caliban, who's suckered by his waxwork's boss' blind daughter, who reveals herself to be as vicious a villain as any we've seen, with Caliban now virtually her prisoner. Considering his strength and relationship with Lily, we can safely assume her and her family are going to come to a satisfying violent end.


And speaking of violent ends, once the ultimate assault happens on Poole's home, it's intriguing to see the way she uses fear to torture our heroes. Dalton's doing some superb acting as Malcolm finds himself in a hell of his own making, tortured by his dead children and wife, while Victor (Harry Treadaway) is tortured by his own creations. For his part Ethan is forced to face his own fear by transforming into his wolfish alter-ego, although it seems this may have deadly results for Sembene (Danny Sapani) who we learn was a former slave trader and is trying to make up for his past sins through his work with Malcolm. Still, one should always expect the unexpected as far as Penny Dreadful goes. Overall, this was another well-done episode and I'm fully expecting it to have a great wrap-up to the season next week.



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