Penny Dreadful Season III – Ep. 6 – “No Beast So Fierce”: A Review

Posted: 06/09/2016 in Uncategorized

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Penny Dreadful’s latest run could have simply been called “Clean Up” because that is what happens to a high degree. Ep. 6 was yet another scintillating run that sets the potential path a reunion of the original group. This ep featured traction on four separate arcs with a powerful push on the main Dracula vs. Vanessa and Ethan Talbot vs. Everybody really….On to my review.

“No Beast so Fierce” is really split into two main quadrants. We open with Ethan (Josh Hartnett) facing off with his father Jared (Brian Cox). His father draws on him, charging him with repenting for his part in his siblings and mother’s death. Ethan chooses hell over submission to his father’s will. The test of resolves is disrupted by a knock at the door and the arrival of Rusk (Douglas Hodge) and the remaining US marshal. Rusk cheerfully tells Talbot that he and everyone in his home are under arrest for the assassination of his men.  The invitation to dinner of the two newly arrived “guests” yields to the most awkward dining experience as Jared tries to force Ethan to say grace and the marshal swears a reckoning upon the elder Talbot.

The dinner scene was enervating as Hecate (Sarah Greene) spends each moment whispering to Ethan, pleading with him to advise her when she can unleash and kill those around her. Malcolm (Timothy Dalton) sits awkwardly and attempts diplomacy. Jared’s action sets the stage for the madness that ensues. Ethan’s actions throughout dinner are deeply troubling and push the notion that he has become completely corrupted. Malcolm speaks on his behalf when Jared attempts to out his past misdeeds. He is staunch in his belief that whatever Ethan has done in the past, he is assuredly “a good man”. With his interactions with Hecate in the desert and at the dinner table, we are no longer sure.

We switch to John Clare/The Creature (Rory Kinnear) in one of the best acted segments on the show. While still hidden in the rafters, he observes his son’s illness worsen to the point that he comes forward and comforts the boy. The boy seemingly acknowledges him as his father, which in a sense he is. He consoles the child and assures him he will be well. When the boy wakes up enough to open his eyes, the moment that ensues is brutal and Clare’s reaction is deeply poignant. The thematic isolation is made corporeally manifest via Kinnear’s kneeling performance in an alley.

Victor Frankenstein’s (Harry Treadaway) master plan of kidnapping Lily (Billie Piper) goes about how one would expect. She is raising an army, and teaches local prostitutes how to kill men. Justine (Jessica Barden) is her acolyte and first and it is obvious to the viewer that Lily does not truly realize what she has in Justine. A former victim set for slaughter, she takes to the notion of killing men in turn zealously to the point of disrespecting Dorian Gray (Reeve Carney). Gray recognizes she is dangerous, attempting to broker an accord with Lily to move on and “become something else”. His argument does not take root however. This arc too won’t end well, though the path of enabling Victor’s plan may have been set with this run. He is captured by Lily’s army and brought before her. While she spares him due to “sentimentality”, there is more to it as he is after all, her creator. Dorian’s intercession might lead to both men getting what they want and for the first time, I found the Dorian arc interesting. Billie Piper slays her scenes telling all around her that she wishes to keep her pain; recalling every degradation, and  horror  as fuel to ignite who she has become and is becoming.

The Vanessa Ives portion gains some serious legs with this run. I will state again, as I do every time I watch PD  with my lovely wife. Eva Green is astounding. She conveys more depth of emotion in a glance than most actors can in an overwrought frenzy. Her parting moment with Ferdinand Lyle was beautifully performed by both parties. Russell Beale is terrific and makes so much of his all too brief appearances. He advises Vanessa he is moving on, but implies very much that he will stay if she needs him to. She of course being who she is will not compromise her friend. She does request that he provide her with someone she could call upon with supernatural matters. He provides her with a name on a slip of paper.

The later meeting between Vanessa and Catriona Hartdegan (Perdita Weeks), a “thanatologist”* and able swords-woman yields a new desired ally for Ms. Ives. The two have a similar strength and resolve and their pairing in the eps to come will be something to see in my estimation. I had hoped for a name like “Harker” to appear as we now have Seward (Patti Lupone) and formerly Van Helsing (David Warner) but I am not complaining. Vanessa however cannot catch a break. She pines for the ones she loves, namely Ethan and Malcolm, her true family. A meeting with Dr. Seward yields some fairly catastrophic results as the good doctor tells her to be with “someone she loves” and tell them the truth, letting them make the choice to be at her side. The ensuing meeting with Dr. Sweet brings Dracula one step closer to his ultimate goal. Christian Carmargo is superb in the role of the “first vampire”. His earlier meeting in which he oversees his children feeding on a strung up boy is chilling. His dismissive gesture allowing Renfield (Samuel Barnett) to take their place while they scatter is deeply unsettling.

The Chandler arc sees the return of Kaetenay (Wes Studi) who Malcolm gleefully deemed “too mean to die” and a fairly epic showdown of all parties at the Talbot manor. A lot gets resolved with this episode and a restoral of order of sorts prevails. There are only three episodes left for this season and I while I am sorry to have to wait for another year for a fourth installment, I am grateful that this isn’t a 26 episode series as honestly I don’t think I would want the anxiety. Penny Dreadful continues its reign as simply outstanding and well worth your time.

*Expert on study of Death.

 

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