The always compelling Penny Dreadful has employed a different structure for its third season.

Spoilers ahead.

The central quartet (Vanessa Ives, Sir Malcolm Murray, Ethan Chandler and Victor Frankenstein) haven’t all been in the same scene once. That’s through six episodes (of nine).

A reunion is inevitable. One can only imagine the Penny Dreadful foursome sitting down, to tea and scones, and catching each other up on what’s gone down since last the Victorian Scooby Gang convened.

Image provided by imdb/Showtime

ETHAN: Well, it started when that pesky Inspector Rusk arrested me for a bunch of murders I’d committed in two countries. Oh sure, most of them weren’t entirely my fault, what with the uncontrollable werewolf thing. But anyway, he decided to haul me across the Atlantic and deliver me to the authorities in New Mexico Territory. Where, it turns out, I’d totally murdered my commanding officer for making me slaughter natives. That led to lycanthropy and also the violent deaths of most of my family. My rich father, turns out, was still holding a grudge about that, so he sent some of his goons to pointlessly slaughter a train full of U.S. Marshalls to nab me. Only, who should show up, but Hecate!

Now, I know what you’re thinking. She was one of those witches who totally tried to murder us all and sacrifice us to their Dark Lord. No one’s perfect. And this time, she only wanted to facilitate me choosing to be evil. Which I totally considered, because not only was she good in a fight, she can ride a horse through the desert like nobody’s business. So eventually, we all wound up as, basically, prisoners at my father’s compound. Let’s just say many people will never be walking out of that house alive again. But more importantly, Sir Malcolm came charging in to help save me and it was really cool of him.

Image provided by imdb/Showtime

SIR MALCOLM: Yes, well, after bringing Sembene to his home turf for burial after we all got him killed (no offense, Ethan), I was basically bumming around British West Africa. Drinking. Getting into fights. Being dissolute. All the stuff a patriarchal colonizer with grave personal issues gets up to over there. That’s when Ethan’s other surrogate father, Kaetany, showed up out of nowhere. I’d just lost my last culturally appropriationist sidekick, so I was kind of psyched to get a new one. And you know that nothing gets me going like a quest, so when he both tweaked my guilt over how I seem to get all my kids killed and framed the whole thing as some kind of noble cause, I guess I don’t have to tell you that I was sailing for America without much of a prod.

So Kaetany and I bonded, though he didn’t exactly thank me for telling some racists jerks to back off when they hassled him on a train. I know he was secretly grateful, though. Anyway, we chased the large posse of duly sanctioned lawmen who were hunting Ethan, who was, in fact, an escaped suspect implicated in a bunch of murders. We planned to murder them all, but it seems Hecate took care of most of that for us. Kaetany got a snake bite, but since both the snake and Kaetany were magical, it all cancelled out. Anyway, we wound up at Ethan’s father’s place. I tried to educate him that being a complete asshole toward your son was likely going to get one or both of you killed, but you know how some people refuse to listen. Long story short, there are a bunch of corpses rotting in the New Mexico desert now. What have you been up to, Victor?

Image provided by imdb/Showtime

VICTOR: So, I don’t know if I mentioned this when we were fighting vampires and Satan, but I have a particular scientific specialty that “The Establishment” frowns on, because they’re so backward. Sure, I re-animate the dead, but it’s all for science. So, my original creature that I brought back to life, in addition to being super strong is also super emo. He reads poetry and rambles on and on about feelings and having a mate, blah blah blah. Anyway, he threatened to murder me if I didn’t make him a woman. So, funny story, I wound up attending to that consumptive prostitute that Ethan used to kind of be in love with. She was almost dead anyway, so I kind of, uh, helped her to the other side. And then brought her back to my lab where, in the process of re-animating her, I didn’t do any kinds of gross things to her that might be considered necrophiliac. But anyway, she was back. I convinced her she was my cousin, Lily, and we were living happily together. Except that Emo Boy wanted his woman and she totally wasn’t into it. But she was into me. Everything was great. Until we went to Dorian Gray’s stupid ball.

As you might know, in addition to some kind of freakish immortality, Dorian also apparently has some kind of weird sex mojo thing going on. I mean, at least two people in this room have banged Dorian, right Vanessa and Ethan? Anyway, Lily totally dumped me for Dorian. And also discovered some kind of post-human/feminist empowerment thing, where she’s now super-strong and kind of determined to bring down societal institutions that exploit women. So she’s gone and recruited an army of prostitutes and is teaching them how to murder guys. That all seemed super wrong, so I looked up my old med school pal, Henry Jekyll. He’s kind of pissed at the world, on account of being mixed race and having a terrible father who won’t just die so Henry can inherit his title and stuff. Anyway, Henry works at Bedlam and performs some really interesting experiments on crazy people. We teamed up, so I could use my methods to perfect his serum that helps cure craziness, and which I’m sure has zero side effects that could be devastating, if not ruinous to humanity. Now I’m trying to find a way to inject Lily with this serum and make her a docile Real Girl again and get rid of all that bothersome personal agency that seems to be making her such a pill.

I also accidentally became a heroin addict. No big.

VANESSA: Well, you all have been up to quite a bit since you abandoned me. Despite that I’m the emotionally unstable key to unleashing the apocalypse.

Image provided by imdb/Showtime

I was really depressed, not going to sugarcoat it. I was living as a sort of feral shut-in. But that delightful Mr. Lyle came to check on me and gently suggested that psychoanalysis might help me. So he sent me to this no nonsense female doctor who just happens to be the spitting image of my old moor mentor, the Cutwife. I’m sure that’s a total coincidence with no deeper meaning whatsoever. She’s a lot cooler with the whole “I’m being hunted by demons” thing than one might have expected. She convinced me to get out and live a little. So being the biggest nerd there is, except Victor of course, he always wins that, my idea of living it up was to go to the Natural History Museum. But that wasn’t a total bust. I met Dr. Sweet, a naturalist who was actually good-looking and available. Dating in Victorian London is such a pain, but it was all working out swell. Until I realized that Dracula was after me again. Weirdos with red eyes kept accosting me and that sort of thing.

I went under hypnosis to see if I could remember what happened to me that time I was shut up in a mental asylum for a few months. It was… not pretty. But the attendant was a very nice man who kind of bears a strong resemblance to Victor’s emo creature. I’m sure his kindnesses to me in no way led to his brutal death. While I was there, I had a confrontation with Dracula and Satan, who are somehow brothers? And also really competitive about getting me to submit to one of them. Men. Anyway, I was feeling empowered after putting some of that stuff together and feeling less cuckoo. So I threw caution to the wind and totally mounted Dr. Sweet on the floor of the Natural History Museum, because that’s not at all odd or kind of gross. I’m feeling good about it. I mean, there’s almost a one hundred percent chance that he’s Dracula, but no relationship is perfect.

What? Why are you three staring at me?

SIR MALCOLM: Vanessa, you had ONE job.

VICTOR: I recall us asking you, at least by implication, not to bone one of the forces of darkness that wants to use you to unleash Hell on Earth.

ETHAN: We were on a break and I got busy with Hecate, so I can’t be too put out. But damn, girl.

VANESSA: Oh, like you’re all so perfect.

Originally published at on June 7, 2016.

Author (Grievous Angels) and pop culture gadabout #amwriting

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