Penny Dreadful – Season 1 Finale

Vanessa Ives – Showtime

The new summer TV shows have started so I thought I would begin writing some short reviews.  Here is a recap of the themes and reveals (SPOILERS) from Season 1 of Penny Dreadful.

Penny Dreadful S1:


  • As Vanessa says “She is afraid of the things she is capable of doing (evil)”, and as the priest says “Are you sure you want to be normal (without the special characteristics that make you unique)”.  This dichotomy of this theme seems to apply to all the characters.  Frankenstein’s monster wants to be normal in appearance so he can be loved, but realizes it’s his depraved heart that actually scared away his theater girlfriend.  Malcolm loves going on adventures but has “lost” his kids due to his absences.  Ethan wants people to see his gentle side and not leave him,  but uses his dark side to keep from being caged.

  • The Victorian oppression of letting your true feelings and true self from showing was a big theme for the characters and was best exemplified by Vanessa’s fear of physical intimacy with Dorian Grey.  She abandons him to save him and herself from revealing her more baser instincts.

  • The spiritual world is both intriguing and dangerous in Penny Dreadful.  While exploring the darkness of the Grand Guignol theater they find evil creatures, and Mina warns them that the Master is close to controlling them all for eternity.

Vanessa and Mina - Showtime

Vanessa and Mina – Showtime

Big Surprises:

  • Now we know why Ethan is on the run and accused of killing so many people in America.  He “changes” during the full moon.  But what was he like before that happened to him?

  • This one caught me totally by surprise… is Vanessa actually Malcolm’s illegitimate daughter?  At least that’s the way I read his retort to the “dead” Mina (I have a daughter).  If Malcolm was having an affair with Vanessa’s mom this is actually very possible and explains the closeness between V. and Mina.  They were as close as sister’s (as the episode 4 title hinted).  It also explains why Peter recoiled from V’s touch as that would make him her half-brother.  Creepy yes.

  • Poor Brona Croft.  Now she will wake up and find herself not only re-alive but also engaged to Caliban.  Just wait until Ethan figures this out!

  • There are 10 more episodes planned for season 2 to air next year.



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