Final Thoughts on Vanessa Ives

SPOILERS AHEAD – Everything spoiled, even the finale.

Vanessa Ives is one of the most fascinating fictional characters I have ever seen on TV.  To the surprise of us show watchers, Penny Dreadful ended its 3 season run on Showtime with the demise of its main character (and then quickly ended the show!).  Now Penny Dreadful wasn’t everyone’s cup of tea.  It was a genre show that mashed together some Victorian era Gothic characters including Dr. Frankenstein, His Monster, a werewolf or two, the never ageing Dorian Grey and a few others.  It was the TV version of The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen.  But it was better because it brought the characters to life with wonderful period details, amazing costumes, and beautiful dialogues.  Now again this is a show that not everyone would like, but it draws in a very loyal fan base.  I mean not everyone enjoys the graphic violence, seances, bodily levitations, cut wives, and gory blood everywhere (myself included).  But I did really enjoy the intricate characters, their inner thoughts and their motivations.

Dr. F was a scientist who dreamed of glory.  He wanted to bring about life and then needed affirmation to know that he was appreciated by society.  Only problem was his “creatures” basically wanted to do him in for making them into monstrosities.  But in the end, his monsters were able to find a peace of sorts by reconnecting with their previous lives and finding out they could admit their heart-breaks and still find some acceptance in the world.  In some ways they were better creatures and understood their creator better than he did himself.

The Werewolf had a destiny that only he could fulfill, but it left him weak many times to resist and control that power around the innocent (and not so innocent) bystanders.  He was also a protector of sorts but his desire for revenge took him away from that role just long enough to abandon his main purpose until he realized too late that he had left her vulnerable.

Vanessa Ives – Penny Dreadful

With Vanessa we have a woman with a tortured soul.  She was tortured by guilt but also had the power to heal just about everyone she came in contact with.  Her inner beauty though was the thing that drew both good and evil to her.  She had a power to see into the dark world of the night creatures and that also drew them to her.  She let the evil in one day in a moment of great despair.  From that moment on she was hunted by it.  She had a strong faith in God, but those around her did not.  They tortured her both mentally and physically because they could not believe her stories of this other world.  Finally when she had lost hope, the evil creatures and their master made their move.  She tried to resist again but needed her protectors there and though they were rushing back to her, they did not make it on time.  In the end she died as a martyr of sorts.  The evil could no longer use her and so it fled back into the shadows.  The world was set right.  And Vanessa got to see her Lord on the way to the afterlife.


I liked how in a season 1 episode she told her wannabe boyfriend that she just wanted a kiss from him and the evil would have been set aside.  And in the last moments of the final episode she asks for a kiss and she gets it finally from someone who isn’t trying to control her.

I didn’t like the vampire very much as he defied all the normal rules of vampires.  But I will say he was subtle and it was convincing how Vanessa didn’t recognize him in time to marshal forces against him.  She went to his work place alone, which was a huge mistake.

Unfortunately the other Penny Dreadful characters couldn’t match the intensity of Vanessa.  But I found them interesting never the less.  They introduced a female Van Helsing type character in the last few episodes.  If they ever made a sequel to the show, she could go on chasing the vampire with Malcolm Murry’s help.

Penny Dreadful – Season 2 Premiere

Although it is not summer yet, it is time to write some short TV reviews.  Here is a recap of the themes and reveals (SPOILERS) from Season 2 episode 1 of Penny Dreadful, “Fresh Hell”.

Penny Dreadful S2:Episode 1,


Vanessa is barraged by an onslaught of disturbing occult images brought on by the mysterious Madame Kali. Because of the massacre he committed in the Mariner’s Inn, Ethan believes he needs to leave London. Dr. Frankenstein works to bring Brona back to life while under the pressure from Caliban, who, in search of work after being let go at the Grand Guignol, applies at a wax museum. After Mina’s funeral, Sir Malcolm returns to London to discover that a whole new evil is hunting Vanessa.


  • As it was in Season 1, there is a main theme that the characters on Penny D all seem to believe in:  Can and should they try to vanquish evil, while knowing that there is an evil inside of them.  The question is:   Will that “evil” or I would call it their “beastly strength” destroy them or their friends before they get a chance to finish off the evil forces around them?

  • The Victorian oppression of letting your true feelings and true self from showing was a big theme for the characters and was best exemplified in this episode by the Creature’s reluctance of accepting the beauty within himself, and instead taking a job at a wax museum where dead things are given life for the public to gawk at.  Is this the Creature’s fate (to be gawked at) or is there hope that he will be accepted for the kind heart within him even though his face is horrible.

  • The spiritual world is both intriguing and dangerous in Penny Dreadful.  This was exemplified by the pure and white snow being coated in red blood at the attack of the strange witches who seem to be able to appear and disappear from sight.

Vanessa and Mina - Showtime

Vanessa and Mina – Showtime

Big Surprises:

  • Ethan realizes for the first time possibly how dangerous he can be to anyone even old friends (or foes).  So much so, that he wants to leave Vanessa and those that offer him a chance at redemption.  It caught me a bit by surprise that Vanessa had no real clue of his supernatural abilities.  I guess her and Malcolm mainly wanted a gun for hire (last season).

  • Mrs. Malcolm has always resented his journeys to Africa and believes he went totally for selfish reasons.  It remains to be seen if this is really true, but perhaps Malcolm went there for reasons that weren’t selfish.  Obviously their partnership was strained when Peter died (and his body was left in Africa) but now it is totally ruined because of Mina’s death.

  • Poor Brona Croft.  First Dr. Frankenstein killed her, now he is in love with the idea of a new life for her (without her consent) and then he is going to give her to the Creature.  Will she remember Ethan in her new “undead” form?

  • The “witches”.  Kinda boring in a way.  It seems their only job is to provide the Master his desired “marriage” to Vanessa/ Ancient Deity.  It doesn’t make sense to me why they would want to put a barrier between themselves and the Master (of evil).  This reminded me of both Buffy the Vampire slayer and the Strain.  Not good.  I hope this is just one of the story lines this season and not the main one.



Penny Dreadful – Season 2 Preview

Vanessa Ives – Showtime

Well we are back a little earlier than I thought.  I have already received (via my DVR) the first episode of Penny Dreadful season 2.  Look for a review in the next couple days.  The official start date for the show is May 3rd, but you can catch it online right now here:  Penny Dreadful Season 2 Premier on Showtime online – click here to watch.

Penny Dreadful S2: No spoilers.


  • I hope Showtime knows what it’s doing putting Penny Dreadful on the same night as Game of Thrones.  Of course it seems like all the best shows are on Sunday.

  • I know absolutely nothing about this season other than the season 1 cast and crew are all returning… and I like it that way (both the cast and that I will be surprised).

  • The spiritual world is both intriguing and dangerous in Penny Dreadful.  That is what I wrote last year and it’s the main thing I am looking forward to this season.  What about you?

Vanessa and Mina - Showtime

Vanessa and Mina – Showtime




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.



Penny Dreadful – The Two Sides of Vanessa Ives

Vanessa Ives – Showtime

The new summer TV shows have started so I thought I would begin writing some short reviews.  Here I explore the themes of Penny Dreadful’s main female character.

Vanessa Ives:

Major Themes:

  • Invitations to unexplored worlds – In an early scene, Vanessa invites a new acquaintance to experience a world beyond this one.  Here is the clip where that happens.

  • The border between what is known and unknown – Vanessa walks along the beach with Mina and asks her if she wants to go into the ocean.  Vanessa wants to go in.  The beach itself is the border between the safe known land and as the ancients called it, “the evil unknown sea”.

Vanessa and Mina - Showtime

Vanessa and Mina – Showtime

  • The Eye is the Window to the Soul – Vanessa stares into the lifeless creature she made.  It’s a bird of prey.  She puts a mirror behind the dead eyes to give them life.  When she stares at you she wants to see the part of you behind the physical shape.  The world of the ephemeral held still and studied.

Vanessa's Taxidermy - Showtime

Vanessa’s Taxidermy – Showtime

  • In Penny Dreadful, Vanessa is a our spirit guide between the worlds.