'Penny Dreadful' S3E8: Perpetual Night & S3E9: The Blessed Dark

★ ★ ★ ★

So... that's... it?

John Logan's concept for Penny Dreadful has been fairly definite from its inception, boasting a three-season-long run, and it appears that Logan's stuck with it. That being said, much unlike the seasons that came before it, Season 3 rushed through storylines, unfairly distributing time to focus on ending with a bang. (Sorry.) With only nine episodes to lay out at least two seasons' worth of storylines, it's no wonder Ethan's arc in the West ended as quickly as it did or that the End of Days came so soon. In the end, that three-season arc was a mistake the show couldn't quite recover from.

First up, let's applaud everyone in this cast for their spectacular performances in these two episodes. Billie Piper's character has developed so much over the course of two seasons, so learning that her child died alone to exposure all while hearing her beg Victor to let her keep her memories is something that will stay with viewers for a long time. Her and Dorian's storyline, much like Victor's this season, felt more momentary than final, something that should have and could have extended into another season or two.

Penny Dreadful: S3E9

As great as the series finale and battle against Dracula were, you couldn't help but feel how unevenly quick everything was coming to an end. Penny Dreadful's latest character introductions feel unimportant and all one can see is the potential (or lack thereof) that each and every one of these characters could have brought to the series if it were to have been extended for one or two more seasons. Though there are plenty of arguments (already) about how Vanessa was underplayed this season, I think the greatest travesty is Dr. Frankenstein, who spent the entirety of the season working on a serum that was never used and had little to no conclusion to his side of the story. At least with Dr. Jekyll's introduction you could perhaps see Jekyll being injected with the serum somehow and turning into Mr. Hyde, but I guess it wasn't meant to be.

The lack of character interaction leading up to the series finale was, consequently, a reason why this season felt so incomplete. Not one storyline besides Vanessa's appeared to be heading for a conclusion and all of the separate story arcs felt as if they were building up for something unseen beyond Season 3. These storylines were so individual that the majority of the characters didn't get the chance to meet until "Perpetual Night" and, that being said, it's a shame that characters like Lily won't get the opportunity to meet Vanessa or Ethan.

The minor characters, those loosely attached to the Dreadfuls, are those who weren't at all given a conclusion worthy of their time. Elizabeth, for one, was a delightful character to have around during her short run, though it's sad to see that the sum of her character was simply to give Vanessa enough information on Dracula to become his bride. In the end, Dracula's human form was the only one seen (I assume Renfield didn't see Alexander Sweet when he first met Dracula) and that "kill Dracula while he's in his human form" was a line only given to Vanessa when she was set on killing him. Though Dr. Seward appears to have served her purpose, it's a shame she wasn't given a proper conclusion. Unlike Dr. Seward and Elizabeth, Jekyll's addition to the series didn't have anything to offer besides allowing for Victor to have something interesting (it's questionable now) to do.

Penny Dreadful's characters may have found a way to beat back the darkness, but did the series discover a way to properly finish their storylines? It's hard to say if Penny Dreadful felt finished when so much was left up in the air. Vanessa's death seemed like it was always to be the endgame, but the same can't be said for the rest of the Dreadfuls. Several characters' final moments were cheapened by the fact that the conclusion the series has reached happened so soon, far too soon. But if there's one thing Logan has done, it's creating an exciting supernatural series that turned the stakes up for all of those entering the genre. Haunting in every sense of the word, Penny Dreadful's long list of entertaining characters were wonderfully acted and developed over the short lifespan of the series.


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