Penny Dreadful recap: Possession

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In the penultimate episode, Vanessa goes full Exorcist, and the stage is set for a Grand finale.

Another week, another episode of Penny Dreadful mostly spinning its narrative wheels and relying heavily on compelling performances to make up for lack of progression. Possession is another Vanessa-centric episode, but at least this time other characters are given some screen time to interact with each other and develop more meaningful bonds. That said, Penny Dreadful is supposed to be an ensemble show, but has dedicated about a quarter of the season to Vanessa’s version of The Exorcist.

This is supposed to be an ensemble show, but it’s dedicated a quarter of the season to Vanessa’s version of The Exorcist

Possession picks up the morning after Vanessa returned to the Murray residence and began levitating. After musing on beauty, death, and pin-ups of dead girls, Possessed Vanessa assumes her role as truth teller in chief. First, she reminds Malcolm of his and Peter’s rape tour of sexual adventures in Africa before telekinetically trashing the sitting room like Storm on a bender. Next, she calls out Victor for being a virgin, before thoroughly unnerving him by reciting the line from Shelley’s Adonais that he told Van Helsing haunts him. Lastly, she outs Ethan as catcher to Dorian’s pitcher and informs Ethan that Brona also slept with Dorian (and there are photos!). Possessed Vanessa might be the best Vanessa.

After a week of sedation and violent outbursts, a lucid Vanessa wakes up and is comforted by who she thinks is Ethan. She soon learns that it is her demon friend. She vows to not surrender her soul to him and asks him to finally state what he wants from her. He wants her to be the mother of evil, rule by his side, and other-throw God, natch. It seems her demon is Amun-Ra and Vanessa is the reincarnation of Amunet.

Episode 107

Apparently Victor has been a morphine addict this whole time and has just been hiding his impressive collection of track marks with long sleeves. He’s pretty open about shooting up in front of everyone, which doesn’t cause anyone to question his judgement or anything. Ethan shares a story of how the US army pacifies a native tribe: they take the children, cut their hair, give them new names, and send them to boarding school. Sometimes the children escape, return home, and are so removed from their tribe’s culture that they are no longer welcome, leaving them apart from both worlds.

Victor assumes Ethan is drawing a parallel to Vanessa and is probably too stoned to make the connection to Ethan’s bisexuality

Victor assumes Ethan is drawing a parallel to Vanessa and is probably too stoned to make the connection to Ethan’s bisexuality, and too uninformed to make the connection to Ethan’s likely lycanthropy. Victor notices (hallucinates?) Caliban watching the house from the alleyway and asks Ethan to show him how to shoot. In spite of Victor being visibly stoned out of his mind, Ethan agrees and the pair goes to the basement for some late night target practice (which the neighbors are sure to love).

Vanessa has continued to deteriorate and is now restrained to prevent her from further injuring herself. Malcolm sees the utility in Vanessa’s near death state and asks her to use her gifts to look/feel for Mina again. Vanessa accuses Malcolm of letting her condition worsen so he could use her in this way. Ethan is voice of compassion and reason and insists that they fetch a priest for an exorcism or last rites. The priest arrives and Vanessa goes Linda Blair, biting off part of the priest’s cheek, jumping onto the ceiling, shattering the windows, etc. With surprisingly little effort, Ethan is able to subdue Posessed Vanessa and the real Vanessa emerges, begging Ethan to kill her. Instead of killing her, Ethan performs a citizen’s exorcism using Brona’s Saint Jude necklace.

Vanessa has a vision of Mina and the Grand Guignol theatre, and tells Malcolm she knows where Mina is, thus setting the stage for the season finale.

 

Sidebar:

– Vanessa all but breaks out in a stirring rendition of Boy Is A Bottom, and Malcolm, Victor, and Sembene are completely unfazed by this revelation about Ethan, nor is it ever acknowledged again. Pretty (unrealistically) progressive for 1891.

– Will Dorian be able to bed Malcolm and Victor to complete the set?

– Ethan: “What’s wrong with [Vanessa]?”
Malcom: “She’s been possessed by the Devil.”
Ethan: “Oh, fuck me.”
Obvious joke is obvious.

– Ethan spent something like a month locked away in the Murray residence. What of poor, sick Brona? Did he at least write her?

– Rude, stoned Victor is the best Victor.

 

Read more: Catch up with last week’s Penny Dreadful recap

 

All images: Showtime

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