Recap/review: Penny Dreadful S2 E09 – And Hell Itself My Only Foe

Penny Dreadful Season 2 poster
@HellingsOnFilm recaps…

Nighttime at the Cut Woman’s cottage: Vanessa (Eva Green) and Ethan (Josh Hartnett) are asleep until the latter wakes at the striking of a match: it’s the disfigured Warren Roper (Stephen Lord), gun trained on Mr. Chandler. Roper wakes Vanessa and reveals his horribly scarred face, before making her chain Ethan’s hands behind the American’s back: Roper’s taking him back to America, but the bounty hunter’s question regarding Miss Ives is whether he scalps her before or after fucking her? Ethan and Vanessa turn the tables on Roper, a fight ensuing in which Vanessa stabs Roper to death. Goodbye Warren, nobody liked you anyway! It’s a great start and we’re off and running again.

Vanessa and Ethan have buried Roper’s body, Miss Ives aware that they are murderers together, but Ethan says it was the bounty hunter or them. He admits to having disfigured Roper, but doesn’t get the chance to answer Vanessa’s question as to what he is as a coach and horses arrives. It’s Victor Frankenstein (Harry Treadaway), who tells them that Sir Malcolm (Timothy Dalton) is in trouble.

Penny Dreadful Season 2 image

On board the coach heading back to London, Victor treats Ethan’s injuries from the fight and reveals that Sir Malcolm had been victim to an enchantment and that he has gone to the witch’s castle.

At Madame Kali’s (Helen McCrory), the trapped Sir Malcolm is face to face with his dead wife (Noni Stapleton), son Peter (Graham Butler) and daughter Mina (Olivia Lllewellyn), all set on revenge. As we are out of the room, we hear Sir Malcolm’s cries. In the basement of mannequins, Madame Kali seems remorseful, watched by a gloating Hecate (Sarah Greene). Madame Kali doesn’t care: she knows that Miss Ives is on her way. But the daughter is becoming rebellious, wondering what The Master will do if her mother fails to deliver Vanessa to him? Hecate sees herself as the future and her mother as a dinosaur. The daughter is clearly positioning herself.

Penny Dreadful Season 2 image

Ethan, Vanessa and Victor arrive back at Sir Malcolm’s. Inspector Rusk (Douglas Hodge) and his men are waiting for Mr. Chandler. As much as Ethan tries to play it cool, the façade crumbles when Rusk reveals that he know Ethan’s real name (he’s Ethan Lawrence Talbot – Ie. The Larry Talbot of the “Wolf Man films). Rusk is having Ethan’s war records sent over. Ethan returns to the house, his location and identity now known, a cornered animal (but as Ethan notes, they’re the most deadly).

Ethan enters Sir Malcolm’s house, Sembene (Danny Sapani) opening the door and pointing out that tonight is the full moon. He agrees to help Ethan. In the drawing room, Ferdinand Lyle (Simon Russell Beale) is waiting with Vanessa and Victor. Lyle has explained his treachery for which his admission will ruin him. They must save Sir Malcolm but it cannot be at night when the witches’ power is strongest. Sembene says it must be during the next day.


Penny Dreadful Season 2 image

At the Putney’s waxworks, The Creature (Rory Kinnear) watches the visitors with a sense of isolation. Mr. Putney (David Haig) notes the strange man’s mood. The Creature’s heart still clearly broken by his experiences with Lily, he believes that when the Devil visits he will not be ugly but beautiful and the only thing you can do is give the siren your soul. Putney says he considered putting Pandora and her box on show, but how could you show the evil in the box? By putting inside a mirror, suggests the tragic Creature. Will the Creature break or simply break out into rage? All will be revealed.

At Dorian Gray’s (Reeve Carney) the man is entertaining Lily (Billie Piper). He knows that she was Brona. She is very dominant and demands that he tell his secrets and she will reveal hers. His response of “In time” is met only by a stronger demand and that he kneel before her. Dorian does. “Tell me your secrets and I’ll tell you mine”, she says. This is a meeting of two dark minds that cannot end well.

Penny Dreadful Season 2 image

At Sir Malcolm’s, Victor’s addiction continues as he injects himself in front of Vanessa. She understands, but disapproves. Victor notes that Miss Ives has her addiction to God. She is sincere as she tells him that she’s sorry that Lily has hurt him and that he is deserving of love and that life awaits him. Victor is a tragic figure, but is he getting what he deserves for trying to play at being the creator of life?

Sembene is sharpening his blade for the battle to come. Ethan can’t take on board the suggestion that he should tell Vanessa the full truth about himself. He is increasingly finding himself a man with whom the past secrets are catching up. Returning to his room, he finds Hecate waiting for the “Wolf of God”, who offers him the chance to side with Lucifer rather than his weak friends and fulfill his destiny. She kisses him, returns to her usual nasty appearance before disappearing in to the mirror and leaving Ethan with a lot to think about.

Penny Dreadful Season 2 image

Victor is trying to sleep downstairs, but failing, his thoughts too troubled. Vanessa is undressing in her room, noting the brand of the cross on her back, steely resolve in her eyes. Dressed, she leaves the house.

At the waxworks, Lavinia Putney (Tamsin Topolski) asks the Creature if he knows what her father is planning? He doesn’t. Lavinia talks him into going to explore the new exhibit. It’s a row of cells. Inside one is a book. The Creature enters to see which book it is. As he enters the cell, Lavinia locks the cell door on him. It’s a book of poetry and it’s a trap. Are there any nice, uncomplicated people in this series?

At Dorian’s, he and Lily are having sex, her trying to strangle him without effect. He is ‘ancient’ and cannot die. She bites his ear off (charming) and tells him to go and heal himself, her ‘immortal beloved’. This is a union that is looking more unpleasant by the moment.

Sembene alerts the others that Vanessa has gone. The heroes prepare to head off via the cellar. Sembene warns Ethan that he cannot come and that he knows what will happen. “Let it”, replies Ethan. There’s nothing like a trustworthy and predictable member of the gang in a time of crisis and Ethan is nothing like it!

Lavinia sits outside the locked cell, sneering at The Creature at how easy it was to trap him and how bored she was of their discussions of poetry. Mr. Putney and his wife Octavia (Ruth Gemmell) arrive to see their new exhibit (“animals belong in cages”). Putney knows that Londoners will pay to see freaks and there is no escape for their new addition to the Putney success. We can only hope that if The Creature kills these people, it’ll be nasty.

Dorian returns healed to Lily, kissing her on the floor. Two twisted creatures drawn towards surely tragic ends?

At Madame Kali’s ‘castle’, Vanessa arrives. Crossing herself, she enters. Madame Kali is waiting for her. Hecate informs Miss Ives that she kissed Ethan earlier. The Madame knows that Vanessa’s friends are on their way. She demands to see Sir Malcolm, but the witch mother tells her that there’s somebody she needs to see first as she leads her downstairs.

The four heroes arrive at Madame Kali’s, ready for the fight. Ethan asks Sembene to make sure he doesn’t hurt their friends and Sembene agrees on his life. Victor and Lyle head in search of the sound of Sir Malcolm’s moanings of madness, whilst Ethan and Sembene go in search of Vanessa. Victor enters the room to find Sir Malcolm, the door slamming behind and locked by a Nightcomer who grabs a scared Lyle by the throat. Inside the room, Victor tries to rouse Sir Malcolm from his illusions, but the aristocrat sees only his son Peter. Victor is soon in his own supernatural madness as he sees Lily, The Creature as well as his previous failed creation. It’s not looking good.

The full moon is in the sky. Ethan can’t stop the change and tries to kill himself, but Sembene stops him, believing that his friend has been chosen.

In the basement of mannequins, Vanessa comes face to face with her own figure, as well as Madame Kali’s other works ‘from over the years’. Miss Ives’ mannequin opens its eyes, and with Vanessa’s voice accuses the clairvoyant: “Murderer”.

Ethan, still begging Sembene to stop him, transforms and takes a bite out of Semebene’s neck. It looks like curtains for Sir Malcolm’s manservant.

That’s it for this week!

“And Hell Itself My Only Foe” sets up for next week’s finale. It took us to the brink before the battle royale. Will the strings all be tied together in the final episode? There’s going to be a lot to fit into the season’s conclusion: will the Creature escape and take revenge upon the Putney’s? What becomes of the new-found alliance between Dorian and Lily? Is Sembene dead? (If so it’s been a waste of a character). And most of all, can our heroes defeat the powers of darkness. Expect no simple answers in next week’s surely unmissable resolution.

David Paul Hellings
Twitter: @HellingsOnFilm
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