It is interesting how the writers of “Penny Dreadful” have paralleled Vanessa Ive’s and Ethan Chandlers’s corruption stories this season. One influenced by a naked, scarred up, and persistent nightwalker. The other stalked and preyed on by an ancient fallen angel with a name made famous by the great novelist Bram Stoker. Both evils seductive in their persuasion of “Penny Dreadful”‘s heroines path to the dark side, but only one appeared to be successful in this week’s episode, which was entitled “Ebb Tide.”
After much stalking, lurking in the shadows, torment, and apparitions that practically drove Vanessa crazy, Dracula was successful in plunging his fangs into her neck and taking her by his side. The climatic moment of her turn was a shocker to some viewers, but taking a look back at the series of events that have taken place, it should not have come as a surprise that the tormented and vulnerable Vanessa became easy prey to the fallen angel.
Since the start of “Penny Dreadful,” Vanessa’s life has not been the most pleasant existence for a young woman in 19th century London. From her constant inner battle against possession from the humanity’s worst deity, Amunet, to her persistent battles against the fallen angels, Lucifer and Dracula, that haunt her life. Her story has encompassed a series of psycho-tormented and emotionally draining moments.
Needless to say, Vanessa’s baggage even made the psychiatrist baffled as to how to treat her ailments. Though not all her life was filled with turmoil, Vanessa found momentary happiness in the company of Sir Malcolm and love with American Ethan Chandler. Sadly, those moments were short-lived. Ethan revealed his secret werewolf life to Vanessa and still left her after she accepted him. Sir Malcolm departed for the West of America for an undisclosed time to do some adventuring, and eventually, rescued Ethan from his crazed father. This season of “Penny Dreadful” was a solitary one for Vanessa, and as a result, Dracula found his moment to give her everything she thought she needed.
Ultimately, after one date and a night of hot passion on the floor of a taxidermy room in a museum, Vanessa was in a state of heavy-like (almost love?) with the “Penny Dreadful”‘s unique version of Dracula. Thanks to the help Catriona, Vanessa finally became privy to exactly who Dracula’s latest human form may be. Sadly, it was too late. His hold on her had become too great, and in the moment where she could choose to take down the beast that has been tormenting her for years, Vanessa chose to give into his empty promises and adoring words.
Who would be the one to save “Penny Dreadful”‘s damsel-in-distress now? Well, Lupus Dei, Ethan Chandler, and Sir Malcolm were the only ones left to stop Vanessa’s full descent into darkness, as well as the end of the world. “Ebb Tide” picks up right where the previous episode left off–at the world’s most awkward and bloody dinner party. Ethan was free from his father’s constant chasing and his adoptive Apache father, Kaetenay, who was now accompanying the group, signaled forewarning to the impending battle ahead for Vanessa’s soul and all of Mankind. It seems that those around Vanessa cannot leave her side for too long before she gets into some type of supernatural or psychological turmoil. She definitely brings needy to a new level.
“Ebb Tide” did not spend all of its time focusing on the parallels of Vanessa and Ethan’s corruption. It also brought the attention back to its other, more interesting cast. One of the more entertaining and ironic storylines involved Lily and her hooker rebellion. “Penny Dreadful: Ebb Tide” opened to an ominous graveyard scene on a cloudy London day, and featured Lily, dressed in all black, consoling a weeping mother, who had recently lost her infant daughter. For those who may not remember the first season of “Penny Dreadful,” Lily was also a mother who lost her young child. Viewers were reminded when the camera panned to a tombstone that showed the daughter’s name and year of death.
Though this scene did little to explain Lily’s full motivation for her anti-men, hooker suffrage movement, it added more depth to her character. This week, however, her story did start to show that this rebellion was more than just a crazed dinner party scene. Lily and Dorian hosted London’s most used-and-abused streetwalkers, as well as gave Lily the floor to deliver a monologue about her Irish roots and the unjust killing of a group of practicing witches by Christian men. The story would have been moving if Lily had not urged the woman to take to the streets, find the vilest of men, and chop off their right hands. A sadistic new form of a hand job that was as nuts as it was unintentionally funny.
The only one not moved by this table speech was Dorian Grey. “Penny Dreadful”‘s supernatural gigolo was finally getting the hint that this hooker rebellion was not the best idea and that Lily may be playing him as a generous sidekick rather than her equal. Grey’s frustration was only heightened by Justine’s constant antagonism. After a fair warning to Lily’s second-in-command, Dorian decided to take matters into his own hands and enlisted the help of Frankenstein to change Lily back into a proper woman.
This turn of events was more or less kind of heartbreaking to watch for Lily. Not only has her self-righteous movement become entertaining to watch as it unfolds and builds, but her newfound purpose is being stripped away by the very men she rallied these woman against. Men who she herself has also showed mercy to. It is also an interesting dichotomy that speaks to the series’ times that a woman’s happiness and civil nature is only based on the fictional rules of society placed upon them by the opposite sex. Frankenstein and Grey’s motivations are purely selfish in nature. Frankenstein wants his docile girlfriend back and Dorian just wants his immortal, twisted bride back, as well as his house free of self-confident, groin-slicing hookers. Tsk Tsk. Considering that these women have sliced off the right hands of perverts all over London, this twist of events is a sign that these two have crossed the line.
“Penny Dreadful: Ebb Tide” was more than just an hour of setting the stage for an upcoming battle, but it was an interesting turn of events in many of the characters’ plotlines. This week’s episode also played upon this season of “Penny Dreadful”‘s reverberating theme of corruption. Whether it be Frankenstein’s disturbing dive into madness by chaining up Lily to forcibly turn her into his perfect girlfriend or a vulnerable Vanessa’s submission to Dracula’s charm, “Ebb Tide” was an entertaining watch all around.
Opinion by Tyler Cole
Edited by Leigh Haugh
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