Penny Dreadful Season 3, Episode 6
“No Beast So Fierce”
Posted by Sage
Oh thank god, the old West is finally canceled.
Ethan’s long, repetitive, and did I mention long road to either death or redemption ended in “No Beast So Fierce.” Sir Malcolm does what he couldn’t do for his own blood and what he’s not around to do right now for Vanessa. He steps in between Ethan and his point of no return. By taking this kill away from Ethan, Malcolm saves his adoptive son’s soul, at least for the time being.
The stand-off that ended last week’s episode is diffused when Rusk and the Marshall arrive on the property. One of Jared’s men fetches his master from the chapel, hilariously unfazed by the fact that Jared is pointing a gun at Ethan’s face. Rusk announces with great fanfare and invocations of both the queen and president (“That’s that…little guy who spoke to me.”) that Jared and Ethan are under arrest. Jared is like, I hear ya, guy, but these steaks aren’t going to eat themselves. I hope you brought your appetite for awkward; welcome to the tensest dinner ever.
Jared blathers on about his own unfailing sense of hospitality as the lethal group sits down for a meal of meat, corn, and more meat. Of course, he couldn’t care less about the empty bellies of Ethan and his other enemies, but he can’t resist the psychological powder keg nor the irony of them all breaking bread together. Rusk drops un-subtle wolf hints like a sibling trying to get Ethan into trouble. Jared compliments Hecate’s “ravishing” appearance; she makes it quite clear that any man who tries to ravish her against her wishes will be torn to literal shreds. And Malcolm tries to shield Ethan from his father’s judgement by intervening when Jared asks Ethan to say “grace.” When Ethan is gone, Malcolm reasons, then, Jared will be sorry that he was so unforgiving. (“If I could have a meal with him now, learn from my mistakes…” he says about his own departed son.) Jared rails about Ethan’s cowardice and informs Malcolm that Ethan’s crimes are far beyond what he is able to forgive. He prods Ethan to say grace again. Ethan slips further into his goth teen phrase before our eyes and needles his dad with a satanic blessing. “Our father, who art in heaven, cursed be thy name…” Oh, Hot Topic Ethan. Still upset about the My Chemical Romance hiatus, I see. Soon your DeviantArt page will be filmed with wolves and pentagrams.
The Marshall, who has been in over his head since Ethan stepped back onto the continent, decides to speak up. (Hoe don’t do it.) He warns Jared that he will be seeking retribution for the murders of his men on the train. Jared calmly shoots the Marshall in the head. Malcolm jumps. Ethan loudly cuts into his steak. I swear, I’ve seen this scene before.
It’s the frontier and all these men (and Hecate) have killed, so they go on eating while the Marshall’s mortal wound bleeds onto the table. Rusk prods again at the supernatural identities of Ethan and Hecate, like, do you or do you not remember attacking my convoy with deadly snakes from actual hell? They tire of the subtext and decide a show of their abilities is in order. Hecate transforms instantly. “What are you?” Rusk asks. “We are the death knell,” Hecate answers. “We are the end of days.” Ethan would transform too if he had that control. (So much of his personality is decided by his hopeless lack of control.) Dinner becomes a bloodbath as Jared’s mortal men try and fail to subdue their guests. The closest one gets is having Sir Malcolm in his grasp, but a miraculously healed Kaetenay appears and shoots the man dead. Rusk shoots Hecate, and then is fatally shot himself. “Hell awaits us both,” Hecate forces out as Ethan cradles her. For someone with such a superiority complex, the devil’s bride Hecate sure is felled by an ungraceful weapon wielded by a mere human. Bye bitch, see ya never.
Jared and his remaining men recede to the chapel. Sir Malcolm, Kaetenay, and Ethan go after him. Ethan gives Malcolm instructions, but lets his Apache father wing it. (“He knows what to do. He’s attacked this chapel before.”) Kaetenay and Malcolm take care of Jared’s bodyguards, and we’re back to where we were at the top of the episode. But this time, circumstances are reversed. Jared is unarmed; Ethan trains his gun on him. Jared encourages him to do it, to prove Jared right about not only his son’s evil but his worthlessness. Ethan drops his weapon and turns to leave. But if Ethan walks away, Jared says, he will hunt his son for the rest of his natural (and unnatural life). He’s in the middle of a sentence when Malcolm steps in and shoots Jared right in the forehead. Ethan is free of his father, but it didn’t cost him his soul. Better yet, he was still able to make the choice. He can’t control Malcolm’s actions; Ethan chose to let his father live. It’s going to be a long, lonely stay in hell for Hecate. Ethan’s fate is far from sealed.
Now that that’s done: GET ON A BOAT, BOYS. Ya girl needs you.
Vanessa Ives got the information that she came for when Dr. Seward put her into deep regression hypnosis in the season’s best episode so far. But she doesn’t tell dear Mr. Lyle that Lucifer’s brother is hunting her; the man is on his way to Cairo, a city that is “more accepting” of his “way of life” and she sees no point in worrying him. Instead, she casually asks for a point of contact should any occult shenanigans crop up. As Lyle writes down a name and presumably an address, he muses that “the two of you would make quite a formidable match.” (I KNOW RIGHT, ME TOO.) Vanessa bids her friend farewell, and there is so much love and respect between the two of them. She’s deeply sad to see him go, but promises to get out and live like he wants her to. “I shall have to dance more often.”
Of course, some occult shenanigans are already in motion, so Vanessa proceeds directly to her new resource. The referral turns out to be yet another intimidating but empathetic lady whose behavior disturbs and annoys the men-folk around her. Are we sensing a pattern in Lyle’s choice of friends? I’m going to miss that man.
Catriona Hardegan, my friends. She studies death. (“Every ritual. Every guise.”) She spars with dudes in her spare time. And the thanatologist is very intrigued by Vanessa, considering this upper-class young woman doesn’t seem the least bit bothered by Catriona’s less than ladylike profession. (“I’m not most people.”) To no one’s surprise, Mr. Lyle was correct; these two could start some trouble together. (PLEASE LET THEM, SHOW.)
Catriona and Vanessa go out for smoking and brandies because they are boss bitches and who the hell drinks tea at a time like this? They’re the only female patrons visible in the frame. I am about to ignite, I ship it so much. Vanessa doesn’t dance around the subject and she’s certain Catriona can take it. She asks if her new friend has come across a man or a being named Dracula in her studies. Catriona has. In the 13th century, he lead a warrior clan called the Dracul and stirred shit up between the Ottomans and the Romans. Why? So the streets would be “wet with blood” and he and his children could feed. “You don’t blink at that,” Catriona wonders. “I never blink,” Vanessa smirks. You guys, they are FLIRTING. Anyway, Dracula’s history is only relevant to Vanessa if it can help her to identify him in the London she lives in. She’s being hunted, she explains to her companion. Catriona is momentarily confused. From what she knows of Dracula, the hunt is undetectable and short. Death comes quick. “He doesn’t want my death,” Vanessa clarifies. “He wants my submission.” I LOVE THEMES, DON’T YOU?
The thanatologist promises to look into Dracula – a modern Dracula, living inconspicuously in their city – and advises Vanessa to take precautions in the meantime. “He is a predator and his power comes in isolating his prey.” And hey, that sounds like the M.O. of physically and emotionally abusive humans too. Vanessa should surround herself with friends and family. There, Vanessa says, is the rub. Her makeshift family is gone; she can’t have any idea that Ethan and Malcolm are nearly on their way to her. And they might be too late, regardless. Another new ally does come to mind, though. And there can be no concern about blurring the professional and the personal when motherfucking DRACULA is breathing down your neck.
So Vanessa has a second round of drinks (I like her style), this time with Dr. Seward. We learn that Seward is also a woman to whom submission is – what’s that wonderful word? Intolerable. Y’all, Dr. Seward killed her husband with a cleaver when he tried to beat her to death. And she is so chill about it. (Let me go on record demanding a spin-off about her trial in New York City, which obviously involves Seward directing her fellow inmates in a rousing rendition of “The Cell Block Tango.” “He ran into my knife. He ran into my knife ten times!”) But Seward hasn’t lost romantic faith on her patient’s behalf. “I’m not the only friend you have,” she reminds her. “And wouldn’t you rather be having drinks with that handsome doctor from the museum?” Friendly reminder that the last time Vanessa saw Sweet, she freaked out over his proximity to her impending doom and ran out on their date. Thanks to Renfield’s daily reports, Dracula isn’t sweating it. He knows that Vanessa’s solitude will send her back into his arms, eventually. Vanessa feels it’s only fair to tell Sweet exactly what he’s getting into with her, but fears her frankness will send him away. (“He’ll think I’m mad.” “I’ll give you a note.”) With her Dr.’s blessing, Vanessa decides to try. IDK, but if it were ME being stalked by a blood-sucking sexual predator as old as time, my suspicions would start with the mild-mannered creep who clearly wants to bone me, hangs out with dead things all day, and has no apparent friends, family, or discernible history. Then again, part of me believes that Vanessa is attuned to danger. She’s attracted to it. Her subconscious is pulling her towards Dracula, which is exactly why she’s the perfect target.
Meanwhile at Casa de Dorian, the man is beginning to feel like persona non grata even though he’s presumably bankrolling Lily’s misandrist summer camp. Justine’s obedience in particular is far out of his reach, and it hangs by a thread even where her mother monster in concerned. The female half of an ensemble of a regional production of Sweeney Todd (a really good regional production of Sweeney Todd) have taken over Dorian’s home, and he’s beginning to wonder if he made a huge mistake by being a man who throws open his doors to a group of women who hate men and want to watch them all die. Lily uses Dorian as a living subject for her little seminars. She teaches her followers how to slit a throat and how to slice off a penis. The blade is real; when Justine volunteers to try, she can’t resist poking Dorian’s throat and coaxing out a droplet of blood.
Dorian: You’re pushing your luck, my dear.
Justine: Am I now? *To Lily* Would you like to see him drown in his own blood?
Lily: …Well then, who would the others practice on?
You can practically hear Dorian questioning his whole life when Lily declines to let him cut in during her tango with Justine. (“HE HAD IT COMIN.”) He asks if they can have the room to themselves for a moment; Lily sends her pets away. “I fear Justine doesn’t know her place,” Dorian ventures. “She says the same of you,” Lily answers. Justine is being taught that men have earned subjugation by their brutish treatment of her entire sex; why should Dorian be spared the reckoning? Dorian is asking Lily to remind the ex-whores that they – the both of them – are in charge. Lily’s calling is to pull these girls out from under the boots of London; how, after all her teachings, can she now tell them they are in the debt and service of even one man? She may be immortal too, but Lily tells Dorian that she will always have more in common with these mortal women than she ever will with him. “I’ve made a huge mistake,” says Dorian’s face.
- The Creature’s attempt to make contact with his dying son went about as well as you’d expect. Where are we going with this, John?
- “She’s considerably more powerful than any man.”
- RIP Rusk and his penchant for ridiculously and unnecessary theatrics.
- Um, did Vanessa use protection when she was riding Dracula? Cause that could be a problem later.
- I literally wrote “Oooh, Mr. Todd” in my notes when the two women showed up to Dorian’s door. (“I’m so happy I could eat you up I really could.“)
- “Well, done, Justine.”
- “If that is the case, then I would advise caution. Which would shock you if you knew me better.”
- Dorian’s smoking jacket though.
- Have I mentioned that Catriona and Vanessa need to make out with each other AND SOON?
What the frick is gonna happen, you guys? Let’s talk about this episode, hot lady fencers, and the pros and cons of sleeping with Dracula in the comments.