Penny Dreadful ‘Grand Guignol’ 1×08: The monster is not in my face, but in my soul

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There is a line that has been repeated often these past few episodes, ‘There cannot be a happy end, for claw with slash and tooth will rend.’ Perhaps this is the maxim of the series; unless the characters are able to change their very natures, they will not have a happy end.   The last line of the episode also emphasizes this, ‘Do you really want to be normal?’ Right now, all the characters have something unique about them that also prevents them from being happy. Between being happy and being special, what is the choice that they will make? What is the choice that you would make?

Source: Showtime

Source: Showtime

Although still a great episode, ‘Grand Guignol’ was mediocre in Penny Dreadful standards. Instead of truly answering some of the shows greatest mysteries, it instead set up the plot for next season. The stories that were wrapped up were either done too abruptly or half-heartedly. All in all – it felt scattered and left me unsatisfied.

We finally have confirmation that Ethan Chandler is an American werewolf in London – or wolfman. It’s unclear whether his transformation was complete. They’ve pretty much disregarded his exorcism last episode. It wasn’t really a twist as they’ve been hinting towards this for the whole season. Not going to lie, when the Pinkertons kept calling him a monkey,  there was a moment that I legitimately thought that the plot twist was that Ethan Chandler was a weremonkey.

Source: Showtime

Source: Showtime

The theory that Brona Croft will become Caliban’s bride has also been confirmed, unfortunately. Really, Victor? Kill your new buddy’s dying girlfriend and resurrect her as your ‘son’s’ new girlfriend? Which part of that sounds like a good decision to you? Sure, Caliban’s soliloquy was heartbreaking. And indeed, Victor has more in common with Caliban than the other characters. They are both romantics. But come on, at least bring Brona back for Ethan.

Source: Showtime

Source: Showtime

This moment highlighted the theme of this episode – making choices. Instead of shooting Caliban, Victor decides on the path of mercy. Likewise, when forced to choose between Mina and Vanessa, Sir Malcom chooses Vanessa – which is the complete opposite of what he said earlier, ‘I would sacrifice you to save my daughter. I would choose her over you.’ Which in itself is a strange decision. I mean if Vanessa can be brought back from devil possession, I think curing vampirism would be a piece of cake. Finding and ‘saving’ Mina was the purpose of this whole season and it was resolved too quickly. Also, I was not aware that they had torches back in Victorian times.

Source: Showtime

Source: Showtime

Caliban wearing makeup was so uncomfortable. I get that you’re trying to look good for Maude but if I remember correctly, the rules of seduction state that after a girl shows interest in you you’re supposed to ignore her for a bit. Poor Maude, she’s one of the only few characters to show Caliban any kindness and she gets assaulted for it. Kudos to Rory Kinnear for balancing Caliban’s ruthlessness and vulnerability. I still want Caliban to die but I’d feel bad if he did.

The biggest disappointment of this episode was Dorian Gray. There was a lot of build up about his character and yet his purpose in the show amounted to nothing. So far, he’s just a guy that banged half the characters.

All in all, Penny Dreadful‘s first season didn’t quite seem as such. Instead, it felt more like a prequel season of a far more exciting show. Still, it is worth watching and I eagerly await the next season. 

 

Yeung Wing

is an aspiring TV critic, writer and editor. You can see her past work on her Tumblr!
She lives her life through escapism.

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