Friday, January 13, 2017

Penny Dreadful Season 3 Review

Penny Dreadful (2014-2016)
Season 3 - 9 Episodes (2016)
Watch Penny Dreadful on Netflix
Buy Penny Dreadful Season 3 on Amazon Video
Created by: John Logan
Starring:  Josh Hartnett, Timothy Dalton, Eva Green, Rory Kinnear, Billie Piper

Rating: TV-MA 

My rating is simple, Watch It, It Depends, Skip it. Read my previous TV reviews!

Supernatural myths and legends converge in Victorian, London, with vampires, Dr. Frankenstein, Dorian Gray, and more.
In season three, Dracula is after Vanessa while Ethan visits his past with Malcolm in the American mid-west.

This has always been a series overshadowed by set designs and costumes. The concept and setting are it's own characters and dwarf the thin plot.
This season does a good job of fixing my main issues with previous seasons which always felt stretched by two or three episodes. The pacing of this season is much better, despite half the story again being an otherworldly demon after Vanessa Ives. With the characters in different locations, the pacing was much improved, though the story suffered
The mood this creates is unparalleled, and propels you to watch. It feels the way horror should.
Watch it.

This is the final season. While fans wondered if this was ended prematurely, creator John Logan admitted he decided to end it during the second season. He waited until the third season concluded to announce that to avoid potential spoilers.

This season finally nails the pacing. The previous seasons always felt like they intentionally slowed down, but this season kept driving forward. We still get a slow down episode with the contrived Vanessa (Eva Green) and John Clare (Rory Kinnear) connection, but it was a nice moment between them.

Splitting the characters between two locations gives this movement, but the story arcs themselves were slightly weaker. Vanessa is once again chased by a demon. Season two felt like a retelling of season one, and while this is a similar arc, it at least feels fresher.
While the setting and characters have always made this show, this season lacked some of the big scares and emotional impacts from previous seasons.

The America setting robbed the show of the dark mood cultivated in Victorian England. A group of men rescue Ethan (Josh Hartnett) from a train during his extradition trip. Malcolm  (Timothy Dalton) soon joins Ethan as Ethan's past is finally revealed.

Dr. Jekyll joins Dr. Frankenstein in a disappointing arc that never took off.

Vanessa Ives inhabits the largest story arc. She begins seeing a no-nonsense psychiatrist and in episode two we're introduced to this season's main villain, Dracula. He's after Vanessa, because that's what happens every season; some person or group is after Vanessa and her immense power.
Episode two also included the blood orgy with Dorian, Lily (Billie Piper), and Justine. It's a gross out scene, certainly, and quite indulgent.

In episode four Vanessa enters past memories. It turns out Caliban, or John Clare, was her orderly at the asylum. They had both blocked out those memories, quite convenient story wise. It's incredibly contrived but does create a nice episode between them.
While Vanessa has begun dating, her new boyfriend has sinister intentions.

This season suffers from story lines that feel like they're pulled from thin air. It's been a benefit splitting the characters into pairs, which helps  a story that's gotten even worse.

Episode six is the culmination of Ethan revisiting his dark past where he had left and will leave many bodies in his wake. His arc has been to embrace the darkness within.

In episode seven it seemed like Caliban might get a happy ending, but I knew this show wouldn't fulfill that. Caliban scenes are always manipulative with no payoff.

Episode eight brings the characters back together for the finale. It's a serviceable conclusion pitting Ethan as Dracula's only threat.

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