As a gothic drama, it should be no surprise that happy endings aren’t high on Penny Dreadful’s list of priorities. After all, how much happiness could the show’s ensemble of monstrous, misfit characters—which include Dr. Frankenstein and his Creatures, a young witch, and a gun-slinging werewolf—really find in 19th century Victorian England? Nevertheless, I had hoped that at least one of them would find a smidgen of peace and contentment after all that they had been through. To my dismay, the show’s second season finale made it perfectly clear that this wouldn’t be the case. Despite their victory over the witches, the overwhelming feeling at the end of the episode was of defeat. One-by-one, each character was forced to face their own inner monster and ultimately crumbled under the pressure. Before I could blink, the little band of misfits for which I had been rooting for two seasons had broken apart, leaving me to wonder: What next?
This is a question that I’m sure many fans of Penny Dreadful are asking themselves right now. After all, it took two seasons for the show’s writers to finally begin to integrate most of the characters into the main storyline, and now those characters have been scattered to the four winds. But ultimately, it isn’t the fate of the show’s storyline that concerns me. No, my primary concern is for the show’s beautiful and beleaguered heroine, Vanessa Ives, who up until this point has relied on her faith in God to protect her from the darkness inside of her. In a particularly heart-wrenching scene from the season two finale, Vanessa removes the crucifix from her bedroom wall and tosses it in the fire before declaring, “We all walk alone.” What does this mean for Vanessa? Will she become the dark force that the Devil claims she is destined to be? I’m curious as to whether or not her declining state will be the impetus that brings the rag-tag band back together again, and whether we will see her darkness assert itself more next season.
Or perhaps the Big Bad next season will be Penny Dreadful’s new power couple, Dorian and Lily. The last we saw of them, they were having a bloody ball (literally), basking in their mutual immortality and plotting how best to bring the human race to its knees. I would even say that ballroom scene was one of the best in the entire season, artfully combining beauty and blood in a way that only Penny Dreadful can. Moreover, that scene served as foreshadowing for what the two have in store for the world. Their union could prove to be a formidable adversary for the show’s protagonists, but only time will tell if that actually pans out.
At this point, anything is possible. This finale has left viewers with a million questions and has essentially shaken the show’s foundation. When it returns for its third season next year, it will have some substantial hurdles to clear before it gains its momentum back. However, based on its stellar second season, I believe the writers are more than up to the task.