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The lackluster series finale to "Penny Dreadful" was quite disappointing. For a Showtime series with massive potential to extend into double digit number of seasons, the conclusion was poorly fleshed out. There were undoubtedly "some" good moments in last night's series finale of "Penny Dreadful" but the result left most of the audience unsatisfied and wanting a definitive conclusion to all the open plot threads.
Unfortunately, last night's episode will be the last of "Penny Dreadful." The series was on such a good run, setting up some very creative story arcs but failed to close out each with the grace and dignity they deserve. There was a conclusive ending to the story which began with Vanessa Ives (Eva Green) in Season One, but not the way one should end a story arc for an essential character in a series like "Penny Dreadful".
For three seasons, Vanessa Ives went through trauma after trauma. And while it was continually building up to where we saw her at the end of Season Three, there was never a true upturn for her character. Yes, her role in the drama series was the downtrodden, destined for doom, but her character never truly underwent a shift in tone. Had Vanessa Ives been given more time to develop, her character's role in the series could have expanded past being an object of desire, for the length of three seasons.
After everything, Vanessa Ives character was given a poor farewell. She had potential to move past being the object of desire for Dracula, and even Ethan Chandler. Ethan always had the right motivation for wanting to be close to Vanessa, but even so, his desire for her always seemed to be the single motivation behind his role on "Penny Dreadful". Had their roles been expanded past the desire for Vanessa Ives, there may have been an opportunity for a proper farewell to the character which Eva Green played so prominently on "Penny Dreadful". Along with a proper farewell, a brighter conclusion may have been reached as well.
The series may have overreached when leaving with us with such a somber ending. Yes, the series is a drama based in the dreary backdrop of London, but why leave the audience with a dissolution for an ending? After everything fans had witnessed over three seasons, there had to be more for the cast of "Penny Dreadful" than just sustaining loss after loss. There was a vacancy for an upturn in tone to be taken at some point, but that shift was never initiated. And that lack of change may have contributed to the ultimate demise of the series itself.
All in all, the series finale may have concluded in the manner that it did because of the unexpected closing of the series. Creator of "Penny Dreadful", John Logan, spoke to EW on the matter, explicitly stating how he knew the series wouldn't run for a long period of time, and the end was inevitable. Logan also went on state how he understood that Season Three would be the last season of the series. It's possible that John Logan knew of the cancellation of "Penny Dreadful" beforehand but had an entire plot already fleshed out if the series got picked up for more seasons. However, after learning of its cancellation, he may have been forced to alter the events of Season Three to fit a conclusive series ending.
Although, on the off-chance that Series Creator, John Logan, didn't appreciate the notion of his series being cancelled, his disdain may have placed him in a compromising position. Utilizing his creative control, he could have intentionally eliminated any possibility of his series ever being revived by concluding the last episode with such a controversial ending that the series would officially be tainted by its travesty of a series finale.
Biggest Misses of Last Night's Series Finale of "Penny Dreadful".
Apart from the sorely disappointing conclusion to last night's Series Finale of "Penny Dreadful", there were some moments during the episode that oozed potential for spectacles to be had but sadly they never came to be. Here are all the moments from last night's series finale of "Penny Dreadful" which left most us with a bad taste in our mouths. As well as some alternatives to the conclusions we were left with.
SPOILERS AHEAD! YOU'VE BEEN WARNED
1. Kaetenay and Ethan barely utilized their werewolf abilities when they needed them.
During the last few minutes of the first segment in the finale, we learn that Kaetenay (Wes Studi) is also a werewolf as he transforms alongside Ethan when they are confronted by Dracula's minions.
The idea had been implied throughout Season Three when Kaetenay continually referred to Ethan as his son, but the notion was never confirmed in direct dialogue. And while the mythology was never fully explained, Ethan was presumed to be the only living werewolf that could be the prophesied Hound of God. However, after learning of Kaetenay being a werewolf as well, the connection between Ethan and Kaetenay was finally made clear. Kaetenay was the werewolf who made Ethan, which is why he referred to him as his son. But back to the first exhibition of both Ethan and Kaetenay in their werewolf forms.
During the scene, Kaetenay and Ethan both laid waste to the vampires appearing in the abandoned fish market, despite the scene being cut too briefly. There should have been more to their violent exploits. Ethan was just beginning to embrace the wolf inside of him, while allowing it to lead him towards his destiny. And for all the blood that had stained his soul, he could finally use the curse bestowed upon him for something other than killing those he loved. Then when it all came down to Sir Malcolm, Catriona, Victor Frankenstein, and Dr. Seward surrounded, Ethan and Kaetenay were know where to be found.
While attempting to ambush Dracula, the two got strayed by some of his minions waiting in the sewers they were navigating through. But that encounter seemed very brief while Sir Malcolm and his group were attempting to keep Dracula's minions at bay. Eventually, Ethan and Kaetenay make their way into Dracula's lair as well but neither of them are baring their fangs or claws. And in a situation where they are surrounded by bloodthirsty vampires, it would probably call on them to use those abilities. However, neither of them transform into their werewolf counterparts but Ethan is able to get past Dracula to find Vanessa while he is distracted with Sir Malcolm. When Ethan finds her, their conversation results in Ethan putting a bullet in Vanessa to conclude the story.
2. Vanessa Ives shouldn't have died
The concluding death of Vanessa closed out her character's arc in the series but as previously mentioned, Vanessa was due for more than just the insanity she bore over three seasons. She had a potential relationship brewing with Ethan Chandler. Even the talk of destiny by Hecate and Kaetenay was hinting at Ethan standing at Vanessa's side as the Hound of God which would have been the appropriate end for her character's arc. As well as Catriona and Dr. Seward becoming closer to Vanessa, their budding relationships hinted at more to come. And the overwhelming pressure of Dracula on Vanessa over the entire series' progression should have resolved with Vanessa finding some redemption in the defeat of Dracula, but unfortunately he escaped death once again, while Vanessa paid the ultimate price to free the world from Dracula's terror. By giving her life to end the possibility of Dracula pulling the world into darkness, Vanessa Ives inadvertently stopped Dracula. After everything, Vanessa still wound up where she was trying to avoid since Season One of "Penny Dreadful". While her sacrifice wasn't in vain, it could have been avoided if Ethan Chandler's role in "Penny Dreadful" had meant for him to follow his destiny.
3. Ethan's god-given destiny wasn't fulfilled
Throughout Season Three, the talk of destiny was continually reinforced as a recurring theme. Both Hecate and Kaetenay talked immensely of Ethan's destiny. And while neither of them saw exactly what was in store for Ethan, they both had a decent picture. After everything, the prophecy summed up to Ethan being the 'Hound of God' who was either meant to save all of God's people or to set forth the path of destruction that would cover humanity in darkness. But in the end, no part of Ethan's destiny was fulfilled. In order to embrace the darkness, he would have had to kill his father, which he couldn't do. And to spread the darkness over the world, he would have had to embrace Vanessa as the dark mistress she is, to rule over the world without compassion or care. However, in the end, Ethan inadvertently stopped the end of days from coming to be by killing Vanessa. But killing Vanessa wasn't in the prophecy intended for him. There was meant to be some massive confrontation waiting for Ethan to determine the fate of the world, and he would either be at the top of hill at the end of it or lying in defeat. Sadly, we never get to see Ethan embrace his destiny by becoming the Hound of God. But at least we got another great performance out of Josh Hartnett.
In my own opinion, the conclusion of the series finale should have seen Dracula standing between Ethan and Vanessa, and the concluding fight between the two should have resulted in either Dracula taking Vanessa as his prize for good or Ethan becoming the 'Hound of God' by officially ending Dracula's life. Of course in the best case scenario, Ethan would have still been forced to kill Vanessa. But in all likelihood, the murder of Dracula could plausibly have released Vanessa from his influence, allowing her clarity in the moment in which she asks Ethan to kill her; sparing her life altogether, but those are high hopes.
4. The Vampire (Dracula) and the Werewolf (Ethan) never face off in physical battle
The resulting death of Vanessa should have drove Ethan mad with rage. The obvious conclusion should have been for Ethan to seek out revenge for Vanessa's death inadvertently caused by Dracula. Had Dracula not placed Vanessa in such a compromising position, Ethan would not have needed to kill her.
Accounting for Dracula's part in the death of Vanessa, Ethan should have reasoned out Dracula's factoring into the situation. And with that, a physical confrontation should have ensued after Vanessa's death. But Dracula escaped once again while Ethan and Sir Malcolm stood with Vanessa lying dead in their arms. More could have been done to conclude this scene. There was no reason for Ethan, Sir Malcom, or anyone else to allow Dracula to escape. The moment that Ethan brought Vanessa's corpse out of the corridor, someone should have taken a shot at Dracula or Ethan himself should have claimed Dracula's life. There was definitely an open opportunity for Ethan Chandler and Dracula to have a physical bout, either ending the story on a high-note or leaving the audience with yet another casualty.
5. Lily didn't receive the serum from Victor Frankenstein
Throughout the entire season, Victor Frankenstein had been planning on using the serum developed by his colleague, Dr. Henry Jekyll, on Lily to cure her of her madness. But in the end, Victor couldn't force the serum on her. Victor knew of what it would do to her and he couldn't bear to force such a drastic change on someone against their will. Victor then released Lily, only to find her with her hand around his throat. Fortunately, she didn't go through with killing him. And within the same scene, she managed to find the compassion she'd been lacking for the culmination of two seasons. Lily had threatened Victor's life on more than occasion, and she was truly furious with Victor for kidnapping her but she didn't kill him when she had the chance. It turned out that Victor didn't need to give Lily a serum to make her human, he simply needed to give her the opportunity to become one on her own. The significance of her change is obvious with her release of Victor from her grasp. Her fury should have resulted with Victor lying dead in Jekyll's laboratory but that's not how the scene played out. And while both Victor and Lily separated on a good note, there was a slight expectation of Lily returning of her own volition.
After confronting Dorian Gray, it seemed as if Lily was finally coming to terms with the mistakes she had made in the past and choosing to move on from them, without seeking vengeance. And while in the presence of Dorian, she proved once again her intent to change. She left Dorian standing alone in his mansion. By doing so, Lily proved that she could be more than a vengeful bitch. One would have expected Lily to once again manipulate Dorian to stand alongside of him in a position of power once again, in order to wage war on those she deemed guilty of crimes that had gone unpunished, but that isn't what she does. Lily's story ends there and we don't see where she goes after Gray's home. However, the most reasonable conclusion should have seen Lily returning to Jekyll's lab of her own free will to receive the serum. If it would give her more feelings than just rage and sadness, she would be able to fill that void she'd been trying to fill with rage and violence since her rebirth. Which is why Lily's arc should have concluded with her either becoming free of her past, or with Lily becoming an even worse creation than Dr. Jekyll or Frankenstein could have ever imagined. Lily was getting ready to change, and she appeared to be readily doing it herself, which should have resulted in Lily returning to Dr. Jekyll's laboratory to receive the serum as treatment for her rage.
6. Doctor Jekyll didn't even come close to becoming Mr. Hyde
Since the news broke of Shazad Latif portraying Dr. Jekyll, many fans had been theorizing on when Jekyll would become Hyde. But once again we were robbed of a moment that had been teased for over an entire season. There were so many opportunities for an exhibition of Dr. Jekyll becoming Mister Hyde but there wasn't one instance of that occurring. Even the concluding scene of the series finale which saw Victor Frankenstein packing up his belongings, Jekyll had the completed serum right by his side. The scene should have seen Dr. Jekyll in such an agitated state that he injects himself with the serum, resulting in a rampage by Mr. Hyde in the prison. And we can expect that a Mr. Hyde counterpart running a rampage in a prison would go about slaughtering everyone he comes into contact with. But apart from that inevitability, a character like Dr. Jekyll who has always been reflective of his counterpart in Mr. Hyde not having that opposite makes the character seem less intriguing than once thought. If the notion was made clear of Dr. Jekyll never becoming Mr. Hyde at the beginning of the season, most fans probably would have paid little attention to Shazad Latif as Dr. Henry Jekyll.
7. John Clare didn't resurrect his son
The last segment of the series finale saw John Clare returning to his family home, to find his wife holding their dead son in her arms. They both take a minute to grieve but then the request of a lifetime comes out of Ms. Clare's mouth. She asks John to take their son to Victor Frankenstein, to bring him back from the dead. John Clare continues to ask her not to ask it of him, but she leaves him with an ultimatum, either return with their son alive or don't return at all. In the end, John Clare leaves his son in the sinking waters of the shore, leaving his old life behind for good.
What doesn't make sense, is how after everything John did to get his family back, he wouldn't do the one thing that would reassure his family had another chance at living. Taking his son to Victor could have plausibly returned John's son to him, resulting in John and his family living happily ever after too. As well as possibly bringing some closure between Victor and John. There had always been a great disdain by John for Victor, but in the scenario that Victor brought his family back together, John Clare most certainly would have began to change his feelings towards Victor. And the resurrection of another deceased could have played into future seasons of "Penny Dreadful" had last night's episode not been its last.
8. What happened to Dracula?
After Ethan brings out the corpse of Vanessa from the back corridor, Dracula just disappears. He doesn't kill anyone, he doesn't leave any threats, he just vanishes. There should have been some resolution there, but nothing of the sort. It would have made sense for Sir Malcolm, Ethan, and Catriona to go on the hunt for him. He's likely find another victim to be his bride and they're the only ones who have come close to ending Dracula's reign of terror. The chase for Dracula could be the focus of a spin-off if that's even a possibility. The lackluster conclusion left many plot-threads unexplored, but could be returned to at some point. Dracula's escape may be the focus of a potential spin-off, if and when that ever becomes a possibility.