Penny Dreadful: The End (Review)

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It was always safe to assume that Penny Dreadful was going to end on one hell of a downer and the series did not disappoint. When the end finally came, after Showtime slapped the last two episodes together for the grand finale, it was a crescendo of depression all around. The characters, the viewers and the storyline all bypassed melancholia completely.

Eva Green as Vanessa Ives looked one step from dead this season; signposting that things were not going to end well for her and they did not.

The last two episodes, “Perpetual Night” and and “The Blessed Dark” both took place back in London.  Chandler, Sir Malcolm and Kataenay all arrive at the docks to find them swarming with rats.  Heading to the mansion they find Vanessa gone and the building full of vampires.

There is a desperate fight and things look pretty bad for the trio until Catriona Hartdegen (Perdita Weeks) wielding a pistol and a knife. After the battle, she cauterizes the bite on Sir Malcolm’s neck and introduces herself to Ethan. 

Cat tells the men of the killing fog and the darkness. She also explains that finding Vanessa is high on her list of priorities as well.

Chandler goes to find Victor Frankenstein,  to treat Sir Malcolm, and at the lab, the doctor (Harry Treadawayinteracts with Lily (Billie Piper) and it does not go well. John Clare (Rory Kinnear) enjoys his family while his son is dying. The youngster coughs up great gouts of blood and soon dies.

Dorian Gray (Reeve Carney) tells all the prostitutes to leave as Lily is gone. Justine (Jessica Barden) shoves a knife in Dorian’s chest with no effect. The women all leave in a panic except for the tiny prostitute. She refuses to return to the old life of “being on her knees” and Gray breaks her neck. 

Ethan goes to Victor’s flat and a  little boy  vampire tells offers to lead him to the doctor. Malcolm and Catriona do  a little verbal sparring.  Dr. Seward arrives and joins the “Save Vanessa Ives Party.”

Lily reveals the death of her baby and this sad tale prompts Frankenstein to  release the object of his desire.Ethan is lead into a trap. Dracula speaks with Chandler (repeated the “creatures of the night” line) and the lead vampire threatens Ethan with death.

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Victor releases Lily

Dr. Seward takes Malcolm and Cat to question Renfield (Samuel Barnett) and later Seward “regresses” her former secretary to learn where Vanessa is being held. 

Vampires surround Ethan and he battles the ever increasing horde. Morphing into a werewolf Chandler begins killing the things.  Kaetenay arrives and changing into a werewolf also helps his “son”   wreak havoc on the fanged creatures.

In “The Blessed Dark: the Penny Dreadful gang are reunited after Chandler and Kaetenay defeat the vampires. The boy vampire reports to Dracula on the two men’s victory over the vampires he opts to wait on their arrival.

Ethan learns from Kaetenay that the old Apache made him a werewolf and after a short and bitter argument, Chandler accepts his fate and swears to save Vanessa. Seward walks with Renfield in his mind and Lily returns to Dorian to find Justine dead and the prostitutes gone.

Lily learns from Gray that immortality means loneliness  and a lack of passion. She leaves. Victor and Jekyll have words and the Bedlam doctor tells Victor that his father has died and he is now Lord Hyde.

Frankenstein joins forces with Malcolm, Seward and Cat to save Vanessa.

After John Clare’s son dies, he is horrified to learn that his wife wants to have the boy resurrected by Dr. Frankenstein.

Sir Malcolm, Seward, Chandler, Frankenstein, Hartdegen and Kaetenay converge on the slaughter house. Ethan and Kaetenay enter via another entrance and the rest find a room full of rats and eviscerated corpses hanging from the ceiling. The group find Dracula and are surrounded by vampires.

Asking Dracula about his daughter Mina, Sir Malcolm learns she was only a pawn. He tells the rest of the group that they should leave and they refuse. Telling his colleagues that he would proudly die alongside of them, Sir Malcolm starts the  battle.

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Sir Malcolm, Victor, Dr. Seward and Catriona all prepare to fight Dracula

In the sewers, Ethan and Kaetenay fight their way to the main group. The two parties join and they clear the room of vampires.  Dracula begins battling the rescuers. Chandler breaks away and finds Vanessa.  The two talk and she explains that it is too late.

Ethan fulfills the prophecy and saves Vanessa by killing her. Dracula, sensing  Vanessa’s death, flees. The fog departs and the sky clears, the “end of days” has finished. John Clare buries his son in the sea and then goes to visit Vanessa’s grave.

Penny Dreadful delivered a splendid, if ultimately depressing, end to its three season run. A far ranging tale that included so many icons  in the world of classic horror. The British specialize in this type of costumed horror. (Anyone who doubts this should look at old Hammer films as proof of their expertise.)

The final fights were brilliantly choreographed and quickly paced. Short and impressive, these were the highlight of the last show in the season. Ultimately  however it was heart breaking that Vanessa Ives had to die. (Although Eva Green must have been relieved to get out of that corpse-like makeup.)

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Vanessa Ives looking pale as death

Showtime have wrapped up Penny Dreadful with a funereal tone that feels spot on for the story and its characters.  If you have not seen the finale, stop reading this and head over right now to see the end of this fantastic three season run.

 

Agents of SHIELD: Spacetime – The Terminator Again (Review)

Brett Dalton

Agents of SHIELD may just have hit a series best with this episode. Spacetime features some of the best fight sequences ever, and each one has a woman as the attacker. While May’s practice runs were pretty spectacular, the “one take” fight work of Daisy Johnson’s rocked the rooftops. There was also another Terminator reference, this time from Phil Coulson to Lincoln.

“You’re off the team.”

This is Coulson’s response when Lincoln admits to having never watched The Terminator. The last time the show made a reference to the Cameron film was when Grant Ward/Hive devoured all those people to power up. His pose and the way Hive stood up, screamed Terminator.

Agents of SHIELD found an inhuman who can not only see the future but causes the people he touches to also see it.  At the start of the episode the man touches a shop owner who rushes to call Daisy, he also cryptically states that “this is where I die.”

When Daisy meets Charles she gets a vision that shows the entire team in chaos and Coulson shooting her.  The inhuman is then kidnapped by Hydra and the shop owner does indeed die right there.

Ward/Hive (Brett Dalton) is now, after he ingested all those people, a sort of zen leader who dispenses wisdom to Gideon Malick (Powers Boothe). Later, after they take over a company for their product research technology, Ward gives Gideon the exoskeleton suit and urges Malick to kill the company’s former owner.

MING-NA WEN, CHLOE BENNET
MING-NA WEN, CHLOE BENNET

Daisy is benched and May rehearses how to bypass the scenario in Daisy’s head by practicing over and over the battle in the security room.  Fitz believes that the training will be circumvented and that May will not go at all.

He is proven right when Andrew Garner/Lash (Blair Underwood) reappears and May heads to see him.  This leaves Daisy to breach the security suite of the building where Charles, Malick and Hive are. 

Cue one brilliant fight sequence a’la Oldboy (all in one shot) where Daisy kicks serous arse and Phil shots not his agent but a baddy behind a two way mirror.  She then goes to save Charles but is tackled by Gideon who is still in the exoskeleton outfit. He beats her badly and just as it looks like she may lose, Charles touches Malick who then strikes the man.

Daisy uses her powers to fling him across the roof and into a metal outcropping. During the time that Charles touches Gideon  we are not privy to his vision. Whatever it is must be bad as later Giyera tells Hive that Malick sounded scared.

This was a cracking episode. The element of “time travel” as it were, combined with the “death” of Andrew to Lash almost in front of May’s eyes along with the shaking of Malick’s confidence added an extra level to the fight heavy show.

Sidenote: Coulson was not the only one who got to make a pop culture reference. Malick also gets to put his oar in the water by telling Hive that when Gideon  saw him before he:

“Looked like an extra in the ‘Dawn of the Dead'”

It is equally unsettling to see Hive acting like a sort of evil “Yoda” (but without the backward speech pattern) who seems to know all too well what Malick desires.

POWERS BOOTHE, MARKUS FLANAGAN, BRETT DALTON
POWERS BOOTHE, MARKUS FLANAGAN, BRETT DALTON

Lincoln, who winds up bloody and on the floor in the vision and during the assault, makes clear his feelings about where Coulson stands with him.  He tells the head of SHIELD that if he shoots Daisy he will kill him.

Sadly, at the end to the episode, Charles dies. Before the man goes he asks Daisy to promise to look after his daughter. Malick escapes and then calls Giyera to complain that he should be by his side.

Agents of SHIELD: Spacetime has moved things forward brilliantly. We are treated to another Terminator reference and the sight of both May and Daisy going through their paces was exciting and fun. Like Coulson says in the training scenario

“Wish we could practice every moment of our life like this.”

We do too Phil. We do too.

Agents of SHIELD airs Tuesdays on ABC.

Agents of SHIELD: Watchdogs – Teamwork (Review)

After last weeks tissue clutching episode of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., Watchdogs brings back a former agent who hates “aliens” and the focus is on teamwork.

ELIZABETH HENSTRIDGE

After last weeks tissue clutching episode of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.,  Watchdogs  brings back a former agent who hates “aliens” and the focus is on teamwork.  May and Simmons pair up to work to find Andrew, Fitz and Daisy join forces to battle the Watchdogs, Lincoln and Phil team up as part of the former’s evaluation and Mack (Henry Simmons) is thrown together with his brother Reuben (Gaius Charles) during an attack.

Hydra is still moving around in the background, creating a Watchdog diversion in order to get what looks like a big missile  at the end of the episode.  There is also a reference to the most recent Avengers “big screen” action (again) when a character moans about Ultron.

After Bobbi and Hunter’s exit  last week, there is a bit of unrest in the ranks of the remaining S.H.I.E.L.D. agents. Mack takes a break with his brother. The big guy was all teary-eyed last week about losing two of his colleagues  and the two do not see eye-to-eye on the inhuman condition at all.

Simmons decides to teach herself how to be a better agent by learning to be more proficient with a gun.  Melinda May offers a few tips but ultimately tries to tell Jemma that it is not her fault. Simmons feels responsible for Andrew and for the loss of Bobbi and Lance.

Lincoln, who has been sitting on the fence despite becoming an active  agent of S.H.I.E.L.D., is out with Coulson who still does not quite trust the newest inhuman on his team.  As Phil tells his reluctant teammate, Lincoln is the only person he did not vet personally.

The Watchdogs have been revved up by former agent Felix Blake (Titus Welliver) who is now connected with Malick and Hydra. Blake wants all “freaks” dead and has no idea that Hydra has just as many inhumans as his old agency of S.H.I.E.L.D. does. 

Daisy goes all type ‘A’ stormtrooper as she proactively moves against the Watchdogs after the group publicly implode a building using Blake’s technology.  She teams up with a clearly uncomfortable Fitz who does not agree with her “bullying” tactics.

Comic Moments:

The watchdogs implode an entire building. Mack, Daisy and Fitz go to the scene and find that the structure has been reduced to a big ball. Mack asks about taking the ball back to study.

Mack: “Do we take this debris back with us, study it?”

Fitz: “Uh, yeah, sure. If… if you’ve been working out. ‘Cause it weighs like 100,000 tons. It’s a building.”

Mack: “So… no, then.”

Daisy’s inability to pronounce, let alone understand, the neutralizing agent to the Watchdogs’ enhanced Stark weapon and her response when everyone else can explain and pronounce it. (“Sodium Hydrogen Acetate neutralizes Nitramene.”)

Daisy: “Okay. Thank you, Nerd Herd.”

Axe-Shotgun (Because despite the overall “coolness” of the Mack-made weapon it is funny.)

“Alfie” and Daisy’s reaction to the nickname.

Back to the Story:

The Watchdog episode is not about humor but about discord and the group remembering what teamwork really means. It is also about mismatched pairings like  Mack and his alien hating brother for instance.

May’s decision to hunt down Andrew results in Simmons helping  to track down Mays inhuman ex. Phil and Lincoln ultimately learn whether the new team member will work or not. Fitz nearly dies while working with Daisy.

A Watchdog is captured and after questioning, the man reveals that they had no idea that Daisy was the “big bad inhuman” on the S.HI.E.L.D. team.  The Blake driven vigilante group has gone after Mack, believing he was the alien.

Mack and Reuben fend off the attacking Watchdogs and bond as a result.  The rest of the team realize the Blake was creating a diversion and the head of the Watchdogs has yet to learn that his new ally is full of inhumans as well.

The underlying feeling with this week’s episode is a build up to a tie-in moment, or two, with the upcoming Captain America: Civil War film.  Phil’s agents are uneasy and disagreeing on how to handle things. In other words, a small screen version of what appears to be their own civil war.

Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. also references another small screen Marvel series, Daredevil.  Whether this is a tip off to a cross-over event or just a TV Easter egg, remains to be seen.  Another underlying theme was the focus on the women and their strengths.

(Mad props to Elizabeth HenstridgeMing-Na Wen, Bennet and Simmons for knocking it out of the park and to Charles and Welliver for stepping up to the plate and delivering as well.)

CHLOE BENNET
DAISY/SKYE (CHLOE BENNET)

Daisy forcing the captured Watchdog to talk, May forcing herself to find Andrew to kill him and Simmons forcing herself to become a better, more dangerous agent who can take care of herself.  Strong forceful women all.  Out of the three, it is Chloe Bennet’s “Daisy ‘Skye’ Johnson who appears to be skirting dangerously close to the dark side, (See what we did there?)

Mack and his Watchdog supporting brother work things out after the Watchdog attack.  With the arrival of the missile and Hydra controlling Blake, in essence, along with  the discord amongst Coulson’s team, things look ready to fall apart or implode, like Blake’s weapon.

Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. airs Tuesdays on ABC.

‘Hannibal’ 3: 03 Secondo – in the Beginning

Still from the second dinner party in Hannibal
Hannibal in season three is dark and continues to be seductive. Secondo, episode three takes us back to the literal beginning of Lector, all the way to his Lithuanian childhood home, Misha and what drives him. Jack Crawford is in Florence, following not Hannibal but Will Graham. Du Maurier, is still with “her husband” and Chiyo kills the prisoner. This is not the only death in the episode.

At an intimate dinner party, Sogliato is served not only a meal that Hannibal has lovingly prepared, but is also the recipient of an ice pick in the temple. Revenge, as Lector knows, is best served cold and the man who annoyed him in season one has been dealt with. Sogliato sits frozen at the dinner table with the handle of the pick protruding from the side of his temple. Muttering in both English and Italian, mostly confused gibberish, Du Maurier decides enough is enough. Leaving her seat at the table, she goes to Sogliato and yanks the pick from his head. Immediately the man falls forward and face plants the dish in front of him.

“Technically, you killed him,” says Hannibal.

Will goes to the Lithuanian home, where it all began for Hannibal. Once there, he imagines speaking to Lector there and in reality he bumps into Chiyo. She is keeping a man prisoner, because Lector told her that he killed Misha.

Later in the show, Hannibal serves up Sogliato to a couple of his colleagues. Will lets the prisoner go and Chiyo kills him by shoving a knife in his throat as he attempts to strangle her. “I’m sorry,” she says just before the blood starts to jet from his neck. She also tells Will that he is turning into Hannibal.

By the end of the show, Du Maurier guides Hannibal to the conclusion that the only way he can forgive Will is to eat him.

Season three has been incredibly dark, not just in content but in presentation as the lighting for each set piece is murky and the tones are all this side of deep black. Certain scenes have the viewer reaching for the brightness control in frustration. There is no real need. Each portion of the show is all about the overall ambiance.

The clever inquisitive conversation that hints at an intellect so profound that normal people are left in awe. The same high IQ that created individuals who have an appreciation for classical music and a taste for human flesh prepared ornately, lovingly.

Watching Hannibal wash Du Maurier’s hair at the end of the episode feels the same as when he gently and seductively prepares his victims for the feast. While the show thus far has been very dark, the parties, where he serves and kills Sogliato and later the second one where he serves the academic prig to his other guests, the lighting is not dark, the audience can see the almost obscene attention and devotion to eating that the guests and Hannibal exhibit.

The score, an opulent operatic piece, swells as the camera flashes back to the preparation and now zooms in on the food and the guest’s reaction to it. An extreme close up of the escargot being lifted steaming from its serving shell. This is beyond delight of a good meal, this is an orgasmic sensation made all the more obscene because in a moment, the guests will be eating Sogliato along with Hannibal and Bedelia.

According to the book’s lore, Hannibal began his compulsion of cannibalism after being forced to eat his sister. It is interesting that this season, which is going back to the beginning of Hannibal, to dwell on the incestuous consumption that started the whole thing off. Observing the loving way that Lector prepares his victims, caressing the flesh with spices and herbs, juxtaposed against the violent chopping when he prepares the cuts shows a violent demonstration of love. Was this the way he prepared Misha?

This is very reminiscent of the way Chiyo prepares the bird. Caressing the meat and violently dissecting it. Hannibal’s influence obviously. Just as he, Lector, is compelled to consume human flesh, an act of love, so too do all those he has touched feel the need to devour those they love.

Jack Crawford says he is there for Will and it is apparent that Hannibal spared both men to see where this will go. Just as Chiyo points out to Graham when he let her prisoner go, Will has become Hannibal because everyone who is influenced by him, does so.

All of season three is evocative of a fugue state, mainly because of the slow, dark appearance and the pace. Slow, sometimes lurching forward almost unwillingly, the episodes feel like some sort of dream state instead of reality. The series has always had this air, but now it has increased exponentially and made the events on screen take on an obscene beauty which one cannot stop watching.

American Horror Story Protect the Coven Review: Bad Blood

American Horror Story Protect the Coven Review: Bad Blood

This American Horror Story: Protect the Coven review is all about bad blood. This episode peels away layers. Showing what really drives Madame LaLaurie; how the innocuous beheading of a chicken revealed what motivates Delphine. This particular story is about more than the blood lust that drives LaLaurie to commit atrocities that revolt the most impartial of observers.