Season Finale Review: 'Penny Dreadful' - Eva Green vs. the Devil was worth the wait
It’s hard to imagine the characters that inhabit the world of “Penny Dreadful” being in worse emotional predicaments than they were at the end of season one, but creator and writer John Logan leaves his creations at their lowest points following the season two finale, “And They Were Enemies.” Thankfully, he has the combined talents of Eva Green, Billie Piper, Rory Kinnear and director Bruce Kirk to make the preceding hour a more satisfying finale than viewers might have expected.
The previous episode, "And Hell Itself My Only Foe," found our heroes invading the home of Madame Kali (Helen McCrory) in order to rescue Sir Malcolm (Timothy Dalton) from her coven of witches. It ended with Vanessa Ives (Green) facing her greatest fear, a doll of herself, and a trapped Sembene (Danny Sapani) refusing to kill Mr. Chandler (Josh Hartnett) before the full moon transformed him into his uncontrollable werewolf state. Sadly, Sembene’s sacrifice was fatal, but key to saving his cadre of cursed friends. The Kali vs. Ives conflict this season had centered itself around resolved quickly, but not before Ms. Green could have a signature moment fans of the show will rave about for years.
Logan has remarked publicly that the idea for “Penny” partially came from his desire to create a series that could truly showcase Green’s talents. The 34-year-old actress has certainly had some incredible moments on the series in episodes such as “Possession" and “The Nightcomers," but “Enemies” made it clear why Green is hands down one of the top five English speaking actresses today (in any medium mind you). And, no, that's not an exaggeration.
The doll that speaks in Vanessa’s voice is actually just a conduit for the Devil, the fallen angel who wants Ms. Ives to willing become his bride (a destiny she’s been trying to alter all season). After tempting her with her secret dream, a beautiful world where she has a family with Chandler, the Devil beckons her to kiss him. It’s an act that will make their bond complete and, effectively, bring Vanessa completely to the dark side. But, she hesitates. She looks at the Devil and asks, “"I know what I am. Do you?" and then begins to recite a spell that we can only describe as fierce. Obviously, Ives wins, but Green turns the moment into a master class of acting. Green is effectively performing against a puppet and while Kirk deserves credit for bringing the elements together, she's the one that makes it work.