Season Finale Review: 'Penny Dreadful' - Farewell to a daughter, hello to a bride
There have been numerous interweaving and not so interweaving plots during this inaugural season of "Penny Dreadful," but there have been two constants. The first has been the search by Sir Malcom (Timothy Dalton) and Ms. Vanessa Ives (Eva Green) to save Mina (Olivia Llewellyn) from the clutches of a vampire demon. The second has been the systematic haunting of Doctor Victor Frankenstein (Harry Treadaway, Jr.) by his first creation (Rory Kinnear), a vindictive son who brutally demands a bride from his creator. If the series finale told us anything it's that creator John Logan had no intention of dragging these story lines out any more than necessary. More so, Logan appears to have a lot more in store for "Dreadful's" unexpected group of flawed "heroes."
Two of the series' best performances have been from Green and Dalton. Their characters have behaved like two adversaries forced to grit their teeth to team up to save a loved one. We've learned that Vanessa's resentment is caused by her brutal treatment after Mina's wedding was shattered (by her Vanessa's own actions mind you) and she's found herself possessed and close to death the previous episode. Dalton, on the other hand, has played Sir Malcolm as a man who seemingly hates his remaining daughter and in the finale he bluntly reveals he'll even sacrifice her to get Mina back. Vanessa doesn't display tremendous affection for her father, but instead wants him to eventually man up for his own actions which include a dead son whose body still resides in Africa. Moreover, she sees him as partly responsible for Mina's current fate.
It goes without saying that Logan could have had this search for Mina go on for another whole season. We might have learned more about her as a character through flashbacks. The audience might have even found Mina's final fate more tragic with a deeper backstory. That was never Logan's plan, however. He ends the season with Sir Malcolm making the right and only choice. One that breaks his heart while also reuniting him with his one "child" still in the land of the living. Green has stolen the spotlight for much of "Dreadful's" first eight episodes, but this was a well played out arc for Dalton who over the course of the season was slowly able to make Sir Malcolm more than a stereotypical Victorian vampire hunter (and, yes, we get the ridiculousness of that description).
The other plot line that has been foreshadowed for weeks is the Creature's obsession with forcing Frankenstein to deliver him a bride. When it was revealed that Ethan's prostitute lover Brona Croft (Billie Piper) is sick with no chances of recovery it was obvious she would be forced to suffer a resurrected fate as the Creature's companion. Logan let the audience wait four episodes dreading, no pun intended, the inevitable moment. What he has to be given credit for is spinning the outcome into something unexpected. For most of the series we've looked at Frakenstein as a flawed, weak man who made a mistake playing god the first time around, created something wonderful in Proteus (episode two) only to have it horrifyingly killed in front of him by that first "mistake." The Creature, on the other hand, broke the neck of the legendary Van Helsing in anger over Frankenstein's reluctance to do his bidding fast enough. Kinnear has played him like a bitter, scorned lover who acts impulsively as a way to impart his pain on everyone in his wake.