Kaetenay and Sir Malcolm are closing in on Ethan and Hecate, with Rusk and the local sheriff not far behind. Similarly, Dracula is close to having Vanessa in his grasp.
Penny Dreadful Season 3 Episode 3 found our heroes battling specters from their past, both literal and metaphorical.
Ethan & Hecate
I'll admit, I didn't have high hopes for this Old West storyline at the outset.
The attack on the train, in which Ethan was retrieved by his father's men, felt slightly out of place given the tone of this show – like an Indiana Jones scene plopped in the middle of the Gothic horror that Penny Dreadful typically is.
My opinion has changed and Ethan's trek through the desert, Hecate insistently at his side, has been surprisingly riveting. This is thanks largely to the chemistry between Sarah Greene and Josh Hartnett, and what an interesting figure Hecate has turned out to be.
She's a physical manifestation of Ethan's darkest impulses, of the beast within him. Her goal is to tempt Ethan over to that darkness, embracing his wolf nature, and to rule the ensuing darkness at his side.
Ethan, despite his beastly nature, is and has been a hero all along, which makes this inner battle compelling. It also makes sense why he would allow Hecate to accompany him on this journey – she flat out said it to him in the opening scene:
Ethan. Has my utility not been amply demonstrated? Has my allegiance not been proved? I followed you across an ocean and across a continent. I will follow you to hell. I'll lead the way, Wolf of God.Hecate
She's not wrong. On top of that, Ethan is clearly just lonely. He seems to appreciate her admittedly harsh company (he protected her when those bullets came flying, instinctively), though he is horrified at her unremorseful slaughter at the ranch.
I don't think we're due to see any kind of redemption or switch of sides for Hecate. Rather, we'll see Ethan get closer and closer to the darkness she represents this season.
Their scenes together thus far have set up a confrontation with Ethan's true father, his biological father, as the climax of their journey together. For that reason, I suspect that Ethan's definitive choosing of a side – good or evil – will take place at or around that confrontation. Perhaps choosing whether or not to kill his father will be a metaphor for that larger choice?
At this point, it's just a question of whether his two pseudo-fathers will reach him in time to stop him from turning to the darkness.
Kaetenay & Sir Malcolm
Kaetenay finally revealed to Sir Malcolm the purpose of having sought him out for help in retrieving Ethan: Ethan trusts Sir Malcolm and Kaetenay is aware that Ethan does not trust him.
Whether Kaetenay is a figure of good or evil still remains to be seen, though his purported goal is to prevent Ethan from embracing his darkness. In some mystical way (probably a vision), Kaetenay has foreseen that Ethan's turn to darkness will mean death and destruction for mankind.
In that way, the dramatic tension of Ethan's journey with Hecate grows ever higher.
Sir Malcolm and Kaetenay successfully tracked Ethan to the ranch where Hecate butchered the inhabitants in order to steal their supplies, realizing that Ethan is apparently complicit in these murders, shocking Sir Malcolm (but not quite shocking Kaetenay himself).
Ethan is unaware of this "prophecy" – he only knows that Hecate is ruthless and bloodthirsty. And, to be clear, we don't actually know yet whether Kaetenay is legit either.
At this point, I'm inclined to believe that neither Ethan's Apache father nor his new witch sorta-girlfriend can be trusted. Kaetenay explicitly told Malcolm that if they can't save Ethan, they'll need to kill him.
I don't see Malcolm going along with that without a fight – it would be far too reminiscent of killing Mina, yet another child that he couldn't save from darkness, back on Penny Dreadful Season 1 Episode 8.
Easily the best part of Kaetenay and Sir Malcolm's section of this installment was Sir Malcolm's badass smack-down of those racist "cowboys" on the train.
Before you speak another word, I ask you to consider this. How valuable is your life? Do you hold it dear? Does your wife value your company? Do you favor growing old, to teach your ugly, inbred children your grotesque manners? Lay hands on him and it'll be your end.Sir Malcolm
Lily, Dorian & Justine
A season of this series is never complete without a terrifying, grotesque sexual encounter! We're only a handful of episodes in, but that blood-soaked threesome (with cold-blooded murder for foreplay) just might take the cake.
The encounter was set out as Justine's "induction" into their company, the first soldier in the army of abused and ignored women that Dorian and Lily are hoping to amass.
Justine did not remotely hesitate to slaughter the man who had bought her at age 12, abused her for years, sold her sexually to others, and then finally tortured and prepared to execute her for the entertainment of other men, before she was rescued by Dorian and Lily.
Can't really question why she was so eager to cut his throat. They made it pretty damn transparent.
The induction was precipitated by a very telling conversation between Lily and Justine over lunch, in which Lily revealed that she remembered Ethan as the one man who didn't want to have sex with her or abuse her.
Their journeys have taken them so far apart at this point, and I was never terribly fond of the two of them as a romantic pair, but I desperately want to see them reunited, if only to see Ethan's horror and distress at what Brona has become.
A group of suffragettes also conveniently appeared during that lunch, leading to a very on-the-nose conversation comparing Lily's larger goals with the activists'.
In essence: the suffragettes aim for equality, while the deranged/power mad Lily won't be satisfied with equality at this point. She's suffered enough indignity (and witnessed the suffering of her fellow women) to the point where nothing less than total mastery over mankind will satisfy her bloodlust.
Jekyll & Frankenstein
We only got the briefest glimpse of these two, a single scene taking place at Bethlem, the insane asylum.
It's long enough to set up the rest of their mission this season, and to reveal the problem they need to work together to overcome.
Jekyll: And which is true? Which is the real man: the beast or the angel?
Frankenstein: We are both.
Jekyll: Are we?
Frankenstein: Good and evil braided be.
Jekyll: Oh, no. Not at all. Or at least, we can't seem to be that way. So complicated, I mean. In the end, we must be that thing the world demands of us. We must take the lust and the avarice and the ambition and bury them. All the alien, ugly things, all the things we really are -- the other one, the other man, we cannot allow him!
Unfortunately for Victor, he's too blinded by his own smugness (he can fix the problem Jekyll's been working on for years in a snap, after all!) and his desire to "save" Lily to see that Jekyll is seriously unhinged himself.
Any normal man would've taken Jekyll's violent meltdown as a sign that perhaps their partnership wouldn't lead to anything good, but not Victor.
Victor was insistent that, with the addition of his work with electricity (which allowed him to resurrect the dead in the first place), he could solve the problem that had been bogging down Jekyll's research – the inevitable reversion of deranged patients to their madness, after a brief period of sanity.
Can he do it? We're totally off-book with this (a Jekyll/Frankenstein crossover was obviously not any part of the source material), so it remains to be seen whether the addition of Victor's know-how will successfully help Jekyll with his process.
Caliban set off to find his family after visions of his previous life began to return to him. He recognized the setting of his visions and successfully tracked the woman and child of his flashbacks to a disgusting factory town, where they were living in extreme poverty.
He was distressed to find that his young son was very ill (likely with tuberculosis) and perhaps dying.
To alleviate their burden, he robbed a rich man and left his watch for his former wife to find. Yep, definitely can't see anything going wrong with this plan.
Of course, being Caliban, he was unwilling to reveal himself to his family, opting instead to spy on them through the attic floor (a great callback to the source material, in which the Creature grows attached to a family while he lives in a structure connected to their cottage).
Interestingly, in a great, unexpected twist, another piece of the puzzle regarding Caliban's history fell into place – during Vanessa's portion of the narrative.
Vanessa, Dr. Seward & Dr. Sweet
During a cryptic encounter with Dracula's familiar during a funhouse date with "Dr. Sweet" (now known – to the audience – to be Dracula himself), the rather stupid vampire acolyte gave away what was probably meant to be kept secret from Vanessa – that she had met Dracula already, once before, when she was in a white room devoid of day or night. Clearly, a padded cell.
Vanessa immediately retreated back into herself after realizing she was yet again the subject of a great evil's quest, hastily breaking up with Dr. Sweet and rushing off to see Dr. Seward for help.
Once there, Vanessa quickly convinced Seward to hypnotize her, unlocking a repressed memory of her time in the insane asylum where she was brutally tortured by the attending physician.
I can't say I was at all expecting Caliban's former self to have been the orderly who brought Vanessa food while institutionalized. Where are they going to go with this?
I'm really excited to see Caliban's story connected to the larger plot in a new way. Structurally, it's also interesting that Vanessa and Caliban are both discovering different aspects of his history simultaneously.
Vanessa clearly recognized the orderly as Mr. Clare, despite his more human appearance in the memory.
Will she seek him out? Will unlocking Caliban's memories prove a vital piece of the puzzle in defeating Dracula? The fact that we had that moment of Caliban spotting Vanessa while she was out on her date with Dr. Sweet leads me to believe that this will be the case. I'm so intrigued!
- At what point will Renfield become a useful asset to Dracula? As of yet, he's just sitting around like a twitchy creeper, listening in on Vanessa's sessions while eating flies and penning Vanessa's name over and over again, Jack Torrance-style.
- The make-up team has been doing a spectacular job of making the otherwise-gorgeous Eva Green look sickly and unwell this season.
- Hecate's conversation with Ethan about ruling at his side was interrupted by bullets flying from their pursuers, Rusk and the sheriff, but we did get a moment of Ethan's protectiveness of Vanessa. Obviously, he's still carrying a torch for her. He clearly hasn't stopped loving her. Hecate's jealous cattiness was also unexpectedly kind of funny – she's a super-powerful witch annoyed that the guy she likes can't get over his ex.
- Part of me believes that either Lily or Justine will grow tired of the other. If Lily grooms Justine in her image, I can't imagine that Lily will be content to share her power. Either that, or Justine (herself clearly unhinged), will attempt to displace Lily and suffer a terrible fate for it. Just a hunch.
- Seeing soft-spoken Dr. Sweet overcome with rage was spookier than I expected. Both the tea cup breaking moment and ordering his familiars to eat the stupid familiar who tipped off Vanessa were very creepy moments. I'm looking forward to seeing more of the breakdown between his Dr. Sweet and Dracula personas. Christian Camargo is doing a wonderful job!
What did you think of "Good and Evil Braided Be"? Chime in by leaving your thoughts in a comment below and watch Penny Dreadful online right here at TV Fanatic any time.
Caralynn Lippo is a staff writer for TV Fanatic. Follow her on Twitter.