'Penny Dreadful' Recap: Vanessa Goes to Hell and Back
'Penny Dreadful' Recap: Vanessa Goes to Hell and Back
Lisa  Casas
Lisa Casas
Contributing Writer, BuddyTV
It's baaaack! In "Possession" Vanessa goes dark (aka ugly) again being taken over by the creature for the second time. In episode five we saw the hell she went through years ago when possessed and sent to an insane asylum (remember the screw to the head?). In Penny Dreadful's latest we see the second time around is not always sweeter. Sir Malcolm shows there is no limit to his Mina quest, Vanessa succumbs to the ugly, and Ethan fully steps into that hero role that's been vacant. Let's get into the soul of this one.

Running with the Devil

 "Possession" begins with Vanessa Ives talking to Sir Malcolm about being beautiful, and asking him if he knows there's a market for pictures of dead girls. Nice talk. She's an inquisitive little thing asking, "Who dressed me? You did?" She talks with a little kid voice, and we know it's his dead son bitter over his father's absence. Sir Malcolm seizes the opportunity and asks for Mina. Vanessa channels her and starts talking about "fat mother" crying over Sir Malcolm and his infidelities. The creature makes his first appearance and begins to speak through Miss Ives asking the explorer about all of the women he's had.

Sir Malcolm commands him to stop, but the creature only mocks his big boy voice. Things start flying all around the room, papers, books, shelves, tables. A low growling comes out of Vanessa's mouth showing us that she's definitely being controlled by some other force. Sembene comes rushing in to knock some sense into her or knock the devil out of her or just knock her out. 

Cut to Vanessa brushing her hair in front of a mirror saying, "I'm quite well now." Victor Frankenstein is there to make a "discreet" examination and it does seem like Vanessa is back with her sarcastic witticisms. He asks what happened downstairs, but she claims she doesn't remember.

Victor examines her while she talks about Cornish game hens expertly carved by a beautiful boy, clean hands, and his virginity. She says a line from Shelley haunts her. It's the same line that the doctor and Van Helsing discussed last episode, "No more let life divide what death can join together." This is definitely not our Miss Ives. 

Who Will Save My Soul?

Sir Malcolm calls Ethan Chandler to "assist" them. Victor suggests Miss Ives is holding a deep "psychosexual responsiveness" and the root of her condition lies in guilt. Sir Malcolm says she had a hot date last night that maybe triggered this. You're going to blame it all on Dorian Gray? Nice try, Malcolm. 

Ethan arrives to the screams of Vanessa. She is on the floor doing the possession growl again.  

"Mr. Chandler, forgive me. I'm not myself," Vanessa says in the understatement of the episode. She adds, "You have no idea how I fight this thing. This thing inside me." We are about to see what she's talking about. The rest of "Possession" is a dark struggle for Vanessa's soul with Ethan seemingly the only one with pure intentions.

He reaches out to touch her and hold her hand. Vanessa says, "No one has taken my hand so sweetly for many years." She proceeds to verbally tear Ethan apart asking about his Dorian encounter and threatening to tell his sick girlfriend, Brona. She speaks in a foreign language becoming hysterical and fighting them all.

Ethan asks, "What's wrong with her?" You can tell he's hoping the answer is "a bad case of the flu."

"She's been possessed by the devil," Sir Malcolm answers.
"Oh, fu** me," responds the American with the best line of the night. That would be the Beelzebub flu, cutie. Ethan turns to Victor and says, "Well, you're a doctor, do something." Oh, it's a good thing you are pretty, Mr. Chandler.

Sir Malcolm reveals that the fancy pants Egyptologist told him the creature thinks Vanessa is an incarnation of the goddess Amunet. No, not that one! Quick Google search ... reveals, not much. Goddess of air and wind, name means hidden female one. I do remember the flamboyant Egyptian expert saying something about ruling the darkness. Ethan suggests getting a priest. Sir Malcolm vetoes that saying their big plan is to keep her alive. That may be a difficult one considering the Arabic words she was spewing out were, "Let me die."

The episode shows scene after scene of Vanessa possession outbursts with Victor sedating her over and over. Ethan has a tortured look on his face through much of it, and Dr. Frankenstein has taken to self medicating.

Eeny, Meeny, Miny Moe

Ethan is taking his newly minted hero role very seriously. He's at Vanessa's bedside getting her water and talking in sweet fatherly tones. She tells him, "It feels like this animal is in me scratching to get out." She pleads with him to not let her hurt anyone adding that when the time comes "pull the trigger."

Penny Dreadful, you do like to shock. In the surprise of the night, Ethan talks in a more pronounced hick accent asking, "You don't recognize your old friend, Vanessa?" Uh, oh. He's possessed now? Or more than likely the creature is appearing to Miss Ives in the form of her gunslinging friend. He says he wants her to rule the darkness by his side. "Together we will conquer God, topple him from his bloody throne." He kisses her passionately, and they hold each other tightly with Omen music playing in the background. Aw, it's just an old fashioned love story.

There's more screaming and writhing from Vanessa; the creature back where he belongs. She's bloody now and contorting her body in the classic horror movie way that says "I am possessed" just in case any still had doubts. 

Victor suggests they try some vitamins to help Miss Ives. Really? I think we may need a better, non Morphine shooting up doctor.

Boys Will Be Boys

Ethan and Victor bond over old stories, secrets and guns. The American says he's not sure Sir Malcolm is being honest with them. He tells Victor about seeing Indian children taken from their tribes, stripped of their culture. He says sometimes they would escape and make it back to their tribe. They are unwelcome and don't fit in either world like Miss Ives. 

The sad story leads logically to Ethan giving Victor a shooting lesson. They shoot at bottles and Victor loves it. Ethan's personality is in full force in this one, telling Victor, "Go crazy Dr. F. Take it easy Annie Oakley." Sembene comes down to break up the fun.  Ethan's got another one-liner, "Uh, oh. We're in trouble with dad."

The bromance continues with Sembene and Ethan bonding over a tasty meal  that Ethan cooked. "What's your story?" asks the gunslinger. Sembene reveals nothing but does suggest they call a priest.

Sacrificial Lamb

Vanessa is fully restrained now with Sir Malcolm at her bedside. He tries to reach Vanessa saying she is in a very special place. "You must be close to Mina. Reach out to her. Find her. You must!" Miss Ives looks close to death, but Sir Malcolm's only concern is for his daughter. He proves again that he has no limits in his Mina obsession, even using the possession in his quest.

Ethan barges in forcing Sir Malcolm to "get the fu** away from her." He finally gets that priest telling the explorer, "If she's right, and you let all this happen. I'll rip your throat out." 

It's Sir Malcolm and Victor's time to bond through drugs and death talk. Malcolm asks the doctor for something to help him stay awake. Victor offers up a cocaine derivative that he took for his asthma as a child. 

Sir Malcolm confesses that he's not winning any Father of the Year awards. "I left my son at base camp and when I returned he was dead." He talks about naming a range for himself not his son. He seems to be playing make-up with the Mina mission, trying to save the one child he has left. 

The Exorcism

The priest comes and you can't help but feel for the old guy. He has no idea what he's getting himself into. Sir Malcolm leads him to Vanessa like a lamb to slaughter. She's in full blown eye rolling, demonic mode. He begins giving Last Rites and almost makes it through. Almost. She breaks her restraints and bites a huge chunk out of his neck. She spits out the hunk of flesh obviously not liking the taste of priest. She contorts her body flying up to the ceiling. 

She uses her Darth Vader skills and pushes everyone out except Ethan. He pulls his gun aiming it at her chest.  "Vanessa, I know you're still there!" 

She begs him to shoot her, but he puts the gun to his side. He speaks in what sounds like Latin, holding a cross to her forehead. What? He's doing the exorcism! He's screaming, she's screaming. She collapses to the ground, the devil gone. Maybe. 

Ethan grabs his stuff and abruptly walks out into the snow.

The next morning she wakes up telling Sir Malcolm she knows where Mina is.

"Possession" was an odd mix of super, scary devil growling combined with some of the most humorous lines in this first season of Penny Dreadful. It featured a possession worthy of Linda Blair and an unexpected exorcism by a crass American gunslinger. What did you think of all the surprises? It definitely sets up for an exciting season finale next week.  

Penny Dreadful airs Sundays at 10pm on Showtime.

(Image courtesy of Showtime)

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