Though probably not as satisfying as the season 1 finale or as thrilling as the penultimate episode of season 2, Penny Dreadful has delivered a solid finale to its second season with “And They Were Enemies.” The main storyline certainly concludes in a surprising manner, with Vanessa triumphing over Evelyn before the episode is even halfway over. Once Evelyn is defeated, Penny Dreadful just has to pick up the pieces. It’s an epilogue of sorts that sets up next season — and the mileage, in terms of quality, varies. If it’s a scene that includes John or Lily, it’s superb. If the scene focuses in on Ethan, it’s (sadly) much less successful.
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Deal with the Devil (Literally) Vanessa’s doll doppelganger introduces herself as the embodiment of Lucifer. The devil tells Vanessa that she needs to accept him so he can claim her soul. The groundwork for this acceptance has already been laid by her using dark magic to kill the local lord in “Little Scorpion.” Evelyn then starts in on Vanessa. She tells Vanessa that the devil will never abandon her, unlike God.
When Vanessa refuses, Evelyn and Lucifer promise Vanessa they will give her what she wants more than anything in return for her soul. Vanessa will get to live out the rest of her days married to Ethan and they will have two children. Her friends will be safe and they’ll all get to leave here alive. The only condition is that upon her death, when she is old, Vanessa’s soul will join Lucifer in Hell forever.
Up in the room of the nightmare children, Malcolm and Victor are still being tortured by their dead (and undead) family members. Their respective families tell the two men that the only way they can atone for their sins is by killing themselves. Victor is handed a needle and Malcolm a gun.
While Malcolm and Victor contemplate suicide, Vanessa appears ready to accept the devil’s offer. Just before she’s about to seal the deal, though, she turns. Vanessa uses dark magic again and crushes the doll. For some reason, this also ends Evelyn’s spell of eternal youth. She begins to turn into the Peddler Woman from Snow White and grabs a knife.
Evelyn charges at Vanessa, ready to kill her, but Hecate, who has been watching in the wings, releases the werewolf Ethan to attack her mother. Ethan rips out Evelyn’s throat and then stands face to face with Vanessa. He growls but quickly recognizes her and runs away. With Evelyn’s death, her spell on Victor and Malcolm breaks. They are spared from killing themselves and the apparition of their loved ones disappears. Everyone, except the missing Ethan, converges on Sembene’s corpse and leaves the castle together.
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Deal with the Devil (Metaphorically)
John Clare is still being kept in his cell when the Putneys come to him with an offer. He can join in on their new “freak” exhibit as a partner. He will be paid and train the other freaks but will still be caged most of the time, with occasional times when he can be out. His alternative is nothing and he simply continues to be their unwilling prisoner. The Putneys figure a happy “freak” is better than a miserable one. Since some deal is better than no deal, John looks like he is about to agree to their terms, but like Vanessa before him, it’s all a ruse. He breaks out of his cell and murders the Putneys but leaves the blind Lavinia alive to find her dead parents.
Victor returns to his apartment to find Lily missing. Realizing that she must be at Dorian’s, he goes to confront them. Victor brandishes a gun and demands that Lily return home with him. When she refuses and taunts him, Victor shoots her. This, of course, doesn’t kill her and she tells Victor she has always known what she truly is and that she is his creation. She has been manipulating him the entire time.
Dorian joins in on the “making fun of Victor” party, so Victor shoots him as well. It doesn’t kill him. Together, the two immortals toy with the idea of killing Victor themselves. Lily intervenes and decides to let Victor live. She tells Victor that he must learn to live with what he has created. There is also a time when he might prove useful for her.
At the manor, Ethan is waiting for Vanessa in her room. She pleads with him to run away with her and he promises to think about it. It’s all nauseatingly romantic. As he leaves the room, Ethan asks Vanessa to forgive him. Whether this is for killing Sembene or what he does next is uncertain.
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When Vanessa wakes up the next morning, Ethan has left a envelope telling her he is leaving. Ethan goes to visit Rusk and confesses to committing the inn massacre. Rusk gloats over his victory, but it’s all meaningless. Rusk just wanted the satisfaction of being right. He has had an order of extradition with Ethan’s name on it for weeks. Ethan is going back to America.
Vanessa meets with John, who tells her that he is leaving the country forever. He wants to remove himself all together from humanity. He has seen what he can do and it terrifies him. He asks Vanessa to go with him, but she tells him that a “shroud” follows her wherever she goes and she won’t inflict that pain on him.
When we next see John, he is on a boat in the middle of the Arctic. He is, however, not the only character traveling by sea. Malcolm is shown going back to Africa to retrieve the body of his son and bring it home. Ethan is in a cage and on his way, with Rusk, to America.
The only people not on a boat are Victor and Vanessa. Victor is in his apartment injecting morphine into literally any vein he can find and Vanessa is alone in the manor. She turns off all the lights and goes to her room. She looks at the crucifix on her wall, pauses and then proceeds to throw it into the fire.
(Image courtesy of Showtime)