There were so many great moments to explore in “No Beast So Fierce” as we saw Dracula succeed in his seduction of Vanessa Ives, then we have Dr. Frankenstein’s botched attack on Lily, and then there’s the heartwarming and heartbreaking momentary reunion between John Clare and his terminally ill son.
“No Beast So Fierce” – aired 6/5/2016
Written by Andrew Hinderaker & Krysty Wilson-Cairns
Directed by Paco Cabezas
*Spoilers are contained within*
It was pretty hard for me to decide what to discuss in this review of “No Beast So Fierce.” And believe it or not, these little gems are just a few of the highlights. This episode of Penny Dreadful just was so juicy!
Ethan Chandler and the showdown on the Talbot Range
Ethan’s storyline is very interesting because in “No Beast So Fierce” he faced not one but two battles – emotional and physical. The first battle was definitely an emotional one as the contentious relationship that Ethan had with his father, Jared Talbot, finally came to a head. The emotional minefield of the father/son dynamic was front and center here and Ethan was in for it with his father. The other major conflict was quite literally a gun battle, where Ethan and his team (Malcolm, Hecate & Kaetenay) fight for their lives when a mêlée breaks out in his father’s compound.
So can I start by saying that Jared Talbot is a piece of work? He starts “No Beast So Fierce” by thrusting a loaded pistol in Ethan’s face and demanding that Ethan repent for his sins against his father and his family. Yet, Ethan remains defiant to his father’s demands. It’s clear to me that Jared would love nothing more than for Ethan to suffocate on his feelings of guilt, to choke to death on the knowledge that he played an unwitting hand in the murder of his mother, brother and sister. It’s Jared’s dogged determination to see Ethan flagellate himself over his past failings that leads to his downfall because Ethan knows that his was not the only hand that played a part in the destruction of his family. Ethan knows full well that this burden is not his to shoulder on his own. He’s aware that this father and Kaetenay both played a part in this. So when the gun battle inevitably begins, it leads to a struggle between Jared (and his men) and Ethan (and his men + one witch) and as it usually happens in nature the younger, swifter and stronger adversary eventually overtakes the older, seasoned dominant. Ethan, with the help of Malcolm, finally rids himself of his wretched father’s impossibly overbearing and destructive hold over his life.
Lily and her girl gang Vs. Dorian Gray
Now that Lily has amassed her army of soon-to-be female assassins, she is definitely feeling herself and it is definitely becoming a problem. The first hint of trouble brewing between Lily and Dorian happened in this episode when Lily (using Dorian as the male practice dummy) is leading an instruction for her girl gang on how to quickly and efficiently murder men. There is a moment when Justine begins to test her boundaries with Lily and to test the bonds that existed before her and drew Lily and Dorian together in the first place. During this lesson in murder, Justine begins to berate Dorian and draws blood with the knife that she held to Dorian’s throat; she looks to Lily and asks, “Would you like to see him drown in his own blood?” Lily seems to honestly consider the question and then replies, “Well then who would the other’s practice on?” Like seriously?! This is so wrong. If there is one thing that we should all realize by now, it is that Dorian is no ordinary man. He can’t be held to the same standards as the others. I can’t recall a time where I’ve seen him be cruel to anyone just because he held the position of power. I can’t recall him ever scoffing at or ridiculing people simply because they were poor, or were female, or were sick, odd or were different in any way. Dorian is her partner and her ally. He was her benefactor, her lover and more importantly her biggest supporter, long before she amassed her collective. We can see why she feels an affinity for Justine; she sees herself in her. Justine can understand Lily’s pain and her rage and that is because she has lived through the same horrors. Justine feels how Lily feels and that is a special thing. It creates a special connection. The problem occurs when the unit that was supposed to be Lily + Dorian + girl gang vs. the male oppressors, becomes Lily + girl gang vs. Dorian + all men. Lily should really check her loyalty and watch her back. Dorian isn’t some lowly weak ordinary human male, he is a powerful immortal. She shouldn’t make an enemy out of him.
The seduction of Vanessa Ives
I must comment on poor Vanessa seemingly succumbing to the lure of Dracula. My heart sank a bit when she sought out Dr. Sweet in her loneliness because I knew that that was exactly what he wanted her to do. With all of her allies far away (or moving away from her), Vanessa has no support system right now besides Dr. Seward. So she takes Dr. Seward’s innocent advice to just give that handsome Dr. Sweet a shot. So of course she decides to go for it. I mean Dr. Sweet is the epitome of tall, dark and handsome. Unfortunately he has a huge secret and it’s that he’s also pure evil.
I suppose our only salvation is that Vanessa hasn’t truly chosen Dracula because she’s still unaware of the real identity of her new paramour. I have to hope that it actually matters that she hasn’t actually claimed him and that at no point did she say, “Hey Dracula. I choose you.” Fingers crossed that that really makes a difference!
Penny Dreadful airs on SHOWTIME, Sunday nights at 10 PM ET. Check your local listings.