There come times when you watch a series and rather than the meticulous plod of events and drama scattered just enough to keep you watching, you instead hang on to every episode, adore each character to the core, and allow it to permeate your every thought..
It is a rare occurrence in which this happens, but I have been fortunate to have just such a series to cling to these past years.
Anybody who knows me well enough, or would take the pains to know me, will be familiar with my singular tastes. Poetry, romanticism, morbidity, Gothic tales, Victorian sensibilities and anything coated in dust. Penny dreadful gave me everything I could have ever wanted in a series.
A dark tale set around a woman tortured by her inner self- something I can empathise with more than I might like to admit.
It touches on suffering, the pain in the world and the endless, ceaseless search for beauty, happiness, love, and the joys of the world. It tells us that to find these you, and all others need to search far and wide, and cling to them upon success because they are the only things worth keeping.
The struggle with normality, doubt, faithlessness, the feeling of being unworthy, what we are expected to be or to do, and the search for safety is lifelong for some of us, but this series reminds us that it is not without its rewards and love is always worth holding onto.
I won’t give too much away, as I would always urge anyone to watch it as soon as they get the chance, but the way that this season ended left me in distraught tears as I watched my beloved ‘friends’ at the end of their tale.
This is by no means a bad thing, I love series and films that elicit an emotional response- they are the result of good direction and poignant storytelling, they are kept so much closer to our hearts that way!
In the end of it all, Frankenstein’s monster, John Claire- was left alone, almost an opposite of Vanessa Ives, were it not for their similar suffering- but he, a survivor having seen the beauty in the world and let go of pain that he cleaved to in the past.
The poetry read in this last scene, is a selection from Wordsworth’s Ode on Intimations of Immortality (from Recollections of Early Childhood).
There was a time when meadow, grove, and stream,
The earth, and every common sight,
To me did seem
Apparell’d in celestial light,
The glory and the freshness of a dream.
It is not now as it hath been of yore;—
Turn wheresoe’er I may,
By night or day,
The things which I have seen I now can see no more…
—But there’s a tree, of many, one,
A single field which I have look’d upon,
Both of them speak of something that is gone:
The pansy at my feet
Doth the same tale repeat:
Whither is fled the visionary gleam?
Where is it now, the glory and the dream?
It was well chosen in where it leaves the characters, and us.
Ethan, in his grief will see no beauty in the world for some time to come, he has lost what he lived for and the love of his life, he served his purpose at great cost, but did his duty none the less. A sacrifice for love. Lord Malcolm has always ruminated over the implications of age and the loss of a legacy.. he had no family left where the series ended, and will think of himself as a man with no reason to live, the sum of his years coming to naught. Victor abandoned his notions of fame and his dreams of conquering death, changing his ideas on immortality, It is my belief that he saw the pains of the monsters he created and knew that some things are better left in peace, buried safely away. We all know that happens to Dr Jeckyll/ Mr Hyde. His work goes too far- he will more than likely become another ‘Victor’, until he learns a greater lesson. Lily realised that pain is part of life and makes us the person we are- your agonies are to be kept with you no matter how wizened and bent out of shape you become, they make you into who you need to be. Dorian admitted that a life without passion makes you nothing at all but a shadow of your former self, although in that state he chose to remain, believing that it was the lot of an immortal and life should be lived painlessly to avoid any unwanted feelings..
The monster proved Dorian’s rule, that loneliness and the loss of all that you hold dear will come from immortality. Loss is worth the love you have along the way, and to cherish it and feel all that you can is to truly live.
But such dreams I had….
Now is the question, what will i do with myself? Penny dreadful ended as a good Victorian penny dreadful always did. In sadness or in some horror.
I had hoped that this series might run for a little longer.. I secretly longed for five seasons, but without Vanessa there is no ‘life’.
I will forever hold my memories of this series dear, as it taught me to, and cherish the re-appreciation of Victorian fashion, literature and aesthetics!
Stunning, truly stunning…
In the end, the prophecy did come true, it ended with a pile of bodies, death, and silence.
Did you watch the series and love it as much as I did? What did you think of the ending?