Penny Dreadful's Season Finale Leaves Us With a Zillion QuestionsGenevieve Valentine6/30/14 4:31pmFiled to: tv recapspenny dreadful recapspenny dreadful9221EditPromoteShare to KinjaToggle Conversation toolsGo to permalinkWith only eight episodes to work with and Gothic subplots spawning every minute, we knew Penny Dreadful couldn't possibly get to it all in a single finale. But in "Grand Guignol," it sure did try.AdvertisementSpoilers ahead.Penny Dreadful has done very well this season in balancing giving us the inevitable and quietly confounding expectations. However, with an increasing number of inevitabilities and expectations, there was a lot of pressure going into this episode. It was impossible for "Grand Guignol" to wrap things up neatly, because there was just too much—thank goodness for that second season already in place!—but it did as much as it could. AdvertisementPerhaps, in the end, that was a bit too much, because more than once during this episode it felt as if we were watching a cut of something that was originally two hours. Promo photos confirm that we're definitely watching a shorter cut than originally intended, given that they offer us at least one scene with Mr. Lyle and Madame Kali that never appears in the actual ep. Not that it would have given us much information (I think we can agree it would have mostly been some deliciously arch portent thrown around) but it's clear this episode was something of a battlefield of story points and character moments. In fact, this episode is pretty much a battlefield full stop, as several of the key relationships through the season fracture or unexpectedly reconcile. First up?These two, of course; Vanessa demands some details about the plan to rescue Mina, including that he's willing to shoot Mina rather than let her suffer any longer as a vampire. Vanessa, as viciously curious when she's herself as when she's possessed, asks if that will bring him peace. He growls, "Don't be naïve. It doesn't suit you."And speaking of relationships that are falling apart, Vanessa's absentminded shuffling ("Why are all these cards covered in spider guts?") is interrupted by Dorian Gray, who stops by to mention he stopped by when she was sick, then he went to Italy, and now he's back so how about lunch?Oh. Well. How about a fortune telling? "Some people only have a past." Anyway, thanks for stopping by! Sembene will show you out, this episode confirms they have nothing else for him to do.AdvertisementSponsoredThere's something about Dorian getting so amazingly shut down that warms my heart. It only gets better when she meets him in the botanical gardens, where she explains they can't see each other any more because of the person he makes her. "I do not know what I'm feeling." "It's rejection." I laughed so hard I had to to back up.I will forever think that this relationship is a hard sell. Given her chemistry with Malcolm, Ethan, and even Victor; Vanessa milquetoastly expositing to him about the depth of their connection only enhances the feeling that we're having to be convinced of something. At the same time, Dorian has not had much to do except to insinuate about making out and then make out; while I'm glad the reveal about his night out with Ethan ended up being something of a non-issue among the gentlemen of the house, it's safe to assume Dorian will be back next season to sow a little discord. He won't be sowing the most discord, though. Next season's biggest discord already gets sown this episode, by Dr. Victor BadIdea. The Frankenstein aspect of the Penny Dreadful story is, of course, one that carries the most expectations, which is one of the reasons it's been such a source of twists, trying to confound the story we all know. However, Brona Croft was doomed pretty much from moment one, and with every brief encounter, near miss, and rattling cough, we've been waiting for the big moment. It was a more unexpected twist that after all the build of Caliban in the Grand Guignol, he's kicked out before the team can even arrive for vampire hunting. I'd expected a last-minute rescue when the Doctor was in vampire peril, leading to a momentary truce. AdvertisementInstead, Caliban's plot stayed closer than expected to the spirit of the novel from whence he sprung, by making him alternately horrifying and piteous. (Horrifying AND piteous: this outfit, which might be in the top ten of most punishing TV costumes ever donned. "How about overalls?" "But he's a MONSTER." "Overalls and a bandana?" "...Better.")AdvertisementThough he's been set a little adrift in terms of story—a fantastic, vicious introduction giving way to a season of treading water—Rory Kinnear does absolutely everything he can with Caliban, making him as off-putting or nasty or melancholy as the scene requires without worrying about making him appealing. The monster's inherent dichotomy has always been that he's given completely shitty circumstances, is understandably upset, and then makes a series of extremely questionable decisions. In the abstract, that makes him the manifestation of divine vengeance, and Kinnear gets no greater moment in this episode than the rueful recitation from Paradise Lost: "Did I request thee, Maker, from my clay/To mold me man?"Maude's kindness is very touching, and her gift very sweet (he takes that orange in the least natural possible way to take an orange from someone). However, given Caliban's general desperation and his specific lack of boundaries about poor Maude, he decides to get dressed up like a normal human and ask her on a Victorian orange date.