‘Penny Dreadful’ 2.09 Recap: “It Will Be Unholy Slaughter”

As this second season of ‘Penny Dreadful’ nears its close, big things are happening and the action is finally ramping up. Unfortunately, I’m not entirely convinced that the many storylines will really tie together satisfactorily.

On the Moors

Ethan and Vanessa’s sojourn at the Cut-Wife’s house is interrupted by the sudden arrival of Roper, the disfigured Pinkerton agent hunting Ethan. He stealthily sneaks in while they’re sleeping, disarms Ethan and gets the drop on both of them when they wake up. He’s a really creepy bloke who enjoys taunting them. However, the scene ends in a big, brutal fight during which Roper stabs Ethan in the shoulder but Vanessa pulls the knife out and uses it to stab the shit out of Roper. I guess that’s the end of him.

No sooner do they have time to bury the intruder than Victor arrives in a carriage to bring them back to London. On the way, he patches up Ethan’s wound.

The Witches’ House

Sir Malcolm is tormented by his dead wife and children. At this point, it becomes clear that they’re just visions in his head, not real ghosts or zombies.

Evelyn looks tired and weak, but she can feel Vanessa coming and prepares for her arrival.


Just as they get back to town, Ethan is confronted by Inspector Rusk, who lets him know that he has discovered his real name – Ethan Talbot. (Does this mean that his father is Larry Talbot, the Universal Monsters Wolf Man?) Ethan is greatly shaken that someone was able to get this close to him. Rusk also informs him that he has assigned officers to watch Malcolm’s house and track his movements. This will be problematic.

Inside the house, Ferdinand Lyle confesses his treachery. He tells the others everything he knows about Evelyn. Learning that Sir Malcolm has been captured, Vanessa wants to rush over and rescue him immediately. She’ll do it herself if nobody else is brave enough to help. The others caution her to wait until they’re more prepared and the timing is right.

With a full moon coming up, Ethan privately begs Sembene to lock him up again. However, before that happens, Hecate visits him in his room. She gloats that none of his spells or charms could keep her out. She calls him the “Wolf of God” who can defeat her mother, says that she wants to be his ally, kisses him and then exits through a mirror in the room.

The Wax Museum

As usual, Calaban is whiny about his sad lot in life. Putney’s blind daughter Lavinia distracts him from his woes by asking for his help snooping on her father’s secret new exhibit in the basement. He agrees, but it turns out that this is all a trick to lock Calaban in a cell. The sweet and sympathetic Lavinia is actually a raging bitch who’s been acting the whole time. As viewers figured out long ago, Calaban himself is to be the new exhibit, put on display like a circus freak.

Did it really need to take this long to make such an obvious revelation?

Dorian Gray’s House

Dorian confirms that he has known all along that Lily is Brona. She remembers her old life clearly as well. She makes Dorian kneel before her and demands to know his secrets.

Lily and Dorian play a little game of erotic asphyxiation. He’s totally turned on by it. She takes it a bit farther by biting his ear off. She knows he can fix it. Dorian leaves for a few minutes to visit his painting, then returns all healed up. He and Brona fuck.

Back to the Witches’ House

Hotheaded and impatient, Vanessa charges out to Evelyn’s mansion on her own. When the others realize this, they follow after her (exiting through the basement to avoid the police watching the house). This means that Sembene will not be able to lock Ethan up. Ethan says that he’s willing to take the risk to help Vanessa.

Vanessa arrives at the witches’ house. Evelyn greets her and invites her in, then leads her downstairs. By the time the rest of the group arrive, Evelyn’s daughters are lying in wait for them. Perhaps inadvisably, they split up. Lyle and Victor go to find Sir Malcolm while Ethan and Sembene search for Vanessa.

Victor gets further separated from Lyle and locked in the crazy room with Sir Malcolm, where he sees visions of Brona and his first creation Proteus berating him.

Ethan and Sembene then get trapped in a stairwell. As the full moon comes on, Ethan pulls his gun to shoot himself before he wolfs out and can’t control himself. Sembene stops him, tells him that they will always be friends, and says that he will sacrifice himself if it means Ethan can help Vanessa. Unable to stop himself, Ethan then goes full wolf and bites Sembene’s throat.

Down in the basement, Evelyn leads Vanessa to her room filled with evil dolls. The one that looks like Vanessa then speaks the word “Murderer.”

This coming weekend will bring the season finale. I’d like to believe that everything will finally come together and make sense, but I don’t honestly imagine that either the Dorian Gray or Calaban storylines will play any part in the battle with the witches. I still feel that those are largely timewasters this season, and I don’t look forward to either one being dragged out to another year, but I will try to remain optimistic.

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