‘Penny Dreadful’ 3.05 Recap: “This Is a Bloodthirsty Land”

After the previous episode of ‘Penny Dreadful’ scaled the season down to just a couple of characters in a room, this week’s follow-up expands its gaze a little bit, but only so far as to focus on two specific storylines.

Ethan

Ethan and Hecate ride through the desert toward his father’s ranch. They’re chased by the marshal’s posse and struggle to stay ahead of them. Unbeknownst to either group, Sir Malcolm and Kaetenay are also on Ethan’s trail.

Ethan plans to rest and refill their water supply at a river bed he knows, but is greatly disappointed to find it dry. They’ll have no water for days and their horses are already pushing their limits.

While camped for the night, Inspector Rusk tells Marshal Ostow the story of how he lost his arm yet continued to hunt down a fugitive before seeking medical attention. He’s one cold bastard.

Ethan and Hecate likewise trade stories, mostly about their horrible parents. Ethan explains that, while he was in the military, he was forced to participate in the massacre of an Apache tribe. Disgusted at what he’d done, he killed the officer in charge and offered himself to the surviving Apache as a sacrifice. Kaetenay finishes the story for Malcolm. He says that Ethan murdered his wife, but as furious as he was, he had other plans for the boy.

When Ethan realizes just how close the marshal’s posse is, Hecate casts a spell into the dirt to summon an “army of the night.” This occurs simultaneously to Malcolm and Kaetenay raiding the marshal’s camp, stealing some horses, and killing a bunch of men. While fending them off, the posse is also attacked by snakes rising up out of the ground. From a distance, all Ethan and Hecate can see is a lot of desperate shooting.

In the aftermath of this, Rusk disavows his code that would require him to bring Ethan to justice alive. He swears to kill Ethan.

While fleeing again, Ethan’s horse collapses from exhaustion. He’s forced to shoot it. He and Hecate will have to share the only remaining horse. It won’t last long either.

Kaetenay was bitten by a snake during the raid and falls ill quickly. He tells Malcolm, “Darkness will be upon us soon.”

At their next rest, Ethan takes a dark turn. Saying, “I’m done trying to be good,” he gives in to temptation and has sex with Hecate. In the throes of passion, she tries to get him to swear himself to Lucifer, but he won’t go that far.

The next day, their last horse dies. Ethan and Hecate walk through the desert until she collapses. Ethan tries to carry her but doesn’t get far. Just as they look like they’re done for, Ethan sees Sir Malcolm, of all people, ride up to them. “What the fuck are you doing here?” Ethan asks. He had no idea that Malcolm had followed him to America. Kaetenay is with him as well, in pretty bad shape.

When Malcolm recognizes Hecate, he immediately pulls his gun to shoot her. Ethan blocks him and won’t let him do it. Their merged group is then found by – not the marshal’s posse – but a gang of men sent by Ethan’s father to retrieve him. The men disarm Malcolm and Ethan, and debate what to do with Kaetenay. With no love at all for his surrogate father, Ethan suggests that they leave him to die in the desert.

Soon, Ethan is nursed back to health by his father, Jared Talbot (Brian Cox). The elder man is fascinated by Sir Malcolm and has a chat with him about exploring.

Hecate wakes up in a room filled with a child’s dolls, not too dissimilar from the creepy ones her mother made. She just can’t get away from the damned things.

Jared says that he wants to save his son’s soul, by force if necessary. He tells a horrible story about how Apaches murdered Ethan’s mother, brother and sister as revenge for the massacre. He blames Ethan for this. He pulls a gun and demands that Ethan repent, but Ethan defiantly says that he’s done repenting. He’s not afraid to die, because he belongs in Hell. His father cocks the gun.

Frankenstein & Jekyll

Victor and Henry continue to work on their lunatic patient, the man named Balfour. Victor suggests that the reason Henry’s serum only works for such brief periods is that blood is too slow and inefficient a delivery method for it. He proposes that electricity will work better. Victor then electrifies the serum and injects it directly into Balfour’s brain through an eyeball. Ouch.

Balfour passes right out. Victor says that when he awakens, he should have no memories. He believes that’s a good thing, because “It is our memories which make us monsters.” I’m sure John Clare would have to disagree with that.

Balfour remains unconscious for a full 24 hours. Jekyll asks Victor if he’ll really be able to do the same to his beloved Lily. Suddenly, the patient jolts awake.

The next we see him, Victor is back at his own lab, cleaning it up for the next phase of his experiment.

Episode Verdict

I’m disappointed that Eva Green doesn’t appear at all in this episode. She’s the heart of this show, and it suffers for her absence. Despite that, it’s a pretty good episode anyway. Ethan’s storyline kept me engaged. Victor’s less so, but he takes up a much smaller portion of the screen time, so that’s not too bothersome. I’d still just as soon get back to Vanessa as quickly as possible, though.

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