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So, hey, we're at "Possession", the penultimate episode of Penny Dreadful. Where in most series they set things up for the big climactic showdown.

But not Penny Dreadful. No-siree-bob. This is another episode where there's not a lot of narrative advancement. In fact, all they really did was wrap up a storyline that they weren't really doing much with anyway. Remember when Egyptian vampires were all the rage and our poor missing Egyptologist Dr. Ferdinand was predicting that there would be a time of great darkness when the two Egyptian deities would mate and the world would be destroyed?

I have a subplot around here somewhere, don't I?

Well, neither did writer/creator John Logan and his merry band. Sure it's been mentioned briefly from time to time. But there doesn't seem to have been any real concern about it. Well, tonight Logan & Co. decided to address it by ending it. Sort of. Vanessa seems to be demon-free now: dispossessed, as it were. Thanks to a deus ex machina.

In fact, rather than the typical penultimate episode, "Possession" is more of a bottle show than anything. They reuse the standing sets and only have one guest star.* You don't usually expect to see a bottle show in the next-to-last slot, even in short-run series.

So what happens in "Possession"? It's basically an episode-length machine to get Eva Green an Emmy. She acts her little heart out, foaming and frothing and cursing and saying Showtime levels of explicit sexual dialogue. Hey, it got Linda Blair an Oscar nomination, didn't it? It was either do a possession episode, or cast Eva in a remake of Roller Boogie.

Pea soup, anyone?

And don't get me wrong: it's a great performance. As one reviewer noted, probably the best possession victim acting since Linda Blair in The Exorcism. And the episode served to do what many other possession-type episodes have done in the past on other shows. They shine a light on the other characters. We find out how big of a dick Malcolm really is. He not only left his son to die, but named a mountain after himself rather than Peter. Victor is a virgin (or is he? does sex with one of his creations count?). Victor and Malcolm bond over drugs. Ethan and Sembene kind of bond over spicy food. Heck, even Ethan and Victor bond in the only humorous scene. Ethan realizes that it doesn't do much good telling Victor to treat a trigger like a woman, and then Ethan says that Dad (Malcolm) is mad at them.

Like you're touching a lady's neck... oh, never mind.

And Josh Hartnett is still pretty entertaining in a role that could have been a stereotypical American cowboy. He gets the humorous moments of the episode, and a dramatic bit talking about how Indian children were taken from their tribes and raised as whites.

But that brings us to... the ending. As we discover that Ethan is an exorcist? Where the heck did that come from? And not some kind of Indian shaman: I'm pretty sure that's Latin he's chanting. And it's certainly Brona's St. Jude medal he's using. I don't think they've dropped any hints that Ethan is a rogue exorcist (exorciser?) from the Catholic Church. And why the heck did he wait until the last minute? He didn't seem to be in danger by doing it.

Why the heck didn't you do that 54 minutes ago?!?

So that's what I meant earlier about the deus ex machine ending. They spend 54 minutes or so talking about how Vanessa's case is hopeless and all they can do is kill her and put her out of her misery. And then *poof* she's cured and the threat of the Egyptian deities goes away for the foreseeable future. If one of them can't possess Vanessa and use her as a host body to start the apocalypse, the whole take over the world plan goes away. Sure, they'll probably threaten her with repossession *heh* in season 2. But the ending here pretty much put paid to that for the foreseeable future.

Dorian and Brona are absent, although mentioned a few times. Rory Kinnear lurks outside but has no dialogue and no input on the plot. Hope they're getting fat paychecks to not show up.

And then… Caliban comes up and breaks his frikkin' neck.

So overall, "Possession" was an acting episode, but not a whole lot of narrative progression episode. Sort of like "Closer Than Sisters". Of course, by now it just may be that John Logan isn't trying to do a bunch of narrative progression. Or maybe he's just saving it all for the finale. The preview definitely makes it looks like it's crammed full of lots and lots of dangling plotlines coming to fruition. And a few new ones as well.

But that's just my opinion, I could be wrong. What do you think?


* Played by Oliver Cotton. Who somewhat coincidentally showed up in the American premiere of The Musketeers on BBC America an hour earlier, playing D'Artagnan's father. Busy night for him.
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