Let me just put this out there: Eva Green's performance as Vanessa Ives on Penny Dreadful is the only reason I watch the show. Oh, and John Clare/The Creature (tenderly played by Rory Kinnear). So, about 30 minutes into last Sunday's episode 7 titled "Ebb Tide," I was nearly fast asleep waiting for them to get back to a scene with Vanessa and/or John aka The Creature when Lily (Billie Piper), one of Dr. Frankenstein's experiments-gone-wrong, is being badgered by three men (including Frankenstein) threatening to turn her into "a real woman." Meaning, turn her into a submissive, pleasing, feminine gift to men, and cure her of her man-eating, free-thinking ways.
And just like that, I woke up.
I had all but written Lily off as a woman on the wrong side of feminism when these male neanderthals threatened to destroy her bra-burning instinct. Suddenly, she became interesting to me. I am now paying attention to her, just as her socio-political freedom is being stripped away. How, on a show that has highlighted some of the strongest female characters in genre ever (on both the big and small screens combined), has a vital woman character fallen to the mercy of three men?
That's okay, at least there's Vanessa, who's so boss she's even got the devil scared of her in episode 4 titled "A Blade of Grass." Sure, she's had her share of sinister souls relentlessly biting at her heels, but I thought her new beau, Dr. Sweet (Christian Carmano), would help turn everything around for her. But no, he ended up being Dracula, which made me both angry and heartbroken for Vanessa. Of course, she was furious when she discovered this in episode 7, and confronts him because she's a grown woman who never backs down from a conflict. But then...then...she allows him to sweet talk her with his beguiling speech, and he sinks his teeth into her neck. WHY GAWD WHY?!
How did a woman so independent and wise fall prey to this bloodthirsty maggot? Ugh, I hate him so. My only hope is that Vanessa turns into a super vampire and becomes head mistress of the land of vampires (or something). She cannot simply become Dracula's victim, just like Lily cannot become a trained rat under the discretion of three weak men. I beg of you, dear Penny Dreadful writers, do not make them male playthings.
Next week we've got a two-episode season finale coming, which I'm sure will be jam packed with twists and turns and shoe-throwing moments. In a perfect world, Vanessa and Lily will band together to form the most dysfunctional yet mesmerizing dream team ever on the small screen. One can hope.
Tune in to Penny Dreadful on Showtime Sunday at 10pm.