Review: Penny Dreadful Season 3

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Premiere SteamGoth/horror series Penny Dreadful is back, taking up a few months after the events of the season finale of season 2.

If you haven’t seen season 1, it’s not the greatest issue in the world (although it does help to have seen every episode), but you really should watch season 2 before starting 3, else you’ll have very little clue about the necessary background leading up to the events in this season.

This season is undoubtedly the strongest so far, with the return of many characters we came to love and hate the past 2 seasons, but also some very strong and interesting new ones we get to love and/or hate. Right up to episode 7’s ending, but more about that in a moment.

Vanessa takes on an old foe (or does she?), Ethan Chandler faces his curse (or does he?), Victor looses the plot some more (but in new and spectacular ways), Malcolm is still the sanest of the bunch, Lilly is out to plot world domination with Dorian at her as long as he’s not bored and Calliban/John Clare finally finds something that looks like happiness (or does he?).

Throw a bunch of new characters into that particular Victorian melting pot of (supernatural) disasters, and you get another thrilling (even with the slow pace) season of what is undoubtedly the best, and quintessential SteamGoth series out there.

The locations are another fantastic thing this season: from the different neighborhoods of Victorian London, to the weird west of Ethan Chandler’s youth. We also explore new settings: such as the Natural History museum of days past and the early days of psychotherapy and delving into the depths of Bedlam, literally. (Mad) science has never been so delightful as in this show.

The costumes are, just like every surrounding used, as always, utterly exquisite.

Unprecedented for Penny Dreadful, this show delivers literally every episode as stronger and better than the others, only turning slightly forced and at the end of episode 7, to come back at us at full force, like never before in the last two episodes of that season, right up to that scene where they take on the big bad. That was rather Hollywood ridiculous. But still, it’s entertaining tv.

This is the season where you see characters grow, where you see them develop and where you REALLY get sucked into the story and their lives. How it ends: I won’t tell, but I will warn you. Brace yourself, because in my opinion, the very final scene of the season is one of the most heart breaking in tv history.

In short, Penny Dreadful continues to be a series more than worth watching. If you love SteamGoth, horror and/or the Victorian era with all its sordid dark sides, then Penny Dreadful is the series for you.

As a side note, it is available on Netflix (I’m not sure whether season 3 is out on DVD yet) and has recently been turned into a comic book series as well (available from Titan) that functions as the prequel to the show. More about that later when I’ve read the trade paperback.

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