How often have your friends had to take you aside and tell you that the person you're crushing on is bad news? Every few hours? And how often do you immediately get mad at the friend for attempting to destroy your happiness rather than take their warnings seriously? One hundred percent of the time? The plain truth is that when we're intoxicated with affection for a new person, it's impossible to be talked out of it. The warning signs could all be there--the multiple pairs of Crocs, the clown makeup, the expensive drug problem--but the world can be a lonely place and love is love! You know what I mean? Vanessa Ives (Eva Green) surely does.
Yep, it finally happened in Penny Dreadful's "Ebb Tide": Vanessa found out that her dashing new boyfriend is Dracula, brother of Lucifer. But would this be a deal-breaker for her? The answer might surprise you.
Let's talk about this episode!
We began in a picturesque graveyard (where else?) where a woman in black approached another who was currently weeping over a baby-sized coffin as it was lowered into the ground. In other words, a typical Saturday morning for Lily (Billie Piper).
But as it turned out, Lily wasn't just there to rally sad and single women to her cause... She also had a personal matter to attend to.
Aw, yep. Back when she was Brona with the brogue, she was also the mother of a deceased child. Jeez, just when we thought this character wasn't tragic enough.
Meanwhile, Vanessa woke up in a hay-strewn taxidermy room after a night of making hot love to Dracula (Christian Carmago). To her credit she didn't yet know he was Dracula, and also she slept through the part where Renfield (Samuel Barnett) crawled into the room and licked her neck like a total creep.
It was a non-consensual neck-licking, and Dracula was NOT happy about it.
Vanessa was HIS lady. Renfield was trash, get out of here, Renfield.
When Vanessa finally woke up, her dear sweet Dracula was leaning over her fainting couch and they flirted a little bit and clearly this romance was happening. I was pretty happy for her, since her romances don't tend to go well, but on the other hand, she had mistakenly fallen in love with f*cking Dracula. Girl, get it together.
At this point John (Rory Kinnear) paid Vanessa a visit because, as he explained, he was "hella lonely" (not those exact words).
Vanessa, of course, now remembered that John had been her orderly at the psych ward, but he did not remember this, and they both chalked this memory lapse up to his "accident." Anyway, she sorta encouraged him to seek out his previous family or whatever else would make him happy, because he deserved happiness. Or at least, he deserved to please leave her house because she needed to take a shower already. Taxidermy room lovemaking does not leave a pleasant odor.
Back in the Old West, Ethan (Josh Hartnett) was still recovering from an unusual dinner party in which most of the guests had been murdered, including his girlfriend and father. For better or worse, he was now stuck with hanging out with Wes Studi all day, and their friendship was not in great shape. That's probably why Wes Studi felt like he had to get out of the conversation by suddenly mind-warping himself into the future.
Next thing we knew he was experiencing Ethan's return to Vanessa, a lady Wes Studi had only just learned about.
Though things seemed okay at first, it became suddenly clear that Vanessa was in danger!
The property damage alone was cause for concern — antique window replacement can get pricey! — but also the gang realized that maybe Vanessa might get captured by Dracula or whatever, so they needed to hop a steamer ship back to London ASAP. No more dilly dallying in the dust.
Back at Dorian (Reeve Carney) and Lily's condo, they were hosting a dinner party to which all the town's hookers were invited. Lily's recruitment of slattern women was going swimmingly, so it was time for her to walk across the table and rally them into taking back the night (or at least getting revenge on their abusers). First order of business? Chopping off the right hands of the worst men they knew.
But from the look on Dorian's face, he was no longer super into Lily's plan to create an all-female hooker army. It was probably because she had forced him to be more of an assistant than a co-conspirator, and Dorian ain't got time for that.
It was then time for John to just come out to his family as a zombie. Though he probably didn't have to have long, greasy hair and Robert Smith makeup, he wasn't going to change who he was, even if he looked a thousand times creepier now than when he was alive the first time. John was gonna do John.
After a moment of hesitation (well, many moments. Like hours of hesitation it felt like), his wife finally embraced him. This obviously made him feel great!
But he was even more stoked when his son finally accepted him too. Last time they'd had a run in, the son had screamed himself hoarse until John had to run away. But maybe John shouldn't have crept around in the shadows like some kind of ghoul? Kids don't tend to love that. Anyway, the family was back together!
Make no mistake, angry hookers get results! Look at all those right hands. That is a lot of right hands. Handshakes were definitely about to fall out of favor in Victorian London.
Despite the female hooker cult army having a successful night overall, tensions were still brewing between Dorian and Justine (Jessica Barden), who had become a tad bloodthirsty ever since she first murdered her former pimp.
Dorian was NOT having it. He did not need her sass. That's the kind of swagger you have when you're an immortal male model, you know? He was not afraid of this tiny predatrix.
Because it's probably really boring to sail across the Atlantic, Wes Studi got out all of his tricks and trinkets and mind-warped himself into Vanessa's study! There they had a conversation and she was surprisingly cool with the fact that a strange man had astral projected himself into her home. But if we're being honest, he immediately knew something was up with her, probably when her eyes started glowing red. When he snapped out of his trance he was like, "She's half his already" which I think meant she was having really good sex with Dracula lately. He had a good sense for stuff like that. And again, it could have been the smell.
So then this Catriona lady swung by and filled in Vanessa on her research into Dracula's life. It wasn't anything we hadn't heard of before, but she did clarify that most of the lore surrounding him was bunk and made up by scared liars. Furthermore, she advised that if Vanessa wanted to track down this Dracula guy she should turn herself into an undercover spy rather than a soldier. Which, as luck would have it, Vanessa had ALREADY been undercover without even knowing it.
Because the second she heard the phrase "House of Night Creatures" in regards to Dracula, she remembered that her boyfriend was currently creating an exhibit called that at the museum. This was no coincidence: Vanessa realized right then and there that Dracula himself had been all up in her business!
At this point Dorian and Lily went on a nice stroll, and he admitted to her that he was bored with her plan to dominate the world (and him) via her angry hooker army. But Lily is pretty strong-willed and did not seem super interested in slowing down in any way. That's when we discovered that Dorian had secretly enlisted Victor (Shazad Latif) to kidnap Lily and fry her brain!
Lily did not seem happy about waking up in shackles in an asylum, nor did she like the idea that three bros were now trying to take away her agency like a bunch of villains.
If we're being real, this whole plotline is really very disturbing. As audience members we're pretty much rooting for Lily to succeed in her terrifying scheme, at least out of a sense of righteous retribution toward the scum of London. But also, she made the point that whatever "happiness" these dudes were attempting to return to her life was a fiction that never existed in the first place. She was, at heart, a former hooker whose baby had died, and then she herself died of tuberculosis. Not a great life! If anything, Victor just wanted a passive girlfriend to hang out with, so this idea that they would forcibly change her feels majorly evil. This is definitely a line-crossing moment for all these guys, and I've never rooted harder for Lily. It's ON now.
In our final scene, Vanessa angrily confronted her new boyfriend for the crime of being Dracula.
To his credit, he did not deny having ever lied to her about who he was. But come on guy, that's just lying by omission. Intriguingly though, he didn't immediately turn into a villain... He just proclaimed his love for her even harder. Despite her spitting in his face, he made it clear that he genuinely did care for her and would be there for her always, and would never judge her for who she was. It honestly was kind of touching in a way, and Vanessa knew it.
It's probably why she couldn't bring herself to murder this guy. It's probably also why twelve seconds later she was sobbing about her pathetic heart and offering her neck to him!
We've all been there. Dating someone we knew to be bad news, but it wasn't like we had better options! Vanessa might be currently pursued by two of the biggest monsters in existence, but she herself was more human than ever.
"Ebb Tide" was another compelling hour of macabre melodrama. This show has never been particularly fast-paced, but I'm glad we've finally moved on to end-game of its plotlines. Dracula's secret is out; Ethan's father is dead; Lily and Victor will finally have their showdown. The downside is that means this season has begun to wrap up, which is never a great feeling. Why can't it be on ALL YEAR? Oh well. Until then we'll just have to appreciate how good this season's been: So good.
Ok great, bye.
... Are Jekyll, Victor, and Dorian trash?
... What is the deal with Catriona? Is she Tomb Raider?
... Did Hecate even get a funeral?
... Does Vanessa look kind of chic with those red eyes?