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Penny Dreadful - Possession

episode 1.7

Ireland / UK / USA 2014
produced by
James Flynn, Morgan O'Sullivan, Pippa Harris (executive), John Logan (executive), Sam Mendes (executive), Chris W. King (supervising) for Desert Wolf Productions, Neal Street Productions/Showtime, Sky, Netflix
directed by James Hawes
starring Timothy Dalton, Eva Green, Josh Hartnett, Harry Treadaway, Danny Sapani, Rory Kinnear, Oliver Cotton
written and created by John Logan, Frankenstein created by Mary W. Shelley, music by Abel Korzeniowski, special effects by Team FX, visual effects by Take 5 Productions, Mr. X

Penny Dreadful (TV-series), Frankenstein, Dorian Gray, Van Helsing

review by
Mike Haberfelner

Medium Vanessa Ives (Eva Green) is possessed by something, probably the Devil, and now it's up to those closest to her to sit it through with her and drive out whatever it is - and those closest to her are Sir Malcolm Murray, who depends on her because only she can find his daughter Mina who has been carried away by vampires, Sir Malcolm's loyal servant Sembene (Danny Sapani), Victor Frankenstein (Harry Treadaway), and sharp shooter Ethan Chandler (Josh Hartnett). And possessed Vanessa makes it her sport to insult all of them, reveal their darkest secrets, and try to bring them up against one another (at least in parts successfully, too). And the longer Vanessa's state lasts, the worse she gets, and ultimately she has to be restrained even. And even though none of the men who watch over her is religious in any form or way, they at last call a priest (Oliver Cotton) - but the priest refuses to perform an exorcism ... and then Vanessa breaks her restraints and attacks (kills?) him. But all of a sudden, Ethan remembers an amulet in his possession, presses it against Vanessa's forehead and says some spell, and just like that she's healed - with the result that she now even knows where Mina might be ...


This episode tries to bring the different narrative threads of the story together, and it's better structured than most other episodes to be sure, as it tells a homogenous story with climax and everything, and a mouth-whetting conclusion - but all the same it above everything else reveals the weaknesses of the series: Basically, the series has no character to really sympathize with, Vanessa, the center of the story, doesn't have any clear character traits at all, sometimes she's cold, then again (like when she dates Dorian Gray) seems like a bubbly teenage lover, once she's mysterious, then just a slut having sex with Mina's fiancé - so really all one knows about her is that one doesn't know her. Sir Malcolm is drawn as a cold, self-righteous character, which fits the story well but doesn't evoke any sympathies. Likewise Frankenstein is supposed to be morally ambiguous and highly morbid, but not likeable. Ethan is the closest to a hero, but he remains totally bland. There might be some skeletons in his past, but in the series he always tries to make the right decision. And finally there's Sambene - who isn't graced with any character traits at all. So while there's lot of excitement in this one, there's nobody to care for. And on top of that, the whole possession sequence follows genre conventions too slavishly to really be of interest.

That all said, the episode at least promises quite something for the season finale, so at least it keeps one watching.


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Robots and rats,
demons and potholes,
cuddly toys and
shopping mall Santas,
love and death and everything in between,
Tales to Chill
Your Bones to

is all of that.


Tales to Chill
Your Bones to
a collection of short stories and mini-plays
ranging from the horrific to the darkly humourous,
from the post-apocalyptic
to the weirdly romantic,
tales that will give you a chill and maybe a chuckle, all thought up by
the twisted mind of
screenwriter and film reviewer
Michael Haberfelner.


Tales to Chill
Your Bones to

the new anthology by
Michael Haberfelner


Out now from




On the same day
a Burglar wants to kill you
and your Ex wants
to make up ...
... and for the life of it,
you can't decide


A Killer Conversation

produced by and starring
Melanie Denholme
directed by
David V.G. Davies
written by
Michael Haberfelner
Ryan Hunter and
Rudy Barrow

out now on DVD