‘Penny Dreadful’ season 2, episode 3 review: Eva Green reveals Vanessa’s past with witches

Penny DreadfulWhen we last saw Vanessa on “Penny Dreadful” she was in some serious trouble with the witches hunting her down. They stole the heart of a baby, and put it in a voodoo doll of Vanessa and it looks like they may have some sort of control over her now. Will she ever have control over herself or is she destiny to always be possessed by another demon? We find that struggle within her fascinating since we all battle our inner demons to some degree and although this is an extreme version of it, she is a very relatable character to many and someone that we find ourselves rooting for to overcome these demons.

Tonight, we learned about Vanessa’s first experience with a witch. When Mina first went missing she sought out the advice of a witch named Joan, but more for herself then for Mina. She wanted to know why she is cursed and what she could do about it and after pulling the “Devil” card from the witch’s tarot deck she decides to help Vanessa understand what’s happening to her. The witch tells Vanessa that she was born with this “gift” and that there will be legions of people that will be after her. We learn that the sister of the witch that is helping Vanessa is Evelyn and when she shows up to collect Vanessa, Joan won’t hand her over. With her house being protected by a spell, Evelyn or any of her coven cannot enter.

Joan teaches Vanessa what she knows to protect her against Evelyn and the coven, but things begin to change when Joan falls ill. She asks Vanessa to stay on her land after she dies to help the women of that town and signs the land over to her. She also gives Vanessa a book of spells, saying that the book should only be opened in dire circumstances and that once she’s used the spells, she will never be the same because she will have moved away from God forever.

Evelyn has been working over her rich suitor and influencing him to push Joan off of her land so she can get to Vanessa, so he rallies the town together to kill her and take the land. In one of the more heartbreaking and horrific scenes we’ve seen on this show, they burn Joan alive and brand Vanessa with the sign of the cross. Afterwards, she packs the deed to the land, the tarot cards and (we assume) the book and leaves Joan’s home.

We were a little confused as to why Evelyn went through all of this, to kill her sister to get to Vanessa and then didn’t wait for her outside of the house afterwards to nab her. It felt like a lot of trouble for nothing especially since Evelyn knew exactly where she was. A very powerful episode, but left us shaking our heads a bit. Episode grade: B-

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