Penny Dreadful: "Possession"
This week gave Eva Green yet another Emmy-runaround episode to add to the collection, as Vanessa gets claimed by the demon again; it's scary not because of the demon itself but because of the ways this particular round of the struggle acknowledges two things. One, Vanessa doesn't quite remember what happens when she's possessed. Two, that demon says a lot of things that feel like things Vanessa wants to say.
It's an intense face, but it's not the manic intensity of the demon; it's Vanessa somewhere in there, calling Malcolm to task for some of his many transgressions. (He has so many transgressions; his admission to Victor and Victor's stunned expression after were two of my favorite things in the episode. "I'm absolutely the worst person." "…..I mean.")
Sembene even got a few more lines this episode! He also punched Vanessa in the face, which is a thing. In a show that's otherwise extremely interested in tweaking the tropes of its genre, this is unfortunately the place it's bought into the trope wholesale. We're on episode seven, and Sembene's entire part can be summed up here:
It's a huge fight where everybody airs grievances in a way that highlights their personality. Sembene says nothing. Oh, show. At least Danny Sapani knocks every second he gets out of the park. If he survives until Season Two, maybe he'll get more stuff to do.
And I guess after this episode we should talk about how this is the part Josh Hartnett's been waiting for, both because his odds to survive are at about 50/50 and because he was great here, which is not something I thought I'd ever say about Josh Hartnett.
Here he is, as himself, gently concerned about Vanessa. Gently curving toward her without being oppressively close, careful, listening.
Here he is, as the demon, gently concerned about Vanessa. Besides the great mirrored framing (there was a LOT of great cinematography this episode; you barely noticed it was a bottle episode until someone complained they hadn't gone outside for a week), you can tell there's something off about him even though the mannerisms are almost identical. The "but not quite" quality was so subtle you could maybe miss it at first, and then just slide slowly into the Oh Jeez portion of the evening when you realize Vanessa, like us, has been taken in.
It was great. It was great, the Lily-from-Legend seduction was great, and I want nothing more than for Vanessa to have pulled a double blind and to surprise the crap out of the devil when the moment comes and she's like NOPE. Then again, she could give in at the last second for a cliffhanger ending. Then again, she could ride off on the not-at-all wolfish back of Ethan Chandler, normal human man. Then again, Caliban could save everybody. Honestly, with this show and at this point, there's no telling. There's just too much. We're all in it for whatever.
Next week: THEY HAVE TO WRAP ALL THIS UP, HOW ARE THEY GOING TO DO THAT.