Penny Dreadful Review: “Possession” (Season 1, Episode 7)

Episode 107
“What’s wrong with her?” Ethan asks once safely outside. “She’s been possessed by the devil,” replies Malcolm, and Ethan’s response is pretty on the mark: “Well… fuck.” Malcolm warns him and Victor that he believes the demon inside believes Vanessa to be an incarnation of his bride Amunet, and that the demon will try to force her into a union. When Ethan asks about what Vanessa was saying, Malcolm translates it to be, “Let me die.”

The passing weeks bring nothing but frustration as Vanessa remains possessed and the combined efforts of Vanessa, Malcolm, Ethan, Victor and Sembene do little more than keep her from starving to death. The battle is hers to fight, and hers alone, as much as that frustrates the men.

We next see Vanessa in bed, with Ethan by her side. In a coherent moment, she describes what she feels inside as “an animal scratching to get out” but turns him down when he offers to bring a priest, saying that she’s “fallen from faith.” Looking at Ethan, Vanessa admits that she’s fallen in love with him thanks to his kindness and patience. Still, she begs him not to let her hurt anyone and demands that, “When the moment comes,” he should look her in the eyes “and pull the trigger.”

Unfortunately, she’s not telling this to the right person. Ethan smiles evilly and says a piece about the darkness of hell, and she realizes that what’s sitting by her side is not her friend but the devil, in another disguise. “You can’t resist me forever, darlin’,” he says with a wink. “But I can now” is her defiant response. She pressures him to tell her what he actually wants from her, instead of dancing around what’s actually going on. Perhaps because this is the penultimate episode of the season, the devil is ready to.

“I want you to be the mother of evil,” he tells her. “I want you to rule the darkness with me at my side, looking over a black, scorched, dead world where there is no more pain because there are no more hearts to feel. We have eaten them all, thee and me, and together we will conquer God, topple him from his bloody throne, and rule in his stead, everlasting.” As far as pick-up lines go, not his worst, but not his best. He leans in and kisses her, whispering “Darkling, listen.” At this point, it seems clear that Vanessa is fighting with all her might. She senses the danger in the dark and doesn’t want to go to it anymore. But despite that, she can’t ignore the seductive power in his voice, which just makes her challenge in overcoming her possessor that much more difficult.