After three episodes of varying degrees of narrative success, Showtime’s ‘Penny Dreadful’ really rocks the foundation of Season 3 with a bottle episode that goes down like sweet sadistic wine.
The following contains spoiler for A Blade of Grass, the fourth episode of Penny Dreadful’s Season 3. You’ll be fine to ingest this review, just make sure to keep the light on.
I have to admit something here Fright Fans; I don’t much care for Showtime’s Penny Dreadful.
While I respect what the show is doing, and even more than that, I really see how good the Gothic drama is at doing what it’s trying to do, I’m just not a fan of character-driven storytelling. In all honesty, I don’t believe character-driven narratives are really storytelling at all but rather moments of exposition that lack any real narrative sensibility.
I should have died a virgin….Like Joan of Ark-Vanessa Ives
Penny Dreadful’s A Blade of Grass, the series’ 22nd overall episode, changes that in a bottle episode that is a high mark for the series.
What makes this episode so special? Why am I calling A Blade of Grass a bottle episode? Why does Dreadful’s fourth episode of Season 3 make me want to take back my reservations about the Gothic series? I’m so glad you asked Soldiers of Springwood, but calm down, you don’t want your blood to begin to boil….or do you?
For starters, there are only three characters in the entire 56 minute running time of A Blade of Grass. Gone are the lab experiments of Dr. Victor Frankenstein (Harry Treadaway) and Dr. Henry Jekyll (Shazad Latif). Removed is that sand-treading adventure of Ethan Chandler (Josh Hartnett). Missing is the further progression of Dorian Gray‘s (Reeve Carney) mission.
In its place, we get a whole episode all about Vanessa Ives (Eva Green). The show should focus more on Green’s Vanessa Ives, and in A Blade of Grass , we get that and then some. Grass is all about Ives’ twisted past, how she came to be where she is, and the abuse she once endured for her truths and faith. The episode is hers, and so much more focused than the Showtime drama usually is.
While A Blade of Grassis all about Ives and a bottle episode (the outing entirely takes place in a rubber room for the mentally insane), it does further the main story of Season 3; Dracula look out, Ives is coming for you.
Eva Green and Rory Kinnear in ‘Penny Dreadful’-Courtesy of Showtime
Moreover, the acting in A Blade of Grass is simply phenomenal. Eva Green has arguably never been better in anything. This is no joke, and her scenes are simply breathtaking. The beauty, which I admittedly have a thing for, is so great in the episode, you’ll no doubt want the series to only be about her after.
Also, and it has to be said, Rory Kinnear is amazing in A Blade of Grass . Playing John Clare / The Creature, the actor is so convincing, you really feel everything he does in the moments when he’s torn, and not to mention, really bringing it. It was amazing to see him perform his lines with ease, and his most effective scene comes when he tells Ives he’s leaving the institution.
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Patti LuPone, playing Dr. Seward, is also great in the episode.
As for the direction, A Blade of Grass is one of the best directed episodes of television I’ve ever seen. Period. Directed by Toa Fraser, A Blade of Grass is so well filmed, I could make the internet explode with how much I could write about the episode. I mean I could teach a three credit hour course on the craftsmanship of it. I would go through each highly accomplished shot, but it would take way to long. Just know this is A+ work from the filmmaker and the Showtime production.
So will Vanessa Ives work her way through what happened at the Banning Clinic? Will Dr. Seward help in that journey successfully? Will Dracula’s plan be changed? You’ll have to head to England, and Showtime, to find out.
Toa Fraser‘s A Blade of Grass is a landmark achievement for Showtime’s Penny Dreadful. It’s a well-acted, tightly scripted, and magnificently shot hour of television that everyone should checkout-even if it’s your first Dreadful episode. It sets the stage for the remainder of Season 3 and I’ve never been more excited to see future installments. Pay a penny and see it, you won’t regret it.
THE GRADE: A+
Check out a preview for the next installment, This World Is Our Hell, courtesy of Showtime:
Love Penny Dreadful? Didn’t or did enjoy what A Blade of Grass had to offer? Don’t forget to let us know in the comment section below and remember to tune into Penny Dreadful, every Sunday at 10 pm ET/PT, only on Showtime.