This is my last column for BusinessWorld, and now I am on leave.
For three seasons the fans of Showtime’s Victorian drama Penny Dreadful have reveled in its sumptuous Gothic atmosphere, its bloodsoaked storylines and its never-ending struggle against demons without and within. We’ve seen things you wouldn’t believe; we do not terrify easily. But when the words “The End” appeared at the close of season 3, episode 9, we greeted it with shrieks of terror. It’s over? Without warning?
The series created by John Logan careened to an end, leaving many plotlines dangling, abandoning its new characters before they’d done anything, and assigning a particularly cruel fate, capped by a corny last line, to its most fearless character. Logan, whose screen credits include Gladiator and the last two Bond movies, said that this was how he’d always envisioned the series. With a supposedly triumphant resolution that not only feels like a big buzzkill, but nullifies the rationale of the entire show? I suspect not.
The third season began with two of the major characters leaving gloomy, claustrophobic London for the wide open spaces of the old American West. I don’t care for sunshine myself, but I’m all for the series expanding its scope. And then everyone decides to hurry back to London as if the studio had announced it was turning off the lights, and before they can unpack their luggage it’s the final battle. Remember the outrage over the third Alien movie where, after everything Ripley had endured and overcome in the two previous movies, she dives into the furnace? I mention Alien 3 because Logan is the writer of the forthcoming Alien Covenant. Also, that ending was poetic justice compared to Penny Dreadful’s.
What do we do when we are not satisfied with the outcome of a TV series? We could circulate a petition for its resurrection: a show that has Dr. Frankenstein and various dark powers in its cast has as many means of bringing back the dead as Game of Thrones. We could write fanfiction with an alternate ending. Or we could binge-watch the entire series (Third season optional) and relive the many pleasures of our favorite Victorian Gothic entertainment.