Warning: This post contains spoilers for the final episode of Penny Dreadful.
Many fans were shocked to learn that last night’s two-hour Season 3 finale of Showtime’s Penny Dreadful was also the final episode of the series, as evidence by a title card reading “The End” that appeared onscreen. In a world where a show’s final episode is often hyped weeks, if not months, in advance, Penny Dreadful’s farewell came with very little fanfare, leaving fans scratching their heads and wondering if this was truly the end of the line.
Speaking to Variety, creator and showrunner John Logan confirmed that Penny Dreadful would not return, and that he had always conceived of the show coming to an end with the death of Vanessa Ives (Eva Green), who perished in last night’s episode:
“This is a show about Vanessa Ives and her struggle with faith — how one woman grapples with God and the devil. Midway through the second season… I realized where we were heading. A woman who loses her faith in the second season, she has to grasp her way back. What that would take? To me, that was an apotheosis — she would find peace finally with God. I realized that’s where the show was heading, and so I talked to Eva about it and then I talked to David.
Eva Green really is my muse, and I set out to write a story about a very complicated character that I love deeply. She represents so much of what I am, what I hope to be, what I fear I am. I’m deeply invested in that character. Then I met an artist, Eva Green, who inspired me more than any actor I’ve ever worked with before, and that became the show for me. To continue it past Vanessa’s death would be, for me, an act of bad faith.”
Showtime president David Nevins agreed with Logan’s sentiment, and spoke with THR about the decision not to advertise the end of the series in advance, in order to preserve the secrets of the final episode:
“It became clear John was right and it needed Vanessa or it wasn’t smart to continue the show beyond Vanessa. I fairly quickly said yes. And then the question was how do we handle that information and position it? The traditional thing to do was announce this is the last season. It felt like that would give away the surprise, and part of the pleasure of watching TV now is experiencing it for yourself and the emotions in an unspoiled, unmediated sort of way.”
It’s an interesting choice, but ultimately one that makes a lot of sense. Not tipping their hat in advance allowed Showtime to take viewers on a journey where they were legitimately surprised at the end of the road, which isn’t something that can be said for many television shows. Penny Dreadful will certainly be missed, but rest assured that Showtime has plenty of things up their sleeve to take its place.
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