Although it may seem like odd timing, for those whose television watching habits are distinctly of the year-round variety, the warmth of early May has also come to mean the distinct chills of gothic horror. For two seasons now, Showtime's Penny Dreadful has taken up residence in late spring/early summer, reminding viewers of premium cable that stories dedicated to the things that go bump in the night aren't strictly remanded to the colder, darker months of the year. And considering the ad campaign for the upcoming third season is pushing the idea that its characters "embrace [their] dark side," perhaps airing when the days are a little longer is for the best.
Showtime has released a few promos ahead of the May 1 premiere, giving viewers a glimpse of what season 3 will bring and putting the focus once again on the trials of the Satanically afflicted Ms. Ives (Eva Green). Those promos have shown Vanessa in a padded cell, dealing with some issues of a deeply personal nature – the same she's been working to understand and resolve since the show first started. This time, though, Vanessa will confront her demons with the help of Patti LuPone, who previously played the Cut-Wife, but will now take on the role of Dr. Seward. The two were a phenomenal pairing in the previous season's best episode, 'The Nightcomers,' and it would seem creator John Logan didn't want to lose a talent like LuPone simply because her character met with an awful death.
Set to a suitably haunting rendition of 'You Don't Own Me,' this promo is slightly shorter version of the spot released just a few weeks ago, though it still grants almost every player (sorry Dr. Frankenstein fans) a brief moment to discuss their connection to the darkness and to basically demonstrate the gloom is where their best selves reside – even if that best self is a man-eating werewolf or the would-be bride of the Devil.
Rory Kinnear's John Clare – otherwise known as the Creature – takes first swing, informing the audience he's "conquered death" – though that comes off a little misrepresentative since, technically, Dr. Frankenstein (Harry Treadaway) conquered death. All Mr. Clare did was corpse it up until an electric current animated his carcass and presumably gave him a deep abiding love for emoting theatrically. (Maybe now the Creature knows what it's like every time someone says, "Technically, Frankenstein is the doctor's name.") From there, Reeve Carney's ageless Dorian Gray spouts, "Do you think you know sin? I wrote the bloody book," while Timothy Dalton's Sir Malcolm Murray – looking brooding and anguished as always – informs viewers that the last two seasons weren't exactly a walk in the park for him, as he states, "I walk in blood every step."
It is interesting that the promo begins with three supporting players, suggesting perhaps that Clare, Gray, and Sir Malcom will see their roles expanded in season 3. A quick glimpse of Clare getting intimate with someone indicates that may well be true. Still, the promo's juiciest bits come in the middle, when it offers a preview of where star-crossed lovers Vanessa Ives and Ethan Chandler (Josh Hartnett) will be during the series' next outing. While it's clear Vanessa will be dancing around her white room (for a while, anyway) reminding herself and others she's been "touched by Satan," Ethan is looking a little more together and sure of himself, saying, "I am made for the dark."
Like any good trailer, the snippets are revealing and cryptic at the same time. One intriguing shot suggests Dalton, newcomer Wes Studi, and Hartnett will get back to the business at hand (i.e., hunting evil), and that Ethan will find his way back into Vanessa's embrace after too long – provided the shot of Mr. Chandler waking up isn't meant to be an indication such potentially pleasant occurrences only take place while he's dreaming. Those questions and more – such as: can an entire episode please be devoted to Billie Piper walking the length of a table, inciting a group of rowdy champagne-drinking women? – will likely be answered when the season finally premieres in a few weeks.
Penny Dreadful season 3 premieres Sunday, May 1, 2016 on Showtime.