8 reasons Penny Dreadful’s surprise finale was utter nonsense

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“I will take control of my death by moping around being a fire hazard.”

Major spoilers for Penny Dreadful, obviously.

For the past two years I have been quietly enjoying Penny Dreadful or, as my pal Ádhamh calls it, Eva Green’s Weekly Hour of Scenery Chewing. It’s a slick little series about classic horror characters getting into scrapes with vampires against the delightful backdrop of Gothic Victorian London. The production is polished, the cast is stellar, the costumes are stunning and there are pleasing twists on familiar literary figures. It also has a complex and intriguing lady character as its main protagonist and I am not above admitting that I could watch Eva Green chew the scenery all day long. Truly, all was going well, until last week when a shock series finale killed off Vanessa Ives and the whole series ground to screeching and profoundly unsatisfying halt.

John Logan claims that this surprise ending was nothing to do with ratings and everything to do with serving the story, a claim on which I call hefty amounts of BULLSHIT because no writer could honestly claim that this rushed and truncated excuse for an ending was part of his vision all along. On the most basic level, so much of it made no narrative sense. Here are eight reasons why:

1. The gang’s all back together but… why?

Victor Frankenstein has had zero contact with Malcolm or Ethan for an entire season, but when they run into him by pure chance in the hallway in Bedlam they’re like, “Oh hey, we’re about to go on suicide mission to save Vanessa who you also have not seen in an entire season, want in?” and he’s like YES OK NICE TO SEE YOU WHY NOT! This contrivance seems to be purely for the sake of getting the old gang back together for the big finale, which is… why? I mean, Victor is cute and all, but he also spent the entire season trying to violently brainwash Lily into dating him again, which puts him squarely on TEAM VILLAIN. Victor Frankenstein is a bad person and he’s also fairly useless in a fight and also HE’S BEEN IN A DIFFERENT STORYLINE FOR THE WHOLE SEASON so why on earth did he have to be there?

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a better way to be anti-abortion

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Schoolchildren protest outside Leinster House in 1992 supporting the right of X, a 14 year-old rape victim, to travel for an abortion. Photograph: Eric Luke, via The Irish Times

The evidence is clear and plentiful: making abortion illegal does not reduce abortion rates. In countries where abortion is severely restricted or completely illegal, the procedure is usually unsafe, traumatic and sometimes fatal for the women who seek it, but they seek it all the same, despite risks to their health and threats of prosecution and imprisonment.

Of course, if you live in Ireland, you don’t need a peer-reviewed study to tell you this. Our country is a live illustration of the trend. Every year, at least 3,500 Irish women (that’s an average of nine women per day) spend time, energy and money travelling to the UK to obtain a safe, legal abortion. Those who are unable to travel continue to turn to illegal “abortion pills” or even more drastic measures to end unwanted pregnancy – we’re not sure about their numbers, but it’s safe to assume they are not negligible.

For those of you who call yourselves “pro-life”, your one and only campaign point seems to be preserving our Constitution’s 8th Amendment at all costs. I’m sorry to inform you that your time and effort is sadly misplaced. Ireland is not and has never been “abortion-free”. Our blanket ban on abortion does little, if anything, to deter women from ending unwanted pregnancy. All the evidence suggests that repealing our 8th Amendment and replacing it with clear and humane legislation on reproductive rights will not increase abortion rates among Irish women.*

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