What a beautiful episode this was. Every season, Penny Dreadful features a “bottleneck” episode with Vanessa as the main focus, but if I knew that I was walking into an hour of only Eva Green, Rory Kinnear, and Patti LuPone, I would have done a better job emotionally preparing myself. “A Blade of Grass” was a dramatic masterpiece that left me heartbroken.
I should have known after the first fifteen minutes of only seeing Vanessa’s hypnotic flashback that it would be the only story of the episode, but when I realized that the only actors we would see in “A Blade of Grass” were Green and Kinnear, along with a bit of LuPone, I settled in for some brilliant acting. And brilliant it was. Although we didn’t get a lot of forward movement in the story (and hence why this review is much shorter than normal), the episode itself was a masterpiece. How this cast has not received any acting awards is completely beyond me.
After last week’s cliffhanger where we first found out that John Clare was someone from Vanessa’s past at the asylum, I was confused and frankly fearing the worst. I didn’t want John to be the “master” who has been after Vanessa all of these years; not only does he seem more human than anyone else, but I love seeing him and Vanessa onscreen together. Luckily, it turns out that he was just an orderly at the asylum, albeit a completely caring one.
Green and Kinnear are the two best actors in the cast, and getting to see them interact for the entire hour was a treasure. These two do more acting with just their eyes than some actors do in their whole lifetime. I cried right along with them. When John knew that Vanessa would be cold, he brought her a blanket. He brushed her hair and read her poetry on Christmas. He encouraged her to get better, and warned her of the “therapies” that would happen if she continued down the wrong path. It was heartbreaking because he knew exactly what was going to happen to her and did all he could to prevent it from happening. As heartbreaking stories go, though, the dueling Lucifer and Dracula both manifested themselves with John at the asylum. Although it was an interesting turn of events, I am not sure how effective the battle between Lucifer and Dracula was. But damn, Vanessa was scary as hell.
As far as the story goes, there isn’t really much more to say. We got confirmation that Vanessa as Amunet is in constant battle between the affections of Lucifer and Dracula, and that John was an integral part of Vanessa’s time at the asylum. What we received instead was incredible character growth and the pleasure of seeing some amazing acting. I would watch an entire of series of just Vanessa and John together in a padded room, comforting each other and having deep conversations.
I can see where “A Blade of Grass” would be quite polarizing; either you loved it or you hated it. As a standalone episode, I loved it. What did you think? Please leave some comments and let us know your thoughts!
Erin has reviewed many shows over the years including Orphan Black, iZombie, Penny Dreadful, and Killing Eve. She has a keen eye for on-screen chemistry, and loves to tackle the subject of casting. She is also our horror aficionado. She live tweets shows, and loves to share her feelings. Erin has a BA in History, and likes to analyze the lore behind historical fiction. She attends San Diego Comic Con every year and has also attended C2E2 and WonderCon.
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