TV Rundown: Week of May 1: Part 2: 'Penny Dreadful' Makes S3 Return - Plus, 'Reign' + 'The Blacklist'

'Penny Dreadful’ – Season 3, Episode 1 – ‘The Day Tennyson Died'

Micro Synopsis: 

Thanks to Lyle (Simon Russell Beale), Vanessa (Eva Green) begins recovering from her mental breakdown by seeking psychological help from a shrill doctor with a familiar face (Patti LuPone).

Miss Ives also makes an intriguing new acquaintance in a Dr. Sweet (Christian Camargo). Elsewhere in England, Dr. Frankenstein (Harry Treadaway) recruits his old friend Dr. Jekyll (Shazad Latif) to assist in his attempt to save Lily (Billie Piper) from herself.

In America, Ethan’s (Josh Hartnett) transportation to the gallows is interrupted by his father’s hired guns. In Africa, Sir Malcolm (Timothy Dalton) meets a stranger (Wes Studi) with ties to Ethan. In Antarctica, The Creature (Rory Kinnear) remembers a pivotal piece of his past.

The Rundown:  

A return that spanned several continents, the season premiere of “Penny” was neatly polished and ready to bring out the brightest aspects of its characters. The introduction of the four new ones mentioned above has already shown signs of enlivening an already vibrant series and vividly enriching its central characters. Shazad Latif, in particular, made a very strong first impression as Dr. Jekyll.

Missing in the season premiere, were Lily and Dorian (Reeve Carney), though the former was certainly there in spirit. How “Penny’s” exquisite ensemble will find their way back to each other is an intriguing mystery unto itself. Getting a breather from Victorian England has already done the show a world of good, allowing it the room to expand beyond its pre-existing parameters and increase its level of suspense. Episode Rating: 8.5/10

Side Notes/Burning Questions:  

How long do you think it will take for everyone to reunite? Did the reveal of this season’s big bad surprise you? The poetic prose in every line of John Logan's script never ceases to amaze. “Penny Dreadful” deserves a major tip of the hat for bringing Patti LuPone back.

[Image by The CW]

‘Reign’ – Season 3, Episode 12 – ‘No Way Out’

Micro Micro Synopsis:  

Elizabeth (Rachel Skarsten) names Mary (Adelaide Kane) as her successor with the caveat that she will choose the Queen of Scots’ new husband. Mary then learns that if she accepts, there is a Vatican plot in place to assassinate Elizabeth and install her or another a Catholic monarch, in the fallen queen’s place. An act of theater becomes an unwitting platform for the ghosts of Catherine’s (Megan Fellows) past to issue an ominous warning to the queen mother. 

The Rundown: 

A lot of convoluted scheming wound up with Mary wielding her sexuality as a weapon and seducing Gideon (Ben Geurens) for elaborate ends. Clearly she needed to give herself a reason to clear the hurdle of her widowhood and she found it. Not as ready to get over her one true love was Elizabeth, who continued paying secret visits to Robert Dudley (Charlie Carrick). If there is one plot that has failed to engage this season, it has been the romance between Elizabeth and Dudley.

In fact, it is bordering on full blown ‘dud’ status. There is just no reason to be rooting for them and as hard as the show is trying to make us want them to overcome all of these obstacles to be together or feel badly they cannot, it is just not working for this viewer. They are two miserable people, who heavily contributed to their own misery and them not being able to be happy is not the most undeserved fate they could share.

One highly intriguing new plot was the threat leveled against Catherine by a group calling themselves the Red Knights as they vowed to take down the mighty de' Medici and House of Valois, once and for all. Of course they understatement who they are dealing with and given that she has a new assassin at her disposal, it seems likely she will be the one with the last laugh. That is not to say she does not deserve their justice, just that it is unlikely to take place. Episode Rating: 8/10

Side Notes/Burning Questions:  

Elizabeth’s ending pronouncement, declaring who Mary’s new husband would be was shocking and if you have read a history book, impossible to have stick. Elizabeth has been more fun, since she and Lola (Anna Popplewell) have struck up a tentative friendship. Are you rooting for Gideon and Mary?

[Image by The CW]

‘The Blacklist’ – Season 3, Episode 21 – ‘Susan Hargrave (No. 18)’

Micro Synopsis:  

Red (James Spader) makes major headway into the investigation of who was behind Liz’s attempted kidnapping, drawing a link to a woman (Famke Janssen) who co-runs a private, shadow organization with her husband. Tom (Ryan Eggold) and Aram (Amir Arison) join forces for a secret op. Harold (Harry Lennix) continues fighting corruption within the government 

The Rundown:  

In case you missed it, this episode was a back-door pilot for Tom’s (Ryan Eggold) potential spin-off series. Introduced in this hour was Blacklister Susan “Scottie” Hargrave, the cold-blooded and diabolical leader of an organization that does the government’s dirty work. Her debut was well-played, as was the stimulating interaction between her and Red. Of course, if you have been paying attention to “Blacklist” headlines as of late, you know that the chemistry between them is less crucial to establish than that of hers and Tom’s.

That’s right folks, showrunner Jon Bokenkamp is taking another gamble, as he sets up a possible spin-off starring Tom and Scottie in Liz and Red's respective roles. Spin-offs are risky business. Just ask “Vampire Diaries” fans how the quality of the mother ship has fared since the “Originals” spin-off began spawning or “Arrow” after “The Flash”, for that matter.

It is not that Tom would not make a compelling lead of his own series; there is no question that he and his portrayer are up to the task. The issue is that Tom fits in so nicely with the chemistry of “The Blacklist” and his relationship with Liz has been such a fundamental strong point for the series, it would be a shame to lose him.

If Liz is alive, how can she and Tom not being together withstand explanation? Not to mention, one of them will have to be separated from their daughter, a scenario that would have to be drastically contrived to justify. Overall another marvelous episode, but knowing the context of the set-up makes you wonder about what is around the corner. Episode Rating: 8.7/10

Side Notes/Burning Questions: 

 It was great to see Red back in action as his usual self and the way he got out of Scottie’s attempted trap was marvelous. Who was babysitting Agnes aka Ruby (Liz and Tom’s daughter)? It was incredibly awkward to watch Tom already kissing another woman when Liz is barely cold in the grave. Yes, it was a ruse but a master conman like Tom should easily be able to get himself out of a situation like that; if he wants to.

[Featured Image by Showtime]

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