Penny Dreadful Boss on Season 3: 'Everyone Has Their Own Demons'

Nivea Serrao

One really is the loneliest number—and this could not be more evident than in the Season 3 premiere of Penny Dreadful.

“This season it’s all about the individual journeys. Everybody has their own demons to confront, deal with and hopefully try to overcome,” says Co-Executive Producer Chris King. “Season 1 was all about these characters coming together and creating this family. Season 2 was building the family even more, bringing them even closer together, and then ripping them apart. Season Three is all about each one trying to understand who they are inside, but also realizing they need each other, and eventually bringing all of them back together.”

However, this eventual family reunion might take a while. Especially since the Showtime drama concluded its second season with half its characters flung far across the globe: Sir Malcolm (Timothy Dalton) returning Sembene’s (Danny Sapani) body to Africa, Ethan (Josh Hartnett) being sent back home to America to face his father, and the Creature (Rory Kinnear) sentencing himself to a life of isolation in the freezing depths of the Arctic.

But as the season-opening hour revealed, these characters will hardly be making their journeys back to each other alone. Thanks to the introduction of a few new characters—namely, Dr. Seward (Patti LuPone), Dr. Jekyll (Shazad Latif) and Kaetenay (Wes Studi)—and the reintroduction of a familiar face (Sarah Greene’s Hecate), they’ll have some company on the long road ahead of them.

“Everyone has their pair,” says King of the partnerships that will begin to form on the show. “We’ll see Vanessa and Dr. Seward pairing up together, Ethan and Hecate, Dr. Jekyll and Frankenstein, Dorian and Lily. It’s very interesting pairings of unique characters that bring out differences in each one of them, and they also mirror each other as well. That’s what’s really fascinating about this.”

With these new duos in mind, read on as King previews what’s in store for the sprawling third season.

Vanessa Ives and Dr. Seward

This season sees Vanessa start therapy as she struggles to deal with “her own darkness, and lack of faith, and feeling abandoned by her God and Ethan.” King says this journey of self-healing allows Vanessa to feel a sense of hope. “She starts to realize that she isn’t necessarily all alone and that there is still love out there. It’s all about embracing who she is and not allowing this darkness and the evil that exists inside of her to overrule her life. And that she can find grace and kindness in others and hopefully overcome all this dark cruelty that exists inside of her.”

As for Vanessa’s new (and very familiar looking) alienist Dr. Seward, King describes the character as a woman outside of her time. “At that time talk therapy had not really come into the norm of society. The Victorians did not talk about their feelings, their emotions. It was looked down upon, back in the time period.” He also adds that the good doctor “has her own secrets and demons that she’s dealing with,” before teasing, “She has a past from her time living in New York that will be revealed.”

King says the decision to bring back LuPone—who’d formerly played the character of “the Cut Wife” last season—resulted from her “phenomenal” performance as well as the actress’ connection (on screen and off) with Vanessa’s portrayer, Eva Green. Fortunately, this season’s scattered beginnings allowed for that to happen.

“[Creator] John Logan realized because all the characters were scattered all over the place, that Vanessa needed a person to seek guidance and help from. It made sense that we create this new character,” says King of the pair's relationship. “[Dr. Seward] becomes a guiding force for Vanessa.”

Sir Malcolm Murray and Kaetenay

”Malcolm always has to be caught up in some sort of hunt. That’s who he is as a man. Deep down, he always has to have that going on in his life or he won’t really exist. Kaetenay even calls him out on it.” says King of Malcolm joining forces with this new ally to protect and save Ethan from a variety of bad guys (and gal), including Hecate (who we last saw on the same train as him), the marshals, Detective Rusk (Douglas Hodge) and Ethan’s own father, Jared Talbot (Brian Cox).

King also points out that both Sir Malcolm and Kaetenay have more than just trying to save Ethan in common. “They’re both warriors. They’ve both seen darkness and bloodshed over many years. So they relate on that level. But what’s also interesting is they’re both pseudo-father figures for Ethan. Sir Malcolm is this current father figure and what we'll learn is that Kaetenay represented and took over as Ethan's surrogate father when Ethan was younger.”

Ethan Chandler and Hecate Poole

When we last saw her, Hecate was slowly following Ethan as he was being taken to face his father. King confirms that the witch has larger plans for guilty werewolf. “Hecate will always be serving her own goals. She is still a servant of Satan, but she sees more in Ethan, that they can join forces together and rule the darkness. For her it’s all about getting to him and convincing him that they belong in the service of the Devil.”

That might be a tough sell as Ethan will have more than enough of his own issues to deal with this season. ”He's got to confront his own demons, both the werewolf that exists inside of him as well as the guilt and anger he has for his father,” says King of Ethan’s arc this season. “He carries deep-seated guilt. Growing up, his family were very religious, so he carries all the guilt over what has happened to his them. That is much darker for him that even his werewolf side that he has to battle with.”

And making things complicated is the fact that Ethan is none other than the Wolf of God, something King he says he’s slowly starting to understand. Unfortunately, with Vanessa on a whole other continent, he might not be able to really carry out his role as her protector. “That's what the drama and suspense of this season is,” says King. “The fact that Vanessa is striding on her own and yet he's nowhere near her. That's what makes this season even more thrilling and exciting.”

Dr. Frankenstein and Dr. Jekyll

”Over the course of three seasons, Frankenstein’s created three monsters, all of whom have failed,” says King of what the doctor is feeling when the season begins. “There was hope for Lily. There was a moment in Season 2 where he truly saw that he created an angel instead of a demon. So he feels regret and shame for her turning evil. He definitely wants to prove that he can create life that is worth living.

Luckily he’s going to have some help in the lab, thanks to the introduction of an iconic character fans have long been waiting to see on the show: Dr. Jekyll.

“He’s such a huge Gothic horror character that it just seems obvious that he must be in our series. But John [Logan] wanted to take his time to introduce new characters,” says King of the decision to bring on the character this season. “It became very obvious while Season 2 was unfolding that eventually Frankenstein would be on his own and would need help and guidance from someone who knows and understands him. So it made sense that he would need a friend who comes from the same world as he does—the medical field. It became an obvious choice that it would be Dr. Jekyll.”

However, Penny Dreadful’s take on the character—making him of Indian descent—is a new one, that allows the show to explore another aspect of the time, while also making him an outsider who could relate to Frankenstein.

“He suffers from racism, from people being cruel to him,” says King of Dr. Jekyll’s experience. “It all started to make sense that this character was another shunned person just like Dr. Frankenstein, but instead of being shunned for being strange or odd, like Frankenstein, he was shunned because of the color of his skin and because he didn't fit in with the white society of England at the time.”

As for Dr. Jekyll’s infamous alter ego, King simply says, “You will definitely see Dr. Jekyll on his journey [to becoming Hyde].”

Lily and Dorian Gray

Last season saw Lily (Billie Piper)—Dr. Frankenstein’s third creation—come into her own as she joined forces with a fellow immortal, Dorian Gray (Reeve Carney). This season will see her embrace her newfound sense of empowerment.

“Lily is out for destruction, and for her own self,” explains King of her motivations this season. “She wants to seek retribution for the abuse that she endured from all of these horrible men within this society. What’s great is that she reflects the time of how women were treated back in the 1890s, and she’s fighting to over come that. Ultimately she creates an army of women who have endured this abuse in order to seek justice.”

But how does her current love, Dorian, feel about this?

“Dorian is excited at first. He’s always seeking new adventures,” explains King. “He's lived for so long and experienced so much that he's always in pursuit of something new to excite him. That's what Lily brings, a new excitement and a thrill to his life. But he also realizes that things aren't always as they seem.”

The Creature

When Sunday’s season opener left off, the Creature (AKA Caliban) had begun having flashes of his former life, pre Dr. Frankenstein.

“For him it’s all about discovering his humanity,” says King of the Creature’s journey this season. “In Season 1, he was such a cruel, vicious monster, but deep down, he’s a suffering man who’d slowly started to understand himself and who he is as a creature amongst the world, but not feeling like he ever fit in. Once he has these flashes of memory, he starts to realize that he is human and that he did have a life.”

And while it seems like he may have been the lone wolf in season full of pairs, King says that not only will the Creature find his helpful half, but it will be a new character.

Dracula and Lucifer

Even though Vanessa might be achieving a sense of peace through her talks with Dr. Seward, that doesn’t mean she’s not still in quite a lot of danger. Last season saw Lucifer come after her, while the last few minutes of Sunday’s episode revealed that none other than Dracula himself (not pictured above) is gunning for her.

“We established, especially in Season 2, that these two brothers, meaning Dracula and the Devil, were removed from Heaven. One fell to earth, the other fell to hell,” says King of whether Lucifer is still in the mix. “So these two brothers are always in pursuit of Vanessa because she's the mother of evil. She can bring on the darkness and power that they both seek. So no matter what we'll always see these two villains out to pursue her.”

And if you’re wondering if either big bad will appear in the flesh this season, King says, “We will definitely see Dracula as a human.”

< >