Possession is the seventh episode of the first season of Showtime's Penny Dreadful and the seventh episode overall.


Over the course of four harrowing weeks, Sir Malcolm, Ethan, Dr. Frankenstein and Sembene do everything they can to save Vanessa from what's within her.


Vanessa’s possession continues to be absolutely terrifying. After her levitation at the end of the prior episode, she passes out, leaving Malcolm and Sembene to change her out of her wet clothes. Vanessa takes a perverse sort of joy in this as she asks in a childlike voice, "and you dressed me, like when I was a girl?" She instantly attacks Malcolm’s weak spots, exposing his mistreatment of his wife, his numerous affairs, and the sexual exploits he and Peter took part in during his adventuring days. The demon loses control and starts psychokinetically throwing things around the room. Sembene realizes something is amiss and rushes in to subdue Vanessa.

Later, Malcolm calls for Victor to do an examination on Vanessa, who appears to have regained control of her body. Vanessa starts gently touching Victor's arms and hands while revealing his insecurities and lack of intimate experience. Vanessa repeats something Victor once said word for word – something she had never heard him say – before hinting at knowledge of the Creature's existence. Victor rushes out of the room, unsettled.

Victor reports to Malcolm that he believes Vanessa to be "manifesting a deep psycho-sexual responsiveness" out of feelings of guilt and shame. Victor’s musings are interrupted when spiders start crawling out from under Vanessa’s tarot cards and swarming towards Victor and Malcolm. Upstairs, Vanessa starts to scream bloody murder. Malcolm and Victor presumably rush off to help her. Ethan arrives, and Malcolm brings him upstairs to see to a still-screaming Vanessa. Like her first encounter with Victor, Vanessa is at first kind to Ethan before turning on him and gleefully revealing his affair with Dorian to the entire room. When Malcolm intercepts, she launches herself at him and attacks. Victor sedates her as she screams, "Leave her to me, you men, you men, you men!" Before Vanessa is sedated, she begs Ethan in Arabic to let her die, thus beginning a montage of keeping her in a constant state of sedation. Malcolm updates the crew on what the Egyptologist told him: the goddess Amunet is trying to take hold of Vanessa, and if she succeeds, she will unleash darkness and horrors upon the world.

The process of keeping Vanessa quiet, sedated, and unable to hurt herself or others continues for a week or so. Everyone deals with it badly, but none quite so much as Victor, who turns to his morphine addiction as a reprieve. There is a brief moment of clarity when the drugged-up Victor looks out the window to see Caliban lurking outside the house, staring directly at him, still waiting for his lady love to be created.

In a rare moment of lucidity, Vanessa reaches out to Ethan, who is sitting beside her bed when she awakens, and thanks him for being so good to her. "I don’t remember what happens really, but some things I do. You've been kind. I might have fallen in love with you." Vanessa asks Ethan to kill her when the moment is right, for the others do not have the heart to. Then Ethan leans down towards Vanessa in an almost intimate manner, and says, in regards to the existence of Hell, "I know that place pretty well. You might say it’s where I was flung when your fucking cunt of a god cast me out." This marks the moment when Vanessa realizes she’s not actually speaking to Ethan, but to Amun-Ra. She manages to resist the demon, but only just.

Downstairs, Malcolm again invites the real Ethan to accompany him on his trip to Africa and Ethan angrily declines. Malcolm tells Ethan he’s going to Africa to bring his son’s body back home – at least, that’s what he’s telling himself – and later, to Victor, confesses that the mountain he promised to name after his son, he’d named for himself instead. Upstairs, Vanessa is losing her battle to keep Amunet at bay and begins clawing at the walls and gouging bloody marks into herself. Her companions are forced to restrain her.

Ethan speaks privately with Victor, stating that he believes Malcolm is hiding something. Ethan tells Victor a story about the children of native tribes in America becoming displaced and not fitting into either world, paralleling Vanessa's (and possibly Ethan’s own) struggles with remaining human while possessed by a monster. Victor, noticing Caliban still standing outside the window, then asks Ethan to teach him how to shoot. After several attempts, he manages to break a glass bottle, though Ethan outshines him when Victor insists he have a go.

The possession continues, with Vanessa getting increasingly violent and despairing. Malcolm approaches Vanessa at night and asks her to reach out to Mina, since they are both in that space in between life and death – and Vanessa realizes that this was all a part of Malcolm’s plan. He let her possession and her pain continue when he possibly could have stopped it, because he wanted to use her to find Mina. Encouraged by Sembene, fed up with doing nothing, and furious that Malcolm has manipulated Vanessa so, Ethan decides to call for a priest to say the last rites over Vanessa before she dies. Victor agrees with Ethan, saying it’s what Vanessa wants. When the priest arrives, Malcolm makes a last ditch effort to convince the priest to do an exorcism on her, but unfortunately exorcisms are forbidden unless sanctioned by the Pope.

The attempt to read Vanessa her last rites goes wrong when she attacks the priest and chomps part of his cheek off. Vanessa then begins psychokinetically throwing things around again. Everyone vacates the room except Ethan, armed only with a pistol. Ethan manages to reach Vanessa behind the eyes Amunet has commandeered just long enough for her to beg him for death, but Ethan can’t do it. Instead, he places Brona’s St. Jude pendant on Vanessa’s forehead and successfully exorcises the demon out. Ethan puts a finally peaceful Vanessa to bed and leaves the house. The next morning, Vanessa wakes from a dream about the theater and goes to Malcolm, saying that she knows where Mina is.



Guest StarringEdit

  • Oliver Cotton as Father Matthews





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