***This article contains spoilers. You’ve been freakin’ warned!
These days, the end of a TV show, no matter how far in advanced you’re aware that ending is coming, may not necessarily be the end (if you know what we mean). Your favorite show might get picked up by another network or streaming site, for example. And even if your favorite show ended with an actual conclusion pre-planned months in advanced, it still might come back years later in a reunion movie, miniseries, spin-off or continuation. And that’s why it’s so rare when a TV creator comes out and says “No! This ‘this is the end,’ is the end.” That seems to be the case with last night’s Penny Dreadful season finale, which is actually a series finale.
As you surely know, or at least you should because presumably you’re only reading this if you’ve seen last night’s finale (or maybe you just don’t care), Penny Dreadful ended with the defeat of Dracula and the death of Vanessa Ives, the show’s main character played by Eva Green. Variety’s Maureen Ryan asked Penny Dreadful creator John Logan and Showtime president David Nevins why the end of Vanessa meant the end of the show.
“My short answer is, because John convinced me that this was the right end, and the right time to end,” said Nevins. “It gives closure to Vanessa Ives, and without Vanessa Ives, the show shouldn’t go on.”
“This is a show about Vanessa Ives and her struggle with faith — how one woman grapples with God and the devil,” added Logan. “Midway through the second season, when we were filming it —so about two years ago— I realized where we were heading. A woman who loses her faith in the second season, she has to grasp her way back. What that would take? To me, that was an apotheosis — she would find peace finally with God. I realized that’s where the show was heading, and so I talked to Eva about it and then I talked to David.”
Part of the surprise of the finale was just that, it was a surprise. Although fans were vexed as to why such a popular show had yet to be renewed, there was no reason to suspect it was coming to an end, and that, according to Nevins, was the point. “[T]hat would have been a massive spoiler,” he said. “It would not have felt like the right way to handle this show. If it had been a more conventional show, I think I would have given a little more warning to the audience. But it felt like, in this case, that was the obvious move, but not the bold move.”
“Some poems are meant to be haikus, some are meant to be sonnets and some are meant to be tone poems. And this was meant to be a sonnet. It just feels right to me,” added Logan.
So if Logan hadn’t decided to pull the plug, we would have got Penny Dreadful season four? “Absolutely. On its own merits this show would absolutely keep going if there wasn’t a creative reason to be done now,” Nevins said. “There’s no longer an economic imperative to get to 100 episodes in order to make a syndication deal in order to have a back end. This show is going to live for a very long time and I think it’s going to get re-watched.”
Perhaps once fans recover from the shock…