Penny Dreadful: Season Finale Post Mortems on Vanessa

The showdown between Vanessa and the doll, was this Satan himself she confronted or another demon?

It is Lucifer. It is the fallen angel himself. He’s choosing to work through Evelyn Poole and this amazing simulacra of Vanessa because that is the tool that Evelyn uses. It is absolutely the Devil trying to charm, seduce, bully Vanessa into accepting him.

The first season had eight episodes and two was upped to 10. Moving to the third season, you have nine episodes. Was this a Showtime decision?

It just broke down to nine hours. Showtime is happy to do as many hours as the story warrants and next season’s story happened to break down to nine hours. It could have been 12 or 13, but it just happened to be nine.

One of the other shocking scenes is when Victor confronts Dorian (Reeve Carney) and Lily (Billie Piper) as they’re dancing in this ballroom. They talk about this supremacy they feel as they’re shot, are they being shaped toward a Big Bad for season three? What’s the plan for Lily and Dorian?

They are certainly on a sinister journey. So much of the characters are built upon wanting to be normal, wanting to fit in. Lily and Dorian have no interest in fitting in. They have interest in conquest, standing above, in superiority, and that’s pretty frightening for two supernatural, hypothetically immortal beings. And we know that Lily is so damned formidable that she could do anything she wanted. She’s a powerful, powerful person. I’m enjoying sending them on a dark path and as they sort of explore what conquest really means. There are many ways of assimilating power and their journey next season will be about getting power in a really unique way.

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Can you tease anything about what’s next?
These characters have found so much strength and grace with each other, and intimacy, and they’ve become stronger people by the closeness of their relationships. Next season, some of them are alone, and they don’t have their friends to turn to — they don’t have that support. And how they’re going to function out there in the world without each other is interesting. What will be the event that will draw them back together?

Shifting gears a bit, I’d love to talk about Lily and Billie Piper, who’s been absolutely fantastic. How early did Billie know what was coming for her character this year?
Before we started filming. She had to very carefully build that performance, which was extraordinary. It’s one of the most extraordinary things I’ve seen an actor do in my career — the way she modulated the character of Lily so that when you first meet her, she’s innocent, and she’s confused, and she’s frightened, and she gets more confident, until finally it all comes out in that amazing speech that she gives in episode 8. I think it’s an extraordinary performance and one that I’m most proud of this season.

Will we see Hecate again?

We absolutely will. I think Hecate is such a delicious character because she has her mother’s sort of flamboyant sense of evil and flamboyant sense of language, but she’s a contemporary young woman who’s not as bound as her mother to the old tropes of Satanism. She’s a lot of fun. She will absolutely be back in season 3.

Is there anyone else we should expect in season 3?
I can tell you this—and this is such a tease, and I am sorry for it — but after two years I am finally adding another famous literary character. It’s been fun going into another writer’s brain and bringing one of those great characters back into our world.

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