It’s been a long year waiting for new episodes of John Logan’s delightful horror series, and thankfully that wait is almost over. Heck, it already is if you’re willing to watch the premiere on YouTube (streaming now!). But back in January, the cast and creator of “Penny Dreadful” sat down for a 30-minute panel discussion at their Winter TCA presentation. The group included Logan, Josh Hartnett, Timothy Dalton, Helen McCrory and Harry Treadaway. After showcasing a new trailer to kick things off (see below), the group of five did their best to tease Season 2 without spoiling. We shall try to do the same.
SPOILERS ahead for the first season of “Penny Dreadful.”
1) “This season we embrace witchcraft.”
So said series creator John Logan when discussing what’s to come in the second season of “Penny Dreadful,” Showtime’s hit horror series from the Oscar-winning screenwriter. Though he didn’t give away too much new information — a wise move for a series with some enticing twists — he did expound upon the new villain of the series, new characters, and what the rest of the main characters would be going through. “Last year we set the characters on the board, and this year we get to play with them,” Logan said. The game itself? Witchcraft, which Logan said will be a major part of the new season.
2) “Penny Dreadful’s” new villain is uniquely human.
One big reason to “embrace witchcraft” in Season 2 is the new antagonist, Madam Kali (aka Evelyn Poole). Played by Helen McCrory, Kali appeared in a few episodes last year, perhaps most notably as the “impersonator” who set things off for Vanessa Shaw during the show-stopping seance scene. Now, she’s the big baddie, and one wielding considerable power. Logan talked about how vampires were the main adversary last year, but that he wanted a human villain in Season 2. He’d had this planned out for a while, too, cutting a scene with McCrory from the first season that better illustrated her upcoming value (but didn’t fit in the edit in the end). You can see some of what’s in store on her end in the trailer below, summed up in one quote: “When Lucifer fell, he did not fall alone.”
3) Josh Hartnett’s Ethan will be hunted as much as he hunts.
One of the biggest reveals in last year’s season finale was Ethan Chandler’s secret identity, so to speak. Ethan is a werewolf — or so we thought. “He’s a wolf man,” Hartnett casually corrected. “That’s what John likes to call him.” More importantly, Logan said Ethan will be hunted more than he hunts in Season 2. A Scotland Yard inspector, a new character played by Doug Hodge, will be hot on Ethan’s metaphorical and literal tail. All the while, Ethan will be discovering who he is — Logan was adamant in pointing out Ethan doesn’t yet know he’s a werewolf, and discovering as much will be an emotional journey unto its own for the already conflicted American gunslinger.
4) “There’s a major dancing component to this season.”
Logan gave out plenty of juicy details, many of which fit the grisly tone of the new trailer, but he was also asked to explain one of the trailer’s only moments of bliss. There’s a scene where Vanessa (Eva Green) dances with the Creature (Rory Kinnear) in what in passing seems like a lovely, touching moment. Turns out there’s much more like it to come.
“There’s a major dancing component to this season,” Logan said. “He’s composed three waltzes for us. They’re all unique to the characters. There’s a Vanessa and Ethan waltz — which is a larger waltz than with the other characters — there’s a Creature waltz. Seeing what we can do with these characters is very exciting.”
5) If you thought Season 1 was light on gore, get ready for a bloody Season 2.
No one said anything about amping up the classic horror aspects — gore, blood, violence — but the climactic moment of the trailer certainly indicates an emphasis on blood, one way or another. Logan also noted how the directors he worked with this season added their own style to the episodes, especially since the pilot’s director (and tone-setter for the series) J.A. Bayona did not return for Season 2. Change is coming, even if Logan argues “it’s still ‘Penny Dreadful.'”
6) This is the “make or break” season for “Penny Dreadful.”
Logan talked about how difficult it was for him to find the right tone for his show in the first season. “I was immensely proud of the first season,” Logan said. “It was a very, very challenging target to hit, which is a horror show that will break your heart. I believe that’s what we accomplished. I think there’s more pressure, more tension this season. Last year, our heroes were hunters, and this season they are the prey.”
Logan went on to mention the characters are brought closer together in Season 2 thanks to higher stakes. “We sort of unleashed hell this season, so it is our make-or-break season, and we’re going for it.”
7) “Penny Dreadful” premieres May 3 at 10pm.
Set your DVRs accordingly, but first, watch the trailer below.