It was dark and silent… only that chair and chains decorating the room. Not even that horrible, twisted moon could bring light to this place.
Neah was already sitting, the chains slowly covering his body like snakes, suffocating their pray.
Allen was in front of him. Not daring to move or make a sound.
It was Neah who broke the silence. His voice echoing around the room, making it sound like a crowd of ghosts repeating the words.
- You won - he said.
“You won, you won, you won” The ghosts repeated.
- I did - Indeed.
Allen did won the war, but at what price? He was alone now… more the ever.
Kanda was dead… having a body that was too fragile for such a violent battle, there was no way he could handle the damage. Allen didn’t even find his pieces to burry. Bookman was gone. Probably found something new to record and Lavi… Lavi may still be alive, but his mind was forever lost. Destroyed by the hands of the Noahs. Marie went by the easy way… killed by the akuma poison, leaving Miranda to trap herself in her own time loop while trying to bring her beloved back. The generals who weren’t dead left the order the moment the battle ended and Cross was still stuck in his enchanted sleep. Maybe hoping someone would find a way to wake him… maybe wishing they would not. Chaoji, who hated to noahs so much, woke up as a one of them and was the first to be killed. When Allen remembered the moment he had to kill the the man, he liked to think that it was painless. That the former exorcist died fast.
His illusion would end the moment Chaoji’s screams would reach his ears.
And Lenalee.. sweet Lenalee… betrayed by her own innocence. Caught in a moment of weakness. A moment of hate. Her wish to live with her brother and be nothing else but a normal girl, turned the powers that she should wield against her. Allen could still hear her pleas and cries as the innocence would torn her from the inside… boiling her blood and driving the once bright and positive girl into a insane mess of destruction, also taking away her brother. Komui, who had done everything for his little sister, was now drowned in grief… with no way of coming back to the surface of his mind.
Yes… Allen had won the war, but it didn’t feel like it.
He must have stayed quiet - lost in his thoughts - for too long, because Neah, once again, made his voice echo across the room
- How much? -The former Noah asked and Allen, not understanding the question, could only stare. The confusion must have be written all over his face, because it was with a smile that Neah questioned: - How much do you remember? - And simple like that, Allen knew what he was talking about.
His previous life… A life where he had no innocence, a life of being friends with the two brothers who would give him hell, later in an undesirable future. A life of books, laughs and stolen kisses.
- Only some parts of it - he answered - The rest is still coming back to me in small dreams or even when I see something my past self used to like.
- And how do you feel? - Burning. That’s how he felt with those golden eyes staring at him, like the man sitting in front of him could see Allen’s soul. Like he knew what was behind that wrecked mask.
- I feel weird - Allen murmured.
- That’s not what I meant and you know it - There was a hint in Neah’s tone… one that clearly said he was tired and they could very well skip the hiding part.
Yes, Allen knew what Neah was talking about and he also knew that they didn’t have much time, but this fact didn’t make it any easier for him to speak up.
He tried anyway.
- I think that part of me - Allen started - a part that I’m trying to, but I stillI don’t know very well, will always love you, Neah.
Hope flicked in those beautiful eyes and it pained Allen to complete
- But you need to understand that when I went back to be a child, I didn’t know who I was or how I was raised. - hurt and loneliness, that was all Allen could see in Neah’s face… maybe the same thing was in his own too - I went back to zero. I got an innocence and a cursed eye… I met new people and allowed myself to love.
Neah opened his mouth to say something, but Allen stoped him. If he didn’t say all he had to say now, he wouldn’t be able to bring himself to do it later.
- My first meeting with you was through a mirror and you immediately became my enemy. - Allen kept saying. Each word burning his throat like he was trying, and failing, to swallow hot coal. - A threat against my friends. My family…. a threat against me!
Allen felt like the world was fading around him, and he knew that the two of them didn’t have much time now. He knew and the only think he kept doing was hurting Neah over and over again with his words.
- But you do remember the moments between us, right? - Neah asked. Pain and something else filling his eyes.
- I do - Allen confessed - and those are moments all cherished until the end of my life.
It seemed like those were the words Neah wanted to hear, because he allowed a small smile to appear on his face, making him look younger then Allen has ever seen him.
- I still do, you know - Neah said. His voice calm and toned with something Allen didn’t recognize.
- Still do what? - the boy asked, intrigued by the softness in the other’s tone.
- I still do love you - He said and, as Neah’s eyes closed to never again open up, Allen realized that it was, indeed, love.
Neah’s voice was full of love. Love for Allen.
And yet again, Allen found himself thinking:
“Yes, I did won the war… but at what price?” Death, insanity, loneliness… too high.
That was the answer… Peace demanded a price too high to be paid, and Allen paid it anyway.
As that chair, those chains and the man disappeared, Allen opened his eyes to a bright and hateful world. As the screams of his friend and the blood of his enemies came back into his mind, Allen put a hand on his blind left eye and did not try to fight the river of tears coming out of his right one.
I know everyone notices Victor Frankenstein, his creature, Dorian Gray, Mina Harker (now deceased), her father, and Abraham Van Helsing (also now deceased) but do you catch the more subtle literary homages sprinkled through out Penny Dreadful?
Here are a few that I noticed.
1. Last season when Dorian was having a conversation with Vanessa he paraphrased several lines from Goethe’s Faust. Goethe’s Faust helped inspired The Picture of Dorian Gray but had a much more hopeful ending where in part 2 the hero’s soul was actually saved.
2. Victor Frankenstein has repeatedly quoted the work of Percy Shelley, the husband of Mary Shelley (author of Frankenstein).
3. The Frankenstein Monster has repeatedly quoted John Milton’s Paradise Lost. This is actually from the original Frankenstein novel as The Creature was obsessed with the epic poem.
4. When Ferdinand Lyle is blackmailed by the witches with a list of his male lovers this is a direct reference to Alan Campbell in the original Picture of Dorian Gray novel, particularly addressed in the 1973 film adaptation starring Shane Bryant and produced by Dan Curtis. Where Lyle is an Egyptologist, Alan Campbell was a chemist and he was blackmailed into getting rid of the body of Basil the painter (whom Dorian murdered). Afterward Alan committed suicide so watch out for Lyle.
5. Dr. Frankenstein falling in love with his female creation (who was intended to be the mate to his first creature), and also convincing her that she is the victim of an accident and has amnesia, this is directly taken from the 1985 film The Bride, not to be confused with The Bride of Frankenstein.
6. The Wax museum seems to be a homage to the Vincent Price film House of Wax. Note: I know there’s an older story with the same plot but I am not familiar with that one and I already know it has nothing do with the 2005 version. I fear for Caliban / John Clare…
7. Last season the theatre specifically mentioned performing Sweeney Todd.
8. When The Creature takes on the name Caliban it’s a nod to Shakespeare’s The Tempest.
9. When The Creature takes on the name John Clare it is actually the name of a semi-obscure Victorian era poet who only recently started getting the praise he had been denied in life.
10. Several scenes of Vanessa’s exorcism and most of season one’s finale were a homage to The Exorcist.
11. Joan Clayton’s name is likely a reference to the Wold Newlon Family which was a literary device that connected a large number of characters via family connection. Similarly this device is used with the Collins Family in Dark Shadows, a TV show from the 1960s that has had a heavy influence on Penny Dreadful.
12. Angelique. The name Angelique comes from the 1960s Gothic TV series Dark Shadows in which one of the villains was a witch named Angelique. Much like Penny Dreadful Dark Shadows had a collection of supernatural beings and plots borrowed from classic literature. In 2012 a spoof film adaptation of Dark Shadows was made featuring Eva Green (Vanessa in Penny Dreadful) as Angelique.
13. Dorian spent plenty of time in season 1 listening to his phonograph. This is a nod to the 1973 film adaptation produced by Dan Curtis (Creator of Dark Shadows) and the character Quentin Collins from Dark Shadows. Quentin was heavily inspired by Dorian Gray, right down to being a Victorian man who had a painting that aged for him and grew uglier every time he sinned. Quentin was obsessed with a particular piece of music called Shadows of the Night which he played often on his phonograph. Dorian in Penny Dreadful seems to have a similar obsession. Quentin was still alive and young in the late twentieth century when Dark Shadows ended.
14. The witch’s property belonging to Vanessa may evolve into a House of the Seven Gables type plot.
15. The subtle hints that Malcolm might actually be Vanessa’s biological father but it’s never confirmed seems to be a nod to Victoria Winters (the main female protagonist for the first two hundred and ten episodes of Dark Shadows) and her relationship with the matriarchal Elizabeth Collins, whom it was never confirmed was actually her mother until long after the series ended.
16. The presence of the Egyptian deities in season 1 might be a nod to the 1940s film adaptation of The Picture of Dorian Gray in which Dorian specifically sold his soul to the goddess Bast. The actual novel never specifies who or what he sold his soul to.
17. Ethan literally is An American werewolf in London. There’s also American, French and German werewolf lore he could borrow traits from.
I know there’s more but that’s all I could think of off hand and my fingers are starting to ache.