In the Penny Dreadful episode "Possession", how at the very end did Mr. Chandler know how to exorcise Vanessa's demon?

AFAIK, at no point earlier in the series was this eluded to, and given that he had watched her suffer for so long you would have thought he would have done it sooner, or not recommended that the priest do it instead.


7 Answers 7


The following is admittedly much speculation on my part, but I think Ethan's motivation at this point was not entirely clear and this is the way (or the possible ways) I interpreted this scene.

First of all he didn't really completely exorcise the demon from her, but merely supressed it again temporarily, the same way he supresses the werewolf that's inside of him. And in fact Vanessa still has that demon inside of her after this event, just less prominent and again hidden deep inside of her as before. This is also the reason why she distances herself from Dorian Gray, since it was the passionate sex with him that allowed the demon to fully break through and this is likely to happen again if she further keeps meeting with him.

So how did he suddenly know how to do this? In fact Ethan is quite similar to Vanessa in the way that he carries a dark force inside of him, too. It is hinted previously throughout the series with various little incidents that Ethan is himself a werewolf and at the end of the season's finale it becomes as evident as possible. This is also why it wasn't alluded to previously that Ethan has such knowledge, together with Ethan's overall background it was deliberately kept a mystery to the others and the audience. This scene was thus on the one hand made as yet another surprising allusion to his mysterious ways when you were actually expecting the only possible outcome of Ethan holding the possessed and death-wishing Vanessa at gunpoint. And when one sees Ethan's nature as a werewolf as a kind of possession of his body/soul by an external force, it is quite similar to Vanessa's possession. And that amulett Ethan used to "exorcise" Vanessa was most likely used by him exactly for protecting himself to some degree against his own animalistic side.

So why didn't he consider to do this before? There are multiple possibilities, I think:

  • On the one hand he might not have wanted the others to know about his dark secret and that he is acquainted with all this stuff.
  • On the other hand it might very well be that with this ritual he somehow transferred the amulett's protection from himself to her, sacrificing his own protection against his inner wolf for her well-being.
  • Or he didn't consider this a viable alternative, since it merely supresses the demon without really freeing her from it, still leaving her a disrupted soul. He might not have wanted such a further existence for her, seeing his own torn identity.

And before this incident there was still some hope for her, I think. But it was at that moment (and after the priest refused to do an exorcism) that the only alternative to salvage her was death. He might even have considered this alternative for himself before, but was either not strong enough to really follow it through or chose to embrace the werewolf as part of his own identity. But when holding Vanessa at gunpoint he was just unable to kill her and chose an alternative that he might not have been entirely sure to be the better solution on the long run.

  • Speculation it may be, but some great viewpoints nonetheless. Thanks very much for following up!
    – EvilDr
    Oct 6, 2014 at 8:52

However Ethan gained the knowledge, St. Jude is the patron saint of LOST CAUSES. Notice he calls out in the name of St. Jude and not of God?

What cause, at that moment, could feel more desparate and lost? Ethan, in desperation, calls upon the one force he can to keep him from having to kill her. E en he seems to be "possessed" by the force of what is happening and not in control. As if he is just the conduit.


Brona had given the amulet (of st. Jude) to ethan not all that long ago so it is pretty doubtful that it was something he used as a protective tailsman.

It is more likely that he was a priest at some point which would explain his ability to speak latin and his knowledge of the rites of excorcism.

He might have left the priesthood after he became a werewolf as he may see himself as unclean in the eyes of god. And it would explain why it took him so long to attempt an exorcism himself.

So, he used the saint jude amulet not because it was a tailsman that protected him from his inner wolf, rather, he used it because it was the only piece of catholic too, he had immediately on hand.


I think it comes down to the fact that they are both vessels to more powerful forces and that is how he performed the exorcism. He is the "wolf of God" after all. This may have been a divine intervention and he was the instrument. He was also the instrument for the Devil in that episode to communicate with Vanessa. Free will and choice plays heavily in this show. Just as Vanessa struggles with her light and dark, Ethan appeArs to as well. It makes sense in this state they could both be influenced and/or utilized by the light and the dark.


I think at the last moment he did this act with all of his faith possible, not knowing he could do this before, kind of like a last effort type of thing.

  • 2
    Add more details or link to sources to support your answer.
    – A J
    Jul 7, 2016 at 6:40

I believe his father, whom he mentions in a disapproving manner at times, was in fact a priest. According to Ethan, his father always had to be in control, and Ethan did not live up to his father's standards. Just a theory.

  • 2
    Thank you for assisting the community. Ideas for framing an answer may include describing your sources along with a synopsis of what they said, and/or adding links to the resources and visuals you’ve found. I hope you enjoy participating.
    – John
    Dec 5, 2016 at 5:26

I have another theory, perhaps... maybe before he tried to break his own curse Werewolf by an exorcism..

  • 2
    I don't entirely get what you want to say with your answer at all. Care to flesh it out a little more?
    – Napoleon Wilson
    Jan 21, 2016 at 0:21

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