Penny Dreadful’s Sembene: The Stereotypical Death By Alicia McCalla
One of my favorite shows to watch is the dark, suspenseful Penny Dreadful. The show fills me with foreboding—sometimes my stomach lurches with the twisty tentacles of fear and trepidation. The heroine, Vanessa Isles, is a dark fantasy protagonist at it’s best—the tortured soul with ambiguous morals, shades of gray, that make you think about the decision, is it right or evil? Watching her descent into Hell just creeps me out but like the kid who peeks through open fingers, you’ve just got to keep watching the train wreck.
Penny Dreadful is so marvelous, though, because all of the main characters sit on the edge. The monsters’ point of view gives rise to all sorts of questions that we REALLY don’t want to think about. Frankenstein and his monster, the uncontrollable Werewolf, the Hunter, and then there’s Sembene. For the most part, he is a moral compass. He takes care of the monsters, gives them advice, and is always ready for the supernatural battle. At some point, we find out that he was previously a slaver and sold his own people into slavery but we never go to much into who he really is…
Herein lies the problem. With such depth and character development of the others, why don’t we learn more about Sembene, for most of the first episodes, I assumed that he was a powerful Okomfo, Shaman, or Witch Doctor but that idea never quite materialized. Then, I thought he was perhaps and ancient warrior or hunter who was the mystical teacher or mentor of Sir Malcolm Murray, in one episode his voice calls and returns the man from being lost in the valley of death but that story line didn’t develop either.
Finally, I just became aggravated when at the end of the last season, Sembene had been mentoring Mr. Chandler who in the end, eats him and well, Sembene graciously accepts his death.
What? I screamed at the TV screen. Of all the characters that I’d connected with, Sembene’s character had been the most intriguing to me and then he was gone. Disappointment. Why do Black folks always have to die like this in horror shows?
Well, for a little while I had high hopes.
If you enjoy Dark Fantasy stories with People of Color as the protagonist, come check out my work. I try to keep the tension high and unexpected characters get murdered, too.
Alicia McCalla is a native of Detroit, Michigan, who currently resides in Atlanta, Georgia. She works as a school librarian and enjoys traveling as well as spending time with her husband and son. Visit Alicia at: www.aliciamccalla.com to receive your free eBook boxed set and sign-up for e-updates, giveaways, and sneak peeks of her upcoming novels.