In the midst of everyone falling under the spell of Netflix’s original series, The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina, it seems audiences have forgotten there are some other pretty cool — and deadly — witches out there. I summon for your inspection Penny Dreadful’s Nightcomers.
Introduced in Season 2 of Showtime’s supernatural thriller, the Nightcomers part ways from the typical depiction of witches. Ditching hats, broomsticks, and warted-noses, these witches instead have black and yellow eyes, bald heads with their bare bodies adorned in scars and scratches — allegedly marks of their servitude to their master — when not in their beautiful human-like guise.What made the Nightcomers a deadly adversary (and one of the better “villains” of the show) was their reliance on various things aside from just magic. As servants of their dark master, the Nightcomers (like others in witch lore) were gifted with long life and beauty. However, these servants of the serpent were also given other incredible powers through their covenant including psychokinesis, transformation, illusion, agility, and strength — and they make use of a lot of these when audiences first meet them.
In an attempt to acquire a belonging of their target, Vanessa Ives, the Nightcomers break into her home and appear out of walls and corridors ready to pounce, diverting and knocking over fully capable men so swiftly that no one knows what has happened until after they’ve left.
Another strength is not their physical endowments but their cunning. Whereas most witches have to conjure a spell in order to get their way, these witches throw a pinch of their wit and feminine wilds into the concoction to bend the wills of those around them.
The leader of the Nightcomers, Evelyn Poole, made much use of this skill. In Season 2, Episode 3: “The Nightcomers,” Evelyn single-handedly takes out half a herd of her “lover’s” cattle with an insanely sharp needle concealed in a ring of hers, completely unsuspected. Then, while engaging in dominant-submissive sex with her lover, she convinces him a former member of her coven, Joan Clayton, is the cause of the famine. She whispers doubt into the ears of those around her and they almost instantly turn on Joan and make plans to cleanse their town of her.
Later in the show, she seduces Sir Malcolm Murray, Vanessa’s caregiver, and almost succeeds in her seduction, if it were not for the intervention of others.
These witches were ruthless, with Evelyn killing members of her coven (new and old) if they foiled her plans — and her own daughter, Hecate, throwing shade and raising a coup when she too found herself seeking power from under her mother’s thumb.
All in all, the Nightcomers were formidable enemies and as far as we're concerned, some of the most badass depictions of witches we don’t talk enough about.