Penny Dreadful S:1 E:5 Closer Than Sisters



Last Week On Penny Dreadful: Dorian has an orgy. Then he goes to church, then the theater. He leaves with...Ethan (Vanessa would have been my choice). They drink absinthe, then make out. All in a days work. Victor and Sir Malcolm give a blood transfusion to the mysterious Fenton. It doesn't work. Fenton calls for the master, who shows up looking for Vanessa. Fenton dies, his Master flees, the episode ends. Read all about it HERE.

This Week On Penny Dreadful: Vanessa writes a letter to Mina. It's one of many. Voice over leads to a flashback sequence that reeks of Downton Abbey. Vanessa was apparently quite the Devil on Minas shoulder when they were younger. Mena tries to play the love doctor pushing Vanessa and her brother Peter together well they work on some creepy taxidermy. Is there anything as romantic as taxidermy? But before Chuck Woolery can start with The Love Connection, Sir Malcolm returns from Africa. Everyone is happy. At dinner, Sir Malcolms stories keep everyone wrapped around his finger. Vanessa says there was something more sinister at work under the pleasantries shared on such evenings. She learns exactly what that unpleasantness is when she catches Sir Malcolm fucking her mother in the hedge maze. She watches...and she likes it.

Vanessa talks about the voices in her head. They've always been there, it's only recently that she's started to listen. They grow up, and predictably, Mina falls in love with Tom Branson, er, Captain Branson. Branson speaks of moving to India and Vanessa gets rather jealous, knowing that means Mina will be leaving as well. Peter and Vanessa have a moment. Ever the impetuous one she forces herself on him. He begs off her, she does not follow. Sadness. She tries to pray. God doesn't answer - someone else does though.

The night before Minas wedding Vanessa creeps into Minas room and kisses her on the cheek. She heads downstairs to find Minas fiance unable to sleep and conveniently standing in the doorway. She shows him some of Minas best taxidermy work. And gets rather worked up over hers. This shit is like the 19th century Pornhub. Vanessa wants to put mirrors behind the world...but instead she fucks Minas fiance. It's a television show so Mina walks in, and she's devastated. Wedding off.

The next day, Vanessa's mother tries to stop her from visiting Mina, but Vanessa drops the "I know what you did when I was younger" card. Sir Malcolm locks her out of the estate, so Vanessa takes a stroll in the woods, gazing at the wondrous flora and fauna before taking a graceful collapse on the ground. She has become gravely ill. My thoughts go to herpes. But her doctors aren't sure what it is - perhaps a psychological thing. Vanessa's mother brings her (and the rest of us) up to speed on the more soap opera-y things going on. Apparently, all communication has been cut off between the two families and Mina has left. Vanessa wants to die. Mother wants to take her to London. Death would be my choice as well.

The London doctor thinks it might be epilepsy. He thinks cold water might do the trick...that or brain surgery (this is the best doctor they can find?) Vanessa would like the lobotomy. But first she attacks the doctor. It's a whole out of body thing with her screaming "Who's Vanessa." She's dropped in a bath of cold ice. Then, she's strung up and bathed with a fire hose and then haircut time. They shave her head...hey, it's still better than Super Cuts,...and we head to brain surgery. Using a rotary hand drill the doctor slowly drills a whole in Vanessas brain.

Post surgery, Vanessa lays around catatonic most of the time. Peter drops by to tell everyone he's leaving for Africa, but wants to see Vanessa before he leaves. He sits by her side gives her the news about the Africa trip. She says he should have kissed her back in the maze and he should kiss her now. Which he does, lucky bastard. She tells him he's going to die. Vanessas mother asks Peter what she said. He lies and tells her he couldn't understand her.

Next on Vanessa's revolving door of guests is Sir Malcolm, but not really. It's an evil spirit. An evil spirit who really loves John Keats. The demon tells her that she is and has always been in control. She can shut it out the evil, but will loose everything she has ever longed for should she choose to do so. She starts making out with the Sir Malcolm demon. So there's her answer I guess. Her mother walks in to find a naked demon possessed Vanessa fucking an invisible man. Mid-coitus, Vanessa looks at her and her mother drops dead.

Years later...judging by hair length, Mina and Vanessa meet up the Rocky III beach. Mina forgives Vanessa. They spend some time shooting the shit. Mina is now married to Jonathan Harker. She brings up Peter and the maze. Vanessa is bewildered by Minas knowledge. The Master has shown her many things (Does The Doctor know The Master is back?)  Mina disappears. Later, in London, Vanessa looks up Sir Malcolm. She tells him of her encounter. He is unwilling to forgive her. They have a pissing match about who has seen the most death. Sir Malcolm proposes a partnership. Back to letter writing. Mina finishes writing addresses the envelope "Mrs. Johnathan Harker" and puts it in the box with the rest of the letters shes written. End Episode.

Reaction: Here's an episode that needed to happen. I personally would have had it happen much earlier in the season. With only three episodes left it feels like really learning Vanessa and Sir Malcolm's back story at this point seems too little too late. I think that had we seen this episode earlier, perhaps around two or three in the season, it would have served the series better. The Vanessa/Sir Malcolm part of the story line is the one part of the show that has felt flat and underdeveloped. It just feels like a missed opportunity.

That being said, the episode was really very good. If I had to rank it (which I do), I'd slide it in at number two, still not nearly as good as the first episode but better than episode number four. Eva Green was tremendous, and kudos to whomever is responsible for making Green look all kinds of hellish. We finally got the answers that we have been clamoring for since the pilot. There was naked Eva Green (it was spectacular), excellent story development, and it had just the right amount of Josh Hartnett, almost none...almost none Josh Hartnett.

It was a long recap this week because of the nature of the episode. So I shall bid you adieu. As always...thanks for reading and "enjoy every sandwich."

Read all about episode 6 HERE!

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