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- Episode: Closer Than Sisters (Season 1, Episode 5)
- Starring: Eva Green, Josh Hartnett, Billie Piper, Timothy Dalton, Reeve Carney
- Written By: John Logan (creator), John Logan
- Directed By: Coky Giedroyc
- Network: Showtime
- Studio: Desert Wolf Productions, Neal Street Productions
Penny Dreadful: Closer Than Sisters Review
Somber and missing conversations
By Jarrett Kruse
June 09, 2014
Penny Dreadful: Closer Than Sisters Review
So PENNY DREADFUL scored a renewal order for a second season this week. While I think they are jumping the gun early, I am still not completely sold on the series. It has the pedigree and potential to be a big hit for SHOWTIME but there are still a lot of issues to address before moving on to a sophomore season in my opinion. I do think it was pretty interesting to give Ms. Vanessa Ives a detailed origin story that explains some of the things in the present and the current problems she is facing. The production design continues to excel with glorious looking sets and a foot firmly placed in Victorian England. Still I was pretty bummed that with only three episodes left that this particular episode starts the race to the finish of their rookie season.
We open in the present with Vanessa writing letters to the missing Mina, her best friend and confidant. Clearly by her prose she is somber and missing conversations with her dear friend. Vanessa writes profusely trying to rid herself of the guilt of the past. As the present becomes the past, Vanessa narrates her letter over flashback scenes of her childhood and young womanhood with Mina. While when they were children, Vanessa seemed to be the more outgoing and “fun” one of the pair. When Sir Malcolm returns from an expedition, we are shown a warm and caring father that has love for his daughter but also young Vanessa. While it is nice to see Sir Malcolm happy as compared with his current state of obsession and craziness of finding Mina. I should note that as Vanessa walks through the maze of bushes, she witnesses her mother and Malcolm making love which intrigues her but keeps how it affected her to herself.
As we meet Malcolm’s son Peter, we know that he will not make it back from his planned journey with his father to Africa. Peter sees himself as a disappointment and someone that clearly is looking for acceptance and recognition on any level from Sir Malcolm. While Mina meets and prepares to marry a mustached military man, Vanessa narrates how jealous she was and how it should have been her. Her love for Mina is real but so is her hate. It is a complex dichotomy for the Vanessa character. With Mina’s wedding to be the next day after a “rehearsal dinner” of sorts, Vanessa seduces her fiancee and gets it on with the groom in gratuitous fashion as Mina unwittingly walks in on them. It devastates Mina and puts a big rift between the two families from there on in. However the bond between the two girls still seems to be there somehow. Needless to say they called the wedding off.
After passing out on the grounds, Vanessa is now under the care of a doctor that does not seem to know what is wrong with the young woman. She gets worse and soon her parents have her committed to a woman’s asylum and we see just what hell Ms. Ives goes through. She is put in a straight jacket and is performed on in Medieval fashion to try to fix her. It culminates it her hair being methodically cut and head shaved so that the doctors can literally make a hole in her head. Must have been one hell of a co-pay for this procedure. After a strange scene where Vanessa flails in a sexual manner, her mother walks in on her naked daughter and dies on the spot.
Now this is where I got a little confused. While attending the funeral of her mother, Vanessa walks on the beach and encounters Mina standing in the stand. She explains that she is now married to a lawyer and the two begin to talk about Peter’s death in Africa. After Mina discloses that Vanessa should have gone after Peter in the maze which was shown earlier. The rub is that Mina would not know of that conversation; there was no one else around. After Mina’s eyes go black and she talks about the master and begs to be saved from this ominous being. Just then she is, well it looked like being transported and she disappears. What did I miss?? What happened to Mina besides marrying? A little strange. However this is an opening for Malcolm and Vanessa to form a partnership to help Mina…wherever she is.
So that was pretty much the end and I was definitely a little perplexed to whether or not Mina is alive or dead. After Vanessa and Mina’s fiancee got it on, you don’t see much of the latter for the rest of the episode. It was most definitely a very interesting character piece that explains a great deal about the lovely Ms. Ives. When we see her finish writing her letter to Mina, she puts it away into a box filled to the brim with correspondence. The episode was very good but I think it was a little early to be going into full episodes about just one character. Hopefully next week will be a mixed bag of new things for the rest of the cast. At least I hope so…