Thursday, June 12, 2014

Recap/Review: Penny Dreadful's 1x05: Closer Than Sisters

That's sisters and not seastra as a certain lady in Orphan Black would be fond of saying. This also turned out to be something of a departure episode wise, with the focus solely being on Vanessa, so for all you Eva Green fans, this turned out to be the episode you didn't want to miss.

Written by John Logan
Directed by Coky Giedroyc

I Love You Enough To Kill You: Forget Lucy Westenra people. When it came to significant BFF's for Mina Murray (Olivia Llewellyn), that role firmly belonged to Vanessa Ives and throughout their lives both the Ives and Murray clans were the best of friends and Vanessa herself was deeply involved in both Lucy and Peter's lives (while having feelings for the latter) to the extent that even when Vanessa discovered her mother Claire (Anna Chancellor) was shagging Malcolm in secret, she was more voyeur than horrified about the prospect. Of course, it would turn out that Vanessa copping off with Mina's fiancee, Captain Branson (Joseph Millson) that would ultimately wreck her friendship with Mina and earn the disgust of Sir Malcolm as well. Then again, what's a strapping Captain between two girls, huh?

Love, Death And War: This episode revealed a lot about Vanessa but more to the point, in flashbacks and following the death of her mother and a spooky encounter with a demon taking on Mina's form (this was after it did the same with Malcolm's form and Vanessa was caught having possession sex), the episode showed an uneasy alliance being forged between Malcolm and Vanessa in a bid to save Mina. Of course, in Vanessa's case, her love for Mina (which tethered a little on homoerotic without going all the way) does now mean that she will kill her former friend if she cannot save her and I have a feeling that will be something that will shatter her already shaky alliance with Malcolm.

At The Asylum: Following her antics with breaking up Mina and Branson (don't worry, we later learn that Mina is engaged to a certain Harker bloke), we also saw Vanessa display signs of epilepsy, catatonia and then madness which earned her a trip to the asylum for a bit. In scenes that actually managed to outdo American Horror Story's second season, we saw Vanessa being subjected to power hoses, ice cold baths, her hair being hacked off and a gruesome lobotomy to boot. What I found chilling along with the mistreatment of Vanessa was the fact that her parents seemed to have given up on her and didn't expect her to survive when they took her out of the asylum. Not to mention the fact that she was solely blamed for everything concerning Branson as well but given the era this happens to be set in, it's not exactly unrealistic though. Still, Eva Green's performance throughout this episode was impressive.

You Should've: In Vanessa's case (and in the demon that's possessing her and actively messing up her life), there was the belief that she should've been kissed by Mina's brother, Peter (Graham Butler) and persuaded him not to go to Africa, seeing as it would also become the place where he would die as well. We didn't get as much insight into Peter, other than him wanting to be an explorer solely to impress his father and not having any romantic or sexual feelings towards Vanessa (who had a thing for him) but I am slightly more interested in him now than Mina though. Plus, at least he seemed concerned enough for Vanessa to actually visit her when she left the asylum as well. Perhaps he would've been the better friend than Mina.

A Break From The Rest: Because this episode was so heavily focused on Vanessa, the only other regular character to actually appear onscreen was Sembene and even then it was for one scene at the end of the episode where he literally did or said anything. Five episodes in and we still know absolutely nothing about the guy. Is it too much to ask that the next three episodes will offer something on him? I don't want to be overly critical because this has been an excellent series and the focus on Vanessa here was more than fine with me (I didn't mind not seeing Ethan, Brona, Dorian, Victor and Caliban this week) but at the same time, I do hope Logan has something up his sleeve in relation to the mysterious manservant. Other than that, this was a bloody excellent episode which managed to be standalone, character driven and a little foreshadowing (I assume) for the final three episodes as well in relation to Vanessa and the Amunet plot.

Next week, it seems that both Malcolm and Sembene have different ideas about Mina and Victor spends more time with Helsing as do Vanessa and Dorian.

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