Penny Dreadful Round Table: "Closer Than Sisters"

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Viewers finally discovered what terrible secrets Vanessa was hiding on Penny Dreadful Season 1 Episode 5.

Below, TV Fanatics Jim Garner, Henry A. Otero, Doug Wolfe and Michelle Carlbert discuss Vanessa’s sins, the most shocking moment from the episode, the Master’s control over Vanessa, why Vanessa may need to kill Mina to save her and overall thoughts of the episode.


What did you think of the reveal of Vanessa’s sins toward Mina? Were you expecting something different after all of her and Sir Malcolm’s cryptic words to each other?

Jim: My initial thought was that Malcolm and she had slept together, so finding out she slept with Mina's fiancée wasn't too far off and made much better sense.

Hank: During the séance in Penny Dreadful Season 1 Episode 2 for some reason I had the impression Sir Malcolm had sexually abused Mina. It never felt like Sir Malcolm and Vanessa were involved in that way. Of course, once I realized the two girls were lifelong friends I knew the betrayal would involve a guy. Creator/writer John Logan went for the simplest storyline but watching it play out was perfection.

Doug: There was lots of foreshadowing to that event. I don't think I expected her to be the culprit though. Her curious take on her mother's dalliance with Sir Malcolm was in itself the bigger surprise. Between her repressed envy at Mina's good fortune and the "something" rotten that she knew was inside her, that fact that she cheated with Mina's fiance didn't come as a complete surprise.

Michelle: At first I was expecting something a little more sinister than Vanessa sleeping with Mina’s fiancé the day before their wedding, like perhaps she had offered Mina up to the Master as some sort of sacrifice. But once I saw the closeness of their friendship and how far it went back, it didn’t surprise me that that’s what happened.

Penny Dreadful Round Table 1-27-15

Do you think Vanessa was under the control of the Master or the “darkness” when she slept with Mina’s fiancé or was it simply the act of a jealous girl?

Jim: I give it 80/20. I think it was 80% jealous and selfish girl and 20% early influences of the darkness. After all, darkness can't take hold unless there is a hook there and being a selfish and jealous friend who sleeps with your best friend’s fiancée the night before their wedding seems to be a good place to set a hook.

Hank: I don't think Vanessa was under the Master's control at that point. Even as a girl she had a little darkness within her. She was clearly jealous that Mina would be married first and would leave her, so she put a stop to it. Such a fine line between love and hate.

Doug: I don't think she's at all under the influence of the Master at this point - but yeah, she's hand in hand with her personal darkness. Whether it's a demon or more, you get the sense she's in complete agreement with whatever that internal "darkness" is. I think the jealousy was just an excuse to act out.

Michelle: I have to agree with Jim. I think there was a touch of darkness already in her, but jealousy and selfishness brought it more to the surface and allowed her to do what she did.

What scene shocked you the most, the torture of the “treatments” at the hospital, Vanessa’s mother walking in on the Master having his way with her daughter or another scene of your choice?

Jim: The master having sex with Vanessa wasn't a surprise; her mother walking in and dropping dead on the floor was a TOTAL SHOCKER. I sat with my jaw open for the next two minutes.

Hank: I totally agree with Jim. Vanessa's mother dropping dead was a shock. I'm still not sure if it was caused by a heart attack or something else.

Doug: The tortures weren't shocking - they were consistent with history. Honestly, none of it really shocked me, but that scene where Vanessa's being ravaged was surprising. I liked what they did with the camera when we saw that last shot of her mother on the floor, now dead, with a gleam in her eye - similar to the effect of having mirrors put behind the eyes of the dead animals they had previously discussed.

Michelle: I thought the exact opposite of Jim and Hank. I was completely shocked by the sight of Vanessa having sex with an invisible entity. I wasn’t surprised that it happened, but seeing it just blew my mind. However, once I saw it, I wasn’t the least bit shocked when her mother walked in and dropped dead. At that point it seemed like a completely appropriate response.

Why do you think Vanessa believes she will have to kill Mina to save her?

Jim: If Mina has fallen to the dark and become a creature of the night, the story goes that the only cure is death.

Hank: It appears Mina is beyond their help and now one of the undead. Vanessa is the only one with the strength to put Mina out of her misery. Her father would never be able to kill her. Funny thing is, Mina's just a pawn in all this... the Master is using her to lure Ms. Ives his way.

Doug: Is Vanessa projecting perhaps? She has her own personal demon after all - so maybe she thinks that the only way to separate Mina from hers is by killing her.

Michelle: I’m not convinced that Mina is a creature of the night, but I do think that the Master will continue to use her against Mina. There may be no other way to release Mina other than death and Vanessa will be the only who can do it.

What were your overall thoughts of the episode?

Jim: It had a completely different pacing than others, sticking to one character's story. I really liked that. Also, Eva Green should get an Emmy for just being Eva Green. From the "fits" of the early sickness, to sex with the master, and back around to her "current" presence being poised and collected, she showed an A-M-A-Z-I-N-G range of acting skill in this episode.

Hank: With each episode I become more a fan of this show. I was expecting an interesting Gothic horror series with its fair share of gore. However, Penny Dreadful is dripping with atmosphere and sensuality. Everything from the writing, to the sets, score and cast are mesmerizing. I find myself completely immersed in this world, it's insane. By the way, I liked Eva Green before, but what she's achieved on this show is spectacular. She deserves any award recognition that comes her way.

Doug: Henry's comment on the review of this episode is well-taken. This show isn't about forward momentum so much as it about being immersive. Maybe it's not for all tastes - I'm reserving judgment for now. This episode was interesting, as we got to see the backstory between Vanessa and Sir Malcolm, and why there is dichotomy between them: camaraderie coupled with a hint of dislike.

Michelle: I too think that Eva Green is simply amazing in this series. What she has been able to pull off and yet make it all seem completely believable is a testament to her talents as an actor. I feel like a broken record as I keep saying the show gets better with every episode. But I feel the need to keep repeating it as I am constantly surprised that it continues to out-perform its previous installments. This latest episode could have been slow, focusing as it did on one character’s story, but instead I felt just as captivated as I have from the beginning.

Now it's your turn, fellow fanatics. What did you think of the latest episode of Penny Dreadful?

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Penny Dreadful Season 1 Episode 5 Quotes

Perhaps it has always been there, this thing, this demon inside me.


You have to give them names or they’ll never come to life.