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Penny Dreadful, S1 Ep. 5 – “Closer Than Sisters” Review

Tales of adventure...and betrayal.
Tales of adventure...and betrayal.
Photos Courtesy of ©2014 Showtime Networks, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

Penny Dreadful, S1 Ep. 5 – “Closer Than Sisters”


Penny Dreadful – “Closer Than Sisters” Review.
Season 1, Episode 5
Air Date: Sunday, June 8, 2014, 10PM E/P on Showtime

“Perhaps it has always been there, this thing, this demon inside me...” – Vanessa Ives

After such a surprising and alluring end to last week’s “Demimonde,” where Dorian (Reeve Carney) and Ethan (Josh Hartnett) explore their new friendship, I would be remiss if I didn’t say I am a tad disappointed that “Closer Than Sisters” gives us no continuation of this seemingly unexpected connection. But, I’m sure more will be revealed later; for now, “Closer Than Sisters” takes us back in time through Vanessa Ives’ (Eva Green) memories as she writes a letter to her dear friend Mina Murray (Olivia Llewellyn).

“Closer Than Sisters” provides a deep insight into Vanessa’s mind as we see how she grew up, her friendship with Mina, and the way Sir Malcolm Murray (Timothy Dalton) and she came to be united in finding Mina who is lost in the shadows. The richness in the story telling is beyond compelling, transfixing you, and transporting you to Vanessa’s childhood home along the seashore. What impresses me most throughout “Closer Than Sisters” is Green’s acting. As Vanessa becomes ill, her seizures, convulsions, and violent outbursts are truly remarkable. Her stay in a mental hospital is shocking. In addition to Green’s acting, the make-up department, special effects people, and whoever else is responsible for making the brain surgery look so real are to be commended. It truly looks like they drilled a hole in Green’s skull. I also wonder if they really shave her head.

As we learn through Vanessa’s narration, she did something regrettable that betrayed her friendship with Mina. The underlying manifestation of evil seeping into a young Vanessa begins to grow as she gets older. Vanessa’s clairvoyant powers start to show as she sees the fate of Mina’s brother Peter (Graham Butler) before he sets off to Africa with his father. One of the more fascinating aspects, aside from Vanessa’s friendship with the Murray family, are Vanessa’s interactions with her own mother Claire (Anna Chancellor). If you recall in “Séance,” Vanessa, in an altered state, reveals secrets of the past, including something she saw when she was young. “Closer Than Sisters” gives us a firsthand account of exactly what it is she saw. And we understand why the evil wants Vanessa or at least, its compulsion toward her.


Jealousy. Envy. Lust. Did Vanessa invite the evil to consume her? Her curiosity may have gotten the better of her. “You have to name a thing to make it live, don’t you?” When the evil, posing as Sir Malcolm, pays a visit to a recovering Vanessa, he says things to make me question whether she can truly help save Mina when she herself may need saving.

Mina tells Vanessa she’s now married to a solicitor, Jonathan Harker, whom we’ve yet to meet. Could this Jonathan Harker have been her undoing? Did he deliver Mina to the dark ones, even if by accident? I’m curious how the writers will reveal Jonathan to us, if at all.


“Closer Than Sisters” explains why Vanessa and Sir Malcolm are working so closely together, and why I’ve always detected an underlying mistrust between them. We also discover how tormented Vanessa truly is. Sir Malcolm may not be an honorable man, but he does love his daughter dearly and will do whatever he must to save her, including working with the woman who betrayed her.
The darkness the writers have blanketed us with in every episode of Penny Dreadful thus far is truly frightening. I’m intrigued and wooed by the seductive story telling that is marred with guilt and fear, but there is something else buried deep – hope.

Let me know what you thought of “Closer Than Sisters.” Leave me a comment below or tweet me @judybopp. Looking forward to hearing from you!

Tune in to Penny Dreadful, Sundays at 10PM E/P, only on Showtime.

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