Season 1 Episode 5
"Closer Than Sisters"
Vanessa recalls her past and the events that ultimately lead to Mina's disappearance...[button color="red" size="small" link="http://www.sho.com/sho/penny-dreadful/home" target="blank" ]Official Site[/button]
We open with Vanessa writing what is her daily letter to Mina. She writes them in hopes of recapturing their former relationship. This episode appears to be a flashback to the history of the women's relationship.
We start with Vanessa and Mina as girls. They are close friends and neighbors, with their respective family estates located next to one another. The two families are exceptionally close.
We see Vanessa spending time with Mina's brother Peter. Vanessa seems far more comfortable around the ubiquitous animals in the home of an African explorer. It sounds as if Peter and Vanessa are expected to be married one day.
Malcolm returns from a trip and it seems his marriage is a passionless one. He also seems far more excited to see Mina and Vanessa than he is Peter. That night Vanessa catches Malcolm sleeping with her mother, but she never told Mina.
The next day Vanessa begins what she calls "little acts of mischief," stealing small items like combs. She says she realized there was something more to it.
When they are older Mina is the first of the pair to find a mate, an officer named Charles Branson. Vanessa is jealous of Mina's relationship and is upset the couple may end up in India.
Vanessa and Peter take a private walk and he confesses feeling like Malcolm considers him a disappointment. His plan is to join his father in Africa. Vanessa makes a pass at Peter but he awkwardly stops her and rushes away.
That night Vanessa prays to God but seems to get a response from a more sinister source.
We forward to Mina and Charles' wedding weekend. The night before the wedding Vanessa takes Charles to the animal room. The two begin to flirt and Vanessa comes on to Charles. The two begin to have sex and Mina walks into the room and witnesses the betrayal.
The next day Charles leaves town in disgrace. Vanessa lashes out at her mother and makes reference to knowing of her affair with Malcolm. Malcolm won't let Vanessa see Mina. He closes a door between their homes which had always remained open. On her way back home Vanessa collapses.
Vanessa falls ill with an inexplicable illness. Her mother sits by her bedside and it sounds as if Malcolm has cut off ties with her as well. The plan is to consult a specialist in London. Vanessa asks her mother to let her die.
The specialist, a Dr. Banning, tells Vanessa's parents he has a plan to treat her catatonia and "psycho-sexual behavior." If that doesn't work there are surgical options. Vanessa begins talking. When she and the doctor are alone she attacks Banning and begins speaking in a strange tongue.
Eventually Vanessa undergoes what looks like a lobotomy-type procedure. A drill is placed at the side of her head and Banning turns it into her brain.
We cut to Peter visiting Vanessa's home. He's there to say good-bye before leaving for Africa with his father. Her mother brings her to Vanessa's room. Peter sits at the bedside of Vanessa, who is not doing well. He leans in close and Vanessa whispers "you're going to die there."
Vanessa receives a visit from a devil-type spirit taking the form of Malcolm. It recites lines from Keats and kisses her passionately. Vanessa's mother hears a noise and goes to her daughter's room. She is nude, seemingly having sex with an invisible person.
Peter dies and Vanessa attends the funeral. Later she encounters Mina on the beach. Mina says she thinks Vanessa's sin has been forgiven through her suffering. Mina's married to a lawyer. Mina then makes reference to knowing things from Vanessa's thoughts. Her face turns dark and she refers to having been taught things by "master." She recovers briefly and asks Vanessa to "save me from him, please." She is then whisked way form Vanessa by some invisible force.
Vanessa then goes to see Malcolm. She says Mina needs their help and relays to him all that she knows about the situation. Malcolm says there was a point he wanted to kill her, but is willing to use her to find his daughter. But he has no plans to forgive her. They come to a temporary pact to join forces for Mina's sake.
Back in the present Vanessa tearfully finishes her letter. She believes the only purpose to her life is to find Mina. She addresses the letter to Jonathan Harker, Mina's husband, and places in a drawer with hundreds of others. Vanessa adds a P.S. that while Malcolm will do anything to save her, she loves Mina enough to kill her.
On the next episode...
Victor Frankenstein meets with Van Helsing.
Sembene questions Sir Malcolm.