It was my hope to get this review to my editor on Father’s day so I could tie the theme of last week’s episode of Penny Dreadful to the holiday but I was busy doing Fatherly things. When you have children, the choices you make often have unforeseen consequences. Every decision you have ever made, every success and every failure will shape your child’s future. They carry our sins whether you believe in sin or not. In the fifth episode of Penny Dreadful, Vanessa Ives’ past is revealed and, through her, we gain insight into the mysterious Sir Malcolm Murray. Their lives have been intertwined since Vanessa was a child. She grew up as a friend of Malcolm’s children, Mina and Peter. Until this episode, Malcolm’s late son, Peter, has been a mystery. We knew that he died of dysentery in Africa but not much more. Peter grew up surrounded by women, worshipping the idea of his father. On the rare occasion that Sir Malcolm returned home, he lavished both Mina and Vanessa with attention while treating his son very professionally. I wouldn’t go so far as to say Sir Malcolm was cold with his son but, given Peter’s delicate nature, he obviously didn’t know how to interact with him. To gain his father’s love, Peter dreams of accompanying him on an adventure. Vanessa is treated like one of the children and the reason for this becomes apparent while, during a dinner party, young Vanessa wanders through the Murray’s hedge maze and discovers Sir Malcolm having fervent, passionate sex with her mother. Though it’s revealed later in the episode, it was clear to me that Vanessa was Sir Malcolm’s bastard daughter. Malcolm’s transgression infects Vanessa. As told by Vanessa’s voice-over narration (my favorite), from that moment on she began listening to the evil, little voice whispering in her soul. The beast at the center of the Labyrinth ensnared her. Flashing forward to early adulthood, Vanessa is in the hedge maze again and terrifies Peter by trying to seduce him. Peter only has eyes for his father, so to speak, and dashes off, still dreaming of adventure. Mina is about to be married to Captain Branson, a very handsome, mustachioed man whom the family loves. At this point, Mina is little more than a cardboard cutout of a character. A Disney Princess about to be married to a handsome Prince. Like any good Disney villain, Vanessa’s infected soul gets the better of her and she succeeds in seducing Mina’s fiancé. Right in front of Mina. In the same room where Mina, Vanessa and Peter all played as children. Just like Malcolm years before, Vanessa’s transgression infects the rest of the family and no one is ever the same. Mina goes off to India and her eventual fate with a Master Vampire, Peter begins planning his adventure in earnest, Malcolm ends his relationship with Vanessa’s mother, and Vanessa becomes despondent and is eventually declared insane and institutionalized. Watching Vanessa Ives suffer through Victorian era psychiatric treatment was like watching the Salem witch trials. As it turns out, a lobotomy doesn’t cure you from possession but Vanessa is sent home anyway. Peter visits Vanessa to say farewell before finally going on an adventure with his father. Vanessa snaps out of her funk long enough to predict Peter’s death. An indeterminate time later, Vanessa is visited by Mina who offers her forgiveness and scares the crap out of all of us by turning into a vampire, pleading for help and flying off into the sunset. The pattern of death and evil begun by Malcolm’s act of indiscretion has now taken all of his children into darkness. Vanessa finally confronts Malcolm and, with mutual disgust, they vow to work together to attempt Mina’s rescue. Though all of the characters are complicit in their fates, the root of evil stemmed from Sir Malcolm Murray. It wouldn’t surprise me to learn that the Master Vampire is somehow connected to Murray’s adventures in Africa. Though Eva Green is the obvious star of this episode as she moves her character through vulnerability and confident malevolence it is Timothy Dalton that shines the brightest. His role of father for everyone in the series is visibly layered with turmoil and guilt. I don’t believe anyone has a happy ending in store for them. Penny Dreadful 1.05 “Closer than Sisters”3.5Overall ScoreShare this:TweetShare on TumblrLike this:Like Loading... Related Leave a Reply Cancel ReplyYou must be logged in to post a comment.