When io9 asked me to write 10 Reasons You Should Be Watching Penny Dreadful, I gave the ensemble their due, because it's an amazing ensemble, and then gave Vanessa Ives a bullet point all to herself. Partly this is because Eva Green knocks it out of the park with every piercing stare:
And partly this is because the show trades heavily on the nebulous lust that weighs down every lugubrious conversation while being careful to make Vanessa the subject, not the object, of that sexuality. (In this, she's the dark mirror to Tina Belcher, which isn't a thing you think you'll ever say, but that mixture of intensity and indiscriminate landing places—Mina, Ethan, Malcolm, Dorian—has that same sense of following a character's examinations as part of a natural progression of the day rather than the endgame to her character arc. Breakfast, séance, lust, lust, visit the captive in the basement, lust, theater trip, lust, write a long obsessive letter to your vanished soulmate, bedtime.)
The latest episode recap is also up at io9! Closer than Sisters examines exactly the subtext you think it does (Carmillaaaaaaaaaaaaa), alongside a heaping helping of daddy issues that I am beginning to really be afraid might be pointing to Malcolm as her actual dad, which...is the one thing I might not want from this show. Their undefined hostility/codependency is so great, show, never pin it down! Let it fly free and make every single conversation loaded with triple meanings! I know you can do it. I believe in you.
Also, hats off to director Coky Giedroyc for this episode, which makes the asylum as visually arresting as it is textually horrific: