If there’s one thing that’s missing from Penny Dreadful: City of Angels it’s the music of Abel Korzeniowski that opened every episode of the original series. It smashed you into the world of Penny Dreadful with its urgency and its frantic strings, and it immediately set the tone for the next hour as any good TV theme song does. For City of Angels though it’s just a title card, which seems kind of unengaging and uninspired, but maybe that’s just the California vibe that the show is going with. Who needs a fancy theme song and credits sequence when there’s so much going on under the sun? And to think it’s only episode number two.
This week’s episode called “Dead People Lie Down” picks up at least a couple of hours after the end of last week’s violent finale to the motorway protest. Four cops are dead, and who knows how many Latinos, but nobody’s really thinking about the collateral damage on the ones not in uniform. Of course, one of them is Detective Vega‘s brother Raul who’s practically on his death bed, and Mateo knows that his detective big brother shot his other big brother to save his partner. If Vega thought it was hard being the only Chicano in the LAPD before…
“Is Sister Molly as sweet as she seems? One can’t help but think about how in the original series, Dracula appeared to Vanessa Ives as the sweet-natured zoologist Dr. Sweet.”
Speaking of partners, we get more insight into Michener who tells Vega that in the hubbub of the riot he doesn’t know who shot him in the shoulder, and for that matter neither does Vega. Vega, of course, shot his bother before Raul could kill Michener, and that act of sacrifice to his partner didn’t make him any new friends with his fellow boys in blue. It’s interesting to note that it always seems to be Michener that’s angry about the racism that Vega encounters. Of course, Vega is probably used to it after years of such torment from his days as a patrolman, but he’s had to learn to keep his cool. Michener though is nothing if not proactive.
Aside from being an LAPD cop, it seems like Michener is running a secret resistance combating the proliferating Nazi presence in Los Angeles. Michener and three other Jewish seniors are following S.S. members around town, which is presumably what the proverbial murder boards in his apartment are about. Aside from the surveillance, we didn’t hear much from the Nazis this week, although Dr. Craft took his kids on a trip to the beach where he met Magda in her Elsa disguise. He later made love to his wife and imagined his wife was Magda, and she did not appreciate how vigorous his thinking of another woman made him.
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Magda’s intentions for Dr. Craft are still ambiguous, but someone else with the last name Craft may have a sense of her supernatural status. Craft‘s sons played with Elsa‘s son Frank, who we know is not her son so much as a meat puppet for whatever game she’s running on Craft. Young Tom Craft had some definite suspicions about Frank, especially when Frank started talking about how the soldiers on the sandcastle fort have to lie down if they’re dead. A furtive glance back at Frank as he was leaving the beach with his dad was a dead set tip-off that Tom knows that there’s something very wrong with his new friend.
The boys at the beach were building a very specific sandcastle, the fort from the 1939 movie Beau Geste, which is about three French Legionnaires who lead a desperate defense of their outpost when it’s surrounded by Arab soldiers. Key to the story, which is also referenced by Michener, is when the Legionnaires arrange the dead bodies on the parapets to make it look like there more men in the fort than it appeared. Perhaps this is a commentary on how everyone being a pawn in whatever cosmic game Magda and Santa Muerte are playing, or perhaps it’s a reference to Councillor Townsend who’s using the deaths of those four cops as a way to push forward his own agenda.
“…things are going to get a lot more complicated for the Vega family with Raul coming back from the near-dead.”
A new wrinkle was added this week with Sister Molly, the pastor of the church that the Haslets attended. Sister Molly, we’re told, battles Satan with a song and a smile, and performs a radio show in front of hundreds of people in her L.A. chapel, which is really more like a performance stage than a pulpit. James Haslet did the books for the ministry, and if you go backstage, the entire affair looks like the backroom of an illicit casino there’s so much cash flowing through. Is the church dirty? Do they have something to hide? Sister Molly‘s mom is certainly acting like there is.
As for Sister Molly herself, she seems perfectly pleasant. She has a long, comforting conversation with the conflict Vega where she talks about her own struggles with faith and about a time she had difficulty ministering to a young boy in an iron lung because she knew that death would release his spirit and end his pain. Vega‘s stuck in an immovable situation of his own, but he finds a sympathetic ear from Sister Molly who offers no judgments in the way that Vega‘s fellow cops and even his family are. Is Sister Molly as sweet as she seems? One can’t help but think about how in the original series, Dracula appeared to Vanessa Ives as the sweet-natured zoologist Dr. Sweet.
Hopefully, Sister Molly is in earnest because things are going to get a lot more complicated for the Vega family with Raul coming back from the near-dead. Santa Muerte once made a special point of saving young Tiago Vega from the fire that took his father, but is she now literally setting brother against brother like the prophecy foretold? That’s a question for next week.
What are your thoughts on Penny Dreadful: City of Angels? Excited to see where the rest of this season is going to take you? Revisit your favourite moments of the new season, or refresh yourself on recent episodes HERE and be sure to let us know all your thoughts on the glitz, the glamour, and the gods of Penny Dreadful: City of Angels over on Twitter, in the Nightmare on Film Street Subreddit, and on Facebook in the Horror Movie Fiend Club.