The wide tapestry that Penny Dreadful: City of Angels has been weaving for three episodes started to be drawn closer together in episode four. Called “Josefina and the Holy Spirit“, the episode’s title hinted at the coming together of Detective Vega‘s sister, and the new lady in his life, Sister Molly, and that would be one of a number of new alliances made in this week’s entry of the show. No real progress is made in solving the Haslet family murder that started this season, but lots of suspicion and discord was sewn by Magda and her various alters.
The least complex of Magda‘s machinations this week was her appearance at Dr. Craft‘s house for Tommy’s birthday party, where she ingratiated herself to Craft’s fellow Bund members with old beer hall songs, and then further wrapped Craft around her finger with sexual favours even after being warned off by Mrs. Craft. The truly eerie implications of Elsa’s plans for the Craft family came at the sleepover when Frank told the boys the tale of Florence Moore, a 12-year-old girl who was kidnapped, killed, and dismembered in Pasadena. If this sounds familiar, it’s because this is the same case that Captain Vanderhoff told Vega about last week.
“Each act of violence puts more pressure on Vega and Michener to solve the Haslet murders…”
Frank, who as we know is not a real boy, seems to be making Tom his target, and it’s probably because Tom is one of the few people that can sense Frank‘s real (lack of) presence. It’s subtle, but everybody should be able to pick up on how off that Frank really is; we see it at the piñata when Frank is the only boy that doesn’t race to collect the candies and toys, and we see it when the boys are telling ghost stories, and how Frank sits apart from them. As for Tom, Frank seems to use the story of poor Florence Moore to haunt him in the middle of the night. If Magda as Elsa is trying to replace Mrs. Craft, might Frank‘s job be to arrange for the replacement of one of Craft‘s sons?
Speaking of people not being what they seem, Vega confronts Sister Molly about the getaway spot she had with James Haslet and admits quite readily that they were sleeping together, and that Haslet was not her first lover. It was hard to understand what was behind the rather stilted argument between Molly and Vega, especially since she’s the one following him around while he’s following appropriate lines of inquiry to find out who killed the Haslets. Was Molly hoping to take Vega as her next lover? It seems likely, and she’s not exactly wrong to call out Vega for perhaps only seeing her as Sister Molly the virginal voice of God, her carefully cultivated media image.
Is Sister Molly the “bad guy” to watch in this Penny Dreadful? Her regular Sunday performance featured a moment where she proclaimed that Satan was walking among the audience, and then she seemed to go into a trance. What’s interesting is that Molly’s mother seemed surprised and caught off guard by Molly‘s delivery, which strongly implies that Molly took this particular sermon in an unscripted direction. The question is though, was Molly really channeling otherworldly forces, or is she helping to lay the groundwork for her own emancipation? Is that why she was trying to stir all the women in her congregation?
One of those women, as mentioned above, was Josefina Vega, who sought refuge in the revival preaching of Sister Molly after she was assaulted by Officer Riley as she and Mateo were walking home from the store. While Mateo seeks physical revenge with his new Pachuco gang friends, Josefina seems to aspire to some kind of spiritual awakening, or perhaps, at least, some peace of mind. Last week, it seemed like Magda and Santa Muerte were choosing a Vega brother as a surrogate in their cosmic battle but is Josefina now being recruited? And if she is, where does Tiago fit in all of this? Interestingly, there is no Magda shaped figure in Molly’s orbit, at least so far as we know.
Magda‘s other big mark, Councillor Townsend, had a bad week. Not only does he seem to casually indulge in sex with street hustlers, he seems to be reckless about it and especially when things don’t go his way, like they did this week when Councilwoman Beck proposed a more Chicano-friendly route for the new freeway. Townsend‘s frustrations led him to spend the night with a male sex worker, and then one of Townsend’s Nazi collaborators violently interrupted things. It turns out that Nazis can be gay too, or at least they can be gay in the interest of getting kompromat on assets, which in this instance was all supervised by Magda in her Alex disguise.
In other Nazi news, Michener buried his friends, and then sought out the assistance of the Jewish gangster Benny Berman. Berman is played by Brad Garrett, who is of course known best for playing the brother in Everybody Loves Raymond, and its interesting to watch two men broadly known for comedy play two of the heaviest characters on the show. Michener, and now Berman, are two of a very few number of people that understand the danger the Nazis pose, struggling on the edges even as the Bund sing hearty beer hall songs under the bright California sunshine.
“….will the Haslets ever receive justice?”
Next week, look for pressure to continue to build in the aftermath of the murder of Officer Riley by Mateo and the Pachucos. Each act of violence puts more pressure on Vega and Michener to solve the Haslet murders, but you have to wonder at this point if that case is maybe a scapegoat for all the other racial drama going on in the world of City of Angels. At this point, will the Haslets ever receive justice?
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