Appropriate for the official halfway point of the season, this week’s episode of Penny Dreadful: City of Angels brought many of the various storylines together. The racial tensions in Los Angeles were accelerated, and so were some of the interpersonal dynamics, which painted at least a couple of characters into some very tight corners that they’re going to have a tough time getting out of. It was an interesting hour that will probably be seen in the weeks to come as transitional, the intricate and complex board laid out in the first four episodes now has certain pieces at risk of being taken out of the game. Looking forward, might we say that this is where things took a turn for the worse?
First, let us again consider Magda because there’s an interesting question about what happens when her worlds collide. She’s running plots on Townsend, Dr. Craft and the Pachucos respectively, but until now no one has come into her various schemes and threatened to put the various pieces together. Detectives Vega and Michener crossed Rio this week, and now that Elsa has killed her “husband”, how long is it until the police are involved there too? As for Alex, she’s cemented her connection to the Nazis, which we know is Michener‘s secret project along with Dottie, who this week checked in on the Nazi’s friend from CalTech, as one of the Nazis was checking them out.
“Tiago has sacrificed a lot to become a detective, but he now may be called upon to sacrifice even more…”
The point is that Michener is probably dangerously close to a truth about an evil that could be far greater than the Third Reich. Perhaps that’s what Mama Vega foresaw in her brief conversation with Michener at the Vega homestead in front of her alter to Santa Muerte. Perhaps that’s why she gave Michener the Santa Muerte figurine, it’s a talisman meant to protect him as he inches ever closer to discovering the root of all evil in L.A., Santa Muerte‘s sister Magda.
Of course, Michener is a fairly clever man, and he clued into the fact relatively early that his partner is hiding something about his whereabouts the night that Officer Riley was killed, stripped naked, and dumped unceremoniously at the front door of the station. What Tiago is hiding was a liaison with Sister Molly at her beach side love shack that she once shared with James Haslet, who once again goes unavenged in terms of the murder of him and his family. Perhaps though there was a clue about who did it in the way Adelaide Finnister responds when told about her daughter’s latest tryst. “Foolish little girl [….] We know how this is going to end, don’t we Randolph?”
But Sister Molly is not above suspicion herself. On the one hand, she tells Tiago a story about how when she and her mother traveled across the country as missionaries they where given protection from a hurricane by some very nice men. On the other hand, those nice men were decidedly more sinister when Molly tells a different version of that story to Josefina after she told Molly about her own assault at the hands of Riley. Did Molly spare Tiago the grisly details, or does she tailor her stories to suit her audience? And since we’re asking questions, what will she do with the knowledge that her new lover’s sister is her latest charge?
If those family ties aren’t withering enough, there’s certainly a lot of fray between Tiago and Mateo, who’s exuberance to get payback on Riley turned to guilt and self-recrimination. That moment of doubt was mitigated when Mateo went to bed with both Rio and Fly Rico, but with Tiago and Michener on the case they’re idyllic new life was short-lived as Rio saved her self at the expense of one of her guys, and Tiago let his little brother getaway despite a confession free of both guilt and pity. How will Mateo feel when he learns that it was Raul who led the cops to the front door of the Pachucos?
While things were not going according to plan for Rio, they seemed to be going just as badly for Alex. It looks like she’s losing some sense of control over Townsend, who seems to think that his night with Kurt might be true love. In the moment, it seems like Townsend has forgotten that he’s a prominent public figure in the 1930s, and is unlikely to get away with having a serious boyfriend; Alex‘s terse rejoinder that she’s “never heard [Townsend] rhapsodize about anything accept the surf and turf at the Derby,” is a clue that the councilman is getting off script, and Alex is not pleased that she’s going to have to spend time getting him back on track.
The preview for next week’s show seems to indicate an increase in tension for Tiago as he and Michener interrogate the one Pachuco that didn’t getaway. Tiago has sacrificed a lot to become a detective, but he now may be called upon to sacrifice even more, which will probably do nothing for his anger issues. Michener’s already called him out for being the bad cop without much encouragement, and it’s going to be increasingly tough for Tiago to hide what he knows from his already suspicious partner. Perhaps like Mr. Chandler in the original Penny Dreadful, Tiago‘s anger hides a monster inside.
“Perhaps like Mr. Chandler in the original Penny Dreadful, Tiago’s anger hides a monster inside.”
In a final note, this week’s episode was not written by series creator John Logan, but was penned by José Rivera, who came up writing silly sitcoms like Diff’rent Strokes and Family Matters, but recently authored screenplays for On the Road, The Motorcycle Diaries, and The 33. Things on the original show seemed to take a turn at the same time Logan ceded sole creative control, but there was something invigorating about this week’s entry that might have had something to do with a genuine Latin-X voice behind so many Latin-X characters. Perhaps this time around, Logan has learned to share better.
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.