This week’s episode of Penny Dreadful: City of Angels had an undercurrent of leadership as many of the main characters were tested for who and what they stand for, and whether or not they have the strength to meet the challenges ahead. The true test of strength for these characters may be how much they’re willing to lose. For some, it may be love, for others it might be power, and, for a select few, this journey might end with them having to give up their lives. The screws were definitely turning in this antepenultimate episode of the season.
Vega and Michener immediately capitalized on the information they learned at the end of last week’s episode about the unholy alliance between Councillor Townsend, Adelaide Finnister, and Goss and the Third Reich. In a bit of divide and conquer, Michener went to city hall to confront Townsend, while Vega went to the temple and talked to Miss Adelaide, which was going to be the much more awkward of the two conversations since the great Tiago/Molly romance is still very much burning with passion.
“The true test of strength for these characters may be how much they’re willing to lose…”
But first Michener‘s visit to Townsend‘s office came hot off the heels of Townsend‘s own confrontation with Councillor Beck, who, as we learned last week, is launching a recall effort aimed at Townsend. Once Beck confirmed her political maneuver to replace Townsend with a woman who’s “younger, better looking and who actually wants to serve Los Angeles,” Townsend threatens her with his “dangerous friends.” That rather explicit threat was followed up with a finely placed implicit one from Beck, “Isn’t that queer?” Hardly, the positive inclusive attitude of a New Dealer, but in the bloodsport of politics you play the hand you’re dealt.
When it was Michener’s turn, he went after Townsend hard, but he really didn’t get anything except a new ally. While Michener didn’t recognize that Alex and Rio are the same person, she did reveal herself as a potential friendly to the anti-Nazi case. Apparently, Magda‘s back story for Alex is that she’s an Austrian immigrant who’s concerned about the fact that Townsend is flirting – both literally and figuratively – with Nazis. We know that’s not true, Alex is the go-between for Goss and Townsend, so is Magda working a back-up plan, or was ratting out Townsend part of the original plan?
If Townsend is feeling under siege, or perhaps even on the knife’s edge of losing everything he’s schemed so hard to get, he certainly wasn’t acting like it. He took Kurt to what may be the fanciest gay club you’ve ever seen where couples are allowed to be themselves but they can quickly grab the hand of someone of a different sex if the vice squad shows up. Did you note the the singer at the club? It was Patti LuPone, who appeared on the original Penny Dreadful as Dr. Seward and before that the Cut-Wife Joan Clayton. Was casting LuPone pointed, or were the producers having a bit of fun?
Nobody at the Craft house was having fun this week. Poor Tom had to bury his hamster under the watchful eye of Frank, who then turned his attention to Maria. Frank teased Maria about her dreams of once being a nun, and threatened her to be careful of accidents before stretching his mouth like the Ghostface mask from Scream. Elsa‘s mission, and Frank‘s too, is to get Maria out of the Craft House, but that’s going to be easier said than done.
“For once, Peter stood up for himself, and that can’t be good for his future.”
In the middle of Frank‘s taunting, Maria has a vision of the Craft boys in trouble and Frank haunting them like some sort of tortuous spirit. The entire sequence had a very Conjuring vibe with Maria having to chase screams down the hall until she comes into contact with the spirit of her dead husband, who encourages Maria to just give up, but our Mama Coyote is too sharp for that. For a Plan B, Frank faked an injury to try and get Maria fired for incompetence, but the ever understanding Dr. Craft gives her a raise instead. To understand why is to glimpse into Magda‘s larger plan.
While Rio encouraged a guilt-stricken Mateo to become a voice of hope and rebellion to L.A.’s Mexican community, Elsa eggs on Craft to step up and be a leader to the Bund Society. Peter, you see, is not Nazi enough for the Nazis. He truly does believe in the idea of peace and friendship between a strong Germany and the rest of the world, but without all that ugly genocide stuff. Elsa is not pleased, but Craft is realizing and reclaiming a family tragedy, his real family name is Copp, who have for years been weapons-builders for the Germans. For once, Peter stood up for himself, and that can’t be good for his future.
So at least two parts of Magda‘s master plan are not going well, but is there a plan for Tiago? He’s literally marked after all, but he’s been kind of the proverbial pinball in the machine bouncing from one crisis to the next. When Tiago questioned Adelaide about her Nazi connection, she couldn’t have been nicer. Of course, it was all leading up to the revelation that Josefina was getting baptized as an official member of the temple, which apparently comes with a complimentary blonde dye job from Sister Molly herself.
We’re probably supposed to believe now that Sister Molly is an innocent pawn in all this, but perhaps she’s looking too innocent. That St. Valentine’s Day Massacre of a gunfight at the end of the episode sure could have been because Michener and Vega are getting too close to the conspiracy, but you also have to wonder if it was because Sister Molly was at Vega’s apartment. Adelaide may be working with the Nazis, but she’s not the face of the temple, and if Sister Molly’s not playing ball with he mother’s wishes for the good of the temple, will she still be willing to work with the Third Reich? We’ll see in two more episodes.
“We’re probably supposed to believe now that Sister Molly is an innocent pawn in all this, but perhaps she’s looking too innocent.”
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.