The ideas of path and conscience play heavily into Episode 3 of “Penny Dreadful: City Of Angels” entitled “Josefina & The Holy Spirit”. This ideal can be reflected in the metaphor of loss of innocence but inherently a perspective of reality. This is true within all the characters but more dominantly the females, in this case Molly and, to a heavier degree, Josefina, the younger daughter in the Vegas family. The men lash out in violence much more diametrically but there is inherently sometime more dark tendency in how the women see the world here which is reflected in Santa Muerte and the triple portense of her sister. The Holy Spirit in many ways speaks to the harbinger of death because in many ways, the sister is building down the different ares of the story down on itself to create a powder keg. But this can also be seen in a sense of light with Molly to combat the dark. While the incessant energy of the club from the previous episode is not found here, the dread is. What is interesting is that many of the stills provided for the episode do not reflect the final episode, as if certain areas were reworked for more sustainable power (which the episode does have). This might be true since very aneel of the different vignettes throughout is pointed and creates the notion of paradoxes.
Sister Molly is both truthful and deceiving. She cannot be what her detective suitor wants her to be but he has trouble being within the structure of the LAPD what he needs to be. Yet is it truth or temptation. His brother is being drawn into a life of darkness that is undeniably fueled by acceptance. And yet there are spark points throughout the play of the story especially a simple but trigger point scene that has inherent relevance later in the story. Adding in another structure in the form of a well known comedian’s darker approach to an underlying narrative which in many perspectives is essential to this story definitely creates a tension that is building. What is also interesting in the genre spinnings of this story are the little moments including references to stigmata and the notion of both the trinity and deliverance. Josefina represents that and her path between who should listen and who does what is very telling. Again”City Of Angels” ups the ante within the series in a different way using the textures of mixed archetypes, anti-heroes and intellectual metaphors without overwhelming the viewer creating a patchwork that is both modern and yet undeniably old school and decidedly classical.
By Tim Wassberg
The aspect of Los Angeles is bounded by the corners of its darkness and the pinnacles of its light. The key is finding those crevices within the human experience. Episode 3 of “Penny Dreadful: City Of Angels” revels in this perception. Gone more is the Santa Muerte in its importance and more revels in the demon that threatens to create the powder keg of chaos. Natalie Dormer has been playing the yin within the yang and back very subtly in one character for a few episodes. The secondary influence was hidden and now seen. But the third is dynamic as hell. This the time we see her venerate possibilities. It is shown to a T as Rio in a large scale sequence that is not so much scale as it is feel. That is wherein her acting chops really come to bare. It is a revelatory performance depending where it goes.
Creator John Logan shows his love of period but plays it in the cool way that say “West Side Story” would have done. it is about perspective and finding the right approach. Meanwhile a different kind of balance is in the light between Santiago and Molly is highlighted in a great old world progression on the Santa Monica Pier. “City Of Angels” is as much as ode to old LA as it is about the underhanded dealings that move any major metropolitan area especially in times of massive success or utter upheaval. The political etchings are perhaps the most plain of the progressions but again it all reflects back to human nature. But the necessity of LA as a spark point especially on the cusp of war as Germany parades across Europe is of course the flash of the series.
Into its 3rd episode, the idea of what the series needs to be is fanning the pace..and is almost where it needs to be. It is based in mythology in a trinity of characters where Dormer is the key but that leaves an interesting messiah complex in play. It depends where the grounded element of the series will go or if it builds to a different extreme. The genre underpinnings just seem to act as a spine and not the catalyst though the different forces seems to push back and forth. However it could be spoken that this is the catalyst of any upheaval or revolution as it were.
By Tim Wassberg
Finding a new approach in a franchise is about perceiving lore. “Penny Dreadful” as a series that was based on a complete volume was its own monster in many ways to use that parlance. But with “Penny Dreadful – City Of Angels”, specifically in its introduction in Episode 1 (“Santa Muerte” ) it feels like a bit of “Black Dahlia” mixed with “The Serpent & The Rainbow” but without all the psycho-sexual background. There are some odes to exactly the myths going on behind the scenes. However it follows the archetypes while by planning a story of life and death on a ethereal level within a spark point in Los Angeles in 1938 a couple years before the US entered World War II. The main story follows Tiago Vega (played by Daniel Zovatto), a Chicano native who has mad detective in the LAPD which, at the time, was no mean feat. Creator John Logan, like most of his work, understands the approach in this city where even back in the 30s so many things were brewing below the surface, both having to do with identity on the immigrant issue (which is an issue obviously to present day ) but also with the German population.
The episode moves towards a spark point which is inevitable and actually interrelates to the 110 Freeway from Downtown LA to Pasadena…and as the episode reaches its pinnacle it really gives a sense for local Angelenos of the history per se, despite it being in entertainment form. It is at this point that the parallel structure of what is going on and Natalie Dormer’s presence as a Magda, a supposed dark goddess of death partially comes into play. This also reflects back to the first scene of the series which again takes on certain aspects with her sister (which is where the title of the episode comes from). The metaphor of The Garden and the fall from grace through all the characters, especially Tiago, is quite textured. There are a few metaphysical and supernatural elements at play but are working subtly up a sense of foreboding. The path of darkness is no doubt specific for these characters. It is not known how this will play out but this approach like “Fargo” in a way is dynamic enough to push the story furthers. And the casting for the surrounding players like Nathan Lane and another genre favorite is outstanding and further enhances the pedigree of the proceedings.
By Tim Wassberg