Friday, July 19, 2024

Penny Dreadful Slows Down in Order to Move Forward

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As I’ve probably mentioned a few times before, the actions of major emotional events in a series show the mark of great character development. None holds true to the case than in the sixth episode of City of Angels as we depart from midseason to an all too closer climax and finale of the series. Looking back at the first half of the series it could be easy to say, or even somewhat detrimental, that in the grander scheme of plot movement that not much has moved forward. On the surface, this could hold true but if you gaze deeper at how our characters have moved rather than the action of the plot, then you will see that the genius lies in the emotional and dramatic force of the actors and their counterparts.

The midseason brought with it a grand revelation in Mateo, not for us of course but for Tiago. Knowing his brother was a confirmed killer now set into motion a great difficultly that was already established in Tiago’s inability to chose between his job and his culture. With the end of that episode, it seems that scales are tipping in favor his culture but we can’t be so bold to say that he has made any kind of finality in that choice. This episode proves that he is still torn between both worlds as the balance remains in protecting his brother. He can at least say that family is everything to him.

With such an overwhelming personal drama going on and taking center stage in this episode we can forgive the lack of diversity from what we see of other characters. After all, there is just enough to get the ball rolling and to look forward in the latter half of the season. We are given just enough to keep us interested in everything that’s going on but the centralization on Tiago was both a highlight and a criticism.

The episode opens to Tiago who seems lost in his own head, with good reason. Lewis is under the impression that he’s down because Tiago wasn’t able to catch one of Fly Rico’s group after their raid. In fact, the only one they managed to arrest at all was Diego, who is the same person that Reilly was previously, “interrogating”. As the two bring him in you can sense the hostility as most of the police force is out for blood after the murder of Reilly. The officers are eager to put him back in the interrogation room, no doubt to beat him further but Tiago steps in saying that he’s their suspect and only he and Lewis will carry that out.

After a racist confrontation, Diego is thrown into the room as Vanderhoff asks the two about the standoff. The identity of the fourth person at the raid is still unknown to all except us and Tiago. Vanderhoff at least gives Tiago and Lewis first “crack” at Diego. The interrogation begins civil enough as Tiago tries his best to remind Diego that they’re both of the same people and that if he doesn’t talk to them then Diego will have to deal with the other officers who were “Reilly’s people”. They also let him know that they have a case against him, the fact that he hated Reilly, and the sex worker who placed him at the scene.

Things take a change when Lewis introduces a few ideas: one, that bosses don’t do their own dirty work so it probably wasn’t Fly Rico or Rio. Two that it was probably the fourth guy. Tiago of course tries to steer Lewis off this course to protect his brother’s identity. This turns Diego to the offensive as he asks for Lewis to get him a soda to obviously talk to Tiago alone. Diego lets him in on that he knows Mateo is his brother and that Lewis doesn’t know. Also that Tiago wants Diego to take the fall for the entire thing. It seems now that Diego is dead set on having Tiago help him plan his own escape. His plans have so many obvious faults that we can’t blame Tiago for nearly crumbling under the pressure of the ultimatum he’s being presented.

For now we move back to Molly and her increasingly uncomfortable relationship with her mother. After the stories from last episode, it’s hard to understand what’s true anymore on that front. The two turn from a civil conversation about loneliness and purpose to her finally admitting her feelings about Tiago. Ultimately, her mothers reminds her, she lives for her flock and for those she helps. Not herself.

Afterward, we get another scene with Townsend and Kurt as he shows off his surfing skills. From here we learn more about Kurt’s past as he talks of his childhood and love for the ocean. He loved his town until “the mongrels” began coming into the city. This of course means all other races. Once he heard of Hitler and read Mein Kampf he moved to Germany to be happy. When he joined the Gestapo he was tasked with coming back to the city he no longer loved. Townsend on the other hand, feels nothing but love for the city.

We then move back to Dr. Craft and his wife after his late-night escapade in helping to bury Elsa’s husband/victim. It seems he is coming to end things with his wife, saying he can’t make her happy. She tries desperately to cling on to the marriage but his mind is made up. She worries about her children not being raised with a mother and Craft basically tells her Elsa will fill that role. This sets her on a rage which Craft responds that she is a drunk and he a doctor and no one would take his word over hers. He plans to have her committed for hysteria and intemperance in a sanitarium. His last threat being if she ever wants to see her sons again she will go without a fight.

Coming back to Tiago he’s showing Diego a photo of the effects of execution by gas chamber and how horrific it can be. While Tiago turns into the bad cop persona, Diego keeps his cool as he thinks he has all the cards on Tiago. Instead, when asked about his alibi he goes on a story about being with his brother that night. The entire story is to make it obvious for Lewis that Mateo is the culprit but it takes some time for him to finally realize.

Yet, before he does we move over to Fly Rico, Rio, and Mateo laying low in a safe house outside of town listening to the radio. Mateo is frustrated over Diego taking the rap and no one seems to want to save him. Before the argument continues further Maria arrives at the house begging to see her son, even though she is not welcomed. At this point Maria only wants her son to come home, she does not care what trouble he’s in. A mother’s plea however, is not enough for Mateo’s heart as we witness one of the saddest scenes in this series. Maria leaves heartbroken.

After this we witness Tiago truly begin to crumble under the pressure of what he must do to keep his brother safe. Especially with how racist his fellow officers are acting, comparing beating Diego to busting open a pinata. On further inspection of Diego’s story it finally hits Lewis that it’s Tiago’s brother that the story becomes transparent. Whether Tiago was going to give in to Diego’s plan to start a scrap so Diego can steal his gun or even just shoot the kid himself isn’t known and perhaps never will be. Lewis pulls a crying Tiago out of the room before he can do anything and finally realizes that the fourth guy was Mateo. Lewis is devastated once he finds out after all he’s done for Tiago. It’s true that Lewis does not understand that bit of family but at the same time, the following action shows that for better or worse, Lewis will always be a friend. It should also be noted that Tiago feels that his brother’s anger is directed at him because he shot Raul, Tiago still has no idea that his sister was sexually assaulted.

Upon returning into the room, Lewis presents Diego with a new deal. First, he lets him know his playing cards are gone, he knows the truth and Diego has nothing to bargain with. He then goes on a story about his childhood in Jersey City and his father’s ice delivery service. The point is to relate to the kid and why the death of the Hazletts is going to tear the city apart. He tells Diego that he killed them and Reilly. He killed them because if he didn’t then he’s a rat. Rats don’t survive long in prison, but someone who owns up to this major crime even though he didn’t, well that’s a hero. To save his friends and take the blame, he’ll live as good as a king in prison. Not only this but he’s saving the city from imploding because the case will finally be solved, even if it is a lie. The episode ends with Diego agreeing and the department celebrating. But is this a true victory?

Image courtesy of Showtime

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