It’s hard to see how Penny Dreadful: City of Angels Season 1 Episode 6 was meant to be seen as a cohesive script.
Perhaps, it could be argued that it has a unifying theme of turning points. Maybe, if you squint really hard, there is a sense of setting up a finale.
After all, there are only two episodes left in the season, and one would assume the finale will be something grand and dramatic.
However, for a season three-quarters done, it’s a bit weird that its three major plot threads have yet to dovetail in any meaningful way.
Here, we get a lot of Lewis and Tiago, which is expected since Tiago is ostensibly the central character.
We start with him holding back from his partner the information that the fourth Pachuco in their bust was his little brother, Mateo.
Instead of coming clean about his conflict of interest, he takes the lead on interrogating Diego, intending on coercing a confession so that his brother can escape the law.
If Tiago was ever meant to represent one of the titular angels of this show’s title, he’s definitely crashed to earth in the short time since he was promoted to detective.
Tiago: He was a good kid. Before all of this.
Lewis: What about that kid in there?
Tiago: He’s not my brother.
It’s hard to even feel bad for him when he just keeps making bad decisions over and over again, like shooting Raul, sleeping with Molly, lying to Lewis, and trying to railroad Diego.
If Mateo’s on a slippery slope into criminality, Tiago’s coming down from a far higher altitude.
If anyone’s an angel in this scenario, it would have to be Lewis as he continues to play Tiago’s guardian.
Forgetting the fact that Lewis Michener tracks and fights Nazis in his spare time, this is a detective who can take the BS story Diego tells about mud hens and parse out the importance of including a brother.
This is a man who was willing to take a Chicano detective as a partner when the entire precinct would’ve turned their back on him.
This is a friend who is willing to pivot from solving a crime to closing two cases to appease his boss while saving his partner’s butt.
If it isn’t clear, Nathan Lane, as Lewis Michener, is the only thing I’m still cheering for on the show.
And that look on Lewis’ face when Diego takes the deal? Utter defeat. A good cop in a lousy system and a terrible world. The best thing he can do for everyone involved is to send a kid to San Quentin for five murders he never committed.
Tiago: You think she’s a fraud?
Lewis: I think everyone’s a fraud.
With the bulk of the story taking place at the police station, it was a little jarring to cut away to the miscellaneous scenes at the Craft home, the Pachuco hideout, and the beach.
Again, for probably the millionth time, I have no idea why Dr. Peter Craft and his family are important to Magda’s plans.
We’re nearly done the season, and the closest they’ve gotten to the other players is that German-American Bund rally on Penny Dreadful: City of Angels Season 1 Episode 1.
My only thought at this point is that Maria was face-to-face with Rio when she came to see Mateo.
When Elsa comes to live at the Craft House, Maria will be there as well. Will she connect the two faces of Magda?
Sometimes, it feels like I need my own murder board to connect all the plot points.
We began with the Vega family celebrating Tiago’s promotion, and then he and Lewis catch the Hazlett murder case. The murder investigation brings Tiago and Molly together.
Meanwhile, the Vega family home is threatened by the motorway construction, which brings Raul in conflict with Councilman Townsend.
Alex hooks up Townsend with the visiting Nazis (in multiple ways). The Nazis are being watched by Lewis et al, and his friends are murdered by Kurt.
Finally, in a stomach-twisting off-shoot, Reilly assaults Josefina in front of Mateo, which sends her running to Sister Molly and him straight into the world of the Pachucos.
Which still leaves the whole Craft and Elsa thing sticking out like a sore thumb.
With two episodes left, we don’t know who killed the Hazletts, what the deal is with Molly and Adelaide, or how the Nazis are going to factor into anything.
We have a Jewish mobster in play, nuclear weaponry on the back-burner, and two boys who are about to get the creepiest step-brother ever.
L.A. doesn’t care who you are when you arrive. It only cares about who you make yourself into.
And now we’re supposed to LIKE Townsend? Just because he isn’t AS racist as Kurt?
A big ol’ NOPE to that foray for sympathy.
Just because he dreamed of being Fred Astaire and has some rose-colored glasses on about Los Angeles, he doesn’t get a pass on being a bigoted, power-mad, cowardly jerk for so long.
There was noticeably less Magda present here. Only Rio makes an appearance. Also, fewer Nazis than usual.
What I’m really feeling the absence of is Santa Muerte.
There was an expectation seeded in the premiere that this “spiritual descendent” of the original series would involve a struggle between the supernatural sisters.
So far, Magda’s been working overtime while Santa Muerte’s been a no-show.
I’m going to guess that Maria will be speed-dialing her now that Mateo’s chosen the Pachucos over home and family.
If we were to examine the mothers of the series, we would have a strange spectrum, ranging from staunchly devout Maria Vega through alcoholic Linda to dragon stage-mom Adelaide.
And then there’s Elsa with her satellite-entity child, Frank.
Adelaide is easily the most guilty-looking of the human moms.
Whether she committed crimes to clean up after Molly or to pre-empt Molly’s attempts at independence, it’s not hard to imagine her ordering a hit or arranging for an accident.
Molly: God wouldn’t ask me to choose.
Adelaide: God asks a great deal from those that he touches. Think of Jesus.
Molly: I’m not Jesus.
And the way she handles Molly… it would be impressive if it wasn’t so dysfunctional.
Adelaide (i.e., Randolph) is still the front-running suspect for the Hazlett murder, but I’m not ruling out a red herring play with Molly being involved somehow.
I encourage you to watch Penny Dreadful: City of Angels online so you can come back and air your theories on whodunnit and why.
But I’d understand if you are feeling just a little underwhelmed at both the murder mystery plot and the Penny Dreadful lineage they used to sell us on this new series.
Diana Keng is a staff writer for TV Fanatic. Follow her on Twitter.