Sunday, May 24, 2020

REVIEW: 'Penny Dreadful: City of Angels' - Tiago Struggles with the Burden of His Secrets in 'Children of the Royal Sun'

Showtime's Penny Dreadful: City of Angels - Episode 1.05 "Children of the Royal Sun"

Mateo grapples with the aftermath of his actions. Josefina confides in Sister Molly, who's shocked to discover Josefina is Tiago's sister. Tiago and Lewis' investigation takes them from the Sonoratown slums to the Vega House. Dottie befriends Brian as Alex lectures Townsend about his personal life. That night, Peter receives an alarming phone call from Elsa and Tiago confronts Mateo.

In 2019, the television industry aired 532 scripted shows across numerous outlets. The way people consume content now is different than it used to be. It happens according to one's own schedule. As such, it's less necessary to provide ample coverage of each episode in any given season from a show. Moreover, it is simply impossible to watch everything. As such, this site provides shorter episodic reviews in order to cover as many shows as possible. With all of that being said, here are my thoughts on the next episode of Showtime's Penny Dreadful: City of Angels.

"Children of the Royal Sun" was written by José Rivera and directed by Roxann Dawson

Trust has to exist in order for any relationship to flourish. Whenever they go into a dangerous situation, Tiago and Lewis need to know that the other will have their back no matter what. Tiago is proud to be the first chicano to serve as a detective on the police force. He is grateful that Lewis wanted to be his partner. Maria extends that gratitude here as well. Lewis talks about the honest and noble nature of Tiago. He thanks Maria for raising a strong young man. She extends the same appreciation. She sees a man who stands firm in his beliefs and is accepting of others. Lewis has secrets. He had to take a couple days off when he and Tiago were facing pressure from the top brass to close their murder investigation. He is hunting Nazis. His friends are constantly placed in dire situations. And yet, he can still do his job as a detective. He does so with conviction and compassion. Meanwhile, Tiago is still learning how to function in this role. The world looks at him a certain way. The police force doesn't welcome him with open arms and his community thinks he has betrayed them. He is caught between two worlds. It has grown much more personal than that though. He has developed a sexual relationship with a woman who was a suspect in his murder investigation. And now, his family is revealed to be causing so much stress for the city. The race tensions of this world may explode because of the actions each member of the Vega family is willing to take. Raul miraculously recovered being shot in the head. It was a miracle Maria is thankful for every single day. Her faith in Santa Muerte has only grown stronger. She needs the spirits to look out for the people she cares about the most in this world. She was still furious that Mateo joined a gang. His life is seemingly flourishing. He is surrounded by people who welcome him fully and help him manage the grief of having just taken a life. They do so in a way that allows him to feel comforted while presenting murder as acceptable behavior. He is proud to declare to Tiago that he killed a police officer. He was directly responsible for that death. Tiago is horrified by that. He also knew it was a possibility that he could burst through that door and his brother would be there. He is furious and could forever fall into this narrative of having to betray and kill his brothers in order to prove his worth and loyalty to the force. That would seemingly be the tragedy of his life. It's a burden he feels on his own. It's something he wears profoundly on his sleeve though. Lewis notices it and needs to know that Tiago can handle the job. Tiago projects a sense of strength and willingness to proceed. However, it's tragic to see just how forceful and destructive he becomes with his actions. This is what happens when it becomes personal for him. He has helped make things personal too. And yet, that burden and anxiety isn't as deeply felt because the story takes time away from Tiago before building to that fateful confrontation with Mateo. The audience isn't privy to the conversation that Tiago and Raul have. Tiago probably needs his brother's advice about how to handle the potential news that Mateo is a killer. They don't even know the motivation. Josefina is only sharing her story with Sister Molly. That too reinforces the belief that people only tell others the versions of events that are beneficial to what they want the relationships to be. Molly's story of her time in Florida is meant to strength her bond with Tiago while still being intimate. The same story told to Josefina is used to highlight the resilience and future that comes after a brutal attack has occurred. It's potentially manipulative behavior. Molly may be her mother's daughter after all. But Magda remains the master manipulator throughout all of this. She is the one who encourages so much to happen. She is quick to toss people aside just to ensure her own survival as well. She has plans for the future. The narrative really only comes alive in certain moments though - Tiago and Mateo's chase through the streets, Townsend dancing by himself in his lavish home, Peter and Elsa having sex on top of the newly dug grave of the husband she has just killed, etc. As a whole though, the story suggests some grandiosity about the way that everything is connected. It all stems through the Vega family. However, too many stories still feel tangential. They are a slug to get through even though there is the sense that it is building to something important. Some personal moments succeed. Others just feel like plot machinations to keep things complicated while ensuring that Magda always has a firm grasp of control over every single thing that happens. That is just no longer as exciting as it once was because it suggests that it truly is easy for one presence to suddenly control the way of life for entire communities of people in ways that no one can understand. The audience sees that grand design. It just may not be as clever as the conceit was when it was initially created.