Sunday, June 14, 2020

REVIEW: 'Penny Dreadful: City of Angels' - Maria and Peter Stand Firm in Their Convictions in 'Hide and Seek'

Showtime's Penny Dreadful: City of Angels - Episode 1.08 "Hide and Seek"

Lewis confronts Townsend in his office. Tiago questions Adelaide, where he discovers Josefina is now a member of Sister Molly's congregation. Rio implores Mateo to forget his old family and embrace her and the Pachucos. Peter visits Linda at the asylum, only to find her ready for war. Townsend and Kurt go on a dangerous outing. Peter argues with members of the German-American Bund. In the Craft home, Frank terrorizes Tom and Trevor as Maria fights to protect them from the demonic child.

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.

"Hide and Seek" was written by Tatiana Suarez-Pico and directed by Sheree Folkson

A battle of convictions lies at the heart of the narrative. Magda gains so much influence and power because she manipulates those who feel insecure and desperate in their lives. Mateo wants to return to the sanctuary and support of his family. However, Rio fills his head with delusions of grandeur. He could be powerful if he had the right convictions. He is susceptible to those thoughts because she is a force trying her hardest to convince him this is the only path to prosperity. It takes a lot for someone to stand by their convictions even in the face of mounting opposition. Peter Craft is the head of the German-American Bund. He is proud of that role. He sees it as his duty to educate the public about the German identity. He does so wanting to spread peace. However, his colleagues are falling in line with what Hitler says about what Germany should be. It should be an isolated state built on power and suppression. One that forces those deemed inferior into submission. Peter's refusing to give into such a monstrous impulse is used against him as a tool to showcase his weakness. And yes, he is flawed in a number of ways. He had his wife committed just to ensure he could start a new family with Elsa. And now, Linda is promising to fight back. It won't be easy for him to build a new life. Meanwhile, Elsa wants to paint him as small and incapable of being the strong man she deserves. It's all a manipulation. One where the ultimate goal remains mysterious. It's mostly just welcoming chaos. Peter's past brings him shame. However, he still fundamentally makes the right decisions in speaking his truth and not firing Maria. Elsa wants to create this reality where her argument is the only one that matters. Her perspective is the only acceptable answer. Beyond that, it only highlights just how frail and destructive another person wants to be in relation to the human race. They are a disgrace who won't protect those who matter to them. It takes courage for Peter to stand firm in his beliefs. He remains torn though. The narrative does slightly as well. It wants to present the argument that some heinous actions are done by people who are conflicted about what they want. It's just been difficult to see the nuance in Peter and Townsend's actions. The show strives for that depth. However, it mostly misses the mark because it's not really adding anything propulsive to the narrative. Sure, it's great to see Patti LuPone pop up in the Penny Dreadful world once more. This is the third character she gets to play. That moment in the private club just happens to be about Townsend wanting to kill to get what he wants. Kurt won't let him. That suggests a softening of the edges for this assassin. And yet, it's just hard to believe why Kurt would feel that way when he has mostly been keeping an eye on Townsend to keep him in line with the ultimate Nazi goal in Los Angeles. Tiago and Lewis are starting to uncover that plot. They realize that Richard Goss has formed a partnership with Townsend and Adelaide to create a welcoming message for whatever he wants to deliver in the future. That is terrifying to Lewis. However, he and his partner are still playing catch-up. They are uncovering secrets that were set in motion a long time ago. It doesn't even occur to Tiago to ask Molly about Richard Goss. Instead, he is too distracted by wanting this romance to work despite her being secretive about Josefina joining the church. It's all incredibly complicated. It suffers because the narrative is about convictions and the main character - Tiago - doesn't really have any. His mother, Maria, stands up against the monster that haunts her entire life. She bears that punishment in such a strong and deafening way. No one else has to deal with that monstrosity from Magda. It's not even effective in the end. That's a result of Maria's faith and determination to protect her family. With Tiago and so many others, their failings just allow this darkness to grow. That can be a powerful metaphor for life and how evil manifests itself in every day actions. But it's just too tiring and bland. The narrative withholds information believing it will be shocking and effective later on. That pivot just never seems ready to occur though. Conflicts are growing amongst the characters. They are realizing the role they all have to play. And yet, the themes that connect all the stories remain rudimentary and flawed. They are basic ideas that haven't grown much more complicated after eight episodes of character work and agonizing decisions.