Sunday, June 21, 2020

REVIEW: 'Penny Dreadful: City of Angels' - The Vegas Collide at the Crimson Cat to Deal with Their Differences in 'Sing, Sing, Sing'

Showtime's Penny Dreadful: City of Angels - Episode 1.09 "Sing, Sing, Sing"

In danger, Tiago and Lewis must make bold decisions. With Townsend at the end of his rope, he's forced to turn to a last resort. Spurred by Elsa, Peter decides to take Tom, Trevor and Frank to the movies. Lewis oversees the prison transfer of Diego Lopez as Tiago and Molly go dancing at the Crimson Cat, where they confront the rest of the Vega family.

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.

"Sing, Sing, Sing" was written by John Logan and directed by Dan Attias

Raul exclaims that he feels an emptiness where he once felt a purpose. That sentiment could basically sum up what this first season has been as well. A sense of agency and importance was immediately apparent in the early going. The show was inspired to tell a different supernatural story centered around a different era and culture. It established a conflict right away. A lot of that has fizzled out though because it remains unclear what all of this is building towards. The narrative is scattered in a way that makes disjointed feel like an understatement. Raul was important in the early going. And then, the show just had no clue what to do with him after he was miraculously brought back to life. Maria prayed for that. And yet, her story turned in a different direction. It was one focused on Magda's devious plan and how it seems to be tearing the Vega family apart. However, Raul dying from the gunshot wound would have made that drama even more pronounced. Him just lingering on the edges of the narrative made it seem as if he was never all that crucial in the first place. Maria could always rely on him. He offered nothing important. It was the other Vega siblings who were testing her patience. That all is seemingly resolved here. It's an incredibly dramatic moment for the entire family to visit the Crimson Cat without talking to one another. It presents this business as the local establishment to go dancing and not the gateway to the seedy criminal underworld that it was introduced as. That's what this place was for Mateo. He has become consumed by that life with Rio and Rico. They still appear in this setting though despite the police probably targeting them. And yes, the police demonstrate an astounding abuse of power by allowing their personal feelings of white superiority to overcome the need for an innocent soul to face the judicial system. It's absolutely horrifying. But again, what does it actually add to the narrative? Lewis has been incredibly focused on stopping the growing Nazi threat in the city. He confronts Richard Goss believing he has a strategy in place that could seemingly stop him in his tracks. He doesn't really. He has to move Brian to a new location by making a deal with Benny Berman. Now, Lewis will forever be employed by this mobster. That's a deal he is willing to make in this moment because he is fighting for his heritage and his city. He sees the abuses happening all around him. He is powerless to stop them. It's demoralizing. The show presents the argument that these evil and vicious forces will always win out in the end. The police will always reliably lynch a man because of the color of his skin. No one will question it. Those who see it as a problem will be prevented from doing anything about it. Lewis just has to accept that as his reality as a member of this force. He has a job to do but it's not what he is actually concerned about. The Hazlett murder has basically been dropped altogether despite that being the plot that set this whole story into motion. That's how Tiago and Molly met after all. So much has happened since then. The Vega family finds their way back to each other. That would suggest a key disruption to Magda's overall agenda. The strength and fortitude of this family is much stronger than what her manipulations have been up to this point. But that would only seemingly confirm that she will take even more drastic measures in the future. That reunion at the Crimson Cat is never really about her. Sure, she notices that the entire Vega family is there before they do. However, she fades into the background as Tiago speaks about how he never is enough for all the people in his life. Him expressing those feelings is an essential and meaningful moment. It could build a more lasting and loving future amongst this family. They have to overcome the secrets that were kept. This moment says they are capable of doing so. It just happens to be paired with a visual of horrifying violence. One that highlights the fragility of the world and its inability to change. That is bleak and doesn't make for engaging television. It's a brutal image to conjure up the horrors of the past mostly to distract from the fact that the audience doesn't have any true stake in what happens in the season finale. The one-note character details for the entire ensemble grew tiring a long time ago and the show still hasn't found a way to expand upon this world and its ambitions. Anything could happen and the audience will go along with it instead of feeling like it was the appropriately inevitable or rewarding outcome fitting for this season and its overall themes.