Penny Dreadful: City of Angels Season 1 Episode 4 Review: Josefina and the Holy SpiritDiana Keng at .
There is a distinct difference between horror and the horrific. Penny Dreadful: City of Angels Season 1 Episode 4 hits us with both in an hour filled with uncomfortable, disturbing, violent, and nightmarish encounters.
Reminiscent of Penny Dreadful: City of Angels Season 1 Episode 1, the curtain goes up on a massacre of people we don't know witnessed by Santa Muerte.
She collects the soul of what we assume is the only individual of the bunch destined for Heaven, the child who smiled directly at her before being shot down by gangsters for being in the wrong place at the wrong time.
Full disclosure, I am a mother to two small children, and I have very little stomach for the victimization of children on screen. Starting with the Ensenada incident, I was pretty much traumatized by every act of this script.
From the meaningless murder of the nameless child in the opening to terrorizing Tom Craft at his birthday sleepover to the vile and grotesque sexual violation of Josefina, the evil that Maria sensed when she called upon Santa Muerte is now running rampant.
Even the vengeance delivered onto the monstrous Officer Reilly takes advantage of Mateo's youth and fear and hatred.
You don't understand one thing about it! You clean their fuckin' toilets! And you kiss their ass! You are all so fucking weak and I am tired of being weak!Mateo
Mateo and Lewis walk mirror paths here. Both get the opportunity (by gangsters) to kill a man who has wronged them. Lewis, with the benefit of his years and experience and understanding of what he's truly being offered, can turn it down.
In the same way, Dr. Craft and Councilmen Townsend, both targets of Magda's personas, are twinned in their storylines by being manipulated with sex.
Not only that, but the respective impromptu sex scenes involved windows or a one-way mirror and similar sex positions. Props to the showrunner for symmetry.
Where Magda/Elsa might run into an obstacle is with the abrasive Mrs. Craft.
My dear, I will not let you turn me into anything as banal as the rejected wife.Linda
Linda's comment about Peter's true self may be the first hint as to why he is important enough to be a focus for the supernatural strife goddess.
(She's certainly not attracted to his ability to pour a beer. That first glass he served to his guest was more than half foam. Tsk, tsk.)
Frank's inclusion in the sleepover and his dead-pan retelling of the kidnapping and murder of Florence Moore could get shrugged off as Creepy Kid Tells Creepy Story except that I'm pretty sure Tom's nightmare was Magda transforming the Frank puppet into Florence before and after her murder and mutilation.
(You'll recall that Captain Vanderhoff worked the Florence Moore case as a young police officer. It's interesting that it should crop up again in this context.)
Targetting Tom with the nightmare visions may have been Magda's idea of a joke, or a weird idea of a birthday gift, but I feel that there is an air of The Hand That Rocks the Cradle in that Magda wants to sow disruption in the Craft household.
I have very little sympathy for Townsend getting railroaded. He's a pathetic figure, but he's also a horrible person with horrible motivations and a dangerous amount of power.
Unfortunately, with the Nazis holding his strings, he may cause even more damage than he has done already.
You have a singular gift for repellant rhetoric and putrid demagoguery, I give you that. But then, you, in turn, must allow me this. I speak for Adolf Hitler. I speak, not for tonight, but for the next thousand years. And when the Wehrmacht is marching down Sunset Blvd, you will either be at our side or under our boots. Now, which is it to be, Herr Monkey?Goss
Speaking of string-pulling, would the real Molly Finnister please stand up?
We have seen the angelic stage Sister Molly, the princess in disguise on Santa Monica Pier, the dish-washing pastor, and the terrified daughter.
Here, we meet the defiant and conflicted woman, desperate for escape and acceptance — a woman who tells Tiago to take a hike.
I'm not who you want me to be. Well, I'll tell you, friend, I'm not who anyone wants me to be. I am only who I am and that woman needs you, needs you to leave her in peace.Molly
Also, there's the fevered and almost-crazed evangelist that Josefina gets drawn to in her shocked and vulnerable state.
I'm sure the real Molly is a combination of all these facades she assumed to survive.
The amazing thing is that, with everything they invested in her romance with Tiago on Penny Dreadful: City of Angels Season 1 Episode 3, admitting to her affair with Hazlett wasn't even in the top three dramatic scenes here.
The scene that haunts me -- and rightly so -- is Josefina's rape. The fact that it happened at the hands of police, in broad daylight, two blocks from her home, and was witnessed by her brother just defies words in describing the evil of that act.
There isn't a single instance in all the Devil and Dracula and witch shenanigans of the three seasons of the original Penny Dreadful series that made me feel so sick as seeing Reilly lay his hands on Josefina Vega.
Even watching Mateo effectively try to saw Reilly's head off with a straight-razor did nothing for the sense of injustice.
You gotta hand it to Magda, though. She's true to her word.
She never forces people to do the self-destructive and terrible things they do.
All she has to do is offer them that opportunity, and Dr. Craft, Townsend, and Mateo jump right in.
German: The Jews own the radio.
Mr. Ackermann: Not the Catholic stations. We talk to them. We talk to the Episcopals. We talk to the Baptists. We talk to that woman with the temple.
Dr. Craft: Oh, now you have us working with a radio show cult.
Mr. Ackermann: With the Devil himself if he will give us a microphone.
Of course, some seek out those opportunities to do wrong, even without Magda's help. Reilly never needed a nudge, and Craft's Bund brother, Ackermann, obviously has some big plans for Nazism in America.
How Benny Berman might involve himself in the Nazi fight is a wild card element to Lewis's plan. He ran a risk asking a gangster for help, but now that Berman's bought in, that is a big (!) genie to try to stuff back in the bottle.
Seriously, Brad Garrett is nearly twice as tall as Nathan Lane.
Benny: A broken-down cop, a couple of years away from retirement, is going to take down the Third Reich?
Lewis: Fuckin' right, I am!
As you watch Penny Dreadful: City of Angels online, it's interesting to note how the various plot threads are pulling together.
We have Josefina connecting to Molly spiritually. We know Molly was intimately involved with Hazlett but denies killing him and his family. *cough*Adelaide*cough*
The Bund is considering allying with the Temple of Joyful Voices to spread their message. And the official Nazis are entrenched with Townsend.
Meanwhile, Tiago and Lewis are going to have to deal with the fall-out of Reilly's murder, which will lead to Mateo and the Pachucos.
And Benny's boss and the Nazi arms dealers have brought violence to Santa Muerte's domain.
As a side note, I appreciate the eloquence with which Benny speaks. It was a bright bit of levity in a helluva dark narrative.
Good evening, Detective Michener. You'll forgive the rather baroque subterfuge. But necessity requires certain... well, protocols.Benny
And, always in the background, we have Santa Muerte, a seemingly neutral entity with the potential to balance out Magda's ambitions. At least, that's what Maria intimated that last time they talked.
Do you expect another big body count as the police and the Pachucos go to war?
How will Josefina's relationship with Molly affect Tiago's? Will he learn about what Reilly did?
What is the truth of Dr. Craft's past?
Will Tom recover from Frank's visit? Will Linda best Elsa?
Let us know your burning questions and predictions in the comments!
Diana Keng is a staff writer for TV Fanatic. She is a lifelong fan of smart sci-fi and fantasy media, an upstanding citizen of the United Federation of Planets, and a supporter of AFC Richmond 'til she dies. Her guilty pleasures include female-led procedurals, old-school sitcoms, and Bluey. She teaches, knits, and dreams big. Follow her on Twitter.