There are a few things Penny Dreadful: City of Angels Season 1 Episode 7 does well. Pacing just isn't one of them (but I'll get to that).
There's the great scene at the restaurant that derails Lewis' plan to murder the Nazis. Seeing Miss Adelaide join Goss' table is quite a shock to the system and sparks all sorts of questions about Molly's visit to Tiago earlier.
And then there's Elsa's vow to make Peter Craft a strong and important man whom "the world will watch," which tips her hand a bit, hinting at what she believes Craft is capable of.
However, the most interesting development and greatest indication that the central narrative is (finally!) going to start to make sense is Maria's face-to-face with Magda.
In the disappointing column, we finally get to see Santa Muerte and Magda together again, and Santa Muerte once again does nothing and slinks away. What their interaction does reveal is that Magda's coming from a place of rejection and hurt.
Magda: Why do you torment this family? I know how they feel. I know what it is to be loved by you and to be rejected. Do you remember how it was when you turned from me? Do you remember that agony?
Santa Muerte: I made my choice. And I have suffered for it.
Magda: But do you remember?
Not that any of that excuses her actions and aims. It's remarkably difficult to summon up sympathy for her despite the excellent performance by Dormer in the scene.
And here is my victory. One single tear. Or an ocean of them. Weep, sister. Weep in darkness and forever.Magda
Unfortunately, she goes from that intensely nuanced exchange with Lorenza Izzo to some sort of supernatural bully-temptress when left alone with Maria -- knocking over statuary and negging the poor woman's spirit guide, all while offering her peace if she complies and sits out the fight.
Maria and her family are now clearly the focus of all the activity we are seeing in the various quarters of Penny Dreadful: City of Angels.
The other players are only connected if the Vega family members are important.
Townsend's insistence that the motorway is built through Belvedere Heights sets-up Raul's killing rampage, which forced Tiago to stop him by any means necessary.
Molly's Temple is a critical part of the Hazlett investigation as well as the haven that lures Josefina away from her mother and family. And of course, her intimate involvement with Tiago can only lead to more complications for our favorite (?) Chicano detective.
I have no pride before my congregation. They would smell it a mile off. I meet them as they are. No better, no worse.Molly
Fly Rico and the Pachuco influence have drawn Mateo into their criminal underworld, creating conflict in him, and separating him from his family as well.
What's rather heart-breaking is that when he tries to reach out to his family in the form of his sister, it turns out that Josefina is so immersed in the Temple's godly message that she is of no comfort.
Mateo: I don't need make-believe. I need my sister.
Josefina: Your sister has found her faith.
Mateo: So I have no one.
The Craft family's only link to the rest of the show's plots is Maria's involvement as the housekeeper and caregiver to the boys.
Although Maria is sensitive to the supernatural, she still does not recognize Magda in her human personae. As Rio has already pushed Maria out of Mateo's life, Elsa is now shoving her out of the Craft household.
Whether Magda's plans for Peter Craft are viable seems to be called into question by Peter's reaction to Elsa's pledge of greatness.
It's still weird to me that we seem to be meant to cheer for Peter when he's an unapologetic Nazi.
The fact that he's been manipulated into disposing of a body, committing his wife to an asylum, and giving his younger son an incredibly creepy (and possibly dangerous) roommate, doesn't help his case in my eyes.
However, I don't think Peter is an ambitious man. Furthermore, I'm not sure that he welcomes the world's attention that Elsa seems intent of directing to him.
Elsa: She makes her people's food for them. They know Spanish words. Such things do not happen in Germany.
Peter: Well, they happen in Pasadena and we get along just fine.
And his initial instinct when Elsa hints that Maria shouldn't be teaching the boys about Spanish culture and language is loyalty to Maria.
Elsa would probably have a better chance in the Nazis-in-America race if she'd hitched her wagon to good ol' Herr Ackermann.
Mind you, we don't know everything about Peter yet. Linda's hinted multiple times at something sordid in his past, perhaps before he came to America.
His need for Maria's approval is typical puppy-dog charming. And Maria's response is appropriately candid and a bit telling in its simplicity.
Peter: How do you find my Elsa?
Maria: [long pause] She is very clean and pretty, sir.
Ultimately, this may have more to do with the children than the adults.
Maria's four biological children are all endangered by the many conflicts in action. Even Josefina isn't safe if the Temple has allied itself with Goss and his Nazis.
Meanwhile, Tom, a child Maria has cared for since he was an infant, is living in terror of his new "brother" and his ability to freeze his hamster in mid-wheel turn.
When Frank demanded that Tom profess his brotherly love, there seemed to be a purposeful parallel between them and Mateo and Josefina's encounter.
In the one case, the assurance of love is coerced, while, in the other, it is given freely but rejected because of the holy addendum.
And then when Magda and Santa Muerte rehash their history, we once again see how sibling relationships can go wrong.
My family may be at the center of this chess game of yours but we are not pawns. We are kings and queens and the blood of the Aztecs runs through us. The soldiers of the Revolution walk beside us. And as long as I draw breath from my lungs, I will claw through mud. I will climb hills. And I will fight you to the end of days.
Despite the glacially slow pace of the reveal, I do hope that Maria proves strong enough to bring her flock together in safety.
My investment in this show is staked firmly in her success and in Lewis getting to punch out a Nazi.
In a show as politically-steeped as this, airing in times like these, I'm not surprised that a little contemporary commentary crept into the dialogue.
I did not, however, expect it to be quite as on the nose as the conversation between Beck and Alex in the women's restroom.
Beck: Why do you support someone so utterly devoid of worth?
Alex: I think he has potential.
Beck: Do you now? Gonna make him mayor, are you?
Alex: Gonna make him President.
Beck: You're going to make a racist demigogue without a single scruple the President of the United States?
Alex: That's exactly what I'm going to do.
By the way, has Alex always had a hunched shoulder like she sported when interacting with Beck? It was pretty distracting as she seemed to lurch around a lot.
It seemed to clear up once she was back in Townsend's office. Strange, right?
M.V.P.s this week are obviously Maria and Lewis for their definitive stance on Good versus Evil.
Dottie Minter gets an honorable mention for all-round kick-assness.
Lewis: Dottie's our other operative.
Dottie: Don't look at me like that, Sunny Jim. I ran guns to the Cubans during the damn Spanish-American War.
Tiago: Yes, ma'am.
Scraping the bottom of the integrity barrel are Brian Koenig, the worst sort of scientist -- narrow-sighted, selfish, and irresponsible.
Molly, whose hook-up with Tiago seems pretty suspect now in light of her mother's seat at Goss' table; and Kurt, who seems to be going all warm and fuzzy on Townsend but will probably kill him given the order.
Does that icicle heart of yours begin to melt? I bid you to remember this. Your only use to me is as the icicle. Otherwise, you're only one more unnecessary American.Goss
As you watch Penny Dreadful: City of Angels online this week, I'd love to know what you think the full backstory of Magda and Santa Muerte is.
While we know nothing Lewis or Maria does will be able to deter the onset of World War II, what will a win look like for the good guys here?
Can the Vega family ever be healed?
Share your thoughts and prediction in the comments below!
Diana Keng is a staff writer for TV Fanatic. Follow her on Twitter.