Penny Dreadful: City of Angels Season 1 Episode 9 Review: Sing, Sing, SingDiana Keng at .
If we didn't know better, one would think Penny Dreadful: City of Angels Season 1 Episode 9's shocking ending was written in direct response to the current state of civil unrest and the anti-racist movement sweeping the world.
But, sadly, the fact is that this was all scripted and filmed long before George Floyd's murder sparked the protests that dominated the news lately.
And, even more tragically, the lynching of Diego, a young Mexican-American man secretly coerced by police into confessing to the murders of an affluent white family and a policeman, wouldn't have even made the front page in 1938. If it even made it into the papers.
The most telling thing about Diego's murder at the hands of his police escort is that Magda, our supernatural pot-stirrer, is nowhere in sight and, to our knowledge, has had nothing to do with the racist and sadistic actions of any of the LA Police from Reilly on down to that mob in the paddy wagon.
The message is that they don't need her to tell them what they are capable of, no need for her nudge in any direction.
In fact, if her delight is found in leading good men astray -- Townsend being a big ol' question mark on the "good" qualification -- she'd have to sprint to stay ahead of these bad apples.
Honestly, it wasn't hard to see it coming. Lewis had to have known what his brothers-in-blue had on their mind when they stared down his prisoner en masse repeatedly. Even the Captain had to know one good guy wasn't going to be able to protect a Chicano cop-killer.
And the juxtaposition of the dancers at The Crimson Cat with Diego's legs as he struggled at the end of that rope was probably the impactful contrast I've seen in a long time. Well done, production team.
Until things spiraled into darkness with Diego's murder, I was appreciating the unifying theme of family presented in its various contexts.
The exposition about Lewis's family was unexpected coming from Nazi Richard Goss.
Lewis: You fellas know Mr. Goss works for Adolf, right? When he's not killing Jews, that is.
Goss: Gentlemen, will you excuse us?
Lewis: Yeah, go grab a copy of Mein Kampf at the gift shop.
While it was great fun watching Lewis drive Goss's companions away with talk of Hitler, the Nazi never flinches as he reveals how much he knows about Lewis's family, such as where they live and the new grandchild on the way.
It was a true revelation as I had totally bought into the Lewis-as-a-grizzled-old-bachelor image. I'd assumed his friends were his family with Dot as one of those besties-are-better-than-lovers sort of situations.
It also confirmed once again that Goss is ruthless about exploiting his opponents' most vulnerable targets.
Meanwhile, we finally meet the powerful Townsend patriarch Goss was interested in gaining influence over by manipulating Councilman Townsend the Younger.
And wasn't he a treat?
Do let me make one thing inescapably clear. The reason I'm not supporting you isn't because you're a fat, ugly, queer. It's because you're weak and I never back a losing horse.Jerome Townsend
The late Brian Dennehy excelled at portraying tough-as-nails, deeply-flawed individuals.
As the transportation mogul of Los Angeles, it's clear he sees no one as a competitor and values no one, not even his own son, as a collaborator.
Again, I'm still not comfortable with sympathizing with Councilman Townsend because he is still a bigoted, power-mad, and ignorant demagogue.
However, seeing how his father treats him, I can sort of see how he came by his personality flaws.
Knowing now how powerful his father is, I wonder if this has been Alex's play all along just as it was Goss's plan.
Just as Peter's position of leadership in the German-American Bund may have been Elsa's aim in grooming him to her direction, controlling and gathering leverage on Councilman Townsend could be Alex's way to exert influence on Jerome.
Too bad she wasn't in the room when Townsend Senior ground his heel into his grown son's soul. She'd probably realize a quick pivot is necessary.
Having learned about Peter Craft's (aka Krupp) family background on Penny Dreadful: City of Angels Season 1 Episode 8, here we see Elsa's attempt to turn her charade into a game of playing happy families.
Of course, she can't resist the chance to poke at Maria.
Elsa: Don't you think I am a silly girl?
Maria: No, I do not.
Elsa: What do you think I am, then?
Maria: When I know, I will tell you.
Elsa: When you know, it'll be too late.
But, thankfully, Maria is just as good at poking back.
Elsa: I so hoped we could be friends.
Maria: You might as well howl to the moon.
And that brings us to the Vega family and their ability to come together even with race and politics and gangs and a crazy shapeshifting hell-beast trying to break them apart.
It's funny that The Crimson Cat of all places turns out to be the neutral ground upon which they are able to reconcile, but it kind of makes sense.
None of them work there. None of them live there. It's a space where they are all accepted by the right of being Chicano.
And finally, everyone is able to air their grievances (if not all their truths) with Tiago's list apparently being the longest.
While I'm still not completely sure about Molly's trustworthiness, I like that Tiago's able to let his whole family know that he's done trying to meet everyone else's expectations.
And as they all pile onto the dance floor, Rio's face is a study in calculation as she re-jigs her plans to account for these new developments.
It seems like each of Magda's personas is running her own race.
Alex is falling behind in her race as the horse she's riding, Townsend has likely drawn up lame, crippled by his father's rejection and the multiple obstacles in his way at City Hall.
Elsa is keeping pace, trying to shape Peter's thinking to her own and, besides, she has Frank as back-up.
Rio's probably going to need a whole new approach if she's going to try to get Mateo to run for her. His reconciliation with his family has thrown her for the moment.
How do you think the season finale will play out?
Is there even a possibility of wrapping up these plot threads?
Will Diego's lynching spark the race riots Townsend's father speculated about?
Hit the comments with your best and craziest predictions and watch Penny Dreadful: City of Angels online if you need more.
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.