Penny Dreadful – City of Angels
I. Love. This. Show.
The first installment began in May 2014 and ended in June 2016. The writers took characters from 19th century British / Irish Gothic fiction and put them all together in one show – Mary Shelley, Oscar Wilde, Bram Stoker, Robert Louis Stevenson, and just for fun, they threw in some Marquis De Sade.
We were treated to a man who could regenerate dead bodies and what happened to his creations afterward, a man who never aged, vampires and vampire hunters, werewolves and werewolf hunters, necromancers, witches, a man who could change into a different person on stage before a live audience, and Justine, who was rescued from a torture house.
And magic – oodles and gobs and bunches of magic!
Season 3 – Episode 4 is probably some of the best television I have ever seen. It was as though someone reached out from the screen, grabbed me by the collar, and pulled me in. I felt like I was present, watching the events unfold as they were happening.
The second installment began April 26 and is set in 1938 Los Angeles. Maria Vega is a devotee of Santa Muerte, a goddess/angel of protection, healing, and she also transports souls to their afterlife. Maria also does a little dabbling in magic, and her animal spirit is the Coyote. Maria’s firstborn, Santiago, Tiago for short, was branded as a child by Santa Muerte when he tried to save his father’s life. He still bears her handprint on his chest, where Santa Muerte pushed him when he got too close. Now, Tiago is the first Chicano to be promoted to detective in the LAPD. Raul is the second son and the peace maker. Josephina is the third child and only daughter. She decides to turn from both her Catholic faith and her mother’s devotion to Santa Muerte when she encounters Sister Molly, a famous evangelist in the ilk of Jerry Faldwell or Pat Robertson. Mateo is the baby of the bunch; he decides to throw in with the Pachucos and wears a purple zoot suit.
Santa Muerte has a sister, Magda, who is a demon. My reasoning is that Magda fell when Satan was cast out of Heaven, but her origin hasn’t been explained. Magda and Santa Muerte meet and Magda states that humans are inherently evil and sets out to prove her point. She presents herself, in varying forms, to Mateo and other people with connections to the Vega family.
Just to keep us on our toes, we have a demon tormenting people, an angel standing by watching, Maria trying to keep things under control, ritual killings with the bodies painted and positioned as though they were sacrificed, racial tension between the Anglo and Mexican communities, and… wait for it… Nazis.
We have one episode left before the season finale. Episode 9 was horrific, but wonderful at the same time.
The Vega clan has had in-fighting, causing Maria to ask both Josephina and Mateo to move out of the home thanks to Magda, who realized Maria is her biggest adversary and is trying to weaken her defenses.
At the end of this episode, the entire Vega clan unwittingly end up at the same night spot, Josephina and a couple of her gal pals, Mateo with the Pachucos, Raul, Maria, and Tiago with his girlfriend… Sister Molly. Of course, there is a shouting match, but Raul intervenes and because he makes the best peace, everyone settles down and realizes they really do love one another.
They go, en masse to the dance floor while the band plays a Spanish flavored Sing! Sing! Sing! It evolves into the kids and their friends forming a circle around Mamacita, everyone laughing, loving, and happy. It was fun and touching. However, it was also primal — magic at its most pure form. One could see and feel Maria receiving power from the dance, the celebration, and her children’s love.
Magda, in one of her many forms, stands on the sidelines with a look of apprehension on her face… I think she’s figured out that this won’t be as easy as she initially thought.