“How It Is With Brothers” provides no further clarity at such a late stage, and you really have to wonder where this show ultimately wants to go.
This recap of Penny Dreadful: City of Angels season 1, episode 6, “How It Is With Brothers”, contains spoilers. You can check out our thoughts on the previous episode by clicking these words.
With only two episodes left in the season, all the essential questions that were floating around Penny Dreadful: City of Angels persist after this sixth episode, “How It Is With Brothers”. Chief among them might be, “What’s the point?” This show seems immune to making a coherent point, even this late in the game, and if a grand finale is being set up, at this stage who knows what it might look like?
Being the show’s protagonist – sort of, anyway – Tiago gets a fair amount to do in Penny Dreadful: City of Angels episode 6, but little of it could be said to make sense. He withholds information from Lewis about Mateo and leads on interrogating Diego so that little bro can get away with murder, which seems bizarre for a man who was principled enough to shoot Raul in the head and draw on Mateo just last week. If Tiago is supposed to represent one of the show’s essential conflicts, he’s not doing a very good job of it.
If anything it’s Lewis who best represents the idea of being caught between moral responsibility and cultural obligation. His Nazi-hunting subplot has been the most interesting thing in the show for a while, and even on top of that, he’s been able to not only take a Chicano partner knowing it’d be to his own detriment but defend that partner against institutional racism and his own idiocy while also appeasing the powers that be.
This stuff is the show at its best, or at least at its clearest. The apparent selling point of a sexy demon manipulating influential policymakers is easily the least compelling aspect of the narrative because it’s still unclear how any of it fits into a broader plan, and it does a disservice to the audience in presenting the fact a literal Nazi might have some skeletons in their closet as a major reveal. By this point, you’d imagine that different strands would be starting to dovetail, but no such luck.
With some effort, you can connect most of these plot points together, or at least see the chain of cause and effect that has, for instance, led Josefina to Sister Molly’s flock, or Mateo to the Pachucos and thus Magda-as-Rio. Since we can identify Natalie Dormer as both Rio and Elsa, can other characters? Does she present with the same face? I shouldn’t have to ask.
If you recall, this show began as a murder-mystery. That mystery remains unsolved since nobody can be bothered investigating it, but I don’t even think it’s important anymore in a narrative that is also juggling a plot with Nazis and rockets and mobsters and civil uprisings and violent counter-cultures and literal demon sisters, one of whom has reliably remained out of the way aside from the occasional spiritual communion with Maria. It’s all just a big mess.
The question in the wake of Penny Dreadful: City of Angels season 1, episode 6, “How It Is With Brothers”, is whether all this mess will actually amount to something in time for the finale. At this point, I won’t be holding my breath.
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Jonathon is the Co-Founder of Ready Steady Cut and has been Senior Editor and Chief Critic of the outlet since 2017.