Penny Dreadful: City of Angels season 1, episode 8 recap – “Hide and Seek”

June 15, 2020
Jonathon Wilson 0
TV, TV Recaps
3.5

Summary

“Hide and Seek” finally feels as though its narrative is coming together — but is it too little too late for Penny Dreadful: City of Angels?

View all
3.5

Summary

“Hide and Seek” finally feels as though its narrative is coming together — but is it too little too late for Penny Dreadful: City of Angels?

This recap of Penny Dreadful: City of Angels season 1, episode 8, “Hide and Seek”, contains spoilers. You can check out our thoughts on the previous episode by clicking these words.


For the first time in “Hide and Seek”, Penny Dreadful: City of Angels felt like it was coming together somewhat. Most of the things that happened made sense. The episode felt like it was following on from the previous and setting up the next. These are basic things, obviously, but they’re basic things that the show has reliably neglected all throughout its first season. Tiago Vega (Daniel Zovatto) and Lewis Michener (Nathan Lane) feel like the good guys now, and they feel like they’re onto something, even if it took them pinning a series of murders on a patsy and then taking a week’s paid leave in order to actually start investigating anything.

What they’re investigating in Penny Dreadful: City of Angels episode 8 is Nazis, after seeing several influential L.A. citizens sit down with Richard Goss (Thomas Kretschmann). Tiago goes to see Miss Adelaide (Amy Madigan) about it, which feels right given his relationship with Molly (Kerry Bishé), while Lewis has a to-do with Councilman Charlton Townsend (Michael Gladis), which feels right given how he’s one of Magda’s puppets and has been given little of worth to do in that role thus far. My, it’s rare to be able to say that anything about this show feels right, and I was just able to say it twice.

Magda (Natalie Dormer) obviously manipulates Townsend through her mousy alter-ego, Alex, who claims to Lewis to be called Alexandra Mahler, a Jew who operates under an Irish-sounding pseudonym. It’s nice to see Magda’s manipulation in a form other than simply, “Hey, look, I’m hot!”, and it’s fitting it was in the Alex form since that one’s quite obviously designed to be asexual and Townsend has a Gestapo boyfriend anyway. Obviously Lewis doesn’t suspect her of being a demon with the mandate of sowing chaos among all mankind, but I’m not sure he believes she’s Jewish, either.

Tiago’s interview with Adelaide in Penny Dreadful: City of Angels episode 8 feels rich with both the knowledge of his relationship with Molly and his sister Josefina’s sudden embrace of God. “Hide and Seek” is a bit heavy-handed in how it contrives Tiago as a witness of her baptism, but that’s the kind of thing I can overlook since it makes sense for both characters to be there, if not necessarily at the same time. You get the same sense of the show building on its own history all throughout this episode, even in what seem to be throwaway scenes, like Peter Craft visiting Linda in the asylum and being made to look ridiculous; this actually neatly mirrors an earlier encounter between Townsend and Councilwoman Beck, which ends equally terribly for the Magda man.

Speaking of Peter Craft, we get some backstory on him that identifies his real surname as Krupp, a line of munition manufacturers whose products he saw embedded in young men during his time as a medic in the First World War. “Hide and Seek” plays with the idea that he’s a man trying to escape a legacy, but also that he’s a man of two identities, one of which he tries to keep a lid on.

Magda seems interested in lineage. That’s the reason why Rio targets Mateo over Fly Rico, which has always been the direction this subplot was heading in but is made explicit here nonetheless. The exact role and importance of the Vegas is still a bit unclear, but it’s there. And Maria continues to be the primary figure in whatever spiritual conflict the family is embroiled in. Since Maria has some sense of Magda’s nature, her interactions with the detestable Elsa take on new layers of passive-aggressive meaning. Maria is the undercover agent, as close to the enemy as anyone has been able to come.

I’m using the language of war here, with the word “agent” especially, and that seems fitting for where the show is at this late stage; a wide-ranging conflict between forces both corporeal and supernatural. Penny Dreadful: City of Angels season 1, episode 8 feels, for the first time, as though these battle lines have been clearly drawn. The sides and the stakes are now clear. And while there’s still some ambiguity surrounding the endgame, and it might all be too little too late, at least I got to write about the show positively for a change.


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