'Penny Dreadful: City of Angels' Episode 10: Peter, Sister Molly, Lewis and Mateo turn to violent solutions
After that opening sequence of the riot, it is like violence comes crawling out of the woodwork in every shape and form. Of course, every character's motivation is a little different
After the lynching of Diego (Adan Rocha), all hell breaks loose in Los Angeles. Poor Fly Rico (Sebastian Chacon) never even has a chance to restore some modicum of peace by having the dignified march to honor Diego. How could he with not just one form of Magda (Natalie Dormer) but three of her manifestations, Rio, Elsa and Frank Branson (Santino Barnard), cooperating to incite a street riot?
Instead, he gets stabbed in the back alley by Rio, who says the "time for peacemakers has passed". When Mateo discovers her, bloody knife in hand, Rio hands him the knife saying, "the king is dead, long live the king". Rio has been working on Mateo for a while now, turning him from a scared boy into a weapon just waiting to go off. But that anger is fueled by Rio's words about him being the "king" of the Pachucos, the revolution's leader who will walk the bloody path to "his throne".
So while Mateo is angry, his turn to violence is governed by how powerful he feels when he unleashes that anger. As he cuts down the men attacking Tiago (Daniel Zovatto), he feels powerful. You can hear the mockery in his voice, belittling his brother for being weak, when he says goodbye to Tiago, balled up in pain, on the ground.
After that opening sequence, it is like violence comes crawling out of the woodwork in every shape and form. Of course, every character's motivation is a little different.
Peter Craft (Rory Kinnear), who is also caught up in the street riot, has a different reaction. At first, despite seeing his son Tom hurt when someone breaks their car window, he tells Tom not to hate because it is a "rat that devours". But later, as Elsa feeds him her fake sob story, to make him embrace his Krupp family legacy, he is conflicted. He wants to be the "strong" man Elsa wants him to be to protect his family.
As he sits in his study and sees the picture of his two sons, he wears the 'Iron Cross' medal and makes the "Heil Hitler" sign, while sobbing. He is the reluctant Nazi, choosing violence out of fear that his family will be harmed.
Sister Molly (Kerry Bishé) also chooses violence but she directs it at herself. When her mother reveals that she "protected" her by having Hazlett and his entire family murdered, she sits in shock. We realize she is already suicidal as she threatens to self-harm if her mother doesn't let her go. But once she knows the kind of crimes her mother has committed in her name, escape is no longer an option. She slits her wrists in the baptismal pool as if trying to cleanse herself and simultaneously sacrifice herself to atone for her mother's crimes. If Sister Molly was less damaged, she might have tried to hand over her mother to the police through Tiago. But she thinks she is doing him a favor since her mother indirectly threatens to have him killed too.
Lewis Michener's (Nathan Lane) violence is possibly the most justified. As Brian, the mad scientist, who dreams of violent weapons of war and waxes eloquent about the bomb he is working on that will "destroy cities", referencing the yet-to-be-built atom bomb, Tiago, Lewis, and Benny exchange uneasy glances.
In a quiet consensus, they decide to get rid of him. Lewis does the actual deed, but both Tiago and Benny tacitly agree that Brian is too dangerous to be allowed to live, especially with his shifting loyalties. Having Lewis Michener, a Jewish character kill Brian, is a bit ironic though, since it was Albert Einstein who signed the letter addressed to Roosevelt that kicked off the Manhattan Project. No other nation had the resources or the capabilities to build an atom bomb at the time and it certainly took the genius of several scientists to achieve, rather than one genius kid. It is a little overgenerous tweaking of history, but within the narrative structure, it shows how even a "good guy" like Lewis can become Magda's weapon as he decides to exercise some 'preemptive violence' to stop mass violence.
But, the question is, with Magda stroking Tiago's neck in the cemetery, what kind of violence will he choose? The next day, he comments quietly on how freeways were no roads, but rather walls to control populations of "the spics, the coloreds, the Jews, the Chinese". And he looks just about ready to tear down those walls.
'Penny Dreadful: City of Angels' airs on Sundays at 10 PM ET/PT on Showtime.