'Penny Dreadful: City of Angels' Episode 6: Nathan Lane's Lewis Michener condemns an innocent for Vega family
It's easy to think Lewis's sudden departure from his moral code is because of his great friendship and empathy for Tiago but in truth, his decision to help Tiago frame Diego is influenced by his guilt
Spoilers for 'Penny Dreadful: City of Angels' Episode 6 'How it is for Brothers'
There is sticking your neck out for somebody and then there is really being a pal to a point where you sacrifice your own morality. Guess which side of the line Nathan Lane's character Lewis Michener falls after tonight's episode? There are some great scenes in this episode where Nathan Lane gives a pitch-perfect performance and his slide into a grey morality is perfectly captured.
There is enough in the first 5 episodes of the show to know that Lewis Michener might be a cynical cop but he is, at the end of the day, a moral man. He might rough up a Caltech student for his links to Nazis but he won't cross that invisible line between right and wrong.
This was amply displayed in episode 4 in his interactions with the Jewish gangster, Benny Berman (Brad Garrett). After his friends are murdered by Nazis, his investigations reveal that the Germans also have guns for a turf war in LA. So he approaches Berman to help him fight the threat because he knows that as a police detective, he can't turn into a rogue vigilante.
But when Berman finds out the guy responsible for supplying the guns to the Nazis and has him strung up so that Lewis can kill him in cold blood, Lewis refuses. He is a righteous man who is angry about his friend dying and the atrocities against Jewish people, but he will not stoop to the level of his enemies. We similarly see him refuse to raise a gun to protect himself even when Raul Vega (Adam Rodriguez) comes after him with a gun in the riot between the police and the Mexican community.
So it says a lot when he puts aside his own moral code after realizing that the man who killed the racist cop James Riley (Rod McLachlan) was Tiago's own brother, Mateo (Johnathan Nieves). He then uses all the cop skills he has picked up over the years to not only get Diego (Adan Rocha) to confess to Riley's murder but also the Hazlett murders. And, he does it as a favor to Tiago (Daniel Zovatto), who also sheds his good-guy image in this episode as he tries to browbeat the unfortunate Diego into taking the fall for Mateo.
It is easy to think that Lewis's sudden departure from his moral code is because of his great friendship and empathy for Tiago. But the truth is that his decision to help Tiago in framing Diego for the murders is in large part influenced by his guilt. When Lewis is rightfully shredding Tiago verbally for trying to frame an innocent man, Tiago tells him that Mateo saw him shoot Raul to protect Lewis. He also tells him that Mateo killing Riley was about Mateo's anger against him, Tiago, the cop who betrayed his own family.
Tiago's misplaced guilt also pulls Lewis into its gambit. Lewis also then feels guilty that Tiago's act of protecting him has led to the events that have ripped the Vega family apart. Neither of them knows that Mateo was actually avenging Josefina Vega (Jessica Garza) after she was assaulted by Riley.
Thus the two men's guilt pushes both into doing something that they ordinarily never would have done -- condemn an innocent man to save a guilty one. As the precinct erupts in joy after closing not one, but two cases, with a "spic" criminal, both Tiago and Lewis look at each other uneasily. They know that their souls are now damned. Magda has insidiously managed to corrupt the two men who were the only boy scouts of the series.
'Penny Dreadful: City of Angels' airs every Sunday at 10 pm ET, on Showtime.