'Penny Dreadful: City of Angels': Why you should be paying much closer attention to the series' stories
Lewis Michener gives the audience a hint as just where to look more closely for answers to the show's many mysteries
Spoilers for 'Penny Dreadful: City of Angels' Season 1, Episode 6 'How It Is With Brothers'
Every once in a while, a series with complicated enough storytelling will give its audience a clue as to exactly what they should be paying closer attention to. This is especially true of detective stories, which is a major part of the story that 'City of Angels' is trying to tell. Lewis Michener (Nathan Lane) lays that clue down this episode: we should all be paying a lot closer attention to the stories being told.
Not the stories that the show is telling about its various characters, but the stories that are being told by the characters themselves. Molly Finnister (Kerry Bishe) has already had one of the series' most notable storytelling moments. The story she tells Tiago Vega (Daniel Zovatto) about her mother and the men in the rain has important details that change significantly when she tells the same story to Josephina Vega (Jessica Garza). The devil's in the details and as Magda's (Natalie Dormer) many disguises keep reminding us, the devil is everywhere.
Just before bringing a rollercoaster of an interrogation scene to a close, Lewis tells his suspect, Diego Lopez (Adan Rocha), "Guy tells you a story, there's usually something in it." He talks about how there's always a clue or two hidden in a suspect's story, even ones that they did not mean to reveal. He takes apart Diego's own story, told a short while earlier and with it finds the one clue that cracks the case wide open.
Diego is not the only one telling stories on the show, however. 'City of Angels' has a lot of stories in it, from Sister Molly's, to Magda's son's ghost story, to Lewis himself and Lewis's statement feels like the show itself is telling its audience to sit up and lean close whenever a story is being told. To pay attention to every detail, to pick it apart, to question it and find the clues it hides inside.
Take Lewis's own story, told immediately after he tells Diego how many answers are hidden inside them. On the surface, it's a story about classism, letting Diego know that Lewis understands exactly how sympathetic Lewis is in feeling that class divide - it's a story meant to form a connection with Diego. However, on closer inspection, it's possible that the story hides a message for the other man in the room - Lewis's partner, Tiago. Lewis talks specifically about his father when talking about that class divide, knowing how much important Tiago places on family, almost as if to let Tiago understand that family is just as important to Lewis as it is to Tiago.
Another tidbit that Lewis lets slip, as he puts all the pieces together, is the phrase "Eight dead Mexicans," harkening back to Episode 2. Just after the union riot, as Ned Vanderhoff frustratedly notes the number of dead cops, Tiago makes a pointed inquiry: "And how many dead Mexicans?" Vanderhoff never answers, but it's obvious that Lewis kept track. Unlike everyone else on the force, Lewis cares for EVERY life lost, no matter the color of their skin.
It's a tiny little detail that might have gotten overlooked had Lewis not pointed out how important it was to pay attention when someone starts telling a story. The series is littered with storytellers and from this point forward, paying attention to what they're hiding in their tales is going to be vital.
The next episode of 'Penny Dreadful: City of Angels' airs June 7, on Showtime.