'Penny Dreadful: City of Angels' Episode 5: The corruption of Peter Craft is as confusing as it is chilling
Spoilers for 'Penny Dreadful: City of Angels' Season 1 Episode 5 'Children of the Royal Sun'
Magda's (Natalia Dormer) ubiquitous presence on the show allows us to see the various ways in which she corrupts the men of the show. None of them have succumbed to Magda's temptations with as much desperate wholeheartedness as Peter Craft (Rory Kinnear). Halfway through the season, however, and the show has still come nowhere near to answering one of its biggest questions - why is Magda so interested in corrupting Peter in the first place?
Craft's turn towards his darker impulses is more chilling than either Mateo Vega's (Johnathan Nieves) or Charlton Townsend's (Michael Gladis), for the simple fact that Craft so desperately wants to be corrupted. Where Mateo was driven to murder by a rage he had no means of processing and Townsend only needs the barest of excuses to act like the racist bureaucrat he is, Craft is something else. There is no reluctance with him. There is darkness within Craft and when Elsa allows him the opportunity to both feel like a hero and take a turn towards the dark side, he goes in with no hesitation.
Kinnear's performance is of a man who has found salvation - he is a man who has been holding back his inner monster for far too long and Magda's Elsa form gives that monster the freedom it's searching for. When he leaves behind his idyllic family life on Elsa's call, it's with almost palpable relief. Burying a body in the woods and cheating on his wife right beside the buried corpse is only going to be the start of how far Craft is willing to go.
The only question is, why is Elsa and the show itself, devoting so much time to Craft's story? Everyone else in the show has a much clearer part to play in the citywide war that Madga is pushing for. Craft is the exception. Yes, he is a Nazi who socializes with other prominent Nazi figures, but in her guise as Alex, Magda already has access to some of the most powerful Nazi operatives in the city. Craft has no other connection to any of the series' characters, nor to the events, the series revolves around. It's been hinted that there are dark secrets hidden in Craft's past, but there's no clue as to what the nature of those secrets is.
'Penny Dreadful: City of Angels' has a lot of pieces, all of which are coming together to form an increasingly clear picture of Magda's manipulations through the city of LA. Peter, however, is the one piece that doesn't quite fit but in the meanwhile, his journey remains one of the highlights of the series.
The next episode of 'Penny Dreadful: City of Angels' airs June 1, on Showtime.