'Penny Dreadful: City of Angels' Season 1 Ending Explained: How Magda gets exactly what she wants
Nobody gets a happy ending, as Madga's mission of hatred gains a permanent foothold in Los Angeles
Spoilers for 'Penny Dreadful: City of Angels' Season 1 Episode 10 'Day of the Dead'
True to the noir genre, this season finale is filled to the brim with unhappy endings and cynical statements about the nature of humanity. Magda's (Natalie Dormer) plans further the hate and division in the city, but she's not planning on stopping until the entire world is at war. We take a closer look at the ending and just what it might mean for a potential Season 2.
Delaying nuclear holocaust
One of the running subplots of the series has been Lewis Michener's (Nathan Lane) attempts to foil the Nazis' procurement of Brian Koenig (Kyle McArthur). Brian's mind has designed a rocket that the Germans would find very useful in the war — but on the car ride there, we find out that Brian's mind doesn't stop there. He's got bigger plans, such as how to design a nuclear bomb, with no thought as to the consequences of his decision. Though Brian's been kept out of German hands, Lewis realizes that he can't allow a bomb like Brian's to be invented and kills him. As history tells us, the bomb got built anyway, but as far as Lewis knows, he just got his hands dirty to save the world from the threat of nuclear war.
The future of LA is walls
While things have not been going Charlton Townsend's (Michael Gladis) way, the race riots organized by Magda in the guise of Rio really turned things around. With the tide of public opinion turned against the Hispanic community, Townsend's highway gains immediate support as a sort of punishment to Hispanics. Tiago Vega (Daniel Zovatto) realizes that this is just the start of divisiveness in Los Angeles — that highways like this only divide white, affluent communities from ethnic ones, and that the illusion of progress comes at the cost citywide divisiveness. It's a political statement that's still relevant today, which is why Tiago all but stares down the camera as he declares, definitively, that "This is not the United States of America."
To have, not to be, a sister
This episode introduces the fact that Molly Finnister (Kerry Bishe) had four sisters that were lost before she was born, and that she's led a life of loneliness tied to wanting a sister. After finding out the lengths that her mother would go through to keep the Sister Molly persona thriving, Molly realizes that she has no escape from her life - and that any attempts to leave puts the people in love in danger. Adelaide Finnister (Amy Madigan) was not only responsible for the death of Molly's lover, but of the entire Haslet family. Molly, feeling like she has no other escape, chooses to commit suicide in the Temple's baptism pool.
Santa Muerte (Lorenza Izzo) greets Molly as an equal, letting Molly fall into death's embrace quite literally. Whether it's because Santa Muerte recognizes a fellow religious figure, whether it's a moment of compassion, or whether she truly sees a kindred spirit, Santa Muerte fills Molly's final moments with the one thing Molly's always wanted — the embrace of a sister.
As the series progressed, it's become clear that Magda's ultimate goal is to spread as much hatred and divisiveness as possible, and she's managed just that. As Rio, she instigated the race riots in LA after Diego Lopez's (Adan Rocha) lynching, even going so far as to murder Fly Rico (Sebastian Chacon) for his dedication to peace — a murder that Mateto Vega (Johnathan Nieves) seems to have no problem with, as he takes up Rio's cause of leading the Pachukos in a war of hate. Alex's guiding of Townsend has helped him build a highway straight through the town the Vegas live in, forcing them to the margins of society. Elsa has managed to use the race riots to convince Peter Craft (Rory Kinnear) that the only way to keep his family safe is to embrace the hateful ways of Nazism.
It's only the first step towards something larger, as the show is set just before World War II begins. Visiting Tiago, she speaks of the war that's coming. Knowing Tiago is a chosen favorite of Santa Muerte, she asks him if he's ready. Tiago either doesn't see her or chooses not to acknowledge her — either way, he doesn't respond. With World War II on the horizon, Tiago is going to have to do everything he can just to keep his family together - for the moment, it appears there's nothing he can do to stop Magda from getting everything she wants; LA's race riots were only the start.
Apart from the racist Charles Townsend and Madga herself, nobody in 'City of Angels' gets a happy ending. Nobody has been able to come together and foil Magda's mission of hatred, and if there's a Season 2, then things are only going to get worse.
This was the final episode of 'Penny Dreadful: City of Angels' Season 1.