‘Penny Dreadful: City Of Angels‘ is the successor of the popular and acclaimed supernatural television series, ‘Penny Dreadful.’ A spin-off with a different, yet equally ambitious tale, ‘Penny Dreadful: City of Angels’ is also written and created by the man responsible for its parent show, John Logan. The Showtime series sees Natalie Dormer play the role of Magda, a supernatural being who can disguise herself as anyone she wishes. Apart from her, Daniel Zovatto and Nathan Lane are also integral members of the cast and play the characters of a couple of LAPD detectives, Tiago and Lewis, respectively.
Penny Dreadful: City of Angels Episode 1 Recap:
The episode starts with the voicing of a prophecy: “there will come a time when the world is ready for me when nation will battle nation, when race will devour race, when brother will kill brother until not a soul is left. Are you ready?” The two of them are at a plantation where several Mexican men, women, and children are working. Magda burns the fields, killing a young boy named Tiago’s father. Tiago runs towards his dead father, who is in Santa Muerte’s lap. However, Santa Muerte pushes him away with a nudge to his chest.
Several years later, in 1938, an adult Tiago Vega shows his LAPD detective badge to his family: his mother, Maria, his younger brother, Mateo, his older brother, Raul, and younger sister, Josefina. The next morning, Tiago is called for duty by his partner, Lewis, even though Tiago’s starting date is later.
A family of four has been killed brutally. Their faces have been painted white with a red, smile scar (like the Joker). Their hearts have been taken. “You take our heart, we take yours” is written in Spanish on a nearby wall.
Maria works as a domestic worker at Mr. Craft, a doctor’s house. Mr. Craft goes to his clinic and is visited by Magda. Magda has taken the disguise of a German woman with an ill son. After sending her son outside, Magda starts to complain about her husband’s domestic violence and cries. After leaving the clinic, Magda’s “son” merges into her body.
Tiago’s superior tells him that the murdered family stayed in Beverly Hills and thinks that a Mexican person was the murderer. He tells Tiago and Lewis that he does not want a race war. Raul leads a group of Latin-Americans who oppose the construction of the Arroyo Seco Parkway at a court. The roadway will lead to the demolition of a Latin-American community (the one that the Vegas in) The judge stands by the decision and tells the group that they will have to vacate the community.
Magda has taken the disguise of the judge, Townsend’s assistant. She persuades him to start working on other roadways even if they will lead to the demolition of other colored communities. Dr. Craft leads a Nazi march in a park and is a member of the German American Bund. He speaks about how the United States should stay out of a war in Europe. Tiago and Lewis go to the murdered family’s house to investigate, and it is revealed that the patriarch worked on the Arroyo-Seco Parkway.
Townsend’s assistant (Magda) arranges for a discrete meeting with Goss, a German man who owns an architecture firm. Goss wants to make Townsend the mayor of Los Angeles. In return, he wants a sympathetic ear for Nazi Germany in Los Angeles. Goss represents Hitler and threatens to kill Townsend and find someone else to be a mayor if he does not co-operate.
There is going to be a protest led by Raul against the construction of the Arroyo Seco Parkway to disallow the demolition of their community. Tiago wants to keep Mateo out of it. Raul asks Tiago where his heart is and does not appreciate him not raising his own voice. Tiago asks his mother about Santa Muerte since she is a believer. His mother coerces him to believe in Santa Muerte too. She reminds him how he has a sign left on his chest by her (from the time she pushed him away from his dead father, as pictured above)
Lewis has been keeping an eye on the Nazis in the United States. Tiago tells him that he will not be joining the police forces when they go to quell any retaliation during the demolition of his community for the Arroyo Seco Parkway. Maria prays to Santa Muerte and summons her. Santa Muerte arrives. Maria needs help as she can feel evil walking the planet. Santa Muerte tells her about the prophecy which was voiced at the start of the episode. She tells her that she will only help someone who is dead and not the living.
Maria goes to Tiago and tells him that Satna Muerte chose him and that he has to stop the construction protest the next day. The next day, Tiago arrives and is at the side of the police. He tries talking to the Raul and the protestors to drop their weapons since violence can erupt at any time. However, Magda, in a black dress, is walking around, invisible to humans. She speaks in the ear of a police officer who shoots a bullet. This causes a violent fight between the protestors and the police. Then, Magda speaks to Raul, who starts shooting police officers. However, before he can shoot Lewis, Tiago shoots him.
Penny Dreadful: City of Angels Episode 1 Ending Explained:
Towards the end of the first episode, Magda and Santa Muerte are shown standing in front of the fight between the Mexicans and the police. Many viewers might wonder what the scene signifies.
Well, the scene connotes a battle between the two supernatural creatures being the central premise of the season. Magda is evil and wants to cause destruction. However, Santa Muerte is a deity who is only responsible for carrying the dead to the afterlife. Hence, she restrains herself from taking any action to stop the destruction caused by Magda.
Magda does not need to do much to cause destruction: all she needs a spark and a word in the right ear. This is where the prophecy sheds light on her plan: “there will come a time when the world is ready for me. when nation will battle nation, when race will devour race, when brother will kill brother until not a soul is left.”
Given the time period that the show is set in, “nation will devour nation” refers to the Second World War. “Race will devour race” refers to the racial conflicts in the United States and, more specifically, the one concerning Latin-Americans during that time. Furthermore, “when brother will kill brother” refers to Tiago shooting Raul.