ReviewsTelevision & Film

PENNY DREADFUL: Brotherhood is Complicated

Roxann Dawson returns this week do direct another powerful episode, along with Vinnie Wilhelm writing some intense dialogue.

Once again Tiago (Daniel Zovatto) is torn between blood, identity, loyalty, and fraternal brotherhood, but we’re back to a place that’s familiar for fans of the original series. We have now had two very powerful episodes one after another. Such intricate storytelling I believe was the signature of the original series and what united us as fans, along with those complex decisions, and character developments.

Much like the previous episode, this one goes full burn from start to finish. If your heart doesn’t ache at times during this installment you might want to double-check that it’s still in your chest.

The majority of this episode happens in small spaces; even the scene between Townsend (Michael Gladis) and Kurt (Dominic Sherwood) on the beach feels secluded and intimate. The beach scene was particularly interesting, as both men were showing a warmth that we really haven’t seen from them up until now. It felt like Kurt may not just be playing the role of a lover but that there was some sincerity to his actions. This scene is quick to shift that tender moment to remind us that Kurt is a bigot and a Nazi. My theory that Kurt is a double agent has become a bit shakier, but at the same time if he is developing feelings for Townsend he most surely knows how those controlling him will react.

Rory Kinnear and Piper Perabo give such amazing performances as Dr. Peter and Mrs. Linda Craft, respectively. Linda lets loose her desperation and rage in such an amazing way when Dr. Craft turns that around on her and informs her she’s to be committed to an asylum. It’s all stripped away in that very strong, if brief, scene.

Sister Molly (Kerry Bishé) and Miss Adelaide (Amy Madigan) have a very eye-opening breakfast, filled with bitterness in the guise of caring and nurturing. The whole scene drips with co-dependence and narcissism. Adelaide shows how masterfully she controls Molly through guilt, or at least it showcases how much control she thinks she has.

Can someone please explain to me why Sister Molly is always singing romantic “pop” songs to her congregation???

We again find characters in close quarters, this time a hovel hideout with Mateo (Johnathan Nieves), Fly Rico (Sebastian Chacon), and Magda’s (Natalie Dormer) singular incarnation in this episode, Rio. Rio’s control over Mateo is poignantly showcased when Maria Vega (Adriana Barraza) comes looking for her son. Barraza and Nieves give devastating performances when Mateo sends his mother away, echoing Rio’s words, “You’re not welcome here”.

Since we’re on the subject of Rio, it’s time to get into the majority of this episode. If you recall Rio locked the stairwell door when fleeing from Michener, leaving Diego Lopez (Adan Rocha) to be captured. This episode picks up minutes after that segment and focuses on Diego’s interrogation. Zovatto, Lane, and Rocha do not disappoint. The intensity of the scenes these men share was thick enough to touch.

We once again find the episode focusing on Detective Vega trying to navigate the two worlds he inhabits. Diego escalates this conflict with his knowledge of Mateo being the actual murderer of Officer Rielly (Rod McLachlan). The intensity of these scenes really has to be watched, I’m not sure I can do them justice.

The one thing that really concerns me about this episode Tiago’s unnecessary secrecy. I feel that these kinds of secrets are the “clickbait” of modern storytelling. We’ve seen it in some of the most popular shows over the past decade, and I think it’s a kind of lazy “tune in next week” trope. I don’t recall the previous series resorting to these foolish secrets to keep viewers interested. It makes me think of soap operas with better writing and acting. Tiago should be putting the same trust in Michener that Michener puts into him, because they’re both minorities in their world and Michener is putting his life and career on the line just teaming up with Tiago.

(L-R): Daniel Zovatto as Tiago Vega and Nathan Lane as Lewis Michener [Warrick Page/SHOWTIME]
In the end, Michener puts everything on the line for Tiago, convincing Diego to take the fall for Reilly and the Hazlett murders, it’s a very interesting scene. Michener is well aware of the corruption in the department and knows that they have a requirement to close the Hazlett case and avoid anyone from finding out that Mateo killed Reilly.


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