With “Penny Dreadful: City Of Angels” the balance between reality and what is being altered by the Goddess of Darkness, switches from episode to episode. It is a very good approach to pace. One episode involves chess moves while the next one shows the consequence and how it is dealt with. The pendulum of ying and yang teeters back and forth between the potency of human good and the need of opportunism and gluttony. This is the battle that is waged. Here in Episode 5 “How It Is With Brothers”, it is a balance within trust, loyalty and the greater good. Tiago (as played by Daniel Zuvatto) has to ride between the two worlds, and while Zuvatto sometimes overplays it (in the Robert Sean Leonard style of acting), his point is true. However it is the subtlety of an older pro like Nathan Lane, which might be a metaphor and a directorial choice, that can bring the grounded darkness within the light. The decisions are very gray in this episode, not just for the brother but for his mother.
A very telling scene also involves a mother’s intent to save her son from the dark side. It is that struggle of identity that permeates the episode through and through. Mateo, whom Tiago is protecting as his brother, is acting out of rage and not logic, acceptance, and not compassion. But the same can be said of Sister Molly. Is her mother trying to protect her or exploit her, see her happiness or search for her own. One specific revelation that this reviewer had not noticed is the German wife that has been slighted by the German doctor who has himself been seduced by the Goddess Of Darkness is none other than Piper Perabo from “Covert Affairs”. It is a smaller role for her to take but the disappearance is undeniable. Whereas her accent and blonde looks were always on display before, this is an inherent and textured reveal especially as her husband seeks to send her to detox. As with other aspects, motivations and choices are not what they seem whether to protect, serve or to subjugate,
By Tim Wassberg