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Penny Dreadful: City of Angels – First Season

city of angels

City of Angels is the new Penny Dreadful spin-off.

This name recalls about Los Angeles, so we can easily imagine that this season will be completely different from the others one.

Plot

1938 Los Angeles is a time and place deeply infused with social and political tension.

When a grisly murder shocks the city, Detective Tiago Vega and his partner Lewis Michener become embroiled in an epic story that reflects the rich history of Los Angeles: from the building of the city’s first freeways and its deep traditions of Mexican-American folklore to the dangerous espionage actions of the Third Reich and the rise of radio evangelism.

Before long, Tiago and his family are grappling with powerful forces that threaten to tear them apart.

City of Angels – Review

When it was announced this season, the fact that the setting was completely different from that of the old series let me have some doubt about it. Let’s be clear. It’s not that the American setting of the late ’30s I don’t’ like. But it looks very different from the main theme.

Daniel Zovatto in Penny Dreadful: City of Angels (2020)
Daniel Zovatto in Penny Dreadful: City of Angels (2020)© IMDB

The first series contained all the classics of Gothic literature but one of the classic “monsters” was present here.

The 1930s between Nazis, Racism and Dia de Los Muertos

This new series finds a typical detective story. We are near to 1940 in the Recession Age. Los Angels is a multiethnic town where the different groups are not perfectly in harmony with each other.

The High Class, the dominant ones composed of the white population, are the ones we can define as the rich and who make the most important political decisions.

On the other side, there are Chicanos,  people of Mexican origin. They are the poor, second-rate citizens. They are forced to the most humble jobs or implicated in the gangland. Something often happens to the ones part of a discriminated minority.

Lorenza Izzo in Penny Dreadful: City of Angels (2020)
Lorenza Izzo in Penny Dreadful: City of Angels (2020)© IMDB

The show starts with a murder that is the keystone to present the characters and introduce them into the plot. We begin to see the faces painted in the theme Day of the Dead, typical Mexican celebration. The new Detective Tiago Vega have to investigate about with under the sight of his colleagues who always see him as member of the Mexican people. Fortunately, you will have the support of his partner Detective Lewis Michener. Like Tiago, Michener belongs to a minority, the Jewish one.

And here we come to the first point. Hate and discrimination rules in Los Angeles in the last 30 years. The will to wipe out a minority (in this case the Mexican minority, but it could be anyone today) leads politically to the desire to build a highway right on the homes of those people.

They are not building roads, they are building walls.

A revelation that announces what the viewer already knows is going to happens: to the Second World War. It’s no spoiler, it’s just history. In this scenario, pro-Nazi movements come to life, even in America that looks to the supremacy of the white race.

In Germany, Hitler had become chancellor le 1933 and Führer in 1934.

What the demon Magda, bearer of Chaos should desire more?

Natalie Dormer and the multiple identities of Discord

As much as I could research Magda’s character, I couldn’t find a correspondent in the Mexican Pantheon.

Natalie Dormer in Penny Dreadful: City of Angels (2020)
Natalie Dormer in Penny Dreadful: City of Angels (2020)© IMDB

The best of the associations that I have been able to do is the one with the goddess Eris, the Greek discord, since the purpose of this entity, demon, figure or whatever you want to call it is that of the bearer of Chaos.

Both as Elsa, and in those of Rio, as well as in those of Alex Malone does nothing but try to put the various characters, or rather the various factions, one against the other. His character is actually such obnoxious, and for goodness’ sake, she must be.

The Dormer is certainly good, exceptional, to characterize three characters that can appear very different from each other and that are nothing but the reflection of a single person. We know of Magda, or at least this is how Mary reveals us, to be the sister of Holy Death. Surely his character will still have many and many cards to play in the next season.

City of Angels – Final considerations

Despite the initial hesitation, City of Angels is a very pleasant series in which the supernatural is the background to an investigative narrative. Certainly interesting are the many references to Mexican culture, as well as historical ones. Of course, you have to completely detach from what was the atmosphere of the old series. However, it remains enjoyable and still has its moments of particular strength. Recommended? Definitely yes, at least as far as I’m concerned, I’m waiting for the next season.

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