Penny Dreadful: City of Angels 1×04 Review – ‘Josephina and the Holy Spirit’

Josephina and the Holy Spirit Penny Dreadful review
Molly and Josephina in ‘Josephina and the Holy Spirit’ (Image: Screengrab)

I have been waiting for Josephina to get some kind of narrative arc and the latest episode of Penny Dreadful: City of Angels gave me that. Also, ‘Josephina and the Holy Spirit’ gives us another queer character!

‘Josephina and the Holy Spirit’ opened with Santa Muerte walking in a small Mexican town and witnessing a killing motivated by greed. Over the course of the previous three episodes, we have come to know that Santa Muerte isn’t keen on helping humans. And who can blame her? People are capable of doing numerous horrific acts. So, her being conflicted about her feelings for human beings continues to make sense.

As for the rest of the episode, we saw numerous plot threads move forward. I was glad when Santiago finally stood up against Reilly. I was growing frustrated over Santiago’s passive stance whenever Reilly would be racist toward him or others. And yes, I also liked Santiago getting some harsh words from his boss about him taking too long to solve the murder mystery.

Right now, the murder case doesn’t seem to be Lewis or Santiago’s priority. Tiago’s too wound up in his feelings for Molly (a murder suspect) while Lewis is trying to stop Nazis from taking over LA.

If you ask me, I’m not sure who murdered Hazlett and his family. I don’t think it’s Magda. Perhaps the Nazis did it because they wanted control over the construction of the motorway? But then, why would the Nazis go through all the effort of murdering a family in a manner that points a finger at the Mexican community? It doesn’t feel like their modus operandi.

Maybe it was someone connected to Molly and her religious group? Maybe the murderer is connected to a supernatural force we haven’t been introduced to yet?

Considering even I have so many questions surrounding the case, of course, Tiago’s boss also being frustrated about it was understandable. Lewis and Tiago need to do better.

‘Josephina and the Holy Spirit’ did show us the house Molly and Hazlett would sneak away to for their affair. Now, I get that Tiago likes Molly, but her not feeling sorry for having an affair with a married man made me roll my eyes at her. I don’t think I can fully trust someone who deliberately begins affairs with people who are already in other relationships.

Molly gave the excuse that Hazlett allowed her to be someone else for a bit and talked about how she’s tired of not being the version other people expect her to be. I mean, if a person’s definition of being someone different and feeling free involves participating in affairs, I just can’t with them.

But our poor Tiago’s clearly in love with her, so the fact he went back to her by the end of this episode wasn’t much of a surprise. Also, there was a weird scene during Molly’s sermon where it looked like she got possessed by something. I’m here for Molly having some kind of a paranormal connection.

The current episode also had Josephina form a connection with Molly. After being sexually assaulted by Reilly and not having anyone to talk to about the encounter, Josephina decided to attend one of Molly’s sermons. I’m looking forward to seeing where Josephina’s narrative arc will take her. I think actress Jessica Garza played her character’s vulnerable moments quite well. 

In a sense, Tiago’s family members now have links to everything that’s happening. Maria is a maid for Peter Craft. Josephina met Molly. Raul got saved by Santa Muerte (unless something else cured him). And Mateo’s with the Pachucos.

Speaking of Mateo, seeing him enact his revenge on Reilly and killing the officer was something I wasn’t expecting. With how the Pachucos dropped Reilly’s dead body outside the precinct, you know the police are going to want answers. Will they suspect Tiago because he threatened to kill Reilly?

As for Lewis, we saw him coming in contact with a Jewish mobster named Benny. It’s clear that Lewis can’t take down the Nazis in LA on his own. We found out that the Nazis are interested in stealing research about a rocket. If they’re able to take the research back to Hitler, he will be in possession of dangerous rockets that could reach London or New York.

At first, Benny isn’t interested in helping Lewis. However, after a betrayal (that connected to the opening sequence of this episode), Benny decides to help Lewis but the condition that Lewis kills the one who betrayed the mob. I liked seeing Lewis not going against his morals even for Benny. But because of the ominous message Benny narrated for Lewis, I think the two will cross paths soon enough.

While Lewis is trying to stop Mr. Goss’ plans, over at Peter’s son’s birthday party, we got to see the neo-Nazis trying to gain access to radio stations to spread their message to a wider audience.

Of course, Elsa came to the birthday party and I enjoyed the scene between her and Peter’s wife. Apparently, Peter has a lot of secrets. His wife’s warning would have deterred any other woman, but as one of Magda’s forms Elsa already knows what Peter is capable of. I’m very interested in knowing about what Magda’s got planned for Peter.

Coming to our closeted queer character Charlton Townsend, ‘Josephina and the Holy Spirit’ showed him storming off again after Councilwoman Beck put a dent in his motorway plans. Alex (another of Magda’s forms) isn’t happy about Charlton hooking up with male prostitutes because of the risk factor, and her plan to make Charlton stop involved Kurt (Dominic Sherwood).

Josephina and the Holy Spirit review
Charlton and Kurt (Image: Screengrab)

The moment Kurt drove Charlton to a motel I knew what was coming. Turns out, Kurt’s a queer character, too. The scene where Kurt asked Charlton if he was a top or a bottom made me laugh. Acting on Mr. Goss’ orders, Kurt hooked up with Charlton while Alex secretly filmed the two. Apparently, Alex and Mr. Goss want Charlton to continue only being with Alex because that’s far less risky than Charlton driving around to find men. 

While I’m not a fan of storylines involving using someone’s sexuality to blackmail them, it is to be expected considering the time period this show takes place in. Also, if Charlton catches feelings for Kurt or vice versa, it’s going to get messy and I’m here for it!

As you can tell, there’s a whole lot going on in Penny Dreadful: City of Angels.

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Author: Farid-ul-Haq

Farid has a Double Masters in Psychology and Biotechnology as well as an M.Phil in Molecular Genetics. He is the author of numerous books including Missing in Somerville, and The Game Master of Somerville. He gives us insight into comics, books, TV shows, anime/manga, video games, and movies.


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