WARNING: The following contains spoilers for Penny Dreadful: City of Angels premiere, “Santa Muerte.”
In the Penny Dreadful franchise, one of the biggest draws has been Rory Kinnear’s Creature, aka Caliban. He was the human turned into a monster by Dr. Frankenstein, also being called John Clare. What made him so appealing was his sense of altruism after initially being misunderstood, and also, how he longed for love and a soul mate.
As the series progressed, it humanized him more and more until we saw his family in Season 3, reiterating he always was more man than a monster. Thankfully, showrunner John Logan has brought Kinnear — one of his favorite actors — back for Penny Dreadful: City of Angels, however, he returns as a ‘creature’ with a much darker twist.
Many fans stand by Creature being the heartbeat of the parent series as he represented duality, the light and the dark, and came off very relatable as he clawed his way back to mankind. He didn’t want to remain in the shadows anymore despite his pale appearance, and while he was set as a villain early on, he proved to be a hero at heart. It’s why Eva Greene’s Vanessa took to him and why Creature eventually gave her a eulogy of sorts in the finale.
Logan believes he represented what we all want besides love: redemption, and so he encased the man inside an ugly husk. Now, we’re getting a somewhat similar arc with Kinnear’s Peter Craft, a doctor in 1938 Los Angeles with an American wife and kids. He appears to be a hero at first as he’s seen taking care of his alcoholic wife, being a good father to their sons, and also, offering free services to their Latina maid in racially-charged times.
But his macabre secret’s revealed during his lunch hour after he attends to Magda (Natalie Dormer), the demon disguised as a Nazi sympathizer. When she leaves, he opens his closet and dons Nazi clothing, heading downtown for a march he’s leading in a park. There, though, rather than right-wing hate speech or white supremacy, Peter speaks about non-violence, keeping LA’s kids off the streets and away from crime, and also how Americans should stay out of Europe’s wars. He’s simply riffing like a politician on an “All-American Way,” but while the white folks enjoy it, the people of color, aka the minorities, are suspicious.
But while we don’t want to empathize with anyone wearing a swastika and most likely representing Hitler’s mission, other theorists are wondering if Peter’s actually deep cover and trying to infiltrate the real Nazi circle running LA and as the premiere shows, America. Fans believe Peter could be like the Creature, who initially was violent as he lost his humanity thanks to Frankenstein’s experiments. They think Peter may be part of a misinformed Nazi faction seeded out in America without truly understanding the Third Reich’s doctrines. The band’s peaceful and honestly, while this could be a deception, the way Peter treats non-white people, he seems genuine.
Hitler has a vast network of corrupt businessmen and politicians, with Americans selling out and joining his cause for riches. But seeing Peter showing sympathy to non-whites, though, throws everything up in the air, and because the way Magda goes in like a spy, it feels like Peter’s the enemy. So just like Creature who did a 180 and fought in the name of justice, the show could be misdirecting us and keeping Peter undercover as someone who’ll turn away from his dark path.
Created, written and executive produced by John Logan, Penny Dreadful: City of Angels stars Daniel Zovatto, Natalie Dormer, Nathan Lane, Jessica Garza, Kerry Bishé, Ethan Peck, Adriana Barraza, Michael Gladis, Dominic Sherwood and Johnathan Nieves, as well as Piper Perabo, Amy Madigan, Brent Spiner, Lorenza Izzo, Lin Shaye and Adam Rodriguez in recurring roles. The series airs Sundays at 10 p.m. ET/PT on Showtime.
Season 1 of Penny Dreadful: City of Angels may have given Rory Kinnear a much darker twist as the 'Creature' who seems to be a Nazi villain.