The Nevers is a show that’s rich with characters, a clever hook, and enough period drama to satiate the Queen of England. Though it uses fantastical superpowers and a premise that’s a mystery (is it aliens or magic) the show has a deeper meaning too. As Vinnie Heaven put it, “The Victorian era is the time where everything is divided by gender and class, that’s when that begins. So to then add in giving certain people powers that’s a fascinating thing.” It’s also prime for all kinds of storytelling like murder mysteries, heists, and in this episode a breakout.
Titled “Hanged,” the central element of the episode is Maladie’s (Amy Manson) hanging. Snatched by authorities in the last episode, Maladie is a Touched who is more chaotic than evil, but she certainly has done terrible things. Various characters make it clear how they feel about the hanging, from Detective Frank Mundi (Ben Chaplin) to The Beggar King (Nick Frost) and of course the two leading characters Amalia True (Laura Donnelly) and Penance Adair (Ann Skelly). Writer Melissa Iqbal does a good job establishing where folks stand before the hanging takes place.
This show is good at surprises and there are plenty. Possibly the biggest is Penance revealing she can’t let Maladie die and has hatched an escape plan. A strong second is The Beggar King’s scenes as he reveals he’s not evil by any means, but a man who leads. He’s opportunistic and certainly immoral, but Frost infuses him with a lot of humanity. Given the chance to create a bit of chaos, there’s a key moment where he feels bad about what he’s about to do. Skelly’s Penance is a joy to watch as well thanks to her lively desire to do something good with her powers and her grand hopefulness.
This episode does a few things you’ll note as familiar especially in comic book adaptations. It splits up the good guys to prove they are stronger together. It reveals the villain’s plan to convince the public they are needed. It also has the overdone mini-jokes Joss Whedon is known for which land at times, but many feel a tad false within the moments. Directed by Whedon, you can tell a joke was thrown in to mix things up.
There’s also a very long speech given by Penance that doesn’t quite work. It gets the point across, moves things along, and sets up the divide of Penance and True — as well as the bond they have regardless — but it runs on much too long. Penance ends up moving about her shop seemingly to break up the shots because the speech is far too long. It slows things down.
Thankfully after that scene, “Hanged” pushes forward at a good clip. Once the episode gets to the hanging all the pieces that make up the scene, from Penance hatching her plan to good establishing shots to set up the scene, the episode is highly entertaining. Who is doing what, what will happen next, and what is Maladie really up to are questions that’ll be racing in your mind. This leads to a cliffhanger that is enticing and on top of all that we don’t know how True’s plan worked out.
All in all, “Hanged” is a good episode that falters a bit at the end of its second act. It opens by establishing and building up the hanging, touches upon multiple characters from their love affairs to the building of their relationships, and ends on a high note action set piece. Aside from a few one-liner duds and a very long speech, The Nevers continues to impress each week.
HBO’s The Nevers airs Sundays at 9:00 pm EST.
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