Augustus Bidlow: You always assume the worst in everyone
Lavinia: They seldom disappoint.
This may be part a conversation between siblings, but this may say a lot about everyone who exists in The Nevers. London in 1899 is panicked over the Touched because of their powers, even if they’re minor ones that can become major ones even by accident. The Touched are feared for many reasons, and there’s hardly any effort to understand them. Those who do, like Amalia True (Laura Donnelly) and Penance Adair (Ann Skelley), are looked with suspicion and contempt.
This week, Amalia tries to find Mary, the girl with the mysterious song. Lord Swan sees them as an opportunity, while Augie admits he might be touched. The episode ends with a brutal and revealing confrontation, and a shocking twist that might prove Lavinia right.
The episode opens in a shop where two clerks talk about the Touched. It’s revealed one of them, a girl named Cassini, is Touched. She can make things float by touching them, but that include a big stuffed polar bear. It looks like she can find help from Amalia and Penance…could she?
At least this episode changes the relationship of Amalia and Inspector Mundi (Ben Chaplin), and in an interesting way. He heads to her orphanage to find Maladie (Amy Madsen), and she thinks he’s going too far. Then, she meets a prostitute named Desiree (Ella Smith) who can get her “clients” to tell her anything. She’s busty truth serum.
Thanks to this neat trick, Mundi admits he’s interested in Mary (captured by Maladie) because she left him at the altar, and wants her back. He also says the police have orders to kill Maladie. He’s upset, but it doesn’t take much for them to figure out working together is better.
Meanwhile, Penance is convinced by Lavinia (Olivia Williams) to take some of the Touched to her estate to show they are not a threat to the world. It’s too bad they are treated as if they’re part of a zoo, expected to show their “turns” for amusement of the “normal.”
Penance and Augie (Tom Riley) get to talking, and he admits he seems to have the ability to “see” what it’s like to be in flight. This is heavy stuff, since it’s four years before the Wright Brothers. Lavinia doesn’t like him being with Penance because if people see him dating a “Touched”, it would send a very bad public image. She’s also Irish, which is even worse. This sends a red flag that Lavinia may not be as sympathetic towards the Touched as she seems. She sees them as her charity, not as people.
Elsewhere, Messen (Pip Torrens) is still showing his hatred of the Touched (along with Belgians for some reason), and plotting what to do with them. He meets Lord Swan (James Norton), who says his Ferryman’s Club (aka orgy) has become very popular, even after what Maladie did at the opera last week. He doesn’t fear Messen, thinking his social status will protect him. Messen is not happy about this, and it will lead to even more unfortunate decisions. Anyway, Swann is able to get Augie to join his club, but he really wants Augie’s “good name” so he can make money from this unique sex service.
The main plot is the search for Mary, and why Maladie wants her. It takes a while to decipher her rantings, but Maladie may not be interested in Mary’s song and how it may provide hope. She’s seems to be interested in “the lady who sheds”, who is Amalia. Maladie considers her a demon while that steampunk UFO that made the Touched is her God.
Amalia does find Maladie (thanks to Bonfire Annie’s fire balls), and it looks like they have something in common. Mal somehow knows Amalia as “Molly”, and Amalia sees Maladie is “Sarah”. It seems that Maladie was severely abused by asylum doctors (which Amalia recognizes earlier in the episode), and Amalia didn’t help her. Not much is known past that, but it’s a matter of time. All Maladie knows is that she’s on a mission against Amalia. She’s also not happy Bonfire Annie (Rochelle Neil) is that reliable as a friend.
Then Maladie shows Mary about to be hung…and Penance, too. Amalia is forced to choose which friend to keep. She instead shoots herself, then Maladie. Mundi arrives to save Mary and Penance, and the magic hands of Dr. Cousens saves Amalia.
By the way, what happened to Miss Cassini? She thinks she’s at the orphanage, but she actually gets captured by the Masked Men who hate the Touched. What’s worse, she’s taken to Dr. Hague (Denis O’Hare), the crazy doctor who thinks he can dig into brains to get the Touched’s powers. She becomes a lobotomized slave, digging a mine to unearth what seems to be a big glowing orb.
And Dr. Hague’s boss? Lavinia Bidlow!
Does she want the orb to get out of her wheelchair, and use the Touched as her mindless labor?
As she said, she expects the worst in people because they act that way. It’s why the world fears and hates the Touched, but why does that include her…and is she helping out Messen?
Oh, and what will she say is worse: her brother is Touched or is in Lord Swan’s sex club?
It seems each episode tries to pack too many twists towards the end. The first two episodes could have been three to let the show breathe. Also, it’s still Steampunk X-Men with old fashioned bigotry and insane science built in.
At least some secrets Amalia is trying to hide makes things a bit more interesting. She may be the co-heroine but she’s no angel. There’s also a hint she was literally a different person before she was touched.
We’ll see what happens next, and whether some who have fallen (Augie especially) can rise again.
New episodes of The Nevers air Sundays on HBO