Warning: Contains spoilers
This week’s The Nevers reveals who’s behind Dr. Hague’s horrifying operation (and operations), and it also offers a few hints about the relationship between Maladie and True. There’s a lot to get to, so charge up your electric umbrellas and let’s review what happens in the Jane Espenson-penned “Exposure.”
“Exposure” begins in the aftermath of Maladie’s opera attack. The city is on edge, and Inspector Mundi sets his sights on the orphanage. His (failed) questioning of Mrs. True had a nice rhythm to it—shout out to Penance’s offended “How are you not wonderful?”—and helped establish that despite being in Hugo Swann’s pocket for whatever reason, Mundi isn’t a complete idiot. “Do you often engage in public violence?” is a sarcastic question, but at its core, a valid one. Mrs. True is a bit of a live wire, and the super-strength, super-speed, and ripplings provided by her turn do seem to make her more powerful than nearly every other member of the Touched.
One of the sweeter parts of the episode was the moment where we realized that Augie is not only Touched but super smitten with our girl Penance. Sure their awkward banter was Joss Whedon 101, but it was effervescently charming (And we’re rooting for them!).
The final moments of The Nevers Episode 2 reveal that Lavinia Bidlow has been secretly working with Denis O’Hare’s mad scientist Dr. Edmund Hague this whole time! That means that Lavinia hasn’t just been kindly sponsoring Amalia and Penance’s work at the Orphanage, but funding the diabolical shadow army that’s been kidnapping Touched. Not only that, but it seems that Mary's (Eleanor Tomlinson) song might have caused a mysterious rock-like structure to begin glowing the same color as the spores from Episode 1. O’Hare says, “Ain’t we got fun?” but Lavinia looks horrified by it. She even goes so far as to call it “war.”
This is a huge twist wherein the person we believed to be the Touched’s staunchest supporter and ally is working to harm the Touched. Lavinia might parade the Touched in her parlor and fund the Orphanage, but she’s also organizing a far more terrifying project. As we see following a young Italian girl, Dr. Hague is essentially opening up the skulls of the Touched to try to figure out the secret to their power. His meddling leaves these poor souls essentially lobotomized. Not only that, but it seems Hague and Lavinia are using them as grunt labor.
Two separate storylines converged surprisingly this week. Ms. Bidlow, Olivia Williams, who Dollhouse fans will recognize, and Denis O’Hare’s Dr. Hague are in cahoots. The tiny scene we got of him last week shaped his villainous arc, but Ms. Bidlow was more ambiguous. She never seemed comfortable around the Touched, but she freely protected them and paid for their needs. She isn’t above using them for her gain, however.
The big theme of episode 2, directed by Whedon before he exited the show, is how society exploits those who are different. "Horror and fascination go arm in arm," as one character says, and this episode reveals various players at different social strata setting out to manipulate and mistreat the Touched for their ends.
The fantasy metaphor at the heart of The Nevers evokes a sad real-life tendency to simultaneously revile and fetishize other people. For example, real-life Victorians both ridiculed and commodified Black women like Sarah Baartman, displayed to curious onlookers as "the Hottentot Venus." In the show, Italian shopgirl Elizabetta Cassini and Irish engineer Penance put up with sexist and racist microaggressions even before the discrimination towards their superpowered sisterhood.
Final Score – [6.9/10]
Reviewed by – Ritika Kispotta
Follow her @KispottaRitika on Twitter (https://twitter.com/KispottaRitika)
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