The Nevers Episode 2 Exposure Review- Ms. Bidlow And Maladie Aren’t What They Seem
The enchanting world of London afflictions got a little more dangerous in The Nevers Episode 2, where we learned our friends and our enemies aren’t always that different.
There is a steampunk meets Arabian Nights sexiness to the world of HBO’s fantasy series that makes every scene interesting even when little is happening. Joss Whedon’s touch is all over The Nevers despite his departure halfway through the filming. For better or worse, this is Whedon’s creation. Those who loved Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Firefly, and Dollhouse, The Nevers is a fantasy version complete with powerful female besties, seemingly concerned benefactors who are revenge-hungry monsters, and toxic males who are actually good guys. It’s typical Whedon storytelling, and The Nevers Episode 2 wastes no time doling out mysteries and defining who and what we should be rooting for.
The Touched are everywhere. They are more often women, and their families and friends have a nasty habit of shunning them when they are exposed. As a metaphor for the marginalized, it is intriguing. It might have more impact if there was a touch more diversity in the cast, but at least the few POC are undeniably powerful. Amalia True is strong, capable, and self-reliant, but not all of the Touched are. Some of them have dangerous abilities like the fire thrower and Maladie, but others couldn’t hurt a fly with their “turn” and are in more danger from those who fear them. As we learn in the closing moments of The Nevers Episode 2, even those who claim to be allies have agendas.
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 own personal gain, however.
Ms. Bidlow hosted a society party at her estate and invited several afflicted people to come and show off their talents. She claimed it was for their benefit but making them wearing blue ribbons like a scarlet letter was a tell. Her true motivations were evident when she deterred Augie from pursuing Penance Adair(Ann Skelly). Unfortunately, she doesn’t care if the same people she is protecting get experimented on by Dr. Hague. She is paying the doctor to unearth a glowing orb. How this fits into the bigger mystery of the Touched and why she thinks it is a war we still don’t know. I think there is more to her than just a villain though. She probably has a “turn” of her own.
Her brother Augie(Tom Riley) is among the Touched. I wonder what she will think once she finds out. His warging ability could come in handy, but only if he learns how to control it. For now, he is another sad privileged man. His friend Hugo Swan and his debaucherous club The Ferryman is easily the most enjoyable character to watch. James Norton plays him with wild abandon; he is excess in the flesh. He is friends with Augie and understands the respectability his name brings.
Swan is not above ruffling feathers as in Lord Massen or capitalizing on relationships and talents. To him, the Touched could be a cash cow, and his friend could be the key to make it happen. One important takeaway from his plot progression this week was his brother’s drowning. Caleb died from drowning, and it nearly broke Hugo’s father. How long ago did he die, and was it really from drowning?
Inspector Mundi(Ben Chaplin) is a bull in a china shop. He is the quintessential man’s man who acts first and thinks later. He’s not so much a terrible person as he is overly aggressive. He could be an ally for Ms. True as he got a backstory this week that places him firmly in their camp. Mundi was so concerned about finding Mary, the siren from the first episode, not just because he is trying to keep the city safe but because he has a personal stake in her safe return. He was engaged to her for over a year, and she left him at the altar. By the end of The Nevers Episode 2, Mary is safe, and Mundi gets her moved into Ms. Bidlow’s orphanage.
Mary’s “turn” is she can sing to the Touched. Only the afflicted will hear her. Her songs are about hope and love, but Maladie has known pain for too long. Ms. True suspected Maladie had been abused unmercifully and may have had a child. Her “ripplings” weren’t wrong. She just didn’t have some significant details. Ms. Bidlow’s involvement with Dr. Hague wasn’t the biggest surprise. Maladie, whose name was Sarah, was a friend of Amalia. Something happened in the past that caused Amalia to betray Maladie. Amalie left her behind and didn’t look back. Maladie is back to get justice.
That betrayal is likely what led to her abuse in the medical facility. The two women fought again this week, and Ms. True managed to outsmart her. Maladie is stronger physically, but True is smarter. Laura Donnelly(Amalia True) and Amy Manson(Maladie) are great together. Both are fiercely committed to their roles and elevate their plot beats. When faced with an impossible decision, she chose to harm herself to save Mary and Penance. Dr. Horatio healed her, but it was close. Amalia did manage to shoot Maladie, though, and I don’t think she has a healer at her disposal. How this will affect her, we will have to wait to find out. We only know whatever happened to her in the past broke her. She no longer cares about life, only a twisted God, tainted by pain and manipulation.
Lastly, a nifty little power fell into Ms. True’s hands this week. A prostitute named Desirée(Ella Smith) came seeking asylum. Some of her clients told her things they shouldn’t and now are concerned she could spill all their confidences. She and her son are in danger. At first, her true talent isn’t clear, but shortly it becomes obvious she can convince people to share all their secrets. She moves into the orphanage at the end of The Nevers Episode 2, meaning her talents should be seen again. Truth serum for a “turn” makes her very valuable. It won’t be the last time we see her make someone talk.
Ms. True is amassing quite a war chest of talented individuals. With snakes in her garden, though, I hope she doesn’t stop watching her back. When you have friends like she does, who needs enemies. Follow all our The Nevers coverage here.
As the TV/Streaming Editor for Signal Horizon, I love watching and writing about genre tv. I grew up with old school slashers, but my real passion is television and all things weird and ambiguous. When I’m not watching and writing about my favorite movies and series, I’m introducing my family to the wonderful world of sci-fi, fantasy, and horror. My only regret, there is not enough time in the day to watch everything.