All mankind needs to be the monster he truly is, is being told he can.
— Magda to Santa Muerte

Magda is a main character on Showtime's Penny Dreadful: City of Angels. She is portrayed by Natalie Dormer.[1]

Magda is a demon who can take on the appearance of anyone she chooses. Charismatic, clever and chameleonic, Magda is a dangerous enemy and an invaluable ally.[1]


Throughout the SeriesEdit

Season 1Edit

Santa MuerteEdit

Many years ago, Magda and her sister, Santa Muerte are having a conversation regarding humanity. Magda questions why Santa Muerte shows such compassion for mankind when they’re nothing more than frightened animals, unworthy of devotion and care. She offers to prove it to her by letting them be who they are. By making all their dreams come true and by whispering to them. "All mankind needs to be the monster he truly is is being told he can." Santa Muerte has no heart for the living and therefore has no desire to stop her sister, who proceeds to walk through the field, setting it ablaze, killing several men, including Jose Vega.

Present day, Los Angeles, 1938. Magda, acting one of her persons, Elsa Brenson, brings her son, Frank to Dr. Craft after displaying trouble breathing. Elsa starts to cry, explaining that her husband does not understand and has no patience for Frank. Peter explains that anxiety is often a trigger for respiratory distress and asks if Frank is subject to any special tensions. Elsa notices his accent and asks where he is from. He replies Essen. Elsa claims that she's from Berlin but now lives in Boyle Heights with the Jews. It is difficult for her there. Her husband is American and like all Americans, he listens to wrestling on the radio and drinks beer. He is curious about nothing. He knows nothing. And he says that Elsa has to be American to. Peter asks if Elsa's husband hurts her, which she claims he does. Frank, too. She grabs Peter's hand and tells him that he's a kind man who she wishes she could've met in Essen. Peter becomes nervous and pulls away. He reminds her of their appointment for next week before sending her on her way. Magda leaves the doctor’s office with Frank. Once on the elevator, she absorbs him.

Posing as Alex, the middle-aged assistant to Charlton Townsend, Magda encourages Councilman Townsend to not stray from his path. "You can't be weak with these Latins.", he says. "Their culture's all about machismo. You show them the whip, they back down." He refuses to allow “taco stands and donkeys” to stand in the way of progress. Alex agrees but warns him that such language isn’t necessary for him to get what he wants. He’s already winning and shouldn’t give the press anything to use against him. Alex advises him to stay the course and keep quiet. They’ll get the first motorway under construction and then start working on another one. Possibly through Bunker Hill, which is occupied primarily by the “colored.” Alex lastly informs him that she scheduled an important meeting for him.

On the outskirts of the city, Townsend and Alex have a secret meeting with Richard Goss, the building-architecture firm Goss and Ossenberg. He tells Townsend that what he wants is to make him the mayor of Los Angeles, which Alex agrees isn’t far off. Goss wants Townsend to betray his country. Despite saying that he won’t do so, he still shakes Goss’ hand. Goss leaves after doing the Nazi salute and saying heil Hitler.

Monday morning, the Los Angeles Police Department stand off against Raul, Mateo and Belvedere Heights community. Magda arrives and picks her target, a young officer that’s exceptionally nervous and whispers something inaudible to him. She whispers in his ear, sowing seeds of fear and uneasiness until he fires, killing one of the protesters. With that, a full blown riot breaks out as the community of Belvedere Heights attacks law enforcement. Magda then whispers something inaudible to Raul, which tempts him into grabbing a nearby gun and shooting multiple police officers. Raul shoots Lewis in the arm but before he can kill him, Tiago shoots him, and he falls to the ground almost instantly. As Tiago stands over Raul’s body, at the center of the blood shed, Magda and Santa Muerte stare each other down with only a few feet in between them.

Dead People Lie DownEdit

At City Hall, Councilman Townsend fears that with the death of James Hazlett, the Arroyo Seco will never be constructed. Alex, suggests that he reconsider Richard Goss’ offer. Alex reminds Charlton that while four dead officers is a tragedy, it’s also an opportunity. The people need a champion to defend their interest and be their voice. Alex plots to get him in front of cameras and on the radio waves. She then invites Charlton’s barber, Mr. Nichols, inside to cut Townsend’s hair.

Elsa runs into Peter at the beach. Peter greets Elsa and welcomes her and Frank to join him and his boys. Peter and Elsa go for a walk and discuss their lives post WWI. Elsa then asks about Peter’s wife. He explains that she burns in the sun, so she stayed home. Elsa replies that her husband is the same. Although, she and Frank love the beach. She looks at the ocean and dreams of going to Tahiti. She claims that after the war, she was living in the basement of a shoe store with her baby sister. There was no food in Berlin, so they had to leave. They went to a country where there should’ve been food, but there were only soldiers. It’s where she met her husband, and even then, she had no desires to be with him, but he had food, so she did what she had to. She cries and struggles to tell her story. Peter comforts her, agreeing that sailing off to Tahiti would be nice. Peter offers Elsa and Frank a ride home, but she insists that she’s fine. She shakes his hand as they part ways, and Frank says goodbye to Tom and Trevor.

Councilman Townsend holds a press conference at City Hall. Alex, Richard, and Kurt are in attendance. He holds up the blood soaked uniform of the now deceased 27 year old Officer Maynard West. He points to Maynard’s wife, Gloria. She now has to tell their 4 year old son that his father's dead. Townsend demands justice. He claims that the Mexicans fired first, and for that they cannot afford to show mercy. Townsend claims that they killed Officer West because of the motorway. He wishes to make it a symbol for justice, and therefore plans to introduce a motion to the City Council to remake it the "Maynard West Memorial Motorway."

Wicked Old WorldEdit

At Town Hall, where Alex has began a dietary and exercise plan for Councilman Townsend, they discuss his schedule for the day, which includes the Rotary luncheon, a radio interview, and a zoning committee session with Via Hermosa Development. Townsend takes a look at the paper with him on the front page, detailing his stance against the Mexicans and their savagery. With him becoming more of a public figure, Alex advises him to mind his Ps and Qs and behave himself. They are joined by Councilwoman Beck. She compliments him on the stunt he pull during the press conference with the bloody shirt of a fallen officer. And now, he intends to get the motorway built on the graves of four dead cops and eight dead Mexicans. She’s starting to suspect that he’s running for office. She refuses to allow him to turn the Los Angeles City Council into his own version of the Third Reich. Lastly, she will not stand for him renaming it in honor of the deceased officer.

Dr. Craft calls Laura into his office and asks if Mrs. Branson has arrived for her appointment, but she hasn’t. Laura tried calling her home, but she didn’t answer. With that being said, Peter tells Laura to cancel his appointments for the day. He then drives over to Elsa's home, where he finds Frank crying in the front yard with his toys. Peter knocks on the door. Elsa answers, sobbing and bruised. She invites Peter inside, and he tends to her wounds. Elsa claims that her husband can’t control his anger, and Frank makes him angry, so she sends him outside. Frank is having difficulty fitting in at school. Mr. Branson tells him to fight back, but Frank is far too small. Elsa explains that Frank is all that she has. Peter assures her that it’ll get better. When he first came to America after the war, it was difficult, but he found his German friends and offers to introduce Elsa to them. He also invites Elsa and Frank to his son’s birthday party on Sunday. Peter then kisses her. Elsa pulls away, explaining that it can’t happen, at least not in Mr. Branson’s house. Peter then leaves, passing Frank as he gets in his car.

Townsend and Alex have dinner with Goss and Kurt, where they discuss the construction of the motorway. The money goes through Via Hermosa Development and various charitable organizations. However, the details, as Goss put it, is off no concern to Townsend. Goss explains that Via Hermosa translates to "beautiful street." He then makes a snide remark in regards to Townsend’s figure and his audacity. Alex tries to end the meeting, but Townsend first orders Goss and Kurt to kill Councilwoman Beck, who's declared war against him. Townsend reminds Goss that it’s his motorway and that if he doesn’t like it, he can "shove his Via Hermosa all the way up your Via-fucking-ass." If Councilman Beck becomes an obstacle, Goss assures Townsend they’ll handle it in their own way. He then reminds Townsend that he speaks for Adolf Hitler. And when the Wehrmacht is marching down Sunset Boulevard, Townsend will either be at their side or under their boots. Townsend grows uneasy and hastily exits. Alex is concerned, explaining that she’ll have to deal with the repercussions of this for the next week. Before departing, she tells them that they’re not as smart as they think.

Alex follows Townsend outside and tries to stop him from doing anything unbecoming, hoping to sway him with drinks, but Townsend gets in his car and drives off. Alex walks down the street, transforming back into her natural state. As Magda walks down the side walk, the shop windows in her path shatter.

Rio is held up at the The Crimson Cat with fellow Pachucos, Fly Rico, Diego, and Bernadette. Fly Rico introduces them to Mateo Vega. Fly Rico recalls how Mateo stood toe-to-toe with Riley. He asks Mateo what took him so long to show up. Mateo explains that he had to work. Fly Rico tells him that work’s for saps and gringos. Rio then invites Mateo onto the dance floor. Mateo and Rico dance center floor. Fly Rico, Diego, and Bernadette join them. Officer Riley and at least a couple dozen officers enter the Cat. The city has issued a curfew for Mexicans as of ten minutes ago. It’s not until Riley insults them by referring to Rio as an "albino dyke" and Rico and his boys as "pretty faggots," that the scene turns violent. Rio throws the first punch. Diego, Bernadette, and the others fight them off as Rio, Fly Rico, and Mateo escape out the back.

Rio, Fly Rico, and Mateo hold up in an alleyway. Rico is pissed that they cut his clothes. Rio informs Mateo that sometimes the cops bring razors to slash up their clothes so that they’re not Pachuco anymore. However, as far as Rio is concerned, she’s Pacho stark naked, strutting down Wilshire. Mateo points out that she's white. Rio explains that her parents are from Sevilla, in old Spain. She was born in Mexico and moved to Los Angeles when she was three. With the law now pursuing them at the Cat, Rico wonders what’s next. Rio says that next they’ll be shooting them down like Belvedere Heights-way. Rio wants to get active against the cops. She refuses to allow them to continue to beat them up and throw them in jail for no reason. She wants her piece of the American Dream, even if it means using fear to get it. Mateo is in agreement. Fly Rico reveals that from the minute he was born, he was thrown out like garbage. He only knows of his mother, who was a stone junkie. He did everything he could to survive. Then one day, he met Papa Pachuco. He gave Fly Rico a tattoo; three dots above a cross, otherwise known as the Pachuco cross. He wears it proudly and refuses to throw it away on a war that they’ll never win. However, Rio believes they can win. She wants to make LA bleed. 90 years ago, Los Angeles was Mexico. She wants to take it back. Fly Rico concedes. Later, Mateo gets a Pachuco cross tattooed on his hand as Rio and Fly Rico watch on.

Josefina and the Holy SpiritEdit

At the Town Hall, Councilman Townsend reports that Via Hermosa Development has agreed to take over the construction of the motorway at no additional cost. They should be able to start as soon as the full City Council votes next month. Councilwoman Beck proposes a new route for the motorway, which alarms both Townsend and Alex. After talking to some engineers, the new route for the motorway would bypass Belvedere Heights. It’ll add appropriately four minutes to the drive to Pasadena, but Beck can’t imagine that it’ll make much of a difference. Townsend storms out of the meeting with Alex tagging along behind him. He instructs her to cancel his speech for the night. She explains that they can’t, but he demands that she obey his orders.

At Alex and Goss' behest, Kurt picks up Townsend and drives him to a motel, where they two of them proceed to hookup. Unbeknownst to Townsend, Alex watches and records from the other side of the window as this unfolds. Later, Alex and Goss watch the recording of Kurt and Townsend having sex. They hope that the day never comes that they’ll have to use it. "Better he’s with your guy than hustlers on the street," Alex says. This way, she protects him from himself.

Elsa arrives at the Crafts, where she and Frank are greeted by Peter. Elsa mentions that she baked a cake and brought Frank’s sleeping bag over as he’ll be spending the night. Before Peter can get the chance to introduce Elsa to his wife, Ackermann joins them. He detects from her accent that she’s from Berlin, even pinpointing exactly where. Peter, seemingly growing jealous, invites her to meet the rest of the guys. Elsa scolds them for turning Peter’s backyard into a beer hall. They ask Elsa to sing a beer house song. She proceeds to sing in German with the rest of the Bund joining in, including Peter. Elsa inches towards Peter as they continue to sing.

Elsa asks Linda where she can find the powder room. Linda tells her that it’s down the hall, past the kitchen. She then tells Elsa that Peter isn’t who he pretends to be and that she should ask Peter about Essen and his family there. Linda refuses to be turned into anything so banal as the rejected wife. Peter follows Elsa inside the house. He finds her upstairs in his study and shuts the door behind him. She compliments his home and his life. It’s the life she dreams of. Peter slowly approaches Elsa from behind and pulls her close. The two proceed to have sex, staring out the window as the party continues down below.

Mateo arrives at the Crimson Cat and reveals to Fly Rico, Rio, Diego, and Bernadette that his sister was assaulted by Riley. Rico tells him that situations like this happen all the time. Rio wants to teach him a lesson. Bernadette reveals that Riley keeps little girls down in Sonoratown, puts them on smack, and they’re his bitches. Bernadette knows the one now. Her name is Sofia. She was a good girl before Riley got a hold of her. Mateo approaches Rico and tells him that he will get his revenge on Riley. Diego agrees to help him.

Fly Rico, Rio, Mateo, and Diego track Riley down. They kick in his door and proceed to attack him. They stand over a beaten and bloody Riley. Fly Rico hands Mateo a blade and tells him to kill Riley, reminding Mateo that it was Riley who assaulted his sister and that they can't leave him alive now that he's seen their faces. Mateo takes the blade and slices Riley’s throat, killing him in seconds. Fly Rico, Rio, Mateo, and Diego then pull up outside the precinct and dump Riley’s naked body on the sidewalk before pulling off.

Children of the Royal SunEdit

Magda enters a night lounge. She walks amongst them unseen before transforming into Elsa. She takes a seat and scopes out the scene for a potential victim. She meets eyes with a man, who approaches her and asks her to dance. However, she knows that all he truly wants is to take her home and hurt her.

Elsa calls Peter and tells her to come over and she's in need of help. Peter arrives at the Branson home to find Elsa crying and covered in blood. She points towards a man who she claims to be Mr. Branson. His bloody body lays on the floor next to a kitchen knife. She claims that she couldn’t be raped again. Fortunately, she sent Frank away, so he didn’t have to see. Peter grabs the shower curtain from the bathroom to wrap the body in.

Peter and Elsa bury Mr. Branson’s body in the woods in a shallow grave. They embrace each other and kiss, leading to them having sex on top of the freshly covered grave of Elsa’s alleged husband.

Mateo is filled with regret and sorrow after killing Officer Reilly. However, Rio assures him that his actions were justified and that he saved the lives of many others by killing Reilly. Now, it’s time to purge. She undresses Mateo, starting with his blood soaked shirt, down to his pants and underwear. She then starts to take measurements of his body and tells him about the Children of the Royal Sun and how they’re the sons and daughters of Tenochtitlan. Mateo and Rio then start to have sex on her bed.

Fly Rico kicks open the door to find Mateo and Rio in bed. Mateo tries to explain himself, but before he can, Fly Rico joins him and Rio in bed. He kisses Mateo and then kisses Rio. And together, the three of them continue having sex.

Tiago and Lewis kick in the door and find themselves face-to-face with Rio, Mateo, and Diego. Tiago has his gun pointed at Mateo. Fly Rico tackles Tiago to the floor, knocking the gun from his hand, and Rio throws the table at Lewis, providing them with a chance to escape; Fly Rico and Mateo down the fire escape and Rio and Diego out the front door. Rio escapes through the stairwell, locking Diego outside to be apprehended by Lewis.

Townsend is having trouble choosing a tie as he and Alex discuss Councilwoman Beck and her vision of the motorway. Alex finds his sudden preoccupation with clothing remarkable. Townsend responds that sometimes life is surprising. He then asks Alex what she knows of Goss’ man, Kurt. While Townsend is only human, Alex warns Townsend against asking anyone else about Kurt or any boy again. "Imagine what you’re father would say." Alex adds.

Appearance and PersonalityEdit


In her true form, Magda has fair skin, grey eyes, and dark brown hair, often seen wearing all black attire. Described as charismatic, clever and chameleonic, Magda is a powerful demon who bears a strong hatred for mankind, seeing them only as the monsters they are and wishing to bring that to the surface.


Alex Malone[2] is the persona Magda assumes for political machinations. She is the middle-aged assistant to Councilman Charlton Townsend. She has grey, shoulder-length wavy hair and round eyeglasses. Her personality is cunning, efficient, and energetic, and she possesses a particular penchant for public relations and political scheming.

Elsa Edit

Elsa Branson [3] is a guise Madga assumes when manipulating Dr. Peter Craft and the people close to him. She's a German refugee from World War I who is in an unhappy marriage to an American man and who dotes on her only son. Delicate with plenty of ambition, she has short, wavy blonde hair and often wears bright colors.


Rio is the red-headed bisexual ringleader of a Chicano gang known as the Pachucos. She is the persona that Madga assumes when manipulating Los Angeles's Chicanos. Magda explains Rio's clearly European appearance by claiming her to be the daughter of recent Spanish immigrants to Mexico.[4]

Powers and AbilitiesEdit

  • Shape-shifting: Magda possesses the ability to take on the appearance of anyone she wishes. Her multiple persons are a testament to that, with various features such as hair and eye color.
  • Pyrokinesis: The power to generate, control and manipulate fire. Magda set an entire field ablaze; a path of fire followed her with each step, killing many men in the process, including Tiago Vega's father.
  • Homunculus creation: Madga can create homunculi, who presumably act as extensions of herself. She notably created one to manipulate Dr. Peter Craft in her guise as Elsa. This homunculus had the appearance and manner of a small male child, and was able to answer questions independently. It appeared human enough that even a trained physician believed it was human. Magda absorbed the homunculus back into herself when it wasn't needed.
  • Invisibility: Magda has control over who can see her. Her appearance at the farm where Tiago's father died went completely unnoticed, and no one present at the freeway protest-turned-riot saw her, except for her sister.
  • Hypnotic suggestion: Although she relies mostly on conventional psychological manipulation, Magda is able to impart "suggestions" into the minds of those that she whispers to while invisible, which can influence their next action, often with disastrous results.


Season 1Edit

Memorable QuotesEdit

  • "All mankind needs to be the monster he truly is is being told he can."


  • Dormer's transformation into Alex was so complete that, early in the shoot, other cast and crew didn't realize that it was Natalie unless she spoke to them.



References Edit

  1. 1.0 1.1 Penny Dreadful: City of Angels - Natalie Dormer Joins Cast - SpoilerTV
  2. Wicked Old World
  3. Santa Muerte
  4. Wicked Old World
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