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"Exposure" is the second episode of season 1 of The Nevers television series. Written by Jane Espenson and directed by Joss Whedon, it premiered on April 18, 2021 on HBO and HBO Max.

Synopsis

With the city reeling from Maladie's opera debut, Mundi takes a personal stake in tracking her down, while Amalia launches an investigation of her own. Meanwhile, the charitable Lavinia Bidlow seeks to destigmatize the Touched at a society event, Hugo Swann enlists Lavinia's younger brother Augie to help monetize his illicit enterprise, and a deranged doctor conducts a series of experiments.[1]

Plot

Rosa and Elisabetta arrive at work at the Jones & Jackson store discussing the Touched and varying turns. Mr. Oldenham reprehends Elisabetta's withered gloves and she explains that she's saving up for a new pair. Mr. Oldenham approaches her and begins to talk about a café, when they are interrupted by a customer in search of a new hat. Elisabetta touches a hat with her holed glove and causes it to levitate. The store erupts in chatter upon discovering that she's Touched. Mr. Oldenham orders her to stay, but Elisabetta flees into a back alley with a flyer for St. Romaulda's Orphanage.

Inspector Mundi raids the Orphanage in search of Maladie. Lucy's aware of his history of knocking suspects about, even if they're innocent. Inspector Mundi suspects that Amalia was involved in Maladie's attack on the opera house, but Penance insists that she's innocent. She reminds the inspector that if not for Amalia, they wouldn't even have Maladie's rifleman, who Mrs. True subdued herself. Inspector Mundi asks Amalia about Mary Brighton and if she's Touched. She confirms it, but she denies answering about Mary's turn. Miss Bidlow arrives, having consulted with the commissioner of police, and instructs Mundi to leave.

Lavinia talks alone with Amalia and Penance. With three of the Touched having declared war on society, everyone at the orphanage is suspect in the eyes of the law. Lavinia reveals that the superintendent was pressured from above to order the warrant, but he couldn't tell her by whom. Amalia suspects Lord Massen may be behind the raid. Moving forward, Lavinia informs Penance about her monthly charitable fete and how this month it will be held at her estate. She says that a few attractive girls showing off their turns and their good manners to society's elite will hopefully alter society's perception of the Touched. She's hoping Penance will lead the occasion and bring a few of the girls with her.

Lord Massen, Lord Broughton, and Douglas Broome further discuss the Touched and the manner in which Maladie has turned sentiment against them in the eyes of society. The house will nominate a special committee on the Touched, which will consist of the three of them. Regarding the attack at the opera house, Lord Massen intends to keep the statement on the attack vague and wrothful, with no mention of Amalia True, who they begin to wonder is at the root of their "feminine plague."

Lord Massen approaches Hugo about a rumor regarding the Ferryman's Club, which Hugo intends to turn into an actual business, and among his entertainers are few of the Touched. Lord Massen refuses to allow Hugo to operate such an establishment in a public arena, due to the public fear and outcast of the Touched. However, Hugo notes that requests for membership into the Ferryman's Club have doubled since the attack on the opera house, declaring that "horror and fascination go arm and arm." When Hugo makes an off-hand remark about his father and his deteriorating mind, Lord Massen grabs him by his jacket and reminds Hugo that Alastair Swann had one of the brightest minds in all of England. Hugo, however, remembers his father more for his fists. He then tells Lord Massen that the Ferryman's opens tonight. Lord Massen remarks that he used to think that Hugo's father's mind worsened because Hugo's brother Caleb drowned, but it's more likely because Hugo didn't.

Amalia and Penance discuss which girls will accompany Penance to Lavinia's party. Harriet's turn is charming. Primrose never goes out, as she's shy about her stature, which is why Myrtle will be joining them, as she calms Primrose. Lastly, they decide to send Lucy, who can defend them should the evening go awry. Penance begins to wonder why Miss Bidlow would start an orphanage to begin. Amalia believes that it's because she knows what it's like to be dismissed. In case Amalia finds Maladie before their return from Lavinia's party, Penance has constructed a pair of enhanced glasses that'll hopefully offset Maladie's eye glow. Penance is also working on a prototype blaster to disarm Bonfire Annie, though it remains in its early stages of development.

Rosa catches up to Elisabetta as she is fleeing the lodging house. She questions why Elisabetta never told her she was Touched. Elisabetta's family kicked her out when her turn first manifested, so she didn't know who she could trust. The authorities arrive and Rosa gives up her location. Elisabetta runs off, obstructing the officers' passage with levitating wooden crates.

Penance, Lucy, Harriet, Primrose, and Myrtle arrive at Lavinia's party. She tells them to mingle without putting themselves forward. Lavinia reminds them that the mission is to amuse, not alarm the guests. She has also requested for each of them to wear a blue ribbon to identify them.

Désirée Blodgett arrives at the Orphanage with her son Nigel seeking refuge. While meeting Désirée, Amalia has a rippling of herself and Maladie engaged in combat. Désirée tells her that she's a renowned whore, Diva of Desire. Over the years, she's cultivated an impressive clientele of men of stature, who often divulge their secrets and feelings to her. However, she discovered that one of her regulars plans to have her killed, as he told her himself during their last exchange. She simply needs a place to stay until it's safe. Amalia asks who sent her. Désirée claims that one of her clients informed her about the Orphanage but refuses to give a name. Amalia suspects that Désirée is after something and begins to ramble on about the Beggar King and Maladie. She then noticed this is Désirée's turn — forcing people who are worked up to inadvertently reveal what's on their mind.

Amalia takes Désirée to the police station to meet with Inspector Mundi. Amalia smacks him in the face to upset him and asks him about the partial picture of Mary that he showed her at the orphanage. Mundi shows her the photo of himself with Mary and reveals that they were engaged but that she left him standing by the altar. Amalia asks Désirée to leave the room, and Mundi points his gun at Amalia. She tells him that she's going after Maladie. She came to Mundi because she needed to be sure that he cared more about saving Mary than capturing Maladie. Amalia reveals to him that Mary's turn is a song only the Touched can hear.

Mary is chained up inside a large industrial building, where Clara asks Mary to sing for her. Clara says that if she hears it then that means she's finally Touched, but Mary tells Clara that she's not. Clara replies that she's working for her turn through sacrifice, having already sacrificed her little toes but that wasn't enough. The Colonel mocks Clara and throws a turkey leg on the ground for Mary to eat. She grabs the food but, before she bites, the illusion fades and she discovers that it's actually a dead rat. Bonfire Annie scolds the two for harassing Mary, as they were given strict instructions to leave her be.

Bonfire then reports to Maladie with Amalia's name and address. However, Maladie needs something she can shake at Amalia, such as "a pretty dolly," but that will prove impossible with all of London searching for them. Maladie then approaches Mary and asks why did she sing that night at the opera house. Mary admits that she was afraid more people would get hurt and that's when her turn manifests. She knew that Maladie would hear it and maybe it would be a reassurance that she needn't act only from pain.

Harriet, Primrose, and Myrtle display their turns for the guests. Augustus joins Penance and Lucy and compliments the latter's elephant brooch. Penance made it for Lucy to commemorate her mom, who ran with the Forty Elephants gang. Augie then offers to show Penance the paintings in the next room over. Now alone, Penance asks Augustus if he knew before the opera house that he was Touched. He explains that he's always been keen on birds, particularly corvids, and on multiple occasions he has dreamt that he was a crow soaring over the countryside. One day it happened one day when he wasn't asleep, in church: one moment he was in the pew and the next he was in the sky, controlling the birds above. He's worried that one day he will lose control and won't be able to come back.

Elisabetta reaches the address in the flyer for St. Romaulda's Orphanage. A woman at the door invites her in, but, once inside, two masked men capture her.

Mary and Maladie discuss her stalled career in the opera. She asks if Mary was "harvested" early and reaches up her skirt, but Mary pushes her away. Mary asks what it is that Maladie is after. She reveals that she's searching for a thorn crown that she can't stop seeing. God made her see and remember the day he came, which only she can remember. She thought she was chosen because her agony made her special, but Mary is pleasant and gifted her with abilities as well. She believes that God is mocking her with Mary's song and that he sent a demon after her — Amalia, who she refers to as the woman that sheds her skin. She's coming for His song, Maladie adds. Maladie then punches Mary when she tries to convince her into orchestrating a ransom. Maladie then proceeds to ramble on about God wanting them to hurt, which Mary disagrees with.

Amalia describes the nature of her turn to Inspector Mundi. All she knows for certain from her last rippling is that she's punching Maladie. From what little they have on her, Amalia concludes that Maladie was abused by doctors and probably as a child as well, causing a confusion between pain and pleasure. Mundi suspects that Maladie is mocking God with her message at each crime scene, but Amalia argues that she loves Him and would do anything to please Him. Amalia still isn't sure how Mary fits in, but she believes that Maladie took her because she felt a power greater than pain when she heard Mary's song.

Penance explains to Augustus the workings of electricity — how it moves and circles the air. Augustus compares it to when birds are moving as one in a murmuring. Harriet interrupts to inform Penance that some of the guests are wagering on whether Lucy can break the statue of Aphrodite in the garden.

Lavinia warns Augustus not to get too close to Penance, as people saw them walking away together. She reminds Augustus that the Touched are her charity. If the guests suspect that Penance has social ambitions or is using a turn to bewitch him, the reports of their event could be disastrous for them and possibly dangerous for her. Lavinia blames herself for having failed to notice why he's been acting odd since the opera. She now realizes that he likes Penance, but he is not clever enough to keep a mistress. She says that they most certainly can't have a girl who is Touched and Irish bear the Bidlow name.

Penance reconvenes with Augustus, who is no longer interested in continuing their conversation and excuses himself. Having witnessed the exchange, Lucy approaches Penance and suggests they leave. Penance rushes out of the estate alone and rides off in the auto-carriage. Unbeknownst to her, a crow under Augustus' control briefly follows her.

Mundi tells Amalia that Maladie and her gang are known to hold up at warehouses and church cellars. They spent three weeks in the honeymoon suite at Claridge's, with the Colonel's turn to make people believe anything, he kept telling the manager he was the Prince of Wales. Amalia suddenly has another rippling that reveals Maladie is hidden at Southwark & Vauxhall Water Works, recognizing it from a photo pinned on Mundi's map, though she keeps this to herself. Amalia exits his office claiming to have to use the restroom and hands Désirée the photo. She instructs Désirée to give it to the inspector when he inevitably comes looking for her.

Elisabetta struggles and prays while strapped to a procedure chair. Just as Dr. Hague is about to cut her skull, his assistant tells him that the boss is coming.

Amalia arrives at Maladie's hideout and puts on Penance's custom glasses. She goes down into the boiler room, where she hears the sound of distant laughter. Bonfire directs down the path by blocking the wrong turns with fire.

Augustus enters the Ferryman's Club, where Hugo greets him. Hugo says that, after the attack at the opera, he realized that the Touched are the future and has decided to employ them at his business. Now, all Hugo needs is a small investment from Augie; not with money, but Augie's signature, as the Bidlow name on the contracts will lend legitimacy. Hugo then leads Augie to two women and he goes with them.

Amalia confronts Maladie and demands to know the whereabouts of Mary. Maladie says that she has to "shed" first, before attacking Amalia with a blade. Amalia dodges her attack and proceeds to beat her, who quickly recovers with her eyes glowing bright orange. She then points up to Mary, who is with a noose around her neck standing on the edge of the platform above them. Maladie says that Mary can drop and that Amalia can shed her skin. She then refers to Amalia as "Molly." Amalia replies: "Sarah." Maladie accuses Amalia of feeding her to "them"; she woke up every morning in their teeth that cut her, chewed her, and raped her into tiny pieces. Maladie says that she endured two years of it while Amalia thrived and never looked back despite claiming they were friends.

Amalia apologizes, claiming that she didn't have a choice, as she had a mission. Maladie explains that she has a mission of her own. Since Mary is Amalia's "new best friend," she must be done with Penance, who is on the opposite end of the platform, also with a noose around her neck. Amalie must choose which to save. Maladie hands Amalia a gun and tells her to shoot one to save the other. Amalia shoots herself and falls to the ground. Maladie rushes over and Amalia shoots her in the shoulder. When Maladie attempts to kill Amalia, Bonfire Annie sends a fireball her way. Maladie flees with Colonel and Clara as Inspector Mundi arrives with the police.

Amalia is taken to Horatio, who manages to heal her wounds, though it will not be an immediate recovery. Penance expresses her anger with Amalia, explaining that there's not a place in Heaven for those who scorn their own life. Amalia claims that she knew Horatio would be able to save her. Penance then joins her in the bed as she rests. Amalia explains there's history between herself and Maladie. Penance says that, for now, she just wants to celebrate them being alive.

Mundi checks in on Mary, who has decided to stay in the Orphanage. Mary tells him she refuses to ignore who she is any longer. Frank asks if being Touched is why Mary didn't go through with the wedding, but she would rather not answer.

Dr. Hague meets with the boss. Lavinia arrives in the underground tunnels, where there's an excavation around a bright-colored orb. What Hague mistakes for fun, Miss Bidlow says it's war. The workers all walking in line, including Elisabetta, who bears a large scar on her head.

Cast

Main cast

Supporting cast

Uncredited

  • Milan Ogier as Danny Kent
  • Tahlia Norrish as Touched
  • Jess Radomska as Blue
  • Zain Hussain as Aneel
  • Julian Ferro as Photographer
  • Vicky Butterfly as Ferryman's Worker
  • Holly Amber as Ferryman's Worker

Production

  • Waving to Inspector Mundi, Myrtle tells him "arigato" ("thank you" in Japanese).
  • The Bidlow Estate was filmed at the West Wycombe Park.

Broadcast

  • In its original American broadcast, the episode was seen by an estimated 561 thousand household viewers, receiving a Nielsen rating of 0.12 among adults aged 18–49.[2] Both rates improved over the previous episode.[3]

Music

Original score composed by Mark Isham.

Cultural references

  • Amalia compares herself with the folk tale of Cinderella, having left her dress behind instead of a glass slipper.
  • Hugo talks with Massen about Bram Stoker's recently published novel, Dracula (1897).
  • Désirée compares herself with the French actress Mitzi Dalti.
  • Lucy mentions her mother ran with the Forty Elephants, an all-female gang specialized in shoplifting, active in the 18th to 20th century in London.
  • Mundi says that Maladie's gang spent three weeks in the 5-star hotel Claridge's, under the identity of the Prince of Wales.
  • Augie refers to the Roman Emperor Augustus (63 BC–14 AC) and his feat of annexing Egypt to the Empire.
  • Maladie quotes Friedrich Nietzsche's aphorism, "What does not kill me makes me stronger," published in his book Twilight of the Idols (1888).

Gallery

Promotional

Behind the scenes

Videos

References

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