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Penance Adair is an inventor and a Touched woman whose turn allows her to see potential energy. She resides in St. Romaulda's Orphanage and is Amalia True's partner in the search for more of the Touched.[1]

Penance's turn makes her able to see electricity, a helpful ability to her inventions. Among her creations, there are the shiner and an auto-carriage, which she works on in her own workshop at the Orphanage.[1]


Penance was born in Ireland.[2] On the Monday of August 3, 1896, Penance was hanging clothes when the Galanthi flew over London. It emitted a bright-colored exhaust, touching many people, including Penance, who caught one in her hand.[1]

Three years later, Penance resides in St. Romaulda's Orphanage for the Touched, where she has a workshop to work on her inventions. She often goes with Amalia after Touched women to offer a safer haven and training for their turns. One day, they meet the young Touched Myrtle Haplisch in her home and find a group of masked men hunting her. With Penance's help, Amalia fights Myrtle's would-be abductors, and they escape in her auto-carriage prototype to the Orphanage. There, Penance introduces Myrtle to Primrose Chattoway, a Touched girl of the same age.[1]

Later that night, Penance and Amalia go to the opera house invited by Lavinia Bidlow. In route, they are confronted by the Beggar King after Amalia personally called him out. They offer him an automated motor-carriage and payment in exchange for the name of whoever is hunting the Touched and why.[1]

As they watch the opera, it comes to an abrupt end following the arrival of Maladie, Bonfire Annie, and Winemar Kroos shooting against the audience. One of the performers, Mary Brighton, sings a song that affects only the Touched, interrupting the attack. Penance witnesses Augustus Bidlow discovering that he's one of the Touched as well. Maladie captures Mary and flees; Amalia chases after them but loses their trail. Penance eventually finds Amalia and tells her about the feeling she had when Mary sang: it reached into her and everyone that's Touched, confirming that they belong. Penance assures Amalia that, should they find Mary and get her to sing, the others will come to them.[1]

Two days later, Lavinia invites Penance to bring a group of girls to her charitable fete held at the Bidlow Estate. Lavinia says that a few attractive girls showing off their turns and good manners to society's elite will hopefully alter society's perception of the Touched. Penance, Lucy, Harriet, Primrose, and Myrtle arrive at Lavinia's party. Augustus talks to Penance in private about his status as one of the Touched and they bound over their respective turns and passions — electricity and corvids. Penance momentarily leaves to check in with the other girls, but, by the time she returns to Augustus, he is cold and detached, excusing himself from the conversation.[2]

Penance rushes off the estate in the auto-carriage. She comes to a stop in the road, where a group of men abducts her. In Southwark & Vauxhall Water Works, she has a noose tightened around her neck and one of Madalie's henchmen holds her on the edge of a platform. Maladie gives Amalia a gun with the choice to shoot either Penance or Mary, which would save the other. Instead, Amalia shoots herself and then Maladie. As the police arrive, Penance screams the address to Dr. Horatio Cousens, who manages to heal Amalia in time with his healing turn.[2] Afterward, Amalia eventually reveals to Penance that she's from a grim future and that the real Amalia True is dead. Penance says that they'll have to forge a new, brighter future and that her being Touched is a gift.[3]

Penance and Amalia have a run-in with Bonfire Annie at one of the Beggar King's docks. Amalia offers Bonfire asylum at the Orphanage, and Penance gets the chance to try out her invention to diminish Bonfire's turn. At home, Penance resumes work on her latest invention, the brightener, an amplifier for Mary's song through the city. She goes out shopping for electronics with Myrtle, who comes across a flyer for the Orphanage with a different address.[4]

Penance takes this to Amalia and Lucy, who bring to the Orphanage the frontwoman for the abduction scheme. Penance watches as Désirée Blodgett uses her turn of confession inducement to interrogate the woman, who tells them how she killed her pregnant daughter for being Touched. Penance restrains Lucy from using her breaker touch on the woman.[4]

Later that day, Penance and some girls from the Orphanage go to Candlemas Park to debut Penance's invention on Mary's song. Penance listens to it while hugging Amalia, who makes Penance get low when Winemar Kroos shoots Mary, killing her. At night, Penance and the others return to the Orphanage, where they find Bonfire Annie awaiting their arrival. She creates a fireball that illuminates the dozens of other Touched who heard Mary's song.[4]

After Mary's funeral, which Amalia failed to attend, Penance tries to convince her to express her frustrations in a healthier manner, but Amalia isn't convinced this is what's needed to get the job done. She remarks that she was left completely alone with nothing but a mission that she was never actually given. Penance sarcastically asks if Amalia's wrath and vengeance are going to make the world any better. Amalia reminds Penance that Mary was murdered and declares that her killer will be found, starting with assessing who wasn't at the park that evening.[5]

Amalia tasks Penance with going to suss out any information she can from Augie. She meets with him alone in the Bidlow Estate and notices he's nervous. Augie sends his condolences to Mary. He then reveals that Lavinia made him do it, claiming that it could be bad for all. Penance understands that he's confessing to killing Mary and reveals a prototype wax recorder documenting their conversation, but it breaks when she shows it to him. Augie then explains to Penance that he didn't kill Mary, he was referring to the party where they last met. He offers to make amends, but Penance tells him she doesn't have much experience with men and doesn't know what to ask of him. Augie tells Penance to remember his transgressions so that he may re-earn her trust over time. He then exclaims that he wants to be her friend and Penance grabs his hand. She then asks if his sister murdered Mary.[5]

At the Orphanage, Amalia talks about Lucy's betrayal with Penance. Penance reveals to Amalia that Augie is Touched and that he can control birds. Primrose, Harriet, and Myrtle join them and reveal that Myrtle understood Mary's song and they were able to translate it. They realize those weren't Mary's words, but someone else talking through her in a message to Amalia.[5]

The next day, Penance shows Amalia an x-ray, or, as she phrases it, a spectral-acle of London to determine where they will drill to find the Galanthi. She believes the location is directly under Grand Abbey, though Nimble Jack claims that the area is covered with thugs, so Penance concludes their best chance of entry is through the Royal Military Army. Later, Penance shows Amalia and Augie a test of her new drill, but it continues to drill completely through the floor and beyond.[6]

At night, Penance questions the existence of forgiveness and kindness and reflects on her inventions being capable of killing someone in the wrong circumstances. Suddenly, there's a loud knock at the door. Outside, they find several nooses hanging. Penance decides to finish the drill. Penance spends the entire night working, though not on a new drill as planned, but on a rescue mission for Maladie. Penance refuses to turn her back on another Touched, even Maladie, who Penance does not believe deserves public hanging. Amalia tells Penance that she's free to save Maladie, but she still intends to find the Galanthi. They explain to the others they've reached a crossroads, so Nimble, Harriet, George, Violet, and Désirée decide to join Penance. Su Ping Lim also joins them, saying that Amalia sent her to take care of Penance.[6]

Penance, Harriet, and Désirée break into the prison building where the execution is being held. Penance notices Mundi coming towards her, so she shoots her umbrella in the sky, signaling Nimble and Su. However, they fail to get to Maladie in time, who didn't want saving, as she ultimately took her own life. Penance and Mundi then realize it's a trap, noticing the power lines beneath their feet and the metal barricades being clung to by the onlookers. Suddenly, those in direct contact with the railing are electrocuted. Penance follows the power lines into a tent, where she finds the Colonel at the control. She turns it off but is electrocuted herself, so Su takes her to hide from the running crowd. Later, the group returns to the Orphanage, where Penance finds Amalia looking as defeated as herself.[6]

Penance convenes with Amalia, who reveals that they didn't save Maladie, though Amalia assures her that it was the right call to at least try. Penance then learns that Amalia failed to discover who their enemy is, though she did find something out. Amalia decides in that moment that the time has come for her to tell the wards everything about Galanthi, the future, and the impending war. She then reveals to Penance that her sacred name is Zephyr Alexis Navine. As the ladies embrace, they notices Penance's prototype invention flying above.[3]

Behind the scenes

  • She is portrayed by Ann Skelly and the stunt double Jessica Hawkins.
  • Her official description introduced: "Amalia's dearest friend, and one of the first women to join her cause. A devout — yet heretically progressive — Irish girl, Penance has genius for invention. She is delighted by her power, and her default is love and acceptance. But she's firm in her moral sense, and will be guided by what's right over what's expedient every time."[7]


Concept art


Promotional stills


The Nevers: Season 1
Episode 7
Episode 8
Episode 9
Episode 10
Episode 11
Episode 12


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 1.5 The Nevers — "Touched". HBO, April 11, 2021.
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 The Nevers — "Exposure". HBO, April 18, 2021.
  3. 3.0 3.1 The Nevers — "True". HBO, May 16, 2021.
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 The Nevers — "Ignition". HBO, April 25, 2021.
  5. 5.0 5.1 5.2 The Nevers — "Undertaking". HBO, May 2, 2021.
  6. 6.0 6.1 6.2 The Nevers — "Hanged". HBO, May 9, 2021.
  7. James Hibberd, "Joss Whedon's HBO sci-fi drama The Nevers casts 12 actors"., July 30, 2019.