Pennyworth is a Bruce Wayne / Batman prequel series which revolves around Albert Pennyworth (Jack Bannon) origin story. Set in London’s East End during the 1960s, long before becoming the Wayne family’s butler, the series chronicles Albert’s life leading up to moving to these United States. Thomas Wayne (Ben Aldridge) has yet to meet his future wife, Martha Kane (Emma Paetz), and Bruce Wayne is not even a blip on the radar.
Alfred, Wallace ‘Dave Boy’ MacDougal (Ryan Fletcher) and Deon ‘Bazza’ Bashford (Hainsley Lloyd Bennett) were all in the SAS together. Consequently, because of their close friendship, Alfred looks to Dave Boy and Bazza for assistance getting his new security consulting company off the ground. Whenever Alfred is in a fix, Dave and Bazza provide their mate tactical support.
The Alfred Bannon plays in this series, reminiscent of the Harry Palmer character Michael Caine plays in 1960s films ‘The Ipcress File,’ ‘Funeral in Berlin’ and ‘Billion Dollar Brain,’ is possibly a younger version of Caine’s Alfred in the Christopher Nolan’s ‘Dark Knight’ Batman trilogy.
Another possible reference to Caine is Esmé Winikus (Emma Corrin) calling Alfred ‘Alfie.’ In 1966, Caine plays the title character in Lewis Gilbert’s ‘Alfie.’ There was a remake decades later, but it is nothing like the original production.
While the first episode introduces viewers to the main characters, this second instalment opens a door to a much darker side to the pre-Batman world Pennyworth lives in.
Note the flashback scenes in ‘Pennyworth.’ These scenes focus on Alfred, Dave Boy and Bazza when they were active military personnel within the SAS. The SAS (Special Air Service), founded in 1941 as a regiment within the British Army, is a special forces unit. Nine years later, in 1950, the unit was reconstituted as a corps.
SPOILER ALERT: If you have yet to watch the latest episode of Pennyworth, stop reading now. There are spoilers ahead.
‘The Landlord’s Daughter’ opens with a scene at the night club where Alfred is the doorman. After tossing some plonker out of the building, Alfred finds Thomas standing at the bar. Alfred assures Thomas his sister is not at the night club. She is ‘safe at home with her mother.’
The American wants to hire him for an above-board lawful job, but Alfred will have none of it. Alfred has no interest is ‘suicide missions.’
Meanwhile, in the Bloody Tower, Lord James Harwood (Jason Flemyng) is the subject to torture. People in high places within the British government want to know the identity of The Raven Society leader. Nearby, Bet Sykes (Paloma Faith) begins manipulating a beefeater (guards found at various royal palaces and installations) into doing her bidding.
George the Beefeater (Graham Lappin) seems like a nice chap, but he’s naive. Bet tells George she’s ‘got no weapons,’ but her devious mind is the only weapon she needs, and she knows how to use it. It doesn’t take long for Bet to get George to start shagging her.
While it takes two to tango, it’s Bet’s duplicitous nature which draws George into her trap. When Bet asks George to mail some letters for her, he initially refuses, because that breaks the facility’s rules. George finds he has no choice but to comply with Bet’s ‘request,’ because the prisoner has kept the condoms he used.
The Landlord’s Daughter…
Alfred’s first official job comes when he and Dave Boy are enjoying a pint at their local pub. With Dave Boy’s influence, Alfred agrees to assist the pub’s landlord, Sid Onslow (Simon Paisley Day), with a problem.
Sandra Onslow (Harriet Slater), the landlord’s daughter, is being harassed by Jason Ripper (Freddy Carter). Jason and his mates only accept service from Sandra. The way Jason speaks to Sandra is psychopathic.
Jason, the nephew of the man from White Chapple John Ripper (Danny Webb), is a local thug. Locals reference John as ‘the man from White Chapple’ because EastEnders are fearful of saying his name (this is reminiscent of the principal villain in the Harry Potter films).
When Jason’s harassment escalates, Alfred steps in to ‘mediate’ the situation. It doesn’t go well for Jason and his thug mates. Not knowing Alfred has backup, Jason is initially overly confident. Jason doesn’t understand the situation.
The fight scene between the former SAS soldiers and the thugs is very British. This scene evocative of the 1960 film ‘Saturday Night and Sunday Morning.’ It’s gritty. At times, it’s difficult to determine which are the good guys.
After Alfred, Dave Boy and Bazza take out Jason and his mates, Pennyworth pays a visit to John. Alfred is there to have a polite chat. John is not someone one crosses without giving it serious thought.
The Plays the Thing…
Meanwhile, as Alfred speaks with john, Esmé is across town performing in her play. This is the second night for the play. Alfred attends the first night, but because of a work commitment, he was not at the second performance. It’s a good performance. Emma understands the theatrical world like a real thespian. It takes a different set of skills to perform on stage in front of a live audience than it takes to act in front of cameras for television and film productions.
On arriving home, Esmé discovers a letter waiting for her. It was one of the letters Bet coerced George into mailing.
Apart from torture scenes, the bloodiest aspect of the episode comes when several hooded prisoners face public execution (these executions are reminiscent of the Braveheart movie).
One by one, the prisoners are hung and have their stomachs sliced open to ensure death. Their insides splatter onto the wooden platform.
On of the prisoners scheduled for execution is Bet. Because she blackmailed the beefeater into mailing out her letters, Bet’s sister, Peggy Sykes (Polly Walker), rescues her from execution. Because the prisoners are hooded when executed, no one is aware Bet is not the prisoner hung and sliced open.
The episode concludes with the sisters heading off to an eatery to enjoy breakfast.