Foreshadowing the Future…
With a scene reminiscent of Bruce Wayne’s origin story, this Pennyworth episode begins with a child and his parents leaving a theatre late at night. Making their way down a dark alley, they’re suddenly accosted by what is at first glance a beggar but is, in fact, Lord James Harwood (Jason Flemyng). The scene doesn’t conclude in the same murderous fashion as that which is seen with Bruce’s parents because the father here fends off the beggar with his cane. The last time we saw Harwood, in the dead of night on a country road, he was being tossed from the back of a van.
Moments after the family scurries off into the night, a young man approaches Harwood with a seemingly kindly intent of Christian charity. There is something nefarious about this young man’s manner which suggests he’s up to no good.
Is Alfred in Trouble with the Law?
Alfred Pennyworth (Jack Bannon), while on the clock at the nightclub where he works, Detective Inspector Aziz (Ramon Tikaram) approaches him for a quick chat because the police inspector is “disappointed.” While Martha Kane (Emma Paetz) unequivocally told Alfred she was not a friend to Thomas Wayne (Ben Aldridge), here is the detective inspector telling the former SAS soldier “Martha Kane who works for Thomas Wayne who works for the No Name League.”
Meanwhile, Martha is at home when she receives a gentleman caller. It’s Thomas. This scene confirms the police inspector correct. While the scene initially suggests she lied to Alfred when she addressed his question pertaining to her being a friend to Thomas Wayne, it should be noted one can know someone and not be either a friend or their enemy. They could simply be work colleagues.
When Thomas asked Martha if Mrs Blake had gone to Jamaica, I half expected her to respond that she had gone on her own accord. It’s an old joke, some people reading this wouldn’t get it.
After Thomas is invited in, while he has heard of Martha through the No Name League grapevine, we discover this is the first time the two have met. Consequently, the truth of the matter is, Thomas was nothing to Martha when Alfred asked her about him. This is essentially what she tells Alfred when she meets up with him at his local pub.
Martha wants him to take on a job because that’s what Thomas needs him to do. The No Name League believes Alfred is worth both its time and money. Subsequently, the organisation is willing to pay Alfred handsomely for his time and skills.
When Alfred arrives home, Esmé Winikus (Emma Corrin) is pointing a gun directly at the residence main door. From the way Esmé is breathing, it looks like she could be hyperventilating. Since she has been having nightmares resulting from the kidnapping incident with Bet Sykes (Paloma Faith), the night terrors continue. Alfred assures Esmé it’s just her imagination playing tricks on her.
Elsewhere, Bet is annoying her sister, Peggy Sykes (Polly Walker). Playing her music loudly in the kitchen, Bet is behaving like a petulant child. Peggy isn’t amused by her sister’s behaviour because it is interfering with her work. From what we saw in the previous episode and this one, it looks like Peggy is a self-employed dominatrix. After a brief knockdown brawl in which both sisters make use of the radio to hit each other, Peggy finally gets Bet to behave herself in a dignified and proper manner.
Later, Bet is seen leaving the house because she feels Peggy doesn’t want her there. Where is she going?
Back in London, Alfred and Esmé are on a single bed together staring at the ceiling. After Alfred finishes describing the water stains on his ceiling, the scene transitions to his father, Mr Pennyworth (Ian Puleston-Davies), reading the newspaper.
A Different Generation…
The sounds emanating from the room above where Mr Pennyworth is reading his newspaper clear indicate Alfred and Esmé are being intimate. While Mrs Pennyworth (Dorothy Atkinson) tells her husband not to say anything about what they’re hearing, he directs her to not look at him with such wishful eyes. Evidently, from this brief conversation, it seems Mrs Pennyworth hasn’t been getting any nookie in quite some time. What’s wrong with Mr Pennyworth? Can’t he get it up? Alfred evidently doesn’t have that issue.
Mr Pennyworth is one of those people that believes sex is for married couples. It’s the 1960s. What would you expect? It’s practically the Dark Ages.
Breakfast with Mr Pennyworth…
Later, when Alfred and Martha are chasing down leads to the identity of the Raven Society leader, Mr Pennyworth and Esmé are enjoying breakfast. For some reason, possibly to simply make conversation with the young woman, Mr Pennyworth asks Esmé if she likes marmalade.
Marmalade is a staple of the British breakfast. Britons love their marmalade every bit as much as they do a nice cup of hot tea. I reference the tea being hot because certain people in these United States automatically think of tea as being a cold iced drink. It is what it is. Cultural identities in different parts of the world frequently never match. As the breakfast progresses, Mr Pennyworth begins talking about the origin of marmalade. He correctly tells Esmé it’s Portuguese.
When Alfred and Martha arrive at the train station, they find the person they’re there to meet has been wounded. He’d been stabbed. The man dies before Alfred can get much information from him. Of the information Alfred gets from him before he dies, it didn’t make much sense because he only referred “the darkness.” What could the darkness be?
After extracting the dead man’s wallet from his inner jacket pocket, Alfred finds the only thing he has in it is three train tickets. With only minutes to spare, because the train doors are already being closed, Alfred and Martha rush to catch the train. They manage to board the train seconds before the last door is slammed shut. It doesn’t take long for the train to arrive at their destination.
Locked in Stocks…
Did you notice the man locked in the stocks at the side of the road as Alfred and Martha walk past him? Even though Pennyworth is set in the 1960s, the writers working on the production seem to have not done their homework because the last reported use of stocks for corporal punishment and public humiliation in the United Kingdom was in 1872. John May, an American venture capitalist, mentions the use of stocks and the last time the device was used in the U.K. in his 1994 published book Reference Wales.
Being placed in the stocks was not a pleasant thought for anyone. While it was not common to see a woman left overnight locked in the stocks, the same can’t be said for a man. If in the stocks overnight, more likely in rural communities, the prospect of being severely buggered by one or more drunkard men on their way home from the pub was significant.
As Alfred and Martha make their way through the village, people stare at them as if they’re from a different planet. It would be impossible for either Alfred or Martha to not notice how the locals were staring at them.
Continuing their walk through the village, Alfred and Martha soon realise what the word “darkness” refers to as there is an establishment in the community called The Darkness Tea Rooms. The establishment is stereotypical of the kind of tea rooms that would exist in country villages during the period in which Pennyworth is set.
With several customs partaking of tea cakes and other refreshments already present at The Darkness Tea Rooms, Alfred and Martha make their presence known to the establishment’s owner. Apparently, the name of this tearoom is derived from the owner’s name, Mrs Darkness (Maggie Daniels).
Tea and Crumpets for Two…
After placing an order for a pot of Darjeeling tea and some crumpets, Alfred tells the owner of the tea establishment a story about a man he and Martha were supposed to meet at Paddington Station, but when they arrived, he had been stabbed. The only thing from the dying man’s lips was “the darkness.”
Noticeably, when the tea and crumpets were brought to the table, the girl is unquestionably afraid of something that had either occurred or was about to happen. The fear in her eyes, coupled with how she is shaking, brings us to the conclusion something serious is about to go down.
What was Alfred’s reference to the Italians supposed to mean? It’s possible he was talking about the Mafia but that’s me digging for an explanation that doesn’t necessarily hold water.
“I’m not sure what a sexist is Miss,” Alfred said to Martha, “but if it’s what it sounds like, I’m not one. Strictly a one-woman man, I am.”
Martha immediately laughs because she now knows Alfred doesn’t know what a sexist is. Alfred is a product of the period in which he lives.
Locked and Loaded…
As Alfred concludes his phone call with Esmé, Mrs Darkness enters the room with a modified shotgun. Because she doesn’t immediately see Alfred next to the public telephone, Mrs Darkness turns her back to him so that she can focus on Martha. During a scuffle, Alfred accidentally shots Mrs Darkness in the head. With blood splatter everywhere, Alfred and Martha exit the tearoom rather sharpish.
It doesn’t take long for Raven Society reinforcements to make their presence felt at the village green. With Raven Society ruffians in hot pursuit, Alfred and Martha leg it as fast as they can.
After a brief confrontation in an alleyway with two of the Raven Society’s men, Martha finds herself in need of a doctor because of a gash on her leg. I am not sure where she could have gotten cut. It could have been anywhere between the tearoom and the alleyway.
Martha makes her way to the local hospital where she meets Dr Frances Gaunt (Anna Chancellor).
Does Alfred Know what He’s Doing?
Meanwhile, while Martha is visiting with the doctor, Alfred walks back to the village green to speak with the Raven Society ruffians which were chasing them. Following a few punches, Alfred got ticked-off and planted a header squarely on one of the Raven Society’s thugs.
The Ravens try to trick Alfred, but he’s far too clever for them by a long shot. Even though he is blindfolded, he can see the shoes of the person directly in front of him. These are not the shoes of someone leading the Raven Society.
It doesn’t take the doctor long to reveal to Martha she’s the new leader of the Raven Society. Gaunt is under the impression Martha and Alfred are there to kill her but that’s not what’s happening here.
Alfred didn’t see that Coming…
Alfred can’t bring himself to believe the Raven Society would have a woman as the leader. It’s not as if the United Kingdom would ever elect a woman prime minister.
Even though it was a sticky jam Alfred and Martha found themselves in with the new leader of the Raven Society, they were able to gain control of the situation effortlessly.
Did you see that kiss? That was some kiss Alfred and Martha engaged in before he made his way to his parent’s house.
Do you recall how the episode started? Throughout the entire episode, we didn’t see anything of Harwood or the man that helped him. That is until Alfred gives to a homeless man on the street some money. In the large wooden box, trying to keep warm is Harwood. Harwood is being treated like a dog.
When Alfred does get his parent’s house, he finds Esmé has left a note for him letting him know that she’d be at the flat because she wanted to do some painting. Before he could make it to the flat, a stranger enters the residence and strangles Esmé. By the time Alfred arrives home, Esmé is dead.
Based on a television news report stating that Cliff Richards & The Shadows are to break up to follow individual careers, it suggests the year Pennyworth is set in is 1968 because that’s the year the British group originally disbanded. It’s set in October 1968. In the same news report, it seems Germany still has a Reich Chancellor. Curious and curiouser.
The title of the episode, Lady Penelope, could be a reference to the popular 1960s children’s series Thunderbirds. Lady Penelope is a recurring character in the children’s series. Penelope, an aristocrat, has a driver named Parker. Like Alfred, Parker is a former SAS soldier.