We’re back with the latest installment of Pennyworth, Alfred’s journey towards a career as a butler. Not sure when he’s going to learn which fork to use at dinner because he’s very busy dealing with yet another kidnapping.
Now some thoughts, spoilers ahead.
1. Aleister Crowley and Jack the Ripper are back
I fully admit I did not expect to see these two again. After their absence at the end of last season and their exclusion from the season recap it seemed like they wouldn’t fit in with the current direction of the show. After one week I’ve been proven wrong. Might be time to hang up my prediction hat and just follow the story where it leads me. The first season did have its share of surprises.
Jack The Ripper goes from being a local crime lord in London, grave digger, and probable serial killer to a leader in the English League. This is our second look at the League’s leadership, but first time we spend real time with them. The Queen sits at the head of the table but we also have Archbishop Potter, Ripper, a guy that looks like Owen Wilson, Aziz, and a few other new characters. They don’t appear well organized and it’ll be a miracle if this group is able to stop the advancement of the Raven Union into London.
Crowley’s appearance was a standout moment in the episode. Thomas Wayne has arranged a meeting with him and we can see right away Wayne does not want to be there. Crowley takes advantage of the situation and pushes Wayne’s buttons. Wayne needs him to do some work for the CIA—more on this in a moment—and Crowley agrees; on the condition he gets a kiss from Thomas. As a gesture to Satan of course. Wayne, ever the loyal CIA agent, gives him what he wants. Sadly for the audience it’s just a peck on the cheek.
2. The US does what it does best
Wayne’s CIA boss—with a thick Texas accent—is unhappy with the anti-nuke movement and wants to sow some discontent. They want Wayne to interject and cause problems for their leader Archbishop Potter. Potter, also a member of the English League, is the moral head of the anti-nuke movement so they want a scandal to bring him down. This is where Crowley comes in. If anyone is going to find someone’s dark side it’s Crowley. Even if he has to create it.
This is a good political move for Crowley as his standing with the Raven Union will be stronger if they know he’s in favor with the CIA. This also helps assign him to a faction on the show. Ripper is with the English League and Crowley is doing work for the Ravens.
I see the allure in setting up the CIA as villains here. I think it’ll make it harder for Thomas and Martha to reconcile. Martha even comes right out and says “Fuck him and fuck the CIA.” TV-MA after all. Maybe she’s more bothered by Wayne’s engagement than she let on last episode.
3. Bet Sykes continues to be captivating
We follow Bet’s journey with Katie Browning some more this week. Like last season Bet has developed a unique relationship with her hostage. She aligns with them in a sort of reverse Stockholm Syndrom kind of way. After saving Browning last week they find an abandoned house to hold up in while Bet tries to get in touch with her old friend Lord Harwood. Bet tries to call Harwood and is summarily dismissed by the operator. You can’t just pick up the phone and call him, Bet.
This plotline might be the least directly related to the main arc that has been established so far, but this character and Paloma Faith’s performance is top notch. What she is going to do isn’t often surprising, she’s going to kill someone, but it’s in the way she does it. They are approached by two Raven Union hooligans on the street and she makes sure to deal with them in her own special way.
4. Mrs. Gaunt is not in for chemical warfare
Colonel Salt arrives to give Lord Harwood an update on their Stormcloud project. Former head of the Raven Society, Mrs. Gaunt, is still around and working with Harwood on their plans to take the rest of the United Kingdom. She makes it clear she is opposed to more direct action and bloodshed. The reveal to her that Stormcloud is a chemical weapons project sets her in opposition to what Salt and Harwood are working on. She gets her assurances from Harwood that the project will not move forward, but it has been set up as too big of a plot point to be pushed aside so quickly. The implication is either Gaunt will come around to chemical weapons—unlikely—or will defect in objection to the methods.Continued below
I liked Mrs. Gaunt last year and am happy to see her return with something to do. I’m hoping she sees the error in her fascist ways. Fascism is still bad, folks.
5 Alfred is in this show too
Most of my thoughts were on the supporting cast this week, but of course this is Alfred’s show. He’s made the money he needs to leave for America with his kidnapping business. Not running away of course, just moving on. Alfred avoids telling his new girlfriend Sandra; going so far as to say he’d be at her first appearance as an opening act at a different club. I get the impression that she reminds Alfred of Esmé, but he doesn’t feel quite the same way about her. She mentions how loyal she is and she won’t leave him behind if she becomes a famous singer with this new gig. Alfred on the other hand is ready to leave her behind at the drop of a hat. All Alfred can do is think of himself and his own future.
Alfred’s main arc this week is to rescue his mother from a kidnapping. What goes around, comes around. Alfred, of course, makes short work of the amateur kidnappers. He quickly turns the tables and is about to complete the rescue when Aziz shows up with the police force. Aziz assumed Alfred was meeting with his co-conspirators in the release of Salt from the previous episode. The police raid allows the kidnappers to escape with Alfred’s money. Alfred now doesn’t have what he needs to get to America and doesn’t know who was behind the kidnapping.
The episode ends with Crowley and Archbishop Potter. He’s got him in his evil clutches.
That’s it for this week. Tune in next week, same bat-time same bat-channel for episodes three and four. “The Belt and The Welt” and “The Hunted Fox”. Going with a different naming convention this season it seems.