Pennyworth is back with another episode following our favorite future butler on his way to becoming Batman’s manservant. Only a brief appearance by Thomas Wayne this week to tie the episode to the larger arc; Thomas offers Alfred more work, which Alfred promptly turns down. He remembers what happened last time he got mixed up with the Waynes so it’s probably in his best interest to stay out of it.
Beware! Spoilers follow.
1. Gotham by Gaslight
The episode starts out with a Jack The Ripper homage. Men dressed like it’s Victorian-era London chasing a man down the street. For a moment it looked like it might be a flashback. They even named the mob boss-type character John Ripper. Like the first episode the costumes and setting were really well done. If a gang of men wearing top hats were chasing me down a steamy London street I’d be just as delighted as scared. They make sure to make Ripper menacing with a later scene showing him dissecting a person and playing with their organs.
2. Begin to see the formula of the show/freak of the week
Instead of taking the Thomas Wayne job, Alfred helps out the local barkeep protect his daughter–the titular Landlord’s Daughter. She is being harassed by Jason Ripper (they are going to run out of J-first names for the Ripper family). Jason is the nephew of John who we met during the cold open of the episode. This seems to be setting up how the show will move from here on out. Alfred gets a job relating to the freak of the week, he deals with it in a unique way using his crew and some smarts, all while moving closer to the Wayne family in some way. It also looks like the creepy John Ripper will play a larger role in the series. Whether that is ally or adversary remains to be seen.
3. More TV-MA than you can shake a tassel at
Nudity and gore are the name of the game in this show apparently. This show seems to enjoy its torture as the apparent leader of the Raven Society from the pilot gets strung up and electrocuted for most of the episode. He’s clearly working for the Prime Minister so it was curious to see him taking part. It’s unlikely we’ve seen the last of him or the Raven Society. We get our strip club scene along with plenty of f-bombs. It really earns that mature rating.
4. Not much for Batman fans this week
Beyond the “Gotham by Gaslight” Jack the Ripper reference and a quick “Mad as a ****** Hatter” line there wasn’t much linking this episode to the wider Batman mythology. This was all Alfred and his world. His relationship with Esmé continues to be interesting, but knowing that he ends up alone as a butler in his old age makes it seem tragic. We see how happy they can make each other. I seriously hope they don’t kill her and use her death to further Alfred’s journey. He certainly has a long way to go before seeing Thomas Wayne as someone worth admiring.
5. Televised public executions?
Returning villain Bet was to be publicly executed by hanging and disemboweling–on live television? This was pretty shocking. I tried to investigate the history of capital punishment in the UK and I did find that it was outlawed in 1964. I couldn’t find any confirmation on if it was ever televised or included disemboweling. If anyone knows for sure I’d say sound off in the comments, but I think I’d be fine with not knowing. Either way this was a gruesome scene. Bet, of course, escapes with the help of her sister and an unfortunate replacement. Esmé and Alfred breath a sigh of relief thinking that the woman who kidnapped and terrorized them is gone. They are certainly in for a shock.