It’s that time of the week again, with another episode of Pennyworth hitting our screens. I thoroughly enjoyed last week’s episode and was pretty eager to catch the next one. This week, Alfred finds a golden opportunity to put his business on the map as he takes his relationship with Esme to the next level.
Check out my recap of last week’s pilot episode right here.
“Look at me.”
We open on the foggy streets of London town, following a man frantically running away from top hat-clad goons calmly chasing him down. He is quickly surrounded and he realises his fate as a car pulls up, with the apparent leader of the group stepping out of the car to confront him.
“I’ll take bouncing drunks over secret wars any day.”
Alfred continues to work as a bouncer and spies Thomas Wayne waiting for him at his workplace. Thomas offers Alfred an incredibly lucrative job, one that will pay well in addition to provide the satisfaction of doing his country proud. Alfred rejects the offer on account of his girlfriend Esme’s abduction by the Raven Society in the last episode. It looks like Alfred is truly well and done with taking orders and working for others; he’s ready to move forward with his security business.
“One name, and the pain will stop, my dear.”
Meanwhile, Lord Harwood, an important member of the Raven Society who we met last episode, is being tortured for information on the leader of the Ravens. He isn’t willing to cooperate and is going through some sort of shock torture, which looks incredible painful. Harwood’s interrogator is served tea by a guard, who also brings some food to Sykes, the Raven’s enforcer who held Alfred’s parents hostage. She’s clearly trying to play him, asking him to hold her hand because she wants some appreciation before her upcoming execution. Unsurprisingly, it works and he gives in.
“You’ll be on the telly in no time.”
Alfred and Esme are lying in bed together, while Alfred has another quick war-time flashback. He’s visibly troubled which Esme points out, but Alfred throws in a quick joke to change the subject. Esme is massively nervous as today is the first day of her play, but she also reveals that she’s been thinking of Sykes. Alfred reassures her that she’s locked up in the Tower of London and she will never have to think of her again, which calms Esme down. Esme continues to prod Alfred and he reveals that he isn’t terribly satisfied with his position in life in terms of providing a good life to Esme. He says that she’s free to leave him for someone better once she becomes a more established and famous actress. Esme is offended by his assertion and thinks he’s trying to leave her, and he claps back by asking why he hasn’t met her father yet. Based on what she said about her father last week, they don’t exactly have the most healthy relationship so Esme looks to be waiting for the perfect opportunity to introduce them to each other.
“Everyone thinks you’re a good girl. But I know what you are.”
Alfred and Dave Boy are at a pub when a man named Jason and his crew barge in. Jacob has a crazed look, and he asks for a woman named Sandra to serve him a pint. Sid, the bartender, looks extremely uncomfortable during this entire exchange. This Jason guy is a massive creep, threatening to kill anyone who causes her sadness and calling her “my love.” Jason finally leaves and Sandra throws Sid, her father, an angry look before storming away. Alfred and Dave Boy call Sid over to ask about what just happened. It turns out that Jason is related to “the man from Whitechapel,” someone who Sid and Alfred are hesitant to name due to his notoriety, much to Davey Boy’s annoyance. Dave Boy hints that Pennyworth Security will be able to take care of Sid’s problem, which Alfred is quick to put down. He tells Dave Boy that the man from Whitechapel runs the East End and is incredibly dangerous.
“A bet’s a bet, pet.”
Sykes and the guard she has been romancing, George, are playing a card game in her cell. She’s clearly already won him over at this point. She thanks him for being a friend to her and kisses him, and oh boy that look on his face. He’s puddy in her hands.
“There was people crying. Blokes, I saw ’em.”
Alfred is watching Esme’s play, which looks to be in its final scene. As he and the audience applauds, Alfred has never looked happier. Seriously, this guy is beaming and it’s lovely to see. As he waits for Esme outside of the theatre, he is approached by Inspector Aziz. He asks Alfred is Lord Harwood mentioned any other conspirators involved in the Raven Society, to which Alfred denies. Aziz thought as much, but he has something else to tell Alfred. He says that he will be approached by shady people, likely first by someone he already knows. This person will offer a noble and lucrative job, and Aziz wants Alfred to let him know whenever this happens. Of course, this has already happened to Alfred in his first scene of the episode. What could Thomas Wayne want, and who is he working for? Alfred says he hasn’t been approached yet, so he’s clearly not willing to play ball.
“Tub of spunk you are, aren’t ya, George? Big, fat sex fiend.”
Back in the Tower of London, George and Sykes are having sex. George is clearly having the time of his life while Sykes is about as interested as you imagine. Before he leaves, Sykes reaches under her bed for two letters and asks George to mail them. He denies her request but she reveals her upper hand: she’s been keeping his used condoms, which she claims contains his DNA that can identify him. She’s blackmailing him, leaving him no other option but to comply.
“Mediation, that’s what we call it in the trade.”
Esme and Alfred’s mother, Mary, are making bread at the Pennyworth residence. Mary slyly drops that every married woman should know how to make bread. Esme asks Alfred to come to her play again but he says that he’s off to do his first proper security job, presumably on behalf of Sid and Sandra. Mary’s super proud of Alfred, but Esme still wants Alfred to at least attend the after party. He’s says he going to try, but I think we can all safely say that Alfred won’t make that party.
“Your personal problems are really none of my business, Jason.”
Jason enters the bar once again, this time screaming for Sandra to serve him. He continues to be his usual creepy self when Alfred walks by him, asking Sandra to also get him some beer. Jason is shocked by this, and introduces himself as Jason Ripper, emphasis on the last name. I just adore Alfred here, he’s so intentionally aloof and is pushing Jason’s buttons in all the right ways. Jason has clearly never been challenged like this in his entire life. After some heated conversation, Alfred throws a drink in Jason’s face and they give chase on the streets of London. Alfred’s surrounded but is then assisted by Dave Boy and Bazza, who beat up all of Jason’s goons. They quickly dispatch the goons and knock out Jason.
“You’re blind, Johnny… blind.”
Esme performs the final scene of the play and notices that Alfred hasn’t shown up.
“For a man of your stature, you have rubbish security.”
The man in the car from the opening scene is in a morgue, dissecting a body. He notices that Alfred has snuck up behind him. Alfred introduces himself and his security company, and says that he’s here as a gesture of good will and respect to Mr. Ripper, a name he has known since he was a child.
“Darling, it was chemistry…”
Without Alfred, it seems that Esme is being assaulted on all fronts by creepy flirts. He co-star claims that their chemistry is real and can’t be faked, and then she is approached by an older gentleman who doesn’t seem to care that Esme has a boyfriend. Well, until she tells him something very off-putting that turns him away.
“You are going to break like a twig.”
Jason is blindfolded and tied to a chair, being beaten up by Dave Boy and Bazza. They’re demeaning him, making him call himself a weasel and having him call them “sir.” If anything, this scene shows that both of these guys are really good at what they do. They press him about his uncle John, the man Alfred snuck up on earlier. They’re really digging into him, forcing him to admit that he will tell them anything they need to know about John Ripper. Just then, Alfred’s voice commands them to stop and we see the whole thing was a ruse: Alfred and John were watching this interrogation. John is horrified that Jason would betray him, and says that Jason is going to be leaving London.
“If I were ever free, I think we’d become good friends.”
Esme gets home and notices a letter addressed to her… one of the letters Sykes gave George to mail out. It’s a subtly creepy letter and it horrifies Esme.
“He’s a flincher. Everybody knows Rippers don’t flinch.”
Alfred and John are back in the morgue having a conversation. John is questioning Alfred’s intentions, which are to advertise his business in some form or another. John’s sizing him up, assessing is Alfred is going to give him any trouble. Alfred reminds him that despite completing his job and satisfying his client, John benefitted as well since a weak link in Jason was removed from the organisation. It seems that despite Alfred’s suave, John still doesn’t exactly trust him and opens a trap door on Alfred. He asks Alfred is he is stupid or clever, but the scene ends before we hear the answer.
“I felt so scared and alone without you here.”
Esme is home, reeling from the shock of having received a letter from Sykes. The woman Alfred told her she would be completely safe from. Just then, she’s hear loud, lumbering steps outside her door and she prepares herself. She arms herself with the letter opener and awaits her attacker, but it’s just Alfred. He notices Esme is on edge and immediately comforts her. He apologises for everything, for dragging her into this conflict and having people like Bet Sykes (here we get her first name) enter her life. Esme counters with the whole thing being a romantic notion since he saved her life.
“I’m writing to say good-bye and God bless.”
A woman is in her kitchen when a man wearing women’s underwear, high heels, and a gimp mask enters the room and gives her a letter addressed to her. She is Peggy Sykes, Bet’s sister. Peggy reads the letter and looks displeased, like she’s going to do something about her sister’s situation…
“You keep smiling, sunshine.”
Back at Sid’s pub, Sandra is singing a song for the patrons. As this is happening, Esme notices people thanking and congratulating Alfred for his work. Esme doesn’t know about what Alfred did at this point so Alfred says that he goes to this pub a lot, and everyone knows each other. Sid pays Alfred and is thanked by Sandra. Meanwhile, Dave Boy reminds Alfred of what he has done. He essentially paid tribute to John Ripper, and Dave Boy compares that to selling his soul to the devil.
“Keep him alive. But break him.”
Back at Lord Harwood’s interrogation, he admits that he himself is the leader of the Raven Society. The Prime Minister is in attendance, and seems to believe what he’s saying. I don’t, however, merely based on his dialogue in the last episode that implied there was a bigger conspiracy and he was only a soldier. The PM orders Harwood to be sent somewhere else, but kept alive.
“I know that you’re a princess. And I know that I’d slay dragons for you.”
Alfred and Esme return home and they look to be in the midst of some argument that I had a hard time following. Esme’s a little angry at Alfred and he uses this moment to… propose to her! It was kind of a surprise and it’s odd that our couple is now engaged two episodes in. I guess that means something awful will be happening to Esme very soon. Anyway, she says yes and they embrace.
“Writhing in hell forever, buggered by scaly demons.”
Two guards arrive at Sykes’ cell to take her away for her execution. She and some other prisoners arrive at the execution area which… has a crowd and looks to be a televised event? I’m not sure if this is historically accurate or not but it was pretty bizarre. She and the prisoners are corralled into a cell to await their deaths. The executor gets started on a few of them, knocking out the a prisoner’s means of support, letting them hang before he literally slices their guts open. It’s one of the most gruesome things I’ve ever seen on television. Alfred, Esme, and his parents are all watching this at home.
Before Sykes leaves her cell with the rest of the soon-to-die, she is stopped and locked in alone. Two masked figures enter the cell, and they drag a masked Sykes, screaming in resistance. She is then executed.
The two masked figures enter a van. They remove their masks, and it’s Sykes and her sister Peggy! There was some kind of switcharoo so an unlucky soul was dragged to their apparently undeserved death. They drive away as the episode ends.
And thus concludes the second episode of Pennyworth, “The Landlord’s Daughter.” Catch me here next week for my recap of the third episode of the series, “Martha Kent.” Ooh!