I’m back, baby! I’ll be recapping this week’s episode, “Lady Penelope”, today. I haven’t seen much chatter about the show online, probably because I don’t follow the appropriate people, but I’m having a pretty good time with this show. I know this is meant to be a recap and not a review but this is well-made, good stuff. The next episode will need to earn some good points, however, because the ending of this week’s soured me greatly. Anyway, let’s boo boo.
“Fancy a cup of tea and a sandwich?”
We open this week’s episode with a couple walking through the streets of London with their son in tow. A visual like this is such a common one to find among a lot of DC Comics adaptations. I think Tim Burton’s Batman even opened with this scene, meant to evoke the deaths of Thomas and Martha Wayne. Here the comparison is a little more direct since those characters are actually featured in the show, but I digress. They walk past a man being pelted with fruits. They walk down an alley and, lo and behold, they are accosted by a shaggy-bearded, begging Lord Harwood, asking for assistance. He has lost his nose as a result of his encounter with the Barber in the last episode, and doesn’t seem to be doing too well. He shuffles back to his cardboard shelter when a young, seemingly helpful man approaches him. He manages to calm Harwood down and offers him tea and a sandwich. He gets him on his feet and helps him walk.
“Stop working against the Queen, or you’ll hang.”
Inspector Aziz enters Alfred’s club and asks to have a word with him. He expresses disappointment in Alfred, saying that he asked Alfred to come to him if he were to involve himself in greater schemes. He claims that Martha Wayne works for Thomas Wayne, who in turn works for the No Name League. Alfred doesn’t seem struck by this, but he says that this is the first time he’s hearing it. Aziz goes on to explain that he could technically arrest Alfred and his friends Dave Boy and Bazza and have them hang, but he says that Alfred made an impression on the Queen. She found him dashing, apparently. Aziz implores Alfred to cease working with the No Name League as he’s acting against Queen and country and all that. Alfred doesn’t seem phased by the threat and remains cool as a cucumber. Before leaving, Aziz asks about Esme’s opinion on Alfred’s employer.
This was a pretty busy scene as Alfred and Aziz aren’t still seeing eye-to-eye with each other. Aziz clearly sees potential in Alfred as a soldier and as a leader, but Alfred just doesn’t want that kind of life anymore. Aziz wants Alfred on the side of the Crown for some civil war Aziz sees coming, but Alfred has no interest in it at all.
“In twenty years, Gotham will be the Zurich of the eastern seaboard.”
Martha Kane is at home when Thomas Wayne comes knocking at the door. This is their first meeting; they perform a little bit of code speak at the front door before Thomas enters her home. They get to know each other a little bit before Thomas digs into why he’s there: he has a mission for Martha and Alfred. They are to meet an informant from the Raven Society who will give them the name of the Ravens’ newly-elected leader. Thomas offers her money for the job, as well as some guns. This puts Martha on edge, and she explains that her deal with Alfred meant that no guns would be involved. Thomas makes clear that Alfred is important to them and suggests she offer him more money if he hesitates.
“I’ll pay you double that. Cash on the nail. One job.”
Alfred is at Sid’s pub, watching a news report on the Raven Society and the No Name League. Martha then walks in and Alfred immediately informs her that he cannot work for her anymore; he’s getting married to Esme and wants to stay safe. Martha writes down an offer and while Alfred is surprised at the amount, he still declines. He confronts her with the information that Aziz brought him, that she works for Thomas Wayne despite saying she had no idea who he was. Alfred says that the police are on to them and know that Martha works for Thomas, which was news to her. She offers double the amount she wrote down earlier, but it isn’t clear whether or not Alfred accepted or not.
“You can be my flag of truce.”
Esme is in her apartment, pointing a gun at the door and panting in fear. Alfred walks in, and calmly guides her to put the gun down before embracing her and finding out what’s wrong with her. Esme thought she heard someone outside the door, just listening in. It sounds pretty freaky so I don’t blame her at all for coming to that reaction. Alfred thinks it’s all in her imagination, and she agrees with him. He suggests that since he’ll be starting a new job with long hours, he’d rather keep Esme safe with his parents than worry about her.
Sykes is in her sister’s house, having a bit of a wild dance in the kitchen. Her sister Peggy comes in and asks her to turn the music down. Peggy reminds her sister that she saved her from the gallows and deserves some respect. They get into a fight which ends with Peggy overpowering Bet and nearly choking her to death.
“Takes that wistful look off your gob.”
Alfred and Esme are in his bedroom at his parent’s house, and they end up having sex which his parents can hear from the living room. Alfred’s dad is making a slight fuss at having an unmarried woman stay in the house but Ms. Pennyworth shuts him up. Alfred bids them goodbye and heads off to work.
“Well, that was shit.”
Alfred and Martha makes their way to the informant when they find him dying on a bench. He quickly comes to and grabs Alfred’s arm, warning him of the darkness. Before he can explain, he slumps to the side. Alfred grabs his wallet and takes Martha away from the body. After inspecting the wallet, they find three train tickets and board the train the informant intended to put them on.
Alfred has a brief wartime flashback on the train of what seemed to be Alfred and his friends attending a burial.
Back on the train, Martha expresses frustration as to what their plan is. While they have a general location in mind, they don’t know where to go from there. Alfred reassures her, saying that the Ravens will be looking for them. They can either capture one and force them to talk, or they can be captured and taken to the Ravens’ new leader. Either way, they can’t lose. They arrive at their destination right then.
“I know when I’m not wanted.”
Bet is on her way to leave Peggy’s house before Peggy stops her. Bet wants to leave for London since she doesn’t feel wanted anymore, and she’s also incredibly bored clearly. Before Peggy can argue, Bet’s gone.
“I expect you think the Scots invented marmalade.”
Esme and Mr. Pennyworth are having breakfast, and he’s acting strangely pleasant. Esme looks a bit awkward but by the end of the scene she seems more comfortable. He claims that the Portuguese invented marmalade as opposed to the Scots, and goes to be to a generally nice person having fun breakfast banter.
“Wow. You’re a genuine, old-fashioned sexist.”
Alfred and Martha are exploring the town that informant was meant to take them to, and things are super weird. Everyone passing them by can’t help but stare, in a manner similar to Edgar Wright’s The World’s End. There’s a weird pole that Alfred claims is for orgies in the middle of some field, and men in raven costumes are watching them. They spot a place called “The Darkness Tea Rooms”, which rings a bell as the informant asked them to watch out for the darkness. They enter and are seated, with Alfred surmising to the waitress that a man recently told them to look out for the darkness. Martha questions this direct method, but Alfred doesn’t take any mind to her complaints. A young girl brings them their tea and her hand shakes as she places the tea on the table. Alfred just goes on ahead and serves the tea which shocks Martha since she suspects it’s poisoned, to which Alfred has no worry as the Raven Society are polite and wouldn’t poison tea. As they wait for the inevitable group of Ravens to come their way, Martha asks Alfred about Esme. They have some fun banter and Alfred makes Martha laugh, to which she says that Esme is a very lucky woman. The sight of Alfred Pennyworth and Martha Kane… flirting… is weird and I want it to stop. Alfred leaves to call Esme.
“No time to waste on his mum.”
Esme and Mr. Pennyworth are looking at photos of events that he organised. After admiring many of them she asks him if he could help plan her wedding. Mr. Pennyworth’s reaction was surprisingly emotional and kind of beautiful, and he humbly accepts. Just then, Alfred calls and speaks to Esme. After a quick chat Alfred notices everyone has left the café except for him and Martha. He hangs up, and saves Martha from the shotgun-toting server. Alfred kills her, giving a bit of a shock to the both of them. Back at the Pennyworth residence, Ms. Pennyworth is upset to learn of her husband’s involvement in the wedding planning, purely based on her not being asked first. When she’s brought into the group she embraces Esme.
“The No Name League is not just a pretend army.”
Alfred and Martha leave the Darkness in a hurry and are set upon by two sets of Ravens. They run for their lives and Martha cuts her leg in the process, with Alfred managing to take out the two Ravens chasing them. They are later attacked by two raven-looking weirdos who Martha threatens with a pistol. After finding a place to rest, Martha begins freaking out a little by claiming that she’ll be kicked out of the No Name League now that the operation was a failure. Alfred convinces her to go to a hospital that he spotted earlier when entering town, while he goes off to find a way to the Ravens’ leader.
“I want a door, I want a window, not a half-baked compromise!”
Martha enters the hospital and chats with the doctor. She is injected with an anesthetic and Martha suddenly takes issue with the fact that her would will result in a scar. She says her mother had a scar, and then she passes out. The doctor rushes out to call for the nurse.
“How about we go shoot your mum in the face.”
Alfred approaches the two remaining Ravens and they handcuff him and beat him. Alfred wants them to take him to their leader but one of them is angry with Alfred for killing Ms. Darkness at the café. After another punch to the face, Alfred retaliates and further impresses that he would like to see their leader.
We find Alfred in a room with a blindfold on. An older man approaches him and Alfred refuses to give him the message, saying it’s for the governor’s ears only.
“Nine stitches and a small, charming scar.”
Martha wakes up in another room, clad in a robe and watched by Doctor Frances Gaunt, the woman who treated her earlier. At this point we’re not entirely sure where her allegiances lie but she seems friendly.
“Only a fool wouldn’t kick this ball upstairs.”
Alfred’s request for the governor has apparently been answered, as a general-looking fellow enters the room and asks for the message Alfred promised. Alfred doesn’t buy it, saying that he could see the man’s shows underneath his blindfold and that, at best, he is third in command.
“You’ve made a mistake. That, or you’re mentally unwell.”
Gaunt is trying to get some information out of Martha. When Martha first entered the hospital, she claimed she went through a French window which resulted in her injury. Gaunt says that she has been all around town and hasn’t encountered one. After a jumbly explanation from Martha, Gaunt calls for a nurse and asks her to bring in someone named Tanya. Martha inquires as to whether or not her clothes are ready so she can leave, but Gaunt calmly informs her that she won’t be needing them. She knows that Martha and Alfred are here to find the governor of the Raven Society, and she reveals that she is the very person they were looking for.
Gaunt says that after Harwood’s falls, nobody was brave enough to step up for leadership so she had to do it. The nurse brings in Tanya, which ends up being a preserved head in a jar. Gaunt says that nobody knows who Tanya is, and uses her to get Martha to reveal her name to Gaunt.
Alfred is brought in to deliver his message, and he and Martha overpower Gaunt and the two guards. Gaunt expects Alfred to kill her, but they tell her that all they wanted to know was her name. Martha tells her that they aren’t like the Ravens who kill indiscriminately. Alfred asks for a car so he can make his way home.
“You see right through me, can you?”
Back at the Pennyworth residence, Esme leaves the sleeping couple while she goes upstairs.
We’re now at Martha’s residence where Alfred pours two drinks. Martha’s trying to learn more about Alfred, about why he doesn’t take things too seriously and why he thinks all soldiers have nightmares. Alfred tells her of his old friend Spanish, who see saw die in a flashback early in the series. Spanish taught him to either make life a comedy or a tragedy, and Alfred likes to laugh. Alfred thinks that her father was an honest man despite his hesitance in believing that he didn’t have nightmares, as he was a soldier. Alfred gets up to leave, but he and Martha share a passionate kiss. Alfred stops, collects his money, and leaves.
Alfred walks down a busy alleyway and gives some cash to the man we saw saving Harwood at the beginning of the episode. The man offers Harwood a biscuit and treats him like a dog, chaining him even.
“I got the sudden urge to choose paint.”
So, eh, here it is. The final scene of the episode and one that I found genuinely problematic.
Alfred comes home and finds a note from Esme. She wanted to paint their apartment and left his parents. In the apartment, Esme’s painting some flowers when she hears someone coming in. Thinking it’s Alfred, she rushes to the corner and hides to surprise him. A figure slowly enters, but as we cut to Alfred walking home we realise this is an intruder. Esme jumps in front of the figure, only for him to put his hands on her and begin choking her. Alfred enters the apartment and finds Esme on the floor, dead.
There you have it. A highly enjoyable episode capped with a typical fridging scene that I didn’t think this show would ever stoop so low to do. Granted, she might not be dead but unconscious instead. We’ll find out next week, where you’ll find me recapping “Shirley Bassey.”