An Explosive End
Pennyworth has been one of the biggest surprises of the year. I’ll admit, when I first saw the trailer and heard the premise I couldn’t possibly fathom how Epix would pull this off without it feeling like a cheap Batman cash-in. Thankfully Pennyworth is not a cheap cash-in, nor is it a poor man’s drama. After 10 episodes, Pennyworth is one of the stronger crime dramas of the year and somehow manages to reinvigorate the character of Alfred whilst feeling fresh and original in its own right.
We begin the season 1 finale of Pennyworth with Alfred phoning home and telling his parents he’s found a way out the country. Meanwhile, word gets out to the police about the Queen’s kidnapping, prompting them to rush Harwood’s estate, where we find the Queen, tied up and told to read out a transcript. She instates Lord Harwood as Prime Minister who immediately mobilizes the troops and the police to his command. He phones through to the former Prime Minister and tells him to resign or suffer the consequences.
However, his advisor convinces him to give the man 24 hours which he reluctantly agrees to. As everyone leaves the room, Francis tells Harwood she doesn’t approve of his methods and reminds him she didn’t sign up for this. Meanwhile Bet entertains the Queen while Alfred prepares to say goodbye to Dave Boy and Bazza. However, under Harwood’s reign no ships are to set sail and all transport is grounded, leaving him no choice but to fight his way through the police and take off in their car. They head straight for the Wayne’s where he asks him for a way out the country. It’s here he learns about the Queen’s abduction and the Wayne’s learn the truth about Sykes still being alive.
Despite securing a route out the country, Alfred instead decides to stick around and save the Queen from her fate, especially given it would almost certainly result in knighthoods for them all. As they head out down the road together, martial law is called on the streets, including hangings for those opposed to Harwood’s new rules. With the 24 hours up, the former prime minister decides to stand his ground with Aziz.
As hostilities grow between Bet and Peggy regarding the handling of the Queen, everyone gathers in her house where a stand-off ensues. A stand-off that eventually sees Bet relinquish control of the Queen. Unfortunately the ease in taking her back sees Dave Boy stabbed in the chest for his troubles. The Queen phones the General and gives him new orders that see Harwood and Francis arrested and taken away by the police.
The Queen then proceeds to address the people where she tells them they’re one nation and need to stand together. This then sees a patched-up Dave Boy and Bazza drinking in the bar while Alfred winds up sleeping with the Queen. It happens to be the royal pardon Alfred needed too and he returns back home to tell his Mum and Dad the good news.
When he arrives, Alfred talks to his Father about the cancer before he leaves for a celebration dinner. As it happens, this is all a big front as an imprisoned Harwood tells fellow inmates Bet, Peggy and Francis that the old guard didn’t surrender. Meanwhile Martha and Thomas reconcile their differences until Thomas is shot by an unknown assassin outside before the Queen phones Alfred and asks to see him again. Unfortunately, this dinner happens to be an elaborate ploy to trap the queen, fronted by none other than Alfred’s Father. Alfred catches wind of this as his Mother reveals that he’s part of the Old Guard. Panicking, Alfred grabs his gun and rushes out.
Alfred makes it to the hotel and as he follows the applause into the dining room, he manages to fight his way in where he confronts his Father over his plans. He tells Alfred he loves him before looking set to detonate the bomb. Alfred shoots him in the arm before he can do that but unfortunately it causes the detonator to go off anyway and the place to erupt in a barrage of fire. As the episode closes out, Alfred carries the unconscious Queen out of the burning building in his arms.
With an open ending and numerous questions hanging over this one, this may not be the last time we see Pennyworth on our screens. As I said earlier, this crime drama has been a refreshing change of pace and has managed to all more depth the character of Alfred Pennyworth in a believable way. There’s certainly plenty of scope for a second season too, with the Raven Society’s final victory at the end paving way for more extremist movements to possibly rise up in the future. If this is renewed for a second season, I wouldn’t be surprised if we see our quartet of villains broken out of prison to reign more terror on Britain.
While some of the material with the Queen is a little contrived, for the most part this is simply my own personal nitpicks and on the whole, Pennyworth has done well to keep the same level of intrigue and excitement going through all 10 episodes, making for a highly enjoyable series. Not bad for a show I, and many others I’d imagine, wrote off long before the opening episode.