Returning for another episode of espionage crime thrills, the surprisingly excellent Pennyworth returns for another impressive slice of drama. With deep characterisation alongside another standalone case, Pennyworth expertly weaves both narratives together to keep the same feel and tone of the first episode going.
In the dead of night, with white smoke curling into the sky and an ominous hue hanging over the streets of London, a man runs away from a shadowy figure. A man calling himself The Ripper.
Meanwhile, Wayne calls on the services of Alfred again. He refuses initially, heading back to Esme where he laments not seeing her Father yet. However, while having a quiet drink down the pub, a man named Jason riles up the landlord and scares the barmaid Sandra. He pleads with Alfred to help but he refuses him too, much to the disgust of Dave Boy who reminds him he’s former SAS.
As Esme begins her acting career, Alfred supports her while Bet Sykes blackmails a prison guard into sending letters for her. She sends one to Esme, antagonizing the poor girl, and another to her own sister in a subtle bid to help.
Meanwhile, Jason Ripper shows back up at the pub, instilling fear in everyone. Except Alfred of course, who talks to him normally and asks Sandra to pour him a pint. A fight ensues soon after which spills into the streets. Alfred easily overwhelms Jason, who promises that there will be hell to pay for his actions. However, Alfred stifles any threat by holding him captive while he goes and sees the main man, John ripper, at his base of operations.
As Jason is interrogated by Dave Boy and Bazza, he’s forced to listen to the sound of scraping metal, believing they’re bringing in heavy tools to remove his limbs. Broken, he promises the two men to give up all the information he has on John. Unfortunately, The Ripper happens to be present during this time. Disgusted, he tells Jason to leave London before asking Alfred what his end-game is. Cool as a cucumber, Alfred agrees to a deal with the devil and all appears well as Sandra can confidently sing again and the others down the pub breathe a huge sigh of relief.
However, Syke’s letter still plays heavily on Esme’s mind. Alfred’s marriage proposal does go someway to alleviate that, as the day of Syke’s execution arrives. Although they witness her death on TV, it turns out it wasn’t actually her, as her sister Penny breaks Bet out of prison and they drive away.
Pennyworth continues its crusade to shake the Gotham persona in another impressive episode of crime thrills. Alfred’s cool demeanor works really well alongside the other ensemble characters here and the underlying story surrounding the Raven Society and the Government feels like it’s going to engulf Alfred and the others soon rather than later.
The production design and style of the series is consistently good too and although there are a few expository-heavy moments, for the most part the series has managed to balance this out nicely with some strong characterisation and genuinely empathetic characters at the helm. The foundation is certainly set here for this to be one of the biggest surprises of 2019 but for now, Pennyworth is a welcome addition to the Sunday night TV calendar and one well worth sticking with for the long haul.