EPIX’ Pennyworth series premiere brandished a sharp Alfred Pennyworth with intriguing possibilities, adversaries, and immersive, picturesque British scenery.
This review and recap contains spoilers for Pennyworth Season 1 Episode 1.
Pennyworth’s remarkable sky-high production values and film-like execution told Alfred’s story with all the glitz and glamour you’d expect for Batman’s iconic butler. Alfred called Esmé’s accent posh but it was the sensational British presentation, fashion and decor of the premiere that sold the meaning of the word. Though we’ve seen Alfred step out of Wayne Manor before and more than an inkling of his capabilities, young Alfred is a whole new ball game. Even relatively minor details like Esmé referring to him as ‘Alfie’ showcases a new side of Alfred. Any true Batman fan will enjoy the “Pilot” episode for the Thomas Wayne / Alfred interactions alone.
Most telling was the animosity between Alfred and his father toward the Butler profession. The rift in question was Alfred wanting to be his own man. In response, his father proclaimed, ‘Nobody is their own man.’ The verbal joust was ominous, as we all know, Alfred ends up a butler… Adding a nihilistic, predetermined outlook on life. Raising the question, if we have any agency in life at all? Despite Alfred’s grand security business aspirations and rising to the occasion all episode… We know he’ll eventually follow in his father’s footsteps. Dark and foreboding as all Batman lore should be.
Pennyworth’s inaugural debut started with the introduction of the mysterious Bet Sykes taking a Duke hostage to be tortured. As a member of the Governor’s endorsed Raven Society, bent on bringing Britain back from ‘weak-willed men,’ Sykes did the dirty ‘ugly’ work. Work ‘presumably’ that needed to be done for the country’s own good. It would set the tone for an action filled episode debating the very ethos of the Queen and what it means to be English. We soon met a still bouncer/doorman Alfred disposing of some bad guys to assist an unknown Thomas Wayne with his drunk sister.
Meeting Thomas Wayne
Wayne would exchange cards with Pennyworth after his sister accidentally punched Alfred in the nose after Thomas ducked out of the way. Alfred insisted on giving his ‘Securities’ card as to legitimize his business. Sykes would later attempt to have a hit on Thomas Wayne and though he escaped, she found that very same Alfred’s Securities card.
Esmé is kidnapped by Bet Sykes
Ever the Gentleman Alfred would charm dancer Esmé to a park date after she gave her handkerchief to stop his nosebleed. Promising to return the handkerchief on Saturday when they’re both off of work. Despite opposing views with Alfred as a 10-year military man using the “Queen’s Bullets” and Esmé being against all forms of war and murder, she fell in love with him. However, a dinner with Alfred’s parents sent the relationship reeling. After some choice words from Alfred’s father, Esmé decided to end their pairing despite loving Alfred. Right then and there, Sykes would capture Esmé in a drive-by kidnapping. She demanded Thomas Wayne back from Alfred for an exchange.
Alfred Pennyworth was beside himself, bewildered and confused. He recruited his old military pals to assist in taking Wayne hostage. The plan was a success but the exchange was not, merely a trap as Wayne had predicated. However, Alfred and co soon laid waste to Sykes’ group and regained leverage. Meanwhile, Esmé attempted a failed escape after a strange requested dance by Sykes. Both were high tier cinematic artistry from the frenzied firefight to the staircase kick on Sykes by Esmé. Her screams for help among an aristocratic dinner, being ignored, looked like something right out of The Purge.
One of The Raven Society’s men told Alfred where Esmé was being held and he would attempt a one-man rescue. Though outnumbered, and temporarily taken hostage himself, Alfred’s battalion managed to overwhelm The Raven Society. Alfred rescued Esmé but she still wanted to breakup.
An Unexpected Visitor
Upon returning home, Alfred Pennyworth found his parents taken hostage by Sykes. She wanted revenge on Esmé for hitting her and trying to escape. Just then Esmé showed up at Alfred’s doorstep wanting to get back together. Sykes slapped Esmé who returned the favor, allowing enough daylight for Alfred and his family to take back control. Soon after, Thomas Wayne would offer Alfred a security position, which he declined. Alfred received a medal from the Queen for his actions against The Raven Society. However, she mysteriously asked him to stay forever silent on what he did for his country…
EPIX’ Pennyworth opened with a smashing premiere!
Check out a recap of last week’s Perpetual Grace, LTD and catch up on another great EPIX series.