England is at war as Pennyworth picks up in season 2, and the Epix series doesn’t miss a step giving us the classic spy adventures viewers have come to expect from it. The Raven Society had taken over much of England after attempting to assassinate the Queen, which led to Alfred Pennyworth (Jack Bannon) having to kill his father who was a Raven Society acolyte.
England is in very dire straits to say the least.
Cities have been thoroughly occupied by Raven Society forces by the time the episode starts, with public propaganda screenings. The No-Name League is the only thing keeping them out of major cities, like London. Down to the loss of his father, Alfred suffered the very definition of a defeat and is suffering consequences. The United States is pretty much his escape plan; his mother has plans of her own, however.
Alfred’s father may have worked for a cult, but his mother still loved him and doesn’t want to leave their home. The storylines of this première all showcase characters’ inability to cope with loss, even going back as far as Esmé. Storylines focusing on characters processing their feelings always intrigue me, and Alfred’s guilt was heavier than any sort of pressure that the Raven Society could, and likely will, put on him.
The bubble of Alfred’s influence continues to press up against the Raven Society, especially in his duties as a night club owner. Again, Alfred’s love of action gets the best of him when a Raven Society member gets a bit too rowdy and has to step in to diffuse. Mystery shrouds the new regime’s goals but, with his adventurous inclinations, Alfred is sure to find out. James Purefoy’s Gulliver Troy will surely play a role in that mystery considering how dastardly he looks.
A detriment in season 1, Bet Sykes (Paloma Faith) returns badder. First time we see Bet Sykes is taking to her new job with the Raven Society well, managing prisoners at a prison camp. The formula that the show adheres to means this is the most we get of Bet in the episode… that is until the last scene.
Side Note: History is a big thing with me and I am loving the way that the Raven Society is paralleling the trauma of Britain’s trauma during WWII. Intriguing parallels to Inglorious Basterds also surface when watching the propaganda scene starring Jason Flemyng’s Lord James Harwood-and he could use some allies (from the comic source material or from real world history) for whatever he and the Raven Society have planned for presumably the rest of the world after they’re done with Britain. All out war is coming, and it will be thrilling to see.
The table is ready for a hero to fight back against them. Well, this episode clearly shows that hero is Martha Kent (Emma Paetz) as she recruits Alfred and his crew for this episode’s weekly mission.
Paloma Faith, and her portrayal of Bet adjusting to her new job, is the standout this episode. The path Bet is on in this episode ends with showing that the Ravens have chemical weapons.
One way this episode works well is how it upends the trajectories of these characters on their own and, as with Alfred & Martha, with each other. The demons haunting them, however, have not broken their stride at all. Damage Bet Sykes suffered during the first season, and further back, is the reason she finds herself in the Raven Society despite having some clear reservations that she has to swallow for her survival.
The Ravens have effectively put the pressure on every character, leading to this episode’s action centerpiece involving Alfred and his security firm. As head of said security firm, Alfred takes the lead as they raid the home of a Raven Society member in search of information that Martha Kane and her league needs to succeed.
Thomas Wayne is sadly a nonentity in this episode, but you know that he is up to something good. With the field of battle filling up soon, Alfred will need all the help. But luckily Lucius Fox is waiting to arrive.
The ease in which this episode slides you into its alt-history version of England is very impressive. Stick with the outlandish plot, and viewers will be rewarded with one of the flashiest and most detailed comic stories on TV right now. The first episode did a great job introducing the show’s new wartime status quo and reminding viewers of the Raven Society’s brutal methods.
The commander of the No-Name League is the one who needed Alfred. A colleague of his and Martha’s was captured by the Raven Society, and was brutally tortured before being dispatched when he proved useless.
Again, the Raven Society proves their mercilessness at the end when they use a new chemical on a prisoner. Time will tell how severe this weapon is but Lucius Fox will definitely help.
2021 will have to provide the answers to these questions thanks to Covid, and I personally cannot wait to get some answers.
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