England has had a rough time at the beginning of Season 2 of Epix’s Pennyworth, as Harwood transforms his Raven Society into the Raven Union with all the power trip shenanigans. London is the last bastion of freedom fighting against this evil empire.
It does make Alfred Pennyworth all the more anxious to get out of dodge (or whatever the British version of that saying is), which leads to him getting into bed with some dangerous people.
London is getting worse in this two parter. The forces are all gearing up as we begin our recap now.
A visit to Alfred’s old captain needs to happen after he suspects Gulliver of stealing his money. Pennyworth doesn’t find him when visiting his home but his wife instantly strikes up a rapport with Alfred and completely charms him.
Safety is what Melanie Troy exudes (safety in her place as the wife of thief extraordinaire Gulliver Troy and her looks) which allows her to toy with Alfred since he views himself as below Gulliver due to their military history. He and Melanie are going to have an interesting future, and both actors do a great job setting it up.
A phone booth is ironically not where Bet finally gets a hold of Harwood in.
He and Bet have a friendship that the Ravens want to keep apart. I thought it odd that the operator last episode didn’t connect her, but I think it was on purpose. It’s unclear where this leaves Bet with the Raven Union, but there are more obstacles in front of her than first assumed.
The club of people against the Raven Union might be getting a double agent in the form of Bet Sykes. The start of Bet Sykes’ falling out with the Raven Union leaves us with so many possibilities as to where her storyline can lead to next. Harriet Slater’s Sandra is another loose end by the end. The men on this show have enough of the spotlight and I feel like all these female characters deserve being able to step into the light.
The mother of this group would be Bet because, as shown in this episode, she cares too much. Inspector Aziz would definitely be the Jim Gordon in this British version of the Birds of Prey, especially with what happens to him. The song of Bet Sykes’ is an erratic one, as shown by the time she spends with Katie’s old professor as they wait for Harwood to come get them.
The area Bet and Katie find themselves is close to Katie’s professor. Katie has mentioned that she was an aspiring artist, so it is nice to meet her art professor.
Bet hasn’t come for that, though.
England is not big enough for Bet Sykes because so far this season she’s been on the war path. The name of the game is survival but she can’t help being destructive, and it is Katie’s professor’s turn.
Soon, Bet is suspicious that Katie and her professor are plotting something. Bet is jealous that her new friend is giving him attention. Convincing herself of Katie’s future betrayal, Bet decides to pull a gun on them.
The screen doesn’t show this but Salt is sending men to kill Bet so this is not a good time for her to go off all half-cocked. With Katie’s professor now fully against Bet, the situation is a growing out of control fire and she is holding the gun like it is a gas can waiting for a light.
The professor and Bet have had a contentious dynamic since they’ve met, especially after she saw all his nude portraits of women. Up until the moment she pulled out a gun, Katie is able to keep the peace but even she is starting to lose her cool over this display of violence.
It’s going as well as someone would expect with a gun waving about, and it’s made even worse by two Raven Union goons driving up outside under the guise of two policemen offering help. Well, teacher runs away towards the them and instantly gets gunned down for his troubles. With that, we leave Bet and Katie on the run heading towards Bet’s only viable option for help she can think of: her sister.
Elsewhere, the stare down with Gulliver leads Alfred to realize he didn’t steal the money. That congeniality is not used when Alfred and the gang discover who actually stole their money from the bartender at the Delaney, Daveyboy’s crush. A lot of money is stolen and apparently some of it is used on her. Sometime after the robbery, we receive an introduction to a jewelry salesman trying to palm off a 500 dollar ring.
Alfred’s home is violated and he’s now pissed off. His own mother was in danger when Alfred’s money was stolen, not to mention any chance of leaving his life of crime in London. His head is clearly not in the right place which leads him to charge into a confrontation like a bull, placing himself in danger along with Bazz and Daveyboy.
It appears the mission to get his money back is going well as Alfred leads the charge into an abandoned amusement park (which is a setting rife with Batman and Joker symbolism).
Earlier though, Bazz warns against this.
The performances by all involved is stellar, but the tension between Alfred and Bazz is practically palpable. Alone with the thief, Jack Bannon really shines as he makes Alfred Pennyworth into an action hero.
Backstage in a fun house, the show creates its best fight scene to date. The song playing really adds a sense of dramatics as Alfred (Jack Bannon) sends the thief through fun house mirror after fun house mirror in slow motion, taking out all of his frustration. He and the thief beat each other until they’re bloodied, with Alfred jamming him with a shard of glass.
They have a real slobber knocker of a brawl, but Alfred emerges victorious with the thief running out of the fun house with the money and a gaping neck wound. Alfred Pennyworth chases after him, despite the wounds he’s suffered, refusing to give up his one chance to leave all of this behind. The door to the fun house is still swinging as the thief collapses and passes away from the loss of blood with the bag full of money still clutched in his bear claw hand.
Alfred doesn’t reach the money quick enough because the woman bartender, who they brought as bait, is able to snatch the cash before him. The bodies left by this confrontation are about to increase by two. Greed blinds the bartender as she drives away in Bazz’s Car. He and Alfred watch as she crashes the car and her greed prevents her from escaping the exploding car in time. Upstairs in Alfred’s brain, thoughts are running as he tries processing this. Once settled, Alfred realizes the money is not the only thing that he just lost in that car explosion.
The bed in the sky gets one more occupant as Bazz is hit. Alfred and Daveyboy try all that they can to save their best friend as it gets dire. This leaves Bazz with a piece of shrapnel from the car lodged in his stomach and him bleeding out after the explosion.
By appearance alone, they should’ve given up hope but that’s not who these guys are. Bazz’s life is on the line and, if we’ve learned anything from the first three episodes of this season, Alfred Pennyworth holds the things and people he cares about tighter than anything.
It chips away at Alfred’s resolve when Bazz gives his last words to each of best friends as he lies dying. On his honor, Bazz makes Alfred promise that he will settle down and find himself a wife (whose weight is up for debate even as Bazz dies). The hell Alfred is going to pay when Bazz finds out what destiny has in store for him. Alfred’s plate is already overloaded with problems and now he must juggle the dying wishes of his best friend among other things. This leaves a large hole in his and Daveyboy’s operation.
Hainsley Lloyd Bennett really shines in the role of Bazz, and this scene is definitely him going out on a high note. Other than Bennett, Ryan Fletcher is also placed in the spotlight. Making the scene really shine is Bannon’s silent gravitas as he lets the others soar. Everywhere in this scene you can just feel the devastation that Bazz’s death leaves behind for his two best friends. They and we will mourn Bazz for a while, and it’s a somber note to end on.
It’s them who will suffer this loss the most, though, which is clear while watching the second part of the two-part mid-season finale. They respond to the death of their friend in the most British way possible, with a stiff upper lip. We lost a gentleman of a character and he won’t be the last. The streets of London are on fire and Alfred just lost the more reliable of his two best friends.
The sewers are overflowing with Raven corruption and Alfred will need all the help he has. Rats like Gulliver Troy are all circling Alfred and his friends as he only seems able to focus on one thing: escaping this life to America. Being killed means Bazz won’t be there to ground Alfred by reminding him that he has responsibilities in London before he can jet off to America.
The money, and what it represents, is the only thing that Alfred could focus on and it got one of his best friends killed.
The maintenance that the Delaney needs will be tougher for Alfred with only himself and Daveyboy around. Alfred will need all the help he can get to face the Raven Union, and luckily the second part of this two parter introduces another major Batman figure: Lucius Fox.
Navigation through this topsy-turvy alternate London is tough, so it was easy to miss Lucius Fox’s introduction in an earlier episode as a Raven Union scientist. His mouth might have said “Yes, sir”, but this reveals he is actually working undercover against the Ravens. The head of science for the Raven Union, Mr. Salt, only thinks of Lucius as an underling.
Lucius Fox reveals himself as a mole when he goes to the bathroom, where he turns on the recorder hidden on him. The English League might have an inside man.
The English League is on the right track as we head to the finale’s ending, but things are about to take a turn. Fortune is seemingly shining on Harwood at the end of the finale when he sees the long teased Project Stormcloud.
Victory is apparently within Harwood’s grasp now that he has Project Stormcloud, even though he gave his word that he would drop the project. Harwood’s lying about his intentions to stop Project Stormcloud is a red flag about his capabilities to lead especially during these very chaotic times.
Boss Harwood watches the horrific results and is impressed. The weapons, especially Stormcloud, Salt invented would be dangerous in anyone’s hands, much less the deranged Harwood. Hardwood’s circle of trusted advisors wasn’t that big to begin with, but they are slowly starting to doubt him due to his friendship with loose cannon, Bet.
Harwood’s goal of total control consumes him, to the point that his health is now deteriorating, which Salt uses to his advantage. He and Salt have debated the value of Project Stormcloud before, but it seems Harwood’s hesitation is over.
Harwood accepts the damage that Stormcloud will do if it means winning the war. He and Mr. Salt are pretty stellar villains, stealing most the show from our main character, thanks to the very skillful performance of Edward Hogg.
Satan himself might have been a little too heavy handed for this show’s big bad but Crowley comes close. The arrangement Thomas makes for himself has had the consequence of leaving our heroes vulnerable just as Mr Salt has put the finishing touches on their offense.
Crowley and Salt give a two prong antagonistic force that reveals the questionable logic some of these characters have, but nonetheless ramps up the stakes with very skillful strikes to people like Potter that leave our heroes vulnerable mainly thanks to their own personal issues and bewildering choices.
The wants of the Raven Union creates something truly dangerous. This conflict is just getting started and I can’t wait to see how it all unfolds.
Episodes of Pennyworth can be found on EPIX
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