After getting renewed officially in DC Fandome 2021, DC’s “Pennyworth” series has finally returned with its third season and found a new home on the streaming platform HBO Max. The series chronicles the initial years of Batman, aka Bruce Wayne’s famous and trustworthy butler, Alfred Pennyworth, before he joined the Wayne family. However, so far, the series had not been Batman or his lore centric and was far from conventional superhero content trappings. Rather, as a period piece-political-action thriller, the series had previously defined its titular character as 007 meets Atticus Finch, quite similar to how the comic’s Alfred was occasionally depicted or hinted at through the years. However, the series also took several liberties to radically differentiate itself from the comic canon and set a distinctive waypoint of its own. We will briefly discuss the major connections from previous seasons and then thoroughly discuss the first episode of the latest season.
‘Pennyworth’ Season 2: Recap
Bruno Heller and Donny Cannon, who are executive producers of this series, had previously developed another Batman side character-centric series, “Gotham,” which revolves around James Gordon’s younger days as a police detective in the city of Gotham and the misadventures of some major Batman related characters. Cannon and Heller made “Pennyworth” as a thematic prequel to “Gotham,” envisioned to depict Alfred Pennyworth’s formative years in the same universe. Season one followed Alfred Pennyworth as a freshly released army veteran, trying to get a footing of his own and creating a security firm in 60s London. Young Alfred meets with still unmarried Thomas Wayne and Martha Kane pretty early in the series, hinting that the prolonged friendship among the trio will later seal Alfred’s fate as an orphaned Bruce’s legal guardian. Losing the love of his life in the hands of his former Captain and avenging her; getting caught up in the entanglements of secret societies like No name League and Raven Society, government toppling literal nazi conspirators, and gothic vamps, the bleeding heart protagonist saves the British queen with the help of Waynes. At the end of season one, Alfred was offered a job in Scotland Yard.
The second season of “Pennyworth” sets up its premise in the political unrest of the then-fictionalized London, where Raven Society, now reshaped as a stronger Raven Union, is seeking to wrest control of the country from the PM and monarchy. In the meantime, Alfred, who had managed to acquire plenty of moolah to set up a club, turns into a pauper overnight. His love life found no luck, as his brief fling with Sandra Onslow turned sour. Another significant character in the Batman mythos, Lucius Fox, is introduced as a mole in Raven Union’s heinous Stormcloud project. With the country on the brink of a devastating civil war, Alfred came across his father, Arthur Pennyworth, a former member of Raven Union, who was thought to be dead, at the end of season two. In an attempt to reconcile and make amends for his past sins, his father reveals the location of Raven Union’s mass extermination weapon, the stormcloud capsule. Alfred’s former Captain in the British SAS, Gulliver Troy, a borderline psychopath who had a shaky relationship with Alfred throughout the second season, went on to sacrifice himself to save the day by swallowing the capsule, which turned him into a super-soldier with powers similar to metahumans. Season two ends with Alfred, along with Gully Troy winning the English Civil War, with Thomas and Martha Wayne, now a married couple, becoming parents as Martha gives birth to a daughter named Samantha.
‘Pennyworth: The Origin Of Batman’s Butler’ Season 3: Episode 1 Recap And Ending
Showrunners Heller and Cannon remarked that they had decided to add the subtitle “The Origin of Batman’s Butler” to suit the purpose of changing the television platform, which is to gain much-needed visibility. They also hinted that the third season would lean a bit toward comic-book lore without compromising the crime/action thriller vibe the series has. The promotional trailer also suggested that the twist in the season two finale of the first appearance of a metahuman in the show was not a one-off thing, as governments are actively experimenting with people to create metas who they can use for their purposes.
“Pennyworth: The Origin Of Batman’s Butler” Season 3, Episode 1 opens with Alfie’s brief monologue, which reminds viewers of the events that took place in the last season’s finale. There is a time jump of five years as we find out that, for better or worse, the world is getting more instances of the emergence of superpowered beings, or as they are known in the universe as PWE, People with Enhancements. Alfred comes across a person laced with a cybernetic arm and quickly subdues him with a low blow. Turns out, Alfred has been “collecting” these PWEs in exchange for handsome pay from the MI5 Science Dept.; Martha Wayne being a member of it along with Lucius Fox. Alfred is not alone in his bounty collection duty, though, as he is assisted by a redemption-seeking former vamp, Bet Sykes, and his long-time friend from SAS, Wallace’ DaveBoy’ McDougal.
Alfred has bought a pub and is running a security firm on the side. It doesn’t seem like he is keen on his earlier interest in moving to America, as it is shown that he is still living with his mother. On the other hand, Sandra Onslow, with a change of fortune, has become an overnight star musician. From the front page of the newspaper which Alfie’s mother, Mrs. P, was reading, it is revealed that John Salt, the Raven union leader and orchestrator of the Stormcloud project, is still at large. Since her husband passed away five years ago, Mrs. P has become lonely and is trying to keep herself busy by babysitting for Wayne when she isn’t busy looking for jobs. She advises Alfie to get settled in life.
The Waynes are living happily with their daughter. Thomas Wayne has left all his bureaucratic, secretive, scandalous work and has chosen his profession as a doctor to gain a sense of purposefulness, just like the Thomas Wayne readers know from comics. Patrick Wayne, the father of Thomas, suddenly pays a visit from the United States with his friend Virginia Deveraux, apparently to meet their daughter-in-law Martha and their granddaughter Samantha. Martha lies to Patrick about her job at dinner. Later, Patrick asks Thomas for help, as one of Wayne Enterprise’s researchers, Dr. Glubb, has fled the country to pass sensitive information to the British government, and if they can’t trace him in due time, Wayne’s industry will be ruined. At Thomas’s question about how they can be of any help, Patrick says that he knows Martha’s real profession as an MI5 agent, which was yet unknown to Thomas. An altercation ensues between father and son as Thomas strongly insists that he and Martha have left that life for a better, useful one after their daughter was born, and even if Martha is associated with MI5, he won’t ask her to pass on valuable information. It should be mentioned that, most possibly, the same ‘Doctor’ kills a CIA agent while being escorted by the former and flees to someplace else earlier in the same episode. This came to MI5’s notice as PM Aziz himself informed Martha earlier. It is then hinted that this aspect of trust and secrecy will be addressed in the future.
Bet Sykes manages to locate Miss Dixon, Raven Union secretary, and a telephone operator, while trying to find and kill John Salt once and for all. She holds Dixon’s family captive but can’t squeeze Salt’s whereabouts from them. In a moment’s distraction, Dixon couple try to overpower her, only to get brutally shot in the face by Bet. From a wall rack inside the house, she finds a Raven Ledger with coded names and addresses of former Raven Union members. She takes the only survivor of the family with her, Julie, the child.
In the meantime, at his security firm, Alfred is approached by the nanny of a teenager named Jessica Thistle, who, according to the nanny’s suspicion, has fallen with the wrong sort of company in a nightclub she used to visit and gone missing. Alfred visits the nightclub, and after a bit of pressure from Davyboy’s side, the owner, Mr. Renley, tells them that the girl might have come under the influence of Sister Sussie, an infamous dealer disguised as a spiritual guru who runs Inner Peace Ashram and supplies teenagers with potent psychedelics that obliterate the memories of users to make them an easy vessel for human trafficking, kidnapping, and exploiting. Renley also adds that she might have a connection with uppermost-tier people.
Alfred, accompanied by Daveyboy, rescues the girl rather easily and takes her to his office. The girl acts erratic, wishes to stay with her sister Sussie, and is unwilling to return home. Alfred advises her not to follow Sussie and gives his card to the girl to reach out to him if ever the situation demands it.
As it turns out, Virginia is probably part of the US government or part of its adversaries, as she displays a brutally strong command over Patrick Wayne in the matter of asking for help from Thomas. Later, she is also contacted by an unseen caller, who informs her about a certain girl’s whereabouts, and Virginia gives the caller permission to proceed with the plan the next morning. In the next scene, with the ice cream truck’s jingle and an appropriately sinister-sounding track playing in the background, the Thistle residence comes into view. The door opens with a middle-aged couple fatally stabbed, behind whom a frenzied-looking Jessica stands with a knife in her hand, both her white attire and the knife drenched in blood. Alfie wakes up from a bad dream, almost like a premonition about what is going to happen. While he and Mrs. P have their morning chitchat, the doorbell rings, and Jessica faints in Alfred’s arms right after asking for his help.
“Pennyworth” Season 3 has started strongly on a new streaming platform. All the while, the period set pieces, intrigues, suspense, and brutality have retained the flavor of earlier seasons, all the while setting the tone to be a bit more like comics. The unknown benefactor of Sister Susie might also be the one who has mandated Virginia to do anything to get the job done. Again, Wayne Enterprises’ researcher turned rogue definitely shares similarities with “Gotham” and comics storylines where Wayne’s R&D projects were used to terrorize the people of Gotham. With Thomas Wayne pursuing medical science as a career and the CIA going up against MI5, the teases will be shifted to Gotham sooner or later, even if for limited episodes. Despite being a show that isn’t connected with other DC series just yet, Pennyworth has turned out to be a worthwhile prequel series on its own merits, and we hope season 3 will only contribute more to the good side.