With all the Batman movies and Gotham shows and cartoons bouncing around I did ask the question did we really need an origin series about Bruce Wayne’s butler? Well it turns out we did! Playing like an ITC shows from the 60’s-70’s Pennyworth is a sleek old spy thriller set to an awesome soundtrack that helps punctuate the time period.
As the show opens we get a scene setting prologue where a confidently inconvenienced Bet Sykes (Paloma Faith) abducts a horse-riding man from his estate grounds. Sykes is taking no messing and Faith plays her in such a way that you forget all about the enigmatic pop star’s music career. Faith started her entertainment career as an actress and it is clear to see that she still has a lot of untapped potential in this market. her portrayal of Sykes may be the sleeper hot of the show.
We then meet young Alfred (Jack Bannon) working as a doorman at a nightclub. he goes full Dalton in stopping two thugs attacking Thomas Wayne and the two exchange business cards. Flashbacks/dreams ensue of Alfred’s time in the war then he is off on a date with a young actress named Esme Winikus (Emma Corrin).
Later we learn Bet Sykes works for the Raven Society, a clandestine group that want to overthrow the current regime in England. The man she captured earlier is tortured and interrogated. Sykes even kidnaps his son whilst delivering the best line of the episode. Following his beating the man gives up the name Thomas Wayne and Sykes immediately is sent to dispatch him. After an attempt is made on Wayne he escapes but Sykes finds Alfred’s business card and decides that is her next lead to investigate…
Verdict: 8.5/10 A solid and slick show that delivers on so many levels. As a nostalgia piece it holds up and as a spy show it holds up. It’s greatest strength though is its characterisations – everyone lives their character, Faith especially is a stand out. In a flooded market Pennyworth is a breath of fresh air that doesn’t keep hitting its audience over the head to remind them this has a Batman connection. Instead it lets the characters gro and breath naturally.