'Pennyworth' Season 2 Episode 1 Review: Thomas and Alfred deliver the shocks in gritty, action-packed opener
'The Heavy Crown' has a bit of everything— wry humor, slambang action, a breezy plotline, some cleverly name-dropped Easter eggs and a twist that not of lot of us saw coming
Spoilers for 'Pennyworth' Season 2 Episode 1 'The Heavy Crown'
London is ravaged by the neo-fascist Raven Union. Lord Hardwood (Jason Flemyng) is taking over England at a steady pace and there's a war brewing, but not for Alfred (Jack Bannon), whose cynical optimism remains intact despite the events of the past, where he kills his father, Mr Pennyworth (Ian Puleston-Davies) in order to save the life of the queen. 'The Heavy Crown' picks up from the events of the explosive Season 1 finale with the focus on the Union currently having the upper hand.
'Pennyworth' made headlines for its unpredictable plotlines and massive twists and it appears that showrunners, Danny Cannon and Bruno Heller stuck to the same template that saw the pilot season earn positive critical reception. 'The Heavy Crown' has a bit of everything— wry humor, slambang action, a breezy plotline, some cleverly name-dropped Easter eggs and a twist that not of lot of us saw coming. Breaking down these components one by one, it's the humor that's striking.
In a society riddled with fascism, a bit of a laugh is the last thing you expect when people fight for survival. Trust Alfred, the cold-blooded cool cucumber that he is to make the best of the situation. At the West End neutral zone, we find Alfred running The Delaney, a Soho club that has people coming in and are welcomed despite their political choices and his introduction is as classy as it can get when he disarms a man of his weapon in the club just in time as he senses a fight about politics could break out.
Watching this intently are Martha Kane (Emma Paetz) and Inspector Aziz (Ramon Tikaram) as they sit across the table watching Alfie bring back the party vibe. While he runs the place in the evening, he's still a very expensive gun-for-hire and Aziz assigns a mission of apprehending one of the Raven Union's top brass, Colonel Salt (Edward Hogg). He sets off on the mission with his trusty pals, Dave Boy (Hainsley Lloyd Bennett) and Bazza (Ryan Fletcher).
While the action unfolds at one end, Thomas Wayne (Ben Aldridge), after making a complete recovery following the murder attempt on him in Season 1, is now station chief of the very place that almost got him killed. He meets up with Martha and just when things look like they're about to spice up, confesses he's engaged. That is twist number one. Considering the chemistry and the love the duo shared, this comes across as a stunner and although we do know the end result, it's an interesting plotline to have.
Speaking of Martha Kane, the daredevilry and the blitzkrieg action she was known for in the previous installment shows no signs of stopping as she is introduced with yet another action sequence. Hopefully, Thomas gets some action screentime as well. His anger was glimpsed before and it would be pretty cool to see Bruce Wayne's parents as people who kicked some serious a** in their prime.
The plotline as we mentioned is a blur but does pack in too much. For good or for worse, it is quite a lot to take in. On the mission front, Alfie is successful in nabbing Salt while he is having an intense romp with his mistress after torturing a man to death. The trio soon realizes Salt is a bigger fish than they all thought he would be. Alfie enlists the help of Gulliver Troy, his former SAS Captain to just double back on the mission and re-acquire Salt instead of handing him off to the authorities.
'Pennyworth' isn't complete without Bet Sykes who now heads a detention center. Trust Paloma Faith to induce violence and comedy in one frame as he establishes a weird but crackling chemistry with Katie Browning (Jessye Romeo), an art student whose life has been shaped by the civil war. 'The Heavy Crown' isn't without its share of family drama too as it quickly suggests all isn't well in the Pennyworth household. Alfie still has visions of his dead father and his mother, Mrs P (Dorothy Atkinson) is still bitter about moving to the United States with Alfie.
To end with here's a quick Easter egg: The Arkham Asylum existed back in the '60s.
Final thoughts on 'The Heavy Crown': A compelling action-filled opener that sets the tone for another suspenseful season. The episode debuts on Epix on December 13 at 9 pm ET.