Bruno Heller creator and writer of this episode is on a roll. “Lady Penelope” upped the mystery and character development. China Moo-Young has directing credit on this episode. She is known for directing episodes from Call The Midwife, Humans and Spotless. The synopsis alone makes the episode sound intriguing as Alfred Pennyworth (Jack Bannon and Martha Kane (Emma Paetz) take a train ride into the country, while tragedy strikes in London.
The opening scene alone has a familiar vintage feel of Batman ‘89, as a well dressed couple walk with their young son through a dark ally. They walk past a man who has fruit being thrown at him. This is where the resemblance ends as the couple gets confronted by a homeless man begging for their help, it’s Lord Harwood. Refusing to help Harwood (Jason Flemyng) is left to go back under his cardboard shelter. A good Christian dressed like a character from Oliver Twist offers help. Harwood accepts his offer of a sandwich and a cup of tea.
Alfred Pennyworth (Jack Bannon) is at a crossroads when Detective Inspector Aziz (Ramon Tikaram) pays him a visit at the nightclub. Aziz is disappointed that Alfred decided to work for Martha Kane as she is a member of the No Name League and Thomas Wayne being her boss. Alfred plays it cool as though this is first time he has heard of this. Aziz tells Alfred he made an impression on the Queen so he won’t arrest him or Dave Boy and Bazza. Aziz is suggesting Alfred keeps his distance from the No Name League or he will hang as he is going against the Queen. The curious part of the conversation is when Aziz asks Alfred how Esme is and what she thinks of his employer. Alfred tells Aziz what he needs to know about Esme but them not agreeing where Alfreds skills could be more of use of Aziz predicts a civil war coming and the crown needs protecting.
Extremely happy to see the return of Thomas Wayne (Ben Aldridge) this week as I feel he is key in making this television show work and how Alfred becomes his most loyal employee. Martha Kane was telling the truth she has never met Thomas before until he arrives at her apartment as an intricate password is confirmed and Martha lets Thomas enter. Thomas has a mission for Martha and Alfred they are to meet an informant of The Raven Society as they have a new recently elected leader. The offer of guns from Thomas makes Martha uneasy as Alfred only agreed to work with Martha if no guns were used. Thomas makes it clear, Alfred is important to them and Martha should offer as much money as possible. The great part of this scene is how Thomas describes Gotham as the new Zurich of the eastern seaboard in twenty years time.
Alfred and Esme’s engagement is back on, so he isn’t willing to work for Martha Kane anymore. Whilst watching a news report in Sid’s pub Martha writes down an offer which does surprise Alfred. Declining it Alfred confronts Martha about working for Thomas Wayne. What she doesn’t know is that the police are on to them and Aziz knows she works for Thomas Wayne. With the offer doubled looks like Alfred can’t turn this job down.
Esmé Winikus (Emma Corrin) is home alone and is freaked out as she thinks she can hear someone outside her front door. Esmé story is a small part in this episode but meaningful and certainly tragic. Pointing a gun at the door, Alfred enters and manages to calm Esmé. Alfred thinks it might be her imagination but takes Esmé seriously to suggest staying with his parents. With Alfred starting a new job which will keep him away for long hours, Mr and Mrs Pennyworth were more then happy to have their future daughter in law to stay. We even see a different side to Mr Pennyworth (Ian Pulseton-Davies) who is eager to share some history about marmalade. Esmé looks at some photographs with Mr P of events that he has organised as a butler, which leads to Esmé asking him to help organise the wedding. You can’t help but notice the change in personality from Mr Pennyworth as he is humbled by Esmé request. I am assuming the last moments we see of Esmé is when she decides to go her and Alfred’s new apartment to some painting. Thinking that Alfred is making his way into the apartment after finding Esmé note, the terror on her face says it all. An intruder breaks in a strangles her to death.
Have you ever visited a small rural village in the country and been stared at because they know you are a stranger? Well I have and it’s creepy. This comes across extremely well when Martha and Alfred arrive. Their informant that they were due to meet at the train station had been stabbed and managed to tell them of “the darkness” Alfred checks his wallet and finds three Train tickets that were meant for them. A maypole stands in the centre of a green, Martha has no idea what it is for Alfred explains it’s for sex orgies. Which did make me laugh out loud. Two looking sinister Morris dancers dressed in Raven black watch as they make their way to The Darkness Tearooms. A waitress who shakes as she delivers their tea but Martha is concerned that it might be poisoned. As they wait for the Ravens society to make an appearance Martha asks about Esmé, there is some good genuine banter between them as Martha calls Alfred a sexiest which he innocently doesn’t know the meaning of. After a quick telephone call to Esmé, Alfred hangs up and notices the cafe has emptied. Alfred saves Martha from a shotgun as it ends up in the cafe owner which shocks them both.
As Martha and Alfred leave the cafe they are immediately set on by two members of the Ravens, unfortunately Martha cuts her leg. For a moment they are safe and the events freak Martha out as she will be kicked out of The No Name League as they have failed the mission. With more Ravens attacking them Martha threatens them with her gun. Alfred manages to persuade Martha to go to the hospital he spotted on their way into the village, whilst he is determined to find the leader of The Ravens society.
Two remaining Ravens handcuff Alfred after he approaches them. One of them is so angry for Alfred killing Ms. Darkness at the cafe that he beats Alfred. But Alfred perseveres in asking to be taken to the leader. Blindfolded Alfred is taken to a room. The older man who speaks to Alfred claims he is the leader but Alfred isn’t fooled and the message Alfred has is only for the governor.
Martha reaches the hospital and is seen by a Doctor immediately. Doctor Frances Gaunt ( Anna Chancellor) asks Martha how exactly she cut her leg? Martha makes up a story about walking into some French doors, in which the Doctor rants about how they are not a window not a door. Nine stitches are required in Martha’s leg which makes her faint. When she wakes the Doctor seems friendly but you feel an underlying agenda from her. Gaunt continues to get information out of Martha and reveals that no one in the town has French windows. A nurse is asked to bring in Tanya, which happens to be someone’s head being persevered in a jar. The Doctor is upfront and knows Martha and Alfred are there to find the new elected leader of The Raven Society. Which happens to be Doctor Frances Gaunt. No one was brave enough to step up after Lord Harwood failed. Seeing Tanya’s head in the jar Martha opens up about her real name. Good timing for Martha, Alfred is brought to Gaunt to deliver his message. Martha and Alfred manage to take out two guards, Gaunt expects Alfred to kill her but Martha explains they were only after a name and they don’t kill randomly like the Ravens. Alfred asks for a car so they can make their way back to London.
Back at Martha’s home she is genuinely interested in Alfred and asks why he doesn’t take things more seriously? As she pours Alfred a drink another question is asked by Martha in why he thinks all soldiers have nightmares? We learn about another friend of Alfred called Spanish who he saw die and does appear in the flashbacks. Martha’s father also being a soldier, Alfred thinks he was an honest man even though Martha believes he didn’t have nightmares. The surprising part of this scene is when Martha and Alfred share a passionate kiss. I certainly was expecting it but not this soon and especially as Alfred has just got his fiancée back. It’s clear that Martha and Alfred do work well together and are relaxed in each other’s company. How will Alfred feel when he finds Esmé dead at their apartment? The emotional sobbing you hear is real mix of genuine sadness and horror of finding Esmé.
The Sykes sisters are a constant joy to watch. Bet (Paloma Faith) is dancing to loud music on the radio in the kitchen. Peggy (Polly Walker) is with a client in the next room and asks Bet to turn it down, in a familiar protest Bet claims she already did. Peggy doesn’t dispute this but Bet turned it back up. Peggy actually wanting respect from Bet because she did save her from The Tower of London. Bet made it clear in the last episode how bored she was at Peggy’s, she makes the decision to go back to London.
Pennyworth is moving along at a fantastic pace and I now fully invested in the characters. Episode 5 “Shirley Bassey” will be an intriguing one ashow will Alfred Move on from the tragic event that happened in this episode.