Pennyworth S2 Is a Shitload of Fun
Published April 18, 2021
PENNYWORTH is rad as hell. Yes it’s on Epix, I know, I know, but it’s worth the entire price of admission, believe me.
It’s created by the guy who did HBO’s ROME (Bruno Heller), and if you remember that, it’s probably because remember the top-shelf manful banter of Vorenus and Pullo of the fookin’ 13th.
Well let me tell you the manful banter on this fucking show matches and/or exceeds that of his previous work.
Filling out the backstory of (presumably, but not definitely!) Batman’s eventual butler is an odd task, but Heller is managing it with aplomb. It’s like Todd Phillips’ JOKER, but with a wicked sense of humor and a truckload of dynamite.
I’m ninety-nine percent sure the pitch for this was “Remember how Michael Caine was Alfred in Nolan’s Batman movies? Well, what if we made a show about YOUNG Alfred, but Young Alfred is basically Michael Caine in Get Carter?” And what they came up with is a fucking delight.
There’s a lot to talk about:
- the moving portrait of returning soldiers struggling to find their place at home as changed men.
- The vigilantistic thrills of seeing said soldiers taking on crime-y jobs for mostly the right reasons.
- Political intrigue connected to the aforementioned crimes.
- Royal intrigue connected to the aforementioned crimes.1
- a rich family dynamic that reliably yields humor, pathos, and firm love in equal measure.
- the mad-science-circa-1960s element to all the technology — from the deadly gas bombs, to the resuscitated mechanical men, and so on.
- an authentic Tracy/Hepburn dynamic in Thomas Wayne and Martha Kane.
- Unabashed revelry in the pulpiest bits of every single element involved.
It’s hard to know where to start. I mean this is the Big Bad the season started with:
Look at this fucking guy, he’s got it all:
- Rich white dude, probs straight, very hot right now in the villain department.
- Nonspecific military costume with strong Hugo Boss vibes
- a fucking GOLDEN NOSE (the first one got blown off in season one, also a delight)
- A giant map wall behind him so you know he’s here to conquer the UK and chew bubblegum, and he’s running low on the latter.
Then !!!SPOILERS!!! he met up with his friends the psychopathic murder sisters and then turned out to be a good guy (or a least a less bad guy) and his (white dude) assistant took over the plot to gas London, kill the queen, and take over the UK.
Their organization is called The Raven Society, btw. COME ON.
Meanwhile, there’s a bisexual psychotic with impeccable fashion sense who — along with her new lover and her similarly-coiffed sister — has been having a kind of coming-of-age story all season, as she learned to take responsibility for her actions (to a degree) and restrain her more unstable and unhelpful impulses (to a degree).
Also they got James “Hell of an exit” Purefoy (which he said to Polly Walker, also in PENNYWORTH — she’s the bisexual psychotic’s sister) to be a menacing father-figure-slash-former-commanding officer with an absolutely stunning femme fatale wife in Jessica de Gouw.
So of course there’s scandal with the wife and we get to see the full Purefoyonic Malice on display, followed by heroic sacrifice, followed by miraculous resurrection and potential superheroic redemption.
That’s right. Superheroic.
Between Alfie’s father’s third act as a vacuum cleaner and Purefoy’s transformation into a low grade weapon of hilarious destruction, it’s the most fun I’ve had with a prestige show in a while. Talk about making the most of a limited budget.
I cannot overstate how great Season 2 was. Even if they did do Bazza dirty.
Alfie totes makes it with the queen. Twice.↩︎
Last modified October 3, 2023 #review #tv