Sunday, August 4, 2019

REVIEW: 'Pennyworth' - Alfred Accepts a New Job That Sees Him Going Up Against John Ripper in 'The Landlord's Daughter'

Epix's Pennyworth - Episode 1.02 "The Landlord's Daughter"

Alfred turns down an offer from billionaire businessman Thomas Wayne, and instead accepts an assignment that positions him in the crosshairs of one of the East End's most dastardly figures.

In 2018, there were 495 scripted shows airing amongst the linear channels and streaming services. The way people are consuming content now is so different than it used to be. It happens according to one's own schedule. As such, there is less necessity to provide ample coverage of each specific episode in any given season from a show. Moreover, it is simply impossible to watch everything. As such, this site is making the move to shorter episodic reviews in order to cover as many shows as possible. With all of that being said, here are my thoughts on the next episode of Epix's Pennyworth.

"The Landlord's Daughter" was written by Bruno Heller and directed by Danny Cannon

The larger picture of what's going on in this world remains very mysterious. It's hard to understand what exactly Thomas Wayne is doing and why he needs Alfred's help right now. The audience knows fully well that it's inevitable that they will work together. That knowledge just happens to suck a lot of the tension and drama out of the situation. Alfred's objections are understandable and significant. He doesn't want to put his family in harm's way again because of the people Thomas is targeting. And yet, Alfred is also willing to take huge risks in the hopes of getting his business off the ground. That may have nothing to do with the Raven Society and the plot to overthrow the British government. But it does feature Alfred coming face-to-face with one of the city's most feared criminals: John Ripper. This hour starts off with the audience becoming aware that Ripper's presence should be feared. He may be slow and methodical in his approach but he is absolutely terrifying as well. That's a different energy that what Bet Sykes and Lord Harwood delivered onto the narrative in the series premiere. Of course, those two characters are still relevant to the proceedings. The British government is interrogating Harwood for information about the Raven Society hierarchy. Him being the leader of the group may be incredulous but it shows the value in keeping him alive for the time being as he could provide useful information. Meanwhile, Bet is busy trying to get messages out of her confinement to prove to the world that she should remain a threat that everyone has to be worried about. Esme is right to live in fear that she could show up again with the intention of killing her. Bet sees it as this incredibly playful relationship where they go back-and-forth between complementing each other and wanting to kill each other. That's horrifying and signals why Esme is afraid to be alone at any moment in time in this world. But it's also just a lot of effort in order to explain how Bet is a free woman once more. Of course, the official story is that she is hanged on national television. That is such a gruesome sight. One that feels absolutely ridiculous with elements of overkill. And yet, that's the reality of this particular world. That's how the citizens of London perceive justice. They get to watch people be executed and disemboweled. That's what makes Alfred and his family believe that Bet has died. She is still very much alive though. That's not all that surprising. However, the logistics of her escape aren't all that easy to follow. It's just important that she has a sister who is willing to help free her. That gives her a new ally in this struggle that is bound to cause a lot of tension and drama with her. But the show itself is still mostly in setup mode. Yes, it's thrilling to see Alfred and Esme get engaged. It's rewarding that Esme's acting career is starting to pick up. And yet, there is the looming sense that something bad is about to happen since Emma Corrin is only listed as a guest star despite her prominent role in the story so far. Alfred's pursuit of expanding his business runs the risk of him being away too often and leaving her vulnerable especially with Bet as a free woman once more. Yes, Alfred saves a young woman and forms an understanding with John Ripper here. But all of that could easily come back to hurt him sooner than later. He proves that he's fine with taking risks. They just can't blow back on those he cares about. If that happens, then he will be much more tentative and calculating about any future actions he must take.