Pennyworth Review: The Alfred You Always Wanted

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If we could ever imagine a backstory for Batman's loyal butler, Alfred Pennyworth, Epix's new series Pennyworth is it.

The series was developed by Bruno Heller and Danny Cannon, the creative team behind Fox's Gotham, and it dives into Alfred Pennyworth's life before Bruce Wayne and Batman.

Stylish Alfred - Pennyworth

Set in an alternate 1960s London, Alfie (as he was known back then) has just completed his tour of duty as a special forces soldier in the British Army.

He's working as a bouncer for a local nightclub and plans on opening his own security firm when he suddenly finds himself caught up in a world of espionage and intrigue.

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The show may sound more James Bond-y than Batman-y, and it is. But that's what makes it so much fun.

Alfred is supposed to be a badass, and what better way to build his character and past life than by throwing a few 007 elements into the mix?

Don't Mess with Alfred - Pennyworth

But before you roll your eyes and think Pennyworth is completely off the Batman-canon track, there are plenty of Batman connections that are cleverly established. 

Alfie (Jack Bannon) crosses paths with his future employer, Thomas Wayne (Ben Aldridge), within the first few minutes of Pennyworth Season 1 Episode 1.

It's a trivial interaction that becomes more intrigue-filled as the story plays out.

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Alfie's father is a butler (as expected) who wishes his son would get into the family business instead of trying to start a new one.

And we even meet Martha Kane (Emma Paetz), Thomas Wayne's future wife, later in the series who is much more than the pearl-wearing socialite/philanthropist we've come to know.

Thomas Wayne - Pennyworth

So, Pennyworth effectively puts us into the future Batman's world, but it's still a world without Batman, and that's a good thing.

Too much Batman would ruin Pennyworth, and as shocking as it may be, Alfred did have a life before the Caped Crusader made his mark on the world.

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In fact, after watching the five screeners made available to the press, I wondered why the hell Alfie didn't become Batman instead of Bruce Wayne.

Alfie is smart, sexy, and suave. He's a badass who leans towards the cool, calm, and collected side. He's self-assured.

He's a ladies' man even though he becomes romantically involved with a beautiful actress and dancer who he intends to marry (his pickup line is pretty slick.)

Protection - Pennyworth

He suffers from PTSD from his war experiences.

He has a couple of crazy-ass former Army friends, Bazza (Hainsley Lloyd Bennett) and Dave Boy (Ryan Fletcher), who occasionally join him in his adventures and help him out along the way (something Batman lacks.) 

Bazza - Pennyworth

And he even encounters several loony villains who add some extra spice to his already complicated life.

But while Alfie is a multi-faceted character played exquisitely by Jack Bannon, he's not the only reason Pennyworth works so well.

The cast is filled with brilliant actors who take their characters to the next level.

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Paloma Faith, who plays the deliciously dark Bet Sykes, easily steals every scene she's in.

Bet may look like a proper English lady, but behind her sweet exterior lies a badass bitch.

Bet Sykes - Pennyworth

Sykes is an enforcer for the Raven Society, one of two secret organizations at war with each other (the No-Name League being the other), and she brings a fair amount of trouble to Alfie's life.

But Sykes isn't the only badass woman on Pennyworth. Alfie's girlfriend, Esme (Emma Corrin), is tougher than she seems. And Martha Kane, who we've already mentioned, has a few secrets up her sleeve, too.

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In addition to the outstanding acting and writing, the production design on Pennyworth is spectacular.

There's an authentic feel to this alternate London universe in which Alfie finds himself, and every scene is a feast for the eyes.

And the music isn't bad, either. "Paint it Black" by the Rolling Stones is the first song you'll hear, and it perfectly sets the tone for what's to come next. 

Dave Boy - Pennyworth

All of these things together are what makes Pennyworth so damn good. It's a riveting, moody, stylish, and fun romp into the world of Alfie Pennyworth before he became Alfred Pennyworth.

Alfred Pennyworth deserves to have his history told, and Pennyworth gives the character the backstory he deserves.

If you can set aside your Batman expectations and all of the canon that goes along with it, you'll find that Pennyworth is well worth your time.

Business Time - Pennyworth

Pennyworth premieres Sunday, July 28 at 9/8c on Epix.

And before you balk at adding another subscription service to your list, Epix is offering a 30-day free trial. So take a chance and peek into the world of Alfred Pennyworth's life before he became the Wayne family's butler.

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Once you get a taste of Pennyworth, you won't be able to stop!

Are you excited about Pennyworth? Will you watch? Hit the comments and let us know!


Editor Rating: 5.0 / 5.0
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