Despite a scheduled New York Comic-Con Metaverse Panel for later in the day, TVInsider started the morning with news about Pennyworth‘s return: starting with its December 13th premiere date on Epix.
The series, which recasts Batman’s butler and parents as a key participants in a 20th Century version of the English Civil War, returns to the action one year later with Lord Harwood (Jason Flemyng) having escape prison and igniting a firefight for the realm. “It’s much more good guys versus bad guys,” creator Bruno Heller said during the panel itself. But as seen in the trailer below, Alfred (Jack Bannon) is less than willing to get into the battle — preferring to raise money for his escape to the U.S. — while Thomas (Ben Aldridge) and Martha (Emma Paetz) have an awkward reunion thanks to the war for London.
Also glimpsed in the trailer, Simon Manyonda joins the series as Lucious Fox. Although he will start the series “working for the bad guys,’ according to Heller, he nearly completes the brigade of Bruce Wayne mentors the show could use — unless it imports lesser known people like David Cain, Zatara, and Henri Ducard to the show. Which, considering how wild Pennyworth can be, isn’t outside the realm of possibility. Provided Alfie, Thomas, and Martha can save England first, of course.
Then there is the matter of Bruce himself. As Heller revealed back at DC FanDome, Martha is pregnant. And while everyone assumes the father is Thomas — and that the baby is Bruce for that matter — paternity and Thomas’s current fiancee may be points of conflict for the group.
“The fiancee is kind of a throwaway gag to the point that his parents have found her for him,” Heller said even as he blanked on the character’s name. “It’s clear to us and to Martha that in that area alone, Thomas Wayne is a lamb,” the producer continued. “He was pressured into doing the conventional thing. What Martha offers him is a whole life of unconventional freedom. The fiancee back in Gotham is part of that old world.”
Meanwhile, Bet’s (Paloma Faith) loyalty to Harwood will see her rewarded with rank and position. And as Faith told viewers, “She’s the sort of person who gets carried away in the uniform.”
“It’s a subtle difference, but I felt it once I put the uniform on,” she said. “As soon as you give someone a costume that symbolizes their job, it makes them a different person.” She also mentioned a more personal story is coming Bet’s way even as she deals with her power trip.
Though briefly mentioned during the panel, TVInsider revealed Arrow veteran Jessica de Gouw is joining up as Melanie Troy, the wife of Alfred’s old captain during the war. She and Alfred are said to have an “immediate connection.”
During the panel, Heller said the show does fit into the Batman canon with the caveat that it is ultimately up to “popular acclimation” to make it so. Additionally both he and executive producer Danny Cannon have decided Pennyworth is a prequel to Gotham, although he also encouraged fans to make that connection stronger in their own minds as DC’s love of multiverses also keeps the shows apart in some ways.
As for the title character, all agreed the show on the trajectory to revealing just why Alfred ultimately devotes himself to the Waynes and their eventual son. Bannon went as far as to say there is still a tremendous amount of distrust toward Thomas when the season begins. Faith suggested it might be “the woman’s decision” to hire Alfred on as Bruce’s protector. Of course, it remains to be seen if this will be where the story goes.
When the series returns, it will take a long break to account for COVID-19 and the way it disrupted production. The first four episodes will air into January, then the reaming six episodes will air later in 2021. It might be a change for Pennyworth, but not unusual for shows on premium services.
Pennyworth returns December 13th on Epix.