Review: ‘Pennyworth’ S03 Ep.10 – ‘Highland Wedding’
by Rachel Bellwoar
All the Cat Stevens songs in the world can’t make Pennyworth‘s season finale any better but, like a spoonful of sugar, “Morning Has Broken” does make the medicine go down a little easier (or, in this case, an ill-advised wedding).
The wedding in question, of course, is the wedding of Alfie (Jack Bannon) and Sandra (Harriet Slater). I suppose Mrs. P. (Dorothy Atkinson) and her beau (Oliver Ryan) could’ve gotten hitched, and he does appear randomly in this episode like a forgotten puppy the series needed to remind viewers existed, but it’s wishful thinking.
Every time Sandra gives Alfie an inch, he throws it in her face and while nobody could’ve predicted General Thursday (Tristram Wymark) would drop a missile right when Alfie was about to say “I do,” the series didn’t have to make a cliffhanger out of it.
You know what would’ve been shocking? Ending the episode with Alfie saying “I do” anyway. At the very least ruin the wedding during Sandra’s vows, too, so neither of them gets to say, “I do.” All that this ending does is give Alfie another out and perpetuates Sandra being the series’ punching bag, who’s not allowed to move on but can’t be happy either. It was so refreshing, at the beginning of the episode, when Sandra got to fight back and not let Alfie make excuses for a change. It probably says a lot about their relationship that she had to endanger their lives for him to break script, but it worked, and would’ve kept working, too, if the series hadn’t been so impatient to resolve everything.
Basically, Pennyworth is treating Martha (Emma Paetz) and Sandra the same way, with their respective spouses always weaseling out of the tough conversations so nothing changes. Alfie isn’t quite the hypocrite Thomas (Ben Aldridge) is (calling Martha crazy and having selective memory when it comes to his own failings; having no qualms about storming out of the house when he just got back from a trip he didn’t consult Martha about), but it’s still bad.
Some other thoughts on this week’s episode:
- Given that Martha and Lucius (Simon Manyonda) work for the government, did neither of them consider reporting to Aziz (Ramon Tikaram) first before leaving the city? Would it have been so much trouble to make one more stop with the bus and pick Aziz up? And why did Daveboy (Ryan Fletcher) and Sally (Claudia Jolly) think finding Fuchs (Paul Kaye) would resolve anything, instead of going to Aziz directly? Their slow response time certainly didn’t help get the word out sooner (not that they knew Lullaby was in the milk).
- Taking a karaoke break in the middle of a crisis is the kind of tonal shift that might work on Doom Patrol. Not so much Pennyworth.
- How did Thomas last as long as he did as a CIA agent? Is he still a doctor, because it would’ve been cool if some medical professionals could’ve been consulted about an antidote for Lullaby other than murder and waiting the victims out?
- Anyone else have a problem with the zombie protocol the show took, in terms of killing civilians whose only crime was drinking milk with their morning tea? Usually there isn’t a cure for zombie bites, but the high of Lullaby would wear off. What happened to shooting to wound, not kill?
All episodes of Pennyworth: The Origin of Batman’s Butler are streaming now on HBO Max.