When we last saw our intrepid doesn't-want-to-be-but-can't-help-it hero in the season two finale of Pennyworth, Alfred Pennyworth was wading into the Battle of London at the heels of Captain Gully Troy who'd become something more than human after swallowing the Stormcloud bomb. After trying to run away from his time in the military, it seemed as though Alfred was entirely back in the thick of it. And after trying to distance itself from familiar Batman characters and situations, at the end of the second season, Pennyworth seemed to be leaning into something a shade more Batman-y. With some distinct and surprising differences, of course, particularly the last-minute and surprising birth of Thomas and Martha Wayne's daughter.
The season three premiere of the show picks up five years later, in a London that has recovered from the civil war between the Ravens and the League and is looking better than ever. But all those bright psychedelic colors are just a distraction from the truth of things, and that's that London—and the people in it—are still just as dangerous and involved in some very grimy things. But that's what makes Pennyworth so dang good!
Time jumps always bring with them opportunities to make big changes in the lives of characters in a show and Pennyworth hasn't wasted the opportunity. Although at first glance, it seems like all of our favorite Batman-adjacent folks have returned to their "normal" lives, the first episode of this new season shows that there are some distinct differences with the promise of even more changes to come.
Alfred has gone back to work in private security, partnering with Dave Boy and—of all people—Bet Sykes. While Alfred and Dave take a case to search for a missing young woman, which seems pretty cut and dry to begin with, Bet's off working on a personal situation, searching for John Salt and orphaning a baby named Julie. (It's good to see that with all the changes, Bet is still…Bet.) In addition to their more traditional cases, the team's also hunting down people with powers or special enhancements like Gully (now known as Captain Blighty) for the English government, specifically Martha Wayne and Lucius Fox.
Speaking of Martha, she and Thomas are living a much quieter life than we're used to them living, or so Thomas thinks, with their five-year-old daughter, Samantha. Thomas is working as a pediatric doctor, and Martha's supposedly working a desk job for the government as a "glorified librarian," but is actually working in the field as part of MI5’s science division. Thomas's estranged father, Patrick, makes an unannounced visit with his new girlfriend, Virginia, supposedly to meet Martha and Samantha, but actually because he needs Martha's help. (And needs to blow her cover with Thomas, whoops.)
And Alfred's mother, Mary, is working as the Wayne's nanny—an interesting connection and/or change from Alfred being their butler—and looking for new love. She deserves it, for sure, but I hope that nothing nefarious is coming for her in the guise of a gentleman friend.
Of course, it would be all but impossible not to mention Pennyworth’s new subtitle: The Origin of Batman's Butler. Despite Alfred’s claim in the season premiere that he doesn’t like kids, the subtitle makes clear that he’s still on a path that leads to him becoming the old, caring Alfred that is a father figure to Bruce Wayne, but how that's possible at this point is unclear.
It really seemed for a bit like we were going to slowly ease back into the wild we've come to expect from Pennyworth. (Minus, of course, Bet's side storyline.) But then Patrick Wayne reveals that he's not as on the up-and-up as we might have expected and Virginia is definitely not who she seems. And the "simple" case of the missing girl goes from zero to 100 after Alfred rescues her from a cult and returns her to her family…and then she stumbles out of her house after her parents, covered in blood and brandishing a massive knife.
Things are not all right with our faves, but I for one am excited to see where it all goes from here. And I'm not rushing to find out how Batman factors into all of this (aside from the subtitle). Especially if it gives the side characters in Bruce's life—his parents and Alfred and all of their friends—time to shine like the recovered London. If they have to get a little dirty to do so, all the better.
New episodes of Pennyworth drop Thursdays on HBO Max. Keep up with Alfie's latest exploits on our official Pennyworth series page.
NOTE: The views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of Mandy Curtis and do not necessarily reflect those of DC Entertainment or Warner Bros.