Review: ‘Pennyworth’ S03 Ep.8 – ‘Red Marauder’

Thomas (Ben Aldridge) is ghosting Martha (Emma Paetz), the British military have taken over Salt’s lab so they can use Lullaby to create mind-controlled soldiers, and Patricia (Salóme Gunnarsdóttir) is testing out how many times she can go to a party that goes south and come out unscathed. Mostly, though, this week’s episode mines X-Men/mutant territory, with its portrayal of how PWEs are being ostracized and attacked, with Captain “Gully” Blighty (James Purefoy) as the one exception.

Photograph by Colin Hutton/HBO Max

Gully is far from the first hero to have their checkered past swept under the rug. It makes sense that the general public would be unaware that he used to abuse his wife (Jessica De Gouw). That’s intentional, but the people in his inner circle do know, so while “complicated” is a generous term by which to describe Gully, he’s a “role model” who needs to have an asterisk next to his name at all times.

For Gully’s swan song, though — as “Red Marauder” ended up being — it sometimes felt like the series was trying to buy into his hero image, too, and not address his more lascivious past, because Gully never reformed. He never apologized. He never asked to be a hero. If it hadn’t been for Alfie (Jack Bannon) it’s unlikely he would’ve ever swallowed Stormcloud (because Alfie has always been Gully’s Achille’s heel), yet he gets the hero’s death – both publicly and privately – and, privately, it’s unearned.

In fact, Gully’s legacy so far (as another of Alfie’s controversial father figures to die violently) is that he may have convinced Alfie to propose to Sandra (Harriet Slater), even though shotgun marriages aren’t necessary to be a good parent. Somehow, though, Alfie has latched onto that old-fashioned idea (and, much in the same way Gotham was, Pennyworth has always been dodgy about what year the series is supposed to take place in, so maybe it’s old-fashioned, maybe it’s period accurate).

Whatever the case, Alfie needs to be sure he’s marrying Sandra for the right reasons and while he hasn’t seemed to mind pulling things back with her, his break-up with Zahra (Jing Lusi) is a different story. “Moping” is the term Mrs. P. (Dorothy Atkinson) uses, so should Sandra (who’s always been more serious about Alfie than he’s been about her) settle for second best, or should Alfie be asking why Gully was so invested in him becoming a father in the first place?

Some other thoughts on this week’s episode:

Photograph by Colin Hutton/HBO Max

Given how gung-ho Sally (Claudia Jolly) has been about Fuchs (Paul Kaye), it seems really convenient that she’s escaped drinking the laced tea so far (like Sandra being the only survivor from her party in episode two).
Enough with the Guy Fawkes masks. Let Pennyworth be its own show.
While Lucius (Simon Manyonda) and Martha have had their hand’s full trying to recruit and protect PWEs, it seems like someone should be asking who the mad scientists are that have been performing these operations.

New episodes of Pennyworth: The Origin of Batman’s Butler stream Thursdays on HBO Max.

Thomas (Ben Aldridge) is ghosting Martha (Emma Paetz), the British military have taken over Salt’s lab so they can useCOMICONRead More

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