“The Hunted Fox” introduces a major figure from the Batman mythos, and just in time, since the midseason finale promises plenty of drama to come once the show returns.
This recap of Pennyworth season 2, episode 4, “The Hunted Fox”, contains spoilers. You can check out our thoughts on the previous episode by clicking these words.
The third episode of Pennyworth Season 2 ended with the death of a major character that you’d think would have functioned better as a midseason finale (already!) than “The Hunted Fox”. But nevertheless, the show decided it would be better to show Alfie still reeling from the loss of Bazza, and driven to extremes by his new financial predicament, before parting ways with audiences until, it seems, early March. That admittedly leaves this episode feeling a touch anticlimactic, but it’s nonetheless full of stuff that’ll pay dividends later in the season.
In his desperation, Alfie changes his mind about working with Gully, and while on the mission, which is to nab a hefty contingent of gold from London’s mayor, exhibits a degree of violence that suggests he’s not particularly well-adjusted at the moment – a diagnosis only confirmed when, after the successful heist, he interferes in a dispute between Gully and his long-suffering wife, Melanie. Pennyworth obviously loves the idea of Alfie having ill-advised relationships with strong, beautiful women – this is a guy who regularly blows off The Queen of England – so this is obviously the next one, especially since Alfie plants a big kiss on her when she later thanks for him for coming to her aid. She slaps him as a thank-you, but she was obviously into it while it lasted. For someone so determined to get himself out of trouble, Alfie really isn’t very good at not causing more of it for himself.
While this takes up the bulk of “The Hunted Fox”, there is obviously time spare for the development of various other subplots, some of which are made more interesting by the arrival of new and old faces. First, the continuing misadventures of unlikely friends Bet and Katie, who arrive in English League-controlled North London, and eventually hook up with Bet’s sister, Peggy. I obviously have no idea what Pennyworth is ultimately planning with this storyline, but it’s a funny odd-couple dynamic for now, and Paloma Faith is always a riot as Bet. The reintroduction of Peggy, another great foil for her, should only improve matters.
Elsewhere, Thomas and Martha get in some practice for ultimately creating Batman, but it takes a while to get there. She’s still angry with him for his involvement in the suicide of Archbishop Potter, and it’s quite an affront that he’s on her doorstep asking for help again, but this time it isn’t anything to do with the war effort but another attempt to save Thomas’s wayward sister Patricia, who has once again gotten herself into a risky relationship, this time with a self-obsessed fashion designer. The plan is simple enough – Martha tricks him into seducing her so that Patricia can catch him in the act and realize what a scumbag he is – but they’re so happy about having pulled it off that they end up in bed together. Did we just witness the conception of Batman? I really feel like people don’t make enough of the fact this is technically a Batman story.
Perhaps that might change, though, with the introduction of a spy among the Raven Union ranks – Lucius Fox, played here by Simon Manyonda, and an obviously welcome arrival for Bat-fans wanting more DC continuity in their fantastical tales of English civil war. As for what the Raven Union is up to in “The Hunted Fox”, well, it’s complicated. With the English League under new leadership – Inspector Aziz, after narrowly nudging out Ripper in an ad-hoc and highly unconventional election – and Lord Harwood falling ill and becoming increasingly erratic, all hopes for complete totalitarian control seem to rest on Colonel Salt’s “Stormcloud”, a lethal biological weapon, the use of which is finally approved here. Fox’s insider information is suddenly more important than ever, meaning that the back half of the second season is likely to rather intense. I’ll see you in March.
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