Pennyworth season 2, episode 8 recap – “The Hangman’s Noose”

March 28, 2021
Jonathon Wilson 0
Epix, Weekly TV
3.5

Summary

Alfie is forced to reckon with his improprieties in “The Hangman’s Noose”, while the Raven Union and the English League sit down to discuss peace.

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3.5

Summary

Alfie is forced to reckon with his improprieties in “The Hangman’s Noose”, while the Raven Union and the English League sit down to discuss peace.

This recap of Pennyworth season 2, episode 8, “The Hangman’s Noose”, contains spoilers.


“The Hangman’s Noose” is a classic transitional episode, the kind of thing designed to neatly snip off lingering subplots so that all the pieces can best be positioned for the endgame, but it’s a very distinguished variety of that kind of storytelling. Smartly focusing on Alfred Pennyworth’s interiority, as well as the state of the Raven Union following the self-sacrifice of Lord Harwood that capped off last week’s episode, this is a smart chapter in a show that still has a few surprises up its sleeve.

We’ll save the surprise for last, as the episode does, since most of what occurs in Pennyworth season 2, episode 8 is designed to pay off everything that has happened to this point, or at least a lot of it. Having decided against fleeing for Gotham just yet, Alfie is working with the League to fight for England, on the slim justification of maybe just liking a fight. But that justification is interrogated throughout, and nobody, least of all Aziz, who he’s speaking to at the time, or Alfie himself, really believe it.

Alfie and Aziz are meeting with Salt and General Thursday to discuss whose control Stormcloud is under — ostensibly the army, but at this point, the army and the Union are basically one and the same — and potential peace talks, starting with a goodwill gesture of allowing Harwood to be buried in London and his funeral party to be allowed access to the capital. It seems an agreeable step, but in a meeting shortly after involving the League’s higher-ups, Aziz seems a bit overconfident.

Dave Boy, meanwhile, is staying with Alfie’s mother, Mary, for her own protection, even though she’s adamant about not requiring it and being quite ready to confront death if that’s what it comes to. When Alfie returns home he finds Dave Boy drunk, still angry about all his various bad decisions, and Mary still fuming about him being an adulterer. Catching flack from all sides, Alfie decides to track down Gully and sort it all out with him once and for all, which ends up forming a big chunk of the episode. More on that in a minute.

Martha and Thomas get little to do this week, but their lone scene is of consequence since it involves a) Martha confessing that she’s pregnant (with Batman, lest we forget) and b) Thomas insisting they get married, a notion Martha is somewhat appalled by. Given we know that these two get together, move to Gotham, have a Batman, and are shot dead in an alleyway it’s a teeny bit difficult to buy into their romantic strife, but then again you could apply the same logic to Alfie himself.

Bet and Peggy also make their presence felt in “The Hangman’s Noose”, kidnapping Colonel Salt’s squeeze after Harwood’s funeral — during which Salt makes a typically grandiose speech, pretending to care — and returning her to the sex shop where Katie insists that, if she’s harmed, she and Bet are over with. This is a… bizarre relationship, to put things mildly, but Bet nonetheless agrees to remain pacifistic, though crucially not where Salt is concerned. Either way, that leaves the sisters Sykes in a bit of a pickle since they can’t exactly let Vicky go, so they instead strap her up in a display gimp suit in the shop’s front window. And Katie is just… okay with that, I guess.

Anyway, the meat of Pennyworth season 2, episode 8 is Alfie and Gully finally settling their differences… sort of, anyway. Alfie goes to his house and finds him there, watching Harwood’s funeral on television in the middle of all the wreckage. (Gully has smashed the place to bits, which doesn’t go unremarked upon.) Before long the telly has been treated to a similar fate to the rest of the furnishings and Alfie has been held up by Gully’s goons and taken to the forest, where Gully shanks him, to make things even, and then gives him a five-minute head-start before he comes to track him down.

This is obviously a morbid and deeply psychopathic way of resolving one’s differences, but it’s counterbalanced by Alfie, bleeding out, using it as an impromptu therapy session with the ghost of his late friend Bazza. While they’re discussing things, Dave Boy and Mary turn up at Gully’s house to find one of his lackeys left behind, and Mary gets her moment to slap her around a bit to find out where Alfie is.

Gully eventually finds Alfie, and they fight a little before Gully is caught in a trap that — irony alert! — Gully taught him how to set. It’s called a Sumatran Whip and it’s a nasty bit of work, skewering Gully through the midsection and leaving him at Alfie’s mercy — which he receives, as it happens, probably because he said he loved him earlier. (Yes, he did genuinely say that, though he at least qualified it with “in his own way”.) Nevertheless, Alfie is badly wounded and still delirious. When he makes it back to the car, he’s forced to exert himself yet again to take out the last of Gully’s men, who had orders to kill him, and as he lays on the forest floor he’s greeted by Bazza once again. Alfie’s not ready to die yet, or so he claims, since he still has things to do, a different to make. He reckons his dad was right — you have to serve something or someone, and there’s nothing wrong with trying to make England a happy, peaceful place again, however amusing Bazza finds the notion. Eventually, Alfie sees a bright light, but it isn’t the afterlife — it’s his mum and Dave Boy arriving to pick him up. He’ll live to fight another day.

And, as “The Hangman’s Noose” makes clear, he’ll have someone to fight against. After sitting down with the Queen and the rest of the League to discuss the difference between “peace talks” and “negotiations”, Salt makes it clear that if he doesn’t get their unconditional surrender in 48 hours, he’ll deploy Stormcloud and that’s that. And he’ll have the authority to do so, since Pennyworth season 2, episode 8 ends with him being ratified as the Ravens’ new chancellor in a unanimous vote that includes the support of… dun, dun, dun… Alfie’s father, who evidently survived being blown up and is currently cutting about on a rather fetching wheelchair. The plot thickens!

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