WARNING: The following article contains spoilers for the eighth episode of Pennyworth, "Sandie Shaw," which aired Sunday on Epix.
From the start, Pennyworth has clearly been a Batman prequel show. After all, its lead character is Bruce Wayne's future butler, right hand man, surrogate father and trusted advisor. What's more, the series also brought Thomas Wayne and Martha Kane into the fold, Bruce's future parents. However, despite this trio of crucial characters, the series has had extremely little connection to the comics and the Batman mythos. In fact, if you were to change the names of Alfred, Thomas and Martha, you would barely even know you're watching a show set in the DC Universe.
However, in the series' latest episode, "Sandie Shaw," we finally get a nod to Batman. It's not in the form of a new character, or a hint at the future. Instead, the episode features an homage to an iconic Batman scene -- but with two different characters.
In Batman comics, readers are all too familiar with a scene involving Batman and Commissioner Gordon. The two characters often find themselves discussing a new case, whether on top of the GCPD building or in an office. The two exchange information and theories and, when Batman has what he needs, he disappears before Gordon can finish his next sentence. It's a classic bit from the duo, one that has found itself adapted both on the big and small screen, in movies such as Justice League and television shows like Gotham.
Now, Pennyworth also finds a way to tip its hat to this iconic scene -- but it does so without the Caped Crusader or Gordon. Instead, it positions Alfred in the role of Batman, and detective inspector Aziz stands in for Gordon.
Over the course of the show, Alfred and Aziz have had a bit of a frenemy relationship -- one that only intensifies in "Sandie Shaw." When Alfred hears that the police may have buried the investigation into the death of his fiancée, he pays a visit to Aziz, who is burning the midnight oil at the office. Alfred emerges from the dark, sneaking up on the inspector who is obviously startled by the interruption; hints of Batman already manifest here. Things are then taken further when the two talk about the case of Esme. Eventually, Aziz reveals all that he knows: The case was, in fact, buried because the killer is the son of a nobleman.
Alfred insists on learning his whereabouts, and he isn't taking no for an answer. Before Aziz can finish the conversation, he is already gone, a closing door the only proof of his exit. He may be fast, but still, he's no Batman. However, the scene's homage is clear: This was meant to reflect the famous Batman/Gordon interactions that always end with Batman pulling a disappearing act.
While Pennyworth has focused on a young Alfred consumed by grief and vengeance, this is perhaps one of the first glimpses of the man who will eventually help Batman we have gotten on the show. Could Alfred actually be the one who taught Bruce this move?
Developed by former Gotham collaborators Bruno Heller and Danny Cannon, Pennyworth stars Jack Bannon as Alfred Pennyworth, Ben Aldridge as Thomas Wayne, Jason Flemyng as Lord Harwood, Paloma Faith as Bet Sykes, Ryan Fletcher as Dave Boy, Hainsley Lloyd Bennett as Bazza and Jessica Ellerby as the Queen. The series airs Sundays at 9 pm ET/PT on EPIX.