Okay, first up, this episode had the best opening scene so far. Our exiled Penguin gets back into the kingdom and admires his home turf. May the first ever Gotham Hunger Games now commence – and may the odds ever be in Oswald Cobblepot’s favor!
Story-wise, I liked this episode better than the previous one (“Selina Kyle”). At first, I thought the whole balloonman idea was a bit goofy but then I got it. It kind of harkened back to some of the campy stuff from the Batman of old, so that was a nice touch. The way Jim handles this killer was also spot-on and I love that as, so far, they’re not compromising his character to get down and dirty with the rest of Gotham’s scum. Likewise, this episode sets the groundwork for the whole principle of vigilantism that drives the Batman franchise. Is it ever okay to take the law into your own hands, especially when those upholding the law can no longer be trusted? It’s a fair question and not one with a easy answer, so I think this will be a great grey area for future episodes to work with.
I also have to say that I’m really diggin’ Jim Gordon. I wasn’t prepared to like him as much as I do, but he’s an honest, moral guy who I think will go out of his way to do what’s right. For that, he makes a great protagonist. It’s hard to pull off moral characters without turning them into goody-goodys, but Gordon escapes this so far. He also delivered one of the best lines in the episode when he remarks, “Everyone has to matter or nobody matters.” Wow – what a great line! And he’s absolutely right. It’s easy to pin down certain “sinners” as being deserving of punishment, but favoritism can lead to trouble because it starts dealing out justice at random and delving into questionable territory that, all too often, eliminates mercy and grace from the equation. I believe that’s what Jim shows the Balloonman as he insists on bringing him in alive, not sending him miles into the atmosphere.
Just one mild criticism regarding the character department here – where, oh where, is Ed? You know, Riddler-to-be? Cory Michael Smith (who plays Edward Nygma, the creepy, weedy forensics dude) has yet to stay on screen for five minutes and deliver more than five lines. By now, it’s time to see some serious screen time devoted to him because he just seems so cool. Plus the Riddler is one of my favorite Batman villains.
And, of course, this review wouldn’t be complete without calling attention to the continuing saga of Oswald Cobblepot and his fight for Gotham’s throne. It’s fitting, and a bit touching, to hear him assert that Gotham is his home and destiny and that the city needs him. Truly, he embodies the city in all of its dark and, yes, light moments. (Penguin isn’t all bad, so it’s time to show him play an ethical card here or there, albeit it won’t be for the most moral of reasons.)
Oswald gets three big moments in this episode, the first being that opening scene. That was epic.
The second was his interaction with Maroni. It was quite ironic to hear Maroni claim Gotham is a city of opportunity and then tout how he started from the bottom, now he’s here.
Anyway, this was a great visual parallel between the old school gangster and the new crime lord of the (not-so-distant) future. Maroni isn’t telling Cobblepot anything he doesn’t already know. Trust me – that’s why he’s ba-ack! And it wasn’t just to snag a tuna sandwich from a food truck either. Tuna…that was cute. ‘Cause penguins eat fish, get it?
If I could find one fault with this episode, it would have to be *the* scene between Renee and Barbara.
Look, I know Renee lives an “alternative” lifestyle, shall we say. But as a heterosexual woman I really don’t want to see that!
Oh, and I almost forgot my third favorite Cobblepot moment – the ending.
Seriously, that last minute and a half was a holy blankety-blank-blank moment. I was not expecting Oswald to show up and he would have been my absolute last guess at who was at Jim’s door. In fact, I figured he’d try to stay away from Jim, so I was totally floored. It really makes me wonder what on earth he could have up his sleeves (other than possibly sharp instruments) and how he plans to use Jim or who he’s going to pit Jim against to advance his future kingdom’s cause.