Okay, okay – if you’re too young to know what I’m referring to (or if you’re young but never caught it in reruns) then I apologize. Sort of – because that was too good of an opportunity to miss!
But welcome back Kotter, Gordon, and “Gotham” indeed!
I thought this was a step in the right direction again as opposed to the shocking events of episode twelve (electricity pun intended). Even though I basically had the crime-of-the-week solved within the first four minutes of the show, I still had a blast. I sense that when the mystery/crime is easy to figure out, then you’re meant to focus more on the characters and how they handle the situations they find themselves in. Jim Gordon is gaining more and more respect from me as a character (not that I initially disrespected him) and I love how his tough side is starting to shine through. I think he’s finally realized that Gotham isn’t a place for the faint of heart, but he knows that doesn’t necessarily mean you become heartless.
One great Gordon character-building moment for me was when he sees a murdered man’s widow enter the station to pay her husband his last respects. She breaks down, unabashedly, while Gordon looks on from afar. There is absolutely no dialogue from him to her or anyone else, but you can see it in his face: even though the murder suspect might be a cop, and it’s a huge no-no to finger one of your own, Gordon knows that policy, to uphold justice, is way more important than politics. So he lays down the law in one of many showstopping scenes.
And this episode was full of those! So let’s keep going.
Ed Nygma fans (myself included) rejoice because he’s finally getting more screen time. Cory Michael Smith has been a dark horse this whole season thus far, so it’s good to see him being given more scenes and more character-development stuff to do other than help solve crimes. My gut tells me his character won’t fully take flight until next season as this season has rightfully belonged to Penguin; so for now, they’re laying the groundwork for who Nygma will become. But until he turns into a full-fledged baddie (and dons that neon green body suit…but let’s hold off on that as long as we can), we can witness his budding romance with Christine Kringle.
My non-spidey senses tell me this is a doomed pairing but it can at least be fun to watch while it lasts. I will give Ms. Kringle credit for this – she stands up for Nygma as bizarre as she finds him to be, so at least it shows she’s not mean-spirited. But one thing is for sure: just in case this whole Riddler business doesn’t pan out, Nygma could land a job at American Greetings, no problem.
Sadly, anyone hoping for romance to blossom between Bruce Wayne and Selena Kyle got their hopes dashed just like that snow globe. Granted, in the comics we know there is sexual tension between their adult selves but nothing much further. It stands to reason that, since they reside on opposite ends of the ethical spectrum, it’s time to establish that line of demarcation here. You really do feel for Bruce as he hits yet another dead end when it comes to his parents’ murder.
Well, Alfred doesn’t deliver hugs but he does deliver some straight talk when he tells Bruce to move on from his “breakup” and get on with more important things. I do wonder how Bruce is going to come at Gordon later for seemingly stringing him along. Poor Bruce. Please tell me we find out who killed his folks by the end of the season so he can get some peace?
Speaking of a character not feelin’ the love is Fish Mooney. From the start I hated her, not for her character or her character’s portrayal, but for everything her character represents. Fish embodies what’s wrong with Gotham and serves as the perfect symbol for its dark, unfeeling, calloused heart. For me, she didn’t suffer enough in this episode though it’s a nice change of pace to see her in the hot seat.
If you ask me, Fish escapes far too soon. That got me to thinking: this would have made for a good “24”/”Gotham” crossover moment. If Jack Bauer had been in charge of Fish’s capture and torture, she wouldn’t have escaped. Or if she had, she would have been missing a body part. Or two.
And a duffel bag. Don’t forget the duffel bag.
The next show stopping moment of the night was, of course, when Penguin shows off his newly-acquired venture to his mom.
Besides Jim Gordon and Harvey Bullock, my other favorite character pairing is Oswald and his mother, Gertrude. They are quite different in personality as Oswald tends to hold in what he’s feeling and thinking (most of the time) while his mother has no problem gushing over everything her son does. I get the feeling both of them, in their own way, feel this accomplishment of Oswald’s ushers in a new dynasty and destiny for the Cobblepot clan. Gertrude seems to want glory for her son and, let’s not kid here, she’s going to bask in some of that herself. I sense that “humble” and “Cobblepot” aren’t terms you’ll find used together in the same sentence. Or paragraph.
Yet it’s these moments when Oswald is more himself as a person. He still retains a facade in front of his mother either because he knows she’ll chew him out for getting caught up in criminal business or she’ll possess knowledge that might make her a target. But I sense more of his deeper personality, other than his surface conniving ways, gets to emerge when he interacts with her. Though I do feel sorry for Gertrude as she seems to have no idea of the depths her son will go to get what he wants; however, she’s clearly the only person in Gotham who truly believes in him despite the nature of his accomplishments. Without his mother as his only trustworthy ally (as I sense he trusts her over Jim Gordon), it’s a wonder what Oswald might become.
Speaking of Jim Gordon, I thought it was a great touch to see a foreshadowing of who Oswald becomes to Gordon: his own personal snitch. In case you’re unfamiliar with Penguin’s general storyline in the Batman comics, the primary reason Oswald stays out of legal trouble, despite the fact he deals in some very illegal matters, is that he’s willing to spill the beans on fellow criminals to Batman and Jim Gordon. Make no mistake – Oswald doesn’t do these things to protect his fellow Gothamites. He does it to save his own skin since, in return for information, Gordon and Batman look the other way when it comes to Penguin’s operations. So it’s a win-win situation for Oswald, at least in the comic books. For now, Oswald hasn’t quite risen to that level of power, but he can make a start at being Gotham’s most valuable informant.
These were, without a doubt, some of the best Penguin scenes compared to the past few episodes where his role was reduced to more of a background figure. But this time he gets to drop the mic…
Right after he hits the sauce and goes nuts.
I’m serious – these were some of the best non-dialogue scenes Robin Lord Taylor has delivered this season, mainly because he gets to go crazy. As in drunk crazy. Much like Jim Gordon’s silent exchange when he sees the slain witness’s widow, this sequence contains no dialogue as Oswald literally pops bottles in ‘da club and completely loses it. It was fun to see him so uninhibited as he relishes in his glory.
But like many of his triumphs, Oswald gets a reality check when he gets too cocky (and drunk) for his own good and Fish Mooney returns to make threats. (I guess the club really couldn’t handle him. At least not right now.) I honestly didn’t figure she would trek to her old stomping grounds for fear that Falcone’s men might be in place. So that’s proof that either Fish is crazy or she has a gut of steel. Or both. Well, she can run pretty fast in heels, so I’ll give her that much.
Oh wait, turns out everybody’s favorite psycho killer, Victor Zsasz, and his all-girl posse arrive to break up the party. But before Fish and her ever-present sidekick Butch tear off, Oswald admits he has been working for Falcone all this time.
What? What did you tell her all of that for, Oswald?
At least that’s what I was shouting at him inside my head. Sometimes Oswald’s bravado gets too big for its own good, and when it does, it turns around to bite him.
Overall, this was a very satisfying episode and served as a return to what makes “Gotham” great: a chance to witness more layers pulled back on some of my favorite characters who live in a larger-than-life world where good and bad collide. War really is coming. It’s just a matter of who wins. And loses.
Until later, fellow Gothamites!