Goings On In Gotham

As we saw last week, Oswald Cobblepot can’t stay away from Gotham. It’s his flame and he’s drawn to the city’s decadent chaos and, though he may look like a harmless psychopath, the man who would be Penguin shows that he’s much more than an unstable killer with a pronounced limp.

Is that a flute? Or just a deadly spike flinging object of death?

Jim’s not too happy to see the man he told never to return standing at his doorstep with Barbara in the room. Gordon lashes out a bit but Cobblepot’s not going to budge. “Kill me now or trust me,” he demands and Gordon asks Cobblepot what he’s bringing to the table. “Why Arkham, of course.” The introduction act ends with Councilman Jenkins and his aide being killed by a professional assassin. Bullock and Gordon get put on the case, one that takes an interesting turn when a second councilman, this one in Don Maroni’s back pocket, is found burned alive on the Arkham grounds. Gordon believes it was a statement by Falcone. A ‘you kill my guy, I’ll kill yours’ type of thing. This is not long after Gordon gets the info that the Waynes were looking to have Arkham rebuilt as a state of the art psychiatric treatment facility, a plan Carmine Falcone backed all the way. Things get curious and curiouser when Ed Nygma makes the preliminary evaluation that both councilmen were killed by the same man. It’s a spanner in the works of the Falcone versus Maroni angle and the only way to get more is to find this assassin. They eventually get the killer’s name (Gladwell) and place of employ. He escapes their attempts but leaves behind a cryptic note with the letters “C, L, M” written on it.

While Bruce is having nightmares and still playing amateur detective, Maroni’s restaurant is robbed, an apparent payback courtesy of Falcone. It leaves the restaurant manager and a few of his men dead as well as several bags of cash missing. But thanks to Oswald, one of the bags was saved. His actions put him in Maroni’s favor and the crime boss promotes him from dish washer to restaurant manager. Not bad for a few days back in the city.

He had to send a message…received loud and clear

Back at Casa de Gordon-Keane, Barbara confronts Jim about Cobblepot and he figures out that Montoya paid Barbara a visit and dropped the info on Cobbie. He knows the Major Crimes detective thinks he’s a bad guy but then finds out that she and Barbara had a past relationship. Saying he doesn’t take it well is an understatement but he refocuses himself on the case at hand. The killer Gladwell isn’t the real deal. In fact, the true Richard Gladwell has been dead for five years. At a roadblock, Bullock pays a visit to Fish Mooney—who’s in the process of interviewing her second potential “weapon”—for more information while Gordon, realizing the initials on the paper are for the police detail tasked with protecting Mayor James,  leaves a message for Bullock and makes a mad dash to the Mayor’s house, arriving minutes before Gladwell. He and the Mayor are cut off by the spike-carrying killer and Gordon, in a predictable fashion, drops his gun. Unarmed and with a useless Mayor, Jim and his charge retreat back into the residence. The ensuing fight is brutal and fairly entertaining and when Gladwell gains the upper hand, Gordon is once again aided by his shady partner, with the two eventually sandwiching the mysterious assassin between a hail of bullets.

Back at the station, Barb apologizes to Gordon for the entire Montoya thing but she’s not some wilting flower. She demands more from him, resolving not to be left in the dark. “You either let me in or let me go,” she tells him and Gordon’s silence is the resounding answer to her demand. Sticking to her guns, she can only walk away, stopping once in the process but never looking back.

On the villain front, Fish has her new instrument in her fight for the top seat; it’s Liza. More interesting is that the robbery of Maroni’s restaurant was orchestrated by Mr. Oswald Cobblepot. He offers his hired thugs cannoli and, as they splurge on the treat, one is reminded of Ben Franklin’s words: “Three men can keep a secret, if two of them are dead.” While both numbers are raised by one in this instance, it’s evident, as Cobblepot steps over the bodies, bags of cash in hand, the man who would become Penguin passionately prescribes to that line of thinking.

The Path of the Righteous Man…

  • All things considered, this was a ‘meh’ type of episode, though it does build towards the future. Though Maroni wins the battle for Arkham (his interests in creating a waste disposal center and retrofitting the original Asylum), Falcone does get to develop his low-income housing. The most important aspect though is the Mayor’s decision as it relates to, albeit temporarily, avoiding an all-out gang war. Gordon says as much to Bruce, though I’m not quite sure just how much the boy understands.
  • And speaking of Bruce, ‘Gotham’ is walking a bit too close to overemphasis on the future of their DC characters. While Cobblepot’s journey is exceptionally well done (more on that below), we do not need to be treated to Bruce Wayne’s slow metamorphosis into the Dark Knight. Don’t get me wrong, David Mazouz is a functional young Bruce but the character itself has gotten too much screen time. This isn’t, or shouldn’t be, billed as the Bruce Wayne years (a sentiment some believed to be the case when the show was announced). Allow us to check up on the boy from time to time but having Bruce Wayne hover in the background throws all subtlety out the window.
  • Though show has had an uneven first four episodes, with the creative team taking some missteps and not trusting the intelligence of the viewing audience in some cases (see the lack of subtlety in character introduction/future traits) but they have hit homeruns on two particular instances. First, the Jim Gordon/Harvey Bullock duo has been exceptionally crafted and the interaction between the two partners and what each of them stand for, is a constant struggle between a truly good guy that wants to do what’s right (Gordon) and a man who used to be a good cop and has been corrupted by the hell of the Gotham Streets. And then there’s Oswald…
  • By far the most interesting of the villain’s so far introduced, Robin Lord Taylor’s portrayal is that of a man who’s intelligent, cunning, a victim who’s slowly turning into a formidable predator. Cobblepot shows hints of neuroticism and instability but there is a ruthlessness behind it all, one that begs for more screen time and truly has me firmly in his corner, rooting him on.