A Sense of Urgency

After six up-and-down weeks, ‘Gotham’ finally produces an episode that ups the stakes and puts Jim Gordon, the guy we’re all rooting for (in theory) into a situation where, despite knowing he’s the main character, truly believes his life is on the line.

Gordon comes to Barbara’s rescue

Strutting down the streets with his crazy limp, Oswald Cobblepot’s status as living well and working with Maroni finally reaches Fish Mooney. Pissed is an understatement for her current mood and she orders Butch to bring Gordon and Bullock to her in order to answer a few questions. Speaking of the detectives, Bullock is incensed at Cobblepot’s condition, knowing he and Gordon are dead men. Gordon asks for his help in taking the fight to the bad guys but Bullock opts out, leaving the young detective on his own. Left to his own devices, Gordon focuses on getting Barbara out of harm’s way and finds Butch has already paid her a visit. He’s able to break her free of Mooney’s man with a minimal amount of bloodshed and pleads with her to go. “If I know you’re safe,” he tells her, “then there’s nothing they can do to me.” She asks what she should do if he fails. His answer is simple. “Don’t come back to Gotham.”

Upon his return to the station, Gordon gathers some generic warrants which he plans to use in his arrests of the Mayor, Carmine Falcone, and all their closest allies. Captain Essen can’t believe her detective’s audacity, reminding him just how far out of his league he’s playing. On her suggestion that he get out of town, Gordon tells her “This is my home. This was my father’s home. I’m not leaving.” His conviction is soon tested when Victor Zsasz, an associate of Falcone shows up, ready to drag Gordon—kicking and screaming, if need be—back to Falcone for a tete-a-tete. And here’s where things pick up. Yes, we know Gordon cannot die, but the moment the insane Zsasz boots all the cops from the station and the gunfight begins, it feels as if Gordon could die. This is highlighted when one of Zsasz two Harley Quinn-esque henchwomen puts a bullet in the detective’s belly as he tries to flee. Outnumbered and outgunned, Gordon is nearly caught, even clipped a second time in the leg, before he’s rescued by the unlikeliest of allies; Montoya and Allen. Sadly, they’re unable to rescue the officer who unwittingly stumbled upon the shootout. She becomes victim “28” for Zsasz, a milestone he commemorates by slashing a tick mark into his arm.

When he wakes, Gordon finds himself being tended to by a mysterious woman, friend to the MCU detectives, in the dissection lab of the University. As Gordon shares his next move with the detectives, Fish meets with Maroni (at the suggestion of Falcone), requesting the Don hand over the traitorous Cobblepot. The sit-down doesn’t go well for Fish and she leaves the meeting promising bloodshed between the two powerful crime bosses. Fish throws the first punch by hijacking a Maroni weapons supply truck and it has Maroni ready to come unhinged and using his assuming guile, Cobblepot whispers in Maroni’s ear the right type of payback. His manipulations aren’t lost on Frankie, Maroni’s second, whose detest for Cobblepot is written on his face.

Gordon takes Montoya and Allen to Wayne Manor where he introduces the Major Crimes detectives to Alfred and Bruce. Though he tries shielding Bruce from the seedy underrunnings of the city, he taps the detectives as his successor should he fall to Falcone. And for the first time since being huddled in an alley after witnessing his parents’ murder, Bruce Wayne clings to Gordon, reminding us that he’s still an adolescent in nearly every regard.

Anthony Carrigan is golden as the charismatically insane Zsasz

Acting on Cobblepot’s suggestion, Frankie leads a couple thugs to take out Nikolai and his crew. Believing this is his chance, Frankie wants to kill Cobblepot but the off-kilter Penguin has already made his own plans. “When you know what a man wants, you know what can kill him,” he prophesizes to Frankie. The latter’s weakness is his greed and “you don’t pay your people enough.” Cobblepot’s already bought Frankie’s men who seize their former boss so Penguin can gut him like a fish. “Love, Mr. Carbone,” he says to the dying man, “love conquers all.” The act of losing two of their most loyal men force Falcone and Maroni to meet. The agree to a détente. Falcone offers Cobblepot to Maroni, free and clear while, after Cobblepot’s suggestion, Maroni gives Indian Hill (part of Arkham) to Falcone.

So much going on with the bad guys we nearly forget about Gordon and his crusade. When we do get back to the golden boy, he gets a surprise when Bullock (and his “Duchess of Devonshire”) comes knocking at his door. “I’ll back your play,” the inebriated detective promises, even after Gordon lays out the insanity of it all; arresting the baddies for the framing of Mario Pepper. They start with the mayor before moving to Falcone. The Don is confident and also has his own ace in the hole; Barbara. Despite seeing her out of the city, Barbara returned to beg Falcone for Gordon’s life. At first it seems to be a ploy but Gordon doesn’t take the chance. It wasn’t a ruse after all and as the two detectives await the mercy of Falcone, they are surprised to find themselves released by the Don, but not before Falcone reiterates his earlier point to Gordon of anarchy being the true enemy of Gotham. “Perhaps there’s hope for you,” he mutters before sending the trio on their way. But it wasn’t out of the kindness of his heart. When the dust settles, Falcone pays a visit outside with none other than Oswald Cobblepot. They’ve been working together since the beginning, Cobblepot promising to be the greatest of Falcone’s snitches. It’s worked all the way through but Falcone doesn’t know if letting Gordon live was the right thing. “Don’t worry,” Cobblepot tells him, “he’ll see the light. One way or another, I guarantee it.”

The Sweet Spot

It often takes the better part of the first year for a new show to creatively hit its stride. The first six weeks into ‘Gotham’ has been an up and down of good acting but subpar storylines. The only constants have been the dynamic between Gordon and Bullock and Robin Lord Taylor’s amazing performance as Oswald Cobblepot. Enter “Penguin’s Umbrella.” Not only do we get our hero put into peril in which we fear for his safety but we’re introduced to another creepy villain and are given insight into a behind-the-scenes plan that raises the bar and will power ‘Gotham’ throughout its freshman season.

  • Victor Zsasz: known in Batman lore for his insanity and the unique way he keeps track of his victims, his introduction magnifies the brutality of this fair city. Anthony Carrigan’s initial appearance as the madman is brilliant. He portrays a man that barely holds onto the constraints of his own sanity but delivers it in a fun and almost carefree manor. Maintaining Zsasz in the background, the attack dog even the owner’s not sure he can fully control, will only add to his appeal as things continue to develop.
  • Speaking of develop, I’d always thought Cobblepot was underrated but didn’t realize how much until we get a glimpse into the past and his deal with Falcone. The whole time, the sniveling coward (according to Fish) has been the one pulling the strings with everyone, including Falcone, dancing to his tune. His charisma and unassuming nature hides a viper whose cunning is not given its due.
  • I’ve been vocal about my beliefs that too much Bruce Wayne is a bad thing as far as ‘Gotham’ goes. Though he’s in only one scene, it makes up for much of the overt reminders of the Dark Knight he eventually becomes. As mentioned above, we’re given the first reminder since the premiere that, despite everything he does, Bruce Wayne is still a child, grossly unprepared to live and breathe in an adult world. Clinging to Gordon as if it were his lifeline was the best thing the writers could have done for his character.