The episode begins right where last week left off. Oswald Cobblepot shows up on the doorstep of Detective Gordon and his fiancé’s apartment. This is the first he realizes that Penguin’s back in Gotham, after telling him never to return, so obviously he’s more than a little upset. Penguin, as almost always, is one of the episode’s most dynamic pieces. Throughout the underground gang rivalries between mafiosos Maroni and Falcone, Penguin actually plays them by hiring a handful of robbers to run off with a bunch of cash, pretending as if he were on Maroni’s side. He gets in good with Maroni, gets set up as the new manager of a restaurant and then buys cannolis for his goofy robber friends (leaving out the bit where they’re poisoned). He’s moving up in the world, fast, and I kinda like him, creepy as he is.
The villain of the week for Gordon and Bullock to hunt down was, in all honesty, ridiculous. Sure, his introduction at the outset of the episode was strong, gruesome, and immensely evil. His weapon, a metallic two-piece click-in shank was cool… But it’s easily the most silly and unrealistic weapon you could think of. Who brings a shank to a gunfight? That guy, Richard Gladwell does (actually that name’s an alias – a real name isn’t given). And when he realizes there are guns involved he ends up just taking Gordon’s gun as clearly it’s the superior weapon. And most ridiculous of all was his last words. Gordon and Bullock are on either side of him, guns aimed; Gladwell has his shank again, and the mayor he’s supposed to kill is on the opposite side of the room. “You know why they hired a professional assassin? Cause I get the job done.” Obviously he gets gunned down before he makes it two steps. Just silly Gotham. C’mon.
Fish Mooney, played by Jada Pinkett Smith, is another great character. She has a propensity for desirable public entertainment (and violence), and this episode capitalizes on her odd tendencies. She actually pits two of her could-be employees in a fight (both hot women and singers) for the position. I don’t really know where that is going – apparently she’s going to make a play for Falcone. But I felt a little disgusted by it really.
After being with Gordon for over a year Barbara finally admits she had a lesbian relationship a while back, but when Gordon doesn’t wish to disclose anything about who Cobblepot is she gives him the ultimatum: tell me or I leave. If this one issue is what their relationship fringes upon, how dull could their assumed love be? It’s not like this is their first date. They’re engaged! Interestingly, this is the first time we ever get to see Barbara outside of her apartment. She’s totally a homebody.
Wow. Edward Nigma, the annoying forensics guy who will eventually take up the mantle of the Riddler, is the single worst-written character there is. No substance, no subtleties, just pure unabashed corny lines. And clearly he doesn’t know the difference between a coincidental clue and a “paradox”.
I wish we got to see more of Arkham than just the front gate, but hey! Good start I guess. Although it was a little convoluted, I thought the premise about the Arkham vote being what would set the gangs to war a very promising one. And what if that’s what got Martha and Thomas Wayne murdered? As per the ever-changing Batman mythos, it’s generally a meaningless death – but what if there’s more to it? I like the idea. But Bruce really needs to get out more. At least out of that room. Anyone find it odd that that room is the only room in the Wayne Manor we’ve visited? Gordon’s apartment is bigger.