Things That Go Boom Plot Summary:
With Professor Pyg (Michael Cerveris) behind bars, Gordon (Ben McKenzie) tries to uncover who he really is, while also dealing with Sofia (Crystal Reed), who’s ready to make her final move against Penguin (Robin Lord Taylor). Lee (Morena Baccarin) faces immediate opposition in her new role at the Narrows.
If there was ever a Gotham episode that was most like chess, this was pretty much it. Although Risk may be a more apt comparison, as there were more than two parties competing for ultimate power in Gotham. At the end of the day though, this was Penguin vs. Sofia, who’s been playing the long con for several episodes now. It all came to a head this week, as Penguin and Sofia went from being buddy-buddy to bitter enemies. While this was far from my favorite episode of the season, it offered plenty of great twists in what seemed like an hour long tug of war.
This has been my favorite Penguin season since the first. While I enjoyed Oswald discovering his roots in season two, and running for mayor last year, this has been vintage Penguin. He’s completely fueled by vengeance, but there’s always a heart buried somewhere under his umbrella, no matter how many vindictive and weaselly acts he commits. Even though Penguin is driven by rage most of this episode due to Sofia’s betrayal, it’s what he does at the end that was truly memorable.
On the other side of the battlefield is Sofia Falcone. She’s been a solid addition this season, playing the manipulative mastermind role very well. While it was entertaining to watch Sofia have to argue out of endless near death situations, she got a little too invincible. The “I’m ten steps ahead of everyone” worked at times, but got stale pretty quickly. Despite all her bravado though, she’s just a kid trying to impress dad. Penguin knows this, and uses it to get under her skin. With someone as confident as Sofia, Reed did a great job of emphasizing those rare moments of frustration, but it was all very subtle.
In the middle of Penguin and Sofia’s war were Gordon and Barbara’s (Erin Richards) gang. While Tabitha (Jessica Lucas) and Selina (Camren Bicondova) didn’t do much in this one but offer side commentary, it was great to see Barbara react on the fly to everything. At times, she needed to rely on Sofia. Other times, she brokered a deal with Penguin. This episode offered a lot of minefields for Barbara to maneuver.
Then we have Gordon, who wants to resolve everything with as little violence as possible. Even though Sofia is manipulating Gordon, there’s no doubt a genuine infatuation between the two. Sofia has everything planned to a T, except being able to corrupt the incorruptible. Aside from Sofia, Gordon is forced to deal with Penguin. Anytime these guys have to make a deal is always great to watch. There’s almost a begrudging respect between the two.
Outside of the main plotline, another war was brewing in the Narrows. With Lee now taking over Cherry’s section of the Narrows, she’s forced to deal with more criminals. It was great watching Lee try to resolve everything in the most civil way possible, which is true to her character. Gotham also does a great job of giving you quick side villains who probably won’t appear again. We got two in this one, which included the Dentist (D. Baron Buddy Bulton), a hired torture expert of Penguin, and the other Sampson (Stu ‘Large’ Riley), who tries to throw his weight around Lee.
While the conflict between Lee and Sampson worked, the Nygma (Cory Michael Smith) stuff was extremely frustrating. We’ve been waiting so long for his brain to be cured, but at the end of the day, it was one huge cop out. Not only that, but now we have to get through another road block in Nygma becoming Riddler again, which harkens back to a season two motif that I found very frustrating. Come on, just make him the Riddler again! Not only that, but the character shifts for Nygma and how Lee views him made absolutely no sense based on the previous episodes.
The strongest part of this episode may have once again been Professor Pyg. While all the Penguin/Sofia battles are going on, Gordon is also trying to find out who the Pyg really is. After a vintage Gotham opening scene, Professor Pyg remained just as fascinating as ever.
While a step down from the last couple episodes, you couldn’t ask for a better set up for the midseason finale than this one. While I compared this episode to chess, this may have only been setting up the board with the real game about to begin next week.
Rating: 7 out of 10 (Good)