Plot: When everyone learns of Oswald’s (Robin Lord Taylor) return, Fish (Jada Pinkett Smith) wants all involved dead, including Gordon (Ben McKenzie). This causes a further rift between Maroni (David Zayas) and Falcone (John Doman), and Gordon plots his game plan against Falcone who sends a trained killer (Anthony Carrigan) after him.
Oh man, Gotham fired on all cylinders this week. This episode was high intensity from the very beginning and never let up. Oswald’s official return to Gotham causes a rift all throughout the mob, but more importantly to Jim Gordon’s life. What I loved most about this episode is that it was the most Gordon centric story arc we’ve gotten since the premiere. The Jim Gordon we’ve always known was front and center here, and Ben McKenzie nailed it in his best performance yet as the character.
Gordon always had immense integrity, but in this episode he showed tremendous balls. It’s a prelude to the great inspiration he’ll have on many Gotham cops in the future. His life is threatened, and everyone assumes they’ll never see Jim Gordon again. While his first priority is getting Barbara (Erin Richards) to safety, Gordon goes right back to work to do his job, which leads to a great scene between him and Essen (Zabryna Guevara). My favorite Gordon moment though was the scene between him and Bruce (David Mazouz). Gordon takes great risk to deliver this kid one simple message because it’s that important to him. To me, that moment encapsulated Gordon with some of the best characterizations I’ve seen. I’ve always enjoyed Gordon on this show, but this was really the episode where he became the heart of the series. I’ve said this several times, but I’ve been thoroughly impressed with David Mazouz as Bruce Wayne. This kid was a damn good find.
Shit has already hit the fan when this episode begins, picking up great momentum from last week. We see right away Gordon and Harvey’s (Donal Logue) relationship completely fracture. While Harvey has a big payoff later in the episode, he was mostly comic relief here, but I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention just how funny he was. It was just the right amount of funny, as it never took away from the tension of the scenes.
Speaking of tension, this was easily the most action-filled episode of Gotham we’ve seen, including a tense shootout with a minor Batman villain, Victor Zsasz (Carrigan). To be honest, I’ve never really cared for Zsasz as a Batman villain, but this actor did a great job, and I’m interested to see him play a bigger role in future episodes.
As much as I love Gordon though, the highlight of this entire show continues to be Robin Lord Taylor as Oswald Cobblepot/Penguin. I can’t praise this guy enough. This episode is appropriately titled “Penguin’s Umbrella.” The character continues to do what he does best, which is play every side possible. I love watching him and Maroni plot together. There’s a great sequence where you think Oswald is in some trouble, but you know he’s going to get out of it. The writing is great here, but Taylor does a beautiful job of making you hang on his every word as to how he’s going to get out of this. There’s also a long awaited reunion of Oswald and Fish that was well worth the wait. Things don’t exactly work out too well for Fish in this episode.
Oswald’s return was also great because it set off a chain reaction of mob hits between Falcone and Maroni, which culminates in a very well written scene between the two, including a great line by Maroni in regards to Gordon. I’m really loving John Doman as Falcone, and he was able to really shine this week, including giving a poignant premonition to Gordon.
If I had one nit-pick for this episode, it would be with a certain event that happens at the police station when Zsasz arrives. Okay, I get Gotham is super corrupt and run by criminals, but that was a little ridiculous. We also get a sneak peek at Alfred (Sean Pertwee) the bad ass, so that was cool. This episode did everything right, and is definitely my favorite of the season so far. They even managed to redeem characters I didn’t like. Yeah, I actually like Montoya (Victoria Cartagena) and Allen (Andrew Stewart-Jones) now that they aren’t pathetically trying to discredit Gordon.
Spoiler-ish territory to follow…
One last element I’ll mention is in regards to a certain character. It’s one scene, and I might be reaching, but I believe Fish’s henchwoman who’s planted to woo Falcone is a foreshadow to a certain Batman villain. There’s one “blink and you’ll miss it” line of dialogue, but it’s there.
Rating: 9 out of 10 (OMG)
Daniel Cohen is the Film Editor for Pop-Break. Aside from reviews, Daniel does a weekly box office predictions column, and also contributes monthly Top Tens and Op-Ed’s on all things film. Daniel is a graduate of Bates College with a degree in English, and also studied Screenwriting at UCLA. He can also be read on www.movieshenanigans.com. His movie crush is Jessica Rabbit. Follow him on Twitter @dcohenwriter.