Gotham, ‘Hog Day Afternoon’ – A Strong Episode That “Pyggybacks” on New Villain

Hog Day Afternoon
Photo Credit: FOX.

Hog Day Afternoon Plot Summary:

Gordon (Ben McKenzie) and Bullock (Donal Logue) hunt down a new killer (Michael Cerveris) in Gotham who goes after crooked cops while dressed as a pig.  Oswald (Robin Lord Taylor) begins to trust Sofia (Crystal Reed), but at what cost?  Nygma (Cory Michael Smith) tries to get Lee (Morena Baccarin) to fix his brain.

If there’s one element Gotham has excelled at this season, it’s costumes. Scarecrow looked phenomenal, and now we have Professor Pyg. Much like clowns, it’s easy to make pigs look unsettling, but Gotham took it to another level here. Professor Pyg’s mask look deranged, especially with all the staples and bloodshot looking eyes. Aside from the look though, Gotham has once again taken a C-level Batman villain and made him completely and utterly fascinating.

Out of all the great villains in Batman’s rogue gallery, Professor Pyg is maybe ranked twenty-fifth or something, I don’t know. He never really did anything for me. In this iteration though, he was outstanding. While the actual storyline of hunting down corrupt cops was whatever, his characterization was anything but. Credit Cerveris for really nailing a distinct voice. The voice was everything. If the voice failed, the entire character would have imploded. From the very first time you hear him say “oink-oink,” that was it. It wasn’t comical. It was disturbing.

While it takes a while for Professor Pyg to truly reveal himself, he has one of the best scenes so far this season, delivering a perfect monologue to Gordon. While a typical “I’ll make the scum of this city pay” type villain speech, it was extremely effective. While creepy, Professor Pyg was full of jokes and pig puns. It’s not until Gordon calls him out for being demented though when Professor Pyg gets deadly serious, detailing to Gordon how much pain and suffering he’s endured. While a complete psychopath, you want to know more about this guy and what he’s been through. That’s a great villain. I can’t wait to see more.

Embroiled in the whole Pyg chase is more conflict between Gordon and Bullock. While they work together in this episode, there’s definitely still tension at Bullock’s questionable tactics now that Oswald has free reign to issue a crime license. One of my biggest complaints with Gotham is they never give Bullock enough meat. While it’s all at the end, we get a very emotional and desperate Bullock here. You just feel sorry for the guy.

Speaking of villains we feel sorry for, we pick up right where we left off with Grundy (Drew Powell) and Nygma. The whole fight club motif was entertaining all the way through, but nothing earth-shattering. The “Nygma is dumb” storyline is wearing a bit thin. Judging by what happened at the end though, Nygma may not be dumb for much longer.

The most intriguing character in this whole plot was the return of Lee Thompkins. She has a lot of good scenes with Nygma, but what really made this work is why Lee is in this mess in the first place. Lee certainly had the biggest character shift of all last year with the Tetch virus.  Now you’re wondering why she’s lowered herself as doctor to this seedy underground fight club. When you get the answer, it makes perfect sense, and reminds us who this character is to the core.

Building off the momentum from last week, we got another strong Oswald/Sofia subplot.  One of the qualities that defines Oswald is his paranoia. Everybody is out to get him.  That’s why it was so interesting to see him completely trust Sofia Falcone, a person he has every reason to be paranoid of.  his inevitably leads to a lot of twists and turns to Sofia’s true motivations.  

It was compelling to see Oswald so indecisive and frustrated when he can’t figure her out.  He also breaks the vow he made at the end of season three. He told Nygma he wouldn’t let his personal emotions cloud his judgement. He’s doing exactly that.  Guess he really did need that ice statute there to remind him.

My only complaint here was with Zsasz (Anthony Carrigan). While I’m loving Zsasz this season, he got a little too jokey here when it came to insinuating that Oswald might have a romantic lust for Sofia.

While it was tough to piggy-back (see what I did there?) off the crazy Ra’s al Ghul momentum from last week, this was a very solid episode spearheaded by the introduction of another great villain. We also get a great scene between Oswald and Gordon, which is never a bad idea. Anytime Oswald can gleefully rub something in Gordon’s face is vintage Gotham.

Rating: 7.5 out of 10 (Very Good)

Daniel Cohen is the hard-boiled Film Editor for the Pop Break. Besides reviews, Daniel writes box office predictions, Gotham reviews and Oscar coverage. He can also be found on the Breakcast. If Daniel was sprayed by Scarecrow's fear toxin, it would be watching Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen on a non-stop loop.