As the return from the dead of Oswald Cobblepot kicks off this week’s episode, Fish Mooney’s cry of ‘He’s ALIVE!?’ reminds us irresistibly of Brian Blessed’s utterance in Flash Gordon. Cobblepot, you’ll recall, was supposed to have been offed by Jim Gordon, who spared him in an act of compassion he may live to regret. Cobblepot has returned to Gotham and wormed his way into the confidence of gangster Maroni, and now Gordon has to explain to mob boss Falcone (as well as to his partner Bullock) why ‘Penguin’ isn’t floating face-down in the Hudson.
Gordon initially puts the blocks on Mooney’s plans to grab him and Barbara and get her revenge, but he’s still out on his own, Bullock having cast him adrift. Jim forces Barbara onto a bus out of town, and puts into action a desperate plan to indict Falcone and the Mayor for involvement in the Wayne murders, but he’s faced with an understandable lack of enthusiasm from the rest of the cops.
At this point a major figure from Batman mythology pops up, in the shape of Falcone’s hired killer Victor Zsasz (Anthony Carrigan). Accompanied by two henchwomen, Zsasz (who you can tell is dangerous because he has no eyebrows) shoots up the precinct house, kills a cop and almost gets Gordon before he’s saved by a now repentant Montoya and Allen, the Internal Affairs cops who thought Gordon had killed Cobblepot.
However, Penguin’s plans to foment a gang war are also proceeding, and he manages to eliminate major players on both sides in a series of tit-for-tat shoot-outs. The scene is set for Gordon’s confrontation with Falcone and the Mayor, and of course, as we suspected, that big softy Bullock comes through in the end.
The episode ends with a major revelation about Falcone’s devious plans to stay in power, tying up a lot of loose threads, and essentially concluding the whole Gordon/Cobblepot plot strand. Now we can concentrate more on Penguin’s own plotting, which along with the addition of his trademark umbrella and shoes is a sure indicator that the character is developing in major ways.
Victor Zsasz is of course another intriguing introduction. In the comics he’s little more than a murdering psychopath with a sort of skinhead styling; here he’s a more sophisticated, reptilian character, though he retains the disturbing habit of carving notches on his arm each time he kills. A significant shot of his shiny shoes reminds us that we’re still unaware of the identity of the killer of the Waynes, and at this point the detective in us prompted a return to Episode 1, with a finger ready on the pause-button during the scene of the Wayne murders – and the revelation is… well, we won’t spoil it here.
The most action-packed episode yet, both in terms of gunplay and the elaboration of the intertwining plots, Penguin’s Umbrella feels like Gotham has shifted up a gear, so let’s hope the pace can be maintained.
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