Gotham: “Penguin’s Umbrella”

Gotham’s last few episodes have been high-powered, hardcore fun, and “Penguin’s Umbrella” is no exception. We’ve nearly reached the midpoint of the season, and it’s becoming all too clear that the villains are in the lead.

With three mob bosses grappling for the upper hand, a snitch intent on taking all of them down, and a detective attempting to solve a murder and escape from being murdered, Gotham’s a little busy these days. That doesn’t mean, however, that new faces won’t get introduced.

The introduction of Victor Zsasz in “Penguin’s Umbrella” was unexpected. There wasn’t a huge fanfare although I think this was done on purpose. Victor works for a mob boss; he isn’t his own master quite yet.

I take this to mean that all the people who are slowly becoming supervillains have been under someone’s thumb until they couldn’t bear it any longer. The snap occurs and these people go on a rampage. Penguin was content to play his little games until he was thrown out, abandoned, and left for dead.

These new villains will rise to power, only to be confronted by yet another person who wants to tell them how to live: Batman. And if he isn’t ready to deal with these sometimes mental supervillains no one will stand in their way.

I particularly loved “Penguin’s Umbrella” because it reminded me of a good old Western or the part of the movie where all hope seems lost (the Dark Night of the Soul according to Blake Snyder’s Save the Cat! screenplay book) and the hero discovers that there are still people out there willing to help, they just need someone to point them in the right direction.

Detective Bullock has his Han Solo moment and decides to help Jim make one last bold move to show Gotham’s citizens that there are people who care and who want to clean up the corruption running rampant in the streets and behind closed doors.

Unfortunately, the good guys are a few steps behind the criminal mastermind now putting his plan of action into play. While we are led to believe that Maroni, Falcone, and Mooney are acting independently, a common thread weaves them all together and we are finally given a bit of the story that has been hidden from us until now.

We’ve been given a taste of the mad genius whirling inside Penguin’s brain. He has the drive to succeed, he has a vision, and he knows how to pit people against each other.

As he points out in “Penguin’s Umbrella,” the moment you know what someone’s passion is you know how to kill them. If you know what drives someone you can manipulate them into doing whatever you want. Is Penguin playing all his pieces? Is there still information he has that we don’t? And how does he know what drives people?

While Penguin is causing mayhem in Gotham, Detective Gordon meets with Bruce Wayne and Alfred to introduce them to Detectives Allen and Montoya, who will take over the Wayne murder case if something should happen to Gordon.

It’s difficult to watch. Gordon knows that he might die. He was barely rescued by Allen and Montoya. Most everyone is against him. And all he can do is apologize to Bruce because he may not survive this one last attempt at fixing Gotham’s issues.

What’s so interesting about Gordon’s way of fixing things is that he doesn’t count on it changing things overnight. He merely wants to get the attention of the regular citizens of Gotham, so he can show them that they are the ones with the power. They outnumber the rich and powerful. They can change Gotham.

I think this is fascinating because it isn’t a big show of force. It might not even have been a blaze of glory. It’s one man with little to no power coming up against two power players and showing Gotham’s citizens that sometimes it takes sacrifice to enact change. It isn’t fair, and sometimes the good people die.

I think Gotham strikes a great balance between speaking on political and ethical issues while maintaining a sense of the silliness of the comics. I’m impressed by the villains, the character progression, and the story twists, especially because this show has found itself so early.

Possibly having so much material to pull from has helped, but it could have easily turned into a too many cooks in the kitchen situation. I think Bruno Heller has done a fantastic job keeping a level tone throughout Gotham and I hope it continues to do well throughout the rest of the season.

K.M. Cone

K.M. Cone

K.M. Cone is a story nerd, particularly for the episodic stories told via the medium of television. When not parked in front of the TV, K.M. Cone can be found writing kooky urban fantasy on her personal site, attempting to learn German, or making a huge pot of soup for her friends, who are probably coming over to join her in her latest TV or animated film obsession.
K.M. Cone

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