Thoughts on Gotham episode "Penguin's Umbrella" (TV Review)
After weeks of buildup, Jim Gordon’s decision to not execute The Penguin as he was told is finally bearing down on the two of them and Harvey Bullock. Since it’s only November and the seventh episode of the series, I don’t think we could expect anything too tantalizing from last night’s episode, but, the show is certainly doing a lot to raise people’s expectations.
So, did this episode deliver?
This is the first episode (of the series?) that I can recall that didn’t start like a procedural, and I think that episodes like this could be the saving grace of this show. There are a million of these law and order type shows on TV and just setting one against the backdrop of Gotham City isn’t good enough – or rather, I don’t think this show is well written enough to get away with that. This show is going to make its bones as a crime drama, not as a procedural – “Penguin’s Umbrella” proved that.
What “Penguin’s Umbrella” really did for the show was to function as a paradigm shift. Now, everyone’s cards are on the table, even if they don’t know it. Falcone and Penguin are the ones who are truly in control of the situation. Maroni, Fish and the now dead Nikolai clearly have/had no idea what they are/were doing. This makes me think Falcone also knows that the ‘weapon’ that’s making him muffins is just another ploy to weaken him… all these story elements are great. This sort of thing is what’s keeping me tied to the show, not episodes like “Spirit of the Goat,” which did reveal interesting things about Harvey’s character, but we kinda new that stuff anyway.
As for the actual content of the episode, the shootout was cool, the reveal/flashback to the pilot was great, but then there was Barbara’s “I came back to plead for your life” idea, which may be the dumbest thing to ever happen in a crime drama. Then, we got to experience the producer’s answer to their weekly question, “So, how are we going to shoe-horn Bruce Wayne and Alfred into this episode?” which was weak, as usual. On the other hand, the addition of Victor Zsasz gives the writers something to play with going forward, and I have high hopes for this famous Batman villain. I like that the writers couldn’t think of way to resolve that scene where Oswald comes to the police station, so they just didn’t bother. I guess the idea is that Gotham is corrupt and the MCU was all, “No murder, no investigation” and just let Penguin go on his merry way. You’d think they’d want to keep somebody like that in custody…
Gotham isn’t a perfect show, but it’s certainly improving. I’d say this is their best episode to date, and hopefully, they can keep getting better as they slowly (painfully slow!) develop their characters and storylines. This feels like the end of the first story arc – who knows what the next big thing will be now that Jim’s murder charge is out of the way. I guess this clears the way for him and Harvey to join MCU, which could be a new era for the show.
For now, I’m hanging in there, waiting to see if all the promise of Gotham can be realized.