Penguin & Falcone working together
Major story development
Cramming too many characters
The best episode of the series so far has been delivered.
To state the obvious, “Penguins Umbrella” was definitely the best episode of Gotham’s young season so far. This week the show shifted from the usual “villain of the week” theme to focus on the major story arc which ties into Gordon’s dire need to clean the city, though he’s doubted himself a few times already. The tone and story was very intense, with the discovery of Penguin by Fish and the fact that he’s actually been working with Falcone the entire time since his false death, what a sneaky little bugger! Maroni also had a meeting with Falcone to discuss Cobblepot and some properties, all of which were surprisingly sorted out. All of this, including the GCPD’s lack of courage with Gordon’s back against the wall make for one hell of an episode, so stay out in the rain or join us under Penguin’s Umbrella.
Gordon goes way over his head with some bold moves
Gordon’s had an interaction with Carmine Falcone once already, and it wasn’t under positive circumstances whatsoever and nor was it this time, but he seems to have come out cleaner than before. This week Gordon managed to put together a group of arrest warrants for the likes of Falcone, the mayor and other related associates in relation to the Wayne murders. It didn’t work out so well as Falcone was a step ahead in having Barbara kidnapped before Gordon came storming into his house, guns in hand. However, what Gordon did accomplish was establish was a sense of truth, which also gained him some new affiliates in MCU detectives Renee Montoya and Crispus Allen – a pleasant shift in direction from their usual case solving stories trying to ruin Gordon. It was great to see Gordon go military style though, all with the loading of weapons and shooting people (Butch’s kidnap partner) if they got out of line, and they definitely did by entering his apartment uninvited and harassing Barbara.
The GCPD is weak, we all know this, and their hands are usually tied. This was displayed perfectly when a famous villain in Victor Zsasz (played by Anthony Carrigan who also appeared as a villain on The Flash) enters the police station with two henchwoman under Falcone and asks every officer to leave the station, just to call out Gordon. There were a few who were hesitant to leave at first, but eventually joined the others, including Captain Essen, who truly knows the rules of the game.
The following shootout was one of the better action scenes we’ve seen in Gotham, especially when Bullock of all people came to Gordon’s defense in his gritty car. This entire sequence is something that could change the direction of Gotham, allowing for some more cops to eventually see the error of their ways and “join the cause” and creating a rupture in the corrupted system. As for Barbara (Erin Richards) coming back, that’s a little too cliché when it comes to a fiancée ignoring instructions from their significant other to end up getting caught. It did change the path of the episode though, since Gordon could’ve been killed if she hadn’t shown up to be leverage.
When it comes to characters, Gotham still continues to use some characters when they simply aren’t needed in an episode. This week we saw a little of Bruce (David Mazouz) and Alfred (Sean Pertwee), which made sense that Gordon felt he had to apologize about his promise and explain that the MCU detectives will take over his parents case should everything go awry, but it’s something that could’ve been held off until the next episode. The show has improved a lot with this episode alone but there can’t constantly be a cram of characters, especially when there’s such a big plot development.
The city of Gotham is full of conspiracies and double agents
The end of “Penguin’s Umbrella” featured a major twist, which revealed a flashback to the pilot and enabled viewers to see a previously unseen conversation between Penguin and Falcone. Penguin had a bigger plan in motion, including the reveal of Fish Mooney’s secrets to gain the upper hand and trust of Falcone. He asked for Gordon to be the one to kill him because he’s one of the few with morals, and that there could a possible chance of survival.
The power struggle between the two gangs is now much more clear, as we discovered Falcone isn’t “too old” but in fact is in the drivers seat with Penguin as his passenger. Nikolai was killed simply because Falcone knows everything, and was smart in making it look to Maroni like he suffered a serious loss as well, while Frankie was murdered by his own men – and Penguins blade, after his speech on his knowledge of people’s weakness and how it leads to their demise.
“What drives you? What’s your passion? When you know what a man loves you know what can kill him.”
“That’s your problem. Your greatest passion becomes your greatest weakness!
Robin Lord Taylor and John Doman’s performances were key to the success of this episode. Penguin has had substantial role in the show so far, but we got to see a lot more of Falcone, including a lot more dialogue than we’re accustomed to, and it pulled through all thanks to the creator and executive producer who also wrote this episode: Bruno Heller. Hearing more ideas and personals from someone of Falcone’s status was a much needed addition to help viewers understand his thought process, including how and why he goes about his business the way he does. That with Penguins great plan to join him and the actors on screen chemistry as “partners” elevated Gotham to newer heights and has opened up a lot more for the “big picture.” Doman’s portrayal of Falcone is much better than that of Tom Wilkinson’s in Batman Begins.
Ben McKenzie brought a lot more to the table in this episode as Gordon had a lot more emotions to run on, which was inevitable since he was pushed to his limits. Gordon’s personality has been a problem that hinders Gotham but “Penguin’s Umbrella” did him justice. Seeing Harvey Bullock (Donal Logue) join him, showing signs of faith and trust was also very pleasant to the viewers eyes, as these traits can go a long way in future conflicts. If we see more fruitfulness out of Gordon similar to this, and a continuation of building the duo’s bond, Gotham will only continue getting better.
“Penguin’s Umbrella” was definitely the best episode of Gotham so far. It seems now that the constant bland villains and over-use of characters was to build their personas, for an episode of this magnitude. The doors are wide open in Gotham’s universe as we learned anything can happen, and the old can never be truly counted out. It may be awkward for Gordon when he goes back to work, but there’s a feeling that he may make some new friends (even allies) at the police station. Focusing on the big story for the season through the gang power struggles and tying many main characters into it just felt right, especially since fans have been waiting for something very major in the plot to take place. We’ve seen a few baby steps over the last few weeks but this episode was a big step for Gotham and the great doors it has now opened.
Gotham (1×07) Review – “Penguin’s Umbrella”