Gotham Season 1 Review “Penguin’s Umbrella”

Gotham (Fox) Episode 7 Penguin's Umbrella (5)

In arguably the best episode of “Gotham” yet, things finally came to a head with the Gordon situation, in the somewhat sinisterly-titled “Penguin’s Umbrella,” which turned out to be all too apt in retrospect. There are times when a show just clicks and you see that it does indeed have a long-range plan that goes beyond the obvious, and this was definitely one of those times. It would have been really easy for the show to simply haul out one villain after another, without any real long-term goals for the other characters; after all, let’s be honest, the villains are the best thing here, at least in this particular incarnation (though I’d argue that the same holds true for all of them). But “Gotham” has more going on than one might have thought at first glance.

Oh, to be sure, it’s the Penguin who serves as the glue holding all this together, but he’s not quite the villainous Penguin we all know from the typical Bat-verse. Instead, here, he’s more of a “Keyser Söze”-type figure, running things behind the scenes without people knowing he’s doing it, at least to a certain extent. Instead, he gives each person just enough rope to hang themselves, dangling bait every step of the way to keep them satisfied with what he’s giving them enough not to kill him.

The way he deftly arranged for both sides to take out key players in the game, thus allowing him to maneuver more successfully on one side- Maroni’s, where Frankie was firmly dubious of him, and with good reason- and doing a solid for Falcone on the other by eliminating one of his own men, Nikolai, that was plotting against him with Fish without it tracing back to Falcone himself, even though he was very much in on it…that, my friends, was a thing of beauty, and the stuff of which expert writing is made of, especially within the mafia subgenre.

I mean, “The Sopranos” couldn’t have done these machinations better, even if that show has “Gotham” on the acting front by a country mile. But plotting wise…well done, “Gotham.” Well done, indeed. I love a good long con, and Penguin nailed this one, and it really did the best thing an ongoing plotline like this can do: filled in the blanks we were missing about what was really going on, while at the same time showing that there was indeed a method to the show’s madness. As the saying goes in the Bat-verse: “I love it when a good plan comes together.”

I also liked the smaller touches here and there as well: Montoya admitting that she was not only wrong about Gordon, but that she let her emotions get the best of her, and making up for it by saving his butt when he most needed it; literally the entire police force refusing to help Jim to the point of getting out and leaving their own precinct because a group of thugs told them to, even the captain (!); the main thug being none other than Victor Zsasz (Anthony Carrigan, “The Forgotten”), notorious knife-wielding serial killer/mob hit-man, who carves a hash mark into his arm for everyone he kills, who fans are no doubt familiar with; Gordon’s bonkers plan to try and arrest the Mayor and Falcone or die trying; Fish being smart enough to know that Falcone was up to something and that there was a reason he didn’t tell her what it was- it almost certainly includes the whole Liza thing as well- hence Falcone’s reducing her to a glorified cook/maid; the nutty plan involving the chained-up nuns (!); Bullock bringing over the “Dutchess” to Gordon’s for a quickie before they went to Falcone’s to meet their fate- too funny, that; and, of course, Victor’s ringtone being “Funkytown.”

Lots of good stuff in this one, and precious little bad, IMHO. About the only remotely false note was Barbara’s bone-head move to come back to town to try and plead with Falcone for Gordon’s life, leading to her getting kidnapped in the process and used as leverage against him. Nice going, doofus. You’d think she’d know better than that, but hopefully she’ll wise up- after all, she’s got a big role to play on down the line. We shall see.

So, there you go. This was about as perfect an episode of the show as one could ask for. Everything came together beautifully, the plotlines were genuinely impressive and show a knack amongst the writers for long-range storytelling that bodes well for its future, and it set the stage for some great stuff later on, notably Falcone’s inevitable showdown with Fish and Penguin’s continued ascendency up the criminal food chain. Oh, and I’m sure eagle-eared viewers caught that reference to Indian Hill, the “toxic waste dump”- who wants to bet that will come into play in the creation of a certain super-villain? I am certainly liking where all this is headed, to be sure.

What did you think of the latest episode of “Gotham”? Were you as impressed as I was? Or is the show still leaving you cold for whatever reason? What did you think of Penguin’s bold power moves? How ticked off were you at Barbara? How great is Bullock? How long before Falcone takes out Fish? Will Liza get caught in the crossfire? Sound off below and see you next week!