‘Gotham’ 5×03 Review: ‘Penguin, Our Hero’

This episode of Gotham gives us Penguin as a hero, Selina transforming into a villain, and a much lighter Jim Gordon than we’ve seen – ever. We also get some lovely BatCat moments and a nifty tribute to the Frank Miller Batman, plus  the usual mayhem and a shocker of an ending.

Penguin, Our Hero

One thing the Gotham team does so very well is balancing the grim against the absurd. A choir singing Penguin’s praises certainly qualifies as absurd!

Oswald thinks he’s at the top of the heap in Gotham. His bullet factory is churning out ammo, there’s plenty of food for him and his bulldog, and he’s got his choir. The only thing spoiling his fun is the continued breathing of Jim Gordon.

Or so he thinks.

It doesn’t take long for him to find out that it’s all a veneer. His workers are running away to Jim’s Haven. There are no takers for Penguin’s bounty on Jim Gordon’s head — at least, none left alive.

Oh, and Riddler’s machinations have now set Penguin up to be attacked by all the other gangs in the city. (Imagine what Riddler would have done had he known Penguin named his dog “Edward.)

Oh, and Edward left, too!

It’s enough to make Penguin murderous, but he seems to have learned a few things from prior homicidal tantrums. Instead of killing the attacking gangsters, he captures them and sets them up to be tortured. Just a bit. It’s enough to get a villainous alliance together for an attack on Haven.

Although that doesn’t go as planned either. It leaves Penguin in the awkward position of having to work with Jim. The partnership actually works, and for a brief moment Penguin does actually get hailed as a hero.

Jim Gordon’s New Snarky Self

I didn’t like Jim Gordon much last season. (“They wrote him as a dick,” my husband observed when I mentioned that during this episode.) But I am LOVING this version of Jim Gordon: heroic, visionary and loaded with snark. He got all the best one-liners of the night. With Penguin’s help he routed the gangsters who took over Haven. And then he put himself between Penguin and Barbara’s gun… enforcing the idea of “Haven” for everyone.

Jim Gordon has finally become the unmasked hero Gotham needs. That’s not to say the man we met in 1×01 wasn’t what Gotham needed then: One honest cop. But Jim’s straight-and-narrow honesty wasn’t quite enough for dealing with the monumental problems in Gotham. His walk on the dark side, including a stint at Blackgate Prison, gave him a little of the extra grit needed for Gotham’s current impossible situation.

That situation is about to get worse, even without the destruction of Haven in the episode’s final minute.

We’re In For A Heartbreak

This episode had some lovely moments between Bruce and Selina. Fellow BatCat fans, let’s enjoy them while we can, because we know the ship is headed for troubled waters.

Now fully recovered, Selina is hunting Jeremiah. She wants revenge. Bruce agrees to help her, but insists Jeremiah has to be arrested and stand trial. Selina never exactly agrees to that stipulation, but Bruce never seems to realize she didn’t agree.

Bruce gets repeatedly shocked by Selina’s violence. First she takes on a gang leader (costumed as the Mutant Leader from Frank Miller’s 1986 graphic novel “The Dark Knight Returns”). She beats that guy to a pulp. Then she fights Ecco in the bloody “Church of Jeremiah Valeska.” When Bruce’s intervention lets Ecco escape, Selina handcuffs him to a rail to keep him from following her.

Ivy had warned that her root could bring out Selina’s “darker angels,” and that seems to be what’s happening.

How far will Selina go? What more will this root do to her?

The Church Of Jeremiah Valeska

Bruce and Selina got us a little closer to the answer to, “Where is Jeremiah?” He is still active, still plotting, still killing. And still gathering adherents who believe “his methods will be our salvation.”

Those methods include a deadly “test of faith.” Do they also include explosives planted throughout Haven? I suspect they do, since we know Ecco was at the GCPD back in 5×01. (And Ecco is looking more and more like Harley Quinn every time we see her.)

Jeremiah comes back next week, so get ready for Gotham to amp up the crazy!

Gotham airs Thursday nights at 8/7 Central.

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