Much like Harvey Dent, this episode actually does not pay the most attention to the villain thrown in for name-recognition (The next episode bares his other name, though, so we still have time), but when it’s focusing instead on the misadventures of The Penguin (Robin Lord Taylor) most viewers won’t care. There are many factors that make Oswald Cobblepot one of the most captivating characters in this series–Taylor is currently the ascended mascot of the new Behind the Scenes/Ford Motor Corp Propaganda segments–but an important one is how awkward he always is. His personality combines deviousness with audacity, and although both can be effective evil traits, they tend to butt heads. When Penguin sees a chance to advance his status, he lets down his guard, lashes out, gloats, etc, just as he did when Carmine Falcone (John Doman) cracked down on Fish Mooney (Jada Pinkett-Smith) and he revealed himself as the one who sniffed her conspiracy out. Now, Mooney calls his supposed new boss Sal Maroni (David Zayas) to return the slight; informing him that Oswald is actually a mole for Falcone.
The resulting showdown might not be what some people expected; given this series rarely shies away from violence, perhaps the assumption was that the villains would have it out in the sort of tense fist/gun fights that Jim Gordon (Ben McKenzie) and Harvey Bullock (Donal Logue) do. That turns out not to be the case this time, but the mental head-butting between Cobblepot and Maroni is so fresh to Gotham, and so intense, that it easily rivals the best hard action scenes of the series. It’s simultaneously funny and creepy, and it builds suspense in itself in addition to answering the suspense built by the rest of the series–and then it answers much of its own suspense, too. There is a cliffhanger at which I can’t help but want to see next episode pick up right, but here the satisfaction outweighs the suspense.
As to the police side of this episode, it pales in excitement, but it gives some commendable twists to the stale formula. First of all, this time the Villain of the Week isn’t; the titular Dr. Gerald Crane (Julian Sands) and his son, Jonathan (Charlie Tahan) are still at large. The other thing notable, though, is that for the first time since Spirit of the Goat, series co-star Harvey Bullock takes a turn in the spotlight. Bullock still isn’t squeaky-clean, as he flirts with Dr. Scottie Mullen (Maria Thayer) in the process of getting her help tracking down the killers, but he’s coming into his own as the second most respectable cop in Gotham. Meanwhile, Bruce Wayne (David Mazouz) gets more serious about self-strengthening, Edward Nygma (Cory Michael Smith) gets serious (and even creepier) and Jim Gordon gets more serious in his relationship with Dr. Leslie Thompkins (Morena Baccarin).
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