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Gotham season 5, episode 3 review: Penguin, Our Hero

Selina sought revenge on Jeremiah in this week’s episode of Gotham, but did she manage to get her hands on him in “Penguin, Our Hero”?

Gotham‘s interpretation of “No Man’s Land” continued last week, as Jim Gordon and his GCPD pushed themselves past their limits to remind those left in the city that there were still heroes in Gotham. While he encountered many foes, he ultimately received backup in the unlikely form of Babara Kean – who wanted Jim alive to help her kill Penguin. But the real twist came in the episode’s conclusion when Selina, who ingested a root from Poison Ivy, was suddenly able to walk again and exhibited cat-like traits.

However, the madness continued in this week’s outing, “Penguin, Our Hero”, when the war between Jim Gordon and Oswald Cobblepot accelerated and the newly-born Catwoman sought revenge on the man who paralyzed her, Jeremiah Valeska. Was she successful in doing so? And was Gotham successful in maintaining its high standard?

Crazy Town

Selina’s sudden recovery came with a cost – she was unable to stop thinking about the night she was shot by Jeremiah. The mixture of her nightmares and her newly-awakened dark side naturally led her to conclude that the best way to deal with the matter was to exact revenge on Gotham‘s Clown Prince of Crime. As always, Bruce was right by her side and, together, they ventured into Gotham’s dead zone, battled with The Mutants and discovered the Church of Jeremiah – with services led by none other than Echo.

A barbaric test of his followers’ devotion, which Selina volunteered herself for, led to a showdown between her and Mr. J’s biggest fan. With jester-like colors, unkempt hair and a newly-unhinged personality, it didn’t take a subtext genius to figure out that Echo was now being portrayed as the show’s version of Harley Quinn. And what a fine job Francesca Root-Dodson did, conveying her devotion to Jeremiah at every turn, as she revealed that she too took part in his test, suggesting that her newfound craziness was the result of the bullet lodging itself in her brain.

Following the incredibly choreographed battled between these two Batman icons, Echo managed to escape (barely), frustrating Selina so much that she handcuffed Bruce to the railing as a result of his constant protests and headed off to do things “her way”. Of course, this begs the question: How far is Selina willing to go to take down Jeremiah? Her behavior throughout the episode certainly suggests that she’s embraced her inner darkness, but her hesitation in the shoot-out would seem to contradict this somewhat.

Despite the episode’s title, it was the Selina narrative that, in many ways, became the standout aspect of “Penguin, Our Hero”. Not only did it allow us to see even more of Gotham’s ruins, it was a teaser of the Bat-filled future that awaits these characters. With The Mutants on the streets, Echo championing Jeremiah, a violent (and even more acrobatic) Selina out for vengeance and a good-hearted Dark Knight there to keep her on the straight and narrow, the episode was, at its heart, already a Batman story – and what a great story it was.

Dynamic Duo

The Jim Gordon/Oswald Cobblepot dynamic has always been one of Gotham‘s greatest attributes. The on-again/off-again relationship between these strangers-turned-friends-turned-rivals-turned-friends again-turned bitter rivals has gifted us with some of the show’s finest performances, shootouts and laugh-out-loud moments, and this week was no exception.

Infuriated by the fact that all of his men left to go to Gordon’s Haven, Oswald recruited the Street Demons (some of whom originally tried to kill him, thinking he had slaughtered the rest of their gang) and stormed the GCPD’s new sanctuary. Unfortunately for him, the Street Demons turned on him and killed Mr. Penn, leaving Oswald and Jim to work together. Of course, this provided the grim episode with some much-needed comic relief as the frenemies briefly attempted to trust each other, and, with a little help from Will (the brave kid that found Jim in the premiere), the pair broke free.

While all of this was the usual Gordon/Penguin frenemy dynamic that the show thrives on, what happened next was a little unprecedented. Backing up Gordon and the GCPD, Oswald and his men were applauded and, in that moment, Penguin became a hero and, dare I say it, an ally for Gordon.

Once again, Robin Lord Taylor and Ben McKenzie played their parts to perfection, each once managing to serve as the perfect foil to the other while also believably putting their differences aside for the greater good. As Oswald might say, it was a joy to watch, “old friend”.

Ruins

Jim’s alliance with Penguin ended up being a stroke of genius, as it came at just the right time to create conflict between him and his unlikely ally from last week, Barbara. Learning of Oswald’s original invasion on Haven, Barbara showed up intent on killing the man who took Tabitha from her. However, Jim wouldn’t allow it to happen within the walls of Haven and got between them. It was a high-intensity moment with plenty of stakes and an abundance of uncertainty in regard to who would go down. But not even that could have prepared us for what came next.

The windows of Haven burst outwards, as a massive explosion from within knocked Jim, Oswald, Barbara and Harvey off their feet. As smoke-filled the atmosphere and flames engulfed the giant buildings, an injured Jim Gordon could only watch as his hope for a better, safer Gotham, quite literally, went up in smoke. His Haven had become Hell on Earth.

We’re used to expecting the unexpected on Gotham. In fact, it’s become such a regular occurrence that, no matter how crazy it gets, we believe it. So, with that in mind, I have to credit the writers for using the episode’s final few seconds to somehow to pull the rug out from under us. And it has once again left the show and its characters in such a state of disarray that I’m genuinely excited to see where it goes next.

Gothic Getaways

  • Camren Bicondova was nothing short of superb here. She let out her inner Michelle Pfeiffer and absolutely went to town on Selina this week. It was like she had been slowly building up to this moment since the beginning of the show. If that’s the case, it has been well worth the wait.
  • When Echo said “puddin'”, I got goosebumps. Harley has arrived, folks.
  • Mr. Penn’s death was oddly heartbreaking. By “oddly” I mean that it was a bizarre moment, but it upset me. He’s been a regular part of the show since the beginning, and I always enjoyed his relationship with Oswald. First Tabitha, now this: it really does feel like the show is coming to an end.
  • For anyone unaware, The Mutants were a nice little reference to Frank Miller’s iconic comic The Dark Knight Returns, in which an aged Batman resurfaces to take down the monstrous group and restore order to Gotham.
  • Though there was no Riddler this week, the writers did such a great job with the episode that we didn’t even get the chance to miss him.
  • We’re sorry, but Dr. Thompkins cannot take your call at the moment. Please leave a message after the tone: “Lee, where are you?!”.
  • With each episode, Gotham‘s version of “No Man’s Land” has continued to show us the city’s true colors, and what a gloriously twisted sight it is. The show is destined to go out with a bang, and this outstanding episode is proof of that.

Gotham returns to Fox next Thursday, January 24, at 8:00 p.m. ET. Are you excited for the return of Jeremiah? Let us know in the comments below!