Gotham season 5, episode 5 review: Pena Dura


Ed finally gots some answers in this week’s Gotham, while another character proved that death is merely an illusion. But just what exactly went down in “Pena Dura”?

Gotham‘s final season has been tearing up our screens for the last month. Ever since it returned to Fox at the beginning of the year, it’s been clear that the beloved Batman prequel is intent on going out on a high. With derelict buildings and crime-ridden streets, the show’s adaptation of revered comic Batman: No Man’s Land has allowed it to channel the darkness that it’s always been renowned for on a much greater level and, so far, the result has been close to perfection.

After Gordon’s darkness led him back to an old flame and Selina was apparently successful in her attempt to kill Jeremiah Valeska, this week’s installment saw both characters’ descents explored all over again, as Jim had a short-lived reunion with his buddy from the army and Barbara held a party in honor of her cat-like companion’s accomplishment. In typical Gotham fashion, things didn’t quite go to plan. With that in mind, here’s what went down in “Pena Dura”.

City Of Lies

Jim’s quest to figure out who destroyed Haven wielded some surprisingly quick results as, thanks to Barbara’s tip, he quickly discovered that Ed Nygma was indeed responsible for the explosion. However, he had even more to celebrate when, after weeks of empty promises, the army finally showed up to save the day. Well, that’s what they were supposed to do.

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Led by Gordon’s old army pal Eduardo, the army’s plan to eradicate the criminal activity in Gotham got off to a promising start, but it soon turned out to have a morally-corrupt approach that was just too much for Gordon to handle. Upon discovering that Ed was actually being controlled by Eduardo and, in effect, Theresa Walker (the woman from the government who wants to save Gotham), Jim was given the choice to shoot Ed and prove his loyalty or, well, die. Gordon, proving that, despite his recent brush with darkness, his soul is still intact, refused and escaped.

Speaking of Ed, the whole episode saw him attempt to track down the person that broke him. While attempting to avoid the citizens of Gotham, who wanted him dead over the Haven attack, he ended up in an electrifying situation that, quite literally, jolted his memory. And the person he recalled seeing was none other than Penguin.

Tracking down Oswald to kill him, the friends-turned-bitter-enemies-turned-allies-turned-enemies-turned-frenemies had a rather heartfelt standoff as The Penguin revealed that he wasn’t responsible for breaking Ed because, as a friend, he respected him too much to ever hurt him without letting him know that it was him. Similarly, Ed vowed that if he ever killed Oswald, he would ensure that he knew it was happening. And just like that, they cared for each other and parted as friends again – with Penguin pointing him in the direction of Hugo Strange.

Ed’s showdown with Strange resulted in some rather disturbing open-brain surgery for him, as the Doctor revealed that he planted a chip in his mind and, as a result, The Riddler could be controlled from afar. And as we discovered, it was Walker and the Government who was controlling him and thus, they were the ones responsible for blowing up Haven.

With Ed now back under their control and programmed to kill Gordon, the GCPD’s captain is undoubtedly going to have his hands full moving forward, but this proved to be a surprising twist that justified the weeks of unusual behvaior from our very own Riddler.

Cat Got Your Tongue?

In the aftermath of slaying Jeremiah, Selina was paraded as a hero – with Barbara even throwing a party for her in the Sirens club. This, however, didn’t sit too well with Bruce, who blamed Jeremiah’s actions for Selina’s subsequent personality transplant – contrary to Alfred’s claims that she’s actually been like that all along.

Tracking her down, Bruce attempted to make her see sense but, like most of the time, his words fell on deaf ears – resulting in Selina getting, for lack of better term, catty. While seeing her verbally crush Bruce isn’t really anything new, this time it was different because she finally revealed to him that she actually witnessed his parents’ murder and didn’t do anything to stop it – not because she was scared, but because she simply didn’t care. The comments understandably broke Bruce, who began to question everything he knew and perhaps even started to lose faith in Gotham itself.

Now that he and Selina are no longer a badass team, tearing up the dangerous streets of Gotham, like they did in the beginning of the season, it’s going to be interesting to see where that leaves both respective characters. Given everything that has happened so far, and how little time Gotham has left, it’s highly likely that the coming weeks will be crucial in the development of both Batman and Catwoman – and, quite frankly, I can’t wait to see how the show progresses with them.

Joker’s Back In Town!

The episode’s closing moments were perhaps the most shocking of them all as we not only discovered that Jeremiah Valeska was still alive, but that he had some disturbing plans in store for one Bruce Wayne. Following on from last week’s deadly encounter with Selina, “Pena Dura” revealed that, although he had been stabbed by the blooming Catwoman, it was all part of a ploy to make her think that she had done the impossible. However, thanks to some looking after by Ecco, he was perfectly fine – wounded, but fine.

Having utilised the Soothsayers’ tunnel, he then made his way into a mansion, where a surgeon had finished his “work”. Upon feasting his eyes on a well-dressed man and a woman, Jeremiah grinned, telling us how he loves family reunions – bringing the episode to an uncomfortable end.

Of course, we’re supposed to assume that he has utilized the surgeon’s services to create lookalikes of Thomas and Martha Wayne, confirming that his desire to torture Bruce is, like him, alive and well. Given Selina’s reference to the Wayne parents’ murder earlier in the episode, it’s looking like he may intend on recreating their deaths – which is such a Joker thing to do!

Gothic Getaways

  • Robin Lord Taylor and Cory Michael Smith absolutely shined this week. The scene between Oswald and Ed in City Hall was thrilling, hilarious, outrageous and surprisingly moving – the perfect way of summing up this pair’s unusual relationship. Nygmobblepot lives!
  • All these references to Ed’s near-death experience in the Season 4 finale, as well as Strange’s intervention, and yet there is still no word on what happened to Lee. Guess we should expect a major shock when it comes to our favourite Dr. Thompkins in the coming episodes.
  • Could Walker be a psuedonym for Waller, as in Amanda Waller? She certainly seems to be just as ruthless.
  • Bruce disappearing on Bullock without warning was a nice little nod to Batman’s now-iconic habit of doing just that.
  • In the meantime, with no protection left, it appears that Penguin, and his trusty dog Edward, will spend some time in a panic room below City Hall full of supplies. Oh Oswald, old friend.
  • The chemistry between Jeremiah and Ecco was off the chain. In a few scenes together, the pair have managed to replicate the dynamic between Joker and Harley Quinn to perfection.
  • Also, Jeremiah’s seductive Joker-voice gives me goosebumps. This is The Joker we deserve!
  • The closing scene, in which Jeremiah watched the surgeon unwrapping the bandages on the Wayne family lookalikes’ faces was a subtle little nod to Tim Burton’s classic 1989 film Batman (in which a surgeon unwraps the bandages on the face Jack Nicholson’s Joker following his fall into the vat of chemicals).
  • Five episodes in. Five major successes. This truly is shaping up to be Gotham‘s best season.

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Gotham takes a brief hiatus of Fox and will return on Thursday, Feb. 14 at 8:00 p.m. ET. Are you excited? Let us know in the comments below.