Gotham got off to a bit of a rough start by trying to hit the ground running and dive headfirst into the deep end of the Batman mythos, which frankly isn’t something that can be sustained for a full 22-episode season. The series faltered a bit in earlier episodes, but in the last two weeks has shown a ton of improvement. I was impressed with last week’s Harvey Bullock-centric fright fest “The Spirit of the Goat,” and found tonight’s noir tale, “Penguin’s Umbrella,” to be even more enjoyable and satisfying.
That’s right, Gotham is finally headed on an upward trajectory, and that’s, ironically, thanks to the fact that the series is slowing things down a bit. “Penguin’s Umbrella” is far from a perfect episode of television, and could use some better pacing, but overall the noir aesthetic, the character-driven revelations and the tense mob-driven storyline make it Gotham’s finest hour to date.
Picking up right where we left off last week, with Oswald Cobblepot revealing to the entire GCPD and the major crimes detectives that he was, in fact, not killed by Jim Gordon, “Penguin’s Umbrella” explores the repercussions of what it means to actually have a conscience in Gotham City. By keeping Penguin alive, Gordon risked not only his life, but the life of his fiancee Barbara (though we still don’t care enough about her to get emotionally invested) and his partner Harvey, both of whom disappear for a while and leave Gordon quite literally helpless and alone against Carmine Falcone.
For the first time, it really feels like the corrupt in the city truly outnumber those who are fighting for good. At one point, Gordon is literally abandoned by his entire police force to engage in a shootout with Victor Zsasz right in the middle of the GCPD building. If that doesn’t illustrate just how alone Gordon is in his quest to cleanse Gotham, I don’t know what would.