Fox’s Gotham this Monday delivered an hour that if it were a book, you couldn’t put it down, as the plot propelled each scene into the next, illuminating characters in new ways and swelling to a climactic (if slightly predictable) twist.
It even made the heretofore-clunky mob war subplot compelling, which, if you’ve been following my coverage, you know has been a sticking point for me. Also, the dialogue, penned by show boss Bruno Heller, crackled throughout, from a seething Fish getting up in the face of her “bitch” Penguin to a bemused Bullock chiming in on Gordon’s not-so-grand plan. (Yes, the bromance has officially begun.)
When last we tuned in, Oswald Cobblepot saved his “friend” Detective Jim Gordon’s bacon by “returning from the dead,” thus rendering his arrest for murder moot. This week’s episode thankfully glossed over the oohs, aahs and paperwork resulting from this reveal and instead catapulted straight into the citywide reverberations — starting with a livid Fish Mooney. She is hungry for several pounds of flesh, but Falcone orders here to stand down, because he has things under control — by way of enigmatic assassin Victor Zsasz (played by recent Flash baddie Anthony Carrigan as, in a way, Fringe‘s September on caffeine pills).
And then there was of course the Gordon/Bullock blow-up behind closed doors, as Harvey whipped out his gun and laid out for his partner the grim ramifications of his duplicity. With a leg sweep, Gordon physically gains the upper hand, then sets off to make his world right, first looking out for his fiancee’s safety. Alas, Falcone’s men got to Barbara first — but that doesn’t keep Jim from protecting his sweetheart, defying to be easily brought in for a “meeting” with Fish and putting a bullet in one of the henchmen. Jim then puts Barbara on a bus headed far out of town, so that he may enact his plan without a second thought.
Jim’s next order of business is to use some rubber-stamped warrants to haul in Falcone and the Mayor. But when Essen gets wind of his plan, she deems him a bit insane — and “maybe I am,” Jim allows. Their convo is cut short by Zsasz’s almost polite storming of the squad room. After Gordon’s chickens–t colleagues clear out as asked, gunplay ensues between the Boy Scout and Zsasz and his female cohorts. Jim takes one bullet before slipping out the back, then is popped again just as Montoya and Allen pull up and drive him to safety (or at least to the rat-filled dissecting wing of the university). After a half-second of recovering from the bullets’ removal, Gordon’s next stop is Wayne Manor, to assure Bruce that even if he doesn’t live to see another day, the MCU detectives will stay on his parents’ murder case.
Meanwhile, the crime bosses trade figurative punches. Falcone intercepts his foe’s guns run, leading Maroni to strike back at a cash-rich target of Penguin’s picking. After that raid, Maroni’s No. 1 looks to roast their “golden goose,” but an unaffected Penguin notes that Carbone’s passion — money — shall be his undoing. Cue Frankie’s two colleagues holding him down as Oswald gleefully drives a blade into him (and then kisses his keppe).
Bullock shows up at Gordon’s home (at least two sheets to the wind and with a floozy on his arm) and declares himself on board for whatever his partner is planning — why not go down in a blaze of glory, right? Their first stop is to grab/arrest Mayor James, then use him to gain access to Falcone in his manor. The Don, however, responds by brandishing an ace up his sleeve — he’s got Barbara, who foolishly, foolishly came back to town to (foolishly) beg Falcone to spare her fiance. Yet even though he holds all the cards, Falcone opts not to whack the detectives, which is a mysterious call….
…until the final act, where we learn that Falcone and Penguin have been in cahoots since late in the pilot, when Oswald traded intel on Fish’s affair/alliance with Nikolai the Russian and her plan to eventually usurp the Don. In exchange, Falcone assigned Gordon to whack his snitch, knowing he’d never go through with it. Their scheme played out quite perfectly (even Falcone must admit), and it was as a favor to Penguin that he has spared Gordon.
“He’ll see the light, one way or another,” Penguin says of the good detective. “I guarantee it.”