6:02pm PT by Graeme McMillan
'Gotham' Central: Five Questions About 'Penguin's Umbrella'
[WARNING: Spoilers ahead for Monday's episode of Gotham, "Penguin's Umbrella."]
“Penguin’s Umbrella,” the seventh episode of Fox’s Gotham managed an impressive trick, being an episode that managed to both significantly alter the status quo of the series while also leaving almost everything the way it was at the start.
The biggest changes, of course, center around the title character of the episode. It’s no longer a secret that Oswald Cobblepot (Robin Lord Taylor) is (a) alive and (b) back in Gotham, hanging around in the employ of the Maronis, the rivals to Carmine Falcone’s family (which includes the scheming Fish Mooney, formerly Cobblepot’s boss), but the bigger surprise to the viewers — who have, after all, been watching Cobblepot for the last six weeks — came at the end of the episode, when it was revealed that Cobblepot has secretly been undercover for Falcone the entire time.
By the end of the episode, almost all the characters were exactly where they were last week, but what we knew about them (and what they themselves had discovered) made everything seem different. Fish has reason to be paranoid, because Cobblepot knows she wants to replace Falcone herself. Gordon has reason to worry, because he knows he’s on the radar of Falcone again and there’s no way that’s going to end well. And Maroni — well, he doesn’t know it yet, but he has more reason to worry than most, because he has a mole in the operation that he can’t even imagine just yet.
After staying away from the crime families last week, this week, we dived right back into things — but the show felt better as a result. Here are five questions about “Penguin’s Umbrella.”
Who Is Victor Zsasz?
For the first time in the series, an active villain in the show actually comes from the comics (Sure, Falcone and Cobblepot are from the comics, but they’re more passive villains to varying degrees so far)! Zsasz is a relatively recent addition to Batman’s rogues gallery, having first appeared in 1992’s Batman: Shadow of The Bat No. 1. Visually, his television incarnation pretty much matches his comic book look — right down to the creepy marks he makes on his skin whenever he kills someone new — but the comic book incarnation of the character preferred knives to guns. While this is his first television appearance, he’s previously shown up in Batman Begins and the animated movie Batman: Assault on Arkham. Anthony Carrigan did a good job here; here’s hoping we see him again before too long.
How Deep Does The Corruption Go?
Zsasz just wandered into the police station, announced he’s from Falcone and not only did the cops surrender Gordon easily, they even left when Zsasz tells them to. With that scene — especially coming after Bullock’s attempt to kill Gordon in the police station — suddenly Captain Essen’s comment that “Nobody will help you, I won’t help you!” seemed to hold more water. Before, we’d seen that the corruption in the GCPD was widespread, but this week’s episode made it seem as if, prior to Gordon’s arrival, only Montoya and Allen were willing to do the right thing. Man, Gotham really is an amazingly corrupt town.
Why Does Gordon Think The Wayne Murders Are Connected to Everything Else?
“It’s all connected,” Gordon told Bruce, talking about the corruption in the city and his parents’ murder. Which makes sense to us as an audience — we know we’re watching a TV show and everything will likely end up be connected to everything else by the end, because that’s the way these things tend to shake out. For those in the show, however, it’s a bit of a leap. Sure, we know that the crime families are connected to Wayne Enterprises in some, as-yet-undefined way, and we also know that there’s more to the Wayne murders than meets the eye, but how does he get from “This entire city is corrupt,” to “Everything is connected?” Have I missed something?
(Also: Is he right? Falcone’s “Wayne Enterprises is back in play” line could be taken one of two ways: either it’s back in play because they’ve taken care of the Waynes, who were acting as interference, or someone else has. Remember, Falcone denied having the Waynes killed in the first episode.)
What Does Falcone Know?
Fish might be unpleasant and paranoid, but she’s not necessarily wrong: why is Falcone so calm when everything is seemingly going to hell? As his revelation of Barbara’s capture revealed — “I want you to believe me,” was such a wonderfully delivered line; John Doman should clearly be under threat more often — Falcone knows more than people think he does. We know that Cobblepot has been spying on the Maronis for Falcone, and that he knows that Fish is out for his job, but does that mean he knows about Liza and Fish’s plans for her as well? Just how reliant is he on Cobblepot for information — and does he know that Cobblepot is arguably the least trustworthy person in the entire city? And more to the point…
What Is Cobblepot’s Endgame?
With his murder of Maroni’s right hand man and the last-minute reveal that he’s been a mole for Falcone this whole time — a plan that was extremely bold, considering that for all he knew, Bullock could’ve ended up killing them both had Gordon refused to even fake a murder — I feel like we got a peek at what Cobblepot’s planning to do sooner rather than later to the crime families in Gotham: either murder or buy out the opposition. Considering how quickly he’s rising in the Maroni family and how easily he’s dispatching of his nemeses on the Falcone side, the city might end up with one sole crime boss for the first time in its history before too long. Hurry up and become Batman, Bruce. Judging by this week’s events, Gordon is no match for the strategic genius that is the Penguin right now.