8:15am PT by Sydney Bucksbaum
DC TV Watch: 'Gotham' Unites Iconic Villains, Kills Two Others
Welcome back to The Hollywood Reporter's weekly DC TV Watch, a rundown of all things DC Comics on the small screen. Every Saturday, we round up the major twists, epic fights, new mysteries and anything else that goes down on The CW's Arrow, The Flash, Legends of Tomorrow, Supergirl and Black Lightning and Fox's Gotham. This week, Gotham focused on an old case and a new alliance. Note: Supergirl, Arrow, The Flash and Black Lightning did not air new episodes this week.
The big news: Gotham giveth, and Gotham taketh away: Just one episode into the Ventriloquist's (Andrew Sellon) official debut, he was unceremoniously killed by the Riddler (Cory Michael Smith).
What it means: While Arthur Penn has been a fixture on Gotham since last season as Penguin's (Robin Lord Taylor) loyal and meek accountant, it wasn't until his miraculous resurrection in this week's episode that his true villain origin came out. After years of being ridiculed, yelled at and abused by his former boss Penguin, his near-death experience a few episodes back caused his psyche to fracture, and the dummy he found in a magic shop took on all his anger and frustrations. The mobster dummy "Scarface" then began "controlling" Penn, forcing him to hold Penguin and Riddler at gunpoint, thus bringing Penn's journey to completion as the iconic Batman villain Ventriloquist. Penguin even mistakenly referred to Penn as "Arnold" a few times, which is the Ventriloquist's real name in the comics. But then Penguin helped destroy Scarface, and Riddler then killed Penn.
It was a seemingly insignificant death after over a year of buildup, but the ramifications behind Penn's death are huge: It helped bring Penguin and Riddler together for real, as actual friends instead of begrudging allies who could turn on each other at any moment. This unholy alliance of real friendship is now going to unleash the full power of Penguin's assets and Riddler's intelligence in a way we have yet to see on Gotham, and its potential is already promising to be even better than what fans could have hoped.
Other noteworthy moments: Another, more obscure Batman villain was also introduced in the episode only to be killed a few scenes later, but Jane Doe (Sarah Pidgeon) was much more sinister than her comic origins. Instead of just being a serial killer, she became a serial killer who could shape-shift into anyone she's ever touched on a whim. She was hellbent on revenge for the dirty cops who ruined her life, and that included Harvey Bullock (Donal Logue), who ultimately put a bullet in her by the end of the hour. But her death scene was incredibly powerful, as her psychological trauma from being experimented on by Hugo Strange (BD Wong) resulted in her thinking her actual face was horrifying when it was actually just a normal, beautiful face. Her death was tragic, but hopefully her legacy spurs Bullock into finally putting Strange down for good so he can't ruin any more lives.
Doe's introduction (and death) also served as a deeper dive into the stark contrast of who Bullock was before Jim Gordon (Ben McKenzie) strode into his life and changed things for the better. Think back to Gotham's first episode, and the journey Bullock has taken personally over the course of the series is clear. Now imagine just how much worse he had been before he met Gordon. Hopefully Bullock (and his friendship with Gordon) survives the series, as this is either the beginning of his swan song or just a love letter to the character over the course of the show.
And was that Killer Croc down in the sewers? The mutated man Bruce (David Mazouz) and Alfred (Sean Pertwee) battled down there seemingly took on the comic-book persona while still staying within Gotham's (somewhat nebulous) limitations of "staying grounded." But if it walks like a Killer Croc and roars like a Killer Croc ...
Supergirl, Arrow, The Flash and Black Lightning are all back with new episodes this week, along with Gotham. The mini-hiatus is over!
Note: Supergirl airs Sundays; Arrow and Black Lightning air Mondays; The Flash airs Tuesdays; and Legends of Tomorrow returns in April on The CW. Gotham airs Thursdays on Fox.