Penguin as the Standout Character of Fall 2014

Sorry, Twisty.  You are a great character with an emotionally gut-wrenching story.  But this Fall TV season belongs to the Penguin.

Robin Lord Taylor has done a brilliant job bringing this character to life.  You can see traces of the  Burgess Meredith and Danny DeVito incarnations of the character.  He evokes sympathy while demonstrating his uncanny knack for manipulation.

(Spoilers for S1E7 Penguin’s Umbrella)

It all made perfect sense when Fish commented that Falcone seemed too composed with the chickens in the warehouse.  Birds of a feather and all that.  Looking back, I’m sure Penguin and Falcone orchestrated the Arkham Indian Hill deal together.  What a beautiful manipulation it was.  At the end of the episode, we see Falcone embrace Penguin.  Falcone respects him and will most likely go to great lengths to keep him safe. 

Penguin wouldn’t be nearly as interesting had he not been played by such a charismatic actor. There are not many characters on television right now that are as captivating as Penguin is. This could make casting the Joker even more of a challenge.

Gotham Recap S1E7: Penguin’s Umbrella

Gotham S1E7: Penguin’s Umbrella

Original Airdate: November 3, 2014

Recap by Sarabeth Pollock


Well, we knew that Penguin was stirring up trouble when he appeared at the police station last week.  And it’s true.  He now has bodyguards when he’s walking down the street, and he loves it.

Fish is furious when she finds out that Penguin is alive and working for Maroni.  She wants him brought to her, alive.

Gordon is on the phone trying to reach Barbara to tell her to leave Gotham.  Bullock attacks him and says that now he has to kill Gordon and take his body to Falcone, and beg for mercy.  Gordon says he has a plan, but Bullock isn’t listening.  He pulls his gun out and aims at Gordon, but Gordon manages to get it away from him and knocks him out.

Barbara’s phone is ringing but she’s not answering because Butch and one of his henchmen are with her.  He explains that Gordon was supposed to kill somebody and didn’t, now his boss is mad.  Barbara realizes that it was Cobblepot, and Butch gets excited that she knows. He asks if she has ever been with a criminal.  Before he can get too close, Gordon walks around the corner with a gun pointed at them.  He orders the henchman to drop the gun, but Butch insists that he’s the shot caller.  Butch complies, but he threatens to kill Barbara slowly, so Gordon shoots the henchman and clocks Butch.

At the bust station, Gordon explains to Barbara that he has to stay to fix things, telling her that he will join her in a few days.  She wants to know what happens if he doesn’t come back.  “Don’t come back to Gotham,” he says.

Gordon returns to the police station and sees that he’s the center of attention.  The crooked cops stare and the clean ones don’t know what to do.  Gordon asks Alvarez if he has any of the warrants that Judge Bam Bam signed.  Everyone continues to stare.

Fish tells Falcone that they need to stop Penguin.  Falcone is more interested in inspecting chickens.  She says Penguin knows too much.  He tells Fish to ask Maroni nicely to release Penguin.  Falcone notices that Gordon is missing and says he’ll send his guy Victor to pick him up.  She says she can get her people to do it, but that didn’t work so far.  Falcone stays with his chickens while Fish and Nikolai fall back.  Nikolai is ready to strike, but Fish says not yet.  She is worried that Falcone is too relaxed.  Even her girl says Falcone hasn’t touched her.  It’s like he knows something.

Essen finds Gordon at his desk and wonders why he isn’t in Alaska by now.  He’s planning to serve warrants to Falcone and the mayor on the charge of conspiracy to kill the Wayne’s.  She says he’s crazy, but he is totally serious.  His testimony is attached to the paperwork.  She points out that the DA won’t prosecute.  She can’t even help him.  She has a family.  She tells him to get out of town.  He reminds her that this is his home and it was his father’s home.  He’s not leaving.

Victor Zsasz strolls into the police station and gets on a desk to introduce himself.  He says he has been sent by Don Carmine Falcone to retrieve Gordon.  When Gordon comes out, Zsasz says that his orders are to keep him alive, but that’s a broad category.  Gordon points out that there are tons of cops in the room, but Zsasz orders them out. Essen stays, but Gordon tells her to go.  Gordon pulls out his gun but Zsasz has superhuman strength.  A gun battle ensues and Gordon is hit in the side.  He manages to get to the parking lot.  Another officer manages to distract Zsasz long enough for Gordon to run, but one of Zsasz’s thugs manages to shoot Gordon again.  That’s when a car pulls around and blocks him.  It’s Montoya and Allen, who grab Gordon and drive away.  Zsasz returns to the injured cop who prevented him for catching Gordon.  He shoots her, then he pulls up his sleeve and cuts a tally mark into his arm. “Twenty-eight,” he says.

Gordon wakes up on a cot.  He’s in a lab surrounded by rats in cages.  A doctor comes in and says that she took two bullets out of him.  We know that this is Dr. Leslie Thomkins.  She explains that Allen brought him to her because he’s a fugitive from the mob and can’t go to the hospital.  Gordon tries to get off the bed but she stops him.  She calls for Allen, who looks at Gordon in his undershirt and very tight boxer briefs and suggests that clothing would be a good call.

Fish has a meeting with Maroni and says that he needs to hand Penguin over.  He knows he should hand him over, but he likes the guy.  He notices that Fish really wants him, but she says that he disrespected them.  Maroni understands respect, so he calls Penguin out and has him offer his most sincere apology to her.  Maroni laughs at his own joke.  When Penguin calls Fish by her given name, she slaps him, drawing blood from three scratches on his face, and says that torture is too nice a word for what’s in store for him.  Maroni laughs again, but his henchman isn’t laughing.

A group of nuns walk down the street.  Butch drives by in a van and opens the door, grabbing them. One of Maroni’s trucks is headed for the bridge but is forced to stop because the nuns have been chained to a chain blocking the street.  Butch tells the driver that Falcone will continue to block the bridge until they have Penguin.  He says the men need to be hurt to send a message, so he shoots them.

Maroni is furious over losing $4.5 million in supplies in a week.  His man Frankie doesn’t seem amused by the Penguin’s manipulation anymore.  Maroni knows that Penguin is a golden goose (“honk honk” Penguin agrees).  Maroni wants to hit them back, and Penguin knows just the spot to hit them.

Montoya wants to know that Barbara is safe.  They’re in a car and it’s dark.  He assures her that she is gone.  That’s when Alfred pins Allen up against the car, a knife in his hand.  When he learns that Allen is with Gordon, he offers his apology.  In the Wayne study, Gordon tells Bruce that he isn’t sure he can keep his promise to find his parent’s killer, but if anything happens to him, Allen and Montoya will take over the case.  They know everything he knows.  Bruce tells Gordon not to treat him like a child; he wants to know why Gordon thinks he is going to die.  Gordon says he’s in trouble with the wrong people, but he assures Bruce that they will find his parents’ killer.  Alfred points out that Gordon can barely walk, but Gordon is resolute.  Bruce hugs him tightly.  Even Allen is emotional at this display.

Penguin leads an attack team of Maroni’s men, including Frankie.  He takes them to a storage unit filled with Nikolai and Nikolai’s men and their money.  They blow it open and kill everyone.  There is money everywhere.  Frankie thinks Penguin is a waste of time and threatens him.  But Penguin has a plan.  He tells Frankie that his weakness is the fact that he’s cheap.  As Frankie moves to kill Penguin, Frankie’s men grab him and hold him.  As it turns out, Penguin offered them more money. Frankie loved money too much, so his own men were bought out.  Penguin plunges a knife into Frankie’s belly and he kisses Frankie as he dies.

Maroni and Falcone meet under the watchful eye of Fish and their men.  Falcone is sad over Nikolai’s death. He wants the bloodshed to end.  They’re willing to give Penguin up, but they want something in return.  Anything.  Even real estate.  Falcone asks for a warehouse, but Maroni says a warehouse on the river is too valuable.  Penguin whispers in Maroni’s ear, and Maroni offers up Indian Hill.  Fish explains that it’s in Arkham, and it’s a toxic waste dump on top of an Indian burial ground.  It’s worthless.  Falcone disagrees, saying nothing is worthless.  They make a deal.  As they turn to leave, Maroni comments that he heard Victor Zsasz was looking for Gordon.  He wonders if they have caught him yet.  Not yet.

Gordon is back at his house loading up his arsenal.  He’s got several guns ready to go.  There’s a knock at the door. It’s Bullock and a prostitute, whom he introduces as the Duchess of Devonshire.  He tells her to find the bedroom and put on her birthday suit, then he tells Gordon that since he’s doomed anyway, he might as well join Gordon’s moral high ground.  He wants to know the plan, so Gordon explains that he’s arresting the mayor and Falcone for framing Mario Pepper.  Bullock asks if he came up with that plan while smoking crack with a bunch of chimps.  Bullock thinks they will be dead but Gordon says that they’re doing their jobs.  He says that he’s doomed anyway, so he goes off in search of the Duchess.

The next day, Gordon and Bullock go to work. Gordon gets into the mayor’s car with his big rifle.  He tells the mayor that he’s under arrest, and the mayor thinks he’s joking.  But Bullock is in the driver’s seat.  That mayor isn’t going anywhere.

The mayor pulls up at the Falcone estate and he’s waved in automatically.  Gordon leads the mayor into Falcone’s house and presents the warrant.  Bullock has the rest of his men.  Falcone says it must be nice having nothing to lose, but Falcone reminds him that having something to lose makes it worse.  He says that Zsasz has Barbara.  Gordon doesn’t want to lose her, so they put their weapons down.  Liza is making muffins and tells Victor there are none for him because he’s a creep.  Barbara is there with them.  Victor leads her into the study so that Gordon sees that she’s there with him.  Falcone is willing to let them go.  He’s content that Gordon listened to him.  He wants Gordon to see that he’s right.

When Gordon gets home, Barbara is in tears.  She says she was trying to help. He kisses her.  She says she loves him so much.

Falcone enjoys Liza’s muffins.  He apologizes that she had to see all of that earlier.  She understands.  He goes out to feed his chickens.  Penguin approaches.  They hug.  He had just been reflecting on the night they met.  On the night that Gordon and Bullock were tied up in the meat factory.  He had gone to see the Penguin before he condemned him to death.  Penguin had asked for Gordon to kill him, thinking that Gordon won’t kill him.  He’d return to Gotham and be Falcone’s snitch and get in to the Maroni Family.  Te secret was that Fish and Nikolai only pretended to hate each other.  They’re really lovers, and she’s preparing him to take over for Falcone so she can knock Nikolai out and gain all the power for herself.  Falcone is pleased with this secret.  Returning to the present, Falcone says that he’s not sure about letting Gordon live, but Penguin says that he will see the light, one way or another.

So ends another brilliant episode.  What did you think?

Gotham Recap S1E6: Spirit of the Goat

Gotham S1E6: Spirit of the Goat

Original Airdate: October 27, 2014

Recap by Sarabeth Pollock


Gotham City, 10 Years Ago.

A bald man is looking in the mirror and he puts on a mask (that looks suspiciously like the Scarecrow mask).  He repeats “Spirit of the Goat” over and over.

A news broadcaster drones on about the mysterious killer known as the “Spirit of the Goat” who has been killing people.  This hasn’t put a damper on the Wayne Family’s annual event, though.

A young Detective Bullock is in the car with his partner Dix.  They’re staking out a huge abandoned mansion.  They suspect that Randall Milke is the culprit behind the Spirit of the Goat.  Dix points out that Milke thinks he’s the incarnation of the Goat.  Bullock is eager to get inside to save the young woman, but Dix reminds his partner about Gotham’s “Golden Rule”: No heroes.  They go inside and find a dilapidated mansion, which isn’t surprising considering the state of the outside of it.  A woman hangs by her wrists on a makeshift altar.  Dix runs to the top to free her.  She’s cold, but not dead.  That’s when the Goat creeps up and knocks Dix to the floor below the altar.  Bullock becomes enraged, and as the Goat says that he will always come back, Bullock unloads his clip into Milke’s chest.  “Come back from that,” he mutters.  He races to check on Dix, who isn’t responsive.  Sirens blare in the distance.

Gotham City, Present Day

Bullock stares in horror as a woman hangs by her wrists from a bridge.  She’s dressed in white.  His thoughts are interrupted by Edward Nygma, who has a riddle: A man has to cross a bridge with a wolf, a cabbage and a goat.  Bullock wants to know the time of death, which Nygma says is 3am.  Bullock says that the victim was the firstborn daughter.  That’s the Goat’s MO.  He’s already solved the case.  This is a copycat.  He asks Nygma about Gordon, who isn’t there.  Gordon isn’t answering his phone.  Bullock takes a moment to delight in the fact that he beat the Boy Scout to work.  Nygma smiles and wants to continue his joke, but Bullock isn’t listening.  He’s on the phone.

Gordon’s phone is ringing but he isn’t answering.  He’s having a deep conversation with Barbara.  She says he isn’t listening to her.  She just wants one thing: half of what Gordon is carrying.  James Gordon knows that he can’t share his burden with her.  He explains that the city’s law and the crime are twisted together, and if she knows about it, it makes her a target.  She is insistent.  She wants half.  She unloaded her burdens on him and he shouldered it.  Now she wants to help.  He assures her that he’s ok and he’s still fighting.  She reminds him that she’s strong.  She wants him to let her in.  His phone buzzes.  Gordon quickly promises to tell her all that he can in order to make it right.

Montoya and Allen are at the docks.  They find a man who is living near the water.  They ask if he saw the shooting and he holds up his binoculars.  He had a clear view.  Montoya wants to know if it was Gordon who shot Cobblepot.  They show him a picture and the man confirms that Jim Gordon pulled the trigger.  “We got the son of a bitch,” she exclaims.

Gordon arrives to the bridge.  Bullock says that the Gotham Goat is dead.  This is a copycat.  He chides Gordon for being late, then says “screw you” when Gordon suggests that Bullock write him up.  He’s in a bad mood because this crime scene is like having a bad acid trip nightmare.  They need to go talk to Amanda Hastings’ family.  Bullock asks Nygma to call him when they schedule the autopsy.  Nygma seems puzzled by the request.

Mr. Hastings and his wife are shaken up at the news of their daughter’s death.  Mr. Hastings is particularly shaken because he has been having the same dream over and over again about a dark presence.  Gordon asks if his daughter had people in her life that might have worried them.  Mr. Hastings says his daughter was beloved by all.  Then his hand starts clenching involuntarily.  A younger woman ushers him away, along with Mrs. Hastings.  This is Dr. Marks, the Hastings Family therapist.  She tells the detectives that Mr. and Mrs. Hastings are not in a position to answer questions of this magnitude at the moment.  Bullock scoffs, pointing out that no one is ever ready for it.  And he’d like some of the tranquilizers that the good doctor is giving Mrs. Hastings.  Gordon shuts down this line of thinking before it gets too far out of hand.

Edward Nygma goes to the records room.  He appears to be sweet on the clerk (played by Chelsea Spack) working there.  She is uncomfortable seeing him in her office.  He sniffs her when she walks by.  Before she can leave, he says that he needs all of the files on the Goat murders.  He doesn’t understand why anyone would resurrect the murders of a centuries-old boogeyman.  Then he tells her that he’d like her parents.  When she becomes flustered, he explains that her surname is Kringle.  Her parents didn’t change their surname like other Kringles who moved to Gotham.  And then they named her Kristin.  Kristin Kringle.  They must have excellent senses of humor, which intrigues him.  Before she can respond, he launches into a critique of her filing system, which sends her into a frustrated rage and she leaves.  Clearly Edward Nygma has a problem talking to people.

Bullock and Gordon examine the building where Amanda Hastings lived.  She was last seen there the night before.  Bullock says that Milkie worked for an air conditioning maintenance company.  He kidnapped all of his victims from their homes.  That means that he had keys.  Gordon gets on the phone and requests copies of all maintenance companies in the city.  When he gets off the call, he tells Bullock that they’re ready for the autopsy.

Penguin arrives home to his mother’s house.  She doesn’t seem surprised to see that he’s alive; rather she’s more concerned that he has been out with another woman.  He points out that he doesn’t even date, and that there are no women in his life other than her.  This seems to appease her.  He says that people were cruel to him, and that they hurt and betrayed him.  His mother says that they are jealous of him.  He tells her that one day he is going to be an important person in Gotham.

At the morgue, the coroner tells Bullock and Gordon that Hastings died of asphyxiation.  Bullock tells the coroner to examine the base of her skull for a hidden incision.  The coroner had missed it.  As he probes it, Bullock tells him that he will find something inside the incision: a penny. It’s Randall Milkie’s calling card.  It was an unpublished detail.  So who murdered Amanda Hastings?

Captain Essen has joined Bullock and Gordon back in the station.  Bullock explains that ten years ago, Randall Milkie put an 1813 Liberty penny in the skull of each of his victims.  He has no idea why.  The man had been wearing animal horns when he shot him, and he was a loner.  They purposefully left the detail about the pennies out of the media just in case there were copycats.  Essen wonders if anyone leaked it, but the only people who knew that detail were Bullock, the coroner who worked with them (and who has since died) and Dix.  Bullock doesn’t want to talk to Dix, but Essen insists that he go speak with him.

Bruce Wayne is watching the news and working at the big desk in the study.  The reporter says that Gotham’s 1% is heading out of town to avoid the wrath of the Goat.  Bruce thinks that people are scared.  Alfred reminds him that he is the firstborn heir, and that he should be concerned.  Maybe they could go to the lake house, Alfred suggests.  But Bruce isn’t leaving.  He has work to do.  And besides, he doesn’t have anyone left to be taken from.  Alfred stares at his young charge.  Alfred cares, but Bruce doesn’t see it yet.

Kristin Kringle returns to her office to find files everywhere.  Nygma has taken it upon himself to reorganize everything.  She drops her box and tells him that she can’t believe that he’s done this to her.  Does he want her to leave her job?  Nygma realizes that he has upset her.  He leaves, but not before seeing that he has really done harm to any chance of a relationship with her. She thinks he’s weird, which hurts even more.

Bullock doesn’t want Gordon to go into Dix’s room, but Gordon insists.  Dix is in a wheelchair playing solitaire.  He has been wondering how long it would be before Bullock came for his help.  Bullock laughs and says he doesn’t need Dix’s help, but Dix knows better.  As it turns out, Dix didn’t spill the beans about the pennies.  He was the one that told Bullock to seal the evidence, and he knows that they didn’t leak the information, which means that Randall Milke wasn’t working alone.  There’s a conspiracy.  Bullock gets belligerent.  Dix tells Gordon that Bullock can’t stand being wrong.  After Bullock leaves the room, Dix tells Gordon that Bullock is headstrong and always tries to rush into things, like a white knight going into battle.  Gordon can hardly believe they’re talking about the same Harvey Bullock.  But when Gordon leaves the room, he overhears Bullock talking to the nurse about the magazines he orders for Dix.  It also seems like Bullock is paying for the hospital.  Gordon takes this in with interest.

A young woman prepares to leave her apartment, promising her mother that she’ll be at the marina soon.  Her maid helps her pack.  They go into separate rooms, and the Goat knocks the maid out, and then he grabs the girl.

Bullock is at the crime scene.  He calls Gordon and tells him the details.  The Goat turned his victims around in eight hours, so they’re running out of time.  Bullock suggests that Gordon call Nygma to help go through the list of workers.  He’s good with puzzles.

Barbara confronts Montoya outside of the police station and tells her that things aren’t what she thinks about Gordon.  Montoya already believes that Gordon is guilty.  Barbara promises to share whatever information she can get from him, provided that Montoya keeps an open mind.  Montoya has already ordered an arrest warrant.  The people Gordon deals with are dangerous and they’ll put Barbara in danger.  She tells Barbara that Gordon is bad news and she should leave, but Barbara refuses.  She belongs by his side.

Nygma helps Bullock and Gordon go through the lists of workers, searching for ones who have recently called in sick.  They eliminate all but one: Raymond Earl.  He’s been squatting in a building. Bullock takes one look and says that’s their guy.  They go to the building and Bullock says it’s déjà vu—this is the same building that they found Milkie in ten years prior.  This is where Dix was hurt.

Inside, the Goat prepares his latest victim for the sacrifice.

When Bullock and Gordon go inside, Bullock goes after the Goat while Gordon helps the victim.  Bullock is attacked by the Goat.  “You can never stop the Goat.  I’ll always keep coming back.”  “Quit saying that!” Bullock yells.  They battle it out, and Gordon takes out the Goat before Bullock can be hurt.  Gordon places him under arrest.  Bullock praises his partner.

At Wayne Manor, Selina Kyle slips inside a window and finds Bruce Wayne asleep on the couch.  She creeps past him and cases the room.  She studies Bruce’s bulletin board and realizes that he’s working on his parents’ murder case.  She grabs a silver box on the desk and pockets it.  With one last smile at the sleeping Bruce, she sneaks out the door.

Penguin is listening to music while taking a bath.  It’s a deep bathtub.  His mother comes in and puts his freshly pressed suit on a hangar.  She takes a sponge and bathes her son while she tells him that he can’t trust anyone.  But the Penguin says that he finally found someone else he can trust—a policeman.  He can help Penguin make things right.

Essen praises Bullock and Gordon for catching Raymond Earl.  Earl has a history of mental illness.  After Essen leaves, Bullock says that things don’t add up.  Both Milkie and Earl have a history of mental illness, no prior criminal histories, and all of a sudden they both decide to become the Goat?  It doesn’t make sense.  Bullock knows that they’re missing something, and that they need to figure it out or else it will never end.  He tells Gordon to get some rest, but Bullock stays behind and watches Earl in the interrogation room.  Suddenly Earl becomes agitated and starts clenching his fist.  “Holy Ghost on a bicycle,” he mutters.

Gordon returns home and finds Barbara packing her bags.  She tells him that Montoya has a witness and that she’s coming after him.  Gordon knows that he can’t run.  Literally.  There is a knock on the door.  It’s Montoya and Allen.  They place Jim Gordon under arrest.

Bullock interrupts Dr. Marks’ session with Mr. Hastings.  He wants to talk to her about the case, even though he doesn’t believe in therapy, or therapists (he jokes about the term “the rapists”, a nod to SNL).  It turns out that she’s a hypnotherapist and she does pro-bono work.  She’s been doing it for over 12 years.  Bullock wants to know if she worked with Raymond Earl.  He has seen Earl clenching his fist, and he’s done some research.  The action allows him to refocus his energy from doing an undesirable action.  But Earl and Milkie are so far gone; the puppet is pulling their strings.  He knows that she was involved, and she explains that this was all a form of therapy.  The whole point was for the Goat to help heal Gotham of its ills.  Use negative reinforcement to scare the elite.  Mr. Hastings comes in to see if Dr. Marks is all right.  She gives him a code about a “golden temple” and he changes into a killing machine.  Bullock is able to knock him out and shoot Dr. Marks in the foot before she can escape.

Back at the station, Essen wants Bullock to explain how he came to figure out that Dr. Marks was involved.  She doesn’t quite see the correlation.  Suddenly there is a noise in the station.  Montoya and Allen are leading Gordon to a cell.  Essen demands an explanation, and when Montoya says that Gordon killed Cobblepot, Bullock says that he didn’t shoot him at all.  That places Bullock at the crime scene, so they arrest him, too.  Essen says that the MCU can’t interfere with GCPD, but the MCU just wants these two officers.  Gordon insists that he didn’t kill Cobblepot, and Bullock agrees.  “No, really,” Gordon tries to tell him.  A man is in the doorway.  It’s Oswald Cobblepot.  He’s smiling broadly, knowing that the shit is about to hit the fan.  Bullock lunges at Gordon.

What an interesting episode tonight.  Every moment we can see Robin Lord Taylor in action is a treat, but I must admit that I figured Bruce Wayne would come under attack at some point.  However, it’s nice to see that Bullock has a softer side.  Unfortunately, I think things are going to get ugly next week…

What Are You Watching?

The Fall TV Premiere season is underway.  The networks are vying for your eyes.  They want your viewership.  Nowadays, a new show can face peril after one bad night.

That said, what are you watching?

I’m hooked on Gotham already.  It’s gritty and dark.  It’s a police procedural set in a fictitious world where we know the main characters…or better yet, we know who the main characters will become.  There are Easter Eggs and double entendres aplenty if you pay close attention.  Technology exists, and yet the cars are from the 70s and 80s, though they look very new.  It’s an exciting concept, and I’m eager to see how it plays out.

What are you watching?