Gotham Review: 'Everyone Has a Cobblepot'
This episode of Gotham probably represented what the newbie show will look like once the dust settles and it gets into a groove: a perfectly serviceable, entertaining comic book show. "Everyone Has a Cobblepot" didn't exactly rise to the level of "good" per se, but there were no annoying winks to the Bat-canon, even when they brought back Harvey Dent, the various subplots hung together better than usual, and there were no desperate, jump the shark-type stunts like last week's ridiculous self-eye-gouging.
The main plot was strong, likely because it focused on the serialized elements of the show rather than a case-of-the-week. Gordon is back to uncovering the corruption that is so entrenched in Gotham's police department, and ultimately compromises his "white hat" status more than we've ever seen before. By the end of the episode, he's turned a blind eye to a woman being kept in an attic, put himself in a position in which he owes Cobblepot a favor, and allowed a dirty commissioner to stay in business in order to perpetually blackmail him. (To be fair, it's not at all clear that the woman would be better off if he had taken the law-abiding route, but it's still pretty damn dark.) We've seen him stick his toe in the dirty pool before, but this is the first time we've seen him engage in genuine subterfuge, the first time we've seen him admit that he might have to make compromises in order to make things better in the long run. This is an extremely slippery slope, which I hope the show addresses, although I'm not getting my hopes up too high.
Fish's storyline was more of a mixed bag. I loved the blue eye, I think it adds such a creepy dimension to her character. And even if last week's stunt was unearned, the new eye still serves to remind us what a badass she is. And the idea of a Dr. Frankenstein/Mengele is compelling on its own, but the execution left a lot to be desired. First, the Dollmaker himself was a letdown (and not just because of that stupid name). After all that build-up, he just wasn't all that frightening; if anything, he was cowed by Fish, who's ostensibly his prisoner. And since he didn't seem like an effective villain, I found myself getting bored with the entire story.
Then, his speech about his fascination with people as collections of body parts intrigued me again, both because it's actually philosophically interesting and it made him significantly creepier. And I also loved Fish's sarcastic, dismissive reaction to his pretentious pondering: "Nice talk." Since Gotham probably isn't equipped to handle genuinely philosophical ideas in a thoughtful way, this kind of self-aware levity is exactly what's needed. But then they pretty much ruined it with the shot of Dulmacher's victim sewn up with lady parts. Removing limbs and replacing them should be extremely unsettling, but this was just cheesy. So I'm torn on this one. Hopefully they'll find a way to make the Dollmaker strike fear in our hearts, as he was clearly supposed to before we actually met him.
But the best part of this episode was the return of the Penguin we all know and love. The line "I was down to one shell" was by far the best in the episode, and the clever and needlessly sadistic murder was exactly what his subplot needed. He's been playing up to the pathetic facet of his personality recently, which is fine to a point, but it felt like the writers had forgotten to maintain the gleeful, mischievous evil that made us all fall in a morbid kind of love with him.
-Although I liked the main plot, it would have been more effective if they had kept the "Gordon compromising his morals" thread going throughout the season, rather than randomly dropping it and picking it up again. (Kind of like the Wayne murders, where did they go?) Episodes like this one are the best argument for Gotham kicking the case-of-the-week habit cold turkey and just keeping track of the many balls they have in the air.
-The Alfred/Bruce scenes were all fine, except I hate when people are obviously lying and cops don't pick up on it. YOU HAD ONE JOB.
-This is a little nitpicky, but there's no possible way that all of the commissioner's blackmail fodder would be in physical files. Even before the days of the internet, blackmail can be as simple as "I'll tell the press," "I'll tell your wife," etc.
-I missed Morena Baccarin this week. It makes sense to drop romantic subplots sometimes, especially when the execution is only so-so, but doesn't she work at the GCPD? Where are they hiding her?
-The girl in the attic device was effectively creepy, but I have to admit, as a feminist and a Jane Eyre fan I was sort of hoping Loeb was only keeping her there because she was mentally ill and not because she was actually a danger to society. I live for that Yellow Wallpaper stuff.