Gotham: 107 “Penguin’s Umbrella” Review
Reviewed by Mark McCullough.
Last time out Gotham successfully managed to improve and get itself out of the minor rut it had found itself in. This week we have the same level of improvement again in what is undoubtedly the best episode of the series so far. Perhaps this was down to the pen being back in the hands of the man who began the series, or maybe it was the fact that a lot of what we know so far came together and was twisted in a way we could never have seen coming.
Above all else the decision to shift the focus onto the best character the show has established so far was always going to be a strong foundation for success. But this needed to be successfully built upon by interweaving the various plot threads which been occurring throughout the series this far.
For Gordon the line between his personal life with Barbara and his dangerous job in Gotham’s Police Department falls apart completely. His attempts to get her to leave the city fail in a manner which provides Barbara with some nice development which makes her a character of her own right rather than defined by Jim. Barbara is used a device to instil a sense of threat into the narrative as she becomes the target of one of Don Carbone’s hit men.
Gordon’s relationship with Barbara isn’t the only one to have been pushed by the reappearance of Cobblepot. Jim finds himself in a precarious situation as those who believed him to have killed Cobblepot now know the truth. The most notable of these is Bullock who is initially hostile towards him, but later has a rather surprising change of heart and helps Jim to go on a quest for justice. Whether this is a true change in the character, or just an alcohol induced one remains to be seen. Captain Essen is also given some screen time and presents an argument that may leave the viewer questioning whether the police department is really as corrupt as we would assume at first glance.
Much has been made of the fighting both between the two families and within them. On one side we have Maroni, Carbone and Cobblepot who form the Maroni side of the story. On the other there is Don Falcone, Fish Mooney and Nikolai where the latter two are conspiring against the former in order to seize power for themselves. The moves and countermoves between the two families finally come to a head and lead to the first death of a recurring character thus far. The events of this section of the narrative are bound to have large repercussions for certain characters in the coming weeks, both positive and negative. Characters will find themselves with more important roles, short on allies and with traitors in their midst. I really can’t wait to see where it goes next.
The episode ends on perhaps one of the biggest cliff-hangers I have ever seen. We think we have known what has been going on since we were first introduced to Gotham seven weeks ago. We knew who was strong, who was weak, who was vulnerable and who to root for. As it transpires Heller well and truly pulls the rug from underneath our feet and reveals that almost everything we thought we knew was false. It’s a master stoke which left not just the characters in the dark, bit the viewers too.
If Gotham can be this good every week it will almost certainly have nothing to worry about. After a shaky start, it began a recovery last time out which is well and truly cemented here. However the work is far from over, the show has now set itself a bar which I would hope it can reach every week from here on in. It would be all too easy at this stage to fall back into some of the traps which I feel it has fallen into in the past. Perhaps some characters are in need of a narrative which gives them a greater proportion of the focus, but I’m sure that will come given how the show has improved recently.
The Penguin’s Umbrella takes the show’s best character and sticks him right at the centre of the best narrative so far with one of the best twists I have ever seen. It’s going to take some beating by future episodes.