After such an incredible Bruce Wayne/Batman origins episode last week, I was more than curious to see just how the writers would follow up such an intense story arc in this week's episode. Well, if that nice little Riddler tease at the end was any indication, I'm happy to say that we're finally getting to see one of Batman's biggest villains in the beginnings of his iconic persona. However, I do have to point out that this is in no way just a Riddler origins episode as we're also given the much anticipated continuation of Bruce's crusade as well as an unexpected surprise with Penguin's character.
First off, let's get into Penguin's return to the streets of Gotham which for me was one of the more awkward (in a good way) portions of this episode as far as character moments go. We see a completely different version of Penguin here as a bizarrely kind and vulnerable man in comparison to what we've known him to be thanks to Hugo Strange's experiments. Watching him return to Butch as a cake offering friend after everything that has happen between the two was an interesting change for the character especially due to the fact that he gets humiliated afterwards with no reaction whatsoever except for a simple smile.
This was definitely not the direction that I was expecting for the character when he initially got thrown into Arkham, but this might actually end up being one of those happy surprises that season 2 has been supplying us with so far. This is one of those situations where I'll simply sit back and trust the writers as they've delivered nothing but high quality entertainment so far this season. I also have to point out Enigma's hilarious reaction to Penguin's uncanny state of being happy and forgiving even after being covered in feathers and humiliated.
During the episode, Penguin eventually stops by his mother's grave and is randomly greeted by a man who claims to be his father after his relationship to his mother is mentioned. After a couple of seconds, I couldn't help but realize how familiar he looked until I realized that I was staring straight into the eyes of Pee Wee Herman himself, Paul Reubens (who does a great job in the role as this mysterious new entity in Oswald's life). This is one of those rare situations where I'm actually not familiar with the comic-book counterpart to what I'm seeing onscreen as I've never really got into the Penguin character from the comics.
Watching this family take him in felt a little strange to me as far as the overall tone of their scenes went. This might actually be a normal thing altogether as far as Penguin being taken in by his father and a new family, but something felt a bit off as the sister kissed him calling him her brother with a slightly disgusted facial expression. If that didn't make it weird enough, everyone else in the family seem to have this strangely cynical yet inviting look on their face during this scene. I might have to dive into the comics for this one as I feel we might actually be stepping into a massive story arc for Penguin in the near future.
The Unbreakable Batman/The Trials of Bruce
Bruce calls Sonny an ignorant coward even after getting beat up
Continuing from last week's episode with Bruce deciding to completely abandon his wealth and protection from Alfred in order to survive on the streets with Selena, we're given one of my favorite Bruce Wayne moments on the show. This season has offered up a more than satisfying helping of Batman teases as far as Bruce's story arc goes, but this is the episode that finally presented a physical threat in which Bruce had to actually fight his way out. After getting tangled up in one of Selena's money stealing escapades, the two eventually gets caught by a gangster name Sonny.
The color scheme and atmosphere of this scene practically screams "BATMAN!"
Watching Bruce completely stand his ground in the presence of a guy 5 times his size even after being beaten down multiple times was not only intense, but also motivational especially when Bruce remembers Alfred's advice that strength can be his enemy's weakness. If this wasn't enough to present Batman's will to take on any enemy of any size, the scene showing him getting stitched up by Selena while telling her that he has never felt so free in his life until that fight will definitely put a small grin on any Batman fan's face.
I'm really happy to see that the writers are taking their time to fully develop Bruce's rise to becoming the cape crusader especially in these last couple of episodes. Not only can I see the reality of this kid becoming a vigilante in the future, but I can actually visualize the iconic moment in which he dons the full suit (fingers crossed).
Riddle Me This Gordon
Now, as I mentioned earlier, this is a Riddler heavy episode despite the other major character arcs taking place at the same time. As far as the Enigma character goes, this has got to be not only my favorite episode for the character, but also some of my favorite Riddler moments in the entire history that I've had with this character from various forms of media. Watching him spray paint the iconic green question mark onto the different clues leading Gordon off of his trail and into a trap was classic Riddler in my opinion and was beautifully executed here.
The performance by Cory Michael Smith as Enigma has been spot on since season 1, but actually seeing him let loose even more as his iconic comic-book villain counterpart has been some of the most entertaining moments on the show so far. I can only imagine Gordon and Bullock's reaction when he's eventually revealed to be The Riddler in the future.
Much like the Mr. Freeze episodes recently, Gotham does an amazing job at presenting the carnage that these iconic villains cause in their escapades. In the case of Enigma, we're given a art gallery heist that leads to a bomb explosion (which almost kills Gordon) and a dead rookie cop who was a part of Gordon's unit. Watching Enigma flawlessly execute his plans in not only distracting Gordon but destroying his career and life was arguably the most fun that I've had on the show as far as villains go.
As a result of seeing the perfectly written, performed, and executed progression of this character becoming the criminal mastermind that he is at the moment, these scenes of share carnage are simply icing on the cake. This is the perfect example of knowing when to fully remove the leash on a character that has been built up for a while on the show. Now is the perfect time for The Riddler to shine and I hope Gotham spares no effort in fully presenting just what Enigma can do once he's fully invested in destroying someone or leading them astray.
Going along the path of destruction set by Enigma, we helplessly watch through this entire episode as he basically leads Gordon into the ultimate set up involving Galavan's murder. This of course pushes Captain Barnes in reopening the case and eventually following the bread crumbs that leads to Gordon being spotlighted as the number 1 suspect. What I really loved about the interrogation scene is the way the show would quickly flash back to every single moment in which Enigma perfectly planned out each step resulting in Gordon being pinned for Galavan's crime as well as the murder of one of the cops.
It's a great scene showing the power of The Riddler as the ultimate schemer as well as the emotional conflict taking place between Gordon and Barnes. When Gordon finally gets apprehended and placed into cuffs, I was actually pretty surprised that he lost completely and was going to prison without any way to bail himself out like he always does. However, Gordon and Barnes aren't the only ones with an emotionally impactful conflict in this episode.
Gordon Behind Bars
In one of the more emotional scenes of Gotham, we see Lee speaking to Gordon behind bars completely breaking down once Gordon advises her to leave him for a better life. The performances of Ben McKenzie and Morena Baccarin has always been strong during their more dramatic scenes together, but I would definitely consider this as the peak moment between the two. With Lee crying at the thought of losing Jim forever, you can actually begin to feel a sense of history between the two which honestly could've been forgotten with everything else that's been going on (it also doesn't hurt that the actors are really together as a couple I suppose).
The baby situation has obviously been spotlighted before, but this was the scene that truly placed it on the table as a center focus for Gordon. What will happen now that Gordon is behind bars and Lee is pregnant with his child? Like I said, this was one of the more emotional moments of the series as I felt every bit of trauma and sadness through both Lee and Gordon as he leaves her by the bars telling her to never contact him again for her own good.
Overall, this was by far my favorite Enigma episode as we finally get to see signs of The Riddler (both literally and figuratively) making their way onto the show in a beautifully delivered package. We also get to see the continuing path of Bruce taking bigger steps in becoming the the cape crusader himself, an interesting new plot point regarding the Penguin, and of course the ultimate defeat of Gotham's protagonist, Jim Gordon. Season 2 of Gotham has been a home run for the most part and this episode continues that trend of high quality storytelling and entertainment.
1. Poison Ivy's Mushroom Farm
It would appear that Ivy has been producing mushrooms for gangsters this entire time.