By Courtney Key
Hello Gothamites and fellow members of the Oswald Cobblepot Appreciation Society! Much has happened in the world of Gotham since last we met. First, FOX has upped the first season order from the original 16 episodes to a full 22, meaning so much more Robin Lord Taylor, y’all. Speaking of RLT, did you catch his cameo in the season premiere of The Walking Dead on Sunday night? Funny story, I’ve never actually watched The Walking Dead and I tuned in because he’d tweeted he was going to be on it, and now I’m traumatized for life. Thanks, Robin Lord Taylor!
Also, there was a little comic convention in New York over the weekend – I don’t know if you heard about it, it’s pretty obscure. Gotham had a panel there and I, like a Cinderella without a kind fairy godmother to take her to the ball, watched the live stream from home. On the panel were series producer Danny Cannon, as well as Ben McKenzie, Donal Logue, Erin Richards, Sean Pertwee, and Robin Lord Taylor, who seemed genuinely surprised by the huge fan reaction to him and was a thorough delight. I know this recap column is basically the Robin Lord Taylor fan club but come on, if you watch the show, you know. You know.
Anyway, the panel was mostly answering questions we’ve all heard before and dodging others, but there were a few interesting revelations. One was that the look of the show was inspired by 1970s/80s New York City, which you might have guessed, and that the show itself is not set in any particular time period, although when pressed, Danny Cannon put it at about 18 years before the Nolan films. Cannon also pretty much shot down speculation that the comedian in the first episode was the Joker, and teased the possibility of seeing the Court of Owls and a very young Harley Quinn in Gotham’s future. We learned that in the episodes to come, Alfred will start teaching Bruce how to fight. Victor Zsasz is set to show up in episode seven, with the newly-cast Harvey Dent making his debut in episode nine. Also, and most importantly, Robin Lord Taylor’s favorite superhero growing up was Michael Jackson. The whole panel is up on YouTube. It is worth a watch, the cast seems to genuinely get along and there’s a nice vibe between them throughout that’s fun to see if you’re a fan of the show.
On to tonight’s episode! Spoilers for everything lie within, as per usual.
We open as we ended last week, with Barbara opening the door to Oswald in his new suit, and boy, Jim could not look more shocked than if someone told him the little rich boy whose parents were murdered in front of him and is now being raised by a sentient Guy Ritchie movie will one day start fighting crime as a bat-themed vigilante.
“Hello James, old friend,” he says to Jim and then, to Babs, “you must be Barbara.” Nice way to show Jim how much you know about him, Oswald. I also love how Oswald continues to refer to Jim as “James” throughout this scene – such impeccable manners! His crazy mama raised him right. Oswald introduces himself to Barbara as Peter Humboldt, and tells Barbara she’s even more beautiful than he’d imagined. Barbara says that she never gets to meet any of Jim’s friends, because Jim never tells her anything, with a pointed look at the man in question. “Men,” Oswald agrees with perfect delivery by Robin Lord Taylor, just leaving out the “amiright?” Jim jumps in to tell Barbara that “Peter” is a friend from work. Picking up on Jim’s cue, Oswald continues the story, saying he had been out of town and thought he’d pop in for a visit, “but now is clearly not a good time.” Jim offers to walk him out.
By “walk him out,” Jim means rudely shoving our Oswald up against a wall in the alley. Given that Barbara lives in a clock tower penthouse, that must have been one long, uncomfortable elevator ride down for both of them. “I told you never to come back here!” Jim yells at Oswald. If Falcone finds out he’s alive, Jim says, he’ll kill them both. Oswald apologizes, saying he just wanted to speak with him. “I had no place else to go. Gotham is my home!” Well, you did have that trailer you rented in episode 2, Oswald, but then you just had to turn it into a crime scene, didn’t you? Speaking of that trailer, I wonder if Oswald took down his Gotham map and web of players from the ceiling in there before coming back to town. Has he set it up again in his new place? And where is he staying now anyway? I’m concerned about Oswald, guys.
Jim tells Oswald he should have killed him. Oswald agrees that Jim has every right to do so, but he won’t, because Jim is “a good man. You may very well be the last good man in Gotham, and I want to help you.”
Jim says he doesn’t want Oswald’s help, but Oswald insists, saying that everyone hides the truth from him, even Bullock, but he never will, because Jim saved his life. Jim says he wishes he hadn’t.
“Kill me now, or trust me!” Oswald exclaims, picking up a bottle and holding it out as a weapon. Jim looks at him for a moment, then slaps the bottle down out of his hand. He starts to walk away. Oswald tells him once again that there’s a war coming, and that he can help Jim, be his secret agent. That only works until Falcone finds out he’s alive, Jim says. But Oswald has this one figured out.
“Nobody looks for a dead man,” he points out, looking straight and determined into Jim’s eyes.
Jim gives in, asking why there will be a war in Gotham.
“War is just politics by other means,” Oswald tells him. “And isn’t politics just money, talking?” Jim asks what the talking is about.
Oswald grins and giggles. “Arkham, of course.” Jim is distracted by some screeching girls coming down the alley, and when he turns again Oswald is gone.
Cut to the entrance to a rooftop parking lot. Two men, councilman Jenkins and his aide, are going to their car are hailed and stopped by a man coming up the ramp. The man claims to be a constituent of the councilman, “voted for you every time.” He says he wants to show Jenkins something. This scenario definitely doesn’t seem shady at all and the councilman certainly shouldn’t just get in his car and go. The mysterious man takes out two tubes from a box and screws them together, handing it to the councilman’s aide and telling him to take a look. Like a total dumbass, the guy does, and promptly gets shot through the eye. I don’t have much sympathy here. If you’re going to stick things strangers give you in deserted parking lots up to your eye, you’ve got to expect a few sharp objects piercing your orbital socket.
The councilman is, of course, totally freaked out. “You’re next,” the assassin tells him, slashing him with a knife. Jenkins tries to get away, but to no avail. “Honestly sir, I really did vote for you,” the assassin tells him, before shooting him with the tube gun.
Back at the station, Captain Essen moves Bullock’s feet off his desk with a frown. Hey, you can murder as many snitches as you want in this department, but there will be no scuffing the furniture on her watch! She gives him the double homicide, which he bitches about because it involves doing more work. Jim thinks the murders might be political, but Bullock pooh-poohs that suggestion. Not literally, even Harvey’s not that crass. Yet. The captain thinks it’s probably just a case of wrong place, wrong time. Bullock says he knows just where to start the investigation.
Cut to Fish’s club, where a young woman is singing on stage and auditioning for Fish and Butch. Fish tells her when she finishes that she sings well, but for this job she needs someone with more than a good voice. She asks the young lady if she likes boys or girls. Boys, she answers. Fish tells her to pretend she’s a boy, and seduce her. The singer tries, massaging her shoulders, but Fish stops her. “At least she can sing,” she tells Butch. Butch is surprised, this is a good-looking girl. “I’m not looking for a girl,” Fish says harshly. “I’m looking for a weapon.”
In the station’s interrogation room, Harvey is questioning a mugger in the area who had a shank in his backpack. This is Gotham, Harvey. Everyone has a shank in their backpack. Jim shakes his head and leaves, saying this isn’t their guy.
Back at his desk, he finds two boxes of evidence from the councilman’s car Alvarez tells him were just dropped off. Among them is a precis for the plans of the Arkham redevelopment.
Cut to the mayor presenting the plans for the Arkham redevelopment, which would build affordable housing and tear down the asylum and build a new mental health facility in its place. He says this was the Waynes’ vision before their deaths. A reporter points out that a competing plan to raze everything and use the land as a waste disposal site is gaining traction. The mayor says the Wayne plan is best for the city, and that’s why he’s endorsing it.
Meanwhile, at Bamonte’s Italian Restaurant, Oswald, aka “Paolo,” the worst dishwasher in the world, is watching a meeting with Don Maroni. Maroni is telling one of his underlings that some big money is coming his way in the form of land, as men bring large bags through the kitchen. Oswald halfheartedly dries a dish I don’t even think he actually washed while considering his next plan of action.
Stately Wayne Manor. Jim is asking Alfred about the Wayne plan for Arkham. Alfred says it’s the Wayne plan in name only now – Falcone has stepped in, and stands to profit considerably. The dead councilman was backing the Wayne plan, Jim says. And he was killed because of an opposing plan, Alfred replies. Jim realizes Maroni must be involved in the deaths, and is making a play for Arkham. Bruce comes in the room, asking if the deaths and Arkham are related. He and Jim sit down to talk, with Alfred standing at attention and presumably back in his butler role behind Bruce.
Bruce reads Jim his mother’s plan for the new mental health facility. He tells Jim that his parents fought for years to get the new asylum built, because they thought it would give the city hope. I don’t know about hope, but it will give their son something to do for the next, say 40 years or so, so that’s nice of them. Bruce says he doesn’t want his parents’ dream to die with them. Jim says he understands this, but it’s not just about Arkham – this could be the spark that ignites a city-wide gang war.
“Innocence will die,” Jim tells Bruce, “and whatever little faith the people have the police can protect them will be crushed.” Holy crap, Jim, the kid is twelve. Is everyone in Bruce’s life actively trying to turn him into Batman? Thankfully, Jim’s phone rings before he can start showing him that Sarah McLachlan ad about abused animals or whatever other horrors he’d like to lay on young master Wayne. It’s Harvey – councilman Zoeller’s been abducted, and he’s one of Maroni’s guys. Jim promises to be right there.
Cut to the gates of Arkham Asylum, which looks suitably haunted house-creepy.
Our politically engaged assassin from earlier is rolling a barrel through the gates, and who’s inside but a handcuffed and bloodied councilman Zoeller! What a surprise! The assassin pours gasoline over Zoeller and tells the frantic councilman that if it was up to him, his murder would be over quickly, but the customer asked him to send a message. “And you know what they say, the customer is always right.” He lights a match and sets the councilman on fire, which – ahhhhh! Burning alive is a particular horror of mine.
The next morning, Harvey and Captain Essen are having coffee over the smoldering remains of the councilman while Jim stands behind the barrel, hands on hips. He obviously has not yet entered the callously munching over gruesome remains stage of the job yet.
Essen thinks that the murders have to be political, and Jim was right. Harvey says he never said Jim was wrong, he just wanted him to be. He asks Jim if he has any other insights. Jim says Arkham isn’t just a land deal, but a war between Falcone and Maroni, and the councilmen are the casualties. Jim thinks Maroni struck first, then Falcone retaliated to switch the vote back. Essen goes to put guards on the remaining councilmen and the mayor. Harvey prods Jim to find out where he got this information, but Jim is able to dodge that awkward question with the arrival on the scene of Edward Nygma. Nygma has a paradox for them this time, not a riddle. Thank heavens for small mercies.
Nygma reveals that the medical examiner’s report on the murders of councilman Jenkins and his aide say both men had puncture wounds to the skull, with a metal spike, but Zoeller also has wounds from a metal spike. The same killer working for Maroni and Falcone, Jim wonders? That’s nuts, he says. “Only in Gotham,” Bullock chuckles.
Back at Bamonte’s, men are counting out bills in a back room while Oswald watches from the kitchen. The kitchen in Bamonte’s is extremely centrally-located. He opens the screen door between him and the men to take a closer look when the restaurant manager catches him and tells him to keep his “sniveling nose” to himself. UNH UH YOU DID NOT JUST MAKE A COMMENT ABOUT OSWALD’S NOSE. I will not even slightly mourn your certainly impending death, mobbed-up restaurant manager! Oswald agrees with an obsequious “yes, sir,” but then after the manager goes he looks back at the counting room with a twisted smile.
At the Gotham penitentiary, Jim and Harvey bribe an inmate for information about a hit man who kills with metal spikes. He gives them the name of a Richard Gladwell, who works out of a building in midtown.
They go to investigate the office. Harvey tells Jim he’s been acting funny, like he has something to hide. Before he can prod Jim any further, they find the right office. The hit man sees them and quietly leaves his desk, as the nice receptionist shows them the way to Gladwell’s desk, only to find he’s not there. Jim asks if anyone’s seen Gladwell, and a coworker says they just missed him – maybe he headed out the back? There’s a tense moment as Jim heads into the supply room and the hit man is waiting for him with his…spear gun? Tube shooter? Pole poker? I really do not know what to call this thing. Anyway, crisis averted when Harvey calls Jim back, having found newspaper clippings about both of the dead councilmen in Gladwell’s desk. “Man, I love the easy ones,” Harvey says, for probably not the first time in his life. Jim and Harvey hear a noise from the store room and draw their guns, but it’s only a frightened woman who was hoping to purloin a box of paper clips. Seriously, of all the things to steal from your office, why a box of paper clips? What could you possibly need that many paper clips for? Windows ’98 cosplay?
Jim notices a piece of paper Harvey picked up from the desk. It’s marked “CLM,” but neither he nor Harvey knows what it means.
Back at Stately Wayne Manor, Bruce is having nightmares about his parents’ killer in what appears to be the middle of the day. Alfred comes in, concerned. Bruce tells him it was just a bad dream, and Alfred jokingly asks if he was in it. “Not this time,” Bruce laughs. Bruce asks if there any more files in the Arkham plan, saying he’d like to see them. He’s looking for a connection between the councilman’s murders and the murders of his parents. Bruce is…intense.
Over at Bamonte’s, there’s a robbery in progress! Masked men have burst in, shooting the place up. Oswald escapes to the kitchen, while the restaurant manager gets capped. They grab a bag of Maroni’s money and speed off in the getaway car as the patrons flee in terror. Maroni’s men come in, having been called by the manager before he got shot, but they’re too late. They check the back room to find the money counters dead and bags missing. Moving through the kitchen, they see bloody footprints leading to the freezer. The door is open to reveal – Oswald! “Thank goodness you’re here!” he exclaims, his voice shaky in an act I suspect is half put-on and half actually being bloody cold. He expresses concern about Lou, the manager, who was shot, but Maroni’s guy tells him to forget about Lou. He asks who did it. Oswald says he doesn’t know, they were wearing masks, but he was able to save one bag of money. He’s told to save it for the boss as he clutches the bag of money and rocks back and forth in the freezer. Someone could at least offer a hand to help him up, sheesh.
Barbara’s Clock Tower of Secrets. She’s worried about Jim, and thinks he’s hiding something from her. He says he does have secrets, sure, it’s part of his job, but she interrupts him with the question “Who’s Oswald Cobblepot?” Sidenote: I would totally put a bumper sticker reading “Who’s Oswald Cobblepot?” on my car. Jim asks how she knows that name. She says it doesn’t matter. Jim says he can’t even begin to answer that question. It’s true. Oswald does contain multitudes. Jim realizes that the name came from Montoya. He asks Barbara why Montoya keeps coming to her, and Barbara finally admits that she and Montoya were in a relationship before she was with Jim. Barbara claims she ended it with Montoya and moved on. Jim is pissed – not because Barbara was with a woman, but because Barbara lied to him. Barbara admits she should have told him about Montoya.
At Bamonte’s, Don Maroni is furious about the attack on his restaurant. He blames Falcone, and tells his henchman Frankie that this time he wants to hit him where it hurts – the mouth. At least, a figurative one. Oswald watches intently from the kitchen, drying what is probably the same dish from earlier in the episode. I would not want to see the health grade for that restaurant. Frankie says he’ll take care of it. He reminds Maroni about the “other thing,” looking towards Oswald. Maroni tells Frankie to send Oswald over, and Frankie motions to him. Oswald makes a cute show of adjusting his dishwasher uniform and hat before going to see Maroni. Maroni tells him that what he did during the robbery did not go unnoticed, and asks how long Oswald has been washing dishes. “Not long,” Oswald replies. And really, possibly not ever. Maroni says that his stint as a dishwasher ends today – he’s been promoted to restaurant manager, the position having recently been made available. Can I say, as much as I love Oswald – and y’all, that is a LOT – this is no way to run a restaurant. Gordon Ramsay would not approve. Maroni instructs Frankie to get Oswald a suit, and Frankie peels off some large bills and gives them to Oswald. You can practically see the glow on Oswald’s face even as he tries to remain humble.
Gotham PD. Harvey comes in with the news that the real Richard Gladwell has been dead for five years, his corpse lying undiscovered in his apartment until they went looking for him. That is…depressing. Gladwell suffered a puncture wound to the eye, so the hit man took him out then stole his identity. Jim considers the CLM clue again. What does it stand for? “Complete waste of time,” Harvey answers. I’m afraid you’re off by a couple of letters, Harv, but thanks for playing! Jim tells him it’s their only lead. The Arkham vote is tomorrow, and if they don’t find this guy a major gang war could ensue. Harvey goes off to work the case. “Tell her I said hi,” Jim tells him.
Fish’s club again, and another young auditionee. This one’s set of pipes aren’t as strong, but her seduction skills are much smoother. Harvey catches the end of the act. He and Fish have a little flirt, and he asks if she can find Gladwell for him. Fish says she can find anyone, but asks what’s in it for her. “I’ll owe you,” Harvey tells her. Fish says O.K., but she thinks it’s a waste of time. If Gladwell goes, Falcone will just get a replacement. He can’t afford to lose the Arkham vote because if he does it will signal that he’s old and weak. Harvey wonders why Fish seems pleased about this, since if Falcone goes down so does she. Fish tells Harvey not to worry about her, because she always has a plan B, and he follows her gaze to the girl who was just auditioning for her, sitting at the bar.
Back at the station, the phone rings on Jim’s desk. He picks it up. It’s Oswald! They are totes secret boyfriends now. Hey, remember that old electronic board game Dream Phone, where you called numbers on cards to get clues to find your secret admirer? I bet Oswald’s clues would be fun, like, “He’d kill for a good tuna sandwich!” and “He wears size nine shoes and…hello? Is this the police? Help, I’m bleeding out, I’m – (line goes dead).” Anyway, Oswald has some info for his “old friend.” There’s going to be another murder. Maroni’s put out a hit on someone backing Falcone’s plan. Jim says that the council has police protection, but Oswald just smirks and laughs at Jim’s innocence. “There are many ways around the police,” he tells Jim. He says the hit will happen tonight, he’s certain of it. Jim asks him how he knows. “I told you detective,” Oswald says, “Gotham is my home.”
Jim hangs up and has a flash of realization. He asks for the list of the officers guarding the mayor – Campos, Lazenby, Martins…why, that spells out CLM! The mayor is in danger! Jim leaves a message for Harvey and goes to warn the mayor.
Jim tells the mayor that his police protection is gone, and someone’s coming to kill him. The mayor lives in a seriously nice place, by the way. Outside, “Gladwell” walks through the pouring rain and stands in front of the house for ages, just getting rained on. I don’t care if you’re on your way to a hit, you can still use an umbrella! Fish gets me on this one. The mayor starts taking papers out of his safe, while Jim asks if there’s somewhere he can take him. The mayor volunteers his sister’s house. Somehow I don’t think they’ll get there, as the hit man is getting his tools of the trade assembled.
Sure enough, Jim manages to open the front door to the hit man, and a chase ensues. Jim and Gladwell fight, Gladwell getting the best of him, when Harvey shows up, pulling a gun on Gladwell just as he’s about to take Jim out. Then, in a surprise move, Jim pulls out his own gun and shoots Gladwell. I guess he didn’t shoot him earlier because he just wanted to have a long, drawn-out physical fight in which he could have easily been killed? “Men,” Oswald and I sigh together.
Back at Gotham PD, Barbara is with Jim. She says she didn’t tell Jim about Montoya because Montoya works with Jim, so, you know, awkward, and because Montoya’s a woman. Jim asks if Barbara’s sure there isn’t another reason. Barbara says no, totally convincingly. I’m just glad Barbara’s managed to escape the apartment during an episode. Barbara says she doesn’t want there to be any secrets between them, and asks again who Oswald Cobblepot is. Jim wants to know why she can’t just drop this. He says it’s work-related. Barbara points out that Jim has told him about her work before, and Jim replies that that was a mistake. Barbara says she can’t live like this. She tells Jim he has to make a choice – let her in, or let her go. Jim just looks at her, but doesn’t reply, and Barbara leaves as Jim watches.
At the harbor, The Voice battle rounds are really getting intense.
Fish makes her two hopefuls fight to the death for the job with her, and the seductress wins, easily dispatching her rival. “So when do I start?” she asks.
Meanwhile, Fish’s former employee is back in a snazzy suit and carrying a package of goodies for the guys who carried out the Maroni job. They’re sitting on the floor of an abandoned apartment, counting out the money. Oswald says they were very convincing, and he’s pleased with their work. Yep, he masterminded the whole restaurant robbery! I’m so proud of our little hatchling, spreading his criminal wings like this. It’s fun to see Oswald play the confident big boss, though I suspect pride may go before a few more falls in his future before he learns how to become the Penguin. Aw, he’s brought them cannolis! What a considerate employer Oswald is. I’m sure those cannolis are definitely not poisoned. “Now eat up,” he tells them. “You guys deserve this.” Oswald watches them chow down, an expectant smile on his face.
Jim and Gordon are watching the press conference announcing the result of the Arkham vote. It’s a compromise plan combining low cost housing and a waste disposal site, with the reopening of Arkham. Both Maroni and Fish are pleased. The mayor says he knows that the Waynes would be proud of the plan, but Bruce tells Jim that it’s not good for Gotham. He wants to know why the mayor is doing it. Jim says that the mayor was threatened, so he made deals with both the mob bosses. Jim tells Bruce it may not be the plan he was hoping for, but it probably averted a lot of bloodshed. Bruce is upset. Everything his parents worked for is now in the hands of criminals. Jim tells him not everything. “You’re alive,” Jim says. “It’s not too late.” Bruce asks Jim if he really believes Gotham can be saved. It’s worth trying, Jim replies. Cue the sound of bat wings fluttering in the distance.
Last scene, and Oswald is picking up the last few bills from among the corpses with the money bag slung over his shoulder. He takes a final look back before closing the door, satisfied with his work. He’s left some uneaten cannoli behind, though, and I can’t imagine we’d get a shot of that if Oswald’s sloppy clean-up doesn’t come back to bite him, so to speak. Also, he left fingerprints all over that doorknob. Oswald, sweetie, am I going to have to sit you down for a marathon of Investigation Discovery to learn how not to leave crime scene clues behind? Maybe he and Nygma will make friends and swap tips. Someone needs to help the boy.
And that’s it for this week’s show! Next week there will be no livetweeting because I will instead be at a fancy schmancy event listening to Ken Burns talk about the Roosevelts. I will of course still be recapping the episode, and you can read my tweets fangirling over Robin Lord Taylor (and sometimes other things) any time @Dachelle.