Gotham has figured it out. It’s taken awhile, but the writers and directors have finally cracked the code on making this an entertaining, if unconventional spin on the Batman mythos. Prisoners delivered an exceptional episode that was easily one of the series’ best.
Gordon was facing his own Shawshank Redemption. Framed for a murder he didn’t commit, but guilty nonetheless, Gordon was reluctantly at peace with his fate. Warden Carlson Grey (Ned Bellamy) casually taunted Gordon after moving him to the prison’s general population, which seemed a little cliche until he revealed he was a friend of Gordon’s old rival Commissioner Loeb. That was a nice dot to connect and essential as Grey was so sadistic he ordered an inmate to kill Gordon.
And the thing is Gordon actually deserves his fate. While Gordon didn’t kill his fellow officer, he did kill Galavan and he knew deep down this was his punishment for breaking the law he swore to uphold. It’s a bold move for the series to have the hero face the consequences for his actions and it worked very effectively here. One way too pleasant inmate Puck (Peter Mark Kendall) tried to stop Gordon from getting a beating, but ended up getting pummeled for his trouble.
It wasn’t until Bullock dropped by to visit and told him Lee lost the baby and fled Gotham that Gordon started reconsidering his current lot. But with the warden actively plotting against him, there was little Gordon could do. Fortunately, prison guard Wilson Bishop (Marc Damon Johnson) hadn’t been corrupted yet and warned Gordon about potentially dangerous situations.
In an actual surprise, Bullock turned to the one man with enough power to help Gordon behind bars — Don Falcone. This was a smart use of Falcone as he’d almost become a forgotten player in the Gotham underworld. I’m very intrigued to see if Falcone attempts to collect on this massive favor as Bullock and Gordon continue to be tied to criminals for Gotham’s greater good.
The film screening scene was full of tension as Gordon seemed to be out of moves making the fake stabbing a well done escape. Gordon couldn’t turn his back on Puck though and risked his newfound freedom to break him out as well. That was a stupid move as the warden knows he’s alive, but it’s the kind of impulsive decision that’s been Gordon’s hallmark.
This version of Gordon is immensely flawed, but at his core, he remains a good man. Sadly, Puck didn’t survive the beating and it helped Gordon decide to stay and clear his name establishing what should be a strong final story arc that easily should carry through to the end of the season if the writers have the patience to let it play out.
Even the Penguin and Cobblepot family drama worked. Since the early days of season 1, the showrunners have cast Penguin as this oddity within the show — a more natural fit in the somewhat zany Tim Burton Batman universe. With Mama Copplepot, that never clicked, but with Oswald’s father, Elijah Van Dahl and his step family, it’s come together masterfully. It’s in large part to the stellar chemistry between Robin Lord Taylor and Paul Reubens as they make this reunited father/son dynamic so genuine.
From the quirky yet loving father to the evil stepmother Grace (which Melinda Clarke is killing with her performance) to the devious sister Sasha and brother Charles, we’ve finally got the oddball setup where Penguin belongs. Grace’s plans to get Penguin out of the inheritance picture from outing his criminal past to sending Sasha in to seduce her were hilarious.
It seemed Penguin was sensing his new step family wasn’t as welcoming as he originally thought. I can’t wait for Penguin to learn Grace killed Elijah trying to poison him. Even with a season and a half of buildup and the murder of his mother, this felt like a true tragic origin for The Penguin. Especially with Elijah stressing that Penguin didn’t have to give in to the darkness inside him since he was loved.
Gotham is on a roll now. It’s been a welcome surprise this season and has been consistently strong since its return from the winter break. Let’s hope this momentum can continue.
Rating: 9.7 out of 10
Photo Credit: Jessica Miglio/FOX