'Gotham' Recap: Season 2, Episode 16- "Wrath of the Villains: Prisoners”

In this week’s episode of Gotham, both Oswald Cobblepot and Gordon have gone through a metamorphosis by the end.  Both ended up finding friendship in the unlikeliest places, and both lost those friends by the end of the episode.  Both Gordon and Oswald will have some tough choices ahead based on the events of this episode.  We focused primarily on Gordon and Cobblepot, so no Bruce and Selina this week.

For Gordon, the episode picks up a presumably a few weeks after the last episode, because Gordon has been in protective custody at Blackgate Prison.  But thanks to the corrupt warden, he’s about to be released into Gen Pop, along with many prisoners who he has put in prison.  Needless to say, there are plenty of people who want to see him dead.  Gordon’s walk into the Gen Pop area feels reminiscent of an episode of Oz, or American Me.  You can see the fear and anxiety on Gordon’s face as he ventures into the lion’s den, he knows his days are numbered.  A prisoner immediately picks a fight with him.  Lucky for Gordon, he has two guardian angels on the inside.  The first angel is Puck, a weakling prisoner who still believes Gordon is the hero cop he was before Edward Nigma framed him.  He even tells Gordon of how his sister is alive because of his actions.  Even Gordon doesn’t believe he is the same hero and warns Puck to stay away for his own safety.  Puck ends up in the infirmary after taking a beating for Gordon.

Speaking of Gordon not being the same person, the last few weeks seemed to have broken him a little bit.  In the opening montage, we see him go through his daily routine and little by little he’s seems like he’s being worn down, which is was prison can do to a person.  To make matters worse, when his former partner Harvey Bullock comes to visit him he tells him that his fiancé Leslie lost the baby due to the stress of his incarceration.  Talk about having a bad month!

While Gordon has been going through his personal hell, Harvey does what any semi-corrupt partner would do: he reaches out to former mob boss Carmine Falcone to help orchestrate a true and blue prison break.  This is where Gordon’s other guardian angel comes in.  The one prison guard who wasn’t in the corrupt warden’s pocket took a likening to him.  The guard warned Gordon when an attempt on his life was made and even ensured that when the attempt on his life was made that the prisoner had a “dummy knife” so Gordon didn’t actually die during the attack.  Even when the Warden found out and attempted to kill Gordon himself, the guard knocked the Warden out and helped him escape through an ambulance truck that was to escort his “dead body” to the morgue.  Gordon made sure that Puck escaped with him, but unfortunately, Puck did not survive, his injuries were too severe.  Now Gordon had a dilemma: does he escape the country and remain a fugitive always looking over his back?  Or does he hide out as a fugitive in Gotham City and try and find out who actually framed him.  Of course, we all know what choice he makes.

Meanwhile, Oswald is getting accustomed to his new lifestyle with his father and his newfound family.  Of course, his step-family aren’t on the level though.  They have been waiting for his father to die of his heart condition so that they can claim his inheritance.  But now that his father has found a true heir with his blood, they are afraid that Oswald will get everything.  While Oswald is bonding with his father (Paul Reubens does a great job and you actually forget that he’s Pee-Wee Herman!), his step-family is trying to figure out a way to ensure that he’s out of the picture.  Of course, every step they take backfires.  Oswald tell his father about his past as The Penguin, and his father doesn’t care, he just is happy that he has his son he never knew about.  So even when they tell him about his son’s criminal past he shrugs it off, and even marvels had how powerful his son was in Gotham’s criminal underworld.  They attempt to get the daughter to seduce him, which he rejects, and they even contemplate having the son seduce him.  The only option for them is to poison Oswald, but even that backfires and the father ends up drinking the poison alcohol drink. 

This is particular painful for Oswald, because he’s finally in a good place.  It doesn’t seem like he’s scheming anymore.  He genuinely wanted to just let his past be behind him and move on with an actual family.  With his father dead and his step-family responsible, it seems as though we will soon enough get the good old Penguin back, full of rage and ready to get back to his dirty business.  If he actually gets the inheritance, hell even have a significant amount of money to fund any illegal operations he wants.  Whatever Hugo Strange did to “cure him” will probably no longer have any hold on him. 

While this was a solid episode, some things were amiss:

It would have been better to have Leslie come to Blackgate prison and tell Gordon that she lost the baby.  For her to not come and tell him something that important, seems very much out of character for her.  It also will drive a further wedge between the two.  They were already on shaky ground and the child was the one constant that was holding them together.  Does this mean that a reformed Barbara will come back into Gordon’s life?  After all, she is probably “cured” by Hugo Strange the same way that Oswald was.

Although Paul Reubens did a great job as Oswald’s father Elijah, it was very clear that he was going to die by his wife or step-children’s hands as soon as we saw them huddle and plot against Oswald.  Right now they are cookie-cutter villains.  It would be more interesting if they have more complexity, other than just being a gold-digging family out for his money.

It looks like Edward Nigma is going to get caught soon.  That’s a bummer because he’s playing the “bad guy in plain sight” role very well.  But he can only keep up the charade for so long before it gets tedious.  Now that Gordon has a newfound purpose to clear his name, it’s clear that he’s going to get caught.  He’ll probably end up at Arkham Asylum as well for more of Hugo Strange’s experiments.