Bow down, Gotham. There's a new crime lord in town.
Sometimes, "Gotham" gets so caught up in Penguin's rise to the top that it forgets that it's a show about the coming-of-age of Bruce Wayne.
To that I say -- more Penguin, please! The last time I was in awe of a Batman super villain like this was Heath Ledger's Joker in "The Dark Knight."
Everything's a strategy to Penguin, even when he decides to let his murderous rage explode. And you can see it simmering in the back of his mind, whether he's sucking up to his mob bosses or plotting his next move.
Then at the right moment — click — his psychosis goes into full throttle. This effortless switch is where he shines.
The scene where Penguin murdered Frankie Carbone was terrifying and gripping. And while the actor who played Carbone gave a weak performance, Robin Lord Taylor's intensity more than made up for it.
What a great job the cinematography does to highlight how sinister he is. The pale lighting washes out Penguin's face, showing him as the weaker mobster at first. Then, as he dominates the conversation, darker and bleaker shadows cast over his face. He has the drive. He has the goons. He has the power.
And the crazy — lots of crazy.
"Love, Mr. Carbone, love conquers all," Penguin says fiendishly after stabbing him. Then he tenderly kisses his forehead.
That "uh…what the what?" face the goons gave each other was right. If money wasn't enough to get them on his side, not pissing off that psychopath is now their No. 1 priority.
I was convinced that Falcone was spending so much time with those chickens that he was becoming one. Let's face it, Nikolai was right. Every decision Falcone has made lately has been weak.
Jim didn't kill Penguin? Let him live. Take a toxic waste dump off Maroni's hands? Sure thing. Penguin, the guy who snitched and is causing all this chaos, is still alive? Meh, what's the worst he could do?
Turns out it was all part of the plan. No, not Falcone's plan — Penguin's plan. From letting Jim live all the way back to requesting that Jim murders him, Penguin has orchestrated every minute detail for Gotham domination.
That last detail is what got me. Double-crossing is expected in crime shows and movies. But the fact that Penguin knew he could convince Jim not to kill him blew me away. It shows how calculating he is and how honest Jim is. Smart move on the writers' part.
Penguin might have a hard time realizing when he should put his foot in his mouth, but he sees the bigger picture. That's why Falcone and Maroni see him as being so valuable, as did Fish before she found out he snitched.
Falcone is still a fool. Penguin has betrayed just about everyone in Gotham — what makes him think he's safe? Little does he know Penguin has Falcone under his thumb. He's making the predictions; he's calling the shots.
Penguin's ultimate goal is power and respect. But he can only get so much of that under Falcone's wing. Sure, he's kissing Falcone's and Maroni's butts now, but soon enough they'll both be taking orders from him.
That goes for Jim as well. Now that we've learned he's even more tangled in Penguin's scheme, it'll be harder for Jim to stay honest. "He'll see the light, one way or another," Penguin assures Falcone.
I can't see Jim caving in to Penguin like that, but it should be interesting to see his limits being tested. The silence Jim gets from the precinct after Penguin returns from the dead is unbearably awkward. Only in Gotham can you be a rogue cop by doing what's right.
So Jim goes full-on rogue. He arrests the mayor and Falcone, the real boss of Gotham. How's that for serving justice?
"Are you crazy?" the police captain asks. "Maybe a little," he admits. "Feels good."
As he's leaving the apartment to face Falcone and the mafia, Jim tells Barbara to leave and not to come back to Gotham. Ha, please. Because that worked so well with Penguin.
She comes back, of course, to beg Falcone to spare Jim's life. In the end, Jim's the one who saves her. I need to give up my hopes of Barbara becoming a vigilante. She just doesn't have it in her. Though she's righteous and gutsy to face a mob boss (and an eerie faux Stepford wife-esque baker/maid/secret weapon) to save her man, she suffers from damsel-in-distress syndrome.
But Gotham's in no rush for a vigilante, now that Jim has backup. MCU, the police captain and even Harvey Bullock are all on his side.
That last one's a surprise. Who would have thought Harvey would take a break from playing Marco Polo with a floozy named Duchess to help Jim?
BEST HARVEY ONE LINER: "That's a helluva plan. You sit down with a bunch of chimps and a bucket of crack to come up with that one?"
BEST EXCHANGE: Maroni: "I got a golden goose!" Penguin: "Honk, honk."
MOST CHILLING RESPONSE: "You won't bite him, will you?" Maroni asks Fish when he calls Penguin over to apologize. She just glares. Oof, what Jada can do with her eyes!
MOST FITTING RINGTONE: "Funkytown" by Lipps Inc. for Victor Zsasz's phone. Well, I wouldn't call Gotham "funky" so much as "forsaken" or "tragic," but those don't have the same ring to them.
MOST GRUESOME WAY TO KEEP TALLY: Victor carving the number of victims onto his skin. Eesh. Try a notepad.
BEST WAY TO CLEAR A ROOM: "Everybody out," Victor tells the precinct, after Jim says he has nothing on a room filled with 50 cops. When no one budges, he shouts back: "PLEASE?!" See, Jim? A little manners were all you need.
FOOL ON THE HILL: Why did Penguin tell Maroni to give Falcone that "toxic waste dump" in Arkham? There's something worthwhile (read: evil) there. I wonder which villains will come out of the woodwork there?