I should probably be mad at “Everyone Has a Cobblepot.” This is our last Gotham before a month and a half hiatus, and it’s a sort of TV tradition that the last episode before a hiatus throws like a zillion cliffhangers at you. Especially when it comes to comic book shows. The Flash finally stopped playing coy with the psychic gorillas before taking a month off; Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. debuted the Inhumans, then let us stew for nearly three months. Gotham’s leaving for six weeks straight, and “Everyone Has a Cobblepot” closes with a devastating reveal. This whole time, Fish Mooney has been on:
A spooky island. And it’ll be tough to escape, I guess. Unless there’s a boat. Which there almost certainly will be, given the sizable bad guy population on this island. And even if there wasn’t, “commandeering a boat out of nowhere” is probably the least insane thing Fish has done in a good four or five episodes.
Yeah, the last-second twist was a dud. Just as dudly, Gotham yanked away all the dramatic heft of Alfred’s sudden and unexpected stabbing (far and away the high point of last week’s hour). Alfred was some degree of comatose last week. Less than 24 hours later, he’s got the strength to climb out of bed and make it halfway out the door. I know it’s a comic book show and realistic injury recuperation will never be a part of Gotham, ever, but you’d think being hooked up to a ventilator would mean at least one episode of unconsciousness.
Minuscule nitpicks aside, I’m not mad at “Everyone Has a Cobblepot.” In fact, quite the opposite. This hour’s got an ingenious little conceit up its sleeve: it’s a blatant retread of “Penguin’s Umbrella,” only its heroes are marginally older, marginally wiser, and actually manage to eke out a win.
- Both episodes begin with a very strained Gordon/Bullock relationship. Last time it was revealed Gordon never killed Cobblepot (getting Bullock in biiiiiig trouble with the mob). This week, Bullock’s the one who springs a very corrupt Arnold Flass (Dash Mihok) from prison.
- Both episodes see the Gotham police bros reunite, then mount an attack against a high-ranking member of the corrupt Gotham City elite. in “Umbrella’s” case, it was mayor Aubrey James (Richard Kind). Last night it was Commissioner Loeb (Peter Scolari).
- Both episodes spent the vast majority of their time on Gordon and Bullock’s Crusade for Justice, with little time for ancillary characters.
- Both are the the only episode in Gotham to include Penguin’s name outright.
Then, the one massive, game-changing difference: in “Cobblepot,” Gordon and Bullock play it smart. They don’t charge into every situation guns blazing, don’t overreach and try to arrest the most powerful mafia don in all of Gotham, do employ a well-reasoned counter-blackmail strategy against Loeb and do come away from the episode with a juicy win against the forces of corruption. That’s the hiatus-worthy cliffhanger of the hour. Not the questionable-at-best reveal of so “it’s an island, I guess,” but the potentially game-changing reveal that Jim Gordon knows how to play politics, and has Commissioner Loeb almost-kinda under his thumb. Now there’s going to be trouble.
Gordon blackmailing Loeb is also a neat little flip of the character’s usual purpose. Loeb, like Flass before him, is a stepping stone to be passed on the way to true justice (Loeb being the next step up). He’s a mean, cowardly little man who blackmails people. Also, once the tables are turned and he’s out of a job, he’s dead. Every Loeb in every canon (admittedly, there aren’t many) ends up croaking at some point.
You’ve got your original Loeb, created by Frank Miller and David Mazzucchelli in “Batman: Year One” (just like Flass, Falcone, and basically the entire mob/corruption situation are all lifted straight from the seminal, Batman-defining 1987 comic). He was found to be corrupt and booted from the job. More than a decade later, “Batman: Dark Victory” (the sequel to “The Long Halloween,” Christopher Nolan’s main inspiration for The Dark Knight) finally saw Loeb hung to death by a serial killer.
Then, when DC rebooted its entire continuity with the New 52, Loeb is horribly exploded to death in “Batman #29,” when the Riddler sets off a series of blimp fires.
Or a few minutes into the game Batman: Arkham Origins, where Loeb is shoved into a gas chamber.
Or in The Dark Knight, where Loeb is, for once, an honest and decent, non-corrupt guy. Doesn’t stop the Joker from pulling the ol’ “acid in the whiskey bottle” trick, though. RIP, good Loeb.
Gotham’s Loeb is the fifth canon Loeb so far. And given how reluctant Gotham is to kill off any character with even a hint of recurring status, this Loeb could finally be the one to go the distance and end up not dead.
The other wonderful side of “Everyone Has a Cobblepot” is, as always, Gotham’s commitment to weirdness. I’d like to think that 18 episodes in, this series has finally figured out what works in the weirdness department: little moments of unexpected hilarity and not the attention-seeking, shock value stuff. Like when one of Falcone’s enforcers- an elderly man- describes his cover story.
“I was working on the railroad. WOO WOO!”
He’s just so enthusiastic about that train whistle noise, like a toddler watching Thomas the Tank Engine. Also, he’s a ruthless mafia hit man. WOO WOO!
That crazy old man (R.I.P, Train Man- you were strangled too soon) made more of an impression with his impassioned WOOing than the Dollmaker’s whole “I cut people apart and sew them back together wrong” schtick. That’s the crazy we know, and we can see coming. Happy Train Man is a little pocket of hilarious crazy that catches you entirely off guard. Way better- and in “Cobblepot,” Gotham’s leaning heavy on the little pockets, which is exactly what this show needs.
But what Gotham’s also been doing lately is skimping on the side-stories, and “Cobblepot” is perhaps the skimpiest yet (technically, it may have been aping “Penguin’s Umbrella,” which had zero subplots, but in that case “Cobblepot” should have done the same and thrown each character a meager and mostly useless 30 seconds).
Fish managed to get through an entire Gotham without saying or doing something that left me scratching my head in confusion, which is an accomplishment. She’s turned on her former hell-prison slaves and is now a part of the Dollmaker’s upper management. Also, unsettling CGI man-dolls (is there any purpose behind them? Some kind of doll army? Or is the point just to give people- Gotham’s audience included- the creeps?). Also an island. Gotham was really banking on that island reveal being a revelation, but it’s just an island, people. Boats exist.
Bruce gets a single scene where he plans to track down Reg the Alfred-stabber himself. Or with Selina. Which is probably what will happen.
Nygma is continually thwarted in his attempts to woo Ms. Kringle. One boyfriend’s sent to the slammer, and another boyfriend pops up moments later. That the new guy, Tom, is actually friendly with Nygma will surely make his eventual fate far grosser once Nygma snaps under the romantic pressure.
And that’s “Everyone Has a Cobblepot.” Now begins the month-and-a-half-long waiting period for Gotham’s final four hours of the season. The show’s always been inconsistent, but it’s stumbled into something almost like a groove in the last few weeks. I might actually miss it while it’s gone. And, more importantly, I’ll miss crazy old Train Man, who’s probably going WOO WOO! in Hell at this very moment.