Let’s just cut to the chase. There’s one very big moral to Monday night’s episode of Gotham: A leopard can’t change its spots. And boy was this adage on display in a big, big way. Oswald Cobblepot learned the truth behind his beloved father’s demise and reverted back to his Penguin-ish ways; after being released from Arkham, Barbara Kean immediately visited an old psychotic break-inducing friend; and Ed went full Riddler despite having the upper hand against Gordon during his hunt for the man who framed him.
Bruce and Selina begin the episode as they jump from building to building to escape a thief from whom they’ve stolen quite a bit of money. Of course, Bruce, the good-hearted boy we all will come to know as Batman, dumps his share of the money out because he doesn’t want to steal — he just wants to understand criminals. Selina is rightfully annoyed; she’s probably been dealing with this nonsense talk for weeks now.
Meanwhile, the top story in Gotham continues to be the escape of prisoner Gordon, and of course, Barnes’ first suspect of aiding and abetting the fugitive is Bullock. Bullock attempts to play dumb, but we all know that he’s sheltering his partner (even if we didn’t know he was the one who broke him out of prison in the first place). Gordon and Bullock discuss going through the case once again to find out who set Gordon up, but Bullock warns him that he’s been working the case since Gordon was locked up and found nothing. This shouldn’t be an easy go of it, and yet the case is solved within a 46-minute episode, so what does that say about Bullock’s skills (or more likely Gordon’s luck when it comes to police work)?
Gordon remembers that IA supposedly records all the tips that come in, an important tip given to him by Harvey Dent — who, by the way, is a series regular on the show and has appeared in approximately one episode since the midseason premiere. Seriously, where is that guy? Luckily for Gordon, Bullock’s got a lady friend working in IA, and with the help of her stolen keys, Gordon grabs his tape and is ready to clear his name. But he can’t help himself when she spots a woman being attacked by two thugs and saves her, a hero move that almost costs him his newfound freedom when a cop spots Gordon and reports him.
Gordon escapes and plays the IA tape with Bullock, but the voice on the tape is muffled, as is a sound of possibly a bird. Gordon decides that he will go to another “friend” of his for help: Ed, the framer himself. To Ed’s surprise and relief, Gordon still does not suspect him of the crimes and asks for his help to clean up the tape to find any possible clues.
As Gordon and Ed wait for their results, Ed makes the mistake of debating with Gordon the makings of a psychopath. Gordon quickly starts to suspect Ed of being the criminal he is seeking, and that suspicion is made painfully aware when the scrubbed tape proves Ed called in the IA tip. Ed gets the upper hand on Gordon and almost succeeds in burying like he did Kristen, but Gordon escapes with a bullet wound to the leg and heads to Selina’s house to pass out; there he encounters her makeshift domestic life with Bruce.
Bruce calls Alfred to take Gordon back to his mansion, where Gordon reveals his plan to incriminate Ed: He has Selina reveal to Barnes, with Ed listening in, that Gordon is looking for Penguin to “find out where the body’s buried.” This news sends Ed into a tailspin of paranoia as he heads for his Kristen Kringle hiding place, comes across Gordon, and reveals his entire plan to Barnes and the entire GCPD, who are all listening in. Ed is sent to Arkham. He and Hugo Strange are bound to have a fascinating connection.
But despite crossing with Gordon, Bruce’s story line also gets a big boost as Alfred tells him Lucius (another series regular who has vanished) fixed his father’s computer and his work can be continued. But Alfred warns Bruce that Selina does not deserve to be put in the line of fire — Thomas’ activities are sure to be dangerous. Bruce tells Selina he won’t be going back with her, and she takes it as a slight on her life and their relationship, which is now clearly strained.
Gordon is quickly offered reinstatement and an apology by Barnes, but the good detective isn’t quite ready to go back to his regularly scheduled life. He wants to first solve the Wayne murders like he promised Bruce he’d do so very long ago, and that means his life with Lee is on hold as well.
NEXT: Onto the other ridiculously entertaining story line of the night
While Gordon proves his innocence (of the Pinkney murder at least), Oswald grieves his father’s recent death and quickly learns he is no longer welcome as a member of his stepfamily. Grace tells Oswald she doesn’t feel comfortable living with a criminal, even though Oswald swears up and down he’s not the same man, but she does give in and allow him to be their servant. When her children protest, she reveals that, with the right lawyer, Oswald could make their lives very difficult as he is the only blood heir to his father’s fortune. Grace then reveals the future she has planned for Oswald: He will be their servant until an appropriate amount of time when he “commits suicide” from grief. Until then, at least they can save some money by firing the maid. (Win, win!)
Meanwhile, Barbara Kean has supposedly made great strides after waking up from her coma in Arkham, so much so that Hugo Strange has allowed her release back into the real world. When his deputy questions his actions, Hugo tells her that Babs’ release is a “beautiful experiment” as they will monitor her actions while she is on the outside. Of course, her first thought is to go straight to Gordon’s apartment. What else was she bound to do?
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Back at Oswald’s rightful mansion, the former Penguin is reduced to cooking and cleaning for his stepfamily as they taunt and insult him and say nasty things about his mother. And yet, through it all, Oswald never loses his cool…that is until he discovers the decanter of alcohol that killed his father. He takes a whiff of the liquor and tests some of it on the dog as his stepsiblings come in taunting him some more about the roast he needs to make for his new stepmother. The dog instantly dies the same way as his father, and finally, Oswald snaps back to Penguin status and lets out the craziest, creepiest laugh, worthy of Cameron Monaghan’s Jerome.
Later that night, Oswald feeds Grace two different roasts he’s made for her special dinner, then reveals that she has just eaten the most dangerous and disgusting game: her two children. With that revelation only barely registered, Oswald brutally murders Grace and has a drink across from her dead body. The Penguin has returned, likely for good.
Gotham is now in transition: What does forcing our villains’ identities to go full-on dark side (or potentially dark side in Babs’ case) mean for the rest of season 2’s story line? Will it tie together the demise of Theo Galavan, Hugo Strange, and whatever the hell is going on in Indian Hill? The latter half of season 2 can’t be called “Wrath of the Villains” for nothing, but at this point nothing really makes sense.