Over on Fox this Monday night, a career politician who’s made some mistakes went head-to-head with an eccentric opportunist who’s exploiting the fear of the masses for a position of power. No, you didn’t miss the last presidential debate: Oswald Cobblepot has thrown his hat into the ring of Gotham’s mayoral race.
It wouldn’t even be a race without the Penguin. Fish is out of his hair for now; and through the process of running her out of the city, Penguin learned how easy it could be to present himself as the alternative to what these anxious citizens are used to. Turns out, if you interrupt enough press conferences, you too can be viewed as a viable candidate for elected office. As the disgraced predecessor to Theo Galavan announces he’ll be taking one for the team and serving as an interim mayor, Oswald forcibly reclaims the spotlight. The people of Gotham “deserve” an election, and Penguin will run against Aubrey James for the privilege of being in their service.
Butch does not think this is the most fantastic idea he’s ever heard, but hey, he’s used to criminals operating in the shadows. Penguin has his slogan down, at least. (How many episodes must we wait until “Make Gotham Safe Again” shows up on a hat?) Unlike Butch’s last boss, Penguin is a lone wolf. He doesn’t serve an umbrella organization; he wants to serve his dead father and collect some honor for the Cobblepot name. And though his methods will probably verge on the deranged, Oswald does seem intent on actually doing the job. He certainly won’t be intimidated out of pursuing it. James’s attempt to bully Penguin out of the race is foiled when Oswald has enough forethought to bring even more guns to the secret gunfight than his opponent. James asks Penguin what qualifications he has to take this post. “I have me,” he answers, confidently. This isn’t supposed to be a documentary!
Let’s be honest: Butch is fine muscle, but he’s not exactly a political brain trust. The one piece missing from Penguin’s disturbingly feasible campaign is a fellow visionary. To that end, Oswald bribes the new head of Arkham to give Edward Nygma the clean bill of sanity necessary to let him loose. “Not to look a gift horse in the mouth, but…” Edward says, trying to get a handle on this ludicrous arrangement. Then Oswald’s car pulls up to the gates and he sticks his head out of the window, wearing a genuine grin. “Never mind,” Edward concludes, accepting his ride. Cobblepot/Nygma 2016, basically.
Penguin’s stance on issues is unlikely to be very complex. All his potential constituents care about is that the proportion of scientifically enhanced criminals on the streets decreases over time. Oswald calls them “monsters” in public; internally, the more accurate word would be “competition.” Will Jervis Tetch fall into that category? That depends on whether Sirens’ new entertainment has any major plans beyond finding his sister and living the good life.
This episode introduces Benedict Samuel as Tetch, a.k.a. the Mad Hatter from DC lore. In the comics, Mad Hatter controls minds through science. For Gotham’s purposes, he’s a hypnotist with skills that delight Barbara and Tabitha’s patrons in the relative safety of the club, but are powerful enough to make anything outside of it Tetch’s for the taking. He spots a particularly wealthy couple in the crowd and uses the show to introduce the opportunity for suggestion into the man’s head. Later, Tetch shows up at the couple’s home to claim his prize. With a few short rhymes, he compels the man to kill his wife and then himself, leaving their mansion open for this Gotham newcomer.
NEXT: Married to the mob