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Warning: major spoilers ahead for the latest episode of Gotham.
Comic shows may be taking television by storm, but one of the most entertaining of all has not featured a single comic superhero. Fox’s Gotham has focused far more on the bad guys of Batman lore rather than the Caped Crusader himself – possibly because Bruce Wayne has yet to be hit by the puberty Batarang – as they descend into true villainy. One of the most compelling bad guys has always been Robin Lord Taylor’s Oswald Cobblepot, who is known professionally as Penguin. Underhanded and scheming, the latest episode of Gotham saw Penguin suffer his greatest loss of the series so far: his mother. Recently, Robin Lord Taylor had this to say about what the death of Gertrude Cobblepot will do to Oswald:
She offered the only love he really experienced in his life. To lose that is absolutely devastating, but in a way it’s freeing…In a way, his shred of humanity has been ripped away from him... It's a huge transition for him... It’s almost as if he’s got full license now to be the monster that everyone seems to want him to be.
In an interview with The Hollywood Reporter, Taylor notes that nobody can deny the love between the Cobblepots. Bordering on inappropriate since the first time that Gertrude gave her adult son a bath, she has always been Penguin’s weak spot. It was only a matter of time before somebody would be savvy enough to snatch her up as leverage against her son.
Theo Galavan proved to be just that savvy somebody. Coercing Penguin into everything from arson to murder by holding his mother captive, Galavan has had Penguin falling apart at the seams. Too frenzied to grasp that perhaps chopping off the hand of his brainwashed second-in-command and then sending him into the arms of his enemy might backfire on him, Penguin paid the ultimate price when his mother was stabbed in the back.
Well, almost the ultimate price. Even the murder of his mother was not enough to completely destroy the survival instincts that have brought Penguin from the sniveling umbrella underling to a competent crime lord, and Penguin’s scheme to enact revenge on a Galavan fully expecting and prepared for attack actually almost worked. Sure, he had to sacrifice a small army of goons as a distraction, but what are goons for if not collateral damage in elaborate plots?
Penguin has always been one of the most dangerous characters on Gotham, and the contrast between his physical weakness and unparalleled cunning has always been enough for him to skate by. Now that the biggest piece of leverage against him has been definitively taken from him, there will be no stopping Penguin from going on a rampage to take down Galavan. While this may somewhat align his interests with the good guys for the time being, there’s no resurrecting the dead on Gotham, and Robin Lord Taylor’s Penguin will never be the same.
You can catch Gotham when it airs on Mondays at 8 p.m. EST on Fox.