This article contains spoilers for the Gotham season four episode ‘A Dark Knight: Things That Go Boom’.
Gotham works best when it has a main story and one or two sub-stories in an episode. It may have one of the largest casts of any television series, and there are episodes where certain elements are just put aside. When they try to touch base with everyone, it becomes a mess. When they focus on a single element, it loses its grandeur. But this episode had a nice balance as we follow the main story between Oswald Cobblepot, AKA Penguin, and Sofia Falcone. We also watched Jim Gordon try to crack Professor Pyg while Lee Thompkins and Edward Nygma deal with the Narrows. Let’s take a look at the B and C plots first.
Gordon wants to know who the Pyg really is and we learn that he has a complete reconstructed face with titanium additions to reshape his skull. Gordon pushes him and discovers a southern accent underneath. With that knowledge and a drawing based on his actual skull shape, Gordon and Lucius Fox discover that Pyg is actually a serial killer named Lazlo Valentine. But Pyg escapes Arkham and leaves a message for Jim signed Lazlo… so he wasn’t really trying to hide who he is.
In the Narrows, there is another mob boss named Sampson trying to push in on Cherry’s old territory. Since Lee is now running that territory, it’s her job to push back. Nygma suggests sending Grundy, but Lee is trying to get people to resolve there disputes peacefully, so she must try the same. She and Ed go to Sampson and try to make a deal, and she tricks Sampson into believing he has a series virus — or so she thought. Instead, Sampson has her clinic ransacked. She goes back and confronts him again, this time having had poison put into his beer. She tells him to get out of the Narrows all together. Once he agrees, she gives him the antidote. Their scene ends with Lee telling Ed there is nothing wrong with his brain, his block is mental… and then he sees the Riddler in the mirror like he did when his personality first shifted. The Riddler is coming back.
The main plot is Oswald versus Sofia as he finds out from Martin that Sofia was kissing Gordon. After she visits Gordon and is rejected by him, she returns to find Penguin and Victor Zsasz waiting for her. Penguin is very upset and has called in his torturer, the Dentist. But we find out that Sofia told Martin to tell him about kissing the cop; she knew who Oswald would call in and knew how to control the Dentist. But the wrench in the plan happens when the Sirens (Barbara Kean, Selina Kyle, and Tabitha Galavan) kidnap her, thinking the’s Penguin’s friend. They call Penguin to swap her for autonomy for their business. He agrees and then sends Zsasz to blow them up with a rocket launcher. This moves the Sirens’ allegiance to Sofia.
She goes to Gordon for protection and he makes a deal with Penguin that he will send Sofia home to prevent a war. Penguin, who doesn’t want a war anyway, agrees to put his anger in check. Gordon puts Sofia on a train home with police escort… but when Penguin discovers that Martin has been kidnapped, he sends Zsasz after her and he takes out the cop. She tells Victor where to meet to get Martin back. They meet, Penguin agrees to turn over the Gotham underworld in exchange for Martin. He then takes the boy, puts him in the car… and blows up the car. A shootout commences, and there is now war. He didn’t actually kill Martin, having the boy escape the car before the explosion… he then sends Martin away so he can’t be used against him again.
The episode is fascinating to watch for the chess moves being made by both Sofia and Lee. Even Jim does some smart maneuvering against Pyg, But Sofia is playing a masterful game that she probably would’ve won if not for the Sirens’ interference and the Penguin’s dramatics. Having him only pretend to kill Martin was a brilliant move on the part of the writers. The comic character of Penguin would’ve just killed the kid, but the TV version is the hero of the story to some fans. Having him kill a kid would be too far. They got the effect of the explosion and then the warm and fuzzy goodbye. I’ve said this before, but this is the best season of the Penguin since season one.
This Thursday we get the fall finale, and it looks like a crazy episode where Penguin is going to go to war against the GCPD, Bruce continues his descent into depression and acting out, we get hints of Professor Pyg and even the return of Jerome Valeska… because the series doesn’t have enough crazy people in it. And all of this is happening just as Carmine Falcone returns to Gotham.
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