See, Gotham, this is what I’m talking about. The battle for Jim Gordon’s soul, the Faustian bargain, the well-intentioned deal with the devil. This is what I came to see and “Everyone Has a Cobblepot” finally delivered. If only every episode was this good, I would honestly be able to call the show must-see-TV.
To recap: The corrupt officer Flass, who was taken down a number of weeks ago by the temporary but infectious force of Jim’s idealism, has somehow managed to worm his way out of trouble. With a previously airtight case against him, Jim knows foul play is afoot, and he eventually discovers it was his partner of all people who gave exonerating testimony on Flass.
When Jim confronts him about it, Bullock explodes, “Do you honestly think you are the only one who had orders to take some punk down to the end of a pier and put a bullet in his head?” And it’s not just Bullock. Apparently a good half of the Gotham police force have their own Cobblepot, and their good commissioner Loeb holds the proof on all of them.
Removing the threat of blackmail from Bullock and his fellow officers becomes Jim’s latest crusade, which he initially takes up with Harvey Dent, his quixotic counter-part in the D.A.’s office. They go to Loeb’s old police partner – back from when he was a rank and file cop – and squeeze him for info on where Loeb’s blackmail stash might be. Initially sent into a trap, they are rescued by Bullock, who grudgingly joins the crusade. Finally they uncover that Loeb and Falone are working together and because there is no one within the GCPD they can trust, Gordon goes to his old frienemy, Cobblepot, for help.
They negotiate terms in an all but plagiarized scene from The Godfather, where Jim promises to owe The Penguin an indiscriminate favor at some point in the future. Bullock is rightly wary, but Jim can taste victory and the temptation is too great. He says yes and the three men go on a quest to hunt down Loeb’s trove of secrets. They wind up in a Victorian farm house out in the countryside where an old couple is caring for a crazy woman in the attic. Very Jane Eyre. Turns out she is Loeb’s daughter and she killed her mother. Loeb covered it up.
They aren’t able to find his stash of files, but because they have leverage on Loeb through his daughter, Jim is ultimately able to negotiate some concessions from the commissioner including the destruction of his blackmail on Bullock and his endorsement for Jim’s candidacy to become the next President of the Policeman’s Union.
This episode also advances Bruce’s attempt to investigate Wayne Enterprises, or rather, the attempt at getting him to stop. Selina Kyle pays him a visit in the hospital while Alfred is sleeping and they have a reconciliation of sorts. She offers to help in his crusade, but he declines, as he does not want to endanger anyone. However, I suspect she will not adhere to his request. They are clearly still fond of each other and screen time they share on Gotham is never wasted, in my opinion.
Fish Mooney finally meets the illusive Dr. Dulmacher, and she negotiates her way into his good graces. She now seems to be playing both the basement and the upstairs in her favor and I honestly don’t know whose side she is really on. I get the feeling for her, it’s not really about sides; it’s entirely about survival. Normally I have a great deal of time for Fish Mooney, but honestly, when the A-Plot is as good as it was this week, all I really want to do is to watch Jim Gordon tilt at windmills.
Finally, Ed continues to pursue Kristen Kringle and although she seems entirely done with Flass, she soon acquires a new beau whom Ed is predictably quick to resent. At this point, I’m growing quite weary of this storyline. We get it, he loves her and it is unrequited. Move it along, Gotham. As much as I enjoy Ed Nygma’s character, the love-sick puppy shtick can only be engaging for so long. Find him a real storyline, please.
As the episode comes to a close, Gordon returns Bullock’s complete file to him, and Bullock gives him a nickel’s worth of free advice:
“You know you tell yourself, ‘I’ll just do this one bad thing. But all the good things I’ll do later will make up for it.’ But they don’t. There’s still that bad thing. Penguin’s gonna come asking for that favor. Be careful.”
It is the archetypal moral dilemma. Do the ends justify the means? How much can you bend the rules to get the bad guy before you become the bad guy? When Gotham goes there, when it really asks that question, it is an unequivocal tour de force. I only wish these kinds of moments were the rule, rather than the exception.