Gotham: Viper Penguin Makes a New Friend

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In Gotham this week a new drug hits the streets called Viper and while Jim Gordon and Harvey Bullock try to find the source, Penguin, aka Oswald Cobblepot makes a new friend in Sal Maroni who believes that Falcone was the one who stole his money in the Cobblepot orchestrated robbery. As origins stories go, Gotham is fairly entertaining. Just in the female stakes alone, this FOX series has not only Sara Paxton (The Innkeepers, The Last House on the Left) but Jada Pinkett Smith (Hawthorne, Collateral) as well. Although Paxton’s character was not in this episode.

Oswald, who is still trying very hard to ingratiate himself to Maroni, gets in trouble and by association also drags Detective Gordon into the mess. The threat being that if Jim does not tell a carbon copy of Penguin’s story, Falcone will not only learn of Jim’s failure to kill Cobblepot, but both men will die. When the cop confirms Oswald’s tale, Jim is released and Penguin is welcomed into the Maroni family with open arms.

Gotham certainly has a lot going on this week. The young Selina Kyle picks a pocket right in front of Harvey and Jim and when she is rumbled Kyle kicks the mark in his family jewels and makes a quick getaway. The two cops pound the pavement looking for the guy who is giving away the viper drug, which gives the users great strength, a craving for dairy products and then death. Meanwhile Penguin is working very hard to make a new friend in Maroni as part of his revenge against Fish Mooney and Don Falcone.

Fish, is training her torch singer to be the female mobster’s personal weapon designed to take down the don. Mooney is hedging her bets as she is working on another avenue to take Falcone down. The comic touches in this episode of Gotham belonged mostly to Harvey Bullock, of course. Kudos to actor Donal Logue (Bullock) for getting the right amount of desperation in his character’s voice when he questions the dying professor, “What’s altruism?”

Later in the show after the main baddie leaps to his death off of the Wayne building roof, Gordon and Bullock look over the edge and Harvey mutters, “You really can have too much of a good thing,” as the villain had inhaled a whole canister of viper before jumping.

The show does have a lot of “tongue-in-cheek” humor but there is also an element of the unintentionally funny moments which manages to make its way into various episodes of Gotham. Laughable incidents of the not so good kind, included the ATM thief at the beginning of the show whose body was crushed under the cash machine. The dead man’s hands looked as ersatz as powdered eggs, more plastic than tragic and it may have been better served for this scene to have been left to viewers imaginations like the leap of death at the end.

The other unintentional laughable moment had to do with the old philosophy professor who twisted his walking frame, aka zimmer into a pretzel shape that looked nothing like a metal frame but instead looked a lot like foam rubber. In terms of plot, which did not follow a logical path, thereby making certain scenes amusing, again, for all the wrong reasons, the effects of viper were not consistent.

The guitar player, at the beginning of the episode inhaled the drug, following the Alice in Wonderland type instructions and became so strong he was able to rip an ATM out of the wall and run down the street carrying the thing on his back. Later, in the Gotham police precinct, each viper user was handled pretty much by two cops each. The logic did not flow well and while the scene was meant to be amusing, it went the wrong way on the scale.

In Gotham: Viper, the main story may have been about the drug and Bruce Wayne rather touchingly recruiting his butler/guardian Alfred into helping him find justice for his parents, but the underlying theme of the Penguin making a new friend in Maroni and putting the future commissioner of Gotham in danger was the more interesting of the plot threads this week. As Oswald Cobblepot, Robin Lord Taylor is not Danny DeVito, but his twitchy and grovelling Penguin is scarily entertaining as he schemes and murders his way into becoming a future deadly villain. On another note, it will be interesting to see if Don Falcone figures out he is being set up by Mooney.

By Michael Smith