Gotham: Prisoners


Gordon’s best ally and archenemy

Gotham continues their by now alternate history version of the days of the city before Batman with “Wrath of the Villains: Prisoners.” After the trial last episode, Gordon has been sent to Blackgate Prison. In a series of montage shots, time passes, what appears to be several months of monotony.

After considerable time has passed, the warden tells Gordon he’s being pulled out of protective custody and placed in general population. If what we saw before this was protective custody, it’s not like any version of that I ever saw. Further, anyone former law enforcement would never be put in general population. Even if the warden is utterly corrupt like most of the people in authority in Gotham, they’d be opening themselves up to massive lawsuits. The corruption angle is played up a bit when the warden reveals he is a friend of former commissioner Loeb.

The other major story this week is Oswald Cobblepot, the reformed or at least reconditioned Penguin. He is settling in at his father’s mansion, but not everyone is happy to see him. His step-mother, Grace, apparently used to be a waitress, and her kids came with her when their mother married the wealthy Elijah. Grace and her kids aren’t pleased when Elijah comments that Oswald is his only blood relative. Visions of re-written wills are no doubt dancing in their heads. This whole story has a very gothic feel to it, with all the formal clothes, the family plotting, the mansion.

Gordon isn’t completely abandoned. Bullock is still trying to clear him. Unfortunately, Bullock is being watched by, and even to an extent confiding in, Ed Nygma. Ed is the one who framed Gordon so neatly for Officer Pinkey’s murder, just to keep Gordon from looking into Miss Kringle’s disappearance.

In the prison, Gordon is being conspired against on all sides. A heroic cop is not the most popular with other prisoners, of course. And the corrupt warden isn’t one of Gordon’s fans either. He does get a few allies. A fellow prisoner actually defends him from a mob beating, Bullock comes to visit, and one of the guards actually seems to be an honest man. Bullock’s visit is a mixed blessing, as he comes bearing some bad news. Like Gordon’s life wasn’t bad enough.

Penguin is having some after effects from his “treatment” under Hugo Strange’s care. He goes for a walk after his nightmare and runs into Elijah, who is dressed liked someone out of a Charles Dickens story. Elijah shares some of his medical difficulties with Penguin. Elijah seems like a good, nice, and just man. We know how well those do in Gotham. Oswald shares his criminal past as Penguin with Elijah. Grace and her kids try and use this against Oswald later, and it fails spectacularly. Elijah has a very odd outlook on some things.

Gordon and his new friend, Buck, are enjoying a lovely visit to the prison infirmary. Buck tells his tale of woe, but actually seems very upbeat and accepting for a man in his position. Gordon warns him to stay away from him, since Gordon knows he is a marked man. On that front, the warden comes in personally to order them removed back to general population (as a general rule in the real world, an unheard of event).

Oswald gets an unexpected visitor in his room, yet another part of an ongoing scheme. He reacts to it in a way that surprises everyone and rattles Grace’s plans. While this somewhat icky scene unfolds, Bullock is recruiting an ally to try and help with Gordon’s situation.

There are more scenes of violence at the prison. The corruption is getting ridiculously blatant. Convicts and guards are openly working together to try and break Gordon. There’s also a movie night that is custom made for an assassination attempt. That is, of course, what happens, with some very surprising results. By the end of it, we can see there are at least two different factions operating in the prison. There’s a very surprising outcome that once again changes Gordon’s status quo.

The family plotting comes to a predictable climax. Oswald is being out-maneuvered left and right, which I suspect would not have happened before Hugo Strange got his hands on him. There’s a comically tragic event that is no doubt going to pit Oswald against Grace and her kids. I suspect that will be a big part of next episode.

By the end of the episode, several things happen in and around Blackgate. There’s a death which they pretty much telegraphed. There’s help from some unexpected quarters. And a big choice needs to be made. Things are certainly changing fast for the cast of characters.

What I liked: The focus on just two plots gave them time to explore the stories in detail. Bullock’s loyalty and tenaciousness is very much in character. Gordon is still trying to play hero, even as a convicted murderer. It’s just who he is, usually anyway. I do find it kind of ironic that he’s in prison for a crime he didn’t commit while the investigation of the one he did has probably been dropped. The Cobblepot plot is a bit weird, but I suspect it’s laying the groundwork for Penguin to snap back to his former self.

What I didn’t: The prison scenes made little sense if you know anything about how prisons and jails actually work. Even taking corruption into account, there were too many bits that didn’t quite work. Elijah’s weird Dickensian outfit just seemed really bizarre.

It was a decent episode with some strong writing for parts of it. I’ll give it a 3.5 out of 5.


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