TV Recap: Gotham: Rise of the Villains, ‘Mommy’s Little Monster’

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Mommy’s Little Monster Plot:

Penguin (Robin Lord Taylor) is finally taken to where his mom (Carol Kane) is being held and declares all out war on Theo Galavan (James Frain) as he nears winning the Gotham mayoral bid. Nygma (Cory Michael Smith) deals with the aftermath of Kringle’s death when his split personality takes over, and Silver (Natalie Alyn Lind) begins her manipulation of Bruce (David Mazouz).

If there’s one thing Gotham isn’t shy about, it’s a body count. Holy batarangs. This week’s episode was an all out war – people getting sprayed with bullets, slashings left and right and another unfortunate treatment of a hand. Somebody better tell Thing from The Addams Family to stay off the Gotham set. Yikes. This episode also had courage though, because everything after that first scene was a tough act to follow, but they delivered another great outing beginning to end.

Let’s talk about that first scene though, which perfectly builds off the momentum from last week. Penguin finally gets to see his mommy, and all hell breaks loose. This was a gut-wrenching scene. I never liked Gertrude’s character from the first season, but they certainly made great use of her here, and both Carol Kane and Robin Lord Taylor gave soul crushing performances. This was definitely some of Taylor’s best work, and that’s saying something. You actually felt sympathy for this guy, and it’s not just me. Gordon and Bullock (Donal Logue) even felt sorry for him. Not only did we see Penguin at his most vulnerable, but we also saw rage Penguin, which is always fun. Penguin also delivered one of his most brilliant schemes, something this season has been lacking. He was no doubt the star in this one.

Not to be outdone though was Ben McKenzie, the rock of the show. I loved seeing Gordon’s suspicion of Galavan grow more and more as the episode went along. McKenzie got more intense as he kept learning new information, and this was also a throwback to the season one days where Gordon had to constantly annoy Bullock about a theory he wasn’t buying. Gordon and Bullock also get involved in an awesome shoot out with Zsasz (Anthony Carrigan).

Speaking of Galavan, he really took center stage in this one. James Frain has been a great villain thus far, but now that he’s mayor, you actually start to fear this guy’s influence over the entire city as his threat level grows. He even rubs off on his niece, Silver St. Cloud, who essentially acts as Galavan’s mini-me. Silver has been a perfectly serviceable character thus far, but we finally got to see Lind bring her to the forefront as Little Miss Manipulative. She’s got a great scene with Selina (Camren Bicondova), who has the best line in the episode when she takes a shot at Alfred (Sean Pertwee). And even though Selina’s big episode was last week, this was a perfect follow up from the firefly fall out. We continue to see Selina’s strongest connections break down. Last week it was Bridgit, and now it’s Bruce Wayne.

The other momentum I wanted to see carry through was Nygma’s mental state following Kringle’s death. That did not disappoint. I wish they would use another way of infusing the Riddler into Nygma, as opposed to the tired old split personality trick, but they at least use it to great effect. We got to see a full on Riddler set up against himself, which was pretty clever. The Riddler-isms will only get better as the series goes along. We’re also treated to a nice scene between Nygma and Thompkins (Morena Baccarin), as well as another great Thompkins and Gordon exchange, adding much needed levity. It’s never a bad idea when Baccarin is in a scene.

Gotham is in the ultimate groove right now. The score was even great in this one. If I had one complaint though, it would be with Harvey Dent (Nicholas D’Agosto). I’ve been waiting all season for him to return, and he serves no purpose whatsoever in this one. I’m sure big storylines are ahead though, as they have a perfect grasp on all these characters. I’m also impressed with how well paced this season has been. I feel like so much has already happened, and we haven’t even hit the new year yet. Next week should be interesting though, as crazy ole Barbara (Erin Richards) takes center stage.

Rating: 8 out of 10 (Great)

Daniel Cohen is the hard-boiled Film Editor for the Pop Break. Besides reviews, Daniel writes box office predictions, Gotham reviews and Oscar coverage. He can also be found on the Breakcast. If Daniel was sprayed by Scarecrow's fear toxin, it would be watching Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen on a non-stop loop.