Two weeks in a row where an episode of Gotham features a mostly-logical sequence of events, and real consequences (well, maybe) for the actions of its characters? What is happening? For the most of the series so far, Gotham has tended to dote on its central conflicts, rather than progressing the story (whatever that story may be). “Everyone Has a Cobblepot” contained just about every interesting aspect of the police corruption plotline that we’ve been waiting to see, but which the show has thus far denied us, opting instead to spin its wheels and remind us every now and then that Gotham’s corrupt ’cause police n’ corruption n’ stuff.
As a result, some of the story beats of “Everyone Has a Cobblepot” might feel a bit rehashed, like we’ve seen them before—because we have. Only this time, they finally mean something (or did a good job at tricking me into thinking so).
Rather than your standard crook-of-the-week, “Everyone Has a Cobblepot” returns its attention to Commissioner Loeb, the slimeball in charge of all that is wrong with GCPD. Everyone’s favorite drug dealing killer cop, Officer Flass, is back on the force with more power than ever—he was acquitted of all charges, thanks to Loeb, who blackmailed Bullock into testifying in Flass’s favor and (falsely) admitting to planting evidence. Loeb, who is very, very good at his political manipulation game, and utterly fearless when Gordon accuses him of misconduct.
What does Loeb have over Bullock? It’s not made explicit, but as Bullock says to Gordon, “My Cobblepot didn’t come back.” Together with Harvey Dent, Gordon has the idea to give Loeb a taste of his own medicine. The trick, of course, is finding the dirt to blackmail the guy who has dirt on everyone else. Luckily (for them, I mean), Loeb’s wife was killed some twenty years ago when she allegedly fell down the stairs, and this seems as good a place to start as any. If they can prove that Loeb was responsible, or covering up something worse, their pawns might be able to move into Check. If all else fails, they can at least seek and destroy Loeb’s cache of blackmail evidence. But where are they going to find this mystical pot of proof?
The answer is definitely not Xi Lu’s Chinese Restaurant Ninja Accounting Firm, where they go on a lead from Loeb’s former partner from back in the day. For all its weird cartoony unevenness, a bunch of Chinese men in white shirts and ties pounding away at adding machines before attacking Gordon and Dent is exactly the kind of wackiness that I want to see on this show. Bullock shows up just in time to save them from the slicing and dicing, and together the trio go to recruit the only reliable rat they can think of: Cobblepot.
Cobblepot, of course, is delighted to be of use; he not only gets his buddy Jim Gordon back, but he also gets to use his unique skillset once again instead of bumbling idiotically around his club like he’s done for the last bunch of episodes. He agrees to help them, in exchange for Gordon owing him a to-be-determined favor, and for 10 minutes alone with Loeb’s blackmail files (Gordon talks him down to 5). Even Bullock thinks this is a bad idea, but Gordon goes along with it, and Cobblepot leads them to a remote estate that he’d overheard Falcone and Loeb talking about.
At the estate, Bullock, Gordon, and Cobblepot enjoy a nice cup of tea and a smattering of shotgun shells with the not-so-kindly old couple charged with protecting whatever assets were hidden away there. But instead of a storeroom of files and evidence (sorry, Cobblepot), they enter the attic to find Loeb’s adult daughter, Miriam, dancing alone and making necklaces from the bones of birds that she caught and killed herself. If you guessed that she’s the one who really killed her mother, you’d be right. This whole scene is exactly the kind of weirdness I want to see on this show.
Cobblepot kills the elderly caretakers in a pretty messed-up manner in order to cover his tracks with Falcone, while Gordon pays a visit to Commissioner Loeb with a little gift from Miriam. The Commissioner has played this game long enough, so he knows when he’s about to lose. It doesn’t take much to make him offer to resign in order to protect Miriam, but Gordon takes a cue from the Cobblepot playbook and tells Loeb to keep his job. This way, Gordon has leverage over the Commissioner, instead of having to contend with whatever corrupt replacement they would find for him. Gordon also convinces Loeb to give Flass a fair and honest re-trial, and turn over Bullock’s blackmail file (he tries to get the evidence on the entire police department, but Loeb won’t go that far). On top of that, Commissioner Loeb announces his public support to elect Gordon as the new president of the police union. Not a bad deal! But Bullock warns Gordon that he’s headed down a slippery slope…
Meanwhile: Nygma works up the nerve to ask Kris Kringle out for real, but finds she has a new boyfriend; Bruce swears revenge on Reggie Payne and the entire corrupt board at Wayne Enterprises; and Dr. Dulmacher accepts Fish as his new right-hand-woman, which means giving her a new (mismatched) blue eye and, erm, giving the Manager a new set of arms and breasts that once belonged to a woman, because why the hell not?
Overall, a pretty enjoyable episode, and one that (kind of) made me retroactively appreciate Gotham’s commitment to standalone storytelling. While I still don’t love the lack of stakes or consequences on this show up until now (I have mixed feelings on Fish getting a new eye), I at least have a better understanding of the showrunner’s intentions, even if they run counter to my aesthetic preferences. In my perfect world, the attempt to takedown Loeb would be an arc lasted across multiple episodes; similarly, Gordon’s development towards using Cobblepot tactics would be a more gradual building, instead of a whole lot of nothing, and then a sudden change (I can see that they’re certainly learning this lesson with the Bruce vs Wayne Enterprises storyline). But I accept now that, for better or for worse, that’s just not how the Gotham team has wanted to tell their stories. As a result we have episodes like this, which are exciting to watch because everything that hasn’t happened finally does happen all at once—great for this episode, bad for all the padding throughout the rest of the season.
Commissioner Loeb deserves props for being a compelling and threatening antagonist. In the first part of the episode, I enjoyed his smug, no-nonsense attitude when Gordon came at him slinging accusations. He thought of himself as untouchable, but unlike Flass, who declared his hubris with such self-important bravado, Loeb is at once both more reserved and more open about it. He has enough power that he doesn’t have to worry when Gordon comes at him with the truth, because he knows that he’s untouchable. That is, until the end of the episode, where we get the slightest glimpse behind Loeb’s mask of confidence. He knows when the game is up, and he’s willing to walk away right then in order to protect his daughter. Loeb is willing to sacrifice anything for the sake of power, and since Miriam is the only thing more important to him than power, it makes sense that he’d be willing to sacrifice that as well. He’s a bad guy, sure, but I could empathize with him (in fact, I’d love to see more of he and Falcone’s relationship and dealings as the Evil Cop and the Good Hearted Gangster).
I’ll also remind you that I called this before: Loeb had something to do with the Wayne’s murder.
Miriam was delightful as well, as she felt like a timeless Bat-tagonist that could have come from any era of Batman—creepy, psychotic, and campy all at once. That’s the kind of off-kilter atmosphere that I’d like to see more of (plus gun-toting senior citizens). Sure, it was kind of weird that Loeb hid her away on a remote estate and locked her up in the attic (kind of overkill, no?), but that’s okay, because I totally ship Miriam and Cobblepot and will spend the hours until the next episode trying to think of cute and clever celebrity-couple for them.
Speaking of Cobblepot! The rat is back! It’s like someone made a sacrifice to the Dark Goat Gods of Gotham to save him from his painful purgatory position as a bumbling buffoon, and the Gods finally listened!
Finally: no one’s surprised that Dulmacher’s estate is on an island, considering that Fish was on a boat when she got kidnapped. And if these last two weeks have proven anything, it’s that Gotham is (unfortunately) much better when it ignores Jim Gordon’s lovelife (sorry Morena Baccarin).
We’ll be back in April—same Batless-time, same Batless-channel!
Thom Dunn is a Boston-based writer, musician, homebrewer, and new media artist. Thom enjoys Oxford commas, metaphysics, and romantic clichés (especially when they involve whiskey and robots). He is a graduate of Clarion Writer’s Workshop at UCSD, and he firmly believes that Journey’s “Don’t Stop Believing” is the single worst atrocity committed against mankind. Find out more at thomdunn.net