I don’t know if it is because I set the bar pretty low for Gotham at this point, or if the episode was as genuinely as good as I believe it to be, but “Mad Grey Dawn” was some damn enjoyable television. I mean it genuinely felt as if I was watching a Batman comic with all of the camp and bizarre twists I have come to expect from the caped crusaders. There was some damn fine build up, solid character development, and a damn good reveal that puts our character in a tricky situation. If somehow we actually manage to build off this momentum, we might be able to do something I thought was impossible, make Gotham a watchable tv show. I mean this was better than what I have been watching on Arrow for at least the past few episodes and now it seems like the opportune moment to build off of this momentum.
First thing is first however, damn is it good to have Riddler be Riddler, or atlas take the first real step to becoming him. Watching Ed toy with Gordon only to prove how superior his intellect is to old Jimbo’s was a great thing to watch, and considering the build up we have had to this moment it definitely felt earned. I actually didn’t put together what Ed was working on until we were in the room with Barnes and Gordon and Barnes was laying out all of the evidence that Jim killed Galavan. It was a beautiful moment as Jim knows he killed Theo but no one else does, Ed simply went this route as it seemed the most plausible to believe and he played everyone like they were nothing. The best part of a good Riddler story is that usually, with the exception of Bruce, Ed is the smartest man in the room at all times. So, to have him actually be the superior foe and have no real challengers is both exciting and terrifying. I mean no one can actually challenge him on an intellectual level so I have no idea how Jim is going to prove he is innocent, especially considering he actually did indeed kill Galavan.
On the other side of Gotham, we had Penguin’s release which offered up a ton of fun possibilities as he went around asking for forgiveness and friendship. I mean Penguin did some awful shit before Strange completely pacified him so watching everyone get their revenge or simply refuse to help him was satisfying in its own right. The problem now becomes just how long this new happy go lucky Penguin will last, as something will eventually have to trigger him to become the monster we know and love. I did especially like Penguin’s interaction with Nygma as it showed quite the role reversal from their first meeting as Penguin is now the loser without drive. It helped to solidify that Nygma has come a very long way and is not going to let anything or anyone actually get in his way of becoming the monster he wants to be.
Adding onto this penguin arc was the introduction of Paul Rubens as Penguin’s dad, which all in all was actually pretty great. Ruben’s really didn’t have that much to do, but he nailed the hell out of the speech where he talks about how much he loved Penguin’s mother. You can see where Penguins gets his personality as Ruben’s plays Penguin’s dad like a scared little boy who finally found happiness. I can easily see Penguin snapping at this man for all of the pain and turmoil that his mother had to suffer through while raising him. I can also easily see how this will all add fuel to the fire of Penguin wanting all of the power in Gotham and making the city his own. If we are able to build upon all this material I can actually see Penguin becoming a formidable threat to Bruce in the future, rather than the whiny piece of shit he has been up to this point in the show.
The last bit which I really enjoyed was getting to see Bruce on the streets and him taking a beating. It was a strong foundation as to why Bruce will eventually dons the cowl because somewhere deep down, he enjoys taking and doling out punishment. The other great aspect of Bruce being on the streets is that he is actually getting to know two of his worst enemies up close and personal. This explains, at least in this universe, why he cares so much about Selena and Ivy as people and seek to help them reform when he becomes Batman down the line. He genuinely cares about these people, whether they care about him or not. Hopefully this leads to Bruce actually venturing out into the world to become the great man we know he will be rather than him simply retreating back to the manor and being taken care of there.
Overall it was a surprisingly strong episode for Gotham, which we can hopefully build upon.
Final Grade B+
+Riddler being The Riddler finally
+Gordon being arrested
+Penguin’s arc this episode
+Bruce taking a beating
-Not enough actual puzzles for The Riddler
-Barbara waking up
-Seriously, Barbara is awake. This is going to be worse than Cupid.
-I love how Nygma and Penguin are like old college friends, I really hope that relationship matures over the years to when they are super villains.
-So, Strange actually cured Penguin? That actually seems like a good thing and not in tone with Strange wanting to make people crazy at all.
-Bruce has been on the streets with Selena for at least a month at the end of the episode. I feel like Alfred is shitting his pants in fear at this point.