An alternate title for this “Gotham” episode could be “Oswald is Hannibal Lecter’s brother,” or “Oswald is here to participate and not observe.” We could go all day with this esoteric “Hannibal” references, but hey, “MasterChef’s” a more universally-watched show. Plus, who wouldn’t want to see the Penguin facing off with Gordon Ramsay?
In a huge episode that had a ton of crazy stuff from start to finish, we’re not sure anything is going to top Oswald feeding Grace Van Dahl her own children. It was so gross, and yet so authentic to the dark side of this character. It was almost like he was operating on a high-wire act when it came to keeping himself “reformed,” and what turned the tide was learning that Grace had poisoned his father to ensure that he didn’t get any of the inheritance. Could you argue that it made no sense for the Van Dahls to keep around a former murderer as housekeeper? Definitely, but we also get how Grace’s ego and pettiness was at such an extreme level that she thought she could control Oswald, make him suffer, and not have to pay for a maid in the process.
While the Penguin is finally back, the Riddler is now more in full force than ever before. Jim Gordon started to put together the pieces of who framed him, and eventually figured out that it was Ed Nygma who was responsible. What the show did really intelligently in this episode was that it didn’t actually clue us in on the timing in which Gordon figured this out. Was it when he realized that the guilty party was someone within the NYPD, or later when Nygma was acting so cagey about the tapes that Gordon found at Internal Affairs? Either way Ed got a little cocky, and didn’t work hard enough to kill Jim when he had the chance. He escaped, and then used his evidence plus a clever plan to have Ed lead him to Kris Kringle’s remains out in the woods. Nygma was cornered, and he was arrested … for now. How long is this going to last?
Another wonderful part of Gordon’s story and the aftermath of Ed’s arrest is that even with his name cleared, he remains a lost soul and is focused on the wrong things. Rather than trying to get Lee Thompkins and some semblance of a life back, he remains obsessed with the case of Martha and Thomas Wayne. He doesn’t have to continue to dive into this; Bruce would understand if he wanted a little normalcy. Yet, he just cannot bring himself to do it. We see a flawed man in Jim, and it’s great because it’s not some mistake in the writing that is signifying this. His actions are the proof in the pudding.
Just to make Jim’s life even more complicated, “Into the Woods” ended with a surprise visitor at his door: Barbara Kean, now let loose on the city as the latest Hugo Strange research project. Much like Oswald, she’s clearly not cured, and is instead on her own high-wire act waiting to fall. A nice ending for what may be one of the best “Gotham” episodes through out the two seasons. Grade: A-.