Recap and Review: ‘Gotham’ Season 5: Pena Dura (Spoilers)

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When we last left Gotham…well unless you watched last week’s episode, you don’t know because your author in the pique of “slackness” didn’t post a review of that episode. I promise it will never happen again and if you still need to see one, the review can be posted for Ruin. In the meantime, let’s get back to the city they call Gotham.

Jim had received a tip from Barbara (she received something from him too, but that was last episode: teaser), so he went to visit an arms dealer who had sold an RPG recently. They find him and for some reason, that arms dealer had a large contingent of weapon wielding thugs at his disposal. Go figure. Just when things looked bleak, a SWAT like team came iconically crashing through an overhead window. They took out almost all of the resistance except the arms dealer, who attempted to make a break for it. Jim tackled him to the ground but he pulled a knife and appeared to be getting the upper hand when a single shot through his head ended the confrontation.

Jim stood up and the leader of the group approached, removing his helmet to reveal he was a former army buddy of Gordon’s Eduardo Dorrance, played by Shane West. Apparently, him and his team is the help that the mysterious voice on the radio kept promising Jim he would be getting. After some pleasantries, a record book was found with the list of past sales. The last entry was a sale of two RPGs to one Edward Nygma.

They decide to pay a visit to Mr. Nygma who is listening to old audio recordings trying to decipher his actions. That is when Jim and Eduardo make their appearance. Upon their arrival, Edward swears he doesn’t know what happened and he is innocent. He asks Jim to give him the time to prove it. Eduardo tells Jim it is his call, so he says that they will bring him in to stand trial. Edward, while they were talking, pulls a book from a shelf that triggers a plate to slide out from under Eduardo with a click. He had stepped on a booby trap that Edward promised would blow if he moved. Eduardo felt that Nygma was bluffing but Jim assured him, he was not. Faced with a choice of apprehending Ed or saving Eduardo, he chose the latter. They were able to rescue him with some clever riddle solving skills. This WAS the Riddler, after all. Upon their return, Jim put it out that Edward Nygma was wanted for Murder.

With the news out about Edward, he found making his way through the city problematic. He soon found himself captured by a group of private citizens with a certain southern flair. They wanted revenge on Edward for killing their dog in the attack on Haven. They strap him to a chair and start electrocuting him. I guess never kill a Southern person’s dog is the morale of THAT story. As he was being zapped, he had memory flashes of a conversation with Penguin. He then outwits the vigilante group and makes his escape. His next stop, Penguin.

Penguin is in the middle of a business negotiation when Edward makes his presence known. He manages to subdue Oswald and asks him what he knows about what is happening to him. He is doing things and he has no control over them. He wants to know who does? Penguin tells him that he isn’t the one controlling him but the memory he experienced was when Oswald had taken Edward to Hugo Strange after Jeremiah’s bridge explosion. He took him there to save his life.

Back at the GCPD, Jim is briefing Eduardo on the gangs scattered throughout the city when the word comes down that Nygma was seen at Penguin’s HQ. This time, Jim sends Harvey and Eduardo to confront Nygma. Unfortunately, Ed was able to slip out just as Harvey and Eduardo arrived. With all people concerned heavily armed, it was a standoff. Oswald told them to leave or else. Harvey decided to call his bluff and Eduardo’s snipers took out all of Oswald’s men. They then bring him back to Jim. He tells them that Ed has been set up. Gordon then reluctantly agrees to let Penguin go, once he gives them Ed’s location.

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At the same time, Ed paid a visit to Barbara to get some more information on Hugo Strange’s whereabouts. He had to know who was pulling his strings. After finding out what he could from Barbara, he snuck in to Strange’s place, getting the drop on him under gun point. He asked Strange (as played by scene stealer BD Wong), what was happening to him. Strange admitted he could control Ed but he was not the one doing so. Strange then was able to knock  Ed out and prepared to do some more surgery on Nygma’s brain.

He is searching for how it is that Ed is aware that he is being controlled. It is upon his works completion that Jim and Eduardo make their appearance. Ed has woken and realizes now that it was in fact Eduardo who has been controlling him, at the bequest of the government. This comes as a surprise to Jim who thought that he had an ally in Eduardo. This is made evident when Eduardo points his gun at Jim and tells him to shoot Nygma, to prove his loyalty or face being shot himself. He refuses and is able to escape. Eduardo then programs Ed to track Gordon down and kill him.

Lest we forget, Salina had made good on her promise last episode to kill one Jeremiah Velasquez. Bruce watched with disbelief that she so readily stabbed Jeremiah, without hesitation. Bruce caught up with Salina at the Vixen’s club as they celebrated the death of Jeremiah. He confronted her about it. She let him know that their moralities are vastly different. She then told him she was in the alley when his parents were killed. She did nothing, not because she couldn’t, but because she didn’t care. She then left him, with him pondering if he really ever knew her at all.

Finally, we find Ecco opening up the casket of the assumed dead Jeremiah to reveal he is very much alive. Needless to say it was all a ruse to make Salina and Bruce think that Jeremiah has been killed. They then take one of the tunnels that Jeremiah had his followers dig. This leads them to a mansion in Gotham and a couple who has just had been revived from surgery. Jeremiah looks at them in astonishment, saying that he loves “family reunions” as the episode ends.

Thoughts:

This is really a Riddler driven episode with ample opportunities for Cory Michael Smith to shine and he never disappoints. When he gets to once again interact with Robin Lord Taylor’s Penguin, it is must see Television. Throw in the scene chewing work of BD Wong as Hugo Strange and you have an episode where the acting alone makes it worth seeing.

We also got to see the introduction of the man who would be Bane, Bruce having to struggle with his misconceptions about Salina and more than enough twists, especially at the end of the episode, to keep an audience wanting more.

Grade: Acting matters and Pena Dura had that in spades. In spite of a perhaps stereotypical scene involving Southerners and their dead dog, it was a good episode and I give it an solid A.