Last week, Gordon learned a hard lesson, Nygma’s quest took a bleak turn, and Bruce saved Selina – which, unbeknownst to him, has set the iconic DC villainess on the path to her destiny. With the promise of the hunt for Jeremiah set to begin this week, I was very excited for “Penguin, Our Hero.” Although we’ve seen Bruce and Selina teaming up on the show, I don’t believe we’ve seen it in this context, as this is arguably the closest the two characters have ever been to their comic book counterparts. I also love the fact that Selina has a personal investment in finding Jeremiah, as opposed to just helping Bruce. As I’ve said before, it’s always good to have both characters have a strong personal goal, as it lets the audience invest more.
“Penguin, Our Hero” opens with a peculiar song that seems designed to boost Penguin’s ego, an ego that is instantly bruised when he finds out that people are leaving him to join Gordon in the Haven the GCPD found in the previous episode. After we seemingly get confirmation that the Riddler is indeed setting up Penguin, we cut to Selina, who’s having a nightmare about Jeremiah. Although we know how badly Selina wants to take down Jeremiah, a classic trope in film and television is to show what characters want and fear through dreams or nightmares. We then see Gordon and how he’s dealing with his new situation, and that Haven seems to be as much of a blessing as it is a curse. They are running out of room and rations, yet Gordon – still determined to help Gotham – will not turn anyone away. After a bit of pep talk (which seemed to me like they were trying and failing to channel the Batman and Gordon dynamic), Bruce tells him that Will, the kid from last week who escaped the Soothsayers, is having nightmares about his ordeal and, as a result, has fallen off the bed, breaking his arm. As Bruce goes to help Gordon reassure him, he runs into Selena, who’s ready to start looking for Jeremiah. Bruce agrees on the condition that the would-be Joker stands trial for his crimes. They begin asking around and are pointed to the dark zone. That clue is accompanied by a warning: if they go there, Jeremiah will be the least of their worries.
Upon learning that everyone (including his dog) has defected to the Haven, Penguin decides that he will team up with the gangs and, in his words, pay the Haven a visit. We then cut to Selena and Bruce, the latter of whom learns the lesson that he should be careful to, well, mind his surroundings when he tries to save someone with a bomb attached to their wrist. When they attempt to question someone about Jeremiah, a fight ensues. “Penguin, Our Hero” then moves to the Haven, where Penguin is about to make his grand entrance. After going back and forth with Penguin over whether they are bluffing about having ammo, Gordon is forced to cede this game of wits (at least for now) to Penguin. We go back and forth between these scenes and Bruce and Selina squaring off with more Mad Max rejects. It is here that we finally get to see shades of their comic selves. Selina uses her newfound catlike reflexes while indulging in her need for revenge. Bruce stops her from killing her opponent, telling her that she won. I was glad we were finally getting to see Bruce exude Batman. Granted it was only one scene, but I’ll take what I can get.
Little did I realize it would continue, with Bruce questioning what Selina was doing as they make their way towards what they think is Jeremiah’s hideout, only to stumble upon a Jeremiah-worshiping cult led by none other than Harley Quinn. Although it seemed Penguin had won, it’s soon made clear to him that not only did all his people hate him (something that he is still in complete denial about throughout the rest of “Penguin, Our Hero”), but his new allies are anything but, as they quickly betray him and make the former mayor Gordon’s new cellmate. Bullock then runs to Barbara to try to bail him out again. She initially refuses, until he mentions Penguin, at which point she heads to the haven. Back at the Haven, Will secretly passes the tab from Gordon’s rations to the cellmates, while it looks like Gordon and Penguin will be alright for the moment.
Selena and the Jeremiah worshipers are told they must shoot each other in the head, something that I have to admit is extremely Jokeresque. Given Selena’s behavior, I really thought she might do it, so I was pleased to see that wasn’t the case. This results in not only one of the craziest scenes in the show, but also a fight between Harley and Selena; the former even calls Selina “puddin’.” However, Harley putting a gun in her face sets the future Catwoman off and, although Harley ends up getting away, when Bruce tries to help his lady love, she handcuffs him and leaves to find Jeremiah, ignoring Bruce’s pleas. We then go back to Haven, where Gordon and Penguin have teamed up to take back their sanctuary – which, incidentally, earns back the loyalty of the people who defected, as well as a pass from Gordon. The latter turns out to be a mistake because, as Barbara approaches Penguin with lethal intent, Gordon gets in the way. He has no idea the Haven is about to blow up behind him, leaving a majority of its inhabitants dead.
With “Penguin, Our Hero,” writer Tze Chun wrote a great episode that gives us not only a fresh and full-tilt take on Harley Quinn, but also significant progression in the Bruce and Selina dynamic. Director Rob Bailey shines a light on the dark zone in Gotham, as well as ratchets up the tension in what would be the culmination of the “Haven” storyline and sets Gordon on his next journey. The episode is titled “Penguin, Our Hero,” and although I thought it was initially meant to be ironic, that turned out to be exactly the case. Although it culminates in a failure that will likely define Gordon, I really enjoyed the evolving Bruce/Selina dynamic, and I can’t wait to see what comes next.