Gotham: Why is There Always Someone Who Brings Eggs & Tomatoes To a Speech? (The Pros)

One of the big pros of Gotham?  The Penguin.  I really had never thought an origin of the Penguin.  It seemed, in a way, of little consequence.


And yet, on Gotham, they have made him so very interesting.  Whereas Burton cast him as a despicable little monster in appearance, Gotham takes a different rout.

Oswald Cobblepot seems to have come from a family that may have been rich once, but their power and influence has deteriorated with Gotham.  And so Oswald had to crawl up the mob rungs and fight to survive.  He will betray, lie, steal…anything to achieve the power he so badly wants.

Robin Lord Taylor portrays the Penguin as both incredibly pathetic and frighteningly dangerous.  It is, in fact the pathetic aspect that seems to drive his vicious win-at-any-cost behavior.  He first loathes the nickname of the Penguin, but ultimately seems to embrace it.  He knows he is not physically threatening…but no matter how many times people attempt to take him out, he shows himself to be one step ahead.  This could very well prove to be the downfall of those who think they hold power over him.

His mother (played with a creepy presence by Carol Kane) seems fully oblivious to her son’s activities, and seems fixated almost romantically on her son.  She is constantly fearful that a woman will take him away from her.  And Oswald does nothing to change this.  Whether it is attention he enjoys, or is so used to it he has no idea it is creepy, I do not know.

What I do know, is watching the Penguin storyline is a very satisfying aspect of Gotham, and I find the portrayal of the character to be terrific.

3 thoughts on “Gotham: Why is There Always Someone Who Brings Eggs & Tomatoes To a Speech? (The Pros) Leave a comment

  1. I think you’re spot on with your pros and cons about “Gotham.” While it has its share of weaknesses and flaws, I do think it made a solid debut this fall. I, too, love the show’s take on Oswald Cobblepot as well as Robin Lord Taylor’s portrayal of him. Usually, the Penguin is depicted as a campy criminal who I think more viewers chuckle at than take seriously. But “Gotham”‘s Penguin is no laughing matter. I’m eager to see what “Gotham” has in store in future episodes and I hope the best for Taylor’s future career. (By the way, just in case you’re curious, I did two character analyses about the Penguin on my blog as well as a series of episode reviews, some of which might address your questions regarding Oswald’s relationship with his mother. The latest post, entitled “‘Gotham”‘ and the ‘Scarface’ Connection” compares and contrasts Oswald Cobblepot with Tony Montana. Both characters are similar in many ways but possess some critical differences. It was fun to explore though.) Great series of “Gotham” posts! 🙂

  2. I respect yours and scififantasychick’s takes on this characterization, and I am NOT a Batman scholar, but as much as I admire Robin Lord Taylor’s acting ability, and that is a lot, I am not sure they have done him a service with this approach to Penguin. Villains should be scary. They should be creepy. Heath Ledger’s Joker is an example (and I think RLT is a much better actor than Ledger was). The Penguin would have been better had he been, as originally cast in the comics (I gather), a blueblood, a toff, a wealthy sociopath. Someone no one could empathize with. What makes things, characters, frightening is that they SEEM human but they don’t act like humans. Or else, like Ledger in the Joker role, they are just flat-out uncanny. Again, I think the world of RLT’s ability, skills, etc., but I can’t imagine this Penguin, as the writers have drawn him, ever seeming powerful or like the match for Batman that he eventually is supposed to be.

  3. I don’t know…I think there is a creepiness to him…but I always felt like the Penguin is a bit different from the Joker. The Penguin has always seemed to be about class envy, in a fashion. He wants to be part of a world that looks down on him, and in turn he wants to rule it. And I see this incarnation working towards that.

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