Why Gotham’s schem­ing Oswald Cob­ble­pot rules

SFX - - Reviews -

UK Broad­cast Chan­nel 5 (from Fe­bru­ary) US Broad­cast Fox

The first sea­son of Gotham didn’t go down quite as well as the showrun­ners hoped, with view­ers com­plain­ing about all sorts of things – from Jada Pin­kett Smith’s hammy per­for­mance as Fish Mooney to the fact that young Bat­man wasn’t quite as in­ter­est­ing a char­ac­ter as we thought he’d be. If there was one thing ev­ery­body agreed on, how­ever, it was that Gotham’s proto-Pen­guin was bril­liant.

Seem­ingly from nowhere, Robin Lord Tay­lor stepped into Oswald Cob­ble­pot’s prob­a­bly ill-fit­ting shoes and, some­how, be­came the Pen­guin. From his hum­ble beginnings work­ing for Fish to his new role, circa sea­son two, as Gotham’s big­gest crime lord, Oswald’s rise has been stag­ger­ing – like the waiter in the House Of Com­mons bar oust­ing David Cameron as PM. And through it all, Tay­lor’s per­for­mance has been im­pec­ca­ble: a bold mix­ture

of sleaze, in­tel­li­gence and violence... all tem­pered with a sur­pris­ing vul­ner­a­bil­ity.

That’s be­cause the writ­ers de­cided to make their Pen­guin a mummy’s boy. Ut­terly be­witched by his de­mand­ing, loopy mother – played by Hol­ly­wood comic leg­end Carol Kane – Oswald comes across as a lit­tle boy try­ing his best to make it in the big mean world. Which, of course, makes his mur­der­ous plot­ting all the more shock­ing.

If any­thing, you find your­self root­ing for him. And yet he’s as vi­cious as any vil­lain Jim Gor­don comes across, making our soft spot feel rather icky. And that’s what makes him a great vil­lain. He’s not a one-note, one-sided bad guy – he’s a rounded hu­man be­ing, who does ev­ery­thing he does for a rea­son (so far there seem to be two: to stay alive and to make his mummy proud). Long may this won­der­ful Pen­guin wad­dle. Jayne Nel­son

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