This is a recap, which means: spoilers! Read at your own risk.
If anyone can pull off the black and white stripes, it’s Gotham‘s Jim Gordon. The hero of Fox’s DC Comics drama was sent to the slammer in last week’s episode after Ed Nygma set him up, and this week’s episode, “Prisoners,” focused on Jim’s fight to stay alive inside the big house. But ultimately, he learned he had to die in order to make it out of prison alive. Confused? Let’s break it down!
The episode opened weeks after Gordon was sent to Blackgate prison, and it’s been a monotonous, dismal experience for him—damn if that opening sequence didn’t depress me like whoa. The only bright spot in Gordon’s days? Staring at Lee’s picture in his bunk before he goes to sleep and first thing when he wakes up. But it wasn’t always that way for him: when he first arrived in prison, turns out Gordon was quite the troublemaker. But he’s learned to keep his nose down and get through the day without any incidents and do his time. He’s truly resigned to life in this place, and it’s the most disheartening, depressing thing ever.
But then Gordon’s protective custody came to an end, and he was moved to general population aka “World’s End” … which was filled with men Gordon arrested and put in jail himself. The only way out is parole or a body bag, and according to the warden, “nobody gets parole.” He also bribed inmates to kill Gordon by week’s end. Because in Gotham, everything and everyone is corrupt, even the prisons.
Bullock was beside himself with misery, knowing that Gordon was now stuck in the same cell block as all his enemies, but Nygma was positively gleeful knowing he pulled off the setup of a lifetime. Bullock got Harvey Dent to reopen Gordon’s case, and visited him every week to update him on the progress. He also had the unfortunate responsibility of telling Gordon that Lee lost the baby and moved away from Gotham. The look on Gordon’s face? Utterly heartbreaking. It was like Gordon’s entire world came crashing down on him. His only source of hope and happiness was gone.
To make matters worse, several prisoners then jumped Gordon, but another inmate Peter “Puck” stepped in to try and help him, landing them both in the infirmary. Turns out, Gordon saved Puck’s sister from a child snatcher back when he was on the GCPD, so he’s forever enamored of Gordon. That got him beat up and bloodied since the Warden really had it out for Gordon. Back in the infirmary, Puck told Gordon to choose life and not give up hope—and Gordon told him to stay away from him to save his life.
During movie night, one of the Warden’s pet inmates tried to shiv Gordon, but another inmate stepped in and killed him instead. But something felt off in the way Gordon “died,” and, it turned out, for good reason. After being wheeled out in a body bag to an ambulance waiting, it was revealed that Gordon wasn’t dead! Turns out, as a last resort, Bullock reached out to season one villain Carmine Falcone for help perpetuating a fake death for Gordon, and with a little fake blood and a retractable knife and some friends on the inside, they successfully got him out.
Before they left, though, Gordon made sure to get Puck out too, but he died just hours after getting back out in the fresh air. At least he didn’t die in prison like he promised himself. Silver lining, right? Falcone then arranged to set up a safe place for Gordon in Gotham while he worked to clear his name so he can bring Lee home to him. Gordon the hero is choosing life!
Meanwhile, Penguin – sorry, I mean Oswald, since he’s clearly lost all vestiges of his Penguin alter ego after Hugo Strange’s experiments – has made himself quite comfortable in his new home with his new family. He learned that his father Elijah met his stepmother Grace when she was his waitress at his favorite diner, and she told him about her children Sasha and Charles and how they suffered at the hands of their abusive father. Elijah offered them all refuge, and according to him, “love blossomed.”
But seeing as how Oswald is Elijah’s only living relative, he’s now the heir to the Van Dahl fortune …and Grace and her kids are not pleased about that at all. Grace had been swapping Elijah’s heart medication for mints for who knows how long, waiting for him to die to get his fortune. She even tried to expose Oswald as the Penguin and reveal all his crimes to Elijah, but Oswald had already confessed all his sins, so his father forgave him. Plan B: Sasha threw herself at Oswald to try and get him kicked out of the house, but he didn’t bite. My question: would the pre-Arkham experiments Penguin have taken Sasha up on her offer? I still don’t think so, but what do you think?
And then, when Elijah’s heart condition got worse, he told Grace to call his lawyers to update his will. But before he could legally change it so Oswald would get everything, Grace tried to poison Oswald. Unfortunately, Elijah drank the poisoned sherry while toasting to his son, and died.
Where does this leave Oswald? Can we petition Gotham to introduce Elijah’s twin brother so Paul Reubens can stay on the show? What’s Gordon’s next move now that he’s an escaped con? So many questions! Tweet me your theories at @SydneyBucksbaum.
Gotham airs Mondays at 8 p.m. on Fox.