It's become obvious that on Gotham, Penguin is playing just about everyone, maybe even Falcone. But if Season 1 is the story of how Oswald Cobblepot was able to rise from umbrella lackey to crime boss, we should be seeing the results of his plans soon. But at this point, we kind of have to wonder — what is Penguin's plan to take over Gotham City? Does he even have a plan? Or is the show just making things up as it goes along? Even if that's the case, it doesn't seem like Cobblepot is. That's a man with a plan — or at least the beginnings of one.
He's already backstabbed, double-dealt, and two-timed everyone he's come into contact with. But it all must be in service of something. He's gotten power, but still is scheming, so it can't just be a plot designed so he can advance in the crime world. And yet if he was simply in Falcone's pocket, Penguin would have told the mob boss about Fish's various treacheries, yet he hasn't. But since it's an episodic show, let's examine each of Penguin's recent actions individually and try to weigh whether he wants to save Falcone or destroy him. As you can see, there's plenty of evidence for both interpretations.
He Lied to Maroni
This one makes sense. As a deputy of Falcone, it was Penguin's job to make Maroni trust him, and that meant not seeming threatening at the outset. So he lied about being a dishwasher to get into the restaurant business, then fabricated reasons to be promoted out of that dishwashing position.
Then, He Robbed Maroni
Penguin pulled off a pretty impressive heist of Maroni's business, then killed all of the criminals who he hired to pull it off. We saw that he kept the money, but not what he did with it. He bought his mother some trinkets, so he could be spending it on her, or saving it for a plan of his own. He also could have given the money to Falcone.
He Scared Liza
We just saw Penguin ransack Liza's apartment, tell Fish that he knows about her plan, and threaten Liza with exposure, which she fearfully submitted to. But what's Penguin planning to do about this? Note that he hasn't told Falcone about it, so he's not looking to expose anything that would force Fish to be killed or necessarily put Liza in the crosshairs. Instead, he's just looking for leverage, so that both Liza and Falcone owe him something.
He Blackmailed Jim Gordon
While Jim's goody two-shoes reputation led Oswald to use him for a fake murder coverup, why all the cloak and mirror secrecy? Why show up at Barbara's apartment? He was once an informant, so maybe he's going to use this Gordon connection to rat on everyone after he's accumulated enough evidence. If there's one thing we know, it's that Penguin will absolutely be the last man standing.
Image: Jessica Miglio/FOX (4)