Jerome might have been the big headliner in Gotham's three-episode January arc, but when it comes to the series' villainous trio, the Penguin really stole the show. However, by the end of Monday night's "The Gentle Art of Making Enemies," he had played perfectly into the plot his enemies put together to destroy him. And then, of course, Ed Nygma shot the Penguin in the final scene of the last episode we'll see for months. So what's the deal? Is the Penguin dead on Gotham? Now, I'm not complaining that the show went for a big cliffhanger to end the winter finale, but it's a little frustrating to know that the answer won't be revealed until April 24. Why make such a compelling puzzle, only to deny fans the answer for so long?
The answer, of course, is that Gotham lives and dies by its cliffhangers, and it needs to generate more mysteries, since so many of its sprawling plotlines are close to being tied up. And I think the show knows that its fans will realize that Penguin can't be totally written off, after becoming such a major character. Oswald Cobblepot is certainly the third-biggest character, after Jim and Bruce, and he's had one of the most compelling arcs — particularly this season — as he's fallen in love with Ed Nygma, his closest friend and former assistant.
When Ed realized that Oswald had actually passed his test, and was prepared to sacrifice himself in order to save his beloved friend, you could see his mind churning. I wish Cory Michael Smith was allowed to express himself with more than a clenched jaw twitch lately, but it seems the best way for the Riddler to express his grief is by glowering and correcting people by grunting "Isabella" every so often. I'm looking forward to seeing how he reacts to truly destroying Penguin and avenging Isabella, the girlfriend he knew and loved for a period of 96 beautiful hours.
As for Penguin, I don't think he'll simply die and disappear from the series. He could die and then be resurrected, by either Indian Hill or Jerome's crazy fans (not Dwight, though, since he got pretty thoroughly blown up). He could also figure out a way to survive, as he did once before, by swimming away, or he could be rescued by someone. Personally, I'm pulling for Ed to change his mind and save Oswald, leading these two crazy supervillains to try and make a relationship work. Whatever Gotham comes up with, it will surely be worth waiting until April to find out.