Gotham 3×12 Ghosts review AKA I’m hurt & can’t get up thanks a lot

I’m still alive. Barely. Oh god. Gotham hurt me. Again.

After an agonising December break, Gotham has finally returned to us. Not that they skipped even a day of torturing me personally via their Twitter. THANKS, GUYS. Almost makes me wish we’d never demanded gif compatibility.

Because I’m a deeply biased person who has only so many feelings to share around and all of them fixated, this review is primarily focused on Oswald Cobblepot. Mr. Penguin. Rightful Mayor of Gotham. Pengy.  🅗🅔🅛🅟 🅜🅔.

How does my hair look?

The little things. ~Gotham~ itself is one of the biggest characters in the show, and generally the creators spare little effort in filling this hideously beautiful city with the Gothic, well worn, tumble-down, macabre set dressings it deserves. In this episode the city & its props especially spoke to me in the forms of:

  • Oswald’s flip phone. This perfect piece of our past tells you – this isn’t our time – but also assures you that Gotham is technologically savvy place, full of black & white television; remote controlled secret doorways; high tech computers; and a stable electricity infrastructure that allows anyone and their enterprising lab assistant to pass thousands of volts through dead bodies without any noticeable affect on the city’s power grid. Also, flip phones are cute! Rihanna had one! x
  • The golf trophy. Wow. What a cliche of an item. The most perfectly bureaucratic thing to find on a civil servant’s desk (although not in my experience, but that’s another story), and of course Mayor Oswald immediately seizes it and bludgeons someone to death. And that’s all you need to know about Oswald’s leadership style. He will use, and in fact, is using bureaucracy as a blunt weapon. Anything will do.

Hearst media still owns pretty much everything, did you know?

Ed is missing, presumed depressed, at least according to his voicemail, which Oswald is featured calling desperately, tears in his eyes. Nothing is going well without Ed. Mayor Cobblepot can’t even walk into City Hall in peace. He firmly believes the public is about to turn on him at any moment. Also…Oswald is being haunted by his dead dad?

Surprisingly, outside of Oswald’s personal life, things aren’t actually that bad…a deputy chief of staff steps in with the full intention of serving the mayor to the best of his ability. Things are actually going well without Ed at the helm! Odd.

A nationally acclaimed reporter by the name of Hearst expresses an interest in interviewing Mayor Cobblepot.

That’s interesting! Just like the famous publisher, proponent of sensationalist media aka yellow journalism, media conglomerate, stunningly tasteless mansion builder (I’ve been: it’s fantastic, love the pool!),  and NEARLY a New York mayor. Idk. Just something nice to think about when you think about Ms Hearst’s sensational live interview.

Now, of course Oswald would never ordinarily have agreed to this live televised interview in the City Hall – he’s more of a staged tasteful photoshoot in his mansion guy, but there was a hefty carrot in action. National political attention. You know. The spectre of the presidency. And Oswald could imagine nothing better.


Attachment theory is everything

Now, if you know Oswald – and I think we know him at least a little after three seasons of bitter tears, you’ll remember that there are two big things that motivate him.

  1. Esteem, appreciation, success. That is…a public face of excellence. Fearless, intelligent, wise, well thought out, admirable. The mayor. The president. This is who Oswald wants to be.
  2. Co-dependency. He can’t help this one. It’s built into him like only attachment issues can be.

There’s nothing reaaaally wrong with over-attachment and co-dependency. So, he’s a one man dog. It’s a good time when your matched pair is on board.

In terms of co-dependant partners, initially Oswald was pretty well set up with his mum, Gertrud Kapulput, the perfect embodiment of Miss Havisham, and an excellent, if over the top secure base for Oswald to return to whenever in doubt.

Sadly, in the absence of his mother, he seeks a long line of potential secure bases, only to be denied over and over. 😥 Fish Mooney, Jim Gordon, Falcone, Maroni, Butch, his poor father, and now Ed. Son has had it rough!!!

Swallowed it: hook, line, and ghostly sinker.

So here we are.

  1. Oswald in the most publicly esteemed spot of his life, Gotham mayor.
  2. Oswald eliminates a threat to their co-dependency by murdering Isabella.
  3. Ed, the architect of this social climb, is not into co-dependency AT ALL.
  4.  Ed, as an intelligent individual who prides himself on knowing how other people work, has long ago pinpointed this exact intersection of Cobblepot vulnerability.

What could be a better revenge plan than picking on Oswald’s natural jumpiness and the loss of his last secure base (prior to Ed) than teasing him with a disappointed version of his dead father? Oswald cannot resist the call – it’s all too real, and he’s all too vulnerable.

Ed plays every note perfectly, cultivating the ultimate in play-offs between

  1. Oswald’s fear of failure and people disliking him  – the live interview – and
  2. Oswald’s compulsion to cling to people who have presented themselves as secure bases. Oswald is so dedicated to this drive that he’s in the habit of murdering people who threaten his relationships.

In the end it plays out as Ed knew it would: Oswald’s thirst for affection and meaningful personal relationships wins out against his drive for public esteem. It would be touching if it wasn’t the blow that destroyed the carefully constructed tower of everything Oswald had ever wanted.

RIP me.



Theories effectively destroyed by this episode:

  • That Isabella may have been Clayface.
  • That Clayface has with the Court of Owls or Fish Mooney all this time.
  • That Penguin can hold on to the mayoralty alone.
  • That Ed Nygma would never dig up your father’s decaying corpse and dump it in your office. Wow.
  • That Os & Ed are ever, ever, ever going to bury the hatchet & get back together. :/

Theories that may still stand:

  • Isabella was a clone.
  • Isabella was an Indian Hill reanimation experiment.
  • Ed will back-stab Barbara & co.
  • Penguin is still going to believe in ghosts for a little while…which is interesting.
  • Gotham is going to fuck Penguin & us up AGAIN.

In sad, sad conclusion

If anything is going to make you hang up your hopes and dreams for Oswald and Ed…it might be this episode. It cut me deep. It hurt. You really…you can’t come back from digging up someone’s dad. :/

Yeah, this is some bullshit queer-baiting the writers are mocking us with, but goddamnit, I held on because I just want Oswald to keep SOMETHING. Just one thing!!! Let him keep one good thing in his life! You fucking monsters! Anyhow, I’m looking forward to next week.



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