If you’ve been reading these recaps, you probably thought Gotham had left the rails some time ago. I did too! But only now do I see how much separation there is between this show and the rails. Honestly, Gotham may have gone so far off the rails at this point that it’s possibly broken through the atmosphere and has attained orbit.

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Please note that “off the rails” is not technically a value judgment. I’m not saying that Gotham is bad because it’s insane; I’m saying it’s bad because the characters don’t act anything like rational human beings. But it’s stayed entertaining despite its badness. It’s hard to be too concerned with the characters making understandable decisions when you can’t pick your jaw up off the floor.

“Mommy’s Little Monster” actually begins with a scene that inexplicably was not the end of last week’s episode. Penguin and his goons storm the warehouse where Butch has “discovered” Theo Galavan is holding Oswald’s mother. Surprisingly, his mother actually is there, but the deprogrammed Butch turns on Penguin, and then Tigress stabs the elderly woman, and Penguin’s mother dies in Oswald’s arms. Everyone kindly waits for Carol Kane’s lengthy death scene to finish, then Theo prepares to kill the grieving son. However Penguin, despite waddling at 4mph top, manages to escape by giving Theo a minor cut on the neck and then jumping out a window. It’s ridiculous.

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Somehow Theo, who has been newly elected mayor, uses this very minor wound to install a curfew, a state of emergency, AND martial law in Gotham City, something that didn’t happen when 1) politicians were getting full-on assassinated or 2) escaped lunatics were rampaging through the city committing mass murder. Theo doesn’t even bother to put a bandage on the damn wound! And Detective Jim Gordon finally decides something may be off about this Galavan guy. Ridiculous.

Penguin is still Public Enemy #1, so when word of Butch starting his own gang gets to GCPD, Gordon and Bullock check it out. Of course, they arrive right before Zsasz and his goons do, having been ordered by Penguin to kill Butch. Now, Zsasz never enters the building to confirm Butch is in there, but Gordon does announce that the GCPD is inside. Zsasz does not care whether he kills cops or not, and thus he and the Zsasz squad just start shooting into the building and… uh, hoping the people inside die, I guess? I mean, Zsasz and the others don’t even look through the windows while theyre shooting; they just fire randomly into the building walls. It is, in a word, ridiculous.

And yet it gets more absurd, because Butch’s gang—which was started like an hour ago—happens to have two massive, fully loaded assault rifles on hand. Gordon and Bullock grab these and just start shooting back at Zsasz... but also through the walls. I repeat: There is a shoot-out between cops and criminals that takes place with a goddamned building in-between them. It’s like the scene from Face-Off, except Zsasz and Gordon are easily 40 feet apartment from each other minimum, and neither of them have any idea where their targets are located. This is absurd.

During the firefight, Butch has admitted to Gordon that Theo Galavan hired the Penguin to kill the mayoral candidates and burn the Wayne buildings, and then killed Penguin’s mom. So Gordon finally knows what’s up when Galavan holds his victory party and the GCPD is there in force to protect the new mayor. Does the fact that all of Gotham City’s mayors and mayoral candidates have had attempts on their lives made almost constantly over the last few weeks cause people not to come to the victory party? Does the presence of about a million cops on the premises, including snipers on the building, keep people from attending this certain death trap? Of course not.

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In a twist that no one could have possibly foreseen, the victory party turns into a death trap. As promised, the Penguin and his goons arrive to… well, I was about to write “kill Galavan,” but really they’re there to commit mass murder. Penguin’s guys jump through the windows and start gunning down everyone they see. The wholesale slaughter of innocents is something Gotham portrays way too much, but at least in this instance it’s vaguely mitigated by the fact that all of Penguin’s goons have dressed up like the Penguin—even changing their hair—so it’s an army of nattily dressed, greasy-haired murderers running around murdering everyone willy-nilly This is nonsense.

Of course, the real Penguin is waiting for Theo and Gordon to escape the house, and thus he’s able to accost them while Gordon tries to lead the new mayor to safety. There’s a stand-off between Gordon and Penguin, where Gordon stupidly reveals he knows about Galavan’s machinations and the murder of Penguin’s mother in front of Theo himself. Penguin swears that either he or Galavan are dying this night, which is when Tigress shoots Penguin from the rooftop and Penguin immediately scuttles into a car and escapes.

So Gordon finally knows the true person responsible for Gotham’s latest calamities, except Theo is now mayor and is going to be pretty much untouchable. But he’ll definitely be able to make Gordon and the GCPD’s life hell. Good work, detective!

Do you realize all this nonsense has happened and we still haven’t gotten to Dr. Freeze and the arrival of Hugo Strange yet? We’re never seeing those rails again, guys.


Assorted Musings:

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• The Riddler storyline took a very unexpected turn, which is to say it basically became Fight Club. Apparently the Riddler persona took control of Nygma’s body when he was asleep and hid Ms. Kringle’s dead body in the GCPD morgue… but only after cutting off her hand and somehow sticking it in the back of a snack vending machine. And then the Riddler left clues for himself to find the body before someone else did and he got caught! I don’t know what’s crazier: that the Riddler would put himself in such needless danger, even as part pf a psychotic break; how he managed to put a severed hand in the snack machine; or that I actually kind of dig the idea of the Riddler’s first clues being left for himself.

• At the end of the episode, Nygma and his “Riddler” persona merge, so I assume he’s pretty much the Riddler now. We’ll see how long it takes Gordon to notice. Honestly, I’m guessing that he’ll be working for the GCPD for at least this entire season, probably more, murdering people all the while.

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• Meanwhile, Bruce and Silver St. Cloud are hanging out when Cat stops by and gets instantly jealous. Of course, Bruce leaves the room for a moment so that Silver can reveal her sinister side, so that Cat can later call her a slut in front of Bruce, which of course makes Bruce mad at Cat. Drama!

• Anyone else squicked out with the Bruce/Silver/Theo situation? I’m sure the show just wants us to believe that it’s all innocent puppy-love, but Theo is still sending a 13-year-old girl to basically seduce a 13-year-old boy, and it makes me very uncomfortable.

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• So not only does the Penguin get an army of goons to dress like him, do their hair like him, walk like him, and go on a murderous rampage, he’s also somehow convinced them all to die on his behalf, because they keep plodding up to Galavan’s house, even when they’re getting shot at, no matter who or how many faux-Penguins die. It is, if you’ll grant me one more use of the term, ridiculous.

• At this point, the Penguin has very definitely orchestrated the mass murder of many, many people, and should go to jail forever. Unless Gotham is going to feature Gordon trying to arrest Penguin for the rest of the series and Penguin somehow never talking to Gordon again—which seems unlikely—I have no idea how the show is going to get itself out of this corner. It will probably just ignore it completely. Any other theories?

• Here is your reminder that the young Bruce Wayne of Gotham is much more interested in girls than training to be a master vigilante. He’s clearly gotten over his parents’ brutal murder completely. Good for him!


Contact the author at rob@io9.com. Follow him on Twitter at @robbricken.