Gotham (2013) season 2, episode 21
"The Hammer or the Anvil"
WRITER: JORDAN HARPER
DIRECTOR: PAUL EDWARDS
AIR DATE: April 27 2015
‘The Anvil or the Hammer’ ties up the Ogre storyline that’s been playing out with the Gotham PD hunting down a serial killer, while setting the stage for the end of the season for Gotham. Other key plotlines play out against the primary storyline, involving several of the key characters, and lines are crossed.
The Ogre (Milo Ventimiglia) has Barbara (Erin Richards) in his custody - quickly revealing his psychotic side after their night together, but adding that he believes she’s the woman he’s been looking for all this time . He makes something of a sadistic proposal - she can name his next victim or be the next victim. Where they go from there is both startling, but also fitting with Barbara’s history. Things are done offscreen that leaves the audience with some questions. Gordon and Bullock (Ben McKenzie and Donal Logue) are busy searching for both of them, trying to pick up clues in more than one place, and a vital lead comes in an unexpected and eyebrow raising place, but which fits in with what we reasonably know about serial killers - before they escalate to killing, they have a history of violence preceding a murder spree. It’s Erin Richards who has the most difficult task among the cast this time out. Her Barbara Kean is not a terribly sympathetic character, hasn’t been through this first season, but that makes this episode, and her performance, more compelling. There’s the horror of her realization about what her new boyfriend is like which has to be conveyed, and she does that. There’s also the sense of a woman shattered not just by this particular event, but by months of personal upheaval. If this is her lowest point, one wonders where she rebuilds her life from here. Or can she even do that anymore? Richards brings these elements in mind to her performance. If the Ogre is the Hammer, does that make her the Anvil?
Of course that term can apply to other characters as their plotlines play out against the larger story. Edward Nygma (Cory Michael Smith) is in the aftermath of a terrible incident. It’s technically a crime, though the argument could be made that he was pushed into what he did, particularly since the victim in question really did have it coming. He’s occupied with covering his tracks in more than one way, and there’s more than a hint of the villain to come in the way he behaves. And yet there’s also something sympathetic in him.
Bruce (David Mazouz) continues his personal investigation of the corruption high up within Wayne Enterprises. His conversation with Sid Banderslaw (Michael Potts) appals him, particularly a revelation that his father was aware of illegal activities in the company but chose to ignore it. A critical first meeting, however, plays out as Bruce meets Lucius Fox (Chris Chalk), a tech genius and junior executive who’s sympathetic and morally centered. It’s a relationship that starts off in the right way, and points the way to the future for both characters.
Robin Lord Taylor has been the scene stealer in the entire series thus far as Oswald Cobblepot, aka the Penguin. It’s a performance that’s a pleasure to watch. He’s shown signs of the sociopath at times, but more often the devious opportunist, clever and resourceful in the worst of circumstances. He’s been playing all sides against each other, and it’s paying off this time out. Oswald plays out a gambit that ends in starting a gang war between the Falcone and Maroni factions, and it’s all the better in that no one realizes he’s pitting everyone at each other’s throats. It’s a masterful stroke, entirely fitting of the Penguin, and it sets the stage for the final episode of the season, a gang war in the streets of Gotham City. This cannot end well.