[Warning: The following contains heavy spoilers from Monday night's Gotham. Read at your own risk.]
The Penguin returns!
Oswald Cobblepot (Robin Lord Taylor) broke through Hugo Strange's (BD Wong) brainwashing on Monday night's Gotham in spectacular, horrifying fashion. Once Oswald discovered that it was Grace (Melinda Clarke) who poisoned his father Elijah (Paul Reubens), his sense of reform and "sanity" disappeared and all bets were off. The Penguin served Grace her two children as a roast dinner before stabbing her to death.
It was bloody, gruesome and made you sincerely wish you weren't eating while the episode was playing. While the Penguin was a large fan of violence and torture before, cooking two teenagers and serving them to their mother felt like a new brand of vindictive for the famous villain. Robin Lord Taylor talked to TVGuide.com about the "new" Penguin and what's in store for everyone who has wronged him.
How is this version different from the Penguin before he went into Arkham Asylum?
Robin Lord Taylor: Having been so changed and so different and experiencing the world with different eyes in a way, snapping back to who he was before is so traumatic for him. He felt so much pain and because he was so different, part of that brainwashed Penguin is coming with him. In a way, he's experiencing the world completely differently for the second time. Yes, there is vindictiveness there. There's also pieces of this kind of fractured, kind Penguin that is coming with him. That makes the pain of this experience even more acute for him. That's why he really goes for it when he figures out who he is and what has been done to him.
Can we expect him to go after Hugo Strange after what's been done to him or is he somehow grateful for what's happened?
Taylor: He definitely sees Strange as someone he needs to settle a score with. Hugo Strange has now rocketed to the top of Penguin's sh-- list. At the same time, he is changed... He wants Strange to be punished, but he's still going to take [knowing his father] with him. It's still going to inform who [Penguin] is going forward.
If Strange is at the top of the list, where does Jim Gordon [Ben McKenzie] sit?
Taylor: Jim is up there. Penguin still really does have some affection for Jim. In a way, [Penguin] took the fall for Jim kind of expecting that Jim would come to his side at some point — Jim never did, but having come out of it, I feel Penguin would still see Jim as a potential ally. They are so connected. Their two lives are so intertwined. The whole reason Penguin is still alive is because of Jim. For that, he'll always somewhat owe Jim his life. It would always be a relationship that Penguin would use until the very end — for his own gain.
What are Penguin's goals now that he's snapped out of the brainwashing?
Taylor: He wants to come back to where he was. This whole experience has been so humbling for him — the fact that he was King of Gotham and lost everything, including his personality and his sanity and his father. He's lost so much. The first thing that's going to happen is he's going to re-evaluate his strategies and try to learn from the mistakes that he made in this last season so when he comes back to being King of Gotham, people won't be able to get one over on him so easily. He became the most human this year, and yet because of that going forward he will become the most ruthless animal he can possibly be. It's a balance between the two.
Is there a way for Penguin to be happy, or has he lost too much for that to be possible?
Taylor: There's that scene with Nygma [Cory Michael Smith] where [Ed] tells him, "Because your mother is dead, you are unchained. You're free. You're free to do whatever you want and you don't have to listen to anyone else." That's where Penguin was, but then going through all of this with Strange and meeting his dad and experiencing love for the second time in his life — there's part of him that would really like to be loved. It's so deep in there. The only way he feels he can get to that is to be even more powerful than he was before. I could see him being an even more public figure than he was before.
What is the biggest difference between Penguin at the start of Season 2 and where we'll see him in the finale after everything he's been through?
Taylor: The biggest difference is the fact that he has been incredibly humbled; part of that humility, part of that emotional damage that was done to him will always be carried forward. There is going to be something so much more sympathetic about him even as he devolves into this monster. There's sympathy there because of what he's been through and people will see that going forward.
Gotham airs Mondays at 8/9c on Fox.