If you watched last this week's Gotham, you saw a curious sight: Oswald Cobblepot, aka Penguin, man of the people. Granted, those people were an angry mob he was leading to lynch the monsters led by Fish Mooney, but he was nonetheless a fearmongering populist who had his finger on the pulse of a fearful public.
And beginning next week, on the Oct. 3 episode, titled "Look Into My Eyes," Oswald seeks to capitalize on that power. In an exclusive revealed to a small group of press who visited the set in August, we can confirm that Oswald (played by Robin Lord Taylor) will kick off a candidacy for mayor of Gotham under a promise to "Make Gotham Safe Again."
If that sounds a bit "ripped from the headlines," it's no coincidence.
"Oswald is someone who comes to power through manipulation, and manipulation of people’s fears," Taylor told me on set. "What we’re seeing here is a reflection of what’s happening now, and someone who has no political office, has shady business dealings, is a master manipulator of everyone around him."
Taylor goes on to say Oswald's platform and stump speech will be one "based on a platform built on fear, fear of the other." Moreover, he adds there is a direct comparison to the presidential election, and while he never uses the name of Donald Trump in our interview, he strongly suggests that the Oswald campaign borrows from Trump's "Make America Great Again."
He adds, "It makes our show more relevant than it has ever been," but cautions, "When Gotham City starts to reflect the world we live in, it’s really f---ing scary."
Of course, this isn't the first time Penguin has run for mayor, and actually connects nicely to the character's previous antics on screen, and in comics.
In the 1966 episodes of Batman, "Hizzoner the Penguin" and "Dizzoner the Penguin," he saves a baby, foils a robbery, catches crooks, becomes a hit at big rallies (featuring hit music act Paul Revere and the Raiders, no less), and just nearly beats Batman as the new mayor of Gotham City. And in the 1992 Tim Burton-directed film Batman Returns, which certainly influences the tone of Gotham, Danny DeVito's Oswald is convinced to vie for the same office after being encouraged by villainous mogul Max Shreck (Christopher Walken). Within comics, he was mayor in Geoff Johns' Batman: Earth One series, as well as in the Forever Evil arc.
So will the citizens of Gotham -- scared from monsters and other bizarre villains roaming the streets -- take the bait and elect Oswald?
Tune in to find out, and watch this space for more from the cast of Gotham, and their reaction to Penguin for mayor. The episode, "Look Into My Eyes," airs Monday, Oct. 3, at 8 p.m.
The official synopsis
Hypnotist Jervis Tetch/Mad Hatter (Benedict Samuel) arrives in Gotham to search for his sister, Alice (guest star Naian Gonzalez Norvind), and hires Gordon to help find her. Meanwhile, Penguin decides to run for mayor and Bruce’s doppelganger begins to channel him, causing some confusion around town in the all-new “Mad City: Look Into My Eyes” episode of GOTHAM airing Monday, Oct. 3 (8:00-9:01 PM ET/PT) on FOX. (GTH-303) (TV-14 L, V)