Note: since this episode (season 1, episode 13) was aired yesterday, the following contains many spoilers. Don't read further if you want to stay virgin when watching it.

The plot of the episode is mainly about the murder of a protected, and Gordon promptly comes to suspect some policemen but lacks support from his colleagues. He decides

to ask Penguin for help. When arriving at Penguin's place, Penguin welcomes him as a friend, whereas Gordon acts coldly towards Penguin. Why does Penguin consider Gordon as a friend, and why does Gordon think he would help? Why didn't he search for Harvey Dent's help? Gordon doesn't really like Dent's arrogant behavior and their last collaboration ended badly, which was Dent's fault, but they share the same ideal of justice. Better asking the help of another servant of the law than a quite psychologically unstable criminal...


Especially seeing the end of the episode: how could he be surprised that an outlaw would use dirty means to reach his goal?

I think I missed something important about the characters' development in earlier episodes. Could someone explain me the current relationship of Gordon with the characters in the spoiler part?

  • 1
    The dark side is seductive and inviting. – Gorchestopher H Jan 27 '15 at 14:20

There are (obviously) no direct answers to any of your questions, but here's my take on them, in order:

Why does Penguin consider Gordon a friend?

He doesn't. Penguin treats everyone with the same submissive-yet-condescending attitude in any situation where he has the advantage (His occasional interactions with Fish while under Maroni's protection, for example), as he does in this case. It's important to remember that Penguin never deals with someone who can hurt him unless he wants something, and Penguin wants something from Jim: favours.

What Penguin is doing in this episode is establishing himself as someone Jim can trust. Penguin knows that Jim wants to reform the GCPD, and he knows that Jim will be going up against Falcone in the process. By establishing himself as Jim's go-to guy, he can milk favours out of the rising star.

This is exactly what happens in season 1 episode 18, "Everyone Has a Cobblepot". Jim needs information that only someone in Falcone's network can provide, and wouldn't you know it: Jim knows a guy deep in Falcone's organization who's willing to squeal, in exchange for a favour.

In light of that, Penguin's attitude towards Jim in "Welcome Back, Jim Gordon", specifically when he says:

Penguin: Friends don't owe friends, Jim. They do favours because they want to.

Suggests a sales tactic. The message to Jim is "You can have this one for free, but then you start owing me."

Why does Gordon think Penguin would help? Why not ask Harvey Dent?

I'm lumping these together because the answer is mostly the same: Gordon is desperate, and in a very tough situation. He can't go to Dent for one big reason, even beyond the fact that Dent has proven untrustworthy: there's very little that Dent, a legal official, can do in this situation.

Gordon tried the up-and-up approach earlier, when he raided the stash house, and that failed spectacularly. The "Narcotics investigation" alibi is a good one, and gives Flass and his guys a lot of room to move; literally any drug-related activity can be attributed to this investigation, and the kickbacks going up the chain ensure that nobody hears any different. What's an ADA going to do about any of that?

No, Gordon needs to go Dark Side for this. For that, he needs a criminal he can trust. In other situations he might go to Fish, but obviously that's not going to work for him. He probably feels like he can't go to anyone in the Falcone family, or he's too proud to after his last run-in with them.

That leaves the Maroni family, but he can't just walk into Maroni's restaurant and ask for favours. Penguin is a lowlife in Maroni's gang (as far as Jim knows), with whom Jim has a relationship. He doesn't know if Penguin will help, but he has no other options.

Why was Gordon so surprised at the end of the episode?

My interpretation of that scene was that Gordon had convinced himself that the ends justified the means, but seeing the results of his actions directly,

the formerly-untouchable Delaware quaking in his boots, literally begging Gordon not to hurt his family,

means Gordon can't ignore it any more. I interpreted the scene not as surprise at Penguin's actions, but as the realization that he's become as bad as the people he's trying to take down.

  • A good assessment of the episode and the character motivations. Guess I won't have to try and answer this one... :) – Thaddeus Howze Feb 22 '15 at 5:34
  • In the pilot, Gordon spared Penguin's life. I'll have to re-watch the episode, but didn't Penguin imply to Jim "now we're even" or something? – tilley31 Mar 3 '15 at 17:53
  • @tilley31 As I recall, Penguin repaid that debt when he walked into the GCPD in (I believe) "The Balloonman" and saved Jim from being arrested for murder – Jason Baker Mar 3 '15 at 17:58
  • Thanks. I knew the debt was considered paid, but didn't remember in which episode. – tilley31 Mar 3 '15 at 18:11

I interpreted Jim's surprise at the end of the episode the same way. He was mortified, not surprised, that he had done a good thing but the means were dirty...just like the bad guys or at the very least like Dent, even if he was not aware of that at the time. He felt that he cannot win, there will always be a price.

  • Hello and welcome to SFFSE! We appreciate your input, but you are providing your personal interpretation without any sources to support your view. If you could find some material to support your views, this answer would be far stronger! – Often Right Mar 25 '15 at 3:57

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