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Warning: major spoilers ahead for the series finale of Gotham.
Gotham spent five seasons building characters with familiar names into the iconic heroes and villains from the pages of DC Comics and many DC adaptations. The series finale finally delivered Batman, although he was never officially given his famous moniker. The new Selina was Catwoman in all but name, Jeremiah was more Joker-esque than ever. One of the biggest transformations of Gotham's run saw Penguin change from Fish Mooney's umbrella boy to criminal kingpin of Gotham City.
Penguin was clearly still a bad guy at the end of the penultimate episode, as he reaffirmed his determination to rise to the top of the criminal element despite aligning himself with the likes of Jim Gordon and the GCPD against Bane. Still, it wasn't until the finale sprung him from Blackgate prison after ten years to stew over what Jim did to him that he really became the Penguin that many viewers have been expecting all along.
Actor Robin Lord Taylor, who already revealed his thoughts about what happened to Edward the Dog, chatted with CinemaBlend about how Oswald finally became the true Penguin for the finale, saying this:
Hey, just because Penguin deserved to go to prison and had enough heroism to stand against Bane doesn't mean he would tolerate ten years in the clink very well! Almost as soon as he was out of prison, Penguin went after Jim, furious that the newly-minted Commissioner Gordon had thrown him behind bars. He forced Jim to the edge of a dock and put a gun to his head to reenact the moment from the series premiere when Jim had him in the same position, but with one key difference.
Jim didn't want to pull the trigger on Penguin, and so he let him go and set a series of events in motion that changed Gotham City forever. Penguin totally intended to pull the trigger and kill Jim. Fortunately, Jim got the jump on him and jumped into the water, escaping. Another revenge scheme bites the dust!
Oswald's transformation into the true Penguin for the finale was physical as well as mental and emotional. Despite Robin Lord Taylor's previous statement that Gotham's Penguin would never get fat like his comics counterpart, there was definitely some extra meat on his bones after his decade in Blackgate. Taylor explained how the show found a happy medium between the over-the-top look of comics Penguin and the original look of Gotham's Penguin for the finale:
Gotham isn't exactly a gritty crime drama, and considering that the finale was tasked with setting up a status quo in which a guy dressed like a bat fights crime, of course everything wasn't going to be played 100% straight, but the Gotham team still held back from getting too cartoonish with Oswald's new look as Penguin. Though he was a bit thicker in the middle after his time in prison, he wasn't quite as egg-shaped as Penguin in the comics.
Penguin was cartoonish insofar as he's one of the villains of Gotham with the most screentime, so of course he has some ridiculous layers to him. Part of what has made Gotham so unique has been its ability to combine the ridiculous with the dramatic. But the physical changes to him weren't played for laughs, and his experiences behind bars clearly impacted him in some serious ways.
Robin Lord Taylor went on to explain why Oswald became the version of Penguin that he is by the end:
There's a reason why viewers can root for Penguin and enjoy his antics in a way that they really can't for J, or Jeremiah and Jerome before him. Penguin always has a goal, and he does want connections and recognition from people he thinks highly of.
The various Valeska incarnations either wanted to watch the world tear itself apart or watch the world tear itself apart with Bruce Wayne by their side. Penguin's undoing is sympathetic, and he's definitely one of the many things I think a lot of people will miss about Gotham. Robin Lord Taylor and others shared what they're going to miss themselves about Gotham, and some comments may surprise you.
Sadly, Robin Lord Taylor's time as Penguin is done, but fans can see him in a brand new role in the second season of You on Netflix when that eventually premieres.