WARNING: The following article contains spoilers for this week's episode of Gotham, "Nothing's Shocking," which aired Thursday on Fox.
Throughout its five seasons, Gotham has featured many villains we've seen on the big and small screen before, but every now then, the series has taken the time to bring to life lesser-known Batman antagonists who have never been adapted to live-action. It happened with Mother, Magpie, Hugo Strange and Jane Doe, and now comic book fans have finally witnessed the debut of Scarface.
We've known for a while now that Gotham had plans to introduce the Ventriloquist and his psychotic puppet to the series' impressive roster of Batman villains. But even so, it's a pleasant surprise to see a version of the character that so disturbingly close to his comic incarnation.
Introduced in 1988's Detective Comics #583, and created by John Wagner, Alan Grant and Norm Breyfogle, Scarface is inherently an incredibly silly character. He is, after all, a puppet who fancies himself a mob boss. But if there is one place where silly works best, it's Gotham, and this version of the Batman villain fits right in.
His design is perfectly creepy, and his personality (brought to life by Arthur Penn's Ventriloquist) is so clear that you actually start to see Scarface as an actual character, and not just a dummy controlled by Penn. It's Muppet magic gone horribly, terribly wrong.
In the comics is, you sometimes wonder if Scarface isn't actually real and not just a delusion of the Ventriloquist. While the puppet most likely isn't sentient, there's just enough ambiguity to make you wonder, ambiguity Gotham uses to great effect.
Penn reveals that he discovered Scarface in an abandoned magic shop, which is just enough to have audiences wonder whether this is a cursed puppet or simply the focus of his delusion. The interplay between puppet and master is convincing, and Penn's relief when Scarface is finally removed from his control helps to build the mystery regarding the puppet's true level of autonomy.
Unfortunately, we'll likely never learn the truth. Not only is this Gotham's final hurrah, Penguin blows Scarface's head off and Riddler doesn't hesitate to kill Arthur at the end of the episode. But that's the thing about Scarface, isn't it? Whether he's "alive" or not, he can always return at the side of a new Ventriloquist...
Airing Thursdays at 8 p.m. ET/PT on Fox, Gotham stars Ben McKenzie as James Gordon, Donal Logue as Harvey Bullock, David Mazouz as Bruce Wayne, Robin Lord Taylor as Penguin, Camren Bicondova as Selina Kyle, Erin Richards as Barbara Kean and Sean Pertwee as Alfred Pennyworth.