‘Gotham’ Star Robin Lord Taylor on Oswald’s New Alliances and the End of #Nygmobblepot

Tommy Garcia/FOX

It has been a brutal year for the once (and future?) King of Gotham, Oswald Cobblepot (Robin Lord Taylor).

Not only has he failed to keep crush-turned-criminal colleague Ed Nygma (Cory Michael Smith) locked in a block of ice, he’s also lost his foothold on the city’s underground and served time in local hellhole Arkham Asylum.

Now free but basically forced to serve at the side of maniacal Jerome Valeska (Cameron Monaghan), poor Penguin could use a win…and it sounds like he might finally get one with a little help from his frenemies, of course.

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Cameron Monaghan tells us what his sort-of-Joker has in store for the city and its favorite sons.

We’ll let the always entertaining Taylor tell you about it, ahead of Thursday’s new episode “A Dark Knight: That’s Entertainment”:

Penguin is definitely in a pretty bad place right now, because Jerome has him kind of over a barrel.

Robin Lord Taylor: Yeah. Absolutely. In the beginning, when people started seeing Jerome and Penguin interacting, or when it was announced that they were going to, everyone was so hopeful for some buddy-buddy pairing up. “They’re gonna take on Gotham together!” But I knew from the get-go that that was absolutely never happening. Ever.

I think Jerome is more of an enemy to Oswald than pretty much anyone — I mean anyone that he’s dealt with in that regard. Jerome’s M.O. is chaos, he wants to tear it all down, whereas Oswald needs structure. He needs a city to lead. He needs people to manipulate. You [tear] this city down, there’s nothing logical to do.

So now Oswald is immediately looking to form alliances with all of the people that he has royally f**ked over.

That is many people.

Mm-hmm. [Laughs]

How does Oswald convince someone like Nygma or Lee (Morena Baccarin) to fall back in line with him?

I don’t know. How does Trump convince someone like Lindsey Graham to come on his side after he basically humiliated him in front of everybody? It’s more that it’s greater for the whole [if they work together].

Oswald feels like he can make a deal and they can all go back to hating each other in the future, but right now, what’s at stake is so much more important than anything that’s happened between any of these characters in the past. It’s more like they have a shared goal and that’s where it begins and that’s where it ends.

It’s not like they’re gonna bring Jerome down and then go have Sunday brunches together. They’ll go back to their respective corners.

Exactly right. It’s all just angling and politics. That’s what Oswald’s good at, because he does have an emotional intelligence. There is, deep down, some part of him that does care. I think that’s why he is able to re-enter everybody else’s life the way he does and to find a way to work with people.

Despite the fact that he and the Riddler are now co-competitors, I think it’s a testament to Oswald’s ability to learn and grow and use those connections that you have with people. It truly is the only thing he has left against Jerome and the Horribles, that’s his only tool in his arsenal.

Who else is he reaching out to?

People see him reaching out to Nygma and to Lee of course, we saw that. We saw he’s also aligned himself with Butch-slash-Grundy (Drew Powell).

He’s going to find a way to work with Barbara. He always does, which is also one of my favorite things. I love Erin Richards. I just think they’re such a fun dynamic there and there’s some fun interactions coming up, too.

Then, ultimately, the biggest one is James Gordon (Ben McKenzie). This episode, Jim and Oswald get back to the same way they have been since the pier scene in the pilot episode.

They do need in each other in a way.

Oswald and Jim are two sides of the same coin, but they have the same goal. That is control and order. How they go about it couldn’t be more different, but the fact that the goal itself is the same gives Oswald in a way, no bigger an ally than Jim Gordon. He uses that.

If we look at history, Jim has no greater ally than Oswald, as well.

I agree. Can he finally start acting like it? [Laughs] I think Oswald wants it that way forever. He’s not yet the full monstrous Penguin, there’s still a part of him that cares for Jim Gordon. Again, Oswald is loyal. Jim Gordon saved his life. I don’t think he’ll ever forget that. [But] he’ll definitely exploit it, and he does!

What is Oswald’s take on Nygma and Lee as a potential couple?

I think Oswald’s take is that it’s hilarious. I love the Lee-Nygma dynamic. Personally, I feel like, especially since Arkham, Oswald has embraced the Riddler side of Nygma’s persona and has also completely moved on from everything that happened in Season 3.

I think if Oswald could really break it down with Lee, he’d be like “Honey, I’ve been there. Good luck with that now. He’s a big old mess!”

So he and Ed are cool?

I think that’s where it is. The way his conflicts with Nygma were resolved, I really loved it because I thought it was very mature and it also acknowledged that they are who they are and they accept that.

They accept each other respectively and instead of fighting, they’re moving forward and they’re respecting each other’s boundaries and respecting each other’s friendships. That’s why he can be like, “Okay, good luck. Bye.”

What can you tease me as far as where we see Penguin at the end of the season?

What can I tease? I can tease that the lessons he has learned from being not just the “King of Gotham,” but also being mayor, all of those things are coming into place for him at the very end of Season 4, hopefully going into Season 5. I don’t wanna give any more of that away.

There’s also a betrayal that I personally had no idea was coming until we got the script. It’s incredibly emotional, and it’s also…one of those moments where I, as the actor, was pretty shook to my core. That’s all I can say about it. [Laughs]

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Gotham, Thursdays, 8/7c, Fox