Compared to the absolute batfuck insanity that was the episodes preceding it, tonight’s Gotham—titled “Things That Go Boom”—was a bit boring. Keep in mind, this is a wonky scale I’m grading on; with Gotham, “boring” just means the writers got through a whole hour without, like, having a hot air balloon full of nuns plunge into a wood-chipper. So, be aware that when I say this episode was a little “boring” I mean only one (1) mute orphan in a bow-tie died in a fiery explosion.
But even that was a mere ruse; it turns out that Penguin pulled the old dead orphan switcheroo (a classic) on Sofia Falcone as the latest move in the growing war for Gotham City. Setting up that all-out war took up the bulk of “Things That Go Boom.” On one side is Oswald himself, battling a crippling weakness for top-notch goulash and a strange attachment to Martine, the not-dead orphan, in order to maintain the grasp he has on the Gotham underground with his adorable, flightless bird wings. On the other is Sofia—now backed by Selina, Barbara, and Tabitha, who I don’t think has said a full sentence in three episodes—as she routinely exploits Oswald’s deep-seeded mother issues to move the King of Gotham exactly where she wants him.
In the middle is Jim Gordon, who spends a large chunk of this episode saying “I will not be manipulated” before immediately going on to be manipulated.
At least with Sofia, it makes sense. She and Jim had sex once in Miami, and 95% of the women Jim Gordon has ever had sex with have tried to kill him and/or get him killed. “You are the captain of the GCPD. Your men would follow you anywhere,” Sofia tells Jim, in tears. “Use the position I gave you and end this.”
Despite the fact that Sofia’s play here is so hollow it stars Kevin Bacon—and the fact that Jim says, out loud, he isn’t falling for Sofia’s trickery—he still goes to Penguin to threaten the crime lord with the “full force” of the GCPD. Penguin, not realizing that the “full force” of the GCPD looks like those videos where a bunch of pug puppies fight over one water bowl, settles things diplomatically.
To be fair, Jim is still having his own issues with an incarcerated Professor Pyg. Because Pyg and Jim (to the best of my knowledge) have never had sex, Pyg doesn’t want Jim dead. But he does want him to acknowledge him as a villain on par with Jerome Valeska or Fish Mooney. Jim isn’t having it; the GCPD captain is salty after discovering his nemesis is actually a man named Lazlo Valentin who permanently altered his features with surgery. After some low-key flirtatious tit for tat, Jim even gets Lazlo to drop his operatic facade for his natural southern twang. “There you are,” Jim says, at no point questioning whether this flamboyant criminal mastermind—who, I must repeat, once had his features permanently altered with high tech surgery—might be putting on some kind of act.
In the end, it doesn’t matter. Because Arkham Asylum is staffed exclusively with the dudes who flunked the GCPD exam, Valentin escapes by episode’s end. So, friends, that is where we are heading into next week’s Fall Finale. Professor Pyg and his pornstar-ass real name are on the loose, Oswald and Sofia are set to tear the city apart for supremacy, and Jim is struggling under the newfound pressure of being the GCPD captain during a full-on catastrophe.
And Bruce Wayne is, I guess, vomiting cherry Ciroc into a broom closet. The hero we deserve.