For Gotham’s mid-season finale, not a whole helluva lot happened. Sure, Bruce learned a few new lessons about life, love, and balance. Yes, Alfred finally got to show off just how badass he can be. Everyone else, however, somehow managed to take a step backwards during what is meant to be an hour that drives full force into a cliffhanger ending. Some shows know how to do this; Gotham is not one of them. However, if there’s one saving grace for the series at this point, it’s that the writers have chosen a rather interesting twist to befall the lead character.
Hit the jump for our Gotham recap.
When this episode abruptly begins, the poor landscaper working at Wayne Manor is brutally murdered by a female assassin, who then has one of her lackeys cut his chest open so that she can wipe his blood across her brow. (Neat?) Meanwhile, Bruce is working on his balance with Selina. She tries to explain to him that he shouldn’t question the death of his parents, simply because these things happen. Jumping off from that romantic topic, the two pre-teens dance around sharing their first kiss, which ends with Bruce insulting her.
Moments later, the assassin comes calling at the front door, pretending to be the victim of a car accident. Selina recognizes her and vice versa, leading to Alfred telling the kids to run while he single-handedly takes the team on. While Alfred holds his own, Bruce and Selina run from the bloody assassin, with Cat leading the way. Alfred tries to gun down the assailants and manages to take one out, but also catches a bullet in the arm for his trouble.
Selina gets Bruce to safety and promises to get him a phone to contact Alfred as soon as she gets him hidden within the city, a plan that seems exceedingly dangerous. She also mentions that perhaps the assassins were after him instead of her, due to all of his detective work. Once they’re in the city – a most dangerous city, if the series’ own mythology is to be believed – Selina abandons him after telling Bruce the assassins were actually after her. She also drops the truth bomb that she had never planned to testify against his parents’ murderer. Bruce follows her up a fire escape to a rooftop and attempts to make the long jump between the buildings. He somehow makes the impossible leap, saved at the last second by Selina, who offers to take care of him now that he’s earned her respect.
She takes him to an underground club for youths called the “Flea”, where Bruce gets a change of clothes and makes acquaintances with Ivy (Clare Foley). She’s a little crazy and socially awkward, but with the death of her father and the suicide of her mother, perhaps that’s to be expected; still no hint of the homicidal plant-lover she’ll one day become.
Selina takes Bruce to a fence who makes his home in a place called the “Factory” in the Narrows. She tries to pawn some stuff to him for a cool grand, but he has his goons take her and Bruce away instead. They lock them up in roofless part of the building in order to keep them there until the assassins show up to claim them. (Did they not know about Cat’s abilities before this?) While the assassins approach, Selina and Bruce try to MacGyver their way out of the room.
And, yeah, it was all just a waste of time as Selina conks an assassin on the head, and she and Bruce run past him into the room below. It’s a good thing the cops (and a very skilled butler) show up to save the day. Later, Selina pays Bruce a visit, returns the things she stole (minus one), and gives him a quick kiss before leaving.
After the initial attack on Wayne Manor, Gordon and his team arrive, but they appear to do more harm than good. Gordon and Bullock end up fighting between themselves until Alfred more or less knocks their heads together in order to get them to focus. As Gordon goes to talk to Dent about Lovecraft to see if he’s behind the violence, Alfred joins Bullock in scouring the streets.
Gordon finds out from Dent that the lawyer leaked his name, which allowed the assassins to link him to Selina. Rather than knock his teeth in, Gordon goes to investigate a couple of Lovecraft’s properties. He finds Lovecraft, but not in the manner he expected. The billionaire is telling Gordon that he’s not the biggest cog in the wheel, that those who really run the city are doing it behind closed doors and laughing at Gordon while he’s running around playing hero. Before Lovecraft can reveal to Gordon what he knows, the assassins show up. Gordon takes them on and Lovecraft runs for it. Gordon’s no match for the lead hitwoman, but she leaves him alive. He wakes to find Lovecraft dead of a single gunshot wound to the head, one delivered by Gordon’s own gun. Rather than run, he calls it in … and then he runs.
He shows up at the Factory in time to save Bullock from one of the assassins, but it’s Alfred who ultimately saves Bruce. Gordon, who doesn’t do a whole lot right in this episode, now faces the Mayor in a battle of semantics over the death of Lovecraft. Mayor James stresses that Lovecraft’s death was a suicide, and that Gordon will take the fall for trying to stir up trouble. While Harvey Dent is allowed to stay put since he knows how to walk the line, Gordon’s being reassigned to Arkham. This is the first of Gordon’s plot turns that I actually enjoy, since it should give McKenzie the chance to add a much-needed wrinkle to Gordon’s character. In fact, this episode’s close gives a nod to that very idea, so I’ll certainly be tuning in in January to see how it all works out.
I like Bullock partnering up with Alfred, especially when they interrogate an informant using the slightly less well-known tactic of Bad Cop / Rich Cop. Later, they pay a visit to Fish’s club and chat up Butch. Alfred tells Butch a little story about a whiny boy he used to know named Butch … before taking him down and putting a knife to his throat. That gets Fish’s attention. Alfred makes his introductions and treats Fish much more kindly than he did Butch, which appears to win her over. It’s easily my favorite scene with Pertwee’s butler so far. Unfortunately, it also serves to highlight just how much of a caricature Logue’s Bullock has become. If his lack of character development continues in this manner, there’s little chance that he’s going to be allowed to achieve anything close to redemption.
Penguin’s Rise to Power:
Penguin finds himself a guest of Don Falcone, who interrogates him about Maroney’s knowledge of where Falcone kept his money. Penguin swears it wasn’t Maroney who pulled the heist, and tells the Don that he’s got a mole in his organization. He makes a good point that Fish is not to be trusted, but Falcone is confident that he can handle her and isn’t too eager to lose the money she brings in. Falcone tasks Penguin with finding proof of the mole. Much like the audience at this point, one of Penguin’s goons asks him why he didn’t just tell Falcone about Liza. Penguin calls her a time-bomb and wants to wait until the right moment.
It seems that Penguin’s story has gotten under Falcone’s skin, since the mobster shows up in a smash cut to Fish’s place where he executes one of her confidants (and his oldest friends) at their dinner table. The group dines while the dead man bleeds out into his bowl of soup. This is the last we see of Penguin in this episode, which is unfortunate since Lord Taylor’s performance and his character’s arc have been the most interesting of the lot so far.
This is a really disappointing showing for Gotham, a show that started with such potential which has only managed to squander it a little bit more each week. It feels as if they’re still waiting to really get started. A young Bruce being trained by Alfred makes sense, but having a young Catwoman be his teacher in love and street skills seems very forced. Bullock started off strong as a dirty counterpoint to Gordon’s nobility and honor, but has gradually become “that guy who yells a lot and has bad one-liners.” Penguin remains the most interesting of the villains, but has too little to do in each episode to carry them along. The struggle between the mob bosses could be a great central conflict if it actually progressed at all instead of just sputtering along in neutral. Honestly, at this point, even the action scenes and fight sequences seem stale and unoriginal. It almost makes me miss the Balloonman. Almost.
- Bullock: “I know this girl. She was nabbed by the child grabbers, and now she’s getting attacked by assassins at freaking Wayne Manor?! What the hell is going on?”
- Bruce: “Thank you. I appreciate your help.” Selina: “Hey, just trying to be nice.”
- Bullock: “Dammit, Alfred! Save your cheese! I can beat the truth out of this kid with a roll of quarters!”
- Selina: “You gotta be like smoke. Smoke doesn’t make phone calls.”
- Is the “Flea” from the comics at all? If not, I really like the idea of an underground hangout for juvenile delinquents, especially those who will one day antagonize the Batman.
- Gordon: “Mayor James, kiss my ass.”
See you in January, I guess. If I’m way off base about Gotham, be sure to let me know about it in the comments, and if I’m spot on, feel free to do the same!