How the showrunners didn’t pony up the dough for the rights to use The Drifters’ “Up on the Roof” for this opener, I’ll never know. A well-dressed gentleman (Julian Sands) hoists his victim high above the streets of Gotham before fitting him with a noose. Having sufficiently scared the man out of his wits, the gentleman checks the rapid heartbeat of the soon-to-be-dead man before tipping him over the side.
Meanwhile, Maroni and Penguin celebrate Fish Mooney’s departure from Gotham (and to their understanding, her mortal demise). Too bad Mooney herself calls Maroni in the middle of dinner to reveal to him that Penguin has actually been with Falcone all along. Maroni’s just unsure enough to invite Penguin along on a road trip to sort him out.
Back on the rooftop, Bullock, Essen, and Nygma examine the crime scene. It seems the killer has hauled his victim back up to the rooftop by his noose after he died in order to do his own post-mortem examination. While Essen warns Nygma about messing with the medical examiner’s bodies, the more important warning here is aimed at Bullock. He’s standing a bit too close to the rooftop’s ledge for Essen’s comfort, especially considering the recently arrested Detective Flass still has a lot of friends in the department who might be holding more than a grudge.
Cat, who recently flew Bruce’s coop, is still squatting at Barbara’s apartment, but is soon caught when Gordon stops by to drop off his keys. Gordon plans to find another place for Cat to stay, but she sticks to her story about not having seen the Waynes’ killer, then flees out the window in her typical fashion.
Gordon pays another visit to Bruce after the visit from Selina to ask him about her change of heart. Bruce manages to call Gordon out on his failures, but does it in a way that is both practical and professional. Gordon hasn’t exactly made any progress, so Bruce and Alfred have chosen to figure things out for themselves.
At a countryside cabin, Penguin and Maroni share a conversation over some oatmeal. (Is anyone still seriously defending the show’s writing at this point?) Maroni is testing out the holes in Penguin’s various stories, such as why their fellow gangster got stabbed ten times in the middle of a gun battle. While Maroni is certainly putting out a threatening vibe, he hasn’t made his move just yet.
Back at GCPD, Scottie Mullen (Maria Thayer) drops by to visit Bullock. Why? Because she happened to be a sponsor for the late Mr. Adam Jodowsky (not Adan Jodorowsky), the recently hanged man. What support group, you ask? Don’t laugh, but it’s for folks who suffer from phobias. I said don’t laugh! (I wonder when the episode’s title character will make an appearance by name…) Bullock, after creepily asking if Mullen is Irish, makes a dinner date with her, to follow after the group’s next meeting. Bullock’s still smitten when Gordon shows up with a thin lead, one that ties the chair the dead man was hanged in to an out-of-business furniture company in the Narrows.
Right on cue, the well-dressed man (now holding a tiny, squealing piglet) kidnaps an older gentleman with the help of a towering henchman, a stun gun, and a panel van. You, too, can be a criminal in Gotham with a similar starter pack!
Back at the morgue, Nygma is defying Essen’s orders and is digging around in the corpse’s abdominal cavity. He’s literally caught red-handed. She suspends him indefinitely. (Have we finally gotten enough of an inciting incident for his villainous turn?) He soon breaks the news to his crush – Miss Kringle – who actually acts like a decent human being towards him, which is a rare occurrence for the socially awkward genius. (Later, he picks the lock on the medical examiner’s locker and stuffs it full of dismembered body parts. The M.E. gets caught with his hands full of … well, hands, and feet. Thanks to Nygma’s tricks, the M.E. gets fired, allowing Nygma to keep his job at least a little while longer.)
Bullock and Gordon walk through a dark, dusty, dilapidated warehouse and take the opportunity to talk about their various states of romance. A scream gets their attention, and a man wearing a pig mask and wielding a bloody knife holds it, at least until they shoot him dead. (Hello, Professor Pyg! Sort of.)
The man Bullock and Gordon rescued is currently at Gotham General getting treatment, and they’ve connected him to the same phobia group as the previous victim. Gordon attempts to ask Nygma about the post-mortem abdominal wound, but Essen breaks the bad news about Nygma’s suspension. (And she and Gordon share a nice, but brief moment.)
While Maroni is gathering firewood (quaint!), Penguin arms up by lifting the gangster’s gun from his bag. The two swap secrets at the fireside like a couple of kids at camp. Maroni shows his hand, Penguin shows his gun, and points it at the mob boss, an odd choice rather than playing it smart in an attempt to prove his (false) loyalty to Maroni. Too bad the smarter man loaded the gun with blanks, expecting just such a betrayal. Maroni repays Penguin’s lack of loyalty by putting him in a new car … a new car that happens to be in a crusher. Penguin’s got just enough time to make a cellphone call to Maroni, claiming that he wasn’t lying about Falcone’s plan to control Indian Hill and Arkham Asylum, thereby controlling Gotham. Maroni isn’t buying it. Penguin makes another savvy (if dubious) call to the man who operates the car crusher and makes a last-ditch effort to escape by threatening the man with the wrath of Falcone should Penguin die. Against all odds, it works. And against those same odds, Penguin manages to make it out alive, woken up on the side of the road by a church group. They bring him along on their bus bound for Gotham.
Gordon takes a page out of Bullock’s book and meets Dr. Thompkins for dinner – too bad he is all business and wants to talk to her about the case. (No sane man turns down Morena Baccarin.) Though Gordon admits the case was a pretext for seeing her, she offers to help him with it anyway. A phone call interrupts their date, telling Gordon that the second phobia victim has woken up, and that there’s still a second kidnapper running loose. At the phobia group’s meeting, Bullock unknowingly bumps into the well-dressed killer himself. Calling himself “Todd,” the man confesses his crippling fear of failure, and the greater fear that he’s passing that phobia on to his son. “Todd” runs out of the meeting, distraught; well, actually, it’s to kidnap Miss Mullen, a fact that Bullock figures out just a few beats too late.
Bullock and Gordon track the killer to a specific pool where Mullen nearly drowned as a child (thanks to intel from her mother, of course). “Todd” plans to drown Mullen, but he will only do so after he’s extracted every ounce of fear-driven adrenaline out of her body. “Todd” is briefly interrupted by his son Jonathan (Hello, Master Crane) before tossing the bound body of Miss Mullen into the pool to drown. The good guys arrive; Gordon runs down the killer in a boiler room while Bullock rescues the girl. Mullen lives, but “Todd” gets away.”
Dr. Thompkins tells Gordon what Nygma could not: that the first victim’s adrenal glands were missing, “essentially, the fear gland.” Her theory is that the killer wanted to jack up the cortisol levels in the glands before excising them from the body. Gordon is so impressed with her work that he lets her know about the Medical Examiner position that recently opened up. They share another kiss in as many episodes.
And then, to end this first-parter in the oddest of ways, we cut to Fish Mooney lounging in the captain’s cabin while gunfire and fighting rages outside her door. The captain appears to whisk her off to safety, but he’s quickly killed, replaced by a fierce, pirate-looking fella. Mooney seems to either recognize him or recognize his threat – and vice versa – because they instantly charge each other … in one of the show’s silliest moments yet. What is going on here…
Wayne’s Coming of Age: While Master Wayne didn’t get a lot of screentime tonight, David Mazouz (and Sean Pertwee’s Alfred) made the most of it. Bruce releasing Gordon from his promise (and thus, the plot from this promise as well) shows not only maturity, but early shadows of the self-reliant man the young boy is to become. I’m also happy to see that he’s stopped crying over Selina (for now).
Gordon’s Quest: Gordon hasn’t done much in the way of tracking down the murderer of Thomas and Martha Wayne, but he has started to chip away at some of the corruption in the GCPD. Flass was probably just the start, and already both the stalwart cop and the normally grimy, dingy city he lives in are starting to lighten up.
Bullock’s Path to Redemption: I certainly don’t feel as if Bullock’s earned his wise-crackin’ good guy status at this point, but I do believe that Donal Logue deserves more moments like the mini-monologue he shares at the phobia support group. And it’s nice to see him rescuing the girl for once rather than just knocking her out.
Penguin’s Rise to Power: I’m torn on this one, mostly because Robin Lord Taylor remains the most interesting player on this show, but his characters plot turns are starting to go rotten. He’s cleverest in the most absurd of moments, and downright chum-headed during the times he needs his intellect the most. And how many times will he be left for dead only to rise and trip back into Gotham proper via some Deus ex machina? I thought Cat was supposed to be the one with nine lives…
★★★ Good — Proceed with cautious optimism.
(An explanation of our ratings system follows here.)
Nygma: “The more you cut me, the bigger I grow.” Bullock: “We’re on a rooftop, Nygma; don’t tempt me.” Nygma: “Hole. I’m a hole.”
Okay so the Fruit Brute cereal box appearance is my favorite thing on this show so far. Make of that what you will.
Maroni: “We all got our talents, right?” Penguin: “Yes we do.” Maroni: “Me? I’m deceptively quick for a big guy.”
Miss Mullen: “Detective Bullock?” Bullock: “That’s my name. Don’t wear it out.” Seriously?
Essen: “Get your hand out of that corpse. Now.”
Bullock: “I’m a cop. The only thing I’m scared of is decaf coffee.”
“Todd”: “First time?” Bullock: “Yeah. You?” “Todd”: “No, I’m a regular.”
Bullock: “I’m afraid every day. I’m afraid I’m going to die in an alley, bleeding out while some scumbag goes through my pockets and laughs at me. And I try to speak but nothing comes out, and I just lie there, staring at a small space of sky between the buildings. And then I die. Alone. I don’t want to die alone in some gutter. I want to die in a warm cozy bed, in the arms of some beautiful woman.”
“Todd”: “Jonathan, I said to wait in the van.” Jonathan Crane: “Parking meter ran out.”
I already like Gordon and Thompkins better than any other relationship they’ve tried to force on this show, but good things probably won’t last on this show.
Although comicbook fans will certainly recognize the titular villain of this episode, is he ever actually called by name in the entire hour? Guess we’ll have to wait for “Part Two”…