Gotham: A Bitter Pill to Swallow


Here’s Wayland’s take on Gotham’s 9th episode of season 2.  You can read Jamie’s take here and all Gotham posts here.

After last week’s very eventful episode, repercussions keep echoing throughout Gotham. “A Bitter Pill to Swallow” has lot of follow up and chaos as the players realign themselves. It’s also, on some levels, one of the more disturbing episodes they’ve done, and that says something on this show. 

Tabitha, wounded from her encounter with Gordon, walks through the streets of Gotham. Interestingly, there is at least one bit of what I’d call Joker graffiti. Tabitha gives a password at a dive bar and gets let into a club in back, filled with gaming tables and, apparently, assassins. Tabitha takes a contract out with “the Lady,” who is never named but runs the place. The Lady is played by Michelle Gomez, probably better known to my fellow sci fi geeks as Missy, the current incarnation of the Master on Doctor Who. Amusingly, I could see them being the same character. Missy would probably enjoy the corruption of Gotham and running a club of assassins. Tabitha, after revenge on a few fronts, takes out a contract on Detective James Gordon.

Gordon stops in at the hospital to check on Barbara. She’s still unconscious, and is due to be shipped out to Arkham’s medical wing. Because nothing bad ever happens there, right? Gordon seems to have mixed emotions as he talks to the doctor and looks at her through the window.

In what’s probably the weirdest storyline this week, Nygma has brought Penguin back to his place after finding him suffering from gunshot wounds in the woods. They make a very odd pair. Penguin is despondent and ready to give up. Nygma is gleeful in his newly discovered insanity.

At GCPD, Gordon rifles through his own desk, which is sort of funny to see. Lee ends up walking up behind him and passing him the cell phone he was looking for. She makes some good jokes about her snoring before they get around to bickering about his visit to Barbara and his flirting with his dark side. She’s worried about him, not in an annoying girlfriend way, but in a very rational, caring way that they do a good job of showing.

Tensions are running high at Wayne Manor as well. Things are not well between Bruce and Alfred, and Silver St. Cloud dropping by doesn’t do anything to help calm matters. If Alfred keeps up his behavior, however justified it might be, he’s going to get a reputation as being against girls in general, or a least those who show interest in Bruce. Silver leaves, slipping Bruce a key to her hotel room on the way out. That just seems really inappropriate on every level. They’re both way too young for that implication. Shudder. Bruce is furious. He intended to try and get information from Silver about his parents’ killer. Alfred assures Bruce he’s not ready for that challenge yet.

Gordon is going to Theo Galavan’s penthouse to meet up with Barnes to thoroughly search the place. He has what at first seems like an inane conversation in the elevator on the way up. Instead, it turns in to an assassination attempt. It’s one of the more comic-booky fights on the series so far, with flips up walls and a lot of brutal hand to hand. Gordon drags the would-be killer off the elevator, leaving Barnes wondering, “Who the hell is that?”

The Lady isn’t so easily thwarted, and sends a goon squad after Gordon and the few allies in the apartment- Barnes, and a rookie named Parks. The Strike Force seems to have vanished, as has Harvey. After the next big firefight in the penthouse, Gordon finds a monk’s habit hidden in a secret compartment in the wall. Gordon is halfway obsessed at this point in my opinion, but he holds it up (no gloves, bad for evidence) and says this might be the clue they need. That what, Galavan is a secret monk? That part really just doesn’t play well for me.

The Penguin/Nygma scenes get even creepier. Nygma is all thrilled, and bring Penguin a present, of sorts. Penguin is not receptive initially, but Nygma is clever and brings him around. These two teaming up is not going to be good for Gotham at all. Their scenes are twistedly amusing, in a sort of psychotic way. My only complaint is they used the Penguin waking up and/or threatening to leave bit a few times too many.

After more assassins fail, the Lady contacts someone who she threw out of her club a while back. Think about that a minute- the man was ejected from membership in a group of killers. That right there should tell you a lot about him. He is Eduardo Flamingo, and he’s one of the goofier additions to the Batman mythos in the last decade or so in my humble opinion. Flamingo is a savage, ruthless killer who enjoys beating, and eating, his victims. Between dealing with assassins and wounds, Gordon and Barnes bond a bit, with Barnes sharing a dark story from his time in the service.

Bruce and Alfred skirmish some more over Bruce’s plans, short- and long-term. At the moment, Alfred is mostly concerned about Silver. He’s also taking his role as Bruce’s trainer seriously, and being hard on him. Things are something of a stalemate between them, although Alfred has the upper hand. Bruce later escapes with some help from Selena, who says she wants to prove something to Bruce about Silver.

Nygma gives the weirdest version of a pep-talk to Penguin. It’s dark and twisted and a bit macabre, but he makes some good points (depending on how you define good anyway). Penguin eventually takes heart from Nygma’s maneuvering. So far, Nygma seems more like he’s going to go the serial killer route than becoming the Riddler.

Gordon has a huge climactic battle with Flamingo. It’s ugly, and brutal enough to be on Netflix’s Daredevil. Gordon goes right up to the edge of his dark side, but comes back. Of course, later he hears news that makes him regret not going darker.

The last few scenes are weird, even for this show. Galavan is not happy to hear what Tabitha has been up to, and threatens to cut her throat if she risks disturbing the plan again. Down on the docks, the monk Galavan met with before greets some reinforcements, who celebrate their arrival in Gotham in a way that goes very badly for a security guard at the waterfront.

What I liked: The Nygma/Penguin team is fun to watch, in a horrifying way. Nygma, played by Cory Michael Smith, is engagingly insane in a way Jerome the not-quite Joker never managed for me. Bruce’s determination is good to see, but is also makes perfect sense that Alfred is able to stay a few steps ahead of him at this stage in his life. Barnes’ story made him a lot easier to understand. Lee’s jokes about her snoring were really nicely delivered.

What I didn’t: Flamingo just seemed over the top. The weird hairstlye, 50’s pompadour with a pink accent, didn’t help. They also seem to be pushing Gordon a lot further into the darkness than he is usually shown, and it’s not sitting right with me. And where the heck was Harvey?

I’ll give this one a straight 3 out of 5. The fights were good, but there seemed to be some odd bits in the writing this go around.


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