Gotham’s Wrath of the Villains continues with “Mad Grey World.” It takes a while to come together, but the episode is actually a really brilliantly done plan. It does a great job of showing how dangerous one of Batman’s underrated villains can be, if you once again put aside the fact that most of the Bat-foes seem to be a generation older than the Dark Knight himself. I really applaud the writers on this one.
The show starts with Ed Nygma staging a crime with some props that look like they’re out of the 1960’s Batman show. It’s an elaborate little heist in the Gotham Art Museum, leaving behind a big green question mark. The Riddler’s signature, showing up at least a decade before Bruce dons the cowl. They really do play with the continuity on this show.
Since there was a bomb threat involved, Gordon and Bullock get assigned the case. At least, that’s Barnes’ rationale. Personally, I think they just get all the weird ones at this point. After assigning them the case, Barnes holds Gordon back to tell him that the Internal Affairs investigation into Galavan’s death has been reopened. This bodes ill for Jim Gordon. The IA case is back because of an anonymous tip with a lot of detail about how Galavan died. Nygma smirks as he sees Gordon rush off, far too busy to question Nygma about Miss Kringle’s disappearance.
In one of the weirdest scenes in a show with many of them, Penguin, freshly released from Arkham, pays a call on Butch and Tabitha. Penguin is acting like someone out of a 1950’s sitcom. It’s a really disturbing personality shift. He even compliments Tabitha on her imitation when she mocks Penguin’s mother’s cries of despair. Butch is dumbfounded, but eventually believes him. Tabitha is a bit less forgiving.
The museum crime scene has some hidden clues that leads Gordon and Bullock to a bombing at a train station. This, too, isn’t what it seems, but later we’ll see how nasty it is. Someone is absolutely brilliant. While trying to figure out the art heist and later bombing, Gordon has one of Bullock’s many questionable contacts trying to find out what IA has on him. Gordon is very understandably worried.
Elsewhere, Selena and Bruce drop in on Ivy. She’s growing magic mushrooms for a gang. Bruce doesn’t even know what those are. Seriously, what planet was this kid raised on? Did his parents and Alfred censor his access to newspapers, tv news, movies, and the net? He’s really getting ridiculously and, worse, unbelievably naive. Selena has a plan to rob the gang, and it doesn’t go well. Bruce takes a pretty impressive beating before he and Selena escape and his reaction to it actually sort of weirds out the gang and Selena both.
Penguin’s next social call is Ed Nygma. Penguin is a bit the worse for wear after Tabitha’s attentions. The two of them exchange some pleasantries, but Nygma is no longer telling Penguin everything. As Nygma himself says. “I’d share but the new you is freaking me out.” We do learn a few things about what’s been going on in some areas. Out of places to go, Penguin visits his mother’s grave. He gets another major surprise here, that looks like it will be a big part of next week’s episode. We do learn Penguin’s age, 31.
There is some brilliant behind the scenes maneuvering going on throughout the episode. It’s one of those things where you can look back at it and say, “Oh, that makes perfect sense,” but I didn’t see the end result coming. There’s a time jump within the episode with some very shocking results for one of the main characters. I won’t say what happens for spoilers, but it stuns a lot of people, and has a different effect on someone we haven’t seen in a bit. It’s a real mess of an ending.
What I liked: The secret plot that goes on throughout the episode is really well written. Not only do all the little intricate details make sense, but it comes together so nicely and cleanly. The writers outdid themselves here. There was some great acting, and reacting, by Penguin, Nygma, Butch and Tabitha especially. The Gordon/Bullock dynamic wasn’t quite the same as it’s been in the past, but they make a great team.
What I didn’t: We’ve now essentially seen Scarecrow, Riddler, and Mr. Freeze a long while before the Batman. I’m a geek, I admit it, but the veering off from continuity just bugs me. A lot. The ending should also negate a lot of the Bat’s later history. During the raid on the gang when Bruce and Selena get caught, did Ivy just get bored and wander off?
I’m going a low 4 out of 5 for this one. While the show had some flaws, the scheme really impressed me. To borrow a catchphrase from the 80’s, “I love it when a plan comes together.”