Bruce Wayne finds out some more secrets in “Pinewood,” the eighteenth episode of Gotham’s second season. We see a good bit more from several other cast members, and get quite a few surprises. There are also a few things that seem out of character to me, but we’ll get there.
The episode starts at the moment “Into the Woods,” left off. Barbara Kean is at Jim’s door (I think, more on that later), and Jim is utterly stunned. But not so much that he doesn’t draw his gun. I must admit, if I had an ex that had tried to kill me and my girlfriend show up at my door, I’d be reaching for a weapon too.
Barbara has come to plead her case, claiming she’s better, no longer the homicidal maniac that tried to kill Jim and Leslie, working with Theo Galavan’s squad of crazies. Jim, understandably, isn’t convinced. The conversation is strained and awkward. She realizes Gordon’s working on the Wayne case still, but he refuses her help. Finally, she leaves, passing an equally surprised Bullock in the hall with a casual, “Hi, Harvey. Jim will catch you up.”
Pursuing his latest version of his obsession, Bruce has spent the entire night down in the cave, working on his father’s computer. Alfred shows up talking about food, which tempts Lucius Fox up and out. Bruce gets a lead on somewhere his father went shortly before he died, and is off like a shot to follow up on it. Alfred trails along in his wake, apparently having lost all control of anything his young charge does.
Back at the apartment, Jim and Harvey compare notes before Harvey has to go in to work. Harvey tries to persuade Jim to come back to the police, but Jim won’t give up on the case. Harvey at least persuades him to take something from the “whammy drawer.” Gordon leaves with a combat baton and brass knuckles, going after “The Lady,” who brokered the deal for Matches Malone to kill Thomas and Martha Wayne. Harvey remarks, “It’s going to be a bad day for Gotham’s hitmen,” as Gordon goes looking for clues to The Lady’s whereabouts.
Ok, as far as that apartment goes, I’m really unclear whose it is. If it’s Harvey’s, which seems most likely, why was Barbara looking for Jim there? If it’s Jim’s, why did Harvey know about the “whammy drawer,” which didn’t seem Gordon’s style anyway. Something in there didn’t really make a lot of sense to me. At any rate, Gordon gets a nice montage of beating up hitmen all over the city looking for answers, which begs another question: if so many hitmen are known to the police, why are they all on the streets? Sure, the GCPD is corrupt, but I’d think under either Gordon or Barnes, they’d have been rounded up. At any rate, Gordon gets a lead on “Club Artemis.”
Back at Arkham, where nothing good ever happens, Strange and Peabody are working on the mysterious Patient 44. Peabody has come bearing news that someone in the Wayne computer network is looking for Karen Jennings, the person Bruce went looking for. From the conversation, Strange has been looking for her himself for some time now.
Bruce and Alfred go to the address they found on Thomas Wayne’s calendar. At the door of the house, Alfred knocks once, gets no answer, and then tries to leave saying that no one must be home. Where is he getting his investigation technique from, Shaggy from Scooby Doo? Bruce picks the lock and gets them in. They find Karen Jennings, who is very different than she used to be. One of Karen’s hands has been replaces by what looks like a raptor’s foot, complete with talons. After some misunderstanding, and a heartfelt plea from Bruce, she agrees to help them.
At Club Artemis, Gordon’s attempt to push his way in is foiled by the woman working the door who is apparently quite well armed. Gordon can’t get in, but no worries, Barbara Ex Machina turns up. She explains to Gordon that he’s the wrong gender and wrong profession to get in, but she can do it. She says she’s there because she knows how important the Wayne case is to Gordon. Gordon isn’t convinced, but doesn’t have another choice at the moment. Barbara gets in and finds The Lady, inviting herself to sit at her table. The Lady is once again played by the vastly entertaining Michelle Gomez, and I’m still not convinced that “The Lady” isn’t Gomez’s Missy from Doctor Who just slumming on Earth for a while.
Barbara convinces The Lady she’s looking into becoming an assassin. They talk and drink, and then Barbara says she has something to convince The Lady of her… good? bad? intentions. Gordon, of course, got impatient and tried to force his way in. Barbara ambushes him, taking him prisoner so she and The Lady can have their fun. Barbara is very convincing that she’s gone back to her homicidal ways, but, after she manages to trick the name of her client out of The Lady, turns on her and frees Gordon. The Lady never learned the client’s real name; he simply went by “The Philosopher.”
The team of Alfred, Bruce, and Karen go to where the Pinewood facility was. This was a place where Karen had volunteered to be a subject for genetic experimentation, since she was in Blackgate after her own somewhat tragic life led her there. They don’t find anything useful there, but they do run afoul of a team of gun-thugs, leading to a shootout. They flee the building, ending up running smack dab into several police cars, apparently summoned by a security guard.
Jim and Barbara have a chat while dodging The Lady and her gun-happy door guard. Barbara claims she’s trying to help, but Gordon still isn’t buying. Finally, he gets a call from Bruce Wayne and runs away to help him. Behind him, Barbara looks stricken.
Gordon gets to the GCPD just as Alfred and Bruce are being released. Ok, I know the Wayne’s have money and influence, but Alfred SHOT some of the bad guys at Pinewood, and they’re just letting him out? Seriously? Karen, wanted for other charges, isn’t being let go. Bruce and Gordon start on yet another bad idea plan.
Strange and Peabody are observing their Patient 44. Strange is very excited about the progress. He really does seem to have a sort of restrained, mad-scientist glee about his work. Peabody is less enthused, and comes bearing news that Karen Jennings is going to Blackgate. They agree she can’t be allowed to talk, and decide to send out another of their little projects- Mr. Freeze.
Bruce and Gordon’s plan involves an ambush baited with a lot of cash. They get the transport van to stop, bribe and threaten the guards (carrot and stick both), and spring Karen, who is delightedly surprised that Bruce came to her rescue. That is short-lived as Mr. Freeze shows up. His new armor is slick looking, and apparently bulletproof. Alfred and Bruce don’t have the firepower to take him down, and Karen makes a fateful decision after telling Bruce how proud his father would be. I’m not clear on why Freeze just wanders off when this ends. Alfred and Gordon clearly weren’t hurting him. He couldn’t be bothered to finish them off?
Barbara finds a sanctuary that is probably one of the worst places she could have gone. Not everyone there is happy to see her, but at least one person is. I suspect this bodes ill for Barbara’s future, and possibly the rest of Gotham’s. I certainly don’t see her and Jim getting back together, which makes the younger Barbara, eventually Batgirl, a lot less likely in this world.
Back at Wayne Manor, Bruce, Alfred, and Jim are regrouping after their adventure. Jim is sure that Barnes is going to learn about his part in freeing Karen Jennings (her death wasn’t his fault, but I can see him catching some blame for it). Bruce is blaming himself for Karen. Comparing notes, they manage to learn the identity of the Philosopher. I can’t say I was surprised, but it’s a major departure from comics canon. Then again, so is most of this show by now.
To close out the show, they return to Arkham. Peabody meets with success as Patient 44 “reanimates” to use his word. The Patient capers around, kills many men, and cries out the name of another Bat-related character. That should get interesting.
Another theory on my part, putting together several pieces of recent episodes. We have reanimation, with the subjects coming back violent and nearly unstoppable. The same person “bringing people back” also has an interest in cyrogenics. To me, this sounds a bit like the Talons of the Court of Owls, a relatively recent addition to the Batman mythos. I may be reaching a bit, but especially with Karen ending up with a raptor’s foot, I have to wonder- could that have been an owl’s?
What I liked: Bruce is acting more decisively and heroic. Gordon is sort of redeeming himself from the low point of his murder of Galavan. Harvey’s unshakeable loyalty to Jim is something good to see amid so much chaos of the show. There wasn’t a good way to fit Selena in this week, and I’m glad they didn’t try. It was nice that Bruce got some encouragement about his quest from someone.
What I didn’t: As Bruce gets stronger, Alfred seems to be getting to be a weaker character. He’s almost becoming comic relief with moments of competency. And I don’t see how Alfred got released so easily, how the thugs knew to find them at Pinewood, or what happened to the bad guys after the shootout. As I said above, I’m also not sure why Mr. Freeze didn’t finish off Gordon and Alfred. I kind of miss Nygma, but I don’t see how they could have used him this week, either.
It was a decent episode. I’ll give it a solid 3 out of 5.