Gotham continues the new “Mad City” season with “Burn the Witch.” I’m sure this wasn’t at all what they intended, but that title keeps making me think of the old Monty Python sketch. That’s somehow fitting, considering how absurd things are getting in Gotham these days.
As an aside, there’s another problem with them monkeying with the timeline as much as they have for this show. We’ve seen superpowers, we’ve seen, if not outright costumes but at least very distinctive outfits, and we’ve seen masked people. This both makes the whole “I shall become a bat” scene a lot less likely, which is usually so important to the Batman origin, and really makes me wonder how Gotham doesn’t end up with a superhero earlier than Batman (which it does in some timelines, but still…).
Bruce has his meeting with the mysterious masked woman, who unmasks very early on. I think she’s just trying to make me come up with something else to call her. The woman and Bruce fence a bit over what’s going to happen to him and his investigations. They come to an arrangement which is a bit surprising before he’s drugged again.
Valerie Vale shows up at Jim Gordon’s place. She’s less than impressed with it. Considering the last time we actually saw him living somewhere, it was Barbara Keen’s sorta-Clocktower deluxe place, so am I. Between barbs about his living conditions, Vale offers him a deal- she’ll help get him closer to Penguin’s bounty on Fish Mooney, if he’ll help her find her source. Jim knows the source- Selena Kyle, pretty well. He said he knows someone that might know where she is.
Gordon goes to Babs’ bar for the information on Selena. Personally, I think he missed a bet. I’d have gone to Bruce first, especially since it would avoid that whole awkward meeting with the ex issue. The meeting, with Vale along being alternately amused and fascinated, goes about as badly as expected. It ends with Barbara telling Jim about a strange dream she had, which I think was just Barbara being nuts. Vale seizes the new information and runs off, trying to cut Gordon out of the deal they made. Ah, nothing but the finest people in Gotham…
On the waterfront, Ivy wakes up, very different now thanks to Marv’s aging touch. She’s somewhat more fitting with her comic persona now, but that leads to new issues. For one, it’s still a young girl driving that body. For another, her motivations don’t make any sense. In the comics, Pamela Isley (not Ivy Pepper) is a research botanist who has always had an affinity for plants, and goes a bit nuts when she gets her powers. Now, it’s… what? “My name’s Ivy so I like plants?” I think this was a mistake.
Acting on Vale’s information, the GCPD stages a raid on Fish’s supposed location (although I thought she was getting Selena’s location from Babs, not Fish’s). All they really accomplish is letting some of Fish’s merry band of freaks to demonstrate their various special abilities. These seem to include being bulletproof, electrical powers, and some kind of heat ability. As this goes on, Penguin gives a press conference trying to whip up a frenzy against Fish and her “monsters” as he calls them.
Back at Wayne Manor, Bruce wakes up after being returned. He and Alfred compare notes on the intrusion/abduction. Bruce shares the terms of his agreement with what really has to be an early version of the Court of Owls. Neither Bruce nor Alfred are really happy with the new status quo.
As this goes on, a few people run into each other at the GCPD. Vale tries to patch things up with Gordon, in my opinion making her even more unlikable. Gordon himself is there to see Lucius Fox. Fox shares his theories about Fish’s condition with Bruce. He also shows Gordon Peabody’s corpse, almost unrecognizable from Marv’s power. They agree she’s most likely going after Hugo Strange. Outside, Bullock gets some very unwelcome visitors and goes for an unplanned trip.
Barnes, as usual, isn’t inclined to listen to Gordon’s theory about what happened to Bullock. Somehow or other, Gordon finding Bullock’s badge on the ground outside wins Barnes over. Barnes finally agrees to go to where Strange is being kept with Gordon and a lot of cops. Bullock and Fish get there first, and begin their mayhem as they search for Strange.
Strange is oddly pleased to see Fish, calling her his greatest creation. Their reunion is cut short when Barnes, Gordon, and company show up. Just to make things more complicated, Penguin follows shortly with a mob of irate citizens. And the press arrives just behind the mob, to add to the circus.
Gordon takes advantage of everyone being distracted by everyone else, and slips inside the building. He goes to cut a deal with Fish in order to get Harvey back. Fish at first tells Gordon he’s just another hostage, and Gordon responds that Barnes might give her a medal if she kills him. Eventually, they cut a deal, with Fish throwing in the condition that she gets Strange as well. When they leave, Fish is dragging Strange out of the room, and Strange is yelling that Fish will kill him. This is one of the few times in the series, possibly the first, that Strange loses his composure. Remember that for a few.
In the woods in back of the building, Fish runs into Penguin. They talk and compare notes, and Penguin gets several big surprises. What’s even more surprising is that Penguin lets her go, and that Strange trots along with her. Strange, the guy who was yelling he was about to be killed. There’s some really odd writing going on here, or they made some really bad edits on this episode.
They end with a few different surprises. We see the new Ivy in something besides the ragged sweater, and I must admit, she looks damn good, as disturbing as that is on several levels. Bruce and Alfred get a surprise visitor coming through the library window who isn’t Selena for once. Gordon gets a visitor of his own, and things take a bizarre, out of nowhere turn. And down at the train station, someone comes back to town and complicates Officer Detective bounty hunter James Gordon’s life even more.
What I liked: The scene with Fish and Penguin really kind of worked. Bruce made a hard decision but he didn’t have a lot of options. Some of Fish’s freaks who I couldn’t figure out which characters they were based on are dead now so I can stop worrying about it.
What I didn’t: Wow, that’s a long list. The entirely unneccesary Valarie Vale, for starters. She just doesn’t need to be here, and her sole purpose isn’t even a plot device, just a plot complication or annoyance. Barnes shouldn’t be on duty at all, certainly not out in the field, while he’s still on a crutch. New Ivy makes no sense and raises a lot of troubling issues. Strange is terrified of Fish one minute, then blithely running off with her the next? That could be from her power, but they never show her using it. And I’m still not sure how they got from Barbara’s bar (which needs a name) to Fish’s hideout. I’ve really been enjoying Cory Michael Smith’s portrayal of Nygma, which is going to be minimal until he gets out of Arkham. C’mon, everyone else manages to escape from there, why can’t he?
I thought this episode had a some pretty big flaws. I’m giving it a low 2 out of 5.