Gotham’s Mad City arc continues with “New Day Rising.” It’s more or less part two of last week’s Mad Hatter and Alice adventure. I have to admit, I’m not loving Jim Gordon as mercenary bounty hunter, but I think I see how they are going to end it and I’m thinking it might be soon. I hope so, anyway.
The episode starts with Alice handcuffed to a desk at GCPD. Harvey is talking to her, and pressing hard for clues about how to find her brother. Alice isn’t being very helpful, and Harvey leans on her, worried about what Jervis did to Jim. Alice, for her part, is terrified of Jervis Tetch finding her.
Speaking of, Jervis has taken over some kind of warehouse that seems to be crammed with carnival rides. It’s a dismal setting for the brightly painted rides, which is a nice contrast they set up. Jervis is going on about needing Alice back, and his captive audience doesn’t fare well in a messily spectacular way.
The news is covering Election Day, which seems to have come bizarrely fast. If only the real Election would come that quickly. Nygma wanders around Penguin’s election machine. Penguin is thrilled he’s there, and has had their Arkham release certificates framed. You know you’re doing well when you need a piece of paper to remind you you’re sane. Nygma sees Butch talking to some people that strikes him as suspicious.
Barnes is at his desk indulging in one of his favorite hobbies of late: bitching about Jim Gordon. Gordon says he’s going to find Jervis, and Barnes threatens him with arrest. Jim, reasonably enough in this situation, defies Barnes. Lee gets a sample of Alice’s very strange blood, and talks to her about her condition. Alice has been like this her whole life, and her childhood with Jervis sounds like even more of a nightmare than I would have thought. Alice warns that if Jervis gets in your mind, you’re doomed.
Illustrating this point, Jim is out on the streets. He sees one of Cobblepot’s election vans, and then the walk signal starts ticking like Tetch’s watch. Gordon gets a flashback to being under Jervis’ control and then acts part of it out with some nasty results. Clearly, Tetch’s hold is lingering.
Out at the Manor, Alfred gets a call from the impound yard about the car 5 stole. Bruce and Alfred try and figure out what 5 is up to. The car was found in the Narrows, which has Bruce worried about Selena. Of course, none of this would be happening if Bruce hadn’t randomly decided to hide 5 from Selena.
Speaking of those two, Selena and 5 are hanging out. Selena is still worried about Ivy. 5 then makes the classic impostor mistake of not knowing trivia about Bruce and Selena’s exploits. These fakes never do their research… Anyway, Selena then manages to get herself in trouble while trying to rob a betting parlor which is doing major business about the Penguin vs James election, which is a nice tying together of subplots.
In Penguin’s campaign, tensions are getting higher between Nygma and Butch. Butch is up to something on the side, and Nygma is digging around about it. Butch sends one of his thugs to keep an eye on the pre-Riddler. You almost have to feel sorry for that thug.
Jim is desperate for leads on Jervis, and there aren’t a lot of people who have dealt with him. Lacking anywhere else to go, he turns to the ever insane Barbara Kean. After some of her nuttiness, and some banter about Gothamites having flair, she tells Jim that Tetch is looking to hire some muscle. Barbara seems to have some really conflicting feelings about Jim, and I’m not really sure why she helped him at all.
Tetch is out recruiting a bad version of some really obscure Batman foes in one of the weakest adaptations of any Bat-baddie I’ve seen on the show yet. While this happens, Selena gets rescued by 5, who shows that he’s a lot farther along on the combat front than Bruce is. They make it out, but Selena, out of character for her, leaves the money she was after in the first place behind. In short order, Selena figures out that 5 isn’t Bruce, but doesn’t get anywhere near as upset as I’d expect.
Jim goes to Barnes for help. I guess that Barbara’s not-quite lead didn’t help him much, so he asks for access to Alice. Barnes refuses out of reflex until Jim tells him what’s going on with the dark impulses stirred up by Tetch. Alice doesn’t know how to help him, or so she claims.
As this goes on, Nygma confronts Penguin about what Butch has been up to. Penguin, true to form for both himself and Gotham, is trying to buy the election. Nygma tries to stop this, but not for any sort of high moral reason. It’s actually touching, hearing Nygma’s reasoning.
Tetch and his new allies attack the GCPD to get Alice. For the most part, the cops just stand there and get stomped on. Maybe they’re confused by the utter silliness of this scene. Jim tries to get Alice out, but Tetch stops them. Jim is on the edge of giving in to Tetch’s malign influence when Barnes saves the day in a somewhat unusual way. Remember Black Widow’s line in Avengers about “cognitive recalibration”?
Selena sews up 5’s wounds, marveling at his lack of pain. He explains that, in part, he faked being Bruce because he saw how Selena looked at Bruce, and he’d never had anyone look that way at him. Selena gets defensive, then lets 5 kiss her, undercutting her own argument. She also says she has only had two friends, one who got barbecued and one at the bottom of the river. I guess she gave up on Ivy already?
Jim wakes up cuffed to a chair. He gets a very deserved talking-to from Lee about what he’s been doing and how he abandoned her. Although as I remember it, she did leave Gotham without him (granted he told her to). He says he can’t change the past, and finds out Lee has him on a 48 hour suicide hold. I guess he’s lucky he didn’t end up in Arkham. Again.
Butch’s scheming gets interrupted by some bad news about his thug losing Nygma, then a phone call with even more bad news. While we wait to find out what this is, Harvey uses some questionable, but insightful, methods to find out where Tetch is. Harvey’s a lot smarter than he looks, and is more than just Gordon’s sidekick.
Jervis has Alice back at his hideout, dressed in the cliched blue dress from the Lewis Carroll illustrations. He had a unique threat to keep Alice in line, and it’s really kind of grim, but clever. Give Tetch credit, he’s a creative evil genius. Jim gets some unexpected help twice over to get out of custody and go find Tetch.
While this happens, Alfred and Bruce confront 5 up on Selena’s rooftop/bird house. 5 taunts Bruce about spending time with Selena, and leaves on a great exit line. He also shows there’s more to him that pain resistance, since he drops several stories on to a truck, which should have shattered his legs. Instead, he just walks off.
The confrontation at the warehouse goes badly for almost everyone. There’s gunfire, surprises, and a tragic death. On the plus side, Jim does get free of Tetch’s influence. On the bad side, the last scene is here, too, and someone’s going to have a lot of problems in the future after something happens to them. Gordon and Lee sort of mend fences and agree to be friends. Yeah, that’ll work well…
The election has several surprise twists. Nygma almost gets killed over his plan, but he wins an important victory instead. He also shows the depth of his friendship to Penguin. For a city that’s so well known for darkness and corruption, Gotham now has two deep and abiding friendships: Jim Gordon and Harvey Bullock for one, Penguin and Nygma for the other. It’s fun to watch, even as you know that Nygma and Cobblepot are going to lead each other to new lows.
Alfred and Bruce try and figure out why Strange created 5 in the first place as they share tea in the kitchen. Bruce obsesses over whether Selena kissed 5 or “Bruce.” Alfred wisely decides to have no part of that craziness and flees. 5 himself gets a change for the worse as we get big hint about why he was created.
What I liked: I’m enjoying the Cobblepot/Nygma friendship. It’s a weird echo/counterpoint of the Gordon/Bullock one. Bruce’s reaction to hearing about the kiss was fun. Barnes being a good guy almost in spite of himself was in character.
What I didn’t: Selena seemed out of character this week, both in letting herself be kissed and needing to be rescued. I don’t like how they handled Alice. Tetch’s recruits were goofy, as was their attack on the GCPD. Then again, the cops apparently like being targets.
I’ll give this one a 3 out of 5. It was better than last week, so maybe the season will improve.