I’ve been commenting that all of the comic book based shows seem to have improved a lot this season. Well, this week Gotham joins those ranks with “Mad City: Anything For You.” There are a lot of twists and turns to the complex, scheming plot, and some good character moments as well. I think it was one of their better episodes, in my personal top few favorites of the series. Because there are so many intricate plot points, there are spoilers in this review. Be warned.
The episode opens with the follow up to Oswald (Penguin) Cobblepot’s surprising victory as mayor of Gotham. Even more surprising, it was apparently completely legal and honest, a double rarity in that it’s Gotham City and Penguin is involved. The opening montage of scenes is Penguin basking the applause and glory from his victory, with Edward Nygma by his side and Butch clearly displeased about being displaced at Penguin’s side.
Penguin has some kind of statue in honor of his mother that he’s been talking to, and he brings it to the press conference he gives on the steps of what I guess was City Hall. Ever heard the song “Something’s Gotta Go Wrong Because I’m Feeling Way Too Damn Good”? Yeah, that should have been Penguin’s theme about now. The Red Hood Gang make a surprise return appearance, attacking the press conference and doing some ugly things to that poor statue.
Gordon and Vale have coffee and debate their “I won’t admit this is a relationship.” She tells him she can’t come over tonight because three nights in a row might make things real, and she has a dinner that night anyway. She’s pressing a source for info about the results of the tests on Alice Tetch’s blood. Gordon won’t help her, because he wants to keep work separate, and they debate that for a bit before she leaves.
Captain Barnes is at his desk, understandably preoccupied with Alice’s autopsy, since he was contaminated last episode. Bullock pops up to tell him they’ve found the truck from the attack on the press conference. It takes a lot to shock the cops of Gotham at this point, but they all stop working and stare as Nygma makes a triumphant return. He tells them all that, as Penguin’s Chief Of Staff, he’s official liaison for the investigation of the attack by the Red Hood Gang. No one is happy about this, and Nygma gets off a few threats about his new position. They are not impressed, although Leslie Thompkins expresses her displeasure in a unique and surprising way. I admit I enjoyed that scene. There’s also a battle of wits between Nygma and Lucius Fox.
Penguin is using less official methods to find the Red Hood Gang. He’s holding a meeting with various underworld figures, including Butch, the ruthless killer Victor Zsasz, Barbara Keen, and various other gangsters. One of them makes fun of him for caring so much that his mother’s statue was damaged, and he becomes the object lesson for the meeting. He wants the Hoods’ leader’s head on his desk by nightfall. Then they show us the Red Hood’s leader- Butch.
Barbara also makes a dual announcement: Penguin’s party will be at her bar, and her place finally has a name– Sirens. Gotham City Sirens was a comic that starred Harley Quinn, Catwoman, and Poison Ivy. I guess I could see Tabitha as an early version of Catwoman, and Barbara is nuts enough to be a proto-Harley. I wonder if Ivy will get a job there.
Back at Gordon’s place, he gets a surprise visit from Bruce Wayne. After some awkward small talk. Bruce hires Gordon to look for the missing Ivy for Selena. I’d like to point out here that being a bounty hunter and a private investigator are NOT the same thing, and it takes a while to get licensed as a PI. That to one side, the scene ends on some really amusing talk about Selena Kyle and Valerie Vale.
While Barbara and Tabitha use their own unique methods to trace down the Red Hoods and claim Penguin’s reward, the Red Hoods run around town and cause more problems, including attacking a priest and a nun in charge of some orphans. Seriously? What is this, a 1920’s serial? They meet back at the warehouse, which is when Barbara and Tabitha pop up and get Butch’s story from him.
Gordon and Bruce have lunch and talk about various things. Gordon shares the limited information he’s dug up on Ivy, which is next to nothing. They discuss Gordon missing being a cop, and, amusingly, the idea that there’s more to life than having a mission, which the adult Bruce would end up disagreeing with. Bruce, of course, will be at the Penguin’s party tonight, and the news babbles about the Red Hoods in the background. Nygma, with his own brilliance, works out where the Hoods are. Say what you want about Nygma, he’s damn smart.
Barbara and Tabitha hear Butch’s somewhat pathetic story. He’s behind the Red Hoods to get back into Penguin’s good graces. Essentially, he’s mad that Penguin has a new best friend. It’s like a bad After School Special but with a lot more guns. Tabitha agrees to go along with his bizarre plan, but he will owe her. Butch then gets a call from Penguin that they’ve figured out where the Red Hoods are and going after them. Butch takes quick and definitive action. I know the show likes being set in a vague era, but a scene with both cell phones and Tommy guns is just weird.
While Penguin holds a press conference (he does that a lot) and credits Butch with stopping the Red Hoods, the odd team of Harvey Bullock and Ed Nygma investigate the scene. Harvey’s fine with writing this off as crooks killing crooks, but Nygma realizes the pieces don’t add up. Nygma then finds the suits the Hoods were supposed to use to infiltrate the party that night.
Barnes and Lee have a meeting about Alice’s blood work. The details are a bit disturbing about the tests they did with rats. Suffice to say Barnes is worried about his future. He also tells Lee she should get home and see her fiancé.
The party finally rolls around, with lots of well-dressed people filling Sirens. Tabitha taunts Butch about the news that he took down the Red Hoods by himself. Alfred and Bruce put in an appearance, with Bruce showing his adult self’s aversion to hanging around parties when there’s work to do. They congratulate Penguin on his win, and then Bruce sees Selena and goes to talk to her. Selena has her own run-in with the now grown Ivy. Ivy recognizes Selena, but not the other way around.
Nygma spins up his own plan. He’s figured out that Butch is behind the Hoods, and pushes him to kill Penguin at the party. Nygma has leverage to force Butch’s cooperation; he has Tabitha, and will kill her if Butch doesn’t go along with the scheme. Nygma also has Zsasz on his side. Butch is bewildered by all of this.
Bruce and Selena have a very awkward conversation up on the roof. I guess this foreshadows all the later Batman/Catwoman rooftop rendezvous. There is an amusing bit of Selena making sure Bruce is himself after 5’s impersonation. Finally the conversation turns personal, and Bruce confesses his feelings for her. She seems by turns amused and annoyed, but ends up both encouraging and confusing him before sauntering off.
All sorts of chaos jumps off at the party. A reluctant Butch goes after Penguin, and finds out it’s a set up from Nygma. There are a lot of twists and betrayals, but by the end of it, Tabitha is free, Butch is captured and wounded, and Penguin is thoroughly confused. Barbara hangs out at the edges and makes snarky comments, which were pretty entertaining.
Valerie Vale has her dinner with the haematologist, but gets interrupted when Gordon turns up. She seems amused by this, and they run the poor scientist off. In what I guess is a step forward for them, Gordon agrees to share what he’s learned from the GCPD about Alice’s blood, and they order their dinner.
Loyalty of various kinds is the theme of the closing scenes. Penguin and Nygma share a few nice moments. Penguin is thrilled at the lengths Nygma has gone through to keep him safe. Tabitha takes off to rescue Butch. Jervis has taken his obsession with his sister to a new level. Barnes also gets some proof about the effects of Alice’s blood.
What I liked: The intricate plot was really well executed. Nygma is brilliant, although I liked Leslie punching him. I’m thrilled that Barbara’s bar has a name now, and curious if they’re going to mirror the comic. Bruce and Selena’s scene was amusing. Gordon interrupting Vale’s date was fun to watch.
What I didn’t: All this happened in one day? That seems a bit much. I feel bad for Barnes and his coming fate. And I would really be ok with them getting rid of Tetch sooner than later.
I loved the competing agendas and plans this week. I’ll give this one a 4 out of 5 for a well executed plot.