They’ve done some occasional flashbacks and other scenes from the past on Gotham. This one sets the new record though, as we go back to Arabia in 123 AD. Moving through a scene of amazing carnage, a rider guides his horse. Finally finding what he wants, he picks out the man we now know as Ra’s, and brings him back to the Lazarus Pit. Unlike the comics (and even Arrow over on the CW), Ra’s comes through his resurrection calmly and in full control of himself. He and his never-named benefactor talk for a bit.
Finally, the episode, “They Who Hide Behind Masks,” actually begins. Once more, Bruce is leaping around rooftops in his prototype costume. He’s staking out some important shipment Penguin is getting down on the docks. Someone else is interested, too, and Bruce goes down for a closer look while a frustrated Alfred rolls his eyes. Of course, the sneak thief is Selina, but never of them actually see each other up close. Bruce fights with several guards, and everyone gets away, although Bruce gets cut across the back of his hand. Selina slinks away and then yanks off her mask, still in public, to show us how annoyed she is and to continue the trend of “masked” characters showing their real faces for no good reason.
In a never identified “down South” location, Jim Gordon arrives at Carmine Falcone’s place. We meet another Falcone child, Sophia. Sophia listens to Jim’s plea for help to save Gotham from Penguin. Falcone says no, but he has a pretty decent excuse. There’s a bit more discussion, and Falcone admires Gordon’s dedication. Considering Falcone and Gordon’s shared history, things went rather well.
Back at the manor, Alfred and Bruce have yet another scene in the kitchen. Alfred stitches up Bruce’s hand. Between medical care, they debate tactics and Bruce getting involved in whatever’s going on with Penguin’s shipment. Bruce makes a good case for what he’s doing, and Alfred hints at some of what will become a big part of Batman’s eventual arsenal.
Barbara does a quick demo of some of her products, and then slams on Selina for not succeeding in her larceny run. As Selina sulks, Victor Zsasz tells Penguin about the attempted burglary at the docks. Penguin reacts with his usual calm acceptance. Just after they leave, someone sneaks in to the Iceberg Lounge and moves towards the Riddler-cicle with a blowtorch in their hand. Penguin comes back and freaks out at the loss of his club’s showpiece.
Riddler slowly comes around, and finds himself in a situation vaguely reminiscent of Stephen King’s Misery. He’s been rescued by his number one fan, and she reveals their shared history… such as it is. Riddler is really pissed off to learn that both it’s been five months since he was put on ice, and that he was on display at the club.
Bruce goes back to the docks to try and find some paperwork about whatever was being shipped last night. His repertoire needs work, since his “disguise” make him look like an extra from Newsies, or maybe Little Orphan Annie. Once again, Bruce isn’t as slick as he thinks he is, and once again Alfred bails him out. Weirdly, Bruce just watches when Alfred fights.
Barbara Keen goes to visit Penguin, for a not particularly happy reunion. She’s after a particular item, ahead of the big auction, and offers triple the expected opening bid. Penguin is suspicious and pressures her for more information about whoever is behind her new operation. When she won’t tell, Penguin won’t accept the offer. After she leaves, Penguin ponders the item in question, a knife that featured prominently in the opening scene.
Bruce and Alfred research what they’ve learned, and make a startling discovery. While they exchange shocked looks, Gordon calls in from “down South,” telling Bullock that he had no luck with Falcone. Bullock points out that at least this means no gang war in Gotham. Sophia joins Jim and surprises him with her attitude about Mario’s death.
Penguin rages at Zsasz for not being able to find Nygma. Nygma himself is trying to recover. Five months frozen is hard on the body. But, as Myrtle, his savior, babbles on, we see that there may be more wrong with the Riddler than just stiff muscles. What they showed us followed a very interesting pattern.
Gordon and Sophia go for a walk on the beach, and he impresses her with a rare display of humor. They flirt and compare notes about their lives. Just what Gordon needs, another lovely woman with a really iffy grasp on sanity. Gordon does have a type.
The auction finally rolls around, and Bruce goes in character, or rather, as a character he’ll use a lot in the future. Penguin is glad to see Bruce and his money, then, when they both see Barbara, Penguin comments that “no one stays dead in this town.” Bruce does a few clever tricks at the auction and annoys Barbara a lot. Penguin is happy to see Barbara lose, but warns Bruce Barbara will come after the knife.
Riddler continues to be frustrated by his recovery, and takes some rash action. While he does that, Selina makes her usual window entrance to Bruce’s study. They verbally spar about what Barbara expects of Selina, and Selina trying to trade on her friendship with Bruce. She stalks off, irked, while Bruce regards the knife.
Gordon makes it back to the GCPD, and Harvey introduces a new character, Detective Harper. Between the dark hair and the name, I presume this is some version of Harper Row, a Batman family character that debuted back in 2012. Whatever might happen with Detective Harper gets upstaged when Sophia shows up and more or less tells Gordon she’s going to help him whether he wants her to or not. I’m sure Harvey will be thrilled.
The episode wraps with Penguin and Zsasz continuing trying to find Nygma, and Myrtle’s fate is revealed. Riddler wanders down the street, looking a bit worse for wear. And we finally see who is financing, and apparently training, Barbara Keen. Her backer isn’t happy to learn she doesn’t have the knife, but is intrigued on learning Bruce Wayne does. We also see their relationship is more than professional.
What I liked: Bruce is making strides towards becoming Batman, finally, even if it’s out of order. They set up a lot of Batman’s stock tricks in this episode. Sophia looks like she’s going to be an interesting addition, and I’m curious to see what they do with Harper. Falcone and Zsasz are always welcome additions to any episode. And Riddler’s “rescue” with the related developments are going to make for a different subplot, although I hope they don’t drag it out too long.
What I didn’t: Selina’s break-in near the beginning was just silly. Bruce’s disguise to get on to the ship was weird, even taking into account the multiple eras the show seems to be taking place in, judging by the varying tech we see. And I’m not wild about the reveal of Barbara’s backer, even if it makes sense.
Taking the week off: Ivy hasn’t been seen since guzzling her potions. Tabitha, I guess, was off sulking somewhere. Lee hasn’t shown up yet this season, although she’s still in the credits. And despite the big hint about Butch’s future, he hasn’t come back yet, either.