Gotham continues its “A Dark Knight” sub-season with “The Blade’s Path.” Considering how important this knife of Ra’s’ has been, it’s not that hard to figure out what this is going to be about. But the secondary plot was very interesting this week, adapting a classic origin and bringing back a character we haven’t seen in a bit.
Not seen since last season’s finale, Butch gets an up-close look at how the Gotham healthcare system works, or fails to. Comatose for months, the hospital decides to “free up bed space” and two orderlies dump him in Slaughter Swamp. In the comics, there was some kind of magic involved, but here, he ends up near some waste from Indian Hill, source of most of Gotham’s freaks and the gift that just keeps on giving. After some burbling sound effects, Butch emerges, clashes with some… swamp hobos? and is now the much better known character of Solomon Grundy.
Gordon and Harvey Bullock clash over Penguin’s licensing program after Gordon comes by to complain about Ra’s’ trial being pushed off the court docket. To me, it sounds like Bullock is getting very defensive and knows he’s wrong, but is going along with it anyway. Bullock never has quite had Gordon’s moral courage/career suicidal tendencies. Detective Harper pops in with more news about Ra’s.
Out at Wayne Manor, Bruce is showing early signs of his later obsessive nature, going over the knife, and the late professor’s notes about it. Alfred is understandably worried about his young charge, which is going to be an ongoing feature of the poor man’s life. Bruce is considering killing Ra’s with this possibly magic blade, and Alfred cautions him against it.
Alex’s funeral is a miserable experience all the way around. Bruce tortures himself listening to the comments of the various mourners. Gordon stops by to warn Alfred that Ra’s is being extradited. They bicker over how to look out for Bruce, and he overhears them, looking concerned. Later that night, he puts on his prototype costume, grabs the knife, and sneaks out.
Barbara drops by Blackgate Prison to visit Ra’s. who they have in one of those big glass box cages that look dramatic but I can’t see being really effective. He turns down her offer to break him out, and says he’s telling her goodbye. They have a very interesting exchange that bodes ill for Gotham’s future, and should produce yet another change in the mercurial Barbara Kean.
Mr. Penn, perpetually nervous accountant from central casting, goes over the license numbers with Penguin. They have 86% compliance among Gotham’s criminals, which isn’t good enough for the enraged Penguin who rages about using Firefly to make some examples. Sofia wanders in mid-tirade, makes some suggestions, and invites Penguin to lunch. Penguin reacts in a rather odd, but very him, way.
Riddler demonstrates how far he’s fallen, and botches a pharmacy robbery. Running away from that, he ends up in just the right/wrong alley, and runs into Butch/Solomon. Riddler is struck by the changes in him, although he’d rather be on his own. Grundy doesn’t give him much of a choice, though.
A very upset Alfred comes by GCPD, telling Gordon that Bruce is missing. They both are rightfully worried that Bruce is about to do something stupid… which of course he does. Using the costume and some early versions of his later Bat-gear, Bruce breaks in to Blackgate, helped by a lot of really sloppy work from the guards. He ends up in Ra’s cell, has a crisis of conscience, and then finds out how far Ra’s’ influence really spreads. It’s not a welcome surprise.
Alfred and Gordon get to Blackgate and the guards claim Bruce hasn’t been there. One of them makes a call and warns someone, “They’re here.” As Gordon and Alfred get into trouble, Riddler realizes his partnership with Grundy isn’t strictly voluntary. Grundy wins him over with a unique bribe, at least for the time being.
While Sofia sets up some extra touches for her lunch date, Bruce wakes up in a creepy chamber below Blackgate. Don’t all prisons come with hidden caves lit by torchlight? Ra’s shares some of his history with Bruce, and Bruce gets a lot of surprises. The situation isn’t what he expected. Honestly, if this is what Ra’s wanted this whole time, his previous actions make no sense at all.
Riddler and Grundy have another adventure, which opens Riddler’s eyes to some possibilities. Penguin and Sofia’s lunch date goes oddly, with a lot of emotional overtones for a simple meal. As all that goes on, Gordon and Alfred figure out their escort in the prison isn’t what it seems, and they fight their way clear. Gordon uses his first-hand knowledge of Blackgate to figure out where Bruce probably is.
Penguin and Sofia have a follow up scene at the Iceberg, and she’s very, very good at getting on someone’s good side. She certainly has a touch her father, Carmine, has never shown. It’s an interesting scene, and I think Penguin is out of his league, and had the right idea on his to-do list earlier.
Below Blackgate, things reach a climax. Bruce is goaded into some rash action that ends one of the plotlines, and firmly cements this show’s status as some weird alternate reality, not the main Bat-canon. Later, Gordon, and then Alfred, reassure Bruce after the unexpected turn of events. It does look like Bruce might be putting aside the costume for now, though.
The show wraps with Grundy and Riddler trying a new idea. It makes a certain amount of sense, both that where they go exists in Gotham of all places, and that’s what Riddler decides to do next. It ends with a surprise reveal that’s going to make for a very interesting meeting shortly.
What I liked: They stayed somewhat close to Grundy’s origin, and he’s one of the few characters that actually should be older than Bruce anyway. The scene with Barbara is going to make for some interesting developments in the future. The Riddler/Grundy dynamic is amusing. I’m looking forward to seeing what happens with the final scene’s reveal. Sofia is impressively manipulative.
What I didn’t: Riddler being dumb is really not grabbing me. I hope that get resolved soon. The scene with Ra’s was really weird and I didn’t like that choice. I don’t like Bullock caving in to the license program or the split it’s causing with Gordon.
Taking the week off: Selina and Tabitha are off getting up to God only knows what. Lucius Fox was also off, I guess because there was no tech angle this week.