Changes keep coming on Gotham in “A Dark Knight: The Sinking Ship the Grand Applause.” I don’t always get what they’re doing with the titles on this show, and this one makes no sense at all to me. I didn’t see any sign of a ship, literal or figurative, but it was a decent episode regardless of what they called it.
In a nice nod to history, the show opens with a scene of some thugs guarding Martine, Penguin’s young protégé. One of the thugs on guard duty is reading Detective Comics, which is the title Batman first appeared in back in 1939. Martine finds a series of notes giving him instructions to help in his own rescue as a very unexpected character comes in to save the day. Or at least the kid.
The Narrows is under new management, and it’s looking ugly. No one is happy except the few thugs in charge. Bullock and Gordon talk about the mess Gordon is in regarding Sofia, the Pyg, and blackmail. Bullock finally agrees to help, but there are conditions that don’t sound great for Gordon’s future, or their friendship. I’m really not liking this subplot, as I’ve always thought the Gordon/Bullock rhythm in their scenes together have been the highpoint of the show.
Out at Wayne Manor, Selina breaks in yet again. This time, she has a very different reason, which she reveals after some verbal sparring with Bruce. It’s important enough that he agrees to help her. He probably also appreciates that she came to him instead of the ever-insane and criminal Barbara. Selina is showing that strange code of hers, putting her a lot more in the gray area than most of Gotham’s heroes or villains.
While Penguin gets an odd message and unwelcome attention at Arkahm, Bullock goes in search of a Falcone assassin from the old days. He uses some ugly leverage to find out who was leaking information to Falcone why he was out of the city on his extended withdrawal. It’s a name we know that we haven’t seen in a while.
Sofia rages over Martine disappearing, which was her only leverage over Penguin. She sends one of my favorite recurring villains, Zsasz, to finish off Penguin. Zsasz has his own sidekick now, someone we’ve seen before who I thought, and kinda hoped, was dead.
Chaos ensues at the Asylum. Bullock gets there to ask Penguin some questions. Zsasz and his buddy show up, firing at whatever strikes their fancy to get to Penguin. The bird himself manages to get away with a well-timed rescue from one of his few remaining allies.
Bruce and Selina pay a call on her fence, and she’s about as gracious in receiving a favor as she is in giving them. We learn this isn’t Selina’s first attempt to recover the items she’s after, and she’s managed to tick off Floyd the Fence. They end up in a fight where the kids handle themselves well, and Bruce makes a nice gesture on the way out I don’t think he needed to.
Reunited, Riddler and the Penguin plot their next move. They pay a call on Lee, but didn’t know about the changes in the Narrows. She’s mad enough that she throws in with them as they scheme to go after Sofia. Riddler, of course, has a backup plan, which Penguin hates. Lee makes a dark threat about Sofia’s future. She’s come a long way from that squeaky clean doctor she used to be. Riddler tries to get them another ally, but he’s gone through some recent changes also, and isn’t inclined to help at all. The waiting getting to him, Penguin bolts from Lee’s hiding spot.
Gordon and Bullock are out in the street trying to figure out what to do next when they run into Penguin (that seems to happen a lot on this show, chance meetings). After some initial bad blood, Penguin tells them what they want to know after learning who was spying on him. Gordon offers a deal that surprises everyone, and Bullock refuses to honor it, showing how those two have switched places on a few levels. Zsasz and friend show up again, start shooting up everything in sight, and Penguin is once again rescued, this time by a different surprising ally which leaves Gordon shocked.
Barbara is suffering from migraines, which are never just normal headaches on shows like this, so something is clearly up with her. Butch Grundy shows up, dragging in a beaten-on Riddler. Tabitha and Butch have a moment before he lumbers off. Barbara decides to give Riddler to Sofia as a sort of peace offering.
Sofia barks out orders at her assassin/enforcer, sending him off on a few different missions at once. Lee brings Penguin to yet another person he’s screwed over, and they go ahead with the plan Penguin didn’t like. The award for Most Hated in Gotham is really up for grabs at this point, but I think Penguin is ahead.
Bruce offers Selina some advice and first aid after their fight, and she’s not real happy about either. Riddler is not enjoying his captivity, being worked on by the creepy Dentist we’ve seen before. He refuses to cooperate, which is showing an amazing amount of resistance to a whole lot of pain. The other plan is put in motion, resulting in a strange delivery for Sofia. Zsasz walks in while all this goes on and resolves not to ask, simply getting his orders about Ridder and following them.
Gordon and Bullock find the hiding place of the spy, and it’s a really weird place, even by Gotham standards. They get who they came after, so that one small part of something went to plan today. Penguin gets the drop on the Dentist and gets some information. Lee and Penguin touch base, and then Penguin learns something that astonishes him about one of his allies.
The spy is very candid about his dealings and betrayals, citing them as the only way he could survive. Sofia and her gun posse show up and once again, there’s a massive fire fight. I think one of the best investments in Gotham has got to be ammunition sales. Gordon gets hit, and Sofia rants about what they could have been together. Eventually, Bullock escapes with Penguin while Gordon buys them time amid Sofia’s crazy yelling. With more fortunate timing, Bullock and Penguin get a ride, someone gets revenge on Sofia, Gordon’s life is saved, and Zsasz and his sidekick go out for milkshakes. No, really.
Riddler gets saved from certain death by a another last minute rescue, and he and his rescuer agree they don’t want to see these docks again. Gordon wakes up in the hospital, and we learn yet another apparent death wasn’t the end for someone. Harvey dictates to Gordon what he’s going to do next. Lee settles accounts with someone else she owes a debt to, in an eye-for-an-eye kind of way. Barbara suffers more headaches, snaps at Tabitha, and then gets a weird vision or an unexpected visitor to end the episode.
What I liked: Any time Zsasz shows up, he’s usually entertaining. He’s probably my favorite minor character on the show. Hopefully at the end of this, we’re getting a long break from Sofia. I liked that Selina reached out to Bruce, even if it was a “No other choice” kind of thing. Riddler and Penguin together are going to be a formidable team, if they stop trying to kill each other. Lee’s revenge was dark, but well earned. They did a good job bringing back several minor characters this episode.
What I didn’t: I’m sick of Sofia, and didn’t need to see the return of Zsasz’s sidekick. I didn’t like him the first go around, and don’t like him now. I’m really not sure about the new dynamic between Gordon and Bullock.
It was a decent episode with a lot of moving parts. I’ll give it a solid 3.5 out of 5.
Taking the Week Off: Ivy is off playing with plants, or something. I have this image in my head of Alfred and Lucius Fox off having drinks and shaking their heads over almost everyone else on the show.