Stealing yet another classic story from the Batman mythos, Gotham ends their fourth season with “No Man’s Land.” That wasn’t just a story in the comics, it was a year long event that spilled over into every Bat-family book running at the time, and saw the first appearance of Cassandra Cain, eventually the second Batgirl. Here, it seems like it’s more a setup to next season.
Since this is a season finale, there will likely be spoilers. Be warned, proceed at own risk, etc etc.
Following up on last episode’s shocker of an ending, Selina gets wheeled into surgery, clearly scared. A shaken Bruce promises to stay with her. As soon as the words left his lips, I knew where at least part of the episode was going. He looks stricken as she gets pushed through the doors to the OR and he has to wait.
At Gotham Central, Jeremiah sits in one of the cells, the front of which is lined with glaring police officers. It’s actually a bit intimidating for nearly anyone, although Jeremiah seems unmoved. Alfred wishes he had just killed him instead of bringing him in to the police, and then leaves to go be with Bruce. Bullock echoes Alfred’s sentiments. Jeremiah calls Gordon over and says he wants to press charges against Alfred for beating him after shooting Selina. He also demands to see Bruce, makes some claims that are deeply disturbing but believable, and asks for a coffee.
In whatever hideout he’s using, Penguin was successful in finding Hugo Strange, who is working on curing Butch of his Grundy problem. It’s a nasty cure, but seems like it should work. Tabitha gets word about Selina being shot and reacts in her own unique style. They can’t halt the cure, so Butch can’t go anywhere, and Penguin offers to watch over him. He also offers an explanation that makes sense when Tabitha questions his motives.
Detective Harper warns Gordon that the Mayor (do we even know this guy’s name?) wants to lift the evacuation order and Gordon tells her to tell him no. Of course, no politician’s ego will let him take orders from a mere captain, so the Mayor holds a meeting in his office about moving forward with his plan. That lasts long enough for a familiar figure across the way to smirk up at them before City Hall demonstrates that yes, Jeremiah has at least some “redundancies” built into his plan.
Things spiral out of control quickly at this point. Gordon isn’t exactly following the rule book as he tries to get more info from Jeremiah about the bombs. This back and forth ends when Harvey calls Jim out to main squad room to see the new wrinkle: the governor has declared martial law and sent in the army. The Major in charge almost seems reasonable for half a minute before he arrests Gordon for not automatically agreeing with everything the Major says. Jim gets… rescued? along the way when Riddler pops up and tranqs both soldiers escorting him and then Gordon himself. Riddler has plans, and Jim is in the closest I think we’ve seen to a big Batman villain deathtrap. It’s an ugly set up and certainly isn’t going to be good for Gordon.
Barbara is plotting to take advantage of the chaos caused by Jeremiah’s attacks when she gets an unwelcome visitor. After dropping all her men, Ra’s talks to Barbara about his power to see the future and his new theory about what may have happened to some of it. They have a long, rambling conversation about his visions and plans for the city, and then he mentions the coming destruction giving rise to his heir.
As I expected, Bruce didn’t keep his promise to not leave Selina, but in his defense, this wasn’t his fault. To get Jeremiah talking, the Major brings Bruce and Alfred to Gotham Central. What happened to not negotiating with terrorists? Bruce agrees to help, mostly to get back to Selina, and goes in with an ear bud, mostly to hear the Major bitch about how Bruce is talking to Jeremiah. Jeremiah goes on about them being so much alike and destined to be best friends. The diatribe gets interrupted when the lights go out, and, of course, when they come back up, Bruce and Jeremiah are gone. Yep, that worked out brilliantly.
Riddler continues his torture session with Gordon when Lee walks in. She doesn’t exactly jump in to save Jim, and even offers Riddler some pointers. Riddler tells Lee about his whole twisted view of things, and she makes some great counterpoints. She may be on the dark side right now, but Lee really is kind of awesome. Lee makes Riddler an offer and leaves. Riddler is so happy he loses interest in Gordon, and takes off, giving Jim the means to free himself.
I’ve heard before that you can judge a man by his enemies. In that case, I’m not sure what we can make of Ra’s as a coalition against him forms of Barbara, Tabitha, Alfred, and Penguin. They pool resources and information and put together a truly odd strike force. Barbara even mentions she has a surprise set up for Ra’s.
Gordon staggers away from the scene of his near demise and gets a sort of goodbye scene with Lee. I really don’t think she knows what she wants. Gordon manages to get hold of Bullock and gets updates on what’s been going on. Not only did Jeremiah run off with Bruce, but all the captured bombs are gone. They are making negative progress.
Ra’s looks out over the city in villain surveying his victim mode as Jeremiah brings in Bruce. Bruce isn’t thrilled to see Ra’s is back from the dead. Again, we hear all this is for Bruce’s benefit and the bombs are en route to their new location. Ra’s tells Bruce that out of all this, a Dark Knight will arise, and Jeremiah goes on about his kinship with Bruce.
Bullock and Gordon try and figure out where the bombs are going. The Major stalks in and demands explanations about what’s going on, then provokes a scene where the Army and the cops pull weapons on each other. Gordon gets to a radio and orders all the bridges cleared, having worked out what’s going on.
Barbara goes to meet Ra’s and there’s some taunting back and forth before she reveals that 1) she brought the knife that can kill Ra’s and 2) she didn’t come alone. A huge fight ensues, and weird coalition actually does pretty well. Barbara pulls a really clever trick with the knife to deal with Ra’s, but then, we’ve seen him killed before. Arnold’s Terminator line keeps going through my head. Gordon gets to the site of one of the bridges and pulls off a rescue of a little girl just before, to quote a Billy Joel song, “the island bridges blow.” As Ra’s dies again, he tells Bruce he faces a choice: flee with the rest or stay and become the Dark Knight the city needs.
Lee and Riddler share a drink and talk about their future. It doesn’t go well for either of them. Tabitha goes to check on Butch and we see he’s cured. Then we also see the intricate planning Penguin has been up to behind the scenes to get his revenge. Selina has made it through surgery but is still not looking good. Bruce breaks his promise again, but at least sends Alfred off with her.
The Army announces that, with so many of those bombs unaccounted for and the evacuation begun anyway, they might as well just empty the city. This is the core of the No Man’s Land event in the comics, although the reasons were different back then. The city is abandoned, and various criminal figures carve out territory for themselves. Gordon, Bullock, and Fox all stay behind and Gordon puts together another piece of the Batman legend in action. The show ends with characters setting up bases for themselves, Hugo Strange getting a new project, and a few new characters showing up and making disturbing debuts.
What I liked: Ok, it was evil, but Penguin’s plot was brilliant and ugly and so fitting for him. Barbara’s strike at Ra’s was really clever. I’m glad Lucius stayed, and his solution to being isolated from the grid was pretty slick. While “One Bad Day” was a shallow skim of The Killing Joke, this one seems like it’s setting up to do justice to No Man’s Land.
What I didn’t: Bruce didn’t really DO anything this episode, stuff just happened to him. The Army turning on the GCPD so fast was predictable— I was impressed when they were briefly cooperative.
This was a good set up for next season. I liked what they did here, and I’m really looking forward to seeing how they wrap things up for the next and final season. I’ll give this a high 3.5 out of 5.
Taking the Week Off: They managed to get almost everyone in this one. The only one I can think of that didn’t show up was Ivy, and she’s been gone a while now. I wonder if she’ll be back for next season.