You know things are getting weird, even for Gotham, when you have a title like, “Penguin, Our Hero.” I guess they’re pulling out all the stops for their final season, “Legends of the Dark Knight.” It’s a strange story with a lot of ups and downs, a nod to a future classic, and a very unexpected ending.
It opens with Penguin enjoying the ridiculous level of luxury he’s set himself up with in the ruins of the city, complete with a choir literally singing his praises. It’s quite an ego trip for the man who started the series as a minor flunky of the far more powerful (remember Fish Mooney and Carmine Falcone?). As the walking stereotype of an accountant Mr. Penn reports, one of the singers keels over. This leads to some news Penn has been shielding Penguin from about people defecting in droves to Gordon’s refugee camp, now called Haven. The temper tantrum on hearing the people love Gordon gets cut short when representatives of one of the gangs “Penguin” hit last episode storm in. Penguin’s men get the upper hand, and there’s one of those delightfully surreal conversations I’ve come to expect from the show.
Selina is dealing with some aftermath from her injuries, and decides to go get some exercise. Elsewhere in Haven, Bullock is a fountain of worries, from the additional refugees to the shrinking food supplies to Gordon running himself ragged. One bright spot; Bruce has a water purification system set up with some equipment cobbled together from Wayne Enterprises. Gordon breaks up a small fight over food, and reminds everyone of the rules, before Bruce leads him to one of the kids who is having problems. Gordon gives him a peptalk and some pineapple.
Bruce is startled to see Selina prowling through the refugees. She shrugs off his concern about her needing rest, saying Ivy’s root has made her feel better than ever. Selina, never a stupid woman, is aware that the new influx of refugees are from all over, and she’s figuring one of them knows something about Jeremiah, the missing possible future Joker who shot her. She corrects a few of Bruce’s assumptions, gives him a kiss, and talks him into coming with her to hunt the lunatic down. They find one man who has heard rumors about Jeremiah being in the Dark Zone (isn’t that where Gordon was last week?), but shows them an example of how crazy everyone over there is.
Penguin’s day starts a lot differently than his last one did. He gets lots of bad news, and a lot less singing. After some raging, he makes a temporary alliance with some of the Street Demonz that came to attack him earlier. Bullock reports to Gordon about an incoming attack, and Gordon sends Bullock on a desperate mission to try and get some help. Selina and Bruce prowl the Dark Zone, flirt a bit, and find some of the locals. One looks a lot like the street gang called the Mutants, a big piece of Frank Miller’s The Dark Knight Returns story, set a decade after Batman retires. Bruce tries to reason with them, which works about as well as you’d think, and it devolves into a fight which Selina clearly enjoys.
At Haven, Gordon rushes all the civilians inside as the gangs roar up on bikes. Penguin gets out of some kind of modified go-kart and starts making demands, sure Gordon and his men are about out of ammo. Gordon proves otherwise with a hail of gunfire from the GCPD and asks Penguin if he wants to provide his men with more target practice. Selina wins her fight but goes a bit berserk on her foe, while Bruce deals with the rest of the gang and tries to get her to calm down before she kills or mains the guy. Selina gets a location, and a demonstration of one of Bruce’s new toys, which looks familiar to Bat-fans.
Gordon and company do what they can, but Penguin was pretty close in his estimation of the GCPD ammunition situation. With no other options but dying where they stand, the police surrender. While Selina does random gymnastics, Bruce asks her what the brutal beating was all about. Selina is unconcerned with the fate of a man who had tried to kill her, and Bruce is feeling less comfortable with her answers. They find what appears to be some weird kind of shrine to Jeremiah, and work their way inside. Inside they find a forerunner of Harley Quinn, who I only learned from the IMDB page is actually Ecco, Jeremiah’s former assistant. She has some strange beliefs and practices that amount to a Jeremiah cult. Selina bluffs her way in with a shaded truth while Bruce looks increasingly uncomfortable.
Gordon is tied up and led to a holding area. Penguin spins out his increasingly violent plans, and shows no care at all for the people seeking refuge in Haven. Penguin finds Mr. Penn, but gets several ugly shocks in a row, ending with the would-be king of Gotham in the same cell as Gordon, where Gordon gets off a great line with wonderfully dry delivery. Bullock carries out his mission, which ends him up at knifepoint from Barbara. They banter a bit before Bullock finally says something to convince her to come help. I agree with Barbara, Bullock “should have led with that.” Gordon gets some help from elsewhere in the meanwhile, and while he’s dealing with that, makes some persuasive arguments to Penguin.
Bruce prowls through the hotel’s hallways while Selina ends up in what I think is an empty swimming pool, as Ecco/Harley enacts a bizarre ritual. Selina shows she’s slick, but Ecco isn’t stupid either. Bruce deals with a few random thugs while Selina and Ecco argue and then fight. Bruce’s well-meaning interference helps get Selina hurt, but she gets away from Bruce to pursue her vendetta on her own terms. Ecco even works in “Puddin’” which is Harley’s usual endearment for Joker.
Gordon and Penguin get the drop on the gangs, and Penguin takes some direct, unilateral action to end the threat. The people see this and Penguin gets something he’s always wanted. Gordon and the kid have an entertaining exchange about badges and pineapple. In the aftermath, the crowd is surly about being attacked, and Gordon gives another good speech. Getting that mess under control, he agrees to let Penguin go. Barbara arrives at this moment and emphatically does not agree. A tense standoff between Barbara and Gordon ends with a big surprise that finishes the episode and leaves a lot of questions in its wake.
What I liked: Bruce is getting more like the Bat he’s destined to be, but he isn’t there yet, and he shouldn’t be. Selina did a great job adjusting Bruce’s attitude. I don’t like Penguin, but he did get a moment of something he’s so desperately wanted, which was nice for him. The nod to the Mutants was an interesting bit to work in. The final event took me totally by surprise and I’m spinning theories in my head as to who was behind it. Bruce’s gadget was a nice hint of things to come.
What I didn’t: I’m really not a fan of the ongoing Jeremiah/Jerome thread. They can go away, and take Harley Ecco with them. Gordon really needs to make a better deal for some supplies for his people.
Unaccounted for this week: Alfred and Lucius must be out scouting supplies or something. Ivy, having made her getaway, seems to have vanished. Riddler and Ed are off chasing themselves in circles, presumably. We haven’t seen Lee Thompkins yet this season. As far as we know, Butch and Tabitha are still dead. Zsasz has still not been seen since the bridges blew.
There’s a lot going on, and I’m curious as to how they end up in the scene we saw at the start of the season which is presumably the final battle. I’ll give this a 3.5 out of 5.