This, the sadly final season of Gotham, opened with an unlikely alliance of characters all going into battle alongside each other. “13 Stitches” starts to show how and why that would happen (although it doesn’t really explain the title). We also see a new minor Batman foe show up, the evolution of a character towards a major villain, a familiar face who has been missing for a while, and what I guess you could call the pre-origin of another major character. It was a busy week. It was also directed by Ben McKenzie, Jim Gordon himself.
Things start off with Gordon running for his life, as the mind-controlled Riddler pursues him, determined to kill him for his new masters, the US Army Special Forces team. After some cat and mouse and creative use of ambulance supplies, Gordon manages to subdue his would-be killer. Penguin and his dog, Edward, get home to find an intruder in Penguin’s secret vault. After some banter, she gets away with some clever distractions, leaving an exasperated Penguin bellowing, “WHO THE HELL WAS THAT?”
In what has to be distressingly familiar circumstances, Ed wakes up without knowing what happened to him. Gordon explains, Ed pleads, and Gordon reveals a part of his newest plan. At the GCPD, Alfred commiserates with Bruce about his visit with Selina, but Bruce, for once, has other things on his mind. The two of them observe the soldiers, and Alfred fills in Bruce on what he knows of them. They confront the soldiers about Gordon, which leads to an attempted imprisonment, short fight, and escape.
Gordon and Ed have fled to Sirens, where the “No Men” rule is clearly a thing of the past. Barbara listens to the story of Ed being controlled via mind-chip, and he points out that isn’t the craziest thing in Gotham. At this point, I’m not sure what would be. It would be a long and interesting list. Ed goes to get the first aid kit to patch up Gordon, Barbara appeals to Gordon to trust her, and then Eduardo and his squad come in, having deduced where Gordon would go. Getting predictable in your desperation there, Jimmy. Ed comes back with some well-timed acting, and proves that, odd as he seems, it’s not wise to underestimate the Riddler. Either of them, I guess. After some posturing and hinting at what’s going on, Eduardo gets a surprise of his own and Gordon, Barbara, and Ed manage to get away after a short and improbable gunfight.
Speaking of crazy things in Gotham, Penguin walks down a hallway and narrowly dodges two men, screaming and running, one cradling his hand to his chest. The reason for that becomes apparent when he goes into Selina’s place and finds her eating cereal (how’s she keeping the milk cold?) and some severed fingers from her recent visitors on display. She explains that people keep coming after her since she killed Jeremiah, sort of like the old curse of the gunfighter being challenged all the time. Penguin offers her sanctuary in exchange for help tracking down the thief. Selina, after describing her as a “Goth chicken,” identifies the light-fingered woman as Magpie, and they strike a deal.
Eduardo returns to the GCPD, reveals his and his men’s true colors, and makes room in the cells for the cops via a simple, direct method, outraging Bullock. Eduardo says they are moving up to “Phase 2” and has a radio conversation with the mysterious Secretary Walker. The soldiers talk about searching for Gordon, but Eduardo has another idea.
Gordon, Ed, and Barbara meet up with Bruce, Alfred, and Lucius Fox in a strange alliance. They’re working out how to get proof of what Walker is up to out to the world when Eduardo radios for Jim that he has a surprise. After a long absence, we finally catch up with Lee Thompkins, looking confused and a bit bedraggled as a prisoner of Eduardo, and bait for a trap, of course. Eduardo demands Ed for Lee, and Jim agrees without hesitation. Barbara and Ed are not happy about this deal, and Gordon begins a new plan. Harvey offers some encouraging words to Lee before Eduardo drags her off.
Gordon shows up, alone, at the wreckage of Haven, to meet Eduardo, some soldiers, and Lee, who is still trying to figure out what’s going on. Gordon shows the chip and destroys it, which Eduardo doesn’t buy. Gordon goads Eduardo into a fight. Penguin and Selina track down Magpie, who proves to be slipperier and cleverer than she looks, locking them in a trap.
Bullock and Alvarez’s escape plans are interrupted when Nygma makes a dramatic entrance in a bomb disposal suit, and issues a challenge to the soldiers. There’s a great bit of byplay between him and Bullock. Ed issues his challenge to the men, complete with countdown on the case. Bruce uses an early version of a familiar Bat-gadget to get up to the roof and enact part of the plan, while Fox, Alfred, and Barbara work on the rest. Bruce gets surprised by a sentry, and somehow rushes him before the man, who had his weapon out, shoots.
Eduardo and Jim have a brutal, knock-down fight in the wreckage, throwing punches, kicks, and insults. Jim gets the upper hand and the soldiers cheat on their leader’s behalf. Jim gets a little bit of information about what Walker is up to, but not really the motives behind it. Eduardo orders his men to take Lee out back and shoot her, while he and Gordon keep fighting. Ed’s brilliant scheme is derailed by one of Bullock’s old high school assignments, of all things, but Fox and friends (I had to) come through at the last minute with their end of the plan, saving everyone.
True to the genre, Eduardo tells some of his origin, what led him from soldier to hired killer, as he and Gordon duke it out. Gordon finally wins, impaling his former comrade on some rubble. He hears a shot, and we see once again there’s a reason Lee was “Queen of the Narrows” for a while. Penguin paces while Selina reflects on what he’s up to, and finally figures it out. Penguin admits his motives, and they come up with a new deal. Selina then gets them out of the trap, trusting a lot to a crazy woman’s word choice.
Most of the rest of the characters regroup at the precinct. Bullock talks about so many near misses being bad for his heart, while Barbara and Ed sort of form their own League of Evil Exes. Lee, it seems, doesn’t remember the last three months at all, and is dismayed to learn how big her blank spot is. Gordon does his best to bring her up to date, and she tries to remember what she can about the night the bridges blew. Eduardo, of course not quite dead, gets a special visitor. How she managed to find him in the chaos of what’s left of Gotham I have no idea, but we finally see the face behind the radio voice as she starts converting Eduardo into something different.
Lee demonstrates some of what’s been happening to her, and it’s familiar by now. Gordon manages to overcome this bit of chaos. Alfred, who went back to his and Bruce’s place to get a few things, gets an unwelcome visitor. Penguin shows Selina how ruthless he is when they catch up with Magpie, and even the jaded cat-burglar is a bit shocked. Lee and Gordon’s reunion gets a bomb thrown in the works when Barbara bursts in and drops first some hints and then some news that bodes ill for Lee and Gordon, but great for a future Gothamite. She leaves on a sarcastic note, and Bullock gets a great deadpan delivery of his reaction. The episode ends with Alfred in dire straights and a villain in full monologue mode.
What I liked: While I think Mazouz and Bicondova have great chemistry together, it was nice to see Bruce and Selina doing separate things for a bit. As always, Penguin and Riddler give great performances, kudos to Taylor and Smith. Bullock had a smaller role with so much going on, but got in some great lines. Penguin and Selina make a good team. It was good to see Lee again, finally. I think that’s the last of the big name/recurring characters unaccounted for since No Man’s Land began. Credit to the writers for using someone as obscure as Magpie, who I think has something like 2 or 3 appearances total. I think McKenzie did a great job directing.
What I didn’t: There were several incidents in this episode where the superior firepower of the army should have carried the day, and it didn’t, and those scenes didn’t quite work for me. We still don’t know why Walker has it in for Gotham so badly, and nothing I can think of makes any sense at all. I’m sick to death of the character that ended up dropping in on Alfred.
Overall, I thought it was a pretty damn good episode. I’ll give this a 4 out of 5. I’m sad it’s ending, but they seem to be doing their best to go out on a high note.