With not that many episodes left, they seem to be cramming a lot into each one. We actually get three different villains this week from various places in the Bat-mythos. Two are wholly new, and one is a surprise twist on a character that’s been around for a while. Considering how much was going on, they managed to do a decent job giving everyone some screen time and backstory. “Nothing’s Shocking” continues to add to the growing list of Bat-villains that predate the Dark Knight himself.
The episode opens with two retired cops going to Sirens for a drink, bartering intel for booze. Barbara isn’t happy to see them, but lets them in, briefly. Their night out gets interrupted by Dix, Bullock’s former partner from the pre-Gordon days. Things take a strange, but Gotham-like, turn.
A desperate woman tells Bruce and Alfred about her missing husband. There’s a lot of talk about the poisoning of the river last episode. After some talk, Bruce and Alfred decide to look into this themselves. Barbara, in a rare fit of cooperation, calls Gordon and Bullock about her earlier trouble. After some talk about the case, Gordon and Barbara discuss their positions on the coming baby and Barbara’s future.
Between scenes, they often show cityscapes of Gotham. In a nice touch, the river is green now, choked with the poisons from Jeremiah’s efforts last episode. Penguin and Riddler are moving ahead with their plans to escape the city, and doing their usual amount of bickering. Penguin has brought in a new henchman with unique qualities he says make him trustworthy. Mr. Penn, Penguin’s believed-dead accountant, suddenly resurfaces. His survival story is unlikely, but he’s also made a big change, and is now a version of one of Batman’s more bizarre foes, the Ventriloquist, complete with Scarface the dummy. Even Riddler and Penguin, who have seen a lot in their time in this weird city, are taken aback.
Gordon and Bullock pay a call on the latter’s former partner. After a less-then friendly welcome, they manage to talk to the older man. After some banter between Dix and Bullock, there’s talk of an old case from the past. Their talk gets interrupted by an unexpected visitor, who leaves behind something strange even by Gotham standards after a run-in with Bullock.
Alfred and Bruce find a grisly clue in their search, while Harper, Bullock, and Gordon go over the old case involving the Cartwright family. Bullock clearly knows more than he’s saying, and tries to distract Gordon from digging in to things by bringing up a vaguely similar case from a while back. Gordon isn’t buying and Bullock looks worried. Penguin and Penn’s reunion gets even odder as Scarface’s less than social tendencies come up. Bullock and Dix talk about their past and the specific case, Dix saying their best lead is a dead end.
Gordon, Harper, and a generic, unnamed cop (who might as well be in Star Trek red) go to follow a lead. Sure enough, there’s someone in the abandoned house, and the officer plays the part of Star Trek ensign: show us how the monster works. Gordon and Harper are luckier than the cop and manage to capture the villain. Bringing them back to the GCPD, Gordon does a decent job with the interrogation, and we learn a bit more about the history of the villain, who really is a tragic figure. Like much of the oddness in Gotham, Professor Hugo Strange plays a part here. There are some dark hints about what the villain is up to, and then Gordon leaves, not quite understanding the nature of what he’s up against here.
Alfred and Bruce find their missing person, but get more than they bargained for as far as who, or what, took him in the first place. The Penn/Penguin/Riddler/Scarface scene continues, getting just as surreal as you might expect. I think Penguin is having difficulty taking this seriously, which I can understand, but isn’t a good idea. Bullock and Dix have a talk about their past that takes a nasty turn when things end up not being what they seem.
Bruce and Alfred battle their new foe who is, to borrow the opening from Arrow, becoming something else. Bruce gets in a few very Batman-like moves. The mess at GCPD deteriorates further, with the old “which one is the real one” issue coming up. Penguin and Riddler bicker while Scarface and the Ventriloquist rage. The two criminal geniuses manage to overcome the accountant turned Gotham rogue.
Bullock has to confront his past in a very literal way, and ends up in a no-win situation. He is forced to make a tragic choice. Bruce and Alfred reunite a family and have their own heart to heart talk about recent events. The show ends with Bullock telling Gordon the truth about the old case, which ends up being sort of an origin story for how Bullock started down the dark path he was on when he first saw him at the start of the series. Gordon is clearly not happy to learn most of this, and things are a bit tense between the two as the show ends.
What I liked: Normally, I’d say this was too much at once, but they made it work. The spin with Mr. Penn I didn’t see coming at all but they made it work perfectly. Bruce and Alfred’s encounter with an early version of another Bat-foe was also nicely done, tying in to the show’s own history. The Bullock story was tragic, somewhat noir with a Gotham edge to it, and I felt bad for both Harvey and that piece’s villain by the end of it. The two small Gordon/Barbara scenes have me wondering about their future.
What I didn’t: Yes, I’ve said it before and likely will again before things wrap up: there are too many of Batman’s enemies that are considerably older than he is. I’m still hoping we eventually get some kind of explanation about why the “mainland” government is dragging its feet about helping the city, or why they allowed things to get to this point in the first place.
It was a good episode overall, and it worked better than I would have thought if I’d known what they were doing ahead of time. I’ll give them a high 3.5 out of 5 for this three in one special.
Taking The Week Off: With so much going on, some characters had to get shuffled. Hopefully Selina, Lucius Fox, and Lee enjoyed their downtime. I hope we get to see Zsasz again before things end.