Gotham continues its final season with the emergence of yet another Batman villain at least a decade too early. Which one isn’t exactly a secret, given the title is “I Am Bane.” We get an origin for the character that has nothing to do with his comics one, and a reveal of who one of the lurkers this season actually is. That, actually, makes Bane’s origin jibe fairly closely with one of the movie versions.
Things start off with Eduardo being worked on by Gotham’s resident mad scientist Hugo Strange. Secretary Walker looks on with a disturbing smile, making sure no one misses Eduardo’s new name by saying it over and over. Not subtle, that. Bullock brings news to Gordon that General Wade has arrived as the first step towards Reunification with the mainland. Gordon is filled with doubts with Barbara being so close to giving birth. Bullock offers his mix of cynicism and optimism saying it can’t be worse than what they’ve seen. Bruce joins them, reporting that Lucius Fox’s filters are doing a great job cleaning the river. Gordon rallies the troops and they get set to meet the general.
There isn’t a General Wade in the comics, at least not directly. General Wade Eiling, however, started as a thorn in the side of Captain Atom before becoming a more general opponent to many of DC’s heroes. This version rides in full of swagger and insists on his people checking the readings on the water. The GCPD and company are taken aback by this development. Down at the docks, the unholy alliance of Barbara, Penguin, and Riddler meet and discuss their pending departure via the finally-finished submarine, with the expected betrayals and back-biting.
In a library or record hall or something, Alfred and Selina look at things from the past and discuss the future. Gordon, in the midst of the stress of the Army testing, gets a radio call from Lee that Barbara is about to go into labor. Gordon doesn’t react as well as he could, but it’s understandable given all the circumstances. Just in case the day wasn’t complicated enough, a convoy of trucks suddenly rolls up, dispensing gas grenades. Bane, clearly different from the comics in that he seems to be bulletproof now, leads an attack that captures Gordon, Bruce, and General Wade. Bullock gets everyone together to search for the captured men, Alfred and Selina volunteering for the effort.
Bane tells Gordon about his tortured past in the prison of Pena Dura (that element is roughly similar to the comics). He’s also a true believer in Walker’s cause. Walker herself arrives and begins a sadistic game with Bruce, which is particularly unpleasant for Gordon. Penguin and Riddler’s double-cross is pre-empted by an earlier betrayal. At the clinic, Barbara and Lee have a disagreement about the best interests of the baby.
Gordon continues to bear the brunt of Walker’s sick game as she keeps asking Bruce questions he doesn’t have answers for. Her sadistic taunting finally gives him the clues he needs to piece together who Walker really is. I admit, it’s not a surprise I saw coming. Knowing who she is, Bruce tries to reason with her, but logic generally loses to fanaticism. Walker has plans for at least one other person she’s fixed her rage on, which is deeply upsetting to Gordon. Gordon’s protests are cut short when Strange sneaks up behind him and injects him with something or other.
Barbara’s screams in labor are interrupted when Penguin and Riddler show up, demanding she return a very important gizmo she stole. They all argue about mutual betrayal, with a comedic bit about the proper use of guns while threatening a pregnant woman. This gets interrupted by the arrival of Bane and company. Walker taunts Bruce with Order 386, an unlikely military plan to level Gotham.
Lee, Barbara, Riddler, and Penguin make some quick plans, hampered a bit by no one knowing who Bane is or why he’s after Barbara. Gordon wakes up as Strange is preparing to start working on him to make him like Bane. Riddler and Penguin find out how tough Bane is, and Barbara and Lee make a comedically violent run for it. Bruce, left alone in classic supervillain style, begins working on his escape. Penguin and Riddler find what they need, debate Riddler’s motives, and make their exit. Lee and Barbara acknowledge the ridiculousness of their situation and things get a bit more complicated for them.
Bruce manages to free himself, grabs a radio, and warns Alfred and Selina about who Walker is and where she’s heading. The two take off to help, oddly not bringing any GCPD backup. Strange’s work backfires and lets Gordon free himself and the General. They meet up with Bruce, who tells them what’s going on, and the General says he can countermand the order if the get him to the headquarters his troops have set up. Barbara gives birth, and the child is exactly what you’d expect if you know your DC/Batman history. The joy of a new birth is dimmed by the arrival of Bane.
Bane’s dramatic villain stalk towards them is interrupted the villain gets run over by a car. This is Alfred and Selina, who make the really questionable choice of having the ladies flee while they stay to fight Bane. Here’s a hint: if you run someone over and they jump back up, maybe don’t try and box them? Alfred and Selina make a decent effort, but things don’t go well and part of the fight echoes a classic Bane scene. Bruce, Gordon, and the General get to headquarters, are reunited with Bullock, and then suffer yet another betrayal. Lee and Barbara arrive at Sirens to a very grisly sight and an unpleasant welcome. Bruce and Gordon try and figure out how things spun away from them as the city is attacked, although not quite in the way that was ordered. This is a nasty place to leave a month-long gap before the next episode.
What I liked: I didn’t see the Walker reveal coming, and it made a certain amount of sense. I’d prefer they did Bane’s comic book origin, but this one works for the story and is a bit like the last live-action Bane we saw. The Riddler/Penguin/Lee/Barbara bits in the clinic were very entertaining. Strange is, as always, a well-acted slimy presence that you can count on to be looking out for himself and working on whatever new experiment has grabbed his attention.
What I didn’t: Alfred and Selina taking off to rescue Lee and Barbara with no backup was a really foolish choice. It was one of those bits where characters make bad choices to make a dramatic moment happen later. Bane is a very tough fighter and brilliant tactician, but he’s never been bulletproof before. That seems a bit much.
It was an overall good episode with a few flaws. I’ll give it a high 3 out of 5, and hope to finish catching up soon.