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Gotham: Destiny Calling/heavydirtysoul


The Gordian Knot approach isn’t always best, Bruce…

Gotham’s third season wraps with a double header, “Destiny Calling,” and “Heavydirtysoul.” The two episodes bring a lot of forces into play and leave us remarkably few cliffhangers, but bring a lot of things together. And there’s a surprise reveal at the end about one of the characters. So, yeah, beware, there will be some spoilers here. Read on at your peril.

The shows open with a series of scenes showing the Tetch virus loose in Gotham and how bad it’s getting. Even for Gotham, this is ugly. Although the burning train in the background of one shot might look familiar to those who use Washington DC’s Metro system.

The GCPD is being run ragged, with hopped-up virus sufferers pulling off feats of superhuman strength the beat cops can’t keep up with. Gordon, in a really impressive display of willpower, gains control over the virus, at least for now. Harvey, wisely, takes Jim’s gun and shares there’s been no word of Lee since the bomb went off.

Bruce is in holding after the events of last time, with Alfred looking in on him through the one way windows. Gordon and Bullock point out the various reasons Bruce might not be happy to see Alfred about now. Fox turns up with some good news for once: Professor Strange is making progress on an antidote according to notes Fox found. This is when Bullock breaks the bad news about Alfred’s unorthodox deal with Strange, who is once again on the loose. Fox also warns Harvey this is an accelerated version of the virus, and Gordon won’t be able to fight it long. As all this goes on, Strange makes his way through the swarm at the train station to get a ticket and get out of the chaos. That’s when he gets grabbed by Fish Mooney and her crew.

The usually well-educated Riddler is mixing his history badly as he talks about Nero and Troy, which isn’t quite right, as he looks out on the destruction of Gotham. The ever-insane Barbara Keen is convinced this is her chance to take over Gotham’s underworld, and isn’t happy when Ridder says he has no interest in that, just killing Penguin. Finally, they strike a deal that bodes ill for just about everyone.

The train station is a mass of confusion in a sea of people trying to escape. Fish is grilling Strange about the virus, and his safeguards for it. Gordon and Bullock arrive, just in time for Gordon to get a distracting, taunting call from Lee, who is still trying to drag him over to the dark side. Eventually, Gordon and Bullock catch up to Fish and company, but Fish has a surprise up her sleeve. Mr. Freeze goes on the attack, first disarming the detectives, then putting an ice wall between them and Fish’s crew. Gordon goes into another virus frenzy, and Fish comments that it’s nice to meet the real Jim Gordon at last. First Lee then Fish, does everyone think Gordon’s a psychopath with a badge?

There’s a short scene of a sullen Bruce, still in interrogation, where Alfred tries, and fails to reach him. Bruce warns that someone else is coming. Strange, meanwhile, becomes the object of an ugly game between Freeze and Firefly. He gets “saved” by Penguin, who has his own ideas on what to do with the professor. Penguin has neither forgotten nor forgiven his time in Arkham.

Gordon punches through Freeze’s ice wall, eventually, which impresses Bullock. Bullock is a lot less happy about Gordon ripping the door off his car. Back at GCPD, the virus is getting to some people we know now, and that’s not going to go well. Alfred tries again to reach Bruce, then gets distracted by chaos in the squad room from more infected. By the time Alfred gets back, Bruce has picked the cuffs and escaped, once again showing signs of the man he will become.

At Sirens, Butch tries to get Tabitha to see that Barbara isn’t good for her, but Tabitha isn’t ready to give up yet. Tabitha interrupts herself when she sees Lee there. Lee isn’t in the mood for small talk, and is cuttingly insulting to Butch and Tabitha both, then knocks Butch around a little before delivering her threat to Barbara Keen.

While Bruce wanders the streets amid the madness, and Alfred and Bullock shadow him, Fish and company are working with Strange to get his cure for the virus. They find Strange’s stash, but then a group of ninjas find them. When Fish looks at him, Strange says he has no idea who they are, and the ninja leader demands the antidote, which Strange has said is enough to cure all of Gotham when properly diluted. A fight breaks out between the ninjas on one side, and Fish, Mr. Freeze, and Firefly on the other. Gordon, riding the virus frenzy again, arrives in the middle of the fight and stabs Fish, breaking the antidote vials and really upsetting Penguin. Well, the antidote is gone now, but Strange claims he can make more, so there’s still some hope.

Somebody, somewhere, thought it was a good idea to move Jervis Tetch out of Arkham during all this chaos. Butch and Tabitha take advantage of this utter stupidity, and grab Tetch for their own plans. He was probably better off in the asylum. Riddler and Barbara look on and plot more badness for Gotham in general.

Bruce finds an odd, temple-looking building and goes inside. After finding a secret passage and going down an eerie corridor with lurking, creeping figures, Bruce finds the mysterious figure behind all his recent adventures. I guess they really liked Nolan’s Dark Knight movies, because somehow or other, Ra’s al-Ghul has decided Bruce is worth watching. Why a nearly immortal villain is so interested in a kid that can’t even vote yet is unclear. And Ra’s and Batman didn’t meet in the comics until quite a while into his career, after Dick Grayson had been Robin for a while.

This leads to a lot of questions from Bruce, and a confrontation between Ra’s and Alfred, who manages to get captured. Bruce gets pushed into doing something fairly dramatic, that gets fixed by the convenient presence of one of Ra’s’ storied props. It does seem to break Bruce free of Ra’s’ hold on him at least.

Gordon looks over a trashed squad room at the GCPD while the news drones on about the chaos in Gotham. Lee calls to taunt him and try further to seduce/corrupt him. Now she wants to leave the city, and wants him to come with her. She’s shifted her look a lot, and is reminding me of Elvira with tamer hair. This is about when Bullock strides in and talks about Barbara making demands to the city council. Bullock and Gordon hatch a plan to draw the Riddler out of hiding.

Gordon calls Nygma and company, and sparks more squabbling among them. Butch is still trying to get Tabitha away from Barbara, and I feel bad for him trying so hard. Nygma takes advantage of the distraction and slips away with Tetch, provoking another temper tantrum and insult storm from Barbara. That woman really needs to learn when to shut up.

Penguin is not at all happy about being used as Riddler-bait, and rails at Gordon about it. Bullock is just generally worried, which makes perfect sense with everything going on at present. Riddler has taken an extra precaution in the form of a strategically placed hand grenade. Tetch himself is thrilled at learning Gordon is infected. This unstable situation gets made much worse when Tabitha, Butch, and Barbara show up, guns blazing. Barbara mocks Gordon, and Gordon then does something a bit drastic to get work on a cure going.

In all that chaos, Penguin managed to capture Riddler again, and they trade snarky comments while Penguin drives off in Bullock’s police car, Riddler cuffed in back. While Riddler tries to get free, Barbara says she, Butch, and Tabitha should split up and go to one of their safehouses. Tabitha and Barbara share a long kiss, which is likely not helping Tabitha think any clearer.

I’m still not quite clear on how Tetch’s blood is contributing to the cure, since it was his sister that had the virus, not him. He’s just screwy on his own. But, somehow or other, the GCPD lab techs are using it to make a cure, although just now they have limited doses, which Gordon promptly steals and runs off with. Does anyone NOT have their own agenda this episode, aside from Bullock?

Bruce is crying at the hospital, worrying about Alfred, who is in surgery. Selena drops by for unclear reasons, and the two of them have a loud, vicious, and pointless argument. The only reason for the visit seems to be to set up that the two of them are really mad at each other because… the writers said so?

Gordon tries to cure Lee, and she’s not interested. She wants him to stop fighting the virus and the darkness inside him. They end up making out, cure forgotten. As this is going on, Penguin and Riddler have a wide-ranging argument/discussion about their respective lives, during which Riddler gets free and turns the tables on his captor. Again. These two just need to give up; they never seem to get anywhere.

Gordon and Lee manage to slip the police guards at the train station (Why is everyone on trains now? Even if they closed the airports, there are still roads and the docks.) and then get confronted by Bullock. Bullock and Gordon end up fighting, and Bullock pulls off a clever trick. This lets Gordon cure both Lee and himself on the train. They’re going to miss the trip.

There’s a reckoning of sorts among the Barbara/Butch/Tabitha crew. It gets ugly and the cast has been thinned out by the end of it. There’s also a surprise reveal about one of their real names, which is a big hint of what may be coming next season to comic fans. I didn’t see it coming at all, I’ll say that much.

Bruce has a teary scene by Alfred’s bedside which doesn’t really go anywhere. Riddler and Penguin have their final showdown (for the season) and we see the ugly spot one of them will probably be spending a good bit of next season in.

Later, Alfred wakes for a reunion with Bruce. Selena apparently gains a new mentor. Penguin plans his new club– the Iceberg Lounge, which is a familiar name from the comics. Gordon gets more bad news from Lee, although I’m not sure when the last time she gave him good news was. Bullock and Gordon tease each other a bit, showing their friendship survived the ups and downs of the two episodes. And we see a very familiar looking crime foiled by a new crimefighter. That should be interesting next season.

What I liked: I’m really hoping this is the end of the Tetch virus. It keeps coming back and I’m about sick of it. I won’t miss the Barbara/Butch/Tabitha alliance. Bruce seems to be making strides towards his destiny. If anyone we’ve seen so far on the show could fight the virus, it makes sense to me that it’s Gordon. Bullock in general is always enjoyable. At the risk of sounding shallow, I enjoyed Lee’s “evil” look.

What I didn’t: I don’t get why Ra’s needs to be part of Bruce’s origin. I didn’t like it in the movies, and I don’t like it here. How is Tetch’s non-infected blood part of the cure process? What was the point of Selena coming by the hospital to yell at Bruce? I’m not a huge fan of the ongoing Riddler/Penguin feud.

It was an odd conclusion. I’ll give this long finale a 3 out of 5. It’ll be interesting to see how some of this pans out next season.

Gotham: Pretty Hate Machine


Lee gets a new look…

Things ramp up for the poor citizens of Gotham in “Heroes Rise: Pretty Hate Machine.” The show opens with yet another gathering of the Court of Owls. Bruce’s nameless friend takes the council to task for killing the Waynes. Their response is that Thomas Wayne stood against the Court, although he doesn’t have an answer to Bruce’s question about his mother. He also complains that the leader (presumably Nameless here) is gone for years at a time, so they did what they thought was best. Nameless responds in a fairly definitive manner, and urges Bruce to “Give the order.” Bruce doesn’t, looking freaked out, and Nameless claps, cuing the Talons to kill the entire Council. Well, I guess there are some management openings now. Bruce says he won’t hesitate next time. Really? How often does someone order the slaughter of the ruling council of a secret organization?

The GCPD rushes to answer a call, and arrives at the last meeting of the Council. Even Gordon and Bullock are a bit taken aback by the carnage. One of them survives long enough to accuse Gordon of being a traitor and tell them the leader and Bruce Wayne killed them. Everyone exchanges surprised looks. Alfred, of course, says the man must be lying when they get back to the GCPD squad room. Bullock is more curious why the leader would kill off his men, and wonders if that means the bomb is no longer a threat. Gordon dismisses such wishful thinking. After some more disagreements with Alfred about Bruce’s role in the events earlier, Gordon gets told Lee has returned home and rushes off to see what she’s doing with the stolen virus. Hint: Nothing good.

Nygma reports to the evil trio of Barbara Keen, Butch, and Tabitha, telling them Penguin is still alive, which none of them are happy to hear. As their gathering goes on, there are clearly some worsening cracks in the Barbara/Tabitha relationship. Butch is trying to play referee, which is a bit ironic since he really wants to get Tabitha away from Barbara. Nygma tells them the Court has no interest in the criminal underworld (which seems really unlikely to me) and they should worry about Penguin. When Butch wonders why this is their problem, Nygma points out that they all conspired to kill Penguin, and he’s not stupid. Barbara agrees. Nygma gives them an over the shoulder warning about the “army of freaks” on his way out.

Gordon gets to Lee’s place and she greets him in this disturbing, sing-song voice. She’s giving off this vibe that is part barely restrained violence and part Morticia Addams. I like it overall, although I think she went a bit heavy on the eye makeup. She’s playing deranged hostess while not really answering his questions. She talks about what the virus has shown her, and then, after some flirting, tosses him across the room. That virus packs a punch.

Alfred, meanwhile, has figured something out. The house he, Bruce, and Selena stole their owl from isn’t on the map they’ve been using. Bullock wonders if the owl hasn’t been updated, which just struck me as really amusing, but Alfred suggests there are Court locations that aren’t on the map they’re working off. He suggests going back to the Whisper Gang, who they were involved with during the owl heist.

Penguin rants and raves in an apartment hideout, unhappy about the most recent developments. Ivy and Selena largely ignore him as they catch up. Selena is pleased to hear that Bridget is around again, although Penguin and Ivy have lost track of their fledgling army. Selena is acting just as sulky and selfish with them as she was with Alfred last time. Is she trying to make sure she has no friends left? As Nygma and Butch arrive and batter their way in, Selena runs off, but Ivy won’t leave Penguin. That’s a bit touching, but where this loyalty to him came from, I have no idea. Penguin and Ivy bolt through a hidden exit, but Selena runs into Tabitha. Hard.

Bruce and Nameless talk about his feeling lost now that he’s achieved justice for his parents, if that’s what you want to call it. He’s also still upset about not giving the order himself, but Nameless promises him a chance to make up for it. Professor Strange turns up, and is very impressed with the amount of control Nameless has over Bruce now. Strange and some Talons have the bomb, and Nameless says Bruce will trigger it, infecting thousands. Bruce agrees that Gotham must fall by his hand. That’s so deeply disappointing, Bruce.

I’ve been enjoying the Gordon and Bullock scenes a lot on this series, but Bullock and Alfred are developing a vaguely similar rhythm. Bullock comments that he’s going to have give Alfred a badge at this rate. While Leslie dumps Gordon in the trunk of her car, Bullock and Alfred follow up on another lead and end up bursting in on a few Talons with Professor Strange. Improbably, Bullock downs a Talon or two, and Strange surrenders almost before the fight’s over. Other Talons rush off with the bomb, Bruce, and Nameless, who has now been called Sensei. While that’s a general term of respect it’s also a specific character in the Batman comics with ties to Ra’s al-Ghul. Of course, in the comics, he’s Asian. Where’s all the outrage people were directing at Danny Rand being white in Iron Fist (which he’s historically always been)? Alfred catches up with them, and is stunned when Bruce sides with the Sensei. They leave with the bomb and Alfred gets knocked cold by yet another Talon.

Bullock and Alfred return to headquarters and put Strange in a holding cell. Alfred is understandably shaken by his exchange with Bruce. Alfred worries the Sensei (not that they know the name) wants Bruce to detonate the bomb. In another great line, Bullock says he’ll go ask “Baldie-locks,” meaning Strange. Bullock’s instructions about trying to find Gordon or Lee get interrupted when Lee herself walks in, provoking general panic and weapons pointing.

As Lee alludes to Jim waking up about now, he does so. He likely wishes he hadn’t, as he comes to in a coffin. At least she left him a flashlight. Bullock still can’t believe she injected herself, and she responds, creepily, “You say that like it’s a bad thing.” She goes on about her new plan to show everyone who Jim Gordon really is. She has a radio tuned in to one she left Gordon, and says the police will never find him before he runs out of air, but she left him a way out. The catch? She wants him to inject himself with the virus and batter his way out. Lee gloats that she wants to see the look on all the cops’ faces when Gordon gives in and takes the virus. She asks for coffee, and Bullock orders them to get her some and put her in a cell. She ends up in the one next to Strange (which would NEVER happen), they exchange a look and she rolls her eyes. I suspect Dr. Thompkins there isn’t impressed with the Professor. Bullock and Gordon talk on the radio, and Bullock offers what reassurance he can.

Selena is now a “guest” of the Riddler/Barbara/Butch/Tabitha alliance. They ask her why she’s with Penguin and she’s her usual snarky self. That doesn’t endear her to Butch at the very least. There are more signs of the imminent falling out coming between Tabitha and Barbara, as Barbara dismisses Tabitha and Butch so she can plot with Nygma. I think that’s going to be an explosive mess when it happens.

Bullock is worried about Gordon, while Alfred is worried the search isn’t the best use of time. Cold, but maybe true. Bullock comes up with the questionable idea of turning Alfred loose on Professor Strange. Man, there’s going to be Internal Affairs Investigations all over when this is done. Or there would be anyplace less corrupt than Gotham anyway. Bullock takes K9s to Jackson Park, where they’ve figured out Gordon probably is. Lee goes on that Gordon can’t be saved, he’ll take the virus, and it will all be beautiful. Wow, Lee has really checked out.

Alfred has some very simple, direct methods for getting information from the Professor that are definitely not police-sanctioned, even here. Strange, no hero, caves in once he stops screaming. Strange gives up what he has, and Alfred tells him he can go. The highlights are that Strange thinks Bruce is too far gone to be saved, they’re at Wayne Enterprises, and the bomb will go off at five.

Bruce and the Sensei talk about what’s coming, and the Sensei goes on about the man who sees such a great destiny ahead for Bruce. Gordon and Bullock talk on the radio and Gordon notes the battery is dying. Man, she didn’t even leave him a fully charged radio. Bullock urges him to take the virus and they can figure something out later. Gordon considers it, but refuses. Between them, Gordon, Bullock, and Alfred via radio and phone, figure out where the bomb is. Unfortunately, Gordon puts it together just as his battery dies. He won’t save himself, but Gordon won’t let others die for his principles. He jabs himself and tunnels out, just like Lee wanted

Ivy and Penguin are back at what I believe is the same abandoned mansion they started at when they met up. Penguin rants, and Ivy shows how amazingly stupid she is, nothing at all like the brilliant researcher she’s supposed to be. She told Selena everything on a phone call, and sure enough, the Riddler contingent shows up. Their various threats are interrupted when another character we’ve not seen for a while turns up and takes Penguin away. As Butch comments, she knows how to make an entrance.

Bullock finds the spot where Gordon unearthed himself, and is worried. He gives the radio call to clear Union Station and that Gordon is on the way there, infected with the virus. Lee is thrilled, and escapes due to a careless cop.

Everything comes to a head at Union Station. Bruce and the Sensei are there, and they see the crazed Gordon come in. Sensei tells Bruce it’s time to press the button, and Alfred bursts in where they are and yells at him not to become a murderer. The virus-enhanced Gordon trashes a Talon easily to get to the bomb, but then gets distracted by Lee’s arrival. Bruce, Alfred, and the Sensei have their showdown. Things go badly for everyone, and the show ends with an epic disaster in the making, as well as a big hint who. Weirdly, despite cops yelling orders and then Gordon throwing people around with superhuman strength, no one seems to have evacuated the station. I guess they really want to make their trains.

What I liked: Bullock and Gordon are always great together, and Alfred is fitting in well. The revelation about who Nameless seems to be is interesting (and another major divergence from the comics). Evil Lee is an interesting new presence. The Alfred/Strange scene was great.

What I didn’t: I don’t like Bruce being a thrall of the Sensei. I’m not a fan of sulky Selena. I’m getting a bit tired of the Tabitha/Barbara drama, and I think Butch should just cut and run at this point. I don’t buy the Court’s plan has always been a virus created relatively recently by accident.
I don’t like the direction they seem to be heading in for who is behind Bruce’s big destiny.

Taking the week off: Really, the only regular who wasn’t here was Lucius Fox. Maybe he got out of town? I would at this point.

I’ll give this one a 3 out of 5. Next week is supposed to be a two hour finale.

Have comics on TV reached saturation?


I started this site way back when with the name “Comic Book Clog” because I liked the name, the imagery it invoked, but more to the point, it’s the way I felt about comics at the time.  For example:  to follow Batman, you had to read all of the Batman family books.  (I made a video about this an even longer time ago.)  Same goes for Spider-Man… and this is how it’s been for a long time.  Then it became that way for other characters and groups like X-Men, The Avengers and so on.  It became too much (both from a content and cost standpoint) and it pushed me out of a ton of books.

And now, I feel that it’s reached this critical point on TV.

While I’m still watching the movies (although DC/WB has tried my patience – it’s great that 93% of reviews for Wonder Woman are positive, but a 7.6 average score isn’t exactly, “run, don’t walk” territory), it’s hard for me to get excited about comic books on TV.

I started watching Agents of SHIELD because I like the actor who plays Coulson as well as the character and a TV show seemed to be the perfect place to explore the MCU.  I enjoyed the first season and the way they tied it into Winter Soldier, but as the show devolved into Daisey’s Agents of X-Men somewhere in season 3, I completely lost interest.  (I’ve talked about this before.)

So, I moved into the Netflix corner of the MCU.  There, I enjoyed season 1 of Daredevil and Jessica Jones, but Matt Murdock’s season 2 didn’t wow me the way the first one did and I have yet to finish Luke Cage or even start Iron Fist.

And don’t even get me started on Gotham.

So where do I go from here?  I watched the first few episodes of Supergirl and quickly got bored, I enjoyed the first episode of Arrow but immediately forgot it existed… and wtf is Preacher?  I heard The Gifted was good, but I just haven’t gotten to it.  Does it tie in with the X-Men movies?  I’m not sure I have the energy for that at this point.

I’ve reached saturation.  To everybody else, hang in there.


Gotham: All Will Be Judged


Celebrating their escape… if that’s what you call this

In Gotham, the segment of the season continues with “Heroes Rise: All Will Be Judged.” The show starts with the very odd couple of Penguin and Nygma, locked in adjoining cages that look like huge bird cages, prisoners of the Court of Owls. I really have to wonder, where would you even get cages like that? I mean, seriously, who makes those? The two of them argue and bicker, and it’s entertaining to watch.

Out at Wayne Manor, the house is filled with the sounds of alarms. The Clone wanders in to the study (where something like 90% of the action at the manor happens), where he sees the telltale open window that is Selena’s favorite entrance. Selena and the Clone exchange a few barbed comments and then start fighting.  They’re both very good, and the Clone only gets the upper hand when Alfred comes in and distracts the young cat burglar. This is when Alfred figures out what’s going on, and does decently in his own fight until he pauses, too. These two need to go back to combat training. While this goes on, Bruce and his Nameless Mentor arrive at a deserted mansion on the outskirts of Gotham.

Lee has a very disturbing dream about Mario that results in her taking it out on an innocent glass of wine. While she tries to shake that off, Gordon and Bullock try to figure out where the Court might have a “secure location” if they’ve been around for hundreds of years. With off-screen help from Lucius Fox, they work out that Catherine owns some property near the docks that seems to have some kind of hidden room. Bullock also admits that he’s jealous of Fox’s intelligence, but that may have just been a comedic throwaway line. The place proves to be the usual dingy, rundown, abandoned warehouse kind of scene, and Bullock laments that they never have to go search a place he’d like to go, like a brewery or strip club. They find a really badly hidden door and discover a largely empty room. In the center is a crystal owl like the one Bruce and company stole a while back. Their search is interrupted by the sudden appearance of the crazed ex-Captain Barnes, now decked out in black leather, weird face paint, and toting an ax as a replacement for his missing hand.

Not knowing that he’s busy fighting crazy people, Alfred is trying to call Gordon while Selena nurses her injured head. Selena refuses to help find the missing Bruce, and Alfred goes off on her. I’d agree she had that coming. Alfred finishes his diatribe by telling Selena to never come back to Wayne Manor as he stalks out of the room. Leave the thief you just ticked off alone in the big mansion, that’s a great idea.

While Bullock winces as medics treat him and tries to get a lead on the missing Gordon, Penguin and Nygma bicker more, initially about the width of the blade Penguin is sharpening to kill Nygma with. They argue a lot more, and then Penguin, despite being drugged by Nygma, foils Nygma’s escape attempt, smiling while Nygma gets beaten by the guards.

Bruce and the Nameless Mentor go through another round of trying to lock away Bruce’s pain about his parents’ deaths, which Bruce can’t manage to do. Gordon, meanwhile, finds he is strapped to a chair so that Barnes can try him for… not supporting Barnes’ killing spree, I guess. Catherine is also there, shaking her head over her disappointment about Gordon betraying her. That’s Jim, letting everyone down by trying to prevent the citizens of Gotham from being murdered. Who does he think he is, anyway? Catherine leaves after more vague threats about Gotham’s future.

Lee goes back to Arkham to visit the Mad Hatter, who has taken to speaking in rhyme. They spar with each other, and he lays out his motivations for infecting Mario. It’s a decent plan, in its own twisted way, and Lee has definitely fallen for it. She comes to a disturbing realization about what’s been going on.

Penguin and Nygma both manage to put aside mutual hatred long enough to realize they’re not going to get anywhere if they keep getting in each other’s way. They agree both to work together and to a six hour truce after they escape. They’re both very intelligent men, so I’d say they have a good chance at making it out.

Bruce gets taken down Memory Lane via magic needle again, but this time we see Nameless’ memory, not Bruce’s. Apparently, the killing of the Waynes wasn’t sanctioned by the Court, and Nameless actually killed the man who ordered it. Nameless then tells Bruce the Court must pay for its crimes (despite the fact that he’s clearly a high-ranking member) and asks if Bruce will help him.

Barnes puts his ax-hand on dramatically, although he was wearing it earlier. Did he take it off to put it back on? He tells Gordon that things could have gone so differently, if only Gordon hadn’t decided to stand against Gotham and Justice. Gordon manages to appeal to their bond as fellow soldiers and law enforcement to die with his badge on, and uses Barnes coming close to pull off a pretty slick trick. Barnes babbled earlier about Lee coming to see him, and now is enraged at Jim’s trick and the sudden arrival of the GCPD. Barnes, still hopped up on the Tetch Virus (the gift that keeps on giving) plunges several stories, then gets up and runs off.

Gordon is freed but Barnes is still on the loose. A frustrated Bullock gets off my favorite line of the episode: “There’s a nut job running around Gotham in a leather jumpsuit with an axe for an arm. I know this is Gotham but c’mon people do something!” he exhorts the squad room. Gordon wants to go bust Catherine, but apparently Barnes’ Strike Force has been around just off- screen all this time, and they’ve already picked her up. This is when Alfred arrives with news of Bruce’s disappearance, and Alfred, Gordon, and Bullock compare notes about the Court. This “secret” organization is becoming pretty damn well known. They collectively figure out the crystal owl Alfred helped steal is important, and he goes to get the pieces.

Penguin and Riddler enact their escape plan, which goes off without a hitch. Score one for the bad guys. Catherine proves utterly uncooperative when Gordon tries to question her, but oddly doesn’t request a lawyer. She also laughs at his belief that she’s the leader of the Court. If she’s not playing mind games with Gordon, I guess that makes Nameless the leader. Catherine’s tune changes when an enraged Alfred learns she’s there, and plays a bit worse than bad cop. Just because things weren’t chaotic enough, this is about when Barnes shows up and attacks the GCPD.

Barnes wades through the cops, using a combination of knockout gas and his virus-enhanced strength. While Bullock was warning the others about Barnes being there, the nutjob apparently went climbing, as he suddenly drops from the rafters of the squad room. He wipes the floor with Bullock, Gordon, and Alfred. Catherine overplays her hand, and he ends up backhanding her, which I have to admit was a little satisfying. Gordon finally manages to down Barnes with a particularly desperate move. The GCPD does love their shotguns.

Penguin and Riddler actually honor their truce, after terrifying a few local homeless guys. Gordon and company try to put the squad room back together. Lee comes in for another very odd scene with Gordon. She still blames him for everything, despite what Hatter told her, and then makes a few cryptic comments. This is also when we find out Barnes killed Catherine, which was really not clear at all from the scene.

Bruce and Nameless go through the “lock away the pain” ritual again, and this time Bruce manages it. From what we see after that, it doesn’t look like this is going to go well for Bruce. Barnes, naturally, escapes again, to Bullock’s (and my) annoyance. Lee steals something and then does something amazingly stupid to end the episode.

What I liked: Riddler and Penguin actually make a great team when they aren’t trying to kill each other. Bullock keeps getting the best lines and reactions. Alfred’s tirade at Selena was well-earned. I won’t miss Catherine the Smug. Hatter’s rant to Lee was actually on the diabolically brilliant side.

What I didn’t: Selena isn’t being cool or aloof, she’s being a brat. Lee’s been acting weird for a while now, and this episode she went past that to loony. The “hidden” room of the Court’s was really obvious. Why is Bruce trusting someone who helped kidnap him and hold him prisoner? Can we keep Barnes in custody for more than five minutes?

Taking the Week Off: The Tabitha/Butch/Barbara trio are nowhere to be seen. Neither is Ivy, the other “army of freaks” members, or Lucius Fox, despite being mentioned a lot.

Gotham: Light The Wick


No, that’s not an ominous looking room or anything.

As the season finale approaches, things get really interesting, in several senses of the word, for the people of Gotham. “Heroes Rise: Light The Wick” was one of their better episodes in my opinion. They cleverly drew on their own history, bringing back both past characters and events to weave an advancement of the current plots.

The episode opens in Arkham, where nothing good ever happens. There’s a running joke that no one would still live in Gotham with all the things that have happened there over the years; that’s even more true for working at Arkham. We do see Captain Nathaniel Barnes, still suffering from Alice Tetch’s plague, the Mad Hatter, and a Talon. It’s an odd combination that gives us a good fight and even some dramatic narration. Barnes is taken to the Court, where Catherine tells him they have similar goals: the judgement of Gotham. But she needs something from Barnes, and apparently Professor Strange is going to help her get it.

Lee Thomkins, bound and determined to do something about James Gordon, brings her report on Frank Gordon’s death to Harvey. He’s surprised to see it labeled as a homicide. Lee is furious, sure that Harvey is part of whatever big coverup she is sure is plaguing the GCPD. When Harvey doesn’t help her, she storms out. Lee is storming a lot lately, actually.

Catherine tells the Court that all they are going to focus on now is the judgement of Gotham. Somewhat ominously, she tells the members to submit names for approval. There are a few ways you can take that, and none of them are really good. While Catherine is plotting doom and destruction, Ivy is trying to find her missing friend, Selena. Eventually, she gets a hint from Tabitha at Sirens to go check out the hospital, and that Selena isn’t doing well.

Gordon is taking a lot of chances at the Court. Back in that same meeting room where everything happens, he gets clever and takes prints off Catherine’s mask. When another member comes in, Gordon covers by asking about the names. The nameless Owl tells Jim that loved ones will be spared from the coming judgements. That sounds positively Biblical.

Ivy uses her skills to get in to Selena’s hospital room and hears the news. Upset, Ivy decides she’s going to take care of Selena since the nurses have already written her off. Ivy’s not the only one hard at work. Strange is complaining about Catherine both holding him captive and hovering over him. He does manage to demonstrate that he’s already had some results.

Off in the mountain fastness of Wherever The Hell, Bruce is being trained by Nameless Man. It’s some kind of paired stick fighting, possibly escrima. As Bruce and some guy duel (hey, there is someone else here!), Nameless keeps preaching that pain and anger aren’t strength. When he releases Bruce from those things, no one will be able to stop him.

Harvey has gotten Jim’s prints run, and Catherine is Catherine Monroe, a very wealthy Gothamite. I kind of wonder why her prints are on file. Generally, you only get hits on prints from criminals (sure, she is one, but has she been arrested? I’d bet against it), military, or professions that require printing, like law enforcement, private investigators, or bonded couriers. Somehow, I don’t think Catherine’s been any of those. At any rate, Jim heads to her place after Harvey gives him the address. Harvey also passes on the news that Lee is pushing hard on the Frank Gordon case and that Barnes is missing.

Gordon doesn’t get far. In fact, he manages to get out his door before Penguin and Firefly confront him. Penguin isn’t stupid, whatever his other flaws are. He’s put together that Nygma was publically demanding answers about the Court and then disappeared. Penguin doesn’t buy the “Nygma escaped” story. He leaves a phone with Gordon and demands to be put in touch with the Court before he goes public, something he knows they don’t like. Sure, threaten the secret society. That seems wise.

Gordon waits for his chance and then breaks into Catherine’s place with ease. He manages to find a card for somewhere at Wayne Industries before he gets cornered. Bluffing his way out, he tells Catherine that he came there to tell her about Penguin’s threat. Curiously, Catherine doesn’t seem all that worried that Gordon figured out who she is and where she lives.

Going back to his allies, Jim meets up with Bullock and Lucius Fox. They are brainstorming about what’s coming next, and Gordon is sure it involves the Tetch virus from some not so subtle hints Catherine has dropped. They realize why Barnes has suddenly gone missing, and Fox ponders the pass card. He thinks he’s narrowed down where Catherine might be working on the virus.

Ivy is filling Selena’s rooms with special plants, using temporarily mind-controlled nurses for labor. Her worry about Selena is actually kind of sweet. From sweet to a lot less so, Nameless Man makes Bruce relive another painful scene from his past: his parents’ wake. Bruce was furious that people were talking about him instead of his parents. Nameless can’t keep his stories straight. He’s been telling Bruce he’s going to make the boy into Gotham’s protector, and then ends this scene by saying they’re going to make Gotham pay. That’s a protector?

Gordon and Bullock follow up on Fox’s information and find the right lab. They also find a lot of dead guards. The reason for that shows up a moment later: one of the virus test subjects. Bullock and Gordon are losing this fight badly (they should have just shot the guy), when they get an unexpected savior: Hugo Strange. Strange injects the guy from behind while he’s strangling Gordon. Strange gives them some information, and makes a few decent points about why they shouldn’t take him in just yet. Bullock admires the way his brain works in spite of himself, which was funny to see. Gordon tells Harvey to get what Strange gave them back to Fox, while he goes to set up a meeting with Catherine.

Bruce’s fighting has gotten better since Nameless has apparently gotten him to lock his emotions away. While I get you shouldn’t fight mad, fighting with no emotion at all isn’t a really good idea. Planning that way, sure. But fighting? That doesn’t really work. Bruce gets really into it this time, and I feel bad for his sparring partner, Nameless II. They’re really not big on names here at Wherever The Hell.

Gordon gets a test from the Court. They are going to test the new virus in aerosol form by setting it off at a gathering of the Daughters of Gotham. They’re some high society group Catherine decided would make good victims. You have to wonder if they didn’t let her in a while back or something. Gordon gets told to watch the test, and that if he interferes, Talon will kill him. Then, in true supervillain fashion, she leaves after giving Gordon a lot of information. Gordon secretly uses Penguin’s phone to call him and leave hints about where they are. It was good move on Gordon’s part.

Fox locks up the new data and samples from Strange. Then Lee walks in and tries to recruit him for her cause. Lee is disgusted when Fox defends Gordon. When she really loses it is when she gets to the line, “How many people does he have to kill before you see what I see?” Pretty much anytime you get to “only I can see what’s going on,” you sound like a raving lunatic even if you happen to be right. Lee says Fox is just like everyone else here and walks out.

Gordon tries to play his undercover part, but, despite what Lee is ranting about, he’s really not going to sit there and let them gas a room full of people. With a muttered “Screw it” he goes after the Talon. Gordon’s good, but Talons are borderline superhuman, so that goes badly. Gordon’s getting his ass kicked when Penguin and Firefly finally show up. Talons are good, but not notably fireproof. Penguin is still ranting about wanting to meet the Court, and Gordon points out that, “since you just torched their assassin, they’ll probably be in touch.” Gordon goes on to save a girl from the chaos of the gas attack. Weirdly, he hauls her behind him and then closes these fancy metal scroll work doors. It’s a nice visual, but those doors aren’t going to stop the gas.

Catherine gets a call that clearly sets up the relationship between her and Nameless Man. She is NOT the top dog, or owl, at the Court. Nameless and Bruce will be leaving tonight, so I guess they’ll be back in time for the finale. While this goes on, Penguin rants at his place, wondering where “Ivy and the human popsicle” are. Sounds like he’s losing control of his freak army already. That was quick. He’s in for a worse surprise when a Talon shows up.

Ivy’s efforts have finally worked and Selena comes around. Ivy is thrilled, then worried when Selena drags herself out of bed. She’s going to Wayne Manor because she has to kill someone. I really hope we don’t get the low comedy of Selena getting there just as Bruce returns and she mistakes him for the Clone.

Gordon visits Lee in her office, which, all things considered, is brave of him. Lee is packing up. Considering what she believes is happening, that’s actually her most rational move. I can’t say I blame her. She continues to deny Mario was about to kill her, and I guess the crack Gotham Crime Scene Investigations folks never managed to find that knife. After more arguing, she leaves with the stereotypical box to show she’s quit her job clutched in her hands.

Catherine notices the drawer Jim found the pass card under isn’t quite pushed in all the way. That was sloppy, Jim. Somehow, that one drawer lets her figure out everything Gordon did. While she seethes, Penguin gets stuffed into a big cage. In the cage next door is Nygma, who is surprised to see Penguin alive. Penguin lunges for him but can’t reach, which might be a good thing for Nygma at this point. Catherine decides it’s time to up the stakes, and turns someone loose to kill Gordon.

What I liked: Using the Tetch virus as a weapon makes perfect sense, and waiting to spring Barnes until they have their dispersal system was really smart of the Court. Gordon managed a few slick moves, too, like calling Penguin. Strange had perfectly sound motives for saving, but not going with, Gordon and Bullock. Lee’s decision to go also made a lot of sense. Ivy’s friendship for Selena was shown really nicely.

What I didn’t: Catherine’s leap of logic about that drawer came out of nowhere. I kind of wish we’d get some names, or at least hints, off where Bruce is. This freak army of Penguin’s is falling apart fast. Did the Talon kill Firefly? I don’t see why he’d let her live.

Taking the week off: Barbara and Butch were both nowhere to be seen in the one quick visit to Sirens. Alfred also was off screen, presumably taking care, and growing suspicious of, the Clone.

I think this was a pretty good episode, maybe one of their best. I’ll go a low 4 out of 5 for this one. The pieces are falling into place for a hell of a season finale.

Gotham: The Primal Riddle


If you’re green and you don’t know where to go to…

The current season, or sub-season, or whatever you call it, continues for Gotham with, “Heroes Rise: The Primal Riddle.” With shows taking so many random breaks, I’m really not sure how to refer to these sections of the season, especially when they sub-title them like both Gotham and Agents of SHIELD are doing. At any rate, the story continues with Riddler looming large, as the title suggests.

The opening scene is in a snowy, frigid looking place. I thought at first it was whatever weird mountain retreat Bruce has been hauled off to, but no, it’s Penguin and Ivy off seeking their next recruit for the “army of freaks.” With that setting, naturally they’re off to see Mr. Freeze. Penguin said some bad things about Freeze during the mayoral campaign, but they brought along a bribe to get Freeze’s cooperation. Ivy, we see, is somewhat inept her role as Vanna White stand-in.

Back in Gotham, Catherine meets with Gordon in what seems to be the Court of Owls’ only room. For such a vast, powerful secret organization, you’d think they could afford an occasional change of scenery. They talk about Gordon’s now-late Uncle Frank, and the death of Jim’s father. Catherine finally tells Jim they’ll call him when they need him, and that they’ve taken care of the body.

They probably could have done a better job, because by the time Jim gets to work, Leslie has had the body long enough to do an exam and get pictures. She and Bullock break the news to Jim, who doesn’t react hugely, since he knew about this already. Since Lee is already determinedly anti-Gordon, this is enough to set her off on another tirade about making sure Jim pays for everything he’s done. After she storms off in a huff of indignation, Gordon fills Bullock in on what happened with the Court. Bullock, for his part, points out the Riddler is in the paper again.

Never knowing when to leave well enough alone, Barbara goes looking for Ed, who corrects her that he’s Riddler now. Barbara is really not happy to find out about the Court, since she’s so good with authority figures in general. They share some information about what they’ve learned so far. Intrigued by the puzzle, Nygma agrees to look into the Court in his own showy way. He does this by interrupting a performance of Hamlet. I thought it was MacBeth that was supposed to be the unlucky play?

Out at Wayne Manor, Alfred and the Clone play chess. Desperate to deflect questions from Alfred, Clone-Boy spins a story about Selena rejecting him and him being embarrassed. Being the perfect Gentleman’s Gentleman, Alfred understands and leaves to make dinner. Right after that, we see the cloning process apparently has its flaws.

At the theater, Gordon and Bullock follow up on Nygma’s latest crime. They eventually work out he’s after the Mayor, now once again the corrupt and cowardly Aubrey James. Back at Sirens, Barbara and Tabitha debate Nygma’s usefulness. He walks in during this and tells them a bit about his next overly-elaborate scheme, after demanding some explosive assistance.

Gordon and Bullock go to warn James, who is making a pig of himself and being evasive about their questions and concerns. Slowly, it becomes apparent that Riddler was a step ahead, and has already struck at James, despite the two hulking bodyguards. Then again, the Riddler tends to be more than a match for dumb muscle.

The “Army of Freaks” recruits their next member at some big metal works/foundry kind of place. After some discussion, Firefly shows an ability I’ve never seen in the comics to quit her job very dramatically. Of course, in the comics, Firefly is a grown man, not a teenage girl. At about the same time, the Clone gets some bad news from Catherine about his health and Gotham’s future.

Mayor James is rushed to the hospital, which is an elaborate trap by Riddler. He’s greatly helped along by his own planning, and both Gordon and Bullock doing a few dumb things here. In the aftermath of this, Gordon goes to Sirens to confront Tabitha and Butch. Butch is astonished to learn the whole “riddle thing” is actually real, but they won’t help Gordon find Barbara or Nygma. Tabitha loathes Nygma, but is still close enough with Barbara she ignores Butch’s warnings about her.

Nygma, of course, has the Mayor. James doesn’t know a lot, but babbles out what little he does between warning Nygma that the Court will kill them all for talking about them. Nygma is thrilled, because at least this is confirmation that the Court exists. Tabitha storms in to tell them Gordon came by Sirens, and to deliver something for Nygma.

At whatever apartment Selena is currently squatting in, she stops by with stolen cat food for her friends. She gets startled when who she thinks is Bruce is there to talk. She reminds him she said she never wanted to see him again. Rather than keep up this painful charade, the Clone takes the unexpected approach of telling her the truth.

Lee keeps digging into Frank Gordon’s death, and finds evidence that the Court really isn’t as good as they say they are. She’s figured out that there’s something wrong with the body, and is more convinced than ever that Gordon is up to no good. That doesn’t get any better when he tries to warn her off. The GCPD get another riddle, and Catherine calls Gordon, not happy about how public the Riddler is being.

Gordon plays a dangerous game, and manages to clear out GCPD (I don’t buy that for a minute) and get Nygma to bring James there (also unlikely). There’s some tension about a bomb around James’ neck, but the Riddler underestimated someone on that front. Eventually, Gordon persuades Riddler to come with him, and delivers him to the Court.

Selena and the Clone have a chat that doesn’t go well for either of them. Selena mocks a lot of the Clone’s choices, and also shows she’s not as indifferent to Bruce as she’d like to think. The conversation doesn’t go the way the Clone wanted it to at all, and he ends it on a dramatic note that echoes one of the earlier Batman movies. I guess even Selena can get overconfident.

Barbara storms into Sirens, furious at Tabitha. How she learned what happened with the bomb I’m not sure, since the only ones there for that were Gordon, Riddler, and James. I doubt any of them are feeling really friendly towards her at present. At any rate, in true villain style, she vents her anger on a hapless employee before arguing with Tabitha. Barbara is so mad, she reveals a bit more than she intended to Tabitha, and Butch points this out after Barbara leaves.

While Penguin and his new friends make themselves at home at his mansion (five is an army?), Gordon goes to the Court. I guess he’s in now, because he’s in their special room and even gets his own silly looking mask. I’m sorry, no matter how intimidating the Court is supposed to be, those masks detract from the fear.

What I liked: I really enjoy Nygma. They continue to do a good job with him. I’m waiting for the Barbara/Tabitha/Butch triumvirate to fall apart, and it’s going to be messy when it does. Selena mocking the Clone was well done and what she said made sense. Gordon’s in a really rough spot and I feel bad for him. Gordon and Bullock continue to play off each other very well.

What I didn’t: The Clone being attracted to Selena just because Bruce is doesn’t make a lot of sense. I get Lee has been through a lot, but her new obsession with making Gordon pay isn’t quite clicking with me. I just don’t like the Court, and the focus on them this season really isn’t doing a lot for me.

Taking the Week Off: Bruce is off at his new, involuntary mountain retreat, and, despite being mentioned several times, Lucius Fox never actually makes it on screen.

Gotham: These Delicate and Dark Obsessions


Who the hell IS this guy?

Heroes continue to Rise in Gotham, as seen in “These Delicate and Dark Obsessions.” The episode opens with Catherine addressing the Court of Owls. Mostly, she laments the state of Gotham, and tells them a weapon to cleanse the city is being made. They vote, trying to be solemn but it looks silly to me, by holding up feathers, and decide to proceed.

I thought Bruce Wayne might be the weapon Catherine is talking about, since that’s who we see next. He’s still at whatever odd place he was dropped off at, high in the mountains of… someplace they haven’t identified, actually. Maybe Gotham’s version of Nanda Parbat, which Arrow is making use of so much in that series? Bruce is dressed in white robes, which could be either a beginners martial arts gi or some kind of monk’s robes. He talks to an old man who claims to be in charge and is the only person besides Bruce we see here. They talk in general terms about Bruce’s clone and the Court. Their conversation ends on the somewhat ominous note of the man telling Bruce to eat, because he’ll need his strength.

Back at the GCPD, Bullock is trying to rally some enthusiasm into the cops. There’s been no sign of Nygma, and they’re running out of places to look. Gordon is focused on his own mission, looking into the death of his father all those years ago. With some insight from both heritage and personal experience, Bullock provides Gordon with his next lead.

Out at whatever abandoned estate Ivy has so conveniently taken over, she’s pushing Penguin around in an old-fashioned wheelchair that looks like it should be in an Agatha Christie novel. Ivy, uncharacteristically, is in a bubbly, upbeat mood, ignoring Penguin snapping at her. His disposition doesn’t exactly improve when she refers to the plants as her friends. Penguin convinces her to take a message to Gabe, his former henchman that Penguin refers to as a “loyal moron.”

There’s a sort of Gordon family reunion in the next scene. Jim is at his father’s grave when he’s joined by his enigmatic Uncle Frank. Frank warns Jim that the Court has some kind of weapon on the way to Gotham, but he has no more detail than that. Fanatics in the Court want to cleanse the city, which doesn’t sound good at all, and this has happened twice in the past, which has me really curious. Just in cast that wasn’t awkward enough, Jim runs into Lee at Mario’s grave. She’s still a long way from forgiving Jim for what he did. Jim gets rescued, in a way, by a phone call. The lawyer that defended the driver that killed Jim’s father was paid for by Carmine Falcone.

A very overjoyed Gabe hugs Penguin. Ivy looks on, and tells Penguin that there’s something wrong. About as grateful as you’d expect him to be, Penguin repays her kindness by telling her it’s time to part ways. Gabe figures out that Ivy told Penguin not to trust him. As he knocks Penguin out, Gabe says Ivy is a smart girl. Penguin really doesn’t do well with the people he chooses to trust.

Bruce has a weird scene wherever he is, with the mysterious old man. Either the place is magic, or the old man has some powers or both. Bruce is possibly having a better time than Jim, who is at Falcone’s place, demanding answers about the lawyer. Weirdly, Falcone calls Jim “son” after being so furious at him moments ago. Jim gets told who ordered the hit on his father, and it’s a shocking development. But, if nothing else, this is also more confirmation of the Court’s existence .

Jim storms off to confront Frank about his new information. Frank tells him Peter, his father, was going to expose the Court, which doesn’t go well for anyone. The confrontation turns a bit violent, and Frank proves very able to handle himself. I guess it runs in the family.

Gabe, in true villain fashion, boasts about his plan to the captive Penguin. Gave isn’t going to kill Penguin, he’s going to auction off that pleasure. Things are looking grim for Penguin, and they get worse when his only ally, Ivy, gets herself captured because she’s too busy talking to herself to hear the thug coming up behind her.

I get it, more or less, but I’m betting Bullock doesn’t feel like thanking Gordon for telling him all about the Court. In his usual smart-ass style, Bullock comments that if the Court is running Gotham, they’re doing a horrible job. They talk about the weapon, and the need to take the warning seriously. With the Court having fingers everywhere, they are concerned about getting a warrant and keeping it secret. This gives Jim an idea, which worries Bullock. I keep flashing back to Harvey’s wonderful line about, “You think you’ve been careful up to now?” Given what Jim ends up doing, I don’t blame Harvey Bullock for being worried.

Bruce starts to learn that his nameless captor isn’t just some randomly crazy old man. With a variation of acupuncture, the man takes Bruce back to the fateful night in the alley when his parents were killed. It’s shockingly real and jarring to Bruce, who is in no mood to listen to the man’s cryptic comments about memory at this point. Again, I don’t blame him. That must have been amazingly traumatic for Bruce.

Jim’s bright idea is asking a favor from his ex. That’s a dicey proposition for someone in a normal situation. For Jim, with the ex in question being Barbara, it’s worse. But, she decides to pitch in with all her manic insanity, and Tabitha comes along for the ride. They eventually uncover the existence of a Dock 9C. Even being “interrogated” by Tabitha and Badagara’s tender mercies, the luckless man they’re asking doesn’t want to talk at first. They get a small bit of information but then the Talon shows up. The Court’s expert killer makes short work of all Barbara and Tabby’s thugs, as well as the man they were interrogating. Barbara and Tabitha wisely flee at this point. They did learn that whatever the weapon is, it’s already in Gotham.

Penguin is seething at this latest reversal, but Ivy seems supremely unconcerned. After extorting a promise to be nice from her fellow captive, Ivy gets them free via her mind controlling perfume. The actress is doing a decent job of occasionally reminding us that this version of Ivy is very attractive young woman with a child’s mind, and a lot of that comes through both this episode in general and this scene in particular. Her “super” really illustrates it well as she gives her new slave instructions. Once the tables are turned, Penguin talks about his own version of an auction. It’s not one that bodes well for Gabe.

Catherine addressed the Court, and decides that Jim Gordon must be killed. While all this goes on, Gordon shares Barbara’s information with Bullock. In addition to the weapon already being in the city, the crate had the Indian Hill logo on it, which Harvey calls the Freak Factory. Uncle Frank calls, seems genuinely surprised to learn that the weapon is in the city already, and asks for a solo meeting with Jim.

Penguin learns some unpleasant things with Gabe under Ivy’s sway. His temper runs the way it usually does, and I think we’re done with Gabe now. Ivy makes an interesting suggestion for what lies in Penguin’s future. This is going to get very interesting, although likely not good for Gotham.

Jim’s meeting with his uncle starts off as something like an emergency briefing about the state of the Court. Frank gives him a lot of information quickly about what the Court is doing next, how they’re reacting. He then, finally, offers what I’d call definitive proof which side he’s on as he pulls off his next scheme to get the Court to trust Jim. It was dramatic, it surprised me, and it made a lot of sense in retrospect.

Bruce has another scene with The Man With No Name. Nameless talks about what Bruce needs to do, and what Gotham needs him to become. He also talks about Bruce becoming a symbol, which sounds like part of his origin in some versions. Clearly, this is the big lead up to at least part of Bruce’s training to become Batman. I’m not sure who this man is supposed to be. The obvious answer is that he’s some version of Ra’s Al-Ghul. The reasons I don’t think it are that 1) Ra’s was never part of Batman’s origin until the Christian Bale movies, so it’s not exactly something they need to recreate, and 2) With Ra’s being such a big part of Arrow, I don’t know that they’re going to want a different version on another tv show so soon. Things end with Jim doing just what you always tell your kids not to: taking a ride with a stranger.

What I liked: I end up not liking her appearances a lot of the time, but Barbara (and her sidekick Tabitha) were used just about dead perfect here. Ivy’s handling of Penguin’s situation was nicely done. I’m intrigued by whatever mess Bruce is in. I’m not as wild about the Court of Owls storyline, but it’s being done well.

What I didn’t: It seems like it’s a little early to start Bruce’s training, at least as far as the show goes. I also think it’s a bit weird he hasn’t tried a bit harder to get the name of his teacher/captor.

Taking The Week Off: This week, cast members on vacation include Nygma, no doubt resting up after last week’s exploits, Selena, and Alfred, probably spending time with Bruce’s clone. Butch also doesn’t join Tabitha and Barbara.

There was nothing really spectacular this episode, but nothing really bad either. I’ll give it a solid 3 out of 5.

Gotham: Heroes Rise: How the Riddler Got His Name


The closest to comic book appearance of anyone so far on the show…

After a very long, seemingly random hiatus, Gotham is back. In keeping with their tradition of naming sections of their seasons, this one is called “Heroes Rise.” Obviously Bruce would be part of that, and I guess Gordon accounts for the plural? I guess we’ll find out as we go.

The show opens with a professor in his lab. His attempts at work get interrupted by an unexpected visitor- Edward Nygma. Nygma is on a quest and the poor professor doesn’t measure up. Nygma isn’t too worried about being subtle, either, leaving some very hard to miss things in his wake.

Elsewhere, Bruce is reciting the facts of his life, which seems odd until you realize it’s not Bruce at all, but his clone from Indian Hill. Catherine, the apparent leader of the Court of Owls, is grilling him to take Bruce’s place. Catherine then talks to Jim Gordon’s Uncle Frank, and gives the clone some kind of injection.

Nygma is relaxing after his latest homicide, enjoying tea, a newspaper, and some kind of pills. Penguin shows up as a hallucination, dripping wet from Nygma shoving him in the Gotham River. There’s some entertaining banter, and Penguin offers some useful advice, which Nygma ignores. Nygma is apparently searching for someone to teach him how to be a villain, which is his new goal in life. Nygma muses that if he can’t find a villain to teach him, he needs a hero to oppose him. Nygma decides he needs Jim Gordon, much to faux-Penguin’s disgust.

Examining Nygma’s killing spree without knowing what’s going on, Bullock and Lucius Fox talk about a “serial killer of smart people.” Bullock accuses Fox of being bored and making things up to give himself something to do. Fox admits to being bored, but says that’s not why he’s worried about this. Their argument gets interrupted by a clue from the Riddler, which arrives in a new and unique form. It’s also addressed to Jim Gordon, but he’s on some well-earned leave.

Nygma is at his next crime scene, a chess tournament. He chats with his Penguin proxy, who continues with some good lines, and even has popcorn to watch things unfold. When Fox and Bullock show up, Nygma is intrigued, and starts setting off his carefully prepared traps.

Gordon and his Uncle Frank are out in the woods. I’d call it family bonding, but Jim is very mistrustful of his recently surfaced relative, and I don’t blame him. While they carefully circle around each other, Bruce is receiving his next lesson from Alfred: throwing knives. Since Bruce is getting closer to being Batman, maybe this is the start of his eventual use of Batarangs. They bicker over Bruce’s relationship with Selena, who has been avoiding him since the chaos with her mother coming to town. Apparently, she’s left a note and wants to talk, which Alfred is looking on as a good sign for his young charge.

Fox has managed to defuse the remaining traps at the chess tournament and find the next clue. Nygma, using a voice modulator, taunts Fox and goads him into taking up the challenge. Nygma gives Fox the next clue, and leaves what’s going to be eventually recognized as his calling card.

Jim and Frank Gordon talk about hunting, guns, and the Court of Owls. Frank delivers a few surprises to Jim about the Court. Elsewhere, Fox and Bullock work on the next clue. They don’t have the rhythm that Gordon and Bullock do, and they’re definitely not on the same page, but they are fun to watch together. Bullock is very concerned about his good suit, which he is wearing because he’s addressing the graduating recruits at the Academy later on.

Bruce finally gives in to Alfred’s pestering and goes to see Selena, after rolling his eyes at Alfred making Shepherd’s pie for them yet again, and the heavy-handed parable that goes along with it. Fox is having trouble working this closely with Bullock, which is getting increasingly entertaining. Bullock, almost ready to go to graduation, realizes his badge is missing. Bullock is far form a perfect cop, and likely not the best captain, but he doesn’t generally lose important stuff.

Nygma and Penguin have their oddest scene yet, which says something this time around. There’s mocking of the name the paper gave Nygma, a recitation of Nygma’s many problems at present, and even a song and dance number. Lee finally turns up, doing an autopsy on someone Fox has been looking for. Inside a fresh surgical incision, they find Bullock’s badge. Me, I’d just order a new one at that point. Nygma realizes Fox is closing in on him and does something drastic with Bullock. Nygma is also wearing a bright green suit that is a lot closer to at least some of Riddler’s classic comic book looks.

Bruce goes looking for Selena and finds nothing he wanted to. She’s not happy to see him, she’s running with a criminal gang again, and her pet thugs aren’t really nice. After she tells him not to come looking for her again, the gang tries to mug Bruce. His future Batman begins to show again, and they get an ugly surprise. Bruce gets away from them, but gets his own surprise.

Nygma’s madness moves into high gear as he takes the graduating cadets hostage. He lures Fox into playing a game against him for the antidote needed to save a lot of lives, with Bullock in a convoluted death trap. Nygma and Fox match wits, with some entertaining spins on the Riddler’s classic spiel. Eventually, Fox wins, surprising Nygma and Bullock both.

Gordon and his uncle debate about the Court. Frank is coming up with a decent story, but Jim is very suspicious. With everything he’s been through, I don’t blame him at all. Frank at least provides a decent rationale for Gordon possibly joining the Court. Nygma listens to his press about the cadet attack, and Alfred gets a visitor out at the manor.

While the GCPD tac team fails to find Nygma at Penguin’s mansion, the man himself turns up in the backseat of Fox’s car. Fox clearly doesn’t watch enough movies, since he knows a madman is after him and gets blindly into his car without checking the back, or even getting a police escort. They have a long talk which almost could be a Riddler/Batman conversation, and Nygma ends it on a decisive note. Nygma goes on to visit where he killed Penguin, dump his pills, and don a final piece of his costume.

They wrap things up with us learning the fate of Penguin, Uncle Frank making another appeal to Gordon, and Catherine making more plans for the Court. They also show us a cast member waking up somewhere very unexpected. Arguably, two of them in very different places.

What I liked: Bruce’s fight with the gang, and to a lesser extent his knife throwing, offered us hints of the hero to come, and I liked them. Frank is taking a good approach to draw in Jim Gordon. The Bullock/Fox scenes were great, and the Fox/Nygma ones were pretty good, too. Nygma arguing with Penguin’s ghost was nicely executed.

What I didn’t: My biggest issue I’m actually not going into detail about for spoilers, but I will say someone acted very out of character to make something happen. Fox is being both brilliant (with the riddles) and foolish (at his car). I just don’t like either Catherine or the Court, but I admit that’s personal bias.

Overall, it was a good return after a weirdly long break. I hope the things we saw tonight means Bruce in general is going to be a bit more Batman-like. I’ll give this one a high 3.5 out of 5.

Taking the week off this week is the crime club of Barbara, Tabitha, and Butch.

Gotham: The Gentle Art of Making Enemies


Bruce Wayne is finally coming in to his own

I’m not quite sure what Fox is doing with their shows. Several of them came back from winter break just a few weeks ago, but now seem to be going on another long hiatus. Gotham is among them. I’m not sure if “Mad City: The Gentle Art of Making Enemies” is a season finale, or just another weird mid-season break point. They made a few interesting choices, most of which I liked.

The blackout we saw in last week’s final scene sweeps Gotham City. The cult, or gang, or whatever you care to call them, is rioting all over town. Personally, they remind me a lot of the Jokerz gang from Batman Beyond. Gordon and Bullock try to get a handle on what’s going on, and they are definitely overwhelmed.

Penguin manages to get to the chemical warehouse (never a good place to be in Gotham) during his attempt to rescue Ed Nygma. What he gets is a really nasty surprise. In a recurring theme for the episode, Nygma is really showing a lot of signs of the Riddler to come. He’s got on a green suit, has an elaborate plan, and there’s a death trap that would do a James Bond villain or Wile E. Coyote proud. Nygma leaves, with Penguin in a precarious situation.

Interestingly, the Court of Owls makes a limited return this episode. Catherine, the enigmatic lady who seems to be in charge, looks out over the chaos sweeping the city. She’s not happy about it, and has an odd conversation with a man who doesn’t get named. The man apparently has too much faith in “him,” whoever “him” is.

Bullock and Gordon attempt to map out a strategy, set against the amusing counterpoint of Bullock showing some interesting office telephone skills. Since all this is happening during Penguin’s problems with Ed, no one is in charge down at City Hall, which Bullock says might be a good thing. Gordon finally decides he should go talk to Lee Thompkins and see if her conversation with the returned Jerome gave her any clues.

Gordon finds Lee tending to some wounded officers. She’s less than thrilled to see Gordon, and there’s a lot of snarkiness. She ends up looking like even she thought she might have gone too far this time. She finally remembers that Jerome was fixating on his foiled attempt to kill Bruce Wayne. Gordon rushes off to the Manor, telling Lee to call and warn Alfred. She at least does that much without arguing.

The next scene is one of the oddest and most inexplicable of the show. Bruce and Alfred are handling the blackout, looking for candles and flashlights. The phone rings, presumably with Lee’s call, and Bruce and Alfred stare at it in what looks like dread and even fear. Is there a plot having to do with the phone we haven’t seen? This weirdness is mercifully interrupted when Jerome and company come calling. Alfred handles the threat to Bruce about as well as he ever does: he looks concerned and gets beaten. As the cult members rampage through the study, Bruce plays for time and gets Jerome to agree to at least changing the place of Bruce’s death. Jerome knows Bruce is stalling, but goes along with it anyway. Jerome orders some of the thugs to stay behind and kill Alfred.

While Penguin gets rescued by a reluctant, and even arguably incompetent, savior, Gordon shows to rescue Alfred. They have some nice teamwork as they dispatch the gang members. Alfred’s going to have a lot of cleaning to do when this is all over.

Jerome brings Bruce to some kind of combination circus/amusement park. It’s a very Joker-esque setting, and the gang has some dark, twisted carnie games going. This sickens and horrifies Bruce, as well as filling him what I think you could fairly call righteous rage. Gordon, Alfred, and Bullock figure out where Jerome likely is, and charge off to the rescue again.

I think the next scene is my favorite one. Penguin gets confronted by Tabitha and Butch, who tell him they want his help to kill Nygma. There’s a lot of arguing and taunting before Penguin finally gets punched out by Butch. Tabitha’s reaction to that is priceless.

Bruce and Jerome debate Jerome’s motivations, and what Jerome ends up explaining sounds a lot like the Joker’s scheme from the classic and controversial Killing Joke story. Like the episode before this, I think Jerome is trying a bit too hard, and the writers are trying to include elements from way too many elements of Joker’s history. They also debate the nature of the people of Gotham, and Jerome tortures Bruce with an industrial staple gun. Jerome is surprised by how tough Bruce turns out to be.

The Alfred/Gordon/Bullock contingent arrive as Jerome is setting up for his big act. Jerome is now dressed like a circus ringmaster, and has set up an appropriately flamboyant death for Bruce. For his part, Bruce is really starting to act like the Dark Knight he will eventually become as he frees himself with a combination of nerve, grit, and endurance. While general chaos ensues, Bruce lures Jerome off for a really impressive showdown.

Barbara Keene joins in with the Tabitha/Butch crew in taunting Penguin. She also shows off her very nice legs before Penguin learns another layer of the plot swirling around him. It’s a scene with comedy and some rough emotional conflict. Penguin even gets a revelation about himself.

Bruce comes face to face with his own darkness while he fights Jerome, and once more strongly shows the man he’ll grow to be. Bruce wins, and is reunited with Alfred. Jerome comes staggering after them like the bad guy in a slasher movie, and Gordon intervenes. That fight ends with the most amazing look on Gordon’s face.

The show winds down with Bruce and Alfred in their kitchen. Alfred patches up Bruce and they talk about where his training is heading. Nygma has a climactic showdown with Penguin. We finally learn who the man is Catherine of the Owls has been talking to is, and it’s going to be a nasty shock to one of our heroes.

What I liked: While Gordon has been the focus of much of the series, they backed off that a bit for this episode, to give Bruce the spotlight he needed for the episode. Gordon did get some great looks. The Nygma/Barbara/Tabita/Butch plot was nicely done with some great lines and reactions. Penguin learned a bit more about himself. I think Bruce has a major foreshadowing moment when Jerome comments that Gotham doesn’t have heroes.

What I didn’t: It really felt like the Jerome and cult bit was belabored and they just tried too hard. Bruce and Alfred’s apparent horror at the phone ringing made no sense at all.

I think this was one of their better episodes overall. I really liked the foreshadowing for Bruce and Ed Nygma’s futures. I’m going to give this a 4 out of 5. I’m not sure why the show is going on break again, but it’ll be interesting to see what happens in the wake of all this.

Taking the week off: They squeezed in almost everyone. Aside from a few minor characters like Ivy and Falcone, the only notable absence was Selena, but that makes sense. She went through a lot during her mother’s return.

Gotham: Smile Like You Mean It


I can finally almost believe he becomes Batman…

Things continue to get strange in Gotham, as seen on “Mad City: Smile Like You Mean It.” The episode draws on several different elements from various points in the Joker’s career, presumably to convince us that this Jerome is supposed to eventually be the Joker. His cult is a lot like the Jokerz gang as seen in Batman Beyond. Jerome’s general mannerisms are certainly of the utterly insane variety, a crucial part of Joker’s makeup, and one lacking in many recent portrayals of the character. Even his face being cut off was something that happened during the DCNU comics in the last several years.

The major plot this week is Jerome’s return, aided by his weird cult, led by wanna-be Dwight. Dwight showed up last week, and wasn’t really impressive. He leads his rabble into a storehouse to steal Jerome’s body, in the process giving a hint as to how far their influence reaches. I really don’t get why that’s something anyone thinks would be good to join. Then again, a lot of people who join cults aren’t noted for making the best decisions.

GCPD, as ever represented by Jim Gordon and Harvey Bullock, show up to the storehouse. They find a lot of the leftovers from Indian Hill, the gift that keeps on giving. Jerome’s body is gone, but the cult left another one behind, I guess as some kind of exchange program. They also left one of their wounded, which shows you how much they care about their members.

In the first of many questionable decisions, Gordon brings the wounded thug back to GCPD, denying him medical care. Or at least hospital care, as Lee Thompkins agrees to patch him up. She’s been going through a lot of changes, and has emerged a lot darker, which we see in this episode. She complains about the goon not being in the hospital, but helps Gordon and Bullock keep him there, in between sniping at Gordon. She even helps interrogate him later. The thug not only knows who Gordon is, but goes disturbingly fan boy about meeting him, inadvertently giving a clue about what the cops should be looking for.

Out at Wayne Manor, one of the two subplots of the week moves along. Cole, the mysterious man who is threatening Maria Kyle, comes to see Bruce and Alfred. He demands a lot of money, citing some mysterious job she was supposed to do and failed to complete. He’s even slick enough to not threaten Maria, instead saying he’ll go to the cops and give them enough to send Maria to prison for years. Clever, since, while the extortion is illegal, talking to the police isn’t, giving Cole a stronger bargaining position.

Dwight is happily playing mad scientist ala Victor Frankenstein. He hums to himself as he tries to revive Jerome with a lot of equipment that sparks and buzzes. Dwight, along with almost everyone associated with this group, spend way too much time laughing in a forced, maniacal way. We get it. They’re supposed to be nuts. Maybe find another way to show us that?

The other subplot du jour finds Barbara, sitting by Penguin’s couch, reading to him from the paper. Penguin got a lot of bad press following his disastrous television interview. With Nygma missing and Deputy Chief of Staff Tarquin dead (although the press hasn’t found out about that yet), Cobblepot’s administration looks really bad. Barbara prods Penguin into action, making a great comment about his “disco vampire” hair. Barbara, in small doses, really does a lot to perk up an episode.

Team Bruce meets over a case full of money. I started having some suspicions about what was up during this scene, partially from how Maria is acting. Selena thinks paying Cole off is a big mistake, and makes a decent case for her point of view. Naturally, everyone ignores her, sending Maria off with a briefcase full of cash because what could possibly go wrong with that in Gotham? An understandably annoyed Selena stalks out.

With some actual detective work, Gordon and Bullock, with technical advice from Lucius Fox, figure out where the gang might be hiding out, or at least doing some of their work. This scene showed that Fox is a smart man in knowing his place in the scheme of things. It also showed that the cult has a cop under their sway. I really wonder how many of the GCPD only work for the GCPD. It can’t be many. Every other one of them is corrupt, working for a crime boss, or some other secret organization.

Dwight gets increasingly desperate as his resurrection efforts aren’t working. A fellow cult member comes in, panicking, saying the police are outside. Dwight reacts in standard crazy villain form to the bad news. Then he gets weirdly creative and comes up with a new look for himself, fleeing just as the police arrive. He then tries a new tactic with the Crazy Cult and manages to persuade them to go along with him for a while. I really wanted someone in here to start singing “Put On A Happy Face…”

After a quick scene setting up Lee for a nasty surprise involving Jerome’s cut up corpse, Fox tells Gordon and Bullock that he found a cell phone at the crime scene. Someone from the precinct warned the cult, which was amazingly stupid. We’ve seen they have cell phones. Why would he use an easily traceable landline? Gordon runs a great bluff to flush out the traitor.

Penguin goes to Sirens for what’s supposed to be a meeting with his crime bosses, but no one shows up. He rants at Barbara that she’s trying to manipulate him. Things get clever here, with a series of phone calls, threats, and a great undermining of Penguin’s grip on reality. Tabitha also makes an appearance, showing how much she enjoys the simple things, like homicide. The plot against Penguin is really pretty clever.

Bullock and Gordon question the traitorous officer. Good cop/bad cop doesn’t really work, and bad cop/worse cop doesn’t seem to be getting the job done, but bad cops/bitter medical examiner gets some results. There’s also another very tense scene with Lee and Gordon. I’m betting the Human Resources Manual doesn’t cover how to deal with coworkers that shoot your spouse.

Acting on the information from the cult member/cop, Gordon warns a local tv station that they’re on the hit list. They have a meeting about it which ends in gunfire and bloodshed as they are too damn slow. The police rush off to the station, leaving Lee with the not-quite-as-dead-as-he-seemed Jerome. I swear, if someone dies in Gotham at this point, you should stake them in the heart and cut off the head before tossing them in a fire just on principle.

Jerome and Lee have a very entertaining scene, probably the best of the week. Jerome’s random insanity isn’t making a dent in Lee’s new dark attitude, and listening to him getting caught up on events in the city since his death really highlights how ridiculous some of this has gotten. I’m kind of curious as to where Jerome got the gun from that he casually threatens Lee with throughout the scene, and she pretty much ignores.

The Maria/Cole/Selena plot comes to a dramatic conclusion. Well, an annoying one, anyway. There is betrayal and tears and threats and drawn knives. Suffice to say I think this storyline will be disappearing from the show for a while at least. It does have an epilog a bit later.

Jim talks briefly with cult leader Dwight, who tries to reenact Jerome’s conflict with Gordon last time he was seen. Jim apparently doesn’t like reruns. The cops rush the tv station, and get in through a ridiculously oversize air vent. They don’t even have to do the Die Hard duct crawl, just squat a bit. Really, who designed these buildings?

As the cops and cult play shoot-em-up, Barbara and Tabitha put the next phase of their plan into motion. They acknowledge Ed Nygma is really good at this, even though they agree they need to kill him later. As they thin out the crime boss population in Gotham, Nygma does his next step. Penguin is being lured to another location, and I can’t imagine Ed’s planning a surprise party for him. Or at least not one anyone would want.

In the chaos of the gun battle at the tv station, Jerome slips in, kidnaps Dwight, and sneaks away. He makes a televised speech, gives Dwight his just rewards for his hard work, and then pulls a stunt I suspect is going to make next week’s episode particularly dark.

Selena returns to Bruce’s home as he trains on a heavy bag. She’s furious about what happened before, and accuses him of keeping secrets. He does point out he was in a bad position, but she’s not in a mood to listen. Raging, she attacks. Impressively, Bruce blocks or evades her strikes. He’s learning. Finally. She leaves, and I doubt they’re heading out on a date anytime soon.

What I liked: Bruce was acting more Batman-like this episode, and I don’t mean just the fight, although that was impressive too. The Nygma/Barbara/Tabitha plot is really well-executed. The Jerome/Lee scene was darkly entertaining. I liked Fox’s assessment of his place in combat.

What I didn’t: I don’t like Jerome as proto-Joker. I really don’t like Dwight. The crazed laughter was overdone by about everyone and was getting old. I saw the conclusion of the Maria/Cole mess coming, and it wasn’t all that well done. They tried too hard to bring in too many parts of the Joker mythos.

It was a decent, not great, episode. I’ll give it a 3 out of 5.

Taking the week off were semi-regulars Ivy and Butch. I still don’t think they know what to do with older Ivy.

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