My, my, my what a strange family history Theo Galavan has, indeed. Gotham finally revealed the history behind Theo’s centuries-old blood feud in Gotham City but not without totally confusing me regarding the DC Comics origin stories of the city’s First Families. But before we get to that, there was quite a bit of exposition in “Rise of the Villains: Scarification,” including Penguin’s plans to save his mother and the introduction of Bridgit Pike as the new, genderbent Firefly.
From the start of the episode, it’s clear that Penguin has lost his grip on power in Gotham City, and he’s not to pleased with his current position. Theo very clearly has the leg up on him by kidnapping his mother, and there’s nothing he can do to fix the situation, including trying to find a way to befriend the Galavan siblings. While Tabitha may be considered the more blunt of the two, it’s Theo’s words that have got to hurt the most. Not only does Theo not consider Penguin a friend, he also refers to him as a “tool” for him to use. He then very condescendingly shoos him off and opens the chest that Penguin brings him, which houses Wayne Enterprises employee Sid Bunderslaw. Bunderslaw is instrumental in Theo’s next steps for Gotham City domination and revenge. Or more accurately, Bunderslaw’s eye is what’s instrumental.
As Theo watches Tabitha do some gouging while clearly trying to suppress his disgust, Barnes and Gordon continue their rampage to improve the city and take down Penguin by targeting Penguin’s money at the count house. This almost proves to be difficult when one Penguin employee targets Bullock, Barnes, Gordon, and the rest of the Strike Force with a rocket launcher. Here we get quite possibly the best line of the night as Gordon tells Capt. Barnes that the Merc sells the heavy weaponry in the city but is always protected because its owners pay off City Council.
Capt. Barnes: “The City Council can suck my tailpipe.” (Do you think right about now, Michael Chiklis is wishing he were back on The Shield for a few minutes, just for the cursing rights alone? The cursing situation on Gotham and on Empire is absolutely ludicrous, but I digress…)
Penguin continues his descent into paranoia, anger, and crazy desperation over his mother’s kidnapping, as he mercilessly beats the employee who tells him about the count house raid. Somehow in the midst of the attack, Penguin comes up with a potentially brilliant plan.
Meanwhile Lee and Gordon talk about the Strike Force as Edward approaches the couple to awkwardly invite them for a double date with himself and Kristen. Gordon is obviously against the idea but Lee happily agrees and even invites the new couple over for some fondue. (Side note: Do people still have fondue dates? I need to get out more if it means eating melted cheese) As Gordon grumbles over not being able to escape, Theo approaches him with a request.
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Without straying too far from this recap, can I just admit how brilliant Theo is at playing the “reluctant hero” with Gordon? This guy is so sharp. Hitting Gordon with the vulnerability of killing a man for the first time is pure genius, and then somehow morphing that topic into a request to have Gordon back Theo with an official endorsement for mayor using the justice angle is seriously inspired. Despite Gordon saying no to his proposition at first, Theo clearly knows his audience well, and that deserves some applause.
As Theo plays the ultimately good guy out in the spotlight, Tabitha continues his dark mission, going to Penguin for an arson job, complete with Mr. Bunderslaw’s eye for assistance. Penguin plays up his paranoia as part of his big plan while Butch goes to visit Selina to get her help in meeting with the Pyke brothers, a.k.a. the best arsonists in town, who are still loyal to Fish Mooney. (Side note: Are we supposed to assume Fish could still be alive with all the references in tonight’s episode?) Let’s just cut to the chase here, the Pyke brothers are total “tailpipes,” as Capt. Barnes might say, they treat their sister Bridgit horribly, and, in my opinion, they do very little work when it comes to the actual arson being committed.
NEXT: Bridgit’s mission goes horribly wrong.
After their younger, tinier brother is literally blown to bits when escaping the GCPD’s raid on the Merc (that’s what happens when you shove explosives down your pants, try to escape, and then attempt to pull on a gun on two no-nonsense cops), the Pyke brothers force their sister to be their new fire starter. It was either that or prostitution, apparently. Selina advises Bridgit to be strong, but she certainly doesn’t take it the way Selina was intending.
The brothers set up their plans as Gordon returns home to see his dinner with Edward and Kristen going surprisingly well. Edward proposes a toast — it’s a riddle of course — but it’s actually incredibly sweet to see him so happy with Kristen. So show of hands guys: How inevitable is Kristen Kringle’s death at this point? I hate to say it because I actually really like the character, but it just seems so very likely at this point.
The fun can’t last forever; we’re almost immediately back to the action with Bridgit who is pulling off her first arson. Things go pretty smoothly at first, even after Bridgit is forced to steal a knife from the safe of the building she is burning, but Bridgit does get a bit burned on the first attempt. No matter to the brothers, they still have four more locations to hit that night.
Gordon is tasked with finding a pattern to the fires, but it’s Penguin who gets the real skinny after the knife is turned over to him. Butch’s old friend from the neighborhood, Edwige, fills Penguin in on the history of the knife with the “cursed history,” though she’s too frightened to do so at first. There were five families who first ruled Gotham’s high society: the Elliots, the Kanes, the Crownes, the Duma, and the most powerful, the Waynes. Basically Celestine Wayne, who was promised to the eldest son of the Elliot family, was caught in a compromising embrace with Caleb Duma. Celestine accused Caleb of assault, and Caleb was punished by getting his hand sliced off by Jonathan Wayne, who used the knife now in Penguin’s possession. From then on the Duma family was destroyed socially and financially by the Waynes and were driven out of town where they later returned using a new last name. Of course, by this point we all knew which last name that would be: Galavan. And it’s because of this knife and that last name that Edwige was too afraid to tell the story. But Penguin couldn’t be happier, as he has now found out Theo’s secret, his purpose, and a way to weaken him. And in order to get his plan in motion he cuts off Butch’s hand and tells him to infiltrate Theo’s organization by claiming to have escaped Penguin’s now-bloody paranoia.
As Penguin is getting all the dirt, Gordon is finally connecting the dots that all of the buildings being targeted by the arsonists are Wayne Enterprises’ holdings. He and Bullock go on a stakeout, where Bullock is more invested in the chili dog he’s eating than the stakeout itself, until Bridgit gets dropped off in a new fire-retardant suit to do her brothers’ bidding. When the police surround Bridgit, her brothers drive off leaving her stranded. She starts up the flame thrower they gave her to torch the Book Depository but in a scuffle with a Strike Force officer, she accidentally sets him on fire. Bridgit escapes with the help of Selina, but the officer dies. Barnes has now officially taken on a project: Finding this “cop killer,” a.k.a. Bridgit, using all legal methods necessary. And Gordon takes this death to heart and takes Lee’s advice: It’s time to endorse Theo, which means things continue to go in his favor, whether Penguin has a plan or not.
Theo heads home and faces the biggest surprise of all: the arrival of a mysterious figure named Father Creel. Creel is just as invested as Theo in making Gotham City burn in revenge, involving Bruce in some way, which raises the question: Who is Theo, really? Aside from knowing that he is a member of the Duma family, we still don’t know much about him. Technically the fifth powerful family in Gotham should be the Cobblepots, but we know at this point that Gotham isn’t following in this story line.
So who are the Duma? Could Theo be the Architect who takes revenge against the First Families in the DC comics? I’m dying to hear what you all have to say, and I’m dying for more answers. After Jerome’s death, Gotham is attempting to get our attention again — will it succeed?