Many cultures in the world believe in the cleansing and purifying power of fire. But on Monday night’s episode of Gotham, “Rise of the Villains: By Fire,” fire is clearly the start of something new, something deadly, and something potentially horrifying. We return from last week’s episode with Bridgit Pike embracing her fire-starting talents, Butch going through a world of hurt all for Penguin, Edward Nygma experiencing profound tragedy, and a possible new beginning for a whole new batch villains to one day terrorize Gotham.
Somehow we begin this week with Butch continuing his loyalty to Penguin — despite getting his hand chopped off — by attempting to infiltrate the Galavan siblings’ plans, all while a senator tries not to fall off a chair and hang himself in the corner. (Theo needs senatorial support for his upcoming election, and how else is he going to get it aside from threatening some lives?) Tabitha seems more on board with the idea of hiring Butch, calling him cute, “like a sad bear,” and at first it seems Theo is falling for the lie as well, thanks to Penguin’s earlier performance as a paranoid lunatic. Butch is accepted into Theo’s team for now, and the senator accepts his fate as Galavan supporter.
While Theo’s plans grow and Penguin’s take shape, Gordon is still on the war path, this time trying to find any clues to lead him to Bridgit, a.k.a. Firefly, a.k.a. the cop killer. Gordon attempts to beat information out of a low-level criminal, but his Strike Force buddies aren’t super pleased to see one of their commanding officers breaking the rules with this kind of violence. They tell Gordon they’ll have to report him, and he could not care less.
So where is Bridgit? She’s still hiding out with Selina, who rescued her from police custody in last week’s episode. Selina lectures Bridgit about being free and what that means again, but Bridgit has obvious and understandable worries. She killed someone, the cops are looking for her, and she has no money. But Selina has a solution, at least for the money part, even if Bridgit isn’t comfortable with committing more crimes.
Selina’s idea of getting Bridgit some monetary support is robbing an underground, female-sex-slavery ring, where creepy, creepy men buy shackled women. Selina tells Bridgit that they are only there to make a quick buck and not to be a heroes. It doesn’t seem as though either of them are going to be winning feminist-of-the-year awards anytime soon as they steal the money and escape, with barely any consideration for the women they’re leaving behind. Unfortunately for the Bridgit and Selina, they weren’t too careful leaving their little heist. They both are caught on camera, and Gordon instantly recognizes Selina.
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Meanwhile, Bruce and Alfred are back in the
bat secret cave and are practicing some fighting skills. Although if biting and punching a kid in the face and making his nose bleed are acceptable fighting practices, I’ve clearly been going to the wrong kickboxing class. Theo, Tabitha, and Silver invite Bruce over for dinner, and it’s clear Theo is trying really hard to pimp out his niece to Bruce and gain Bruce’s trust by bringing up his father and the corruption at Wayne Enterprises. But for what gain? Father Creel made it pretty clear in last week’s episode that having Bruce was a crucial step in their plans, but why?
Side note: Is anyone else beyond glad that Bullock is back on the force? From his ode to chill dogs in last week’s stakeout with Gordon to bonding with Ivy “ginger-to-ginger,” he definitely brings some much needed sass to the overly serious GCPD. Bullock finds out from Ivy just where Selina is hiding, and Selina gives up Bridgit to Gordon in order to save her from her brothers, who kidnap her before she can get out of town. The Pike brothers literally throw fireworks at Bridgit until she agrees to cooperate with them, but their forced imprisonment doesn’t stick. Bridgit puts on her Firefly suit and fries both “like a taquito” (as Bullock puts it) before Gordon and Bullock can get to her.
As Gordon and Bullock continue their search for Bridgit, Butch is quickly discovered as Penguin spy. This poor guy has been through way too much in the last few episodes. First his hand is chopped off, then he gets a mallet attached to his “stump” (no doubt Tabitha’s twisted idea), and yet he is still treated like garbage by Penguin and figured out by Theo. Could someone just cut Butch a break?
NEXT: Ed shows his true darkness to Kristen
After burning her brothers to death, Bridgit is clearly a changed woman. She shares gory details about which brother burned the fastest with Selina and tells her that she finally feels free and is ready to go after the creeps who hurt people like them. Selina tells her to be careful, but it’s clear to her and to us that things aren’t going to end well, especially considering Barnes doesn’t care that Gordon made a promise to keep Bridgit safe. Bridgit goes straight to the sex-slavery ring and burns to a crisp anyone who gets in her way of trying to free the women (noble but still not winning any feminism awards with how she attempts to end the problem.)
Sadly Bridgit is unwilling to listen to Gordon and put down her flamethrower peacefully, which leads to terrible consequences as a leak in her suit causes her to go up in flames. But Selina isn’t willing to forgive Gordon for not keeping his promise. She inadvertently reveals that Penguin hired the Pike brothers to set the fires and tearfully tells Gordon that she should have never trusted a cop.
Although many of our characters’ story lines are starting to meld together, Ed Nygma still remains just that, an enigma and an outlier. But to be honest, I kind of prefer that for the time being. Makes his descent into madness and villainy all the more interesting. Edward and Kristen’s relationship seems to be going strong, despite Edward making strange off-hand comments about Kristen’s ex Tom, a.k.a. the man he killed. Ed overhears Kristen and Lee talking about their relationship and how Kristen wishes Ed would be a little more forceful and open up to her a bit. Ed tries to take both suggestions of improvement on their next date, and clearly it goes well as the two move into Ed’s bedroom after dinner. (Those must have been some great mashed potatoes.)
Of course things don’t end well for Ed and Kristen when he finally reveals that he killed Tom for her. Kristen freaks out and attempts to leave Ed and report him to the authorities, but he stops her and frantically tries to tell her he killed Tom to keep her safe. Unfortunately he closes her mouth and grabs her neck at the same time, trying to restrain her during his explanation. Kristen dies, and Ed is left crying on his apartment floor. Who else saw this tragic end for Kristen coming from a mile away?
Penguin, in the meantime, finally gets some news about his mother’s whereabouts after Butch escapes Tabitha’s imprisonment and torture. Butch has figured out Gertrude’s location and tells his boss they have to strike tonight. Is Butch still “brainwashed” by Penguin as Tabitha and Theo put it? Or is he working for the Galavan siblings now? Next week’s episode will give us the answers, but for now, a new bigger mystery ends “Rise of the Villains: By Fire.”
It turns out Bridgit did not die in her flamethrower mishap, as expected. She is instead wheeled through a strange corridor by two men who discuss how Bridgit’s suit actually melded with her skin, making her essentially fire proof. One of the men says that this is why she was sent down for tests. So where are they exactly? Indian Hill, which, you may remember from season 1, is the property in Arkham that Penguin persuaded Maroni to give to Falcone. However, now that Falcone is gone, it seems Wayne Enterprises may have picked up the building and turned it into something much more sinister than Bruce could possibly imagine his company would do (for one, they kept the offensive name, and that’s already pretty bad).
This creepy lab may be host to a few other soon-to-be DC villains in the process. Could the chained-up muscular man be the future Bane? And who was the leather-clad redhead? Commenters, you’re all clearly more well-versed in theories than myself, and I look forward to reading your ideas. But for now, we leave Gotham once again as it successfully raises a horde of villains.