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Gotham recap: Rise of the Villains: A Bitter Pill to Swallow

Gordon struggles to control his inner darkness while Edward and Penguin bond over embracing their truest, darkest selves.

Posted on

Nicole Rivelli/Fox


TV Show
Current Status:
In Season
run date:
Donal Logue, Ben McKenzie, Jada Pinkett Smith
Crime, ActionAdventure

With all this talk about the “Rise of the Villains” in season 2 of Gotham, there is one very important matter that should not be left out of the conversation: Even those with the best intentions, even those characters we hold to be the epitome of good, still have darkness inside of them. And sometimes it’s just waiting for the perfect (or rather, imperfect) time to come out. On Monday’s episode of Gotham, “Rise of the Villains: A Bitter Pill to Swallow,” we saw just how much potential for darkness James Gordon truly has inside of him — and just how hard he’ll have to work to keep it from coming out.

We start “A Bitter Pill to Swallow” by following Tabitha as she heads downtown to a bar for a little revenge. Kudos to the creative minds of the series for giving fans a reminder that Jerome’s effect on Gotham City has not subsided but, in fact, still lives in the seedy underbelly of the city with the mural reading “HA! HA! HA!” plastered against a wall near the bar Tabitha enters. After ordering a high smith with no ice (can someone enlighten me on what this drink actually is?) for a ridiculously large price, the bartender opens a secret doorway that leads to a huge parlor complete with gambling tables and an overly elaborate scene.

In the far end of the room, we are introduced to a currently unnamed woman, played by Doctor Who’s Michelle Gomez, to whom Tabitha has come for a little assistance in having someone murdered. Of course it’s none other than Gordon, but Tabitha wants guarantees that the overzealous detective will indeed bite the bullet. Today. “I accept a job, the job gets done. Period. See, I believe in extreme measures,” Gomez’s character — let’s call her The Woman for now — says proudly. Unfortunately for The Woman, that track record won’t last long as Gordon is not an easy man to take down.

Speaking of Gordon, he arrives at Gotham General to check on one person who almost did take him down (kind of): Barbara, who still happens to be in a coma. The doctors aren’t sure of when her situation will change, but she will be moved to Arkham to the medical wing regardless. When Gordon returns to the GCPD, he runs into Lee, with whom he has yet to have a conversation about the Barbara situation. Lee is visibly upset when Gordon tells her he visited Barbara in the hospital, but she knows that Gordon had to play Barbara’s game despite the events that transpired thanks to that very game. Lee is more concerned about Gordon’s dark side and how much he seems to be giving in to it in recent weeks. Gordon says he knows about the concerns but brushes them off for now. Is it just me, or does Lee seriously deserve a stronger story line than just being Gordon’s love interest/voice of reason and Barbara’s nemesis?

We arrive next to a plot that many of you commenters from last week seemed genuinely excited about: The re-introduction of Penguin and Edward Nygma. As we saw last week, Edward has certainly embraced his Riddler Ed personality, and that personality seems to have big plans for his time with Penguin. Penguin awakens from passing out from his bullet wound in Edward’s bed, where Edward promptly sedates him and ominously tells him to rest up as they have a “big night ahead.” When Penguin wakes once again, Penguin is reacquainted with Edward, who tells him that while he might want to leave Ed’s fortress, he is still a wanted man who will almost certainly be arrested or worse if he tries to walk out the door.

Edward tells Penguin that he has recently undergone a change: “I started murdering people,” Edward reveals and then breathes a huge sigh of relief that he can finally say those words aloud. Despite Penguin mocking the young Riddler in training for only taking down three people so far, Edward tells Penguin that their meeting is fate as he need advice on his new, bloody path. Unfortunately for Edward (at first at least), Penguin is not in the mood with his empire destroyed and his mother murdered thanks to a combination of his own weakness and Theo Galavan. Edward tries another tactic by bringing Penguin one of Theo’s lackeys to kill as retribution for Penguin’s mother, but the former crime lord is not having it. “I’m done. I need rest, and then I’m leaving Gotham forever,” Penguin states, then crawls back under the covers while humming a song. But Edward’s not willing to give up so easily.

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Meanwhile we return to Bruce (who is rocking his soon-to-be-signature black turtleneck) as he chats with Silver St. Cloud. Because he is very clearly a smitten kitten, Bruce refuses to believe Silver has any part in this Theo Galavan mess. In fact, he’s none too convinced that Theo could actually be capable of any wrongdoing. Thankfully Alfred, the sanest person at Wayne Manor, shoos little Silver away “in light of recent events” and argues with Bruce over Galavan’s intentions. While Bruce tries to convince Alfred that he was hoping to get the identity of his parents’ murderer from Theo via Silver, Alfred explains that the precious envelope with information was more than likely just a ruse for Theo to manipulate Bruce into signing away his company. Alfred then tells Bruce that if he must act as the kid’s jailor than so be it, and he promptly forbids Bruce from pursuing Theo any further.

Bruce attempts to meet Silver at her hotel in the evening, but Alfred is a veteran to all the classic lies. Plus, Bruce is just really bad at lying. Alfred reveals to Bruce that he has not only sent away his secret cab down the block, but has also confiscated the hotel key Silver slipped him when she hugged him goodbye. Bruce attempts one more jailbreak by sneaking out the window, but he is instead confronted by Selina, who was hiding behind the curtains. She knows Bruce is off to meet his lady friend, but this time Selina says she has proof that Silver is a snake, rather than just asking Bruce to trust her word over Silver’s.

NEXT: Assassins galore emerge