Here’s a wedding tip for you: When you’re still in love with the bride, it doesn’t matter how many innocents the groom has killed. If you don’t forever hold your peace anyway, you’ll come off looking like the jerk. Jim Gordon learned this lesson when he discovered the frightening truth about Lee’s fiancé, Mario — to her, the seemingly noble doctor who turned away from his family’s criminal lifestyle and chose a career of service instead.
For all we know, that’s who Mario really was before Jervis Tetch pricked him with a laced needle. But now he’s going the way of Chief Barnes, being consumed by the blood virus and the concentrated fury it brings out in him. The cop’s inner darkness is his disillusionment with the state of crime and punishment in Gotham City. Mario’s is his insuppressible fear that Lee still loves Jim, and when she realizes that, she will leave him.
Mario knows what happened to Barnes. He can’t have his happily ever after with Lee if he’s been thrown into Arkham right next to him, so the doctor sets his sights on the Tetch test developed by the bio-lab. He cozies up to a tech at a bar to steal away some information and his key card. The man’s death isn’t necessary, but Alice’s blood overpowers reason. The man’s face morphs into Jim’s as Mario holds it in his hands. He pushes and pushes until he’s crushed it, blood spattering onto his impassive face.
Harvey gently suggests Jim should leave this murder to Alvarez, our catch-all GCPD detective who’s not Bullock or Gordon. His ex is getting married, and Jim should be drunk. But the manner of the man’s death has piqued Jim’s interest, particularly the strength required to pop a skull like that — plus the victim’s profession linking this case to Alice Tetch, at least tangentially. When Gordon arrives at the lab, the guard informs them the victim’s key card was just used and hasn’t been punched out yet. Jim takes off to investigate. Mario knocks out Jim without revealing his identity and explains, for our benefit, why he doesn’t just kill him then and there. If Jim dies in the line of duty, Lee will be affected by it. Mario wants him erased from Lee’s heart. He’ll kill Jim, but only after he’s tricked Lee into loathing him.
Jim comes to with the word “Arkham” scrawled on his hand. Barnes is raving, so his attacker wouldn’t have sent Jim to see his former boss. Instead, he pays a visit to Jervis, the inmate looking resplendently nuts in his mod-podge newspaper hat. There’s another citizen infected with Jervis’s “dear sister,” and Jim wants to know who it is. Jervis is giddy; his revenge on Jim moves forward even as he rots with the rest of the criminally insane. He’s so pleased, he can’t help but reveal more than he should. Jim is predisposed to expect the worst of his rival and, by now, is familiar with Tetch’s way of doing business. As soon as “healer to killer” comes out of Jervis’s mouth, Jim is on the phone to Mario.
But Mario left the lab with what he needed: the ability to pass the blood test. Jim isn’t satisfied, and this is where Tetch’s puppet-mastering starts to bear fruit. The test is conclusive. Jim’s inability to accept the results makes him look irrational and biased. He can’t help himself. Bullock apologizes to a gracious Mario for the misunderstanding; Jim grunts out a threat: “I promise you, you will never marry Lee.”
Maybe Lee will hate him for it, but Jim doesn’t have a choice in the matter if he wants to keep her safe. He tries to arrange a meeting to warn her, but Mario intercepts the message. The doctor confirms Jim’s suspicions about his contamination and his obsession with Jim and Lee’s history. He leaves him in the hands of Zsasz, who babysits Jim for an allotted amount of time. Part of the plan is for Jim to make a plea at the church; Lee will see it as an intrusion and doubt her choice less and less.
NEXT: Speak now
Jim has no evidence to support his theory and no time to get it. All he can do is ask Lee to trust him. But with what he’s been through, she’s not too hesitant to assume Jim has subconsciously invented this threat. Lee has done everything she can to move on, yet she can’t even get married in peace. “Mario said that you would never let us be happy,” she says. They’re leaving Gotham for good after the wedding for that exact reason. Jim knows he’s screwed, but he can’t not try. “This is what he wanted. This. Me coming here. That’s why he put me on his trail,” he tells her.
And then, because why not, he talks about the day he went to the suburbs to get Lee back. She looked happy and he didn’t want to disrupt it. If he didn’t want to then, why would he want to now? Unconvinced, Lee tells him he needs help and asks Carmine to have his lackeys escort Jim out. Carmine walks Lee down the aisle to a beatific Mario while Jim gets wailed on in a church corridor. Vows are said, and it’s over.
Good old Lucius Fox puts stock in Jim’s instincts and therefore didn’t stop at Mario’s initial blood test results. Certain drugs can block the key marker, and Mario had a considerable amount of one of them in his system. Mario and Lee leave town before the search warrant can be executed. (Smooth move, Alvarez.) At their idyllic lake house, Mario prepares to revel in Lee’s hatred of Jim. Too bad she’s not a vengeful person. “A part of me will always care for him,” she says. “But I married you. I love you.” It’s not the denouncement Mario wanted to hear.
Jim appeals to Carmine for Mario’s whereabouts, but the man won’t knowingly sign off on his kid’s death. If Mario kills Lee, Jim explains, he’ll never be able to return from that place. He might as well be dead. There’s a chance Carmine’s son can be saved, but only if Jim gets to him in time. The ex-gangster wants to send his own men, so Jim takes them out at the kneecaps. (He’s serious.) He promises to bring Mario back alive and heads to the lake house alone. Perhaps he does this to mitigate any danger to Lee, but come on, detective…not even Bullock? The decision proves to be a very stupid one when Jim arrives to find Mario stalking his new bride with a knife. He raises it. Jim shoots him and Mario drops, the knife falling from his hand and washing away in the lake. Without the knife, Jim is a cold-blooded killer who couldn’t stand to see his love with someone else. Mario may have gotten the short end of the stick, but somewhere deep in Arkham, Jervis Tetch is cackling.
Gotham villains are efficient in their use of others as weapons. Barbara Kean has the information necessary to weaponize a very powerful person. She figured out last week a jealous Oswald had Isabella’s break lines cut; all she has to do is convince Ed of the same to be one step closer to bringing Penguin down. She waltzes into Ed’s office to casually drop the bomb. (“Did you just fake-cough ‘Penguin’?”) Ed would never have suspected Oswald because he’s ignorant of his possible motive. Or is he, really? Babs hints that Oswald’s feelings are more than friendly, and Ed can’t dismiss the idea completely. He knows how emotional his friend is, and deep down, he also knows a crush would explain quite a lot.
NEXT: The Friend Zone
Ed smokes Oswald out by presenting him with his resignation. He tells the mayor he must give up his post because he’s beginning to long for more than friendship from him. Oswald lights up and reciprocates instantly. “One cannot deny love,” he beams. Ed backtracks, and Oswald’s daydream-come-to-life dips right into nightmare territory. Ed was talking about a business partnership, not a romance. Oswald is rejected, and we know he doesn’t handle that well.
Still, Oswald can’t stand the idea of Ed not being in his life. He begs his friend to forget the conversation ever happened. They’ll revert to their mayoral bromance, and Oswald won’t say or do anything to make Ed uncomfortable. Little does he know Ed was just visualizing his violent death. “You’re the best friend I’ve ever had,” Oswald appeals. “I don’t want to lose you.” Ed steps rigidly into his arms and lets himself be held. “You’re my best friend as well, Oswald. Remember that.”
Ed later walks into Sirens, where Butch and Babs are cheering on Tabby as she tries to grasp a knife with her reattached hand. Butch and Tabitha move to attack, but Barbara’s meddling has done the trick. “I don’t wanna kill him,” Ed says of Penguin. “I want to destroy him. I want to take away everything that he loves. I want to make him despise.” They’ll do it together, so long as Babs gets to take Oswald’s place at the head of the table. And isn’t that outcome a little shortsighted for someone like Nygma? Ed was undone by Isabella’s death, but I’m still clinging to the preface he leaves with Oswald (“Remember that”), his aptitude for executing multiple double-crosses at the same time, and Cory Michael Smith’s capacity to obscure Ed’s true feelings when the story calls for it. Call me a romantic, but I’m still pulling for Nygmobblepot — murders and all.
As usual, Bruce’s story line falls far from the rest of the episode. He, Alfred, and Selina have their own Indiana–Jones-meets-Mission–Impossible adventure at one of the strongholds of the Court of Owls. The Talon finishes off the rest of the Whisper Gang, but not until after their leader imparts the secrets of the building to Bruce. The heist of that secret weapon involves sleek black turtlenecks, Bruce and Selina’s first kiss, and an impressively cat-like tight-rope routine.
Selina opens the safe with the key and pockets the inexplicable crystal owl sculpture nestled inside. The three barely escape with their lives, assisted in that task by a lithe figure in black who reveals herself to be Selina’s estranged mother. She doesn’t seem surprised to find her daughter breaking and entering with a boy billionaire and a lethal English butler as her accomplices. Who is this mystery mom, and does she have a connection to the Court? Selina and Bruce could be in deeper than they ever suspected.
Odds & Ends:
- “I know, I mean personally, I find you a bit of a cold fish.”
- Victor Zsasz and his “Hi-ho!” So underrated.
- No offense to Lee, but Barbara has better taste in wedding dresses.