It’s the day after Jervis Tetch forced Jim Gordon to choose between the two women in his life, and both of them want to talk about what he said. The Mad Hatter’s tea party game fulfilled its purpose: Gordon decided who would get the bullet, and Valerie and Lee got the same message. “You love Lee,” Valerie says to him from her hospital bed. “Which means we’re done.” This very conversation is the reason why Tetch didn’t shoot to kill.
While Gordon wrestles with the personal truths Jervis’ guerilla therapy session brought to the surface, Jervis is widening the scope of his revenge. Gordon gets the blame for Alice’s death on the micro level, but it’s the entire city of Gotham with her blood on its hands. What better recompense then, than to use that blood to drive all its citizens insane? Jervis and the remaining Tweeds collect Alice’s body from the morgue to harvest the poison still inside. But first, Jervis visits a perverse medicine man to purchase an accelerant. Along with the additive that will help him spread Alice’s blood through the city like an unstoppable virus, he comes into possession of a bottle of “Red Queen” — a powdery blend of psychotropic plants. It was created to produce the highest of highs, but the dealer tells Jervis it blows the user past that point and straight into full psychosis. Jervis takes a dab and blows it into the man’s face for his troubles.
Gordon turns up at the morgue when he hears about Alice, ready to get to work. As a civilian, like you do. Whatever sympathy Barnes was feeling toward the ex-detective has run out, and even Bullock is tiring of Gordon’s determination to have it both ways. “Barnes is right,” Harvey says. “Be a cop or don’t.” Over the past three years, Bullock has located a lot of the pride in his job that he’d thought he’d lost. Gordon is his friend, but he’s run out of favors. Serving the city means serving the city, not cherry-picking cases that personally affect him. There’s a fear there that Gordon still hasn’t faced. “Let those of us who want to wear the badge do our damn jobs,” Bullock demands, and then he escorts him out.
Jervis and his men gained access to the morgue by bribing a guard with a record. It’s the GCPD’s only lead on finding him and, more importantly, Alice’s blood. Lucius Fox debriefs Barnes on the lab’s second round of testing. Just as it did in the first, a few drops of Tetch’s serum sent lab rats into an increasingly manic and violent state, accompanied by an increased strength. Barnes was hoping for better news, not just for himself now, but for Gotham. It won’t take long after Jervis disseminates the liquid for the residents of the city to grow mighty and savage — they will rip one another apart, quite literally.
Back at the hospital, Lee is trying to calm down Mario, who’s understandably upset that Jim Gordon told a psychopath to kill her. Lee knows the truth of it — that Gordon was just trying to save her — and she’d like Mario not to fixate on that either. Mario wants him out of their hair. Lee agrees. Gordon appears at that moment, there to bring Valerie the recovery whiskey she’d requested before they broke up. Lee wants Gordon to be honest with himself about the feelings that directed his actions at the tea party. He stubbornly sticks to his guns, insisting he wasn’t working the reverse-psychology angle. He did want to save Val, so there. “Bullock was right,” Lee says, sadly. “You are afraid.”
He has reason to be. Finding Val asleep, Gordon pokes his head into the hallway. He sees Jervis, who leads him down the stairwell and into the hospital basement. The Red Queen was for Gordon; more than the entire GCPD, the greatest threat to Tetch’s ability to plunge the city into madness. Jervis blows the substance into his face. “Enjoy the trip.”
NEXT: The other woman
Gordon may be on to something with denial. Oswald could tell you that acknowledging your own emotions doesn’t always turn out so great. Last week, the great ‘ship Nygmobblepot was on the verge of setting sail before Ed was waylaid by a blast from the past: a blond, bouffant-ed version of Miss Kringle, going by the name of Isabella. It’s as if millions of Tumblrs suddenly cried out in joy, and were suddenly silenced. Ed and Isabella are sitting on her stoop when the morning paper hits their feet. Not only did Ed miss his dinner date with Oswald; he stayed out all night to explore this cosmic connection. He’s not even sufficiently sorry when he strolls into the mansion. Oswald is busy pulling mayoral strings to file a missing person’s report before the minimum number of hours has past. He’s too overjoyed to see Ed safe to even be upset with him. At first. “I met someone,” Ed says, beaming. “I think I’m in love.” Oswald could spit.
Ed is still dreamy as a Disney princess while he helps Oswald dress for Gotham’s Founder’s Day dinner. Oswald wishes he had a plus one on his invite, but Ed already has plans: a second date with Isabella, this time at the mansion. He’s told Oswald about her resemblance to Kristen, apparently — their friendship is built on the fact that they can talk to each other about every terrible thing they do and think, without judgment. Ed is distracted enough that he doesn’t notice Oswald’s distress or his gears turning when he tells him where Isabella works.
Oswald shows up at the library using Founder’s Day research as a cover story. Isabella knows who he is, of course. The mayor is all politeness. “I should thank you for brightening Ed’s spirits,” he says. “He’s been so down since he got out of Arkham.” Ruh roh. A stint in Gotham’s institution for the criminally insane isn’t something that normally comes up on a first date, even if it does last 12 hours. “Uncanny how much you look like her,” he continues. “It’s that swan-like neck. Ed loves a neck.” Isabella doesn’t know who “her” is, but she’s thrown anyway.
Maybe I’m in too deep here, but isn’t it actually kind of Oswald to try to scare Isabella away instead of offing her? He could get rid of her for good, but instead he wants to prove something. He wants to prove that he’s the only person who can accept Ed completely for what he is. And if Isabella is driven away by his past, that simply means she’s unworthy. Oswald heads to the very exclusive annual dinner satisfied that his rival has been neutralized.
While he’s there, Oswald meets a “rather severe-looking woman” — Kathryn, of the Court of Owls. She doesn’t name the “family” she’s the head of, but she does tell Oswald that he hasn’t escaped their notice and that he will be called upon at some point in the future. He doesn’t have much time to ruminate on this before Jervis crashes the party. The Mad Hatter’s flair for the dramatic is also his downfall. It’s a ridiculous amount of overkill to spike the wine and force Gotham’s most powerful to drink it at gunpoint. Why not spike it and leave? His grandstanding provides enough of a delay for Barnes and Bullock to work the guard and anticipate Jervis’ plan. The GCPD arrives before Penguin and the rest can sip from their poison cups. As he’s arrested, Jervis gets a bit of satisfaction when he sees evidence of contamination in Barne’s eyes. “Is that my dear sister I see?”
NEXT: Far out, man[pagebreak]
Gordon misses the raid, paralyzed as he is. He spends most of the episode in a Red Queen-induced dream sequence. Barbara is his tour guide through his worst memories and fears, a job that the real Barbara would have enjoyed as much as the dream version. (“You got dosed, buttercup. Welcome to your hallucination.”) Anyway, Gordon’s psyche looks like the set of American Horror Story: Hotel, and different fears reside on different levels. Death is the real star of this show. He fights next to Oswald in a trench; Oswald tells him never to leave his unit behind. A masked Bruce Wayne shows Gordon a stack of bodies — the cops and soldiers Gordon feels responsible for — and then shoots him, before pulling his dead mother’s pearls out of Gordon’s wound.
Another floor gives Gordon a look into the life he knows he can’t have. Not on cop hours, he returns to a well-appointed home in a nice suit right in time for dinner. He’s greeted at the door by two enthusiastic kids and inside by Lee, doing her best June Cleaver. They’re all happy together; Gordon even cracks a smile. But as soon as he gets comfortable, the kids and Lee disappear. He strangles Barbara and demands she take him back there. She’s not having it because any regrets Gordon has are his and his alone. “I know you’re lost. You want to find your way home? Play nice.”
The last stop on the Gordon Magical Mystery Tour is a car trip with his deceased father. A famous Gotham D.A., Peter Gordon was his hero for more than what he did in the courtroom. “You got up day after day and faced the worst the city has to offer,” Jim marvels, “but you never brought that home to mom and me.” Jim confesses to his dad that he’s fundamentally different, a cop-out that Peter calls him on. Everyone has darkness; everyone has regrets — even a noble D.A. He advises his son to cut out all the “self-righteous lone wolf nonsense” (accurate) and have the guts to rejoin the world. He’s gone too soon (“No, I want to talk to you more.”), but he leaves Jim with his pride and a task: to find his old ring and remember to live by the Gordon code. After Mario pumps him full of an anti-psychotic, Gordon digs into an old box and translates the Latin inscription on the jewelry: “While we breathe, we shall defend.” He walks into Barnes’ office and signs back up with the GCPD.
When Oswald returns to the mansion, he’s shocked to see Isabella there. So Ed accidentally killed his ex-girlfriend who looks just like her. Have you seen what’s on Tinder? Seriously though, something in Isabella is stirred by the confession. She tells Ed about the iconic lovers she idolizes in her books, and they all caused each other’s destruction. Who is she, besides a thorn in poor Penguin’s side?
Great lovers, great heroes — all their legacies are dependent on how they’re remembered. The episode closes on the exposure of a possible pretender. Kathryn discusses Oswald’s value to the Court with a man in shadow. “We’ll keep an eye on him,” he says. “Judgment is coming, Kathryn, for all of us.” He’s in profile, but the voice is familiar. And he wears a meaningful decoration on his finger: the Gordon family crest.
Odds & Ends:
- Selina turns up late to her first date with Bruce, and I love that he doesn’t let her get away with it. He takes them very seriously (he takes everything seriously), and it’s important to Bruce that Selina knows that she’s worth a day in the kitchen and much more.
- “I’m partial to the purple.” And now it’s canon that Penguin bases his entire color scheme on a compliment Ed gave him once.
- What’s the deal with that Band-Aid on the back of Mario’s neck? Is he injecting himself with something? Conducting some unauthorized human trials on Alice’s blood?
- Hey there, it’s my weekly plea to separate Barbara’s story from Gordon’s for a while.
Episode grade: B