Gotham recap: Wrath of the Villains: Azrael
Hugo Strange manipulates a newly resurrected Theo toward destruction as Gordon continues searching for justice for the Wayne murders
“Strong as an ox, fast as a snake, mad as a hatter.”
That’s how Hugo Strange and his No. 2, Peabody, describe the newly revived Theo Galavan on Monday night’s Gotham, “Wrath of the Villains: Azrael,” and they could not be more right. As the title of the episode suggests, the Order of St. Dumas comes back in a big, big way to the series, but this time it’s not Theo pulling the strings.
The episode begins days after Theo’s resurrection. He’s still completely bananas, writing scribbles on the wall with the blood of those he murdered and yelling into nothingness as he grapples with his return to the living realm. Hugo and Peabody continue to monitor him, but while Peabody doubts why they have brought Theo (or anyone) back if he will never regain sanity, Hugo is overly optimistic. He explains that Theo is not actually crazy — he just doesn’t know who he is because his psyche cannot reconcile being brought back from death. In fact, the scribbles on the wall are all from the Order of St. Dumas sacred text. Hugo is exceptionally proud of his little monster come to life, but his happiness is rapidly diminished when he receives a visit from James Gordon.
Gordon begins his visit by telling Hugo he is on assignment to find out the truth about Pinewood, and while the questioning begins calmly enough, he quickly reverts to cop mode to interrogate and intimidate Hugo about his reinstatement of Pinewood (now called Project Chimera in Indian Hill), but the not-so-good doctor isn’t having it.
He asks why Gordon is in Gotham at all, doing this job for his “client” when the city has been so unkind and unjust to him. Hugo knows it’s because Gordon needs to do this job for himself, because he does indeed have this inherent, secret hope that one day his redemption will come. Gordon disagrees, and his tells give away his lying. But Gordon sees some tells on Hugo’s face, as well, when he serves Hugo a court order to exhume Victor Fries’ body and Hugo lies by saying Fries was cremated. By the time Hugo realizes he was being conned, Gordon is already out the door with the knowledge that Hugo is playing Dr. Frankenstein.
As the Hugo-Theo-Gordon saga continues, Ed is starting his own little adventure inside Arkham. He quickly figures out how to turn the other patients to his side by defending some and befriending others. (Anyone feel like Ed’s “conversation” with the Lucy personality missed a real opportunity to use the phrase “Lucy, you’ve got some ‘splaining to do”?) When he sees Gordon leaving Gotham, he taunts his former friend and states that getting out of Arkham is like one big puzzle and no one can beat him in that arena, but Gordon gets the psychological upper hand.
Ed then overhears Hugo and Peabody talking about what a nuisance Gordon is and offers his services to take the former detective down. Everyone has a story, Ed says, and they just want to be listened to. That one little comment gives Hugo a brilliant idea: It’s time to give Theo a story so he can settle into one identity. Unfortunately for Theo, the story Hugo gives him is one of Azrael from the Order of St. Dumas.
Azrael was said to be a 12th-century warrior who served a man named Dumas, who was given a sainthood title for miracles he was able to perform. One of these miracles was bringing Azrael back from the dead. Hugo confronts Theo, states that he is Dumas and that Theo is his son Azrael. The personality seems to stick as he begins to do Hugo’s bidding. Perfect timing as Hugo’s main job for Azrael is to kill Gordon.
As this story continues to strengthen inside Theo’s mind, Hugo’s nefarious plan starts to take shape. He tells Peabody he wants to imprint personas and stories on other patients (and maybe makes a reference to Jervis Tetch, a.k.a. the Mad Hatter from DC Comics?) and continue shaping Theo’s, as well. He brings Theo/Azrael a fake “Sword of Sin,” brings him patients from Arkham to test his willingness to carry out his master’s plans, and sets him on his task: Kill Gordon. And we quickly learn that the new Theo is nothing if not persistent in this arena.
Meanwhile Gordon tries to slow Bruce down from taking on some vigilante justice. Bruce tries to explain that he believes they should take Hugo’s life into their own hands as Gordon did with Theo, but Gordon tells him that making that kind of decision will haunt him for years and he will become the very evil that he is trying to stop. Gordon tells Bruce to leave things up to him and the police, but the more Gordon, Bullock, and Bruce try to explain the truth behind Pinewood and Hugo Strange to Capt. Barnes, the more he resists.
NEXT: Theo and Gordon’s epic showdown, part one
While Barnes and Gordon argue over what’s really happening in Gotham, Theo/Azrael appears wielding his new “old” sword, cloaked in dark robes and a scary metal mask, and yelling for James Gordon’s death. The two attempt to take him on, but his resurrection has led to some serious improvements in Theo’s strength and speed, as well as his ability to withstand bullets. Theo escapes, and Barnes sets the GCPD off to look for this new masked madman. Theo escapes, and when he comes across a poster for Mayor Galavan, he suddenly gets flashes of his old life. Unfortunately they are overpowered by just how deep Hugo imprinted his new identity.
When Bruce and Gordon try to tell Barnes that this lunatic must also be the work of Hugo Strange, he once again does not listen and even locks Gordon in a holding cell “for his protection.” But if there’s one thing we know for sure from the Maniax attack on the GCPD, this precinct might be one of the least safe places in all of Gotham.
Theo shuts off the power in the precinct and tells Barnes that if they give up Gordon, he will spare their lives. Obviously, Barnes is of the “we don’t negotiate with terrorists” mindset and refuses the offer. So one by one his officers are murdered in cold blood, in one of the most fascinating fight sequences on Gotham since that epic and bloody Maniax attack so many episodes ago.
Eventually, Barnes overpowers Theo and shoots him down, but the revived former mayor gets up and continues fighting. Barnes plays bait while Gordon tries to find some better, stronger firepower, and at first he gains the upper hand by using a pipe to break Theo’s sword in half. In the scuffle, Theo’s mask comes off, and Barnes discovers his identity. But during that shock, Theo stabs Barnes. Gordon is also overcome with surprise that the man he definitely killed is now alive once again, and he shoots him over and over again until he falls off the roof onto a Gotham City Coroner’s van. And yet, Theo is able to get back up, make his identity known to the multitude of TV reporters covering the attack, and then escape back into the night.
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Tabitha, Penguin, and Bruce witness Theo’s return on TV; the recently re-crazified Penguin laughs at the return of his mother’s killer, Tabitha reels from the shock, and Bruce is beyond upset. Bruce knows Strange is behind all of this, but now how to prove that and bring the mad scientist to justice?
“Wrath of the Villains: Azrael” ends on the beginning of Ed’s new chapter on Gotham. Ed’s growing curiosity to the loss of patients through some secret hallway (Theo’s victims from earlier in the episode) leads to his discovery of Arkham’s secret elevator into Indian Hill. Ed descends down to the hellish experiment facility, and God only knows what will happen next. But if this leads to some kind of evil collaboration between Hugo Strange and the Riddler, it’s bound to be some pretty damn good television…hopefully.