Gotham recap: 'Mad City: Ghosts'
Mario Calvi is dead. Gotham spares us the rest of the scene at the lake house, where Jim Gordon shot and killed him in front of his new wife right before the winter hiatus. There’s no screaming, no frantic efforts to stop the bleeding — just a sedate funeral, with Lee Tompkins looking every inch the mob wife.
Whether Lee took Mario’s name or not, she’s still a Falcone. And being a Falcone means revenge is immediately available to her. Jim can’t help but spy on the ceremony, though he’s risking his life to do it. It was a “legit kill” — Mario had tested positively for the Tetch virus. But Mario wasn’t a Tetch or a nameless Gotham thug. He had people, and those people know there’s much more to this story than a cop taking out a criminal. Lee doesn’t have the power to have Jim arrested, but she has the ear and the loyalty of Carmine, which could easily lead to a much more permanent punishment.
Fortunately, Carmine’s best assassin is also his most good-natured. Jim finds Victor Zsasz helping himself to some milk in Jim’s apartment. He came to warn Jim that he expects to get the kill order from Carmine soon. Jim wants an audience with Mario’s father, but it’s too late for apologies. There’s nothing to be done but wait for the sweet embrace of death. And his executioner promises him it will be sweet. “You won’t see me coming and you won’t feel a thing,” Zsasz says in comfort, assuring Jim it’s really not personal. He’s nothing if not professional. How interesting that Jim’s kill was anything but.
Jim has no choice but to soldier on, especially since the dead seem to be perishing twice. Lucius calls in the detectives to check out a body that had lately been a resident of the morgue. The evidence suggests Melanie Blake died once, picked herself up off the slab, and then died again a few days later. Somewhere in the middle of all that, she was hooked up to a serious electrical current. Someone is playing Frankenstein and succeeding, and Harvey is running out of patience for weird. (“Doesn’t anyone die in Gotham anymore?”)
Neither Jim nor Harvey is convinced the suspicious night manager at the morgue is as ignorant of Melanie’s disappearance as he’s trying to appear. They tail him to an abandoned theater where a revival of sorts is taking place. The man — Dwight Pollard — takes the stage and riles up the assembled oddballs with talk of revolution. Gotham is asleep; its citizens “mentally shackled.” Their savior is the only man who can bring about a cleansing chaos. This is a flock of believers waiting for the second coming of Jerome Valeska. Melanie Blake was just a case of trial and error. The goal of this operation is to recreate Hugo Strange’s Indian Hill experiments, specifically to resurrect a deceased Jerome. Gotham’s probably-Joker lies in stasis, asleep with a smile on his face.
Jim and Harvey break up the meeting and end up in a firefight with two of Jerome’s aspiring Maniax. Jim peels off when he realizes Zsasz is also behind them, shooting to kill. Jim escapes with his life, but it’s just a temporary reprieve. Carmine has lifted the truce on Lee’s orders. Though, as a father, he sees it as his duty to warn her about the lasting burden of bloodshed. But that hypothetical pain can’t compete with the rage she’s currently feeling towards Jim. “God I hate him,” she seethes. “Everything bad that’s happened in my life is because of him.”
She reasons that because former Captain Barnes is still living with the virus, Mario’s death was unnecessary. Lee visits Barnes to confirm her hypothesis and finds a man who barely resembles her gruff but fair boss. Now he’s just a monster who’ll be locked away forever, his personality overridden by his obsession with corporal punishment. (“This virus isn’t a disease, it’s an antidote.”) Lee wouldn’t have wanted to see Mario like this, even if she can’t admit as much out loud. She calls off the hit, and Carmine tells her why she does it. She’s never hated Jim Gordon. Even now she doesn’t, and she’s questioning everything because of it.
NEXT: The mayor goes on TV
Carmine approaches even the most personal business with elegance, efficiency, and a strict moral code. But revenge is usually much messier. Edward Nygma is following through on his vow to destroy Oswald Cobblepot from the inside out. (“I want this to be a slow painful death, one of a thousand deep cuts.”) With the help of Tabitha and Barbara, he’s orchestrated a convincing bit of theater. Paul Reubens returns to play the “ghost” of Oswald’s beloved father — really, Clayface from Indian Hill — who appears to warn his son of a liar among his inner circle.
The mayor’s mansion becomes a “haunted” house right around the time someone digs up Elijah Van Dahl’s body. His father’s spirit pleads with Oswald to put him back to rest again. Following the breadcrumbs Ed has left for him, the mayor finds the remains in the office of Tarquin, the deputy chief of staff who’s stepped up in Ed’s unexplained absence. Ed knows Oswald’s madness floats as close to the surface as his own, so that’s where he aims his attacks. Oswald is awoken when his framed certificate of sanity from Arkham falls and shatters. Tarquin laughs off his accusation and reminds the mayor he “hasn’t slept in days.” He feels himself losing control and can’t do anything to stop it. Oswald beats Tarquin to death with a golf trophy mere minutes before he’s to do a live television interview.
As underqualified and overly emotional as he is, Oswald has proven to be the kind of mayor Gotham needs. His stats are superb, the people adore him, and even the press is on his side. But he hasn’t won over national broadcaster Margaret Hearst, who warned the mayor she “shan’t be holding back” in their interview. While most of the city is happy to let Oswald’s results eclipse his dubious rise to power, Ms. Hearst is determined to ask the tough questions. She doesn’t need to ask many; Oswald crashes and burns in the interview, thanks to Ed’s interference. With Penguin’s flame-out and Jerome’s imminent return, Gotham is setting up an ideological conflict between two very different villains: One who is concerned only with his own power and acceptance and the other, a staunch advocate for disorder. It’s been relatively quiet on the Western front, but the back half of this season appears to be gearing up for war.
When the time comes, the Court of Owls will certainly be on the side of Oswald, since he’s more easily controlled. Meanwhile, the secret weapon necessary to take them down sits on a table at Wayne Manor. Alfred and Bruce don’t know what to make of the glass owl sculpture; they set it aside while they deal with the matter at hand — the resurfacing of Selina’s mother. Meet the source of Selina’s trust issues. Maria Kyle left her daughter and went on the run when Selina was only 5 years old. She claims to have had her reasons, but Selina doesn’t want to hear them. She has her own sense of right and wrong, and to her mind, there’s no excuse good enough for abandoning a child. Rejected, Maria wants to run. But Bruce urges his friend and her mother not to give up on each other so easily. (“Take it from someone who misses his family very much.”)
They take it slow. Maria comes to Wayne Manor for a family dinner and flirts with Alfred by picking his pocket. Selina allows herself to enjoy a moment of stability instead of questioning it. But the bubble breaks when they take Maria back home to her hotel, where she’s greeted by a kicked-in door and a man pointing a gun, demanding the money she owes. Selina calms him down; she doesn’t doubt her friend Bruce will hand over whatever this guy requires to leave them alone. Maria characterizes Cole as a man from her past, but this all feels very present. He leaves satisfied, but promises first to pay Bruce a visit and reveal all of Maria’s secrets. “We should warn your friends,” Maria says. But it’s Selina who’ll take it the hardest if Maria isn’t the woman she wants her to be.
Odds & Ends:
- “Also, nice shot on Mario. Never liked him.”
- “You’re not dating that kid, are you?” Just have an answer ready, Selina.
- Oswald’s nighttime fez.
- On friendship and mob hits: “It’s my business, not yours.” “A bit ridiculous, seeing as how I’m standing next to you most of the time.”
- A lot of problems could be avoided if Bruce ever remembered he has a fortress under his house.