There’s a lot to unpack on this week’s episode of Gotham. From launching grand vengeance schemes to casting aside old rivalries and pain, each of our heroes and villains is making moves that will definitely have an impact on the city’s history.
Let’s walk through what everyone’s up to this week on Gotham.
The episode begins with Oswald Cobblepot and Ed Nygma — excuse me, the Riddler — having a cage-side chat in their prison cells. It’s interesting that their cells both look like birdcages because, yes, these two are both completely cuckoo. Ed’s surprised to see Penguin still alive, but Oswald informs him that by shooting him, Ed actually gave his frenemy a reason to live: revenge. Oswald promises that he’s got Ed right where he wants him down here in the cages, even if he can’t quite reach him through the poles just yet. But Ed’s got an escape plan in mind.
Penguin fashions a shiv, but Ed laughs that the weapon is going to be too thin by the time he’s done with it. As we well know by now, there’s little Oswald likes less than being made fun of, but there’s nothing he can do about it quite yet. After taking a sip of java, Ed informs Oswald that he bribed the guards to poison his coffee; he says he’s just joking, as the Riddler does, but that sinking feeling as Penguin loses his voice says otherwise. That’s when Ed whips out his bobby-pin escape tool and starts going to work on the lock. He manages to get himself free from the cage, but Oswald uses his metal lunch tray to attract the guards’ attention and get Ed (1) beaten up on the floor and (2) locked right back where he belongs. Lunch and justice served.
Now that Ed’s lock-picking device has been confiscated though, he’s really incensed. They both want to kill each other, but the metal bars between them prevent either of them from getting their way right now, so there’s only one solution to this whole mess: work together.
Sabotage and betrayal may have been the very nature of their former relationship, but when it comes to escaping this here underground prison, they’re each ready to be gentlemen. They plot to entice the guards into the cage by having Ed stage an attack on Penguin’s neck using bright red Jell-O, and Oswald manages to overpower the guards on the spot and steal the cell keys. Here’s where he could easily have just picked up and run, leaving Ed safe and sound in his cage, but instead, Oswald honors their agreement to work together and opens the Riddler’s cell to free him. They’ve got a six-hour ceasefire in place, and by the time they make their way to the alleyway and chase away a few grifters, there are still five hours left on the clock before their murder embargo against each other is lifted. Again, they each cautiously respect that agreement and take leave of one another — but not before Penguin informs Ed that he’s got a whole army of Strange’s “monsters” running around Gotham doing his bidding. It’s on, they promise, but not yet.
Meanwhile, Selina Kyle is awake, albeit a little banged up, over at Bruce Manor. 514A finds her and says that, despite the fact that he threw her out of a fourth-floor window, he’s pleasantly surprised that she’s alive. His affectionate attitude does nothing to quell her anger, though, so she starts laying in thick again about how he’s just a “cheap knock-off” of Bruce Wayne, which is apparently his only weak spot; even after she stabs him in the gut, he doesn’t back down from attacking her.
Luckily for Selina, Alfred comes in just in time to stop him from beating her down with a fireplace poker and is informed that this Bruce is an impostor. Alfred doesn’t so much care for the whys or hows — he just wants to know where the real deal is located. He and 514A exchange a few headbutts before Alfred is finally overpowered by fake Bruce, who tells him that Bruce is serving a higher purpose than himself — and so is 514A.
That higher purpose, according to the shaman, is to become a weapon of protection for the entire city of Gotham. The shaman again informs Bruce that the Court of Owls is only a pawn in his games and proves it by showing him one of the shaman’s own memories — whether real or fake, we can’t quite know — of stabbing the Court member who’d killed Bruce’s parents.
In this throwback memory, the shaman was displeased to hear that the Waynes were killed for being a threat to the Owls, and this, according to shaman, only proves that he’s loyal to the Wayne name and to Gotham at large, not the antiquated Court
Bruce has been reticent to let go of the pain of his parents’ deaths before, even locking his mother’s pearl necklace in a dream safe, but after witnessing the shaman’s cerebral scene, he’s ready to do so. Bruce is left feeling “nothing” of the pain he’d been tormented with before. With that, the shaman is convinced that he’s just created a super-monster to do his every bidding — he even has a guard slice off his own finger to show just how in control he really is — and that Bruce Wayne is now his willing puppet. This can’t end well.
Alfred, unaware of what’s happening to Bruce but completely convinced his ward is still alive, tries to reach out to Jim Gordon for some help tracking down Master Wayne, but he gets no help from GCPD or Selina. That’s when we learn that Selina’s still harboring resentment against Bruce for hiding what her mother really was — in Alfred’s words, “a wonky con artist” — to spare her feelings. But Alfred has no generosity of spirit today; he tells Selina that by neglecting to help him save Bruce, she’s becoming just like her “disgrace” of a mom and bans her from Bruce Manor forevermore.