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.
As for where Jim and Harvey are during all of Alfred’s outreach efforts, well, they’ve got a bigger problem on their hands. By tracking down Kathryn’s properties and comparing blueprints to city records, Jim discovers that one of her places has a secret 2000-square-foot lair that wasn’t reported on their files. Thanks to Lucius Fox’s smart thinking, they’re able to narrow it down to the basement area, and Jim and Harvey head down there to check it out. It’s not the most idyllic locale for a scouting mission — Harvey would prefer a brewery or a bar for his next search warrant execution — but they find their way into the secret hideaway and discover a crystal owl that, when lit up with a flashlight, reveals a map of the city that has little markers for secret Court stowaway locations. They figure the bomb must be in one of them, but before they can jot down all the coordinates, Captain Barnes comes barreling in on a mission for justice against Jim Gordon.
He’s layered in leather and his hand has an ax, so he is not to be taken lightly right now. Barnes knocks out Harvey and kidnaps Jim with the promise that he’s ready to punish him for his “crimes.” GCPD finds a bystander who saw Barnes drive away in a meat truck, so they’ve got a lead on his location. But they’ll need to act quickly because Barnes is chomping at the bit to serve as judge, jury, and executioner against Gordon.
But first, he has to let Kathryn have a few words; they go to the courtroom, and Kathryn tells Jim she’s very disappointed that he didn’t turn out to be the Owl prodigy he could’ve been. She knows that he swiped the keycard to Strange’s lab and took the virus strain sample, and she’s going to deal with Strange later for not telling on him about the theft, but first, she wants Jim to know that she is sad he won’t get to see Gotham crumble right before his very eyes.
The old trope that most villains fail because they get too cocky and showy holds true with Barnes, though. After Kathryn leaves, Barnes gets Gordon to confess to shooting him for being infected with the Alice Tetch virus and having him locked up in Arkham Asylum. Barnes says that the punishment will be carried out “immediately,” but Gordon’s able to stall him by talking. Barnes tells him about Lee and how she didn’t understand why the virus was such a “gift” that allowed its carrier to access his or her inner id; then Gordon asks for his badge because, soldier to soldier, that’s one thing he can be sure Barnes would allow him as a final request before his execution.
As Barnes is reaching to put it on him, though, Gordon sets off one of his belt grenades and causes a momentary distraction that gives the GCPD time to rush in and save him. But before you think there’s never enough consequence to this kind of moment, consider this: When Harvey and Jim have Kathryn in the interrogation room later, Barnes again storms in and overtakes the place. But this time, he makes use of that ax and slices off her head.
That, I was not expecting.
Before she’s decapitated, Kathryn manages to mention that she’s not the true head of the Owls. And when Alfred shows up demanding some attention to Bruce’s case, he reveals that he too has seen the crystal owl with all the map info on it. He broke it in his attempt to steal it, but it’s relatively easily reassembled by the GCPD’s forensics team.
Jim also has little trouble escaping Barnes’ wrath a second time. Although Barnes attempts to behead Jim, yet again, Jim manages to cut off his ax arm and take him down. But there’s still one infected person he has yet to deal with…
Lee’s been a tertiary character at best so far in this leg of the season, but tonight, she’s becoming much more interesting.
As it so often does, her story begins with a terrible dream.
In her nightmare, she is reunited with an alive-and-well Mario, and she tells him that she thought he was infected with a virus and killed on their wedding night. The pair quickly laugh it off, but then he tells her it’s time to take her medicine — the blood from his very wrist — at which point she wakes up and smashes a nearby glass of wine that looks like the blood he just poured for her in the dream.
She goes to Arkham to meet with Jarvis Tetch, who seems to know that Lee’s been losing sleep lately. She wants to know why he infected Mario as a means of hurting Jim, and he reveals that he could tell from that look in her eyes that she was in love with Jim Gordon, and he didn’t want Jim to have any sort of happiness. By infecting Mario, which led to Jim killing Mario, Lee would forever resent Jim, which means that he gets the ultimate payback by preventing Jim from ever experiencing happiness with Lee. “Now, see, that’s funny,” he quips.
Lee swears it’s merely a coincidence that she shows up to the station just as Jim is recovering from his battle with Barnes, but he doesn’t believe her. She snaps back, “There is no justice here. Look at you. You still haven’t paid for the pain that you caused, but I guess that’s the difference between the two of us. I’m willing to pay for the things I’ve done.” Jim’s confused by her statement that she’s done things worth payback, but Harvey interrupts any potential revelation there by insisting that they have to keep moving on the Owls because their leader will only be galvanized by the death of Kathryn.
Once they begin studying the map, that’s when the good news starts trickling in: Barnes has escaped (again) and is on the loose in Gotham, and the virus sample that they had stored in the fridge was stolen. The only people will the combination to the fridge were Jim, Lucius, and, you guessed it, Lee.
Yep, Lee stole it during her temporary return to the station and has injected herself with the virus now. She looks all too pleased to, in Barnes’ words, be filled with so much strength and clarity all of a sudden. Will Jim kill her, the way he did Mario?