The Alice Tetch virus hits the airwaves
Credit: Fox
S3 E20
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It might be a touch too obvious to call this week’s episode of Gotham explosive, but that’s exactly what it is. So many elements of evil are at work right now, and it looks like the city is about to go to war, with many unexpected factions suiting up for the end game.

Let’s walk through tonight’s episode, shall we?

If nothing else, the Shaman, who’s the real leader of the Court of Owls, really knows how to make an intense scene. Tonight, he make a triumphant return to the Court (well, at least what’s left of them, after Kathryn’s timely demise) to introduce the new and improved (?) Bruce Wayne. He’s successfully transformed Bruce into a feelingsless robot who’s ready to “rise” to become the Dark Knight Gotham needs, and he’s got the power to deliver vengeance against the Court for his parents’ murder so many years before. Bruce hesitates to greenlight the mass execution of every sitting member at the table, but the deed is done anyhow. Next time, he swears to his new mentor, he won’t hesitate. (Spoiler: He will.)

Jim and Harvey find all the bodies when they’re looking for a table full of weapon-wielding perps and figure out that the real leader was cleaning house because that’s what the Owls are all about, apparently. Jim’s also figured out that Lee injected herself with that Alice Tetch virus she stole from the department, and he decides (unwisely) to pay her a visit and confirm the truth himself.

Not only is she mad, but she’s madly in love with him too, and thank to the virus, she’s finally ready to go all in on the Jim Gordon fangirling brouhaha. She’s convinced that Jim loves her back, which he probably does, and that it’s his own inhibitions that are standing in the way of them getting steamy, so she wants him to take the virus, too. Only, it’s not going to be as simple as infecting him right there on the spot — no, she’s gotta make a scene about it because “a woman scorned” and all that.

Meanwhile, Ed (who prefers to be called the Riddler, but when he’s not slinging torturous puns, the moniker just doesn’t fit) summons Barbara, Tabitha, and Butch to let them know that Oswald Cobblepot is alive and (un)well and that he’ll be after the whole lot of them with his newfangled Army of Freaks. So, they really have no choice but to help him take down the Penguin, again, lest their own necks be on the line.

What Ed doesn’t know, however, is that Penguin’s in an especially vulnerable situation right now because Freeze and Bridgit both jumped ship, leaving his army down to, yet again, just two: himself and Ivy. Selina Kyle’s there, but mostly only because she was just revived by Ivy; she has absolutely zero allegiance to Penguin and probably never will. Probably. But Ed catches on quick once he comes into one of Oswald’s safe houses and Tabitha manages to snatch Selina as a material witness while Ivy and Penguin escape through a bookshelf hatch.

At the same time, Harvey accepts Alfred’s help in tracking down Bruce for a couple of reasons. First of all, Alfred probably wouldn’t take no for an answer anyway, and second, he’s pretty good at playing detective in a pinch. He’s the one who finds some backdoor smuggling fund called the Whisper Game that could’ve served as an unmarked hideout for the Owls.

Upon arrival, they and the GCPD find that Hugo Strange has just delivered the Tetch bomb to Bruce and the Shaman, and while Strange is willing to surrender, Bruce is all in on this personal destiny line that’s been sold to him by the Shaman, who has now revealed a second title for himself: Sensei.

But their interests quickly diverge when their captured VIP list doubles: Jim disappears. Gaming as she likes to do in her Alice Tetch-infected system, Lee turns herself in to the police just so she can watch them struggle to try to stop the very different kind of bomb she’s planted — she’s got Jim Gordon buried in a coffin, with a walkie-talkie all powered up so everyone can witness in nauseating detail his struggle down below. According to Lee, there’s one way out — he can take the virus.
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Jim doesn’t want to become like one of the “monsters” he’s had to put down in the past, but the K9 unit falls short on finding his location, despite a good start by way of the radio frequency range and Harvey’s unshakable determination. As Jim is close to drawing his last breath, he decides to go for it and stabs himself just in time to claw his way out of the coffin. Bolstered by this development, Lee snags some jail cell keys and frees herself because she’s clearly hoping this is the opportune time for her and Jim to finally copulate, the way they were meant to all along. And you know what? Crazier things have happened on this show, so we’ll see.

Meanwhile, even though Harvey and Co. managed to narrow down the bomb’s location to Union Station and even figured out the right time, they’re unable to evacuate the place before the clock hits zero and boom. There goes the mist, there goes the virus, and there goes the city?

The person whose finger pushed the button to launch the bomb was not Bruce Wayne, despite the fact that he was supposed to. Instead, Alfred came this close to talking his young squire down from the dirty deed, and the Shaman pressed it instead, earning a bullet in his head from Alfred in return for his trouble. Bruce still believes that he’s done the right thing and that it’s his destiny to become what we all know as the Batman.

Jim infecting himself and the city quickly following suit somehow seems to be a bit back-burnered by the tertiary story line of the evening, though. Although Oswald escaped Ed the first time in that safe house, he is easily outmaneuvered by Ed after Ed and Barbara squeeze Selina for details. She’s got no loyalty to Oswald, and as long as the Ridder’s company doesn’t hurt Ivy, she’s fine to turn over the greasy, self-righteous guy her pal’s inexplicably taken up with lately.

Ivy’s a sweetie, but she’s also about as bright as her plants sometimes, so when Selina calls and asks about their location and armaments (or lack thereof), she thinks nothing of it. But Oswald knows enough about betrayal to steel for what’s to come and puts up a final stand with Ed, who’s ready to kill him again, by refusing to call him the Riddler. Their little back-and-forth provides enough of a pause to allow for the entry of another long-lost soul from this show’s past — Fish Mooney.

After being revived by Strange, Fish, whom Oswald killed before to declare himself the “King of Gotham,” is ready to have a little chat with her one-time murderer. Ed is rendered silent by the return of Fish and doesn’t even try to fight her over rights to becoming Oswald’s executioner. With so many crazies about to run roughshod over Gotham, including Jim Gordon in the flesh, it looks like Gotham really is going to need Bruce to step up and become the fabled hero after all. It’s a self-fulfilling prophecy, sure, but from the look ahead, it looks like we’re just days away from seeing the Bat-Signal finally come into play.

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