“Calling dibs on my office? I’m not dead yet.”
Harvey isn’t dead yet, but sarcastic Harvey is on life support, in a coma, and one foot in the grave. Even Victor Zsasz is absent, on leave from work to “visit his Bubbie,” according to Penguin. So where does that leave us with A Day in the Narrows? I almost want to sing A Day in the Life by The Beatles, but there won’t be any 21 second piano chord at the end. What we do get is the GCPD taking a long, hard look at itself in terms of systemic corruption in the wake of Professor Pyg’s cop killing spree.
Pyg goes after every corrupt cop in Gotham, which pretty much means every cop on the GCPD except Gordon. Surprisingly, Gordon openly admits that he used to be a corrupt cop, and what’s refreshing is how honest with itself the show is being – in this episode at least. Pyg’s rampage seems to have the opposite effect, though; rather than making the cops see the light and turn honest, they dig their heels deeper into corruption and align with Penguin’s private army. When Pyg sends 44 pig heads to the GCPD, one for each cop save Gordon, and takes three cops hostage, everyone heads into the Narrows with a mindset inspired by Roddy Piper in They Live – “I have come here to chew bubblegum and kick ass…and I’m all out of bubblegum.”
Led by Headhunter, Penguin’s crew encourages the cops to be more rambunctious in their efforts to get information about Pyg from Gotham’s poorest and downtrodden. In a scene that makes the corner busts from The Wire look like a hippie love-in, both thugs and cops beat civilians senseless, culminating in Headhunter holding a sick old man at gunpoint in the middle of the street in order to get his wife to spill the beans. Tensions bubble over between Gordon and Harvey, who is now open about accepting Penguin’s bribes and allow this behaviour to happen.
By aligning himself with Penguin, Harvey lost any ethical and moral high ground he managed to recover since Season 1 – both are lower than DeShone Kizer’s QB rating, but there have been results. That is, until there aren’t results, then Harvey loses everything and is left with nothing. The lead sends the GCPD to an abandoned courthouse in the Narrows, where Gordon does his best Admiral Ackbar impersonation and screams “It’s a trap!” Fired up by the throw caution to the wind attitude of Penguin’s men, Harvey and the GCPD charge in where he shoots one of the kidnapped cops dressed up to look like Pyg.
Harvey at al are pinned down by automated machine guns firing at them and no way out – though they could have waited for the guns to run out of ammunition (kinda like the Patriots waiting until week 6 or 7 for all the game film and playbooks to arrive at their offices). This is where the difference between dedicated police officers and mercenaries, as Penguin’s men refuse to enter the building to save others in danger. Clearly Cyndi Lauper was right, and money changes everything, and there presumably isn’t enough in Penguin’s coffers to inspire his men to charge into the fray.
Of course Gordon enters the building, machine gun in hand, to save the day. He’s not motivated by money or a sense of retribution, but rather by a deep desire to turn Gotham City into something good. But there is something bigger happening here as well; it takes the near-complete corruption of the GCPD to shift Gordon’s do-good attitude from annoyingly self-righteous to one that is more selfless.
This episode is the TSN Turning Point for both the GCPD and the show. Harvey finally stops taking Penguin’s money, at least some cops finally realize corruption can’t serve the individual long term, and Gordon gets some respect from his fellow officers. It took about four seasons and Pyg’s extreme actions to do it, but beggars can’t be choosers, so it’s all good.
The second story in this episode sees Bruce begin to fully embrace his Bruce Wayne persona. He runs into old schoolmate Grace at a fundraiser, and she invites him out for the night with her friends. Initially, we see Bruce struggle internally with his decision to kill Ra’s as it manifests itself into clenching fists and fantasies of beating the snot out of his uppity peers. Then, as Whodini sang, the freaks come out a night, and Bruce deals with his trauma by partying hard and throwing his money around at a club he purchased to get everyone into.
Usually the billionaire playboy Bruce Wayne alter ego is treated as a mask in Batman canon, but here we see a genuine indulgence on Bruce’s part rather than use the behaviour as a disguise. After the trauma he has suffered, it’s surprising he hasn’t acted this way in previous seasons (something I’ve mentioned in past reviews). The $64,000 question is will this hard-partying, self-destructive path be a new storyline for Bruce?
Meanwhile, the third story sees Babs ready to close up shop after the apparent death of Ra’s – he was, after all, the bankroll for her operation and the well as seemingly run dry. Selena and Tabs try to convince her that the Sirens is a chance for a real, badass family, something Selena desperately wants.
It takes Selena getting in peril for Babs to sign on with the family business and we have one of the best female-centric moments on the show. The three walking arm in arm agreeing to go into business together after taking down a gang of bikers was a treat to watch. Hopefully we’ll see more of this in future episodes.
Back to Penguin, so seems more alone than we’ve seen in a while. Sofia’s advice that his alliance with GCPD will end in Penguin’s humiliation comes true. In a fit of anger Penguin kills Headhunter, though it’s unclear of Pyg will come after him as well. For now, Penguin seems as safe as the Patriots surveillance cameras hidden in other teams’ practice facilities.
Harvey seems to have seen the light, and hopefully we’ll see more sarcastic Harvey next week. I missed Zsasz and his unique perspective on things. Good to see the ladies unite and want to see more of the Sirens. I’m sure Nygma will get smrtr before season’s end and we get to see a Mexican standoff between Penguin, Nygma and the Sirens for control of Gotham.
Tune in next week – same Bat-time, same Bat-channel.