“The things we do for love.” – 10cc
I couldn’t find an appropriate quote from the characters in this week’s episode of Gotham, but fortunately I found inspiration from English rock band 10cc. Queen Takes Knight thematically links the stories together quite nicely and shows what people are willing to do for those they hold dear, kinda like when Bill Belichick tells the NFL that Gronk should only get a one game suspension for his “incidental contact” with Buffalo’s Tre’Davious White. But I digress…
The main story focuses on the return of Carmine Falcone. Turns out Big Daddy C is unhappy with Sofia returning to Gotham and diving into the criminal underworld; he’s convinced she is not ready to be a prime time player. Oh, and he also knows she’s been busy seducing Gordon, and sleeping with the enemy is a no-no. So a quick deal with Penguin to ensure Sofia’s safety as Carmine prepares to usher her out of town. Wait, isn’t this a case of déjà vu from last week when Gordon proposed the same deal and Penguin reneged on it? Carmine wants Sofia out of town because he cares for her and not Gotham – he doesn’t even want Gotham back, so when he and Sofia take the long stroll down the driveway with no sense of urgency, a watching Gordon’s spider sense tingles, and we get a Boyz n the Hood style drive-by shooting that leaves Carmine dead and Sofia wounded.
Lots of finger pointing in Penguin’s direction doesn’t deter him from denying his involvement or attending Carmine’s funeral to pay his respects. It makes sense on one hand that Penguin would want to take out Sofia, but killing Carmine? This may also be a bit of a hard sell, and as we’ve seen on Gotham, nothing is really what it seems. Case in point – it’s Victor Zsasz who displays (for him, at least) the most emotionality at the funeral; he approaches the casket and places a bullet in Carmine’s pocket.
Harvey drops by GCPD and Gordon tells him his captaincy was due to Sofia’s scheming in an attempt to mend fences. Harvey advises him to get Penguin to start a war so he can be arrested legitimately. Harvey also reminds Gordon he’s responsible for what’s happened in Gotham; Gordon was the only cop who objected to Penguin’s crime licensed and had to pursue it, so now he must finish what he started.
Penguin offers money to any cop willing to give up Sofia, who is under police protection. But there are no takers and Penguin goes to the mattresses with the GCPD. Sofia tells Gordon about Martin being “killed” and he confronts Penguin, who explains how Martin’s death was faked and Zsasz took him to an undisclosed location. In a nice twist, Zsasz turns on Penguin and doesn’t play ball, insisting it happened like Sofia said it did. This allows Gordon to arrest Penguin as well as Sofia filling the now vacant throne of Gotham’s criminal underworld.
Was Zsasz always working for Sofia all along? Was he so affected by Carmine’s death (and even questioned Penguin directly about his involvement) that he had a change of heart? Or did he sense a shift in the wind and decided to get out in front of it? Most likely a combination of the latter two
As if Gordon isn’t surprised enough, he visits Sofia and warns her not to unify the gangs else face the full wrath of the GCPD. Turns out Pyg works for Sofia; she hired Lazlo to become serial killer Pyg, take out the cops and be arrested by Gordon, which turned him into a hero and helped facilitate his captaincy. In a blind side hit that harks back to Joe Theismann’s career-ending injury, Sofia slaps Gordon with the knowledge that she put the hit on Carmine and had Pyg shoot her for effect. Turns out she feels unappreciated by Carmine and, like a petulant child, acted out.
But wait, there’s more! She kills Pyg and offers Gordon a gunpoint choice; arrest her for Carmine’s death, in which case she tells all about Gordon’s role in the deaths of the cops Pyg killed, or he maintains status quo as hero of Gotham and lives with his actions. And as an extra backhand, Sofia planned all this as revenge for Gordon killing Mario. Gordon agrees, because he loves Gotham and doesn’t want to see it crumble. Gotham wants you to believe he does this for the good of the city, but even a moderate cynic might think he’s saving his own skin. Gordon is the kind of person who will fall on his sword but if it means Gotham can survive, he will go though a private hell to ensure that survival. The things we do for love. Never mind Babs, Lee, or Sofia, Gotham is Gordon’s true mistress, and she calls to him like the Sirens singing to Odysseus. Then again, Odysseus had himself lashed to the mast so he wouldn’t swim out to them and die on the rocks. Anyways, El Predicto states Gordon won’t be Sofia’s lackey for long.
The second story sees Tabs kidnap Grundy in an attempt to make him remember Butch and get her man back. This is accomplished not by gentle words and sunny ways, but with a flurry of strikes to the head with large, metal objects. Because there’s nothing better to stimulate the mind than cranial trauma. The things we do for love. Admittedly, Tabs is a determined woman, but patience doesn’t seem to be in her vocabulary; she leaves Grundy tied to his chair and when out of earshot, Butch emerges, though he might be somewhat punchy after his ordeal. Tabs clearly has a soft spot for the alabaster lug, and while it would be nice to see them rekindle their special something, it would equally be frustrating that the show gives us a villain that is revealed for shock value, only to have said villain remain underused (see Mr. Freeze and Firefly).
Nygma gets a short scene this week; he struggles to keep Riddler under control, screaming at the mirror and asserting his dominance. Riddler can’t understand why Nygma is so stubborn; after all, they had much more fun when Riddler was front and center. Then Riddler realizes it’s because Nygma loves Lee. Perhaps he had this realization last week when Lee told him she liked Nygma rather than Riddler and hid the fact his brain was fine all along. So Nygma spends what little time he has this episode manning up to Riddler. Perhaps if he can remain Nygma he might have a shot with Lee. The things we do for love.
The third story is selfishly the most satisfying, as Alfred and Bruce finally come to a head with the young Batman’s partying ways. He plans to take Bruce to the Alps and dry out, but Bruce is unmoved. Turns out the partying is a welcome distraction from the murder of his parents and the killing of Ra’s. Talk turns to action as boy and butler have it out and square off. Bruce, overconfident with his training, attacked Alfred, who easily deflects the blows. I guess the boy forgot that everything he knows was taught by Alfred, who didn’t pass along everything he knows; kinda like at the end of Rocky III when Apollo Creed tells Rocky he didn’t teach him everything. A punk sucker punch on Bruce’s behalf produces the best moment of the show four years in the making as Alfred unloads a solid punch worthy of Mike Tyson’s Punch Out video game. Bruce sulks off, though it’s unclear whether he was embarrassed about what he did, being bested by an “old man” or a bit of both. Either way, there’s a reason the old lion in winter hangs on to his territory against the young buck – age and experience over youth and emotionality. Alfred, or course, regrets his actions, but Bruce – at his most petulant – draws up emancipation papers, fires Alfred, and parties like its 1999. But the look on his face suggests the novelty is wearing off or he regrets kicking Alfred to the curb.
I never liked this emo Bruce and he rightly deserved a slap, but I’m more miffed of a storyline that doesn’t seem to go anywhere. I mentioned in previous posts that Alfred should have taken Bruce on a global tour to study criminal behaviour, which would have been more interesting and been at least within the confines of canon, even if a few years earlier. Also, the show has never really explored the psychological damage Bruce has suffered from his parents’ deaths to killing Ra’s. We have seen snippets of interesting action that lets us know Bruce is on his way to becoming Batman, but as the history of the show has proven, some of the more interesting storylines have been inexplicably halted and characters benched or killed off.
Harvey comes back to offer sage advice to Gordon, but then leaves his gun and badge on Gordon’s desk. A show without Harvey is not a show to continue watching. An interesting end to the episode sees Penguin speaking to an all-too familiar voice and peek-a-boo! It’s Jerome, whose facial scars at the hands of Bruce (when he at least had testicular fortitude) have healed nicely into a Joker-like grin, his transformation almost complete. El Predicto states a dynamic villain team-up that sees Penguin and Jerome escape and we’ll likely see Joker emerge by the end of the season. Half a star addition for Jerome’s return and another for Alfred throwing a hard right into Bruce’s face.
Tune in next week – same Bat-time, same Bat-channel.