“Sometimes we search for the thing we don’t wish to find.”
And we’re back. After a lengthy hiatus due to Festivus and the Winter Olympics (I couldn’t help but mashup Russia’s athletes with Organized Rhyme and sang “Check the OAR, you like it so far” to myself ad nauseum. Small things, small minds I guess. The problem now is, I can’t get it out of my head. That’ll learn me for trying to be so smrt. Babs’ quote struck a chord with me as circumstances presented themselves with a for-my-amusement-only opportunity, so does it bring circumstances together for our merry band of characters in this week’s episode of Gotham in a cosmic convergence not seen since Kramer was found himself at 1st and 1st in downtown New York on Seinfeld. “How does the same street meet? I must be at the nexus of the universe,” he opined. Pieces of a Broken Mirror also brings us to a nexus of our own as the majority of the cast are at the same place at the same time in the episode’s teaser, which is more of a writer’s convergence rather than a cosmic one, but you get the idea.
The main story focuses Gordon’s search for the Toy Maker who tried to assassinate a Gotham doctor. He is called to the scene while searching for Harvey at known haunts such as a brothel, but for some reason forgets he likes drinking as well and doesn’t check out any bars. But I digress. Turns out the target is a doctor, Doctor Lee, who was almost killed by the Toy Maker with a model plane laced with explosives. Gordon is oblivious to the connection with Lee, obviously. For a smart guy his Spider sense is way off when it comes to women. Gordon’s search takes him and Foxy to Krank’s Toy Emporium, where they are promptly attacked but a giant, radio-controlled, gun-toting Nutcracker and an R2-D2 like rolling bomb. So the assassin is Griffin Krank, toy maker and hit man. We now know the who but not the where, and the hunt is on to find this dastardly villain.
It seems clear that Gordon’s search for the Doc and the Toy Maker are reasons to keep Gordon in the Narrows to interact with all the other characters at some point in the episode. Seeing Gordon squirm somewhat uncomfortably in front of his exes was particularly fun. Gordon’s visit with Babs was a particular highlight of the episode and a great example of what makes Gotham work. Gordon doesn’t know The Doc refers to Lee, but Babs does, as we do. Babs also knows Gordon doesn’t know so she plays along, intentionally not using gender pronouns to give the game away. And it is a cat-and-mouse game; Erin Richards, like Robin Lord Taylor and Cory Michael Smith, are at their best when they can let loose and go crazy. Babs is not as Bat-crazy as we’ve seen her in the past; perhaps R’as al Ghul’s Lazarus Pit has mellowed her somewhat, but her Bat-craziness has been supplemented with a clever, playful, deviousness that only makes her a more interesting character and great villain.
Lee, meanwhile, tries to begin a rebuild of the Narrows with Nygma as partner. She rallies the community to better themselves rather than preying on each other. Clearly, such new ideas don’t sit well with whoever hired the Toy Maker to take her out. Gordon visits ex number two and is equally uncomfortable with the reunion, which makes for a laugh or two. But not as humorous as Gordon and Lee talking about Nygma in front of him despite his protest of “I’m right here.” Lee seems to accept her role as leader and bringer of peoples together in the Narrows and truly wants to make life better for this usually forgotten group of Gotham’s downtrodden. If only we could figure out who’s against her….
Ah, that would be Riddler who hired Krank. Nygma chases the Toy Maker after spotting him at Cherry’s, and Krank reveals the truth. Turns out Riddler felt Lee was holding him back, perhaps he felt he could do a better job of running the Narrows. So we are back to the struggle within Ed between Nygma and Riddler. While this can make for entertaining story and potential conflict, how might Lee react if she found out, the problem is we already covered this ground back in Season 2. I know what you’re thinking; Ed was frozen and the thawing messed him up so he’s confused and wasn’t smrt for a bit and now had to fight Riddler all over again. Look, Han Solo was frozen in carbonite for three years and only had hibernation blindness and a headache for Act One of Return of the Jedi, so we shouldn’t reach for the facial tissue just yet for Nygma. I like that he has his intelligence back and maybe there is wiggle room for another battle with Riddler, but to recap moments we experienced in Season 2 doesn’t cut it and doesn’t do Cory Michael Smith and his acting chops any justice; he’s way too good an actor for that. What is interesting is that Gordon shoots Krank dead just as he reveals the Riddler’s involvement; Nygma lies to Gordon, keeping his involvement a secret. Secrets and lies, and a bit of crazy, campish villainy, are what make the show compelling viewing. If the producers continue to have Nygma battle Riddler in the mirror, at least let them slug it out over Nygma’s guilt over betraying Lee; we can also see if Nygma blacks out and Riddler emerges again.
Alfred, meanwhile, adjusts to life in the Narrows and befriends Tiffany, a waitress at the local diner. Turns out her boyfriend Gil likes to slap her around a bit, so when Alfred intervenes and gives him a bit of what for, Gil kills Tiffany and frames Alfred for the crime. Alfred tracks down Gil and with Harvey’s help, now working as a bartender – see? I told you, Gordon, has Gil arrested. I have a few problems with this storyline, the first is that there isn’t much that advances the overall story for the series nor reveals any insight into Alfred as a character except for the fact that he hasn’t returned to England since leaving the SAS; he met Thomas Wayne after a difficult period in civilian life and came to Gotham. The second problem is the continuing disturbing trend on the show to kill off female characters to advance plot. One would think, especially now given recent events, that female characters shouldn’t be made expendable, or should I say expendabelle.
Women haven’t really fared well on the show and it’s unfortunate; I’m not saying a character shouldn’t be killed, but the fact the show treats many characters both male and female as disposable. Even with Nygma’s story, Krank is killed to prevent the revelation of Nygma’s involvement from becoming public. Here Tiffany is killed to we can see Alfred’s life in the Narrows becoming complicated. I could see a scenario that Gil becomes increasingly jealous of Tiffany and Alfred’s growing friendship and the abuse continues. Tiffany could then ask Alfred for help getting out, as perhaps she wasn’t confident enough to leave or couldn’t trust anyone for assistance. That at least would provide a more realistic representation of abuse dynamics. Instead, we get Alfred framed, on the run and cleared in about ten minutes of screen time. So my question is why bother? I know the value of human life is a theme (large or small, your choice) on the show but the producers shouldn’t have such a cavalier attitude towards it either. Again, I’m not against killing off a character but it has to make sense, and a good example of this is Game of Thrones which doesn’t discriminate who dies, but it also doesn’t present female characters as disposable nor weak.
Ivy gets another metamorphosis as punks find her emerging from a cocoon in the Traditional Chinese Medicine shop below where Lee and company were meeting when Krank set off the bomb. Turns out Ivy is now a fully grown adult, now played by Peyton List, no longer the ditzy teen we knew but who walks around trying to comprehend her surroundings not unlike Scarlett Johansson in Under the Skin. Ivy has undergone a change where she can poison others by touch, as she kills one of the unfortunate punks. At the ME, Foxy learns the poor soul has poison ivy growing within him, feeding off his dead body. There is a hard sell on the environmental angle with Ivy; she mourns the dying plants next to an idling car and she watches several clips of eco-disasters (one perpetrated by a Wayne Industries subsidiary) on the television. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to know she will be advocating for the protection of endangered species and the natural environment as well as become a notorious eco-terrorist. She even visits the Sirens at the club because she remembered via Shakespearian soliloquy so the audience can hear that she hates the Sirens. An encounter at the club has Selina follow Ivy to her hideout, where she infects Selina with her toxins, lets her suffer for a moment then gives her the antidote before proposing they team up and take Gotham for themselves.
If Ivy spent the first half of this Season as twenty-something with the mind of a 15 year old, then the leap to full-blown intellectual adult is baffling, unless the toxins and herbs she ingested magically boosted her maturity as well. I like that Ivy is vexed over her mistreatment at the hands of Penguin, Babs and Tabs among others, and am interested to see where the writers go with this. How Selina will go up against Babs and Tabs? Will it be overt or covert? Only time will tell.
Harvey’s return as a crusty, bat-wielding bartender who slugs back shots with Alfred was a big plus. He also told Gordon where to go when Jim offered him his badge back, but Harvey is no one’s fool; he knows Gordon made a deal with the devil in Sofia and will not play confessor. Looking forward to seeing what happens with Jerome and Penguin in Arkham. 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 Harvey’s return and another for Alfred showing more badassery, even if he quoted Biz Markie when he said Tiffany was “just a friend”. Deductions for Bruce still being a party boy punk with too much time on his hands. Alfred needs to knock him out again.
Tune in next week – same Bat-time, same Bat-channel.