Review: Gotham – S4 E5 “A Dark Knight: The Blade’s Path”

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“It’s been an emotional day.”

Watching A Dark Knight: The Demon’s Blade was almost as emotionally draining as sitting on the edge of my seat watching the 1992 Royal Rumble to see if 16 time world champion Ric Flair would win, and he did – WOOOO! However, the latest Gotham episode was in no way as satisfying and was a let down on par with Michael Jordan’s second comeback and Star Wars: Episode I – The Phantom Menace. Just when I think the show is taking strides forward with episodes like last week’s, there always seems to be a small step backward, and The Demon’s Blade embodies that notion on several levels.

First and foremost is very little Harvey. He’s reduced to one scene in his office grumbling that Gordon’s arrests are nullified and the perps set free as they all hold Penguin Crime Licenses. I don’t know about you, dear readers, but Harvey is one of the best characters on the show when he is at his SARCASTIC BEST, not attempting his best grumpy Barnes impersonation. I know he is acting captain and all, but there is an old saying about not fixing things if they aren’t broken. Zsasz has filled in admirably, but even he is absent this week. Instead, it seems the show is content with having entertaining characters ride the pines, abruptly ending interesting storylines, and drawing out other storylines that really would have benefitted low to no screen time.

This week, Bruce visits an imprisoned Ra’s al Ghul, sneaking into Blackgate with stealth not seen since Mr. Fuji hid a bag of salt in his wrestling trunks back in the ‘80s. But I digress. It seems Ra’s wants Bruce to kill him and relieve him of his immortal curse; apparently being immortal has put a damper on his mood, though you would not have known it last week, where in a nod to Highlander, he was more Kurgan than MacLeod. So we have a bummed out Ra’s who seemingly wants to die and only the heir can kill him with the dagger that has become a MacGuffin worthy of Alfred Hitchcock.

Bruce is the aforementioned heir, of course and wants to kill Ra’s so bad he can taste it, especially since last week he killed an innocent kid in front of Gordon and Bruce. Alfred reminds Bruce of his vow and no good can come from killing Ra’s. Alfred knows that dark road and he’s doing his best to keep Bruce on the straight and narrow, despite Gordon annoyingly poking the stick in the best tradition of Rowdy Roddy Piper.

So Bruce confronts Ra’s anyways, and Ra’s provokes Bruce into killing him without hesitation. Perhaps when Bruce had the chance to kill Jerome and hesitated he regretted ridding the world of a terrible evil and decides not to squander the opportunity here? After everything that’s happened to him, it seemed the training Alfred put him through would have replaced that thirst with restraint, considering he killed Alfred last season and how that would have affected him psychologically. I suppose tossing Alfred in the Lazarus Pit was a Mulligan and doesn’t count.

Does killing Ra’s become the reason Bruce renews his no kill vow? More likely, it seems the show didn’t know where or how far to take the Ra’s storyline without borrowing heavily from Batman Begins or Arrow and decided it was better to kill him off. But that in itself doesn’t make sense considering the heavily anticipated build up last season of the arrival of Ra’s. Then again, it didn’t make sense for Star Wars – The Force Awakens to be made either.

With the departure of one villain begets the arrival of another in the form of Solomon Grundy. Butch is dumped in an Indian Hills infused toxic swamp and emerges as if he stepped right out of a Super Friends cartoon from the ‘70s. Add the fact Butch grew back his missing hand and the swamp makes the Lazarus Pit look like a bubble bath. Grundy lumbers back to Gotham, bumps into Riddler, and thus another buddy sitcom is born.

Grundy is super strong and Riddler still suffers from diminished intellectual capacity, but the two still find time to dispatch of thugs on the streets of Gotham and chow down on hot dogs with a ferocity not seen since Phil Kessel made a street meat vendor in Toronto a wealthy man. Does this reek of the show desperately looking for story direction? Maybe; some would argue the series should have fizzled out a while back, but I don’t subscribe to that notion. Either way, the paring works. And Riddler is “smrt” enough to know he can make money off Grundy, so the two hit an underground fight club whose in house doctor is Lee, looking as sultry as Morena Baccarin’s other character Vanessa from Deadpool now that she’s not working for the GCPD, albeit with longer hair. And that’s not a bad thing at all, just sayin’.

Then we have Sofia working to get on Penguin’s good side with a sit down in a public restaurant and a serving of Goulash straight from Mama Cobblepot’s recipe book. Penguin is moved to the point of later allowing Sofia to give him a foot massage, and I half-expected Penguin and Zsasz to opine about foot massage etiquette à la Pulp Fiction.

Half a star deduction for no Harvey or Zsasz, but I really liked Babs’ cameo when she visits Ra’s and shows off her Woman with the Silver Gun made of a lighter and fountain pen. I guess there’s no copyright infringement on Bond if the gun isn’t golden. All is not lost, as Riddler had a funny scene attempting to rob a pharmacy with a rubber gun and failed miserably, demonstrating his diminished intellect as well as how desperate he is to be “smrt” again. Kinda weak in bumping off Ra’s considering the build up rivalled that of The Force Awakens, but El Predicto states he will return somewhere, somehow. No one is truly dead on television; just ask Bobby Ewing.

Tune in next week – same Bat-time, same Bat-channel.

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