By Courtney Key
**WARNING FULL SPOILERS FOR GOTHAM AHEAD**
After all the hype and promotion, Gotham finally aired on Fox last night. The Bruce Wayne origin story, featuring the beginnings of many of Gotham’s major players including Jim Gordon, suffers from the same problem many pilots have of some clunky exposition mixed with the storytelling, but a great cast and cinematic atmosphere should keep comics fans and the curious around for another few episodes at least.
We open with a sweeping shot of Gotham itself, looking a bit like a cross between Chicago and New York. A young girl in a hoodie is running and leaping over rooftops, pausing to pose decoratively like the gargoyles adorning one of the buildings she’s vaulting over. She stands up to gaze across the city, before stepping off the edge of a building and falling into Gotham’s version of Chinatown.
The girl, we discover, is a pickpocket. She snags a quart of milk from a lady dropping her groceries, then nicks a man’s wallet, deftly scurrying up a fire escape away from his outraged pursuit and emerging into an alley. A cat leaps out from among the garbage bins. Guys, I’m just throwing this out there, I don’t want us to get ahead of ourselves, but do you think that maybe this girl is named Selina Kyle and she becomes Catwoman? I don’t know, this show seems like it’s going to be pretty subtle with its foreshadowing. Guess we’ll just have to wait and see. The girl finds an aluminum foil lid and pours some milk for the cat. I say some, because along the way she’s managed to guzzle down like two thirds of this milk. She likes this cat, but a girl’s gotta get her calcium in first, O.K.?
The cat’s dinner is interrupted by a woman’s laughter. Kitten!Selina heads back up onto the fire escape as the cat skitters into the shadows, and she watches a wealthy couple and their son enter the alley from a nearby theater. Certainly, nothing untoward will happen to them here! Suddenly, a man’s footsteps come at a quick pace down down the alley towards them. We see the stranger, mask and hat obscuring all but his eyes. He pulls a gun. “Stay calm, Bruce,” the father instructs his son. Bruce? Is their last name Wayne, mayhaps? The couple cooperates, giving the robber the father’s wallet, but as the mother gives him her pearl necklace one of the strands breaks, and the pearls fall to the ground. The robber exchanges a look with the father, who tries to calm him, but shoots them both, letting Bruce live. He runs down the alley as Bruce falls to his knees, his parents’ blood on his hands, and screams “NOOOOOOOO!!!” to the skies while Kitten!Selina watches.
Cut to Gotham PD, abuzz with activity as criminals are being booked and shoved into jail cells. One of them, however, gets the drop on the officer processing him and takes her hostage with her own gun, demanding his medication. We get our first glimpse of Harvey Bullock, played by Donal Logue, watching the scene. He’s making me miss Vikings, which is the last thing I saw him in. And now our hero arrives. It’s James “Jim” Gordon, played by Ben McKenzie, who will always be Chino from The O.C. to me. Gordon will defuse this situation with the force of his personality and a ruse involving generic aspirin. Honestly, I think we’re seeing the genesis of a lot of Gotham’s future problems here. Just give your psychotic criminals their actual medication already.
The criminal realizes he’s been hoodwinked, but this moment of distraction is just long enough for Gordon to take advantage and disarm him, dropping him to the floor, where a host of other officers gleefully begin mercilessly beating this mentally ill guy who’s probably in jail for unpaid parking tickets or something. It’s an ugly scene. Harvey Bullock is angry, but not about the blatant abuse of power by the cops. He’s mad at Gordon, saying he should have just shot the guy, not punched him. Gordon doesn’t care. Chino plays by his own rules! And by his own rules, I mean the actual rules, which no one else is playing by because Gotham, as a city, is the worst.
Stately Wayne Crime Scene. Harvey and Gordon arrive in Crime Alley. Bruce is sitting by himself on the fire escape covered with a blanket. Gordon goes over to him and introduces himself. Harvey takes his partner’s absence as an opportunity to tell the cop handling the scene that he didn’t see them because the two corpses are the Waynes, pillars of Gotham society, and Harvey doesn’t need the hassle handling their case will entail. The cop points out that Gordon is over on the fire escape talking to the only witness so it’s Harvey’s case now. Too bad, so sad.
Meanwhile, Bruce is crying over the sudden, brutal death of his parents, and Gordon relates the story of how his own father died in a collision with a drunk driver when he was in the passenger seat beside him. He tells Bruce that “there will be light.” Maybe sometimes with a bat symbol in the middle of it. He’s just throwing out ideas here, kid. Bruce, now feeling Gordon is a kindred soul, relates the details of the crime to Gordon, including the fact that the robber was wearing shiny shoes. He says he feels he should have done something. Gordon says Bruce can do something now – be strong. Also, maybe start working on some designs for a superhero costume and an armored car. You really can’t get started on planning these things too early. Gordon promises Bruce he’ll find his parents’ killer.
Yet another familiar character is introduced, walking under the police tape to a hug from Bruce. It’s Alfred, who’s much pricklier and more East End gangster than I remembered! Gordon reiterates his promise to Bruce that he’ll get the killer. “New boy are you?” Alfred asks. Gordon nods. “Good luck mate,” Alfred says, dripping sarcasm.
With that, after a full ten minutes of story, the show’s title finally slams into view. It remains to be seen if there are full credits in later episodes, but for now this shot of the skyline and GOTHAM in all caps is all we get.
Cut to a scene in a diner, because it’s a mandate that all shows featuring cops will have at least one scene where the cops are eating in a greasy spoon. Gordon is questioning Harvey’s policing skills. Harvey, meanwhile, is mad that Gordon is the reason they that have to take this case. He explains to Gordon that the Waynes were powerful and there will be a lot of pressure on them to close the case quickly. A man and woman enter the diner, who Harvey is not best pleased to see. They’re from Major Crimes, and they want the case. “Do the right thing for once,” the woman, Montoya, tells Harvey. “For once?” Either that was an extremely clever bit of reverse psychology from Montoya because she and her partner really didn’t want the case, or she totally blew it, but there’s no way Harvey’s giving Major Crimes this case now.
On the T.V. back at the station, we get a brief shot of Richard Kind as the mayor, promising that the Waynes’ murderer will be apprehended. Meanwhile, Harvey is trying to get Gordon taken off the case, but the captain is having none of it. Gordon, we learn, was a war hero, and his father was a respected D.A., meaning he stays on the team. After being chewed out by the captain, Harvey tells Gordon to ask for a transfer. Gordon refuses.
“You seem like a nice guy,” Harvey says, “ but this isn’t a city or a job for nice guys. Understand?” Gordon says no, and Harvey says that’s his problem. “And you’re a cynic,” Gordon retorts. “A slovenly, lackadaisical cynic.” Whoa, Jim Gordon, don’t be comin’ into this precinct with your book-learnin’ and fancy-talk! Harvey is amused, and takes him to roust muggers together.
We see mugger rousting, which involves a lot of punching people and questioning muggers under a swinging light to a Dead Weather song while Gordon pinches his brow. This is obvs going nowhere.
Cut to an evidence bag swinging in Harvey’s face. “Tell me what this is,” says Edward Nygma the forensics guy, with glee. “If I want riddles I’ll read the funny pages,” Harvey replies glumly, fundamentally misunderstanding the nature of a riddle. This show is incredibly unsubtle in introducing its future villains, I’ll give it that much.
What’s in the bag turns out to be an expensive bullet that came out of Mr. Wayne’s chest, from a pistol not in their database, with no prints. Harvey asks what else forensics has found.
“What’s nowhere, but everywhere, except where something is?” Nygma queries, certain he has stumped the young detective.
“Nothing,” Gordon replies. The future Riddler is amazed and disconcerted. “You need professional help, seriously,” Harvey tells him. With his riddle-writing? Yes, definitely.
Back at the Harvey and Gordon Desk of Conferencing, Gordon reasons that because the killer wore shiny shoes and used high-end ammo, he might not be from the street. It could be a contract killer or someone with a grudge against the Waynes, he says. But how would that person know the Waynes were going down that alley to lie in wait for them? he wonders. That’s a good question! To which a woman named Fish who Harvey is acquainted with might apparently know the answer.
Cut to a shot of rainy Gotham, then of a building front with a neon fish on it, in case Fish forgets where she lives. The interior is all red French bordello. It might actually be a bordello. Harvey tells a guy to tell Fish he’s here.
Fish, meanwhile, is out in the alley beating up a man under an umbrella being held for her by – is that? Yep, it’s our future Penguin, Oswald Cobblepot. He has hair that looks like it was styled by Edward Scissorhands on meth, skin that hasn’t seen the sun or soap ever, and a weird, affected manner. He is clearly already my favorite.
“I still care for you deeply but I don’t believe that you still care for me any more,” Fish tells the man she’s beating up, who looks sort of like Cheech Marin. He assures her of his continued affection. Unfortunately, he can’t assure her that he has her money, so it’s a final whack with the baseball bat from her for him. During the action Oswald forgets to keep the umbrella over her head and Fish gets a little wet (ha ha, Fish gets a little wet. Get it? It’s funny because her name is Fish) which earns him a reprimand.
“I’m sorry,” he stammers.
“If you let this hair go frizzy, you will be,” she replies. Fair enough, her hair game is definitely on point. You can’t be messing around with a good hair day like that.
Fish is told that Harvey’s inside. She goes in the bordello. Penguin stays outside with three of her henchman and Cheech.
“Want a turn Oswald?” one of the henchmen asks, handing him the bat. He reacts like a dog that’s just been given a toy that’s been kept out of its reach, laughing gleefully as he hits Cheech. It’s rather disturbing, but I like how he’s still holding the umbrella up, even without Fish there. Hey, you gotta get a gimmick, as they say in Gypsy.
Fish and Harvey know each other, turns out. There are also girls on stage behind them preparing for some sort of bordello burlesque strip revue or something. IDK. Gordon is nonplussed by how close Fish and Harvey seem to be, and also by the screaming he’s hearing from the alley. Harvey tells Gordon to relax, that Fish gets some leeway in the matter of little things like brutally beating up people who owe her money. They’re there to talk about the murder of important pillars of society like the Waynes, not the assault of petty criminals in her back alley. Gordon doesn’t seem convinced. Harvey says if Gordon’s worried about the noises in the alley he should go see if anyone wants to press charges.
Gordon leaves Fish and Harvey and goes out to the alley. Gary Chapin pointed out on Twitter that to do so, Gordon leaves a building he entered at ground level, goes down two staircases, and exits at ground level. It’s an example of how f’d-up Gotham is that I honestly didn’t even question this design when it aired. It wouldn’t surprise me if the city is constantly shifting around, creating new staircases and levels just to screw with its inhabitants. Anyway, out in the alley, Oswald is both really getting into hammering this poor guy with the bat in one hand and also maintaining his umbrella bit in the other. It’s the commitment to an insane affectation that’s the hallmark of a truly quality psychopathic villain, I find.
Even the other henchmen are getting pretty weirded out by how much he’s enjoying it and are like, whoa, let’s step back here Penguin, which pisses him off.
“You know I don’t like to be called that,” Oswald hisses, before they look up and notice Gordon. He asks how things are doing. Things are fine, Oswald and Raoul (he’s still Cheech in my heart) were having fun, the henchman I will now refer to as Jolly Henchman tells him. Oswald agrees truthfully, Raoul – our ersatz Cheech – a little less so, though his thumb’s up is an amusing touch. Jolly Henchman says Gordon must be new and asks how he likes Gotham. “Well enough,” Gordon replies. He gives Fish’s crew his best “I’ll be keeping an eye on you” expression before going inside. Raoul is promptly pushed back to the ground and, presumably, whaled on a little more by Oswald for their pains.
Meanwhile, Fish and Harvey are concluding their conversation, and exchange a brief kiss on the lips before Harvey and Gordon leave. Gordon looks troubled, whether by Harvey kissing Fish or because he’s not kissing Fish I couldn’t really say. A little from column A, a little from column B, perhaps.
Cut to Gordon and his lady friend Barbara in her sweet-ass penthouse apartment preparing to go out on the town for a date. Gordon wants to know if they really have to go out. Babs says no, and why indeed, you can see the whole city from that window. Gordon, however, isn’t interested in the view. He’s fearful that he can’t deliver on his promise to Bruce, and that he’s out of his depth with this investigation. Babs says he’s not out of his depth, but even if he is, he knows how to swim, which doesn’t seem strictly relevant to conducting a criminal investigation, but then again Gotham’s a weird place.
Harvey calls Gordon’s cell from a bar where he has a lead. Gordon comes to meet him and finds Harvey drinking from a flask on a stoop. Harvey says Fish heard from a fence that someone tried to sell him a necklace like Mrs. Wayne’s. The would-be customer, Mario Pepper, has a long rap sheet. They knock on Mr. Pepper’s door. A girl answers. Her name is Ivy, she says. Like…Poison Ivy? Ivy, in yet another instance of total non-foreshadowing, is playing with one of approximately a bazillion plants while her father Mario is questioned at the kitchen table. Seriously, I can’t stress enough how many plants are in this tiny apartment. It’s like a freaking arboretum in there. Mario tries to dodge their questions and runs when Gordon tells him they can search the place without a warrant. Gordon chases after him and ends up in yet another alley. Gordon pulls a gun. Mario jumps from out of hiding and swings at Gordon with a knife, disarming him. They fight, Mario getting the best of Gordon. The detective is on the ground, and things look grim for him, when Harvey arrives and takes Mario down with a shot.
Back at the Peppers’, the police search turns up a box with a gun and Mrs. Wayne’s pearls. We cut to a shot of the station. Everyone is happy, cheering Gordon and Harvey! Even the criminals in the cells are happy! The Waynes’ murderer has been apprehended! At last, the rich white people of Gotham can feel safe!
Oswald is buying a newspaper with front page photo of a celebratory Gordon and Harvey under a bridge near the waterfront. It seems kind of a weird place to put a newsstand. I can’t imagine there’s a huge amount of foot traffic. I guess it gets most of its business from snitches buying papers while waiting for the cops they’re surreptitiously meeting under the bridge. Possibly not a bad business model in Gotham, come to think of it.
Anyway, Oswald folds up the paper and gets into the backseat of a car. And who’s in the front but our friends from Major Crimes, Montoya and Allen! Oswald tells them Mario was framed by Fish and the cops. He saw Fish with Martha Wayne’s necklace at the bordello iscussing how to get it into Pepper’s house with a bag of drugs after she met with Harvey and Gordon. The detectives realize that Fish works with Falcone, the major organized crime player in town. Is Oswald saying Falcone had the Waynes killed, and is using Fish to frame a minor player for it? Hey, Oswald’s just tellin’ it like he sees it. He’s a really straightforward guy like that. But why snitch on Fish, his employer? “I must confess, that poor orphan boy pricked my conscience,” he says. Oh, Oswald. You don’t have a conscience. Or a comb.
The detectives aren’t buying what Oswald is selling. They accuse him of wanting to push Fish out. He gets huffy, telling them that’s beside the point. “I’ve done my civic duty,” he says, putting on his steampunk cosplay glasses and prissing out of the car. Oswald is the bessssst.
Stately Wayne Funeral. Kitten!Selina is watching from high atop one of the crypts as a long line of mourners files out from the graveside. Harvey and Gordon stop to see Bruce. Bruce says he’s happy Gordon kept his promise. They shake hands.
Back at Barbara’s deluxe apartment in the sky, she opens the door to Montoya. What could she be doing there? “You’re running an art gallery now,” Montoya observes as she comes inside, motioning towards a few paintings on the couch, both implying that they’ve known each other a long time and that Barbara runs the smallest, saddest art gallery in the world.
“I’m engaged,” Barbara tells her.
“That’s why I’m here,” Montoya replies. You know, you could have just hit “Like” on her Facebook status, Montoya. That’s what the Internet’s for. To avoid these sort of personal conversations.
Speaking of the Internet, by the way, do we have any idea when Gotham is supposed to take place? People have cell phones, but the car designs are from the 70s. I suppose they’re going for a sort of Wes Anderson timelessness, with more grit and less twee. Imagine a Wes Anderson Batman movie, though. How bizarrely amazing would that be? I’m now really upset this isn’t happening.
Montoya tells Barbara that Gordon was in on the framing of an innocent man for the Waynes’ murder, and that Babs deserves better. Barbara says Gordon isn’t capable of that, because she knows him. “Does he know you?” Montoya asks. “Like I know you?” in which “knowing” totally implies “have done sexytimes with you.” This scene has made me approximately 90000% more interested in Barbara.
Cut to a shot of a preoccupied Barbara looking out over city at night. Gordon gives her a drink. He asks her what’s wrong. She asks if he framed Mario Pepper. He says no, and asks who told her that. She admits it was Montoya.
An angry Gordon catches up with Montoya on what appears to be the Gotham courthouse steps and confronts her about what she said to Barbara. Montoya says she shouldn’t have revealed that info to Babs, but they’re old friends. With benefits, amirite??? Montoya promises Gordon she’s going to get him and his crooked friends into a courtroom. Gordon professes his innocence, and says if Pepper was framed he’ll find out the truth. Allen steps in to ask what’s going on. Allen is played by Andrew Stewart-Jones, by the way, who replied to the Talking Comics account in one of his tweets today! I am going to start referring to Allen in future recaps as Friend of the Podcast Detective Allen. Gordon warns them to stay out of his way. That’s no way to treat a friend of the podcast, Gordon.
Gordon heads to Pick-a-Pepper’s Plant Emporium. He asks Mario Pepper’s widow to show him her husband’s shoes. She leads him to a tiny closet. He bends down and inspects the pairs on offer, asking if this is all of them. She says yes. We and he both notice the same thing – Mario Pepper didn’t own a pair of shiny shoes.
Gordon takes this information back to Harvey, telling him he thinks Fish set them up for Falcone. Harvey asks where he got that idea. From Montoya, Gordon tells him, letting him know that Major Crimes is on to them. Harvey says they don’t have any proof, because if they had they would have used it against him and Gordon already. He tells Gordon that even if Pepper was innocent he’s dead now, and Harvey killed him. They could lose their jobs over this, so Gordon needs to let this go, even if it means letting the real killer of the Waynes go too.
At the bordello, Oswald is sitting at the bar. Gordon blows past him without even a how do you do to see Fish in the back room. So rude, Gordon. Fish is at her desk and wearing a fantastic gold necklace that may or may not be an actual part of the halter neck on her dress. Whatever it is, I want it. Gordon asks Fish what she and Harvey talked about when they met. She wants to know why he won’t just ask Harvey. Gordon says he’s afraid Harvey will lie. “And you think I’ll tell you the truth?” Fish asks, as her henchmen come in the room.
Gordon looks resigned and disappointed. “You just did,” he replies, turning to leave. Fish tells him to wait. She says him he has a little danger in his eye, and she wants to know what he plans to do with it. “I hate surprises,” she says. Gordon turns and punches out her henchmen, but Fish takes him out with a lamp. If this was the 1960s Batman show we’d probably get a lights out joke there but this isn’t a show that winks at itself so we don’t.
A worried Barbara arrives at the station to see Harvey, telling him Gordon didn’t come home last night. Harvey lies and says Gordon is on stakeout, and his phone probably ran out of batteries. Her boyfriend’s actually currently being dragged through some sort of abattoir – no, actually it is an abattoir, as the hanging slabs of meat attest. This does not look good for Jim. He screams at his captors to wait, but is told to shut up as a boot comes down in his face, knocking him out for the second time in as many minutes this episode.
Gordon comes to after the commercial break hanging upside down and having his picture taken by Fish’s men. Apparently she likes to memorialize her slaughters of police officers on film. Before they can ask Gordon whether he prefers to be photographed from his right or left side, Harvey comes in. I guess he’s been to this abattoir before. Harvey tells them that the squirming slab of meat is his partner, and asks to talk to Fish.
Back at Fish’s Burlesque Bordello & Laugh Shack, she and Oswald are auditioning a comedian who has stolen his punchline from an Internet meme. Apparently Fish isn’t on Facebook (which, to be fair to her, might not exist yet in Gotham’s universe), because she finds his jokes to be HILARIOUS. I enjoy the idea that Gotham has a thriving comedy club scene, however. It’s nice that the citizens can go somewhere to laugh away their troubles when being terrorized by the latest escapee from Arkham Asylum.
They henchmen call her to tell her that Harvey’s shown up and wants his boy detective back. He gets on the phone with her. Fish says she did a favor for him and it’s about to blow up in her face because of Gordon’s stupidity, so he has to go. Harvey says it’s not Gordon’s fault, Major Crimes is on to them. Fish asks how. Harvey answers “the usual way,” looking at the henchmen. Fish insists it wasn’t one of her people who snitched. “That’s what everybody says,” Harvey replies as Fish on the other end looks back at Oswald, who smiles innocently. Harvey tells Fish if she kills his partner he’ll have to come after her. Let Gordon go, and he’ll keep him under control. Fish asks to be passed along to her henchman as Harvey, convinced he’s got her to back down, reassures Gordon everything’s going to be O.K.
“That son of a bitch just threatened me,” she yells at them, “you hang him up with his partner.” The henchmen punch Harvey out to string him up with Gordon. Back in the bordello Oswald is pouring wine for Fish, who asks him to be “a sweet boy” and rub her feet. Oswald puts down the wine and gets to massaging. During all this, the comedian is still on stage. Fish tells him to hold on a minute. I know the conventional wisdom is that this character becomes the Joker, but I kind of hope not. I like the idea of this random guy actually genuinely trying to make a living as a comedian in the most dour, depressing city on earth and stubbornly continuing with his comedy, even when his family and friends are begging him to just get a real job as a supervillain like everyone else.
Fish says to Oswald that Falcone’s amateur mistakes are a good sign. He’s getting old and soft, she observes, and someone has to take over. It might as well be her. Oswald happily agrees with her. “You’re like a son to me, you know that Oswald?” Fish says to him sweetly, relaxing as he’s massaging her foot. “I feel that way also,” Oswald replies. “That’s what I don’t understand,” Fish says, still with the same even tone and without a hint of anger, “after all I’ve done for you, and right when I’m on the verge of great things, you betray me. Why would you betray your own mother?”
The grin falls from Oswald’s face, and he stops rubbing her foot, his hands trembling, as he realizes she knows what he’s done. “I don’t know what you mean,” he says, with a false smile and shake of the head, but Fish knows. Oh, she knows. Only you saw me with the pearls, she says, and Oswald stands as he realizes he is truly and deeply screwed. He tries to blame Gilzean, another henchman, but it’s not working. Fish says Gilzean is loyal.
“So am I,” Oswald insists, the desperation increasing in his voice. “I would open a vein right here and now if you asked me to.” So Fish, of course, gets a knife and calls his bluff. Oswald tries to weasel out of his promise.
“I was speaking poetically,” he says.
“Prove it,” Fish tells him, still soothing, holding out the knife. “Prove your loyalty, my little Penguin,” and with that last word, drawing out his hated nickname, she finally spits her venom at him. She does realize that in the wild, penguins eat fish, right? Enraged, he grabs the knife and swipes at her with it, but she’s too fast, taking a chair and breaking it over his head before proceeding to beat the crap out of him with the pieces. The acting between Jada Pinkett Smith and Robin Lord Taylor in this scene is really stellar. The biggest strength of the series overall so far is how well-cast the roles are and how good the performances are, and these two are definite stand-outs.
Meanwhile, Gordon and Harvey are now both hanging in the abattoir waiting to get their photo taken. “If it were up to me, you’d get a bullet in the head,” one of the henchmen says apologetically,” but Fish has her ways.” He calls for Frankie, who turns out to be a large man who appears to be dressed in some sort of slaughterhouse fetish gear. Frankie selects a cleaver from a table of meat-carving implements, and things look dire for our heroes, but just then a bunch of guys with guns come in and shoot nearly all the bad guys! Hooray! Except it turns out the shooters are Falcone’s guys, so they’re kind of bad too, so…hooray?
Falcone himself comes in and tells Gilzean, the surviving henchman, to relay the message to Fish that she’s too impetuous – if she wants to kill policemen, she has to get his permission. “There are rules,” he says, leaning down to Harvey, who gleefully repeats, “That’s right, there are rules!” in what is the one truly funny moment of the episode.
Afterwards, Falcone takes a walk with Gordon. He tells him knew Gordon’s dad, and that they respected each other. That’s the only reason Gordon is alive right now. Falcone says he knows Gordon will do the right thing. Gordon replies that he’ll tell what he knows – that Falcone owns the police and the mayor, though he doesn’t think Falcone had the Waynes killed. He realizes the necklace Fish had was a replica, and wonders if Falcone was covering for someone else. Who knows who killed the Waynes, Falcone shrugs. Pepper was sacrificed so the people of Gotham would feel safe. Gordon wonders why Falcone cares if the people of Gotham feel safe. Of course I care, Falcone tells him. He’s a businessman, after all, and you can’t have organized crime without law and order. This city is going to hell, Falcone opines. He doesn’t want to see it fall apart. Gotham is on a knife edge, he says. He asks Gordon whether bringing down the police department and city hall will make things better?
Down at the Gotham docks, Harvey and Gordon are together in Harvey’s car. Harvey admits he wasn’t being honest with Gordon before, but he says Gordon wasn’t ready for the truth. Gordon asks why they’ve stopped at the docks. Harvey gets out and unlocks the trunk of the car to reveal a bound, bloodied and begging Oswald. Harvey tells Oswald to shut up and informs Gordon that this is who snitched to Montoya and Friend of the Podcast Detective Allen. Falcone wants Gordon to cap him so everyone knows Gordon is with the program. If Gordon doesn’t, Harvey says, Falcone will take both him and Oswald out, and probably Harvey and Barbara along with them. Harvey appeals to Gordon’s background as a war hero. They’re at war with scumbags like Oswald, he says. Sometimes, in war, you have to do bad things to do good. He hands Gordon a gun wrapped in cloth and drags Oswald out of the trunk. Harvey pushes a stumbling Oswald forward, commanding him to walk as Gordon follows him.
Oswald, limping from the beating, turns to Gordon and pleads with him all the way down the pier, offering literally to be his slave for life. “There’s a war coming, a terrible war,” Oswald begs. “Falcone is losing his grip and his rivals are hungry. There will be chaos, rivers of blood in the streets, chaos, I can see it coming. I can help you.” Gordon roughly grabs him by the collar and turns Oswald so he’s standing on tip-toe at the pier’s edge, Gordon’s gun to the back of his neck. “For god’s sake have mercy!” Oswald screeches. “Don’t ever come back to Gotham,” Gordon says quietly. Oswald’s eyes widen in surprise as Gordon fires the gun just past his ear and shoves him into the harbor. We see Oswald fall underwater and begin to swim as Gordon looks back to an approving Harvey.
Back at Barbara’s penthouse, a bleeding and bandaged Gordon has shown up at the door. “What happened to you?” she asks. Lady, it’s not my fault if you didn’t tune in until the last five minutes of the episode.
Stately Wayne Manor. Gordon drives up to see Bruce is on top of the house, standing at the edge of the roof. Alfred comes to the door. Gordon points up at Bruce, and Alfred shouts him away from the edge. Inside Stately Wayne Manor, Gordon asks Bruce why he was on the roof. Bruce tells Gordon he’s learning to conquer fear. Gordon says fear isn’t something to be conquered – that fear is a good thing, because it tells you where the edges are. Gordon admits to Bruce that Pepper was innocent and they don’t know who did it. Alfred is angry and sarcastic about this. I love this take on Alfred, he’s like a Guy Ritchie character has somehow come to life and stumbled on to the set. Gordon apologizes, but Bruce tells him he’s glad the killer is still alive. “I want to see him again.” I know he’s grieving and all but I’m finding child!Bruce more than a little creepy, to be honest.
I will also say, I’m honestly much less interested in Bruce than, well, any of the other storylines in Gotham. It just feels like Batman’s origin has been done to death. We know his story. As long as Gotham focuses on Gordon and the nascent villains like Penguin, as well as new players like Fish, I think it will be interesting viewing. If it turns into the Baby Batman Show, not so much.
Gordon asks Bruce to give him a second chance, and to stay quiet about what he’s been told while Gordon works on the inside. Alfred voices his skepticism, but Bruce silences him. He agrees to Gordon’s plan. Kitten!Selina watches Gordon’s car leave Stately Wayne Manor from atop the gates. And wow, I can’t believe this episode is nearly over and one of the major featured characters still hasn’t had any lines.
Meanwhile, Oswald emerges from the water like a bird that lives on land and can’t fly and also swims. I can’t quite remember what they’re called. He limps towards a man fishing on the shore, grabs a knife from the man’s tackle box and slashes him to death, stuffing the fisherman’s sandwich in his mouth before heading back towards Gotham. It just proves the old proverb is right: teach a man to fish, he eats for a lifetime, but give a psycho a knife and he eats whenever he damn well wants.
Next time on Gotham: Penguin kills more people! Gordon is righteous! Fish is fierce! Riddler hires a ghostwriter! I may have made one of these up!