Gotham

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Re: Gotham

Postby KleinerKiller » Sun Oct 29, 2017 9:10 am

Fuck the preamble, let's get another double review done. If only my neck were in "The Blade's Path".

Spoiler: show
We open on good ol' comatose Butch being wheeled out of the hospital into a van by two mugging buffoons straight out of the 60s Batman show, who loudly exposit to themselves that the hospital wants to "move some bodies upstate" to clear space while repeatedly reminding the audience that Butch's real name is Cyrus Gold. We then see them pull up to the toxic, irradiated sludge of Slaughter Swamp and dump Butch right in, cackling maniacally for the benefit of any passing wildlife as he floats away. However, he happens to float by an ominous barrel bearing the two words I couldn't be more exhausted of at this point: "Indian Hill." Time for Solomon Grundy, everybody. Will Butch be another success like pre-Riddler post-Kringle Ed, or a monumental letdown like so many others? Time will tell.

Abrupt cut to the GCPD, and to Jim marching into Bullock's office to request information on Ra's' case in order to make sure his status as a foreign dignitary doesn't let him weasel out of the murder charge. Bullock, unfortunately, is a little preoccupied -- when Jim rips away what he's writing, he sees that Bullock has been writing release forms for every criminal Jim has busted carrying Penguin's crime licenses. They get into a little spat about the usual moral shit and Bullock mentions the commissioner riding his ass to follow Penguin's orders, and end scene.

We then make a pit stop at Safest Manor(TM), where Alfred walks into Bruce's study to find him painstakingly examining the knife and scribbling things down, and they get into a brief argument over Bruce's lack of sleep and obsessive focus on Precocious Museum Kid's death. Bruce feels solely responsible, of course, and feels the need to decipher the knife's purpose completely before Ra's inevitably breaks out of Blackgate. He determines from the passage Winthrop deciphered that the knife is intended for the one who has bathed in the Lazarus Pit, meaning Ra's, but that it might be to kill that individual rather than empower him. Bruce believes Ra's is trying to destroy the dagger and that something needs to be done before then, and Alfred has to remind him of his no-kill oath, as well as the fact that he needs to get dressed for Museum Boy's wake.

Cut to said wake, where Bruce sulks and stoically rests his hand on the casket to siphon Museum Boy's spiritual energy into his Batmanning. Jim walks in and motions Alfred into the hallway, as both men are evidently disturbed by Bruce's sudden soul sucking ability. What Jim actually wants to discuss, however, is the awful but inevitable news: Ra's brushed up on his late-80s action movies before enacting his scheme, and he's due to be released soon on diplomatic immunity after a demand from the Nanda Parbat embassy (I do like that Nanda Parbat appears to be an actual recognized country with a government here, rather than the usual remote cultist hidey-hole). Jim demands that Alfred keep the news from Bruce for as long as possible, but surprise surprise, Bruce was listening the whole time! As night subsequently falls, he dons his weird shitty Batsuit and wields the knife, ready for murderous action. Cue title card, finally.

Somehow I doubt that Bruce is actually going to kill Ra's, since Ra's is the second-most important Batman villain after the Joker, and Bruce couldn't even muster up the cojones to put a bullet in his parents' killer. Then again, Alexander Siddig is a relatively prolific actor who might cost more money than they're willing to scrape up, and it would be perfectly in character for this show to get rid of an element that's working wonderfully for no other reason than shock value. So it could go either way here, much like the question of Butch Grundy being terrible or awesome.

Oh, joy. What should grace my screen next but Barbara walking into Blackgate? She's here to see Ra's, who has been placed in a sprawling Hannibal Lecter glass-cube cell like Hugo Strange before him because that's lazy visual shorthand for a criminal you don't want to fuck with (excepting for the fact that Strange was often easier to fuck with than a blind toddler). When pressed, Ra's denies that this is part of any longer con, and apologizes to Barbara for letting her down when she had become the love of his life somehow. Barb, being Barb, ultimately just wants to know where the reward she was promised is that she was told could be used to do cool shit, and Ra's responds by pressing his hand flat against the glass. For a moment I was afraid he was signaling that she would get his ring and ownership over the League of Assassins, because that's exactly what Heller would let Barbara have, but the reality is almost as grotesque: she matches her hand to his and a nebulous glowing energy passes through the glass into her body. After promising that she'll see what it's useful for, he bids her goodbye, only to give her a faintly sinister stare as she turns and leaves. Is he playing her, and the energy is just going to make her into a magic suicide bomb? Or did he actually just grant her ninja powers? I have a feeling I know which it's gonna be...

And now back to Slaughter Swamp, where the big man himself finally rises with some ominous bubbles and... it's literally just Butch with bleached white hair and some pale Frankenstein's Monster-esque face makeup, wearing a tattered loincloth for whatever reason. Not a splotch of decay effects or moss or much of anything visually interesting to latch onto, which is rather disappointing for a character defined by being a giant disgusting invulnerable zombie. Our hulking great letdown shambles and grunts his way up to a campfire, around which three drunks are singing along to a record player-cross-phonograph playing the Solomon Grundy nursery rhyme, because zuuuuh. Responding to their startled questions with only silly grunts and forceful bitch slaps, he eventually finds himself alone with the record player, which conveniently starts skipping and repeating "Solomon Grundy, born on a Monday" despite not being jostled. Because zuuuuuh. Donning one of the drunks' patchy coats, he repeats the name to himself and walks off into the distance.

As is usually the case when a long-running character becomes a supervillain, I will hitherto be addressing him by his proper name. However, since it's still Butch, I want to prevent too much confusion. I hereby dub thee Solomutch Bundy.

Following this detour, we come to the Iceberg Lounge, where Penguin is in his office being told by Mr. Penn that 86% of crime is now accounted for under his licensing system, which only frenzies him because of the missing 14% not being committed in his name. Right on cue, Sofia strides in with an offer to dinner, and when Penguin questions her motives, she points out that she has the one thing he doesn't: the Falcone name, under which it used to be that 100% of crime was accounted for and the organization was a tightly run ship. Again, this is hilarious retconning for someone who still has a basic memory of what Season 1 was like, but fine, fine, fine. In response, Penguin has Penn refer to Item #4 on his agenda (which Penn clarifies is "Kill Sofia Falcone") and has him add a question mark to it, which Sofia takes as an acceptance of the invitation and which got a genuine laugh out of me. When all else fails as it so often does, I can at least count on Robin Lord Taylor to lighten my spirits.

Also quite funny is the following check-in with Nygma, in which we catch up to him robbing a pharmacy in a fevered attempt to find a remedy for his cognitive impairment. The tied-up pharmacist he's holding at gunpoint desperately suggests an experimental drug said to boost cognitive function, which Ed stoops over to look for in the counter cabinet, only for the pharmacist to execute his cunning ploy and jam a rose pen straight through Ed's hand, causing him to drop the gun, which turns out to be a squeaky rubber toy. The suddenly fearless pharmacist marches right past him to trigger the alarm while Ed escapes before the police can be called, but as Ed stumbles out into a trash can, he happens to alert Bundy, who shambles at him as he panics and tries to assure him that all of his ire was toward Barbara and Tabitha. Bundy, unconcerned with his attempts to make amends, conks him on the head and heaves him over his shoulder for purposes unknown.

Back at the GCPD, Alfred rushes in to tell Jim that Bruce is gone, and that they have to get to Blackgate before Bruce does something he'll never come back from. This is a brief scene, but Sean Pertwee does a damn fine job here, putting way more breath and anxiety into Alfred's dialogue than normal and genuinely selling the moment despite Jim's stoic douchehattery. Good job, Sean.

Meanwhile, Bruce has grappled himself straight into Blackgate, because all of the best prisons can be broken into or out of with a rudimentary grappling hook. After he bypasses whatever security stands between him and the main building offscreen, we see a guard open up a security barrier and then just fucking leaves it open and unattended as he walks away, so that Bruce doesn't run into an insurmountable obstacle and the episode can lazily move forward. Conveniently, the monitors are right there on the desk and he immediately picks out Ra's, also finding an unattended security keycard to assist him. Blackgate Penitentiary is evidently run by piles of baby chimps loosely fitted into flesh suits and guard uniforms. But regardless, Bruce makes it to the big glass cube without a spot of trouble and unlocks it, approaching the sleeping Ra's and drawing the dagger... only to quickly sheathe it again and turn to flee. Of course, Ra's was awake the whole time and he ninja-stands to kick Bruce's ass, calling him weak and foolish before tossing him out to the waiting guards -- and the guards bow to their master and take Bruce away. If I'm being asked to believe that the guards in that wing are Assassins and this was all one over-elaborate plan, fine. If I'm being asked to believe that there wasn't a single independent employee or working security system in Bruce's way in the largest prison in the area, fuck off.

Next we come to Jim and Alfred making their way into the wing, asking whether Bruce might have come through here. The guards, being Assassins, proceed to act incredibly shifty in order to tip Jim off that something's up, but they give up their weapons regardless in order to pass through. As they do, one of the guards pulls up his radio and loudly says "They're here." Wonderful.

We then rejoin Ed, knocked out on the back of a flatbed truck parked in an alley. As he awakens, Solomutch Bundy startles him and implores him in belabored Hulk-speak to help him since he apparently knows who he is. Ed retorts that he doesn't even know himself anymore so he can't help him, and... sigh. Last season it was the supervillains finding a special deep connection by being freaks, now it's the identity-less idiot supervillains finding a special deep connection from being identity-less idiots. Bundy offering Ed a mangled hot dog with a puppy dog look in his eyes is fairly sweet, but I just... don't care.

Is this...? Oh, okay. For a second I thought the silhouette of the woman in the long coat striding into a restaurant full of mobsters was going to be the as-yet-absentee Poison Ivy, and was busily trying to determine which of my kitchen knives would most efficiently cut my wrists, but it's just Sofia stopping in to say hi to some old mobster buddies and basically insinuating that they should poison Penguin's lunch or something. Snore.

Bruce promptly awakens in the sex dungeon beneath Blackgate, whereupon Ra's strides out of the shadows waving the dagger. It's funny how this Ra's looks way more menacing emerging from the darkness in a button-up prison jacket than he did doing the same in his fancy robes back in the third season finale. Dagger in hand, he explains that he saw a vision of Bruce when he first emerged from the Lazarus Pit, and that this means Bruce is the only one who can wield the dagger and -- as he hands it over -- end his suffering. Great, so I was right about Ra's being a suicidal cursed guy who just wants his "heir" to come along and kill him already. That's actually super stupid, and makes the entire plotline building up to this point (take a minute to reflect on how Ra's, through the Court of Owls, is responsible for virtually every major event across three seasons) pretty much pointless. Though I suppose it's rather fitting that the guy at the very core of Gotham's tangled web is just a guy begging for the sweet release of death. I've only had to sit through 70 hours of this crap, Ra's here has put up with it since before the first millennium was capped off! Jesus, suddenly I want him to succeed.

More Nygma and Bundy bonding. It's pleasant enough, but very insubstantial, and so I have little to say about it.

Back at the restaurant, Penguin sits down to eat with Sofia, after first testing for poisons with his escort. He doesn't like it initially, but after comparing one of the courses to his late mother's recipe in disdain, he takes a bite of it and finds that it is the same recipe -- Sofia's plan wasn't poison-based, but intending to genuinely woo him with the hard-tracked recipe. Almost in tears, though, Penguin storms out, leaving Sofia confused and me vaguely amused.

Back at Blackgate, Jim and Alfred finally speak up about their suspicious escorts when Jim notices that one of the guards is wearing the nametag of a guard he personally knows (on a more reliable show I would guess this was a callback to his brief stint in the prison, but I'm making no wagers with this show), and gets a half-assed excuse that you'd think a trained assassin would know better than to use. Inevitably, a fistfight / gunfight breaks out, and every Assassin gets taken out like chumps save for their leader, because even the most highly skilled mooks are still just mooks before our mighty Jimbo. The leader, holding Jim at gunpoint in a Mexican standoff position, sneers that Ra's has great plans for the boy ("great plans" here meaning "please, please murder me") and refuses to let slip where they are, so Alfred coldly shoots him in the head because Alfred doesn't fuck around. Not perturbed, possibly even a little amused that Alfred can't match his cold-blooded kill count, Jim runs up and the duo speculate where Bruce might be. This being a Gotham episode with almost ten minutes left, they obviously guess correctly.

Back at the Lounge, Penguin is sulking and starts to go into an impotent rage when Sofia walks in, only to be reduced to sputtering and near-tears when Sofia claims that she genuinely just wanted to let him have a nice time so they could make peace, launching into a tirade about how the only person who ever truly treated him well without expecting something in return was his mother. Oh... oh, please tell me this isn't going where I think it's going. He moves to sit down in a leather seat and she kneels down in front of him oooooooh nooooo. Moved to examine Penguin's old injury that gives him his trademark limp, she tenderly rolls up his pant leg to find the grotesque bruise lump thing, and relates a story about how her leg was broken when she was young and while her father told her to ice it and tough it out, her mother revealed that you need WARMTH AAAAAAAAGH. And Penguin tells her his mother used to sing for him so she sings while she tenderly cares for his injury someone shove the magic blade into my heart and release me from my curse. OF COURSE THEY MOVE IT TO FUCKING ROMANCE BECAUSE THEY NEVER LEARNED THEIR LESSON. I want this to be a long con for Sofia but that just makes Penguin look like even more of an emotional fucking dumbass! And if it's for real, then Sofia's character is pointless and she'll probably just get fridged later! Whoever wins, we lose!

Speaking of BORN TO DIE WORLD IS A FUCK, we return to Bruce as Ra's pleads with him to strike him down, reiterating how long he has been suffering and showing him a reflection of his true form: a decrepit walking corpse with thin strands of white hair, rendered in decent CGI for the brief time it has to be onscreen. When Bruce tells him that he deserves all of his suffering for being such a monster for no reason, Ra's first tells him that he'll never have true closure if he just leaves without killing him, and then viciously taunts him with the knowledge that after disappearing, he'll come back years down the line to kill all of Bruce's loved ones -- including his wife and children should he have any.

And then... Bruce does it.

He kills Ra's. He plunges the blade into his heart and it causes him to rot from the inside until he's nothing but an ashen skeleton slumped on the floor. That's Ra's al Ghul, everybody. All of that buildup to this, just an excuse for Bruce to break his no-kill rule in the fifth episode of the season. And just when Siddig was really sinking his teeth into the role, too, becoming one more among the ever-shrinking pile of villains I actually enjoy watching. It's like I always say, and like I'm always reassured by my viewing experience: Gotham wouldn't be Gotham if it wasn't constantly sabotaging itself. Goddamn it.

Anyway, Jim and Alfred rush in and lock eyes with Bruce, and everyone is mutually horrified. Cut to everyone standing outside while the police swarm the area, and Jim denies that Bruce should be arrested because he doesn't really know what he saw and Bruce is a good person deep down and the Wayne murders still hurt him and blah blah blah I've heard all of these lessons and pep talks before. This is supposed to be a critical moment and it feels less impactful than when Bruce first instated his no-kill rule by almost killing Jerome. Fuck this.

With five minutes to go, Bruce is standing in front of the fireplace preparing to burn his Batsuit when Alfred comes in for another pep talk. It's the same stuff, Batman foreshadowing, so on and so forth. Bruce doesn't burn the Batsuit. Big shocker.

As the clock winds down, we meet up with Ed and Bundy again just in time for Ed to lie that he and Bundy were already best friends and that their goal should be using his muscles to make money to help restore his intellect and I don't care. They walk into a kooky underground fight club, where Ed pretends to be Bundy's manager and signs him up as a fighter... and then we pan over to where the ringside doc is fixing up fighters and it's FUCKING LEE. Somehow. I... I don't... I just... AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA


Okay no I'm not doing a double review this episode was active misery I'm just gonna heal up and do "Hog Day Afternoon" soon

Fuck
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Re: Gotham

Postby KleinerKiller » Tue Dec 05, 2017 9:36 am

Well, here we are, ladies and germs. The edge of oblivion.

My month-long break to recover after "The Blade's Path" nearly proved to be the death of me has unfortunately led to two grave circumstances. One, of course, is that I now have five episodes to catch up on -- "Hog Day Afternoon", "A Day In The Narrows", "Stop Hitting Yourself", "Let Them Eat Pie", and "Things That Go Boom" -- as well as "Queen Takes Knight" (which I fear is not a sign that Oliver Queen is crossing over from the Arrowverse to thin out Gotham's cast) fast approaching. The other is that the most dire net neutrality vote in history is less than two weeks away, and if it passes and isn't stopped by the judiciary or legislative branches, any and all contribution to the internet will effectively become pointless.

Also, "Hog Day Afternoon" is about to expire on Hulu. So my balls are kinda in a vise here.

So, because I don't want to let this two-year crippling of my sanity and self-worth just fizzle out mid-season, it's time to catch up on what I've missed and provide those of you still reading with what you've so assuredly been anticipating. I know they've taken this opportunity to tackle Professor Pyg for a few episodes, even while introducing Grundy and dealing with Sofia Falcone and whatever the hell Lee's up to and all the rest of this ever-sweaty clusterfuck, so I do look forward to seeing how they've ruined and wasted yet another villain whom I kind of like.

It's a "Hog Day Afternoon", people. Stand by for slop.

Spoiler: show
We open right where "The Blade's Path" left off, and I don't mean with arteries throughout my body near the bursting point. Leslie "Lee" Thompkins, once our stalwart and sane relief from the manic tedium of Barbara Kean (y'know, other than that time she got weirdly intense at Jim out of nowhere because he didn't believe in psychic mediums and fortune telling), now reduced to a snarky ringside doc in goth makeup after the cavalcade of abysmal plotlines she was put through. Ed walks up to her and they banter for a bit about past interactions, and she nearly brushes him off before being introduced to Bundy, whose current status Ed helpfully catches Lee up on. After then explaining that he wants her help to restore himself back to his previous intelligence, she calls him stupid and refuses to help him -- which in Gotham language means "I will be your ally within the remaining 43 minutes".

This brings us to Penguin's abode, where Sofia is continuing to seduce and manipulate him using the exact same tactics Fish had that chick use on Falcone in Season 1. If I had any faith in this show or its ability to recall its own continuity, I might speculate on this being a deliberate point about how sufficiently powerful figures will inevitably fall into the same traps as their predecessors, but this is Gotham, so let's chalk it up to the typical plot rehashing (helped by the fact that Galavan also played this trick on Bruce back in Season 2) and move on. Jim happens to have snuck in and confronts Sofia about what game she's playing as Penguin wanders off, and she promises that she'll have Penguin in the perfect position to fall within a few days. Jim threatens to put her on a train home if she fails, despite having no legal grounds to do so since Sofia is a civilian who hasn't actually committed a crime yet.

Cut to some corrupt cops doing a deal in a rainy alley. Considering the title card has yet to come up and the villain hasn't been introduced yet, I have absolutely no idea what might happen here. One of them drives away, and right on cue, the other hears a mysterious noise from down the alley and goes to investigate. Inside a building ominously lit by a blood-red bulb, he finds a cat, and bends down to pet it... revealing AAAAAH A TALL GUY IN A RUBBER PIG MASK AND BUTCHER SMOCK. Pyg pulls out a cleaver, says "Oink, oink", and swings it down to a spatter of blood that brings us to our title card.

Yes, they decided to make Professor Pyg -- for the uninitiated, a demented serial killer who kidnaps people and methodically tortures and experiments on them to turn them into sensory-deprived "dolls", and one of the more obscure modern comic villains until Batman: Arkham Knight brought him more mainstream attention -- into a cop killer. Because "pig" can also be slang for dirty cop. GET IT GET IT GET IT HUH DO YOU GET IT GUYS

Wait, remember the Balloon Man, that guy in a plastic pig mask who went around killing dirty cops and other corrupt officials in the third episode of the first season? No? Me neither.

As the formula dictates, Jim is brought to the crime scene, where Bullock runs down the situation -- a cop named Metzger who was known to be a dirty bastard got killed, ritually posed with part of a severed pig's head on his face, and had his badge stolen. Jim's first thought is to run off to see Penguin, who might know who's killing cops. Bullock once again yells at him not to stir the pot, as always. When Jim gets to Penguin, Penguin denies any knowledge of who might be killing cops under his employ to send him a message, though the license system allows Mr. Penn to give Jim a lead on a guy who recently robbed a butcher shop. This is all pretty formulaic Gotham stuff, not necessarily godawful but not enough to be compelling on its own. It's just... here.

Cut to a very brief scene -- only a half minute or so -- of Pyg in his lair, cleaning and touching up a pig's head with various tools while singing along with opera music in the background. Nothing to say here.

At the GCPD, Bullock and Jim do their bad cop-shitty cop routine on the scruffy ruffian who robbed the butcher's place, unveiling a headless pig they found in his dumpster and trying to charge him as a cop killer without a confession. This gets the guy to squeal on "the Professor", a mysterious man he was hired by over the phone to drop four pig's heads under a bridge. The daring duo realize that there are going to be at least three more murders, and race to stop the Professor however they can.

We then briefly check in with Penguin, sitting alone at a table for two and looking forlorn, when Zsasz comes over to tell him that Sofia isn't coming. Even though this Sofia plot is going nowhere fast, Zsasz is in fine form here, telling his boss that he wasn't really listening to Sofia's call and then sitting down to munch on the food set for her. In the midst of Pyg's unveiling, now seems like a good time to reiterate that I don't mind at all when adaptations veer from their source material and characterize certain characters I like differently -- I just expect them to be good. I have some mild fondness for the typical self-mutilating serial killer Zsasz, but Anthony Carrigan's casual, sarcastic, above-it-all gunman is a perfect example of how even the most dramatic shift in characterization can work to the show's benefit when done well. So when I criticize Poison Ivy for being a pointless dumbass or Bundy for being underwhelming or the late Ra's for being a suicidal weirdo and so on and so forth, it's not because I'm opposed to those characters being changed: how they're utilized just sucks.

Speaking of Bundy, the next scene happens to be a far better showcase of his potential. He's set to fight a guy called Hammer, who appears to actually be wielding a dumbbell mace, while Ed cheers him on and Lee watches curiously. As soon as the eccentric manager starts the fight, Bundy gets the piss bludgeoned out of him, but the moment he looks to Ed and Ed clarifies that he has to fight now, he stands straight up and basically collapses Hammer's face with one punch before smashing him further with his weapon. I'm still not sure what Bundy's purpose is other than to be dumb muscle for the dumb Riddler, if he even has a further point, but showing off the sheer strength and invulnerability of the character at least establishes him better.

We're then shown a montage of Jim and Bullock taking increasingly illegal measures to get other cops to snitch on who else is working directly for Penguin, finally getting a name after shoving a man into a hot car trunk and leaving him locked in there until cracks. Our heroes, ladies and gentlemen. It's certainly funny, but my limits on rooting for Jim were broken a long time ago and it feels like backsliding even for Bullock. Anyway, the duo head to an indeterminate building to see the guy who was named in hopes that he can give them the last name, only to find two dead cops on a bench, masked by hollowed-out pig heads. I'll admit that this is an effectively chilling sight, but unless it's backed up by Pyg getting some good characterization, it's meaningless. With their lead dead and no one to give them a fourth name, Jim happens to glimpse a supposedly blind sax player nearby eyeing up a passing woman and convinces him to give up a witness statement about seeing someone suspicious sitting on the bench earlier before getting into a plumbing van.

Back at the fighting ring, Bundy is getting patched up by Lee, who lists off various things about him that make no sense and shouldn't allow him to live. She then tries to convince Bundy that Ed is just using him, to no avail as the dumb lug repeats that Ed is his best friend. Ed walks in on cue to prep Bundy for another fight and show off the money he's collected, and as Lee leaves, Bundy has the trademark middle distance stare that means he's inevitably going to take Lee's words to heart eventually.

It turns out that in addition to working as a ringside doc, Lee is also providing medical service to homeless children! How nice, I guess. Ed follows her to her new office, sees that she's helping kids, and laughs evilly for some reason. End scene.

Also, we briefly see Zsasz sitting in his parked car, snapping photos of Sofia entering a building with some old man we haven't seen before. Suspicious.

Back at the GCPD, Jim brings Bullock a list of all the cops who haven't called in at the scheduled times, and Bullock points to an officer named Nakajima as the likely bagman for Penguin since there are already rumors of his corruption. As they contemplate their best course of action since units are already on their way to all five officers' homes and last known locations, Bullock speculates that the cop killer might indeed be a cop himself, since he knew Metzger's present location and the scheduled beats of the other two. Jim doesn't want to believe it, but before they can put together any more clues, the erstwhile semi-important Harper steps in to tell them that the plumbing van has been spotted, and they hurry to respond.

We cut to the van as it pulls up next to some industrial silos, and we see Nakajima bound and gagged in the back. Pyg opens up the doors, framed in light that casts a harsh shadow over his mask's eyes and makes him look at least somewhat creepy, and says "Oink oink, little piggy." Still lukewarm on him. Could be good, could be bad, but still lukewarm.

Bundy then has another sluggish fight scene with a giant guy dressed like a metal album cover, and it ends the same way as the first one: Bundy gets up from being knocked down, repels a heavy attack, and uses the guy's own weapon to smash his face in. As the crowd cheers, the manager lady dubs him the new champion. Hopefully that means this fighting club will not be a recurring location, because I'm already sick of it.

Cut to Zsasz giving his report to Penguin: it's revealed that Sofia first had lunch with the mayor, and that the old man was the zoning commissioner, whom she had to have permission from to erect a wall and gate for an abandoned hotel she purchased recently. Penguin realizes that he's been played, thankfully cutting the legs out from beneath that plotline before it can sprint dick-first onto the "multi-episode plot rehash" pile, and that meeting with politicians and building a fortress must mean she's planning a war against him. Bitter and wounded, Penguin tells Zsasz to bring a shovel as they go to "talk" with Sofia.

Back to the ring we go! Ed walks up to Lee and, after once again bragging about how much money Bundy is making him, insists that only she can help restore his intelligence because despite not being a neurologist, she knows his brain more than any other doctor. When she refuses again, he reveals that he knows about her secret clinic, but unfortunately, his blackmail attempt fails because he can now no longer remember complex words and string the most simple gambles together, leaving him flaccidly threatening to "do something" as Lee laughs in his face. Much as I appreciate it being different, I hope Ed isn't left like this for too much longer -- you can only wring so much compelling story out of an idiot bumbling into situations he's not prepared for, unless you're writing Fargo, and Gotham certainly isn't Fargo.

Jim and Bullock pull up outside of the building where the plumbing van is parked, and enter into a darkened building that appears to be an abandoned meat processing plant (because of course). They quickly find Nakajima slumped over in a chair with the pig head draped over him, but he jolts to life and they pull the head away. It turns out to be connected to a string inside his mouth, and in a nice little bit of sick villainy, there's a grenade sewn into his chest that the string pulls the pin on. Jim and Bullock make it away from the explosion just in time, but apparently black out, because Jim then wakes up strapped to a chair with a single bulb illuminating him and Bullock nowhere to be found.

Pyg turns on another light in front of him, and we get our first extended scene with him. And he's... all right. The actor has the voice down and moves unnervingly enough, and some of his lines are darkly funny, but whenever he stops rambling about pigs and sausage and talking to Jim like a teacher talking to a young child, he doesn't really work. He denies that he's a cop and drops the high voice to explain that he's suffered profound loss at the hands of the men on Penguin's payroll, seemingly confirming that this is all there is to him. Maybe there's room for him to be a more complex character if the tragedy he's suffered is sufficiently different from all the other vengeful vigilante villains, but for the time being, it seems like a waste of a fine performance and promising character concept to have him be solely fixated on making examples of cops. All they've taken from the actual Pyg character is his costume, his voice, his fondness for opera, and a general pig theme, and that all doesn't mesh together when the character is just your bog-standard ruthless cop killer.

Regardless, he leaves Jim safe and sound with the promise to make an example of Bullock next, and Jim struggles to escape his chair as we hear Bullock calling for help. Bullock tries to bluff that there will be more cops on the way, when he previously told Harper not to tell anyone unless he radioed for backup, but Pyg sees through him and waves a knife threateningly in front of him before Jim crashes off a ledge, shattering his chair but apparently not being injured in any way. Pyg says he hates to "cut and run"... and promptly slices Bullock's throat. No one dies on Gotham, least of all Jim's co-star, so the shock and horror they try to wring out of this as Jim struggles to stop the bleeding in lieu of catching Pyg feels hollow. If Tabitha could survive getting impaled and then left in a moldy mausoleum for several hours and Penguin could survive being gut-shot and floating unconscious face-down in a polluted river for even longer, Bullock'll be fit as a fiddle by tomorrow morning.

But because this is a show that suffocates on its own subplots, we immediately cut away from the action to see that Lee is running out of medicine at her secret clinic, and there are dozens more sick kids waiting for help. Waaah.

And then we're back with Sofia as Penguin strides menacingly up behind her, and... goddamnit please no. She denies everything, says she's still his friend and was never planning against him, and he froths and spits and forces her to take him to her hotel. This plotline hasn't had its legs cut out from under it -- he's going to get to the hotel and see a genuinely nice surprise again, and the plotline will have NEW legs sprouting to enable its dick-first run into rehashing even more efficiently. Fuck me, fuck you, fuck everything, fuck Bruno Heller.

Back at the fighting ring, Lee approaches Ed and requests his money in exchange for promising to help however she can, elating Ed even as she rattles off an explanation of how he could have actually blackmailed her. She also explains her motives, namely that the Bullshit Blood Virus(TM) hit the Narrows harder than anywhere else, and tons of people are still hurt and in need of help from an atoning soul. Fine. I won't question the logic of this. This is not a terrible spot to have Lee in, and I hope the show doesn't fuck everything up yet again with her.

HAHA LOOK SOFIA'S HOTEL WAS ACTUALLY TURNED INTO AN ORPHANAGE AND SHE FORGIVES PENGUIN FOR SUSPECTING HER AND SHE'S BACK TO SEDUCING AND MANIPULATING HIM AND PLAYING HIM FOR A FOOL AND WE HAVE ENTERED THE REHASH DICK FIRST EVERYONE.

As the episode winds toward its miserable conclusion, Jim confronts Bullock upon him waking up in the hospital, having realized he only knew who the people on Penguin's payroll were because he was at the center of it all. This actually isn't a bad scene, and Donal Logue does some great work as he tries to defend himself with the old reliable "just following orders" excuse and justify it with all of his debts and bills. Granted, it shouldn't surprise anyone that the character whose sole purpose upon introduction was to be a shady cop taking money from various criminals is taking money from the guy handing money to the cops, Jim tells him firmly that it stops when he recovers, and exits the room to a convenient news report that officially gives us the name "Professor Pyg" and segues into what I assume is the final scene.

We see Pyg unmasked, though with his face only in silhouette, as he feeds a bunch of pigs in a makeshift barn. As he goes, he recites an ominous nursery rhyme about piglets, and promises that "tomorrow, the axe shall fall" as the episode ends. How zany.


All in all, not a terrible episode, but not an especially great one, between the utterly wasted villain and the slogs that are Penguin and Ed's plotlines. So Gotham running on standard fumes, pretty much. BUT HEY THIS WAS AN EPISODE WITHOUT BARBARA WHICH MEANS NEXT EPISODE MUST HAVE BARBARA SO I AM COUNTING MY BLESSINGS

And now let's spend "A Day In The Narrows" and... I got nothing.

Spoiler: show
Oh look, Bruce beating up Baby Hush from Season 1 is in the "Previously On" reel this time. I wonder what that could be about. Surely nothing interesting.

Hey, what'd I tell ya? Bullock is back on his feet in what appears to be only a day since the last episode. Jim tries to engage him in a discussion about him taking Penguin's money -- again, Jim, I'm not sure why you're so shocked and appalled by this revelation -- only for any confrontation to be stymied by some deliverymen wheeling a few dozen blood-soaked boxes directly into the station lobby. No one attempts to stop them, further solidifying the GCPD as the Safest Precinct on Earth, but it turns out they all contain more hollowed-out pig heads. The deliverymen insist that they didn't question what they were carrying and the lead guy says he didn't smell anything suspicious because of his cold, ignoring the liters of fresh blood visibly soaking out of the boxes. Anyway, there are 44 of them, one for each and every cop in the precinct... except Jim himself. DUN DUN DUN!

Ah, here you are, Bruce! For about 45 minutes I genuinely managed to forget you were on this show. In the aftermath of his very stupid murder of Ra's, Bruce is taking the predictable path: he's brooding quietly, he's angsting, he's refusing to go outside, he's turning his anger on hapless charity waiters and snapping at Alfred. It makes sense, but it's not especially compelling or enjoyable to watch. So after a standard Alfred pep talk and Bruce walking away to get some air, we cut to...

Oh, the GCPD again. After letting the deliverymen out of the holding cell, Jim meanders upstairs to find Penguin and an unknown guy in standard mercenary gear waiting for him, with Bullock saying they just wandered right in (Safest PrecinctTM). The guy introduces himself as Headhunter, and Penguin identifies him as his new security consultant, referred to him by Zsasz while Zsasz is apparently off visiting family; Headhunter tells Jim and Bullock that he always shoots people twice, first to kill and then as his signature. He's a colorful character and his actor's performance seems to be along the same lines as Anthony Carrigan's, so I'm open to his presence. Penguin explains that he and Headhunter will be assisting the GCPD until Pyg has been dealt with, despite Jim spewing out more Gordonisms in every direction about duty and honor and police integrity and shit. During his ensuing argument with Bullock, Jim furiously vows to find Pyg and bring him in alive, and Harper promptly runs up and tells them that three cops gave gone missing in the Narrows.

RIGHT ON FUCKING CUE IT'S BARB TIME. Due to the death of the apparent love of her life (and her supplier), Barbara is closing up shop on her little arms dealing business. If I believed this would have any lasting meaning, I would cheer at the sight of little Barb mildly miffed about the whole ordeal, but we still haven't learned what the weird orange glow thing Ra's gave to her was about and she's Barb so she will always be part of the story. As she stomps off, Selina immediately rushes to Tabby and whispers about knowing where a big street gang hides their cash stash, and begs her to help her steal it. Tabby, for once, makes a rational decision and says no.

Cutting back to our stalwart heroes, we find them pulling into the Narrows with dozens of other heavily armed officers and what appear to be a few of Headhunter's thugs. Finding a pig ornament in a car full of spilled blood, Bullock knows that there are plenty of possible witnesses with clear line of sight from their windows, but as he announces to the officers, the poor have a code of silence when it comes to crime and they'll have to go on a floor-by-floor campaign of intimidation to get anything useful. As if arriving by cosmic timing to signal Bullock that it's a bad idea to shout classist fearmongering in the middle of a public area surrounded by the people you're about to psychologically torture, the Narrows residents start hurling furniture down onto the assembled cops. Headhunter shoots a lamp twice in midair to shatter it and laughs, while everyone else gets to cover and Bullock presumably realizes this was a botch.

After the break, the cops have made it into one of the apartment buildings and everyone's started going apeshit and beating witnesses. Jim makes his valiant efforts to stop them and restore order, but only gets stuff like "this is the Narrows, everyone's a perp!" in response. Bullock is equally unhelpful, so Jim continues upstairs while Bullock continues to make anxious faces to himself.

Basically:Image

There there, you increasingly incompetent fuck.

We briefly rejoin Bruce, who is brooding in the kitchen -- getting some air? -- when a random girl around his age walks in. We're told that she used to go to school with him, but it's been years since he's seen her, so they barely recognize each other. Then she asks if he wants to go somewhere since the fundraiser he's holding in his manor is pretty boring, and he says yes. Boy oh boy.

And after that brief interruption, back to Class Warfare 101! Jim navigates the various beatings and chases going down throughout the halls and finds the door of a woman he spotted earlier, knocking on it and getting in by asking politely. Inside, he finds the woman caring for a helpless old man with an oxygen mask, presumably/hopefully her father judging by the age difference. Despite her insistence that she didn't see anything, Jim keeps up the polite but firm questioning until Headhunter and his men barge in, and Headhunter makes the completely sound decision to drag the old man out onto the street below and threaten to shoot him if the woman doesn't talk. Jim holds him at gunpoint, leading to a standoff between suddenly agreeable officers and Headhunter's group, until the woman indeed cracks and tells them that she saw Pyg putting the kidnapped officers in a hearse and driving away. After getting the direction from her, Bullock congratulates everyone on a job well done, with Headhunter assuming Jim's actions were a deliberate good cop/bad cop routine with him. Jim's jimmies are visibly rustled.

After another break, Headhunter takes point on the raid into the abandoned building where they determined Pyg took the cops, and Jim finds two in a side room, strapped to chairs with the usual pig heads on. One of them is dead, but the other is still alive despite what appears to be a wooden stake having been stabbed into his chest. Jim assures him that he'll be fine and calls for an ambulance, blissfully unaware that he's probably setting free a bloodthirsty vampire.

Brief scene of Penguin taking pride in his police force's effectiveness, having difficulties with the children of the orphanage, and arguing with Sofia about whether aligning himself with the GCPD is a good idea. I really don't care for this scene, so I'm just giving it the barest recap.

Selina, predictably, has chosen to undertake this raid solo -- how the writers think she could possibly survive to adulthood making such decisions is beyond me. After some of the worst stealth ever depicted on a screen, she manages to open up the locked car trunk where the gang keeps their stash, but triggers an alarm in the process and has to hurry into a hiding spot. When the gangsters come over to find that the stash is gone, they punish the guy who was obliviously working underneath the car by dismembering him with a motorcycle. More artless Gotham gore, hip hip hooray.

Jim is riding in the back of the ambulance with Fizzoli, the wounded cop, and strikes up a conversation with him about what Pyg did and where he might have taken the remaining cops. After recounting the horrors he was put through during his torture and how he had to watch his partner bleed to death in front of him, Fizzoli confesses to being on Penguin's payroll, prompting Jim to let loose some Gordonisms about repenting and making right what once went wrong and such, and Fizzoli manages to remember a clue that leads Jim to believe Pyg might be at an abandoned Narrows courthouse. As Jim thanks him and tells the ambulance driver to pull over so he can get out, Fizzoli grabs his arm and tells him he's one of the good ones.

I repeat -- Jim Gordon, on Gotham, as portrayed by Ben McKenzie for three-and-a-half seasons now... one of the good ones.

Just let that sink in for a moment before we continue.

Anywho, Bruce is taken to a small gathering in some fancy house, where his friend introduces him to a few other people from school... including Tommy Elliot, aka Hush, aka Bully Bastard Who Got His Little Bitch Butt Beat By Baby Batman. I guess that's my "Salty Bobby is actually a kidnapped, brainwashed, surgically modified Tommy Elliot" hypothesis dead in the water (where the FUCK did Salty Bobby go?!). Bruce is hesitant to say anything, but the older and handsomer Tommy tells him he totally deserved the beating for being a little punk back in the day, and appears totally receptive to Bruce's company despite being fated to be a psychotic, obsessive maniac.

Much less receptive is another kid who stands up, whose name was mentioned but whom I'm too lazy to rewind for, so I'm just going to name him after the resemblance he bears to a cross between Jokerome and Mads Mikkelsen's Hannibal Lecter: Jokibal, aka Joe Kibble. Kibble is the kind of punk who makes constant crass and insulting remarks and then says "kidding!" a few moments later, which he proceeds to do to Bruce until Bruce has a brief hallucination of himself beating Kibble half to death. Kibble decides that this is lame and says everyone should follow him to a hookup at the local club, and apparently his name is Brant and everyone thinks he's a tool, but I'm going to only agree with the second part.

Jim makes his way to the courthouse and finds a convenient trail of fresh blood leading inside, but before he can enter, he's surprised by Headhunter, who tells him with a chuckle that Bullock let some backup know where Jim was headed. Said backup appears to be most of the active police force, as well as Penguin himself, who's intent on watching Pyg be captured or killed in person to prove the success of his system. Jim glares into the middle distance, and the scene ends.

Back with Baaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaarbaaaaaaaaaaaaraaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa, who's counting up the remaining money for Tabitha's paycheck just as Tabby gets a call from Selina. Selina is still trapped in the gang's hideout, and they're calling for backup, so she needs a rescue -- Tabby is happy to provide one despite calling Selina an idiot, but Barb has once more regressed to her natural state of unbearably catty bitchiness and refuses to help out. I don't care. I don't know why Heller thinks I care.

Back at the courthouse, Penguin has summoned a media circus to proudly gloat about Pyg's imminent confrontation, and Bullock equally proudly tells Jim his bright idea to let Penguin's thugs break in first as cannon fodder before the real cops move to arrest Pyg. Disgusted, Jim starts to walk to the sidelines when he gets a call from a blocked number; as anyone who has ever experienced any forms of media beforehand already knows, it's Pyg. Pyg explains why he spells his name with a Y instead of an I -- because it's short for Pygmalion, which is normally meant to reference Pyg's disconnected obsession with forcibly making the perfect person, but which the show flimsily excuses as being symbolic of Pyg wanting to transform Gotham itself and Jim with it. As I said, Professor Pyg as cop killer is not working. After this ramble is finished, Pyg strongly implies to Jim that he'll die if he enters the courthouse, and then repeats "you're one of the good ones" to Jim -- implying that he's either actually Fizzoli, having stabbed and bound himself as part of an elaborate ploy, or that he reached and finished off Fizzoli, which would be a much less interesting twist.

But we can't stay focused on the driving action forever, because we have a very important stop at the local club! Feh. Well actually, this is a pretty hilarious scene. The bouncer stops the teens just inside because Kibble's name isn't on the list, despite his assertion that they should know who he is anyway. After almost punching him, Bruce instead decides to lean into his rich dick persona and talks to the owner of the place, promptly buying the club within a few seconds and letting everyone in except Kibble, whose sunglasses he casually takes and dons. I found myself actually smirking and laughing for once, so this is all right in my book.

Back to the conflict at hand, though, as night has fallen and the raid is about to begin. Jim runs up to Bullock and Penguin, begging them to call off the raid because he's figured out the person he talked to wasn't Fizzoli, but Pyg in disguise. Penguin furiously turns him away, desperate to save his ego and reputation by conducting the successful neutralization of Pyg, and despite clearly feeling conflicted, Bullock backs Penguin's play anyway. Jim tries to reason with him, but Bullock yells that enough is enough and has two SWAT guys keep tabs on Jim while the raid goes underway.

But just as the action threatens to get interesting, BOOM, we're at the gang hideout! Fuck this show's editing and innumerable subplots. Tabitha causes a distraction to get the goons out of the way and races in to where Selina is hiding, only for them to find themselves pinned down... until Barbara comes in and effortlessly shoots all seven or eight gangsters anyway. Barb then takes her cut of the money, tells Tabby and Selina that a new shipment is coming in and they're back on track for their business, and walks out with all three of them to an extended guitar riff in a moment which I imagine made a few thousand sea slugs "YAAAAAAS" their little hearts out. Pleh. Bleh. Fleh.

Anyways, Bullock leads a few officers -- way fewer than I thought there would be -- into the building and immediately spots and shoots Pyg next to the hostage... only for the blindingly obvious to be revealed, as Pyg pulled a Dark Knight and set the real hostage up in the Pyg costume. As Bullock realizes what he's done and tries to save the injured cop's life, several chain-fed machine guns unveil themselves and start spraying, cutting down several officers but magically missing everyone whose name we know, including Bullock, Harper, and the hostage, who all make it to cover. Rather than hunker down and wait for the guns to run out of ammo -- since, you know, they're chain-fed machine guns and they will run dry within a minute or two -- Bullock proclaims that all of the exits are blocked and they're dead meat because of him. Hearing the shots outside, Jim points out to Penguin that those aren't police guns, and grabs a grenade launcher before anyone can stop him. Racing inside, he swiftly blows up both machine guns, saving Bullock and the crew and proving himself the moral victor.

Back to the GCPD, Jim gives a statement to the cameras and then goes to meet Bullock, who's moping outside his office about Jim being the hero and him being the cop-shooting cop. This moment is played up as powerful, but despite parts of it working, in its whole it just feels like the end result of a lot of contrivance and recycled plotting. As Bullock stalks away, Jim gets another call from Pyg, whom we see on the other end of the line peeling off the makeup and prosthetics he used to disguise himself. The actor's (forgive me) hamminess in every line is walking a very precarious tightrope between fittingly amusing and too goofy even for Gotham, but since he's already a waste of a character, might as well cram in a memorable performance. Pyg promises that the next step in his plan will be even bigger and better, and calls Jim his muse before hanging up.

We then briefly rejoin Penguin and the injured Headhunter at the Iceberg Lounge. Penguin, fuming, interrupts Headhunter's bemused snark by stabbing him twice in the throat and chest -- "second one's my signature" -- and leaving him to die right at the entrance of his public club. I'm shocked I didn't see any contrived thinkpieces about a white guy brutally killing a black guy, but I'm sure I just haven't been looking hard enough.

Almost done and over with. We're treated to a montage of Bruce being a drunken frat boy at the club and giving his new friends the time of their lives, set to The Prodigy's "Spitfire", and it's fucking hilarious in every respect. Seriously. I actually love this scene. It's the diamond in the rough of this episode.

And in the final scene, just after Jim finishes talking to Harper about the events of the day, he notices a guy being taken in for an unlicensed robbery. The guy swears he has a license and then remembers that it's in his boot, but as a cop retrieves it, a detective from earlier in the episode walks by and tears it up, telling both officers that they shouldn't accept Penguin's licenses anymore. The cop nods at Jim, and Jim looks to Bullock, who doesn't nod and is clearly drunk on the job. This is an effective moment, implying that some cops are starting to side with Jim and Bullock is presiding over a doomed force. If only all of the writing on this show could be remotely good.


Again, not a terrible episode, but overall still not great because several of the ongoing plotlines are just floundering distractions from the few elements (remorseful Bullock and hilarious rich dick Bruce) that consistently work. Oh well. See you in a day or two when I tackle the next two episodes, and then do what might be -- depending on world events -- my final double review.
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Re: Gotham

Postby KleinerKiller » Tue Mar 13, 2018 3:44 am

Uuuuuuuuuuuuuuuugh.

It's funny how being away from it for a while made me completely stop giving a shit. With how utterly miserable watching these episodes has gotten and how much genuinely great entertainment there is for me to devote time to, I nearly abandoned this stupidity. But even if no one cares anymore, even if April 23rd renders everything that's ever been or will be part of the internet pointless, I have to at least finish this up to a point. If for nothing else than my own need for completion. Whether I finish my descent at the midseason break with "Queen Takes Knight" or keep going for the entirety of Season 4, I don't know yet, but anyway...

Fortunately / unfortunately, "Stop Hitting Yourself" expired on Hulu in the time it took me to get around to this, so allow me to just summarize what happens in each storyline based on a plot synopsis so we're up to speed.

Spoiler: show
Pygmalion: While there's no progress on the Pyg hunt, Sofia pulls strings so Jim gets offered a promotion to Captain of the GCPD, which he accepts when Bullock's bitchiness causes him to miss a ceremony for police officers. The show continues its baffling insistence that Jim is a good police officer, person, or character. Jim then ends his partnership with Sofia for trying to force a wedge between him and Bullock, which I'm not objecting to because the Sofia plotline is already dead in the water.

We Talk Incessantly About Fight Club / I'm A BAAAAAARBAAAAAAAAARAAAAAAAAA Girl: Ed's and Barb's plotlines converge when Penguin enlists the Gal Pals to kidnap Ed upon hearing that Ed is making fun of him or something. The eminently boring Firefly comes along to kill them if they fail, but gets non-fatally shot by Lee later, so she doesn't matter. Barb gets distracted because she recognizes Lee and Tabby gets distracted because she recognizes Butch, but Tabby defeats Butch in the ring and Barb then finds time to kill the organizer of the fight club, conveniently putting Lee in charge so the show can pull the "hammy underdog woman slowly becomes a crime ringleader" card again and appear feminist.

Bird Shit: Separately from the chaos at the arena, Penguin apparently takes advantage of a mentally unstable orphan named Martin in some way. I can't find any reviews that clarify this plot point, so... zuh?

Bruce Remembers Money Can Be Exchanged For Goods and Services: No sign of dickish rich kid Bruce, sadly. I really hope he's in the next episode, because that's somehow the only plot I'm entertained by.

When Salty Bobby's Not Onscreen, People Should Be Asking, 'Where's Salty Bobby?': Salty Bobby continues to be a loose end dangling in the wind, never to be seen or heard from again until Heller and the writers abruptly bring him back so the fans can crow about how brilliant they were for keeping him in the wings.


And now, with a heavy heart, I begin watching again. "Let Them Eat Pie", I fucking dare you to impress me.

Spoiler: show
We begin -- and oh, how wonderful it feels to be back in the swing of this show -- with Pyg disguised as a rabbi passing out pastries and other foodstuffs to the homeless, all while speaking about "the haves and the have-nots". I won't bother transcribing any of it, because if you've ever seen a piece of fiction or had a non-fictional discussion about class differences at any point in your life, you have it memorized already. As was obvious from the start because Gotham can never get enough of the poisoned food well, everyone eventually collapses and Pyg gets to work cutting open one of their corpses. Not a terrible cold open, but nothing I haven't seen dozens of times before.

After the title card, we come back to the Safest Precinct On Earth, where Jim's name is getting stenciled onto the door of Bullock's former office. Bullock is still inside packing as Jim walks in, and Jim half-hearts some Gordonisms in an attempt to patch things up between them. And then something weird happens: Bullock makes yet another belated callback to the time Jim refused to kill Penguin on the pier in the pilot episode, remarking that had he the balls to do what was necessary, Falcone would still be in charge and everything would be fine. Since this keeps getting brought up ad nauseum and the show seems halfway convinced that it's true, let me address a few things:

1) As I have said repeatedly, things were still dire under Falcone. His supposedly iron-fisted rule was full of holes, incompetence, and perpetual backstabbing, and criminals were just as common and demented then as they are at this time. The only thing Falcone had over Penguin or Barb or anyone else is that he wasn't exceptionally crazy, just a moron.
2) Penguin being in power was a net gain for many, Bullock especially. Looking even just to this very season, it was only a couple of episodes ago when Bullock was espousing the joys of the license system and yelling at Jim for being opposed to Penguin's brilliance. The show might be trying to illustrate his hypocrisy with this remark, but that would require a writing staff with a history of nuance and skilled character building.
3) This is a big one: half the bad shit that's led up to this point still would have happened under Falcone. In all likelihood, without Penguin as a spanner in the works, it would have been worse. The mob war still would've torn the city asunder thanks to Fish and Italian Guy, Galavan's scheme still would've gone off without a hitch, Strange still would've gotten everything sorted and likely would have succeeded at turning Arkham into a dirty bomb, everything the Court of Owls and the League of Assassins have done would still have happened, etc, etc. And that's just the big picture shit that got you to this point.

So fuck off, dude.

OH GREAT WE'RE BACK TO THIS. At the very least, Penguin seems to have become more aware of Sofia's danger between "A Day In The Narrows" and now, because he makes a bunch of vague insinuations to her about who might have ordered the mayor to promote Jim and then made said mayor disappear. He still seems conflicted after she leaves since he honestly believes she's his only friend, so he seeks counsel from Mr. Penn and comes to the conclusion that he needs a quiet spy close to her for proof. It's here that I learn Martin's name is pronounced MAR-TEEN, and he's apparently mute, because Penguin considers him the perfect candidate and orders Penn to fetch him. Unfortunately, Sofia was listening from directly outside the doorway and manages not to be spotted as they leave, so she gives Jim a call and reports the situation to him in spite of his protestations. Apparently she just had the mayor leave town, so I'm still not rid of that pointless prick.

Jim then gets another call from a private number, and surprise surprise, it's Pyg. He orders Harper (remember her?) to start tracing the call, but it turns out to be pointless; after a brief chat about a rot metaphor and "a taste of what's to come" (I certainly can't guess from the episode title and cold open), he tells Jim to hurry outside where the fun is beginning. Jim skedaddles out and finds a crowd gathering around a circus tent magically erected there, inside which are two corpses posed and dressed like nobility, a couple of snorting pigs, and a card reading "viva la revolution" in case that wasn't lain on thick enough for you. The pigs begin to eat one of the corpses as Jim orders Harper to get everyone rallied. I was tired of Pyg as a cop killer from minute one, and despite the actor's fun performance, I can't say I've remotely warmed up to the storyline in the intervening time, nor do I have any confidence that it's going anywhere interesting anytime soon.

Jumping over to the Safest Manor On Earth, Bruce comes into the kitchen hungover from another night out with Tommy Elliot and company, only for Alfed to read him the riot act. Unlike the actual scenes of Bruce being a rich dick kid, this is dull and aimless, so I won't bother chronicling it. Eventually, Alfred tells Bruce that today is the day he and his father would hike to a nearby mountain every year and place rocks with their initials at the peak, that they did so every year, and that he should prepare to head out with Alfred to do it now. Yay drama.

Back to the GCPD, where Lucius gives Jim a rundown of the corpses' autopsy. He reveals that the victims were homeless despite Pyg wanting to target elites and that he surgically removed their organs for some reason, but they still fail to put two and two together about the obvious conclusion. Later, after a cut to the manhunt in progress, Harper tells him that Lucius called again to report residue on the victims' skin consistent with paper manufacturing, giving Jim the obligatory clue to check a nearby abandoned paper mill. He and Harper drive up to it, but despite having been surrounded by cops moments ago and Jim being the Captain of the GCPD, "backup is still incoming" and Jim decides they should just waltz in without waiting.

I mean... what. Both of the previous times Pyg was cornered in an abandoned building turned out to be traps, and it would have been effortless to just drive up with a line of cars behind you. If anyone at any point in this show's production had given an ounce of effort, I might be asking right now when they stopped trying. Oh fucking well.

Conveniently, though, this one's not a trap -- at least not in the way the prior two were. Jim and Harper find another dissected body and a recently used smoker oven, which is enough of a tip-off that Jim thankfully realizes Pyg is cooking the organs. As they wander back outside, though, they find a panel van pulled up with the doors open, and decide to walk sloooooooowly around either side while staring dead ahead at all times, giving Pyg ample time to waltz right up and take Harper hostage after stabbing her. He rambles for a bit about the feast not being done yet and the whole of Gotham witnessing his final act, and Jim -- being a character on a police procedural -- drops his gun even though Harper yells at him to risk the shot. Pyg and the newly damsel-ified Harper wheel away while Jim, rather than try to shoot out the tires or call in the attack or do anything, assumes his natural position: staring forlornly into the middle distance.

Penguin meets with Martin and rambles to him about his suspicion that Sofia used Martin to get close to him, which Martin silently but feverishly denies, allowing Penguin to get him to spy on Sofia. Not much to say about this, other than that Martin is already more tolerable than every youth except Bruce by virtue of not having to speak.

Back to the scene of the crime, Jim and the officers find an entire paragraph seemingly painted in blood within the paper mill. It turns out the writers have the gall to have Pyg quote A Modest Proposal to hint at the plan to force the rich to eat the poor, which would be gut-bustingly hilarious if I didn't hate this show and everything it stands for. Jim luckily has an encyclopedic knowledge of Swift and knows there was specific reference to orphans being eaten, and decides that he now knows where he'll venture alone next. Lucius tries to talk some sense into him, but one quick Gordonism later, he's off to the races.

In a stunning, virtually unprecedented display for Gotham -- that is, having the isolated plotlines intersect naturally -- we find that Pyg is now in disguise as the chef at Sofia and Penguin's orphanage hotel, and that he's made a change to the menu for Sofia's big event: they'll now be serving delicious meat pies. I'm admittedly always a mark for tricking someone into eating a person, be it Scott Tenorman or Walder Frey or any number of mobsters, so we'll see if I can find a modicum of enjoyment here.

We cut to a somewhat overexposed scene in the forest, where Bruce and Alfred have stopped on their hike to the mountain. In an effort to cheer Bruce up, Alfred regales him with the story of how he and Bruce's father first met, which Bruce had only heard the basics of previously... and to my shock, it's actually a really interesting story that implies Alfred may have done something violent in a fit of PTSD and drunken rage, and leaves Thomas Wayne's lie to the police about Alfred saving his life from muggers seeming like an act of genuine kindness and mercy rather than just more hammering home about how great the Waynes were. It just makes me wander back to my thought process about how great this show could have potentially been had it taken a season to establish the Waynes as characters before blowing its load on Batman shit. Regardless, though, Bruce lies about forgetting the rocks in the car and manages to drive off just as Alfred catches on, leaving him behind to go party some more. Yay.

At the orphanage party, Sofia tells Penguin that the chef is acting weird and she might have to keep an eye on him, in what feels like her first intelligent and savvy act so far. As Penguin signals to Martin to keep an eye on her in turn, we cut to Jim sneaking into the building with his gun drawn. The episode's barely over halfway done, so I have no idea whether he'll get to stop Pyg's plot; I sincerely hope he's a little too late. Cut to Martin writing in a notebook when Sofia suddenly catches him, and then cut back again to Jim holding a confused waiter at gunpoint in the back room and interrogating him on the whereabouts of Sofia and the chef. Just as the waiter goes to get Sofia at Jim's command, Jim notices something on his jacket that makes him suspicious (I don't care enough to rewind and pause), causing the waiter to attack him just as Pyg sneaks up and knocks Jim out. Turns out the waiter is one of a pair of hired guns Pyg has enlisted, and he states that he and his partner's rates have just doubled. Who's his partner? Probably Martin, the evil little bastard.

Jim wakes up locked in a storeroom with a bound, gagged, and bleeding Harper, just in time for Sofia's announcement about the festivities and Penguin's abortive confrontation to be interrupted by the arrival of Pyg in full supervillain costume. He threatens to be amusing until he tells the guests to hurry to their seats, takes out a cleaver during a seconds-long pregnant pause, and goes "chop, chop." That's not funny, it's a childish and poorly timed pun. In the storeroom, Jim has managed to stop Harper's bleeding offscreen, and Harper tells him the idiots forgot to search her and she has a knife in her boot. Jim uses the knife to start picking at the door's hinges while... something... happens... below...

.....

Look. I get that Gotham isn't always meant to be taken seriously. Of course I get that. I've been recapping it for over half of its run by now, only an absolute nincompoop would be unable to parse that a lot of it is going for camp. That's why all of my picking at the logical inconsistencies mainly comes in the scenes that are presenting themselves seriously, while my criticisms in the more heightened scenes are broader and more based on my enjoyment. And as I've said quite a lot during my time reviewing this show, I like campy shit when it's done well (i.e. not the Ryan Murphy brand of camp), and there've been a few times when the show's gotten on my wavelength and I've actively laughed along with it.

"The Meat Pie Tango", Pyg's little song and dance in front of the terrified guests as he unveils the meat pies while Martin is inexplicably there providing backup music on a triangle, is not good. It's not amusing, it didn't make me chuckle or even smile, and it doesn't fit the scene or character at all. It's a shitty number with bad vocals, no rhythm, and not enough demented energy to sell the moment, and it goes on way too long for how bad it is. Jesus Christ above, I just stared blankly at my screen for the whole duration. I wanted to laugh, I swear to you. I love theatrical and bombastic villains most of the time. This is garbage and fuck it all.

*sigh*

Anyway, when it's done, Sofia tries to lash out at Pyg only to get her hand stabbed into the table for her trouble; Penguin tries to grab the blade and retaliate, but Pyg warns him off by promising that the next one will be buried in her eye. Luckily, once Pyg proceeds to explain his plan, it's satisfyingly twisted: he's handed out the photographs corresponding to the organs each guest will be forced to dine on, and when everyone tries to rebuff him, he takes Martin hostage at cleaverpoint and threatens to kill him if they don't eat up. The rich asshole sitting next to Penguin laughs and questions whether any of them would eat human flesh just to save the life of "some street urchin", causing Penguin to rip the blade out of Sofia's hand in a rage and give him the Sam Hess treatment (read: he stabs him straight in the dome). Pyg tells him that while he appreciates the sentiment, he and his license system are the reason Pyg chose this particular gathering to target, so he should sit down and eat if he wants to save the boy.

And... YES!!! Thank fuck, he actually does it! Penguin buries his hand in the pie and shoves a fistful of bloody meat in his mouth, nearly choking but managing to get it all down! At his screamed threats, the rest of the guests begin eating in tears as well! THE PEOPLE WERE EATEN AFTER ALL! No last minute saves from Jimbo, there are actual consequences! I'm so satisfied. This is still a shitty episode and a garbage show, but the fact that the meat pies actually went somewhere makes me genuinely happy.

(And if Penguin's weight gain to look more like the typical Penguin character is caused by the many health debilitations associated with cannibalism, that'll be exactly the kind of thing that makes me stick with this shit. But that's just me.)

Jim manages to break down the door and run down just in time to stop Sofia from having to eat, because of course Jim saves the girl, but at least flesh was consumed. After popping both of the goons and ensuring that Martin and the guests have fled the dining hall, Jim begins his battle with Pyg, who strips off his chef's uniform to reveal what looks like a bulletproof vest and starts throwing cleavers at him from across the table. A sort-of entertaining fight ensues atop the table, with Jim wielding a knife and a cutting board shield while Pyg attacks with dual-wielded blades, ending when Jim grabs the blade from the guy Penguin stabbed and buries it in Pyg's shoulder to incapacitate him. It's a fine finish, I guess.

Alas, we must shortly return to the sloppy "ambiguity" that plagues Sofia's plotline, as she confesses to Penguin that she did pay the mayor to promote Jim after all. The confrontation, which I don't care about enough to document, ends with Penguin forgiving Sofia for stupid reasons as long as she never betrays him again, and she tells him he can pick another person to be Captain since Jim is worth nothing to her.

Meanwhile, Jim walks a handcuffed Pyg to a police car outside and confronts some reporters who hounded him in an earlier scene I skipped writing about, and they thank him for his service rather than hound him with more questions. It's kind of sweet, but quickly ruined when Jim starts to walk away and sees Sofia leering ominously at him through a nearby window. Sigh.

Returning to the Safest Manor, we find Bruce in the middle of a raging house party with Tommy's friends when Alfred storms in and violently stops the music with a fireplace poker. After Tommy is intimidated into leaving with his friends, Alfred confronts Bruce and they have a bitter talk about Bruce's storm of emotions. I don't care enough to talk about most if it, but it ends with Bruce hissing that Alfred should stop being his father and act like his butler, starting by cleaning the place up. That's a genuinely wicked line and I can't wait to see it go nowhere in the future.

And then Jim and Sofia have a scene whezzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz I don't caaaaare

The final scene then brings us to Penguin and Martin sitting in a limo, as the former asks the latter if he found anything out in his spying. Martin reveals through his notepad that he saw Sofia kissing Jim (which triggers a repeat of part of the scene that was just seconds ago), which rattles Penguin to the core. The episode ends on Penguin bitterly promising to make her answer for what she's done, which I couldn't be less excited to see play out even though I dislike everything about how Sofia's character has been utilized up to this point. He's not going to kill her -- the Tumblr fanbase still needs to be able to root for Penguin, and the show couldn't even kill off Tabitha when her brother disemboweled her with a rusty sword and she went several hours in a moldering tomb without any medical treatment -- so what's the point, really?


All in all, a terrible episode sort-of redeemed by that scene, and even then mainly because it's one of my favorite tropes and it's refreshing to see anything play out on this show without Jim swooping in at the last second to stop it. Plus, the absence of Barbara goes a long way.

"Things That Go Boom" and "Queen Takes Knight" to come. After that, the future remains uncertain. 'Til next time.
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