The writers of ‘Gotham’ are an impatient bunch and, I suspect, may have some attention deficit issues. Once again, the show speeds through storylines that would probably be better served playing out as longer arcs.
I suppose an argument can be made that this is preferable to some other series that drag out storylines long past their usefulness just to fill screen time. I also must acknowledge that I complained a lot last season when the show devoted three episodes to the serial killer known as The Ogre. Still, when Jim Gordon was sent to prison just last week, I predicted that he’d be exonerated and back at his job before the end of the season. As it turns out, I barely had to wait a single episode for that to happen.
We start with Bruce and Selina running away from a criminal thug across a building rooftop, carrying a bag of stolen cash. They escape with a daring leap to another building that will probably give Bruce the confidence to try more acrobatic stunts like that in the future. Once safely separated from their pursuer, Bruce dumps the cash down to the street below. When Selina protests, he tells her that he’s not a thief. He only stole the money with her for “research.”
News of Jim Gordon’s escape from prison is all over the news and Capt. Barnes is furious. He accuses Harvey of aiding Jim, to which Harvey pleads ignorance. “You’re not smart enough to play dumb,” Barnes tells him. Nevertheless, he doesn’t have any proof of Harvey’s complicity yet.
Of course, Harvey is working with Jim to find out who framed him. As a first step, he seduces a matronly woman from Internal Affairs and steals her office keys, then keeps her distracted while Jim breaks into the records room and grabs the telephone recording of the anonymous tipster. As he’s leaving the building, Jim can’t fight his do-gooder instincts and intervenes on a mugging in progress. This leads to him being chased by a street cop, who reports his presence in the city. Shortly afterwards, Capt. Barnes announces a reward for anyone who can provide information leading to Jim’s arrest.
Jim and Harvey listen to the recording of the tipster. The voice is electronically disguised, but Jim picks up on a muffled noise in the background that sort of sounds like a bird. Demonstrating how clueless he is, he brings the tape to Ed Nygma’s apartment and asks Ed for help cleaning up the recording. He thinks that former commissioner Loeb framed him, but notices that Ed is acting kind of squirrelly. Eventually, Jim pieces together on his own that the sound on the recording is the cuckoo clock in Ed’s apartment. He immediately pulls his gun and accuses Ed of framing him. He also pieces together that Ed must have murdered Kristen Kringle. Sadly, Jim isn’t aware that Ed rigged up the chair he’s sitting in to an electrical current. (For what reason would Ed conveniently have this ready?)
Ed zaps Jim unconscious and drags him out to throw him in the trunk of his car, but Jim comes to and runs away. Ed gets off a shot with Jim’s gun and hits him in the leg. After a minute or two of cat-and-mouse stalking, Jim slips away and stumbles right into the hovel where Selina and Bruce have been squatting. Upon seeing them, he promptly passes out. Bruce, who previously demonstrated that he’s handy with a needle and thread, stitches up Jim’s wound and calls Alfred for help. They bring him back to Wayne Manor to recuperate.
Jim wakes up and declares that he needs to find Kringle’s body to prove that Ed is a murderer. To do that, he’ll need Selina’s help. The girl walks into police headquarters and announces that she’s come to collect the reward on Jim Gordon. Although she doesn’t actually tell Capt. Barnes anything particularly useful about his current whereabouts, Selina drops a big hint (when Ed is within earshot) that Jim already knows the location of a buried body. This is obviously a trap to lure Ed out, and paranoid Ed falls for it.
Ed hikes out to the woods to dig up and move Kringle’s body. Jim follows him there and confronts him. He gets Ed talking and tricks him into admitting that he murdered Kringle and Officer Pinkney, and framed Jim for the latter. Just then, Capt. Barnes and a squad of cops step out of hiding and arrest Ed. “Oh crud,” he declares.
Back at the station, Barnes apologizes to Jim and offers him his old job back, but Jim says that he’s not ready to return to work yet. He needs to take some time to close the book on the murder of Bruce Wayne’s parents first. Whether he accomplishes that or not, I fully expect that he’ll be back at his desk by next week.
Speaking of Bruce, Alfred convinces him to bring his experiment with living on the streets to an end and return home. Selina is fairly pissed at the way Bruce breaks this to her. He thinks he’s somehow protecting her, as if she needs protection. To keep his mind off those relationship woes, Alfred also reveals to Bruce that Lucius Fox got his father’s old computer working again.
At Arkham Asylum, Barbara attends a group therapy session and expresses contrition for all the bad things she’s done. She seems to be quite sane again. Prof. Strange isn’t sure whether she’s being genuine or faking, but he’s fascinated by her either way.
Much as he did for Penguin, Prof. Strange declares Barbara “cured” and releases her from Arkham. His henchwoman Ms. Peabody questions what his plans for her are. All Strange can do is describe her as a “beautiful experiment.”
At the end of the episode, Barbara shows up at Jim’s doorstep. He’s rather surprised to see her. Did he even know she’d come out of her coma?
Penguin attends his father’s funeral and cries like a baby. His stepmother, Grace, is less moved by the occasion. Before the casket can even go in the ground, she announces that Oswald will have to move out of the house posthaste. Penguin begs to be allowed to stay with the family. Sensing an opportunity, Grace agrees on the condition that he work as the family’s servant… for free. This will allow her to fire the rest of the paid staff. Penguin thanks her for her kindness.
Unsurprisingly, Grace proves to be an evil demanding bitch, and her kids torment Penguin. He takes the abuse without complaint, until he opens a drawer and discovers the wine decanter that his father drank from. Suspicious of why it was hidden away, he pours a little in a dish for the family dog, which promptly keels over dead from the poison. Almost instantly, something snaps in Penguin’s mind.
That night, Penguin serves Grace dinner. She calls her children to the table but they don’t respond. As usual, she complains about Penguin’s cooking, specifically that the meat isn’t tender enough. To this, Penguin gleefully reveals that she’s been chomping down on her own children! He then pulls a knife and stabs his wicked stepmother to death.
The last we see of him, Penguin is fully back to his old self, kicking back in the mansion next to Grace’s bloody corpse propped up at the dinner table.
I think it was a mistake to expedite Jim’s storyline like this, primarily because it means that Ed Nygma’s secret is out many years before Bruce Wayne ever takes up the mantle of Batman. Will all of his future villains be outed before Bruce even hits adulthood?
I’m also disappointed that the storyline about Bruce’s life on the streets is already over and didn’t amount to much of anything. What was the point of that?
On the other hand, for as much as I’ve complained in this recap about the show moving too quickly, I think that Penguin’s storyline meandered for too long and probably should have been wrapped up in a single episode. Still, I’m relieved to see him restored to fine villainous form.