As I mentioned last week, the Season 3 premiere of ‘Gotham’ left me questioning whether I even want to watch the show anymore. Fortunately, the second episode is an improvement.
The Owls Are Not What They Seem
We start with Bruce Wayne, who’d just been kidnapped from his mansion. He’s brought to a secret location where he meets the masked woman in charge of the Court of Owls. She removes her mask and introduces herself only as Kathryn (Leslie Hendrix from ‘Law & Order’). Bruce recognizes her from Wayne Enterprises functions. She points out that he asked for a meeting with the group pulling strings at his company, and now he has one. What does he want to talk about?
Bruce admits that he bluffed about having evidence of the group’s existence, but wants to make a deal. He’ll hand over full control of Wayne Enterprises in exchange for the safety of himself and people he cares about. (This seems out of character, so I suspect that he has ulterior motives.) Kathryn tells him that’s not enough. He’ll also have to cease his investigations into their group and into his parents’ murder. Bruce grudgingly agrees.
He’s later returned home and tells Alfred what happened. Alfred asks what he’ll do with all his free time now, and jokingly proposes dancing lessons. Their conversation is interrupted by an intruder in the mansion. (This place gets invaded every week. Rich kid Bruce seriously needs to invest in some locks and bars on the windows.) The trespasser this time is Bruce’s stringy-haired twin/clone, who steps out of the shadows and says, “Please don’t hurt me.”
I Do Plants
Having been briefly grabbed by the mutant guy with the power to rapidly age anyone he touches, Ivy washes up on shore near the outskirts of town and wanders into a construction site. She catches a glimpse of herself in a truck mirror and doesn’t recognize the older, much hotter face or body she sees. Fortunately, her clothes somehow still fit. A random guy spots her, notices that she’s soaking wet (and also that she’s hot), and offers to bring her to his house for a sandwich and a change of clothes. Ivy is either naïve or (best case scenario) simply confused by her current situation and agrees.
This storyline could very easily be played with the rando as a lecherous creep, or perhaps worse. Maybe he is, but everything he says to her is pretty innocent and he never gets to make a move. Ivy doesn’t like the way he treats his houseplants, so she kills him for that alone.
Catch and Release
Despite the fact that he double-crossed her last week, Valerie Vale continues to hound Jim. She offers to help him collect the bounty on Fish Mooney. All she wants in return is a good story for the newspaper. When she mentions that her tipster was Selina Kyle, Jim brings her to Barbara’s club in search of the girl. Valerie recognizes Barbara as the crazy loon who was imprisoned in Arkham Asylum last season, and is a little taken aback to learn that she’s Jim’s ex. Barbara claims to know where Fish Mooney is, but will only tell Jim in exchange for a kiss. He refuses and starts to walk away when she decides to tell him anyway. She says that Fish is hiding in an old, abandoned bank.
Before Jim can go after Fish, Valerie double-crosses him like he did to her. She stiffs Jim and reports Barbara’s location to the GCPD. Harvey leads a SWAT team in a raid on the building. They have a big fight and shootout with the mutant freaks. A number of cops are taken out, but so are some of the mutants. Fish slips away in the chaos.
After last week’s showboating at the mayor’s press conference, Penguin is something of a media darling. He grandstands for the press again about how evil Fish and her monsters are, and how incompetent the police are. He raises a rallying cry to the people of Gotham to become vigilantes and kill any monsters they see.
Right outside the police station, Harvey is abducted by a couple of Fish’s freaks. He drops his badge in the street as a signal to other cops. The freaks load him into a van with Fish in the back. She wants to know where Hugo Strange is being imprisoned. Harvey won’t tell her, until she kisses him and puts him under her spell.
Jim finds Harvey’s badge and tells Capt. Barnes that Fish has Harvey. With Lucius’ help, they put together that Fish’s endgame is to find Strange. Fortunately, Barnes knows that the feds are holding Strange at a mansion that secretly houses a government research facility. Before Jim races off, Barnes insists on coming with him.
Fish and crew break into the mansion (which isn’t particularly well guarded) and find Strange locked in a glass cell, working on some scientific something-or-other. Fish demands, “You’re going to fix me, Daddy.” He claims that he can’t, but she doesn’t believe him.
Police surround the building. Fish uses Harvey as a hostage and threatens to harm him, leading to a standoff. Valerie and other press also arrive, which tips off Penguin as to what’s going on. To really inflame the situation, he shows up leading a lynch mob, demanding Fish Mooney’s head.
Somehow in all this, none of the cops ever thought to secure the back of the building or even check it for a back door. Jim sneaks around and slips inside, only to get promptly captured by Fish’s henchmen. He offers Fish a deal. He’ll help her escape in exchange for releasing Harvey. Fish insists that she be allowed to keep Strange. Jim is OK with that.
Apparently, Jim’s big plan to help Fish escape is to tell her to go out the back door. After doing so, he calls Penguin and gives him a heads-up where he can find Fish. Penguin rallies the crowd to plow through the police and storm the building. Angry villagers have a big battle with the freaks while Penguin slips away.
Fish drags Strange through the woods and runs directly into Penguin. He demands to know why she didn’t kill him when she had him under her sway in last season’s finale. Fish responds by taking credit for making Penguin who he is. She’s a proud momma and could never harm her baby. Touched, Penguin lets her go, telling her, “Goodbye, Fish. Don’t come back.” I’m sure that a lot of Fish Mooney haters in the audience hope she heeds that advice.
The mob kills the remaining freaks and tosses their bodies on a big bonfire. Despite Fish getting away, Penguin is hailed as a hero.
The next day, Jim and Valerie get the hots for each other and make out. Aww, shoot, this coincides with Lee, the love of Jim’s life and mother of his child, returning to town on an old-timey railroad train that looks like it just arrived from Hogwart’s.
This episode still has a little too much going on, but it feels better focused than the season premiere and makes time for a couple of interesting character notes. I like the idea of Penguin as a bloviating political figure and hero of the people. (Didn’t he become mayor of Gotham at some point in the comics? That would be a fun storyline for the show.)
Some of the plotting in the episode is a little dodgy. The deal Bruce makes with the Court of Owls doesn’t make much sense unless he has a secret plan we haven’t been told yet. The stuff about the back door to the mansion is pretty dumb. The storyline with Ivy also feels shoehorned in and pointless, and she’s a lame character anyway.
Even so, this episode pulled together a lot better than the last one.