‘Gotham’ has a new mayor. Given how quickly storylines move on this show, how long do we think this state of affairs will last? My guess is that he’ll be ousted from office before the winter hiatus.
Yes, good old Oswald Cobblepot, a.k.a. The Penguin, won the election. He celebrates his victory with a parade and various photo ops, including a ribbon-cutting ceremony and a stop at a soup kitchen. For his first act in office, he commissions a statue of his dear, departed mother (which hilariously looks nothing at all like her) to be installed in front of City Hall. While publicly unveiling it, however, a group of armed thugs called the Red Hood Gang speed up in a van, shoot the statue with machine guns, and behead it with a sledgehammer right in front of the press. Penguin is both humiliated and furious.
Viewers may remember the Red Hood Gang from Season 1. Harvey believes that the latest incarnation are copycats. As he’s explaining this theory to Capt. Barnes, Ed Nygma returns to the police station to act as liaison between the mayor’s office and the GCPD. This enrages Barnes, who can’t believe he has to take orders from a cop killer now. Nygma relishes the opportunity to rub his change of fortunes in everyone’s face. Lee can’t stand his gloating and punches him in the jaw. She then informs Nygma that her future father-in-law is Carmine Falcone, who will gladly murder him if she asks. Barnes commends her for this.
Not content to let the police handle it, Penguin also orders his criminal lackeys, including Victor Zsasz, to find and kill all the Red Hoods. Shortly afterwards, Butch bursts into the Red Hoods’ hideout. But he’s not there to take them out. In fact, Butch is the leader of the Red Hoods and organized the statue vandalism.
Looking to ingratiate themselves with Penguin, Barabara and Tabitha torture a criminal known as the “Ballistic Bomber” who’s had dealings with the Red Hoods. He points them to the hideout, where they discover Butch in charge of the gang. Butch explains that he’s staging the whole thing to get back in Penguin’s good graces. When the time is right, he intends to play hero and kill all the Red Hoods himself, thereby proving his worth to his boss. Barbara and Tabitha are amused and decide to let him play out the scheme.
The more time that passes without retribution against the Red Hoods, Penguin really starts losing it. Using clues from the crime scene, Nygma (who used to be a forensic scientist, remember) determines that the gang is operating out of an old detergent factory. Penguin gathers his goons and marches down there. As soon as Butch sees him coming, he realizes that the ruse is up. However, he salvages the situation by gunning down all the Red Hoods before Penguin enters the building. When Penguin comes in, he assumes that Butch was a loyal servant who got there first.
With the Red Hoods eliminated, new mayor Cobblepot declares a major victory against crime and praises Butch to the press. Harvey is eager to close the case and has no interest in looking at it any closer, but Nygma is suspicious.
Penguin throws a party at Barbara’s club, The Sirens. Bruce Wayne and Alfred attend. Bruce laments having to endure the “fake smiles and mingling,” but Alfred insists that it’s important for him to put his face out there at social events. Selina is also at the party, picking pockets. She gets caught and grabbed by a now much older Ivy, and doesn’t recognize her friend. Ivy toys with her a little but decides not to reveal herself just yet. She’s dressed sluttily and hanging off the arm of an older man, which is all very gross considering that her character is supposed to be quite underage.
Bruce spots Selina in the crowd and pulls her aside to say hello. Following some advice Jim Gordon gave him, Bruce asks Selina to go to the roof with him for a private word so he can tell her how he really feels about her. Selina gets impatient when he hesitates and stammers, but Bruce finally blurts out that he likes her, as more than a friend. Selina acts like she’s going to blow him off, but then kisses him unexpectedly. This leaves Bruce very confused, which is exactly what Selina wanted.
Nygma deduces that Butch staged the Red Hood massacre and confronts him at the party. Rather than turn him in, he says that he wants to help kill Penguin. He doesn’t want to be #2. He wants to run the city himself, and Butch can be on his team. Despite everything he’s done, Butch is actually loyal to Penguin and never really wanted to harm him. He refuses Nygma’s offer, until Nygma coerces him by revealing that Victor Zsasz is holding Tabitha hostage in the kitchen. Nygma gives Butch a red hood and a gun, and tells him to walk out into the club and shoot his boss.
As Penguin takes the stage to give a speech, a hooded Butch interrupts, pulls the gun, and fires. Nothing happens. The gun is of course loaded with blanks. Nygma tricked him. Zsasz shoots Butch in the back and Nygma pulls off his hood, revealing his treachery. Penguin is horrified and screams that he’ll murder Butch, but then thinks better of it and announces to the crowd that, as a law-and-order politician, he will have his former comrade prosecuted to the full extent of the law.
Tabitha escapes the kitchen and causes a scene in the club. Butch, who wasn’t fatally wounded, throws himself on top of Nygma, throttling him with his meaty hands until Penguin bashes him over the head with a bottle. Ed survives, to Penguin’s great relief.
During his recovery, Nygma explains that he planned the whole scene in order to make Penguin look good in front of the public and press. He couldn’t tell him in advance because it would play better if his reaction to Butch’s betrayal was genuine. Penguin is overcome that his friend would do something like this for him. He gives Ed a weirdly homoerotic hug.
This storyline ends with Tabitha hijacking the ambulance that Butch is being transported in, presumably to spring him.
Jim is still dating Valerie Vale, but he initially refuses to help with a story she’s doing on Alice Tetch’s poisoned blood. However, he gets jealous when she has dinner with a hematologist who can get her some info on the blood. Jim interrupts the date and forces the guy out. (He was kind of a jerk anyway.) Jim tells Valerie that he’ll help her with the story after all.
I guess Jim is getting pretty serious about Valerie. In this episode, he also tells Lee that he knows her fiancé is Carmine Falcone’s son and is fine with it. He once again insists that he’s moved on and wishes her well.
Capt. Barnes, who had a drop of Alice Tetch’s blood hit him in the face, still hasn’t told anyone about it but has become very concerned. He keeps pressuring Lee to get him answers. So far, what she’s found isn’t good news. When she exposed some lab mice to the blood, one of them went homicidal and killed the others. Barnes questions why they didn’t all go crazy. At the end of the episode, he gets up from his desk and moves toward the door, only to suddenly realize that he’s walking without a cane now and feels strong.
Lest we thought this episode might go by without any sighting of Jervis Tetch, the Mad Hatter shows up at the very end, having kidnapped a woman and dressed her in the same costume he made his sister wear. He slits her throat and then leaves a note addressed to Jim Gordon.
With very little screen time for the Mad Hatter, I found this episode more consistently involving than the last one. It’s perhaps a little too reliant on plot twists and reversals, but with Riddler coming into his own as a supervillain, that’s actually pretty fitting.
Sadly, based on the preview, it appears that next week’s episode will be all about the Mad Hatter. That’s a storyline I wish the show would burn through quickly and move on to the next one.