‘Gotham’ 1.21 Recap: “I Saw the Real You”

As much as I enjoy ‘Gotham’, I think that 22 episodes is a bit much for the first season. This show would have been better served with a shorter 12-episode season to reduce some of the bloat and filler. Did the Ogre storyline, for example, really need to be dragged out to three episodes?

The season’s penultimate episode, called ‘The Anvil or the Hammer’, finally wraps up that mini-arc. Although I don’t think there was ever really anything wrong with it, I just feel that it could have easily been resolved in a one-and-done episode. With that said, some of the other storylines in the episode are more compelling.

They’re Coming to Get You, Barbara

Based on the ending of last week’s episode, I thought for a minute that Barbara might turn out to be a stronger character than originally expected. Indeed, this one starts the morning after what was apparently a marathon sex session with the hunky Jason (Milo Ventimiglia), and she isn’t bothered at all by his S&M fetish. Sadly, as soon as he reveals that he’s the serial killer known as The Ogre and that he believes she’s the perfect woman and apprentice he’s been waiting for, Barbara disappointingly turns into a stereotypical weak-willed, cowering victim.

That’s not to say that I want Barbara to become a serial killer as well, but she definitely could play the situation a lot smarter if she had a little backbone and a little cunning. If she’d just pretend to play along with the Ogre’s insanity for a while, she could lower his guard until she found a chance to escape. Instead, no, she spends the whole episode crying and begging for her life.

Oh well, I suppose the show still has Fish Mooney (and to some extent, Selina Kyle) to provide a stronger female presence.

As soon as Jim realizes that Barbara is missing, he feels responsible and becomes obsessed with finding her, even to the point of pushing away his new girlfriend Lee. He traces the Ogre to a secretive, high-end brothel called “The Foxglove,” and badgers Penguin into obtaining him an invitation. Penguin insists that Jim owes him a very big favor now. In a very funny scene, Harvey puts on a fancy suit and goes undercover at the brothel, but is so appalled by the perversions and depravity on display (including what may be a bestiality show, though it remains off-camera) that he immediately pulls his badge and calls in backup to raid the place.

Back at the Ogre’s penthouse, Jason tells Barbara that he loves her but demands that he tell her who to kill next. If she doesn’t, he’ll kill her.

Jim and Harvey use clues obtained from the brothel to find the Ogre’s apartment. Unfortunately, the place is cleared out by the time they get there. However, the phone rings, and it’s the Ogre on the line calling to taunt Jim for being too late. Jim hears sounds in the background which indicate that the Ogre is in a car traveling over a specific bridge that leads upstate. From that, he has a hunch where they’re going.

We met Barbara’s parents in a previous episode, and learned that they’re cold, unloving people. Obviously, Barbara named them as the Ogre’s next victims. Jim and Harvey race to the house, but get there too late. The parents are already dead. Suddenly, Barbara walks into the room. In a shell-shocked daze, she’s confused as to why Jim would be there.

The Ogre gets the jump on Harvey and pushes him down some stairs, then fights with Jim for a bit and grabs Barbara with a knife to her neck. He threatens to kill her unless Jim lets them go. Barbara, apparently under his spell, also asks Jim to leave them alone. Harvey recovers and distracts the Ogre enough for Jim to shoot him in the head. Barbara is safe, but totally in shock.

I’m unsure what will happen to Barbara next. I kind of like the idea that this trauma will lead her to become a villain, but that would be a big breach of ‘Batman’ canon. I fear that her victimization will simply leave Jim feeling sorry and protective of her, which will eventually cause him to dump Lee and get back together with Barbara. That would be disappointing.

Sly Like a Fox

Alfred is called to identify Reggie’s body. He doesn’t believe the death was either suicide or an accident, but doesn’t have cause yet to suspect that Bruce was involved.

Selina sends Bruce the key she copied. He arranges a tour of the Wayne Enterprises offices, then pulls the fire alarm and sneaks into Buderslaw’s office. He finds a hidden safe and opens it with the key, but it’s empty.

Bunderslaw catches Bruce in the act. He’s not at all upset. In fact, he knew that the key had been stolen and was waiting for Bruce. He offers the boy a cookie, then gives him “The Talk,” in which he reveals that Bruce’s father and grandfather were both fully aware and complicit in the crimes the company has committed. Bruce refuses to believe. Bunderslaw asks junior executive Lucius Fox to escort Bruce to the elevator.

On the way out, Fox surreptitiously tells Bruce that he knew his father to be a good man and a “true stoic” who understood the need to keep his real motives secret.

When he returns home, Bruce decides that he can’t keep everything a secret. He spills the beans to Alfred about everything that’s been going on – about his investigation, and Selina killing Reggie, and what Bunderslaw said.

Riddle Me This

Ed Nygma hauls a couple of big suitcases to the police morgue. Of course, they’re filled with bully cop Tom’s dismembered body parts. Muttering “No body, no crime,” he uses chemicals to strip the flesh from the bones and then smashes the skull.

So as to divert Miss Kringle’s suspicions, he pens a breakup letter to her, allegedly from Tom. Naturally, Nygma can’t resist the opportunity to drop a hidden clue as to the letter’s true authorship. The first letter of each line spell out his name.

Two in the Bush

Per Penguin’s plan, Butch plants a couple of guns in the Italian restaurant. Penguin has obviously seen ‘The Godfather’.

Penguin is giddy with excitement that, “The day is finally here.” When Butch asks how he knows that Maroni will go to the restaurant that day, Penguin informs him that Maroni’s favorite hitman Tommy Bones is being released from prison, and it’s a tradition they celebrate at the restaurant. Penguin instructs his own hitman Connor to deliver a message before killing Maroni. Connor finds that a tad melodramatic, but is willing to comply.

Connor and his partner arrive at the restaurant bearing a bottle of expensive liquor, supposedly a gift and peace gesture from Don Falcone. Maroni has his goons pat them down to make sure they’re not armed. The assassins work their way into the room and find the hidden guns, then deliver the message that Don Falcone sends his regards. They attempt to fire, but both guns jam. Maroni and his men blow them away.

When Butch delivers the bad news, Penguin is very pleased that all has gone according to plan. He removed the firing pins from the guns. The real goal was never to murder Maroni, but to start an all-out Mob war between Maroni and Falcone. Sure enough, Maroni tears through the city, gunning down Falcone’s men wherever he finds them. Penguin cackles in delight.

The best part of this episode is Penguin’s storyline, but even that feels a little perfunctory. Hasn’t Penguin already played the two Dons against each other enough previously? I suppose it’s also nice to see an important character like Lucius Fox introduced, even if he doesn’t have much to do here.

Next week is the season finale, which promises the return of Fish Mooney.

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