Ever wonder where supervillains get the weapons and supplies they use for their diabolical deeds? One of the highlights of this week’s episode of ‘Gotham’ answers that question in hilarious fashion.
First, we see just how quickly Theo Galavan has risen to power. He has the Penguin totally under his thumb, and refuses to release his mother even after Penguin begs and promises to continue doing his bidding. Even by villain standards, Galavan’s a world-class dick. After dismissing his “tool,” he opens a large trunk that Penguin fetched for him. Inside is Sid Bunderslaw, the corrupt Wayne Enterprises executive who gave Bruce Wayne a lecture last season. Galavan says that he wants to know all the company’s dirty secrets. Before they get started on that, however, he asks Tabitha to take something he needs from the man. Tabitha pulls a knife, and the scene ends with the sound of Bunderslaw screaming off camera.
Penguin’s poor fortunes continue when Jim and the Strike Force raid one of his money rooms and confiscate $2 million in cash. While everyone else is firing guns, one of Penguin’s henchmen tries to fight back with a rocket launcher. He doesn’t hit anything (or anyone) important, but this really pisses off Capt. Barnes (Michael Chiklis), who wants to know where he got such a dangerous weapon. Jim has a hunch about that.
As soon as he gets back to the police station, Jim and Lee get roped into a double-date with Ed Nygma and Miss Kringle. Jim dreads the prospect, but Lee actually looks forward to it. She invites them back to her place for fondue.
Galavan shows up at the police station in civic-minded do-gooder mode and butters Jim up with compliments. He wants Jim to endorse his campaign for mayor. Jim politely declines, stating that “Policemen and politics don’t mix.” However, he admits to Lee that he likes the man. Jim is kind of a sap sometimes.
While acting extremely paranoid about his belief that someone in his organization has betrayed him, Penguin receives a visit from Tabitha to deliver new instructions from Galavan. They order Penguin to burn down a series of buildings.
In order to complete this task, Penguin sends Butch to obtain the services of the Pike brothers, the best arsonists in the city. Unfortunately, the Pikes are Fish Mooney loyalists and aren’t particularly fond of Penguin (or of Butch, who shot Fish). They believe that Fish survived her fall and will return to Gotham one day. By the rules of comic book logic, they’re undoubtedly right about that.
The only way Butch can get near the Pikes is if Selina vouches for him. She used to be friends with their sister Bridgit, and they all know that Selina was loyal to Fish. Selina gets Butch in the door, and he makes his case that business is business, and he has good money to offer them. They agree to his terms.
Before the big night, one of the Pike brothers heads to “The Merc,” a hilarious parody of a big-box warehouse store that caters to a villain’s every need. While stocking up on arson supplies, the Pike boy eyes some dynamite and tries to shoplift it by shoving a few sticks down his pants. Sadly, his timing sucks. Just then, the Strike Force raids the store. The Pike boy tries to shoot his way out. While firing back, Jim and Barnes hit the dynamite and blow him to bits. Ouch!
That evening, Jim arrives home late for his date. At the very least, he should have a hell of a story to tell. He pulls Lee aside and asks how painful it’s been, but she tells him that Nygma has actually been “a strange sort of cool.” He and Kringle seem to be a happy couple. Schizophrenia agrees with him, apparently.
Down one brother, the Pikes are nonetheless determined to go through with their job. They just need someone small and wiry who can break into the buildings to start the fires. Their sister Bridgit, who’s basically the downtrodden Cinderella of the family, is forcibly recruited to do the job against her will.
At the first building, Bridgit not only has to set the blaze, she must break into a safe to steal the contents. The safe can only be opened by a retinal scanner. Fortunately, she has one of Bunderslaw’s eyes in her pocket, courtesy of Tabitha. Inside the safe is an antique knife. She grabs it and runs. Although her legs get burned on the way out, Bridgit find the job exciting. After completing a total of five fires in one night, she toils away sewing herself a fireproof costume, and won’t listen when Selina berates her for being a slave to her brothers. As it turns out, she likes being a villain.
Once he gets possession of the knife, Penguin is puzzled by the Wayne family crest on its hilt. Eager to learn what that’s about and why Galavan wants the knife so badly, he calls in an eccentric antiques expert named Edwige, who tells him the story (depicted in flashback) of the centuries-old blood feud between the Wayne and the Dumas families – the two most powerful founding families of Gotham. The Waynes eventually crushed the Dumas so badly that the latter was wiped out of the history books and the survivors all changed their last name… to Galavan.
So that’s Theo Galavan’s motivation for wanting to rule Gotham and restore his family to power. The knife is an artifact of one of the most heinous incidents in the feud, during which a Wayne chopped off a Dumas’ hand for an offense he didn’t actually commit. (This was part of a ‘Romeo & Juliet’ love affair gone terribly wrong.)
With this new knowledge, Penguin finally feels that he has some leverage over Galavan. To exploit it, he wants to send Butch undercover to work for Galavan. The only problem is that there’s no way Galavan would believe that Butch conveniently left Penguin to switch sides.
Ah, but Penguin has been a few steps ahead this whole time. His paranoid act earlier was all a ruse to trick Tabitha into believing that he would fire anyone, even Butch. To really sell the lie, however, he needs to do something drastic that Galavan will understand. He picks up the knife and chops off Butch’s hand!
Decked out in her new costume (which I’m told represents the DC Comics villain “Firefly”), Bridgit heads to her next arson job. Unfortunately, she gets cornered by the Strike Force and her brothers abandon her. Bridgit desperately tries to hold the cops off with her flamethrower. When one named Garrett tries to play hero and jump her, she accidentally sets him on fire. In the confusion, Bridgit gets away. Garrett later dies, and Capt. Barnes wants blood.
At episode’s end, Jim decides that he will endorse Galavan’s campaign after all. In exchange, when Galavan is elected, Jim wants the city to back him so he can fight crime the way he believes it needs to be fought. Galavan happily agrees. Jim does not realize that he’s just made a deal with the devil.
Finally, Galavan is visited by a man wearing monk’s robes. His name is Father Creel (Ron Rifkin) and he seems to be a man of power who Galavan bows to. Creel asks Galavan’s status in their plan to kill Bruce Wayne.
This is a pretty good episode that’s packed with a ton of narrative. I wouldn’t say that it’s the best of the season, but that’s only because the season has started off pretty strongly. I feel like the Pike and the Galavan storylines each merited an episode to themselves, rather than being crammed together in the same episode. Still, I like the way that Bridgit is essentially forced into supervillainy, as well as the way Jim continues to be compromised and corrupted without even realizing it. That’s all pretty complex stuff for a comic book show.