Perhaps in response to complaints about the villain-of-the-week nature of its early episodes, ‘Gotham’ later started giving its guest villains slightly longer arcs. Three episodes for The Ogre at the end of last season dragged that storyline out too far, but two episodes for the arsonist known as Firefly strike a better balance.
In hunting for this criminal who killed one of his officers, Jim gets really abusive with a suspect. When the other kids on the Strike Force tell him that they’re going to report him to the captain, he says he doesn’t care. At this point, he knows how things actually work in Gotham, as opposed to some bullshit idealized notion of how they should work. Captain Barnes won’t put up with that sort of behavior, however. He gives Jim a demerit in his file. That seems pretty ineffective, to be honest.
Meanwhile, Bridgit Pike is crashing with Selina. She’s worried about the cops closing in and needs money to get out of town. Selina has a plan for that. She takes Bridgit to an underground white slavery auction. No, not to sell her. Using a gun Selina steals and Bridgit’s flamethrower, the two of them hold up the place and rob all the scumbag slave traders. Bridgit feels uneasy about leaving the imprisoned girls behind but does so.
As Bridgit prepares to leave town on a bus, she gets grabbed by her brothers in a van. Selina sees this happen but is powerless to stop it. She returns to her hovel and loads up with a bunch of guns in order to go rescue her friend. However, she’s interrupted by Jim, who recognized her on security camera footage and came to question her. They have a brief standoff at gunpoint. Selina tells Jim that Bridgit’s abusive brothers forced her into a life of crime. Jim promises that if Selina stands down and lets him take care of it, he will keep Bridgit safe and see to it that she’s treated fairly by the law. Selina reluctantly agrees.
At the Pikes’ place, her idiot brothers torment Bridgit and make her swear loyalty to them. Once she does, they order her to go make them lunch and stupidly turn their backs to her. Bridgit immediately goes to the next room, puts on her fire suit and flamethrower, and roasts her brothers alive. By the time Jim and Harvey get there, all they find is a pair of crispy corpses. Well, one of them turns out to be not quite dead yet, but he is shortly afterwards when he startles the cops and Harvey kicks the crap out of him.
Selina finds Bridgit at a building-top pigeon coop where they used to hang out as kids. Bridgit has clearly snapped. She says that she’s finally free and believes herself to be an avenging vigilante.
The next we see Bridgit, she’s returned to the slave trading ring to set the slave girls free and flame-broil their captors. On the way out afterwards, she’s surrounded by cops. Jim tries to talk her down, but she won’t listen. She torches a police cruiser, causing it to explode. A random gunshot clips a hose on her fuel tank, but she stupidly keeps using the flamethrower. Some flames ignite her fuel supply, and Bridgit is quickly engulfed in fire, screaming as the cops stand helplessly by. (You’d think they might have brought some fire extinguishers if they knew they were facing a girl who likes to set people aflame.)
After a long day, Jim returns home to find Selina holding his girlfriend Lee at gunpoint. Lee remains calm and doesn’t seem too concerned about the girl actually shooting her. (After facing off against crazy Barbara, I suppose nothing will faze her.) Selina wants to know if Jim honored his word about keeping Bridgit safe. Jim tells her that she died, and suggests that it was suicide-by-cop. Selina is furious. Jim asks her who hired the Pikes to burn down a bunch of Wayne Enterprises buildings. Selina doesn’t want to tell him, but accidentally lets slip that it was the Penguin.
In an epilogue scene at the end of the episode, we discover that Bridgit in fact isn’t quite dead. She’s wheeled into a scary underground hospital where all sorts of bad things appear to be happening. One of the chatty orderlies tells another that the girl’s suit has fused with her body and she may be fireproof. A sign on the wall reveals this to be a facility called Indian Hills, a division of Wayne Enterprises.
Penguin & Galavan
Now missing one hand, Butch tells Galavan that Penguin went crazy and turned on him. He begs for a job. Galavan seems skeptical, but ultimately leaves the decision to Tabitha and Barbara, who are both excited for the possibilities of what crazy things they could attach to Butch’s stump. A big knife, perhaps? Or an axe? Ooh, a chainsaw! Galavan welcomes Butch to the organization.
Behind them is a congressman struggling to stand on his tiptoes as he dangles from a noose. Galavan asks for his support in the next election, and the congressman heartily agrees.
Later, Butch reports back to Penguin. He now has a ridiculous mallet attached to his wrist. Penguin demands that he work faster to find his mother, no matter what it takes.
Galavan catches Butch snooping through his office. He’s no dummy. He’s known all along that Butch is still working for Penguin, and figures out pretty quickly that he’s been brainwashed. He leaves Butch with Tabitha to break his conditioning. Butch tries to fight her with his mallet, but she chokes him with her whip.
Galavan invites Bruce Wayne to dinner with himself and his niece Silver, with whom Bruce is clearly infatuated. Tabitha arrives a little late, with a touch of blood on her cheek. Galavan tells Bruce that he’s heard that the Wayne Enterprises executive named Bunderslaw is missing. (Of course, Galavan has kidnapped him, but Bruce doesn’t know that yet.) Galavan offers to help clean up Wayne Enterprises if he gets elected mayor. Bruce is grateful for his help.
Butch returns back to Penguin again. His face is covered in blood. He says that he escaped Tabitha, and that he also knows where Penguin’s mother is being held. Penguin is ecstatic and gathers the troops to go rescue her. This looks like an obvious trap, but Penguin isn’t thinking straight.
Ed and Kristen’s relationship is going swimmingly. She’s really into him. At work, Ed overhears Kristen chatting with Lee. Although she says that she’s totally over her abusive ex Tom, she still kind of has a thing for dangerous men and sometimes Ed is just too nice.
Kristen and Ed have sex on their next date. (I guess this was their first time.) Afterwards, she frets about what Tom will do if he comes back and finds them together. Ed says that he’s already taken care of that. Kristen questions what he means. Proudly, he tells her that he killed Tom. That should be dangerous enough to turn her on, right? Kristen thinks he’s joking and doesn’t believe him, so Ed produces Tom’s badge.
Kristen is horrified and freaks out. She calls Ed a sicko and a stalker, and says that she’s going to turn him in. Ed panics and grabs her by the throat to quiet her down. He tells her that he loves her and would do anything to protect her, but doesn’t realize that he has just strangled her to death. Kristen dies in his arms.
I guess there’s no chance of redemption for Ed Nygma now, not that we ever expected it.
Some of the plotting in this episode feels a little too schematic, especially the way the pieces of Riddler’s origin story fall neatly into place. Ed’s relationship with Kristen only just started, and I might have liked to see it play out a little longer as he struggled with his dark side.
I’m more interested in Galavan’s rise to power, and that’s playing out well so far. I also like the slow simmer of Bruce’s storyline. Too much of that and this would have to turn into the Batman show too quickly. On the other hand, it’s frustrating to watch Bruce miss the obvious clues right in front of his face. Still, he is a child.
I assume that Bridgit/Firefly will be back at some point, stronger than ever. Whether it be mostly practical or CGI, the episode has some very impressive pyrotechnic work. This is still just about the best looking show on television at the moment, and the fire effects are beautifully staged and/or rendered.