As soon as the show introduced the concept of resurrection from the dead, it was an inevitability that Jada Pinkett Smith would return to ‘Gotham’ as arch villainess Fish Mooney. (Please don’t moan about spoilers. This was teased earlier in the season and all the promos for this week’s episode already confirmed it.) Given fans’ divisive feelings toward both the actress and the character, this will be undoubtedly be greeted with a mixed reaction.
No shock at all, Selina Kyle has avoided being roasted to a charred crisp by dodging her brainwashed friend Bridgit’s flamethrower blast. As Bridgit chases her around the room (which is conveniently laid out like an obstacle course), she babbles a lot of nonsense about being the “Goddess of Fire.” Selina eventually sneaks up behind and knocks her out.
Bruce Wayne waits for Selina to return to their designated rendezvous spot at the pigeon coop. He thinks he sees her coming, but it turns out to be Ivy, who’s come to feed the birds. Bruce worries that something bad must have happened to Selina.
Acting as police captain because nobody else wants to do it, Harvey gives an awkward press conference about the death of the villain Azrael. When asked to confirm whether Azrael was former mayor Theo Galavan, all Harvey will say is that there isn’t enough left of the corpse to make an identification.
Jim is eager to storm back into Arkham Asylum again, but Harvey insists that his hands are tied. They will need a new warrant to go back in, and they don’t have grounds for one without any evidence that Prof. Strange is connected to Azrael. Their conversation is interrupted when Bruce arrives at the station to ask Jim for help with Selina.
This episode reveals that Strange isn’t working on his own. He reports to a mysterious “court,” the unseen members of which are concerned that he has gone rogue with his experiments and is losing control of them. Indeed, Strange cackles like a classic mad scientist as he resurrects one dead lunatic and nutjob after another, and delights in programming them all with kooky new personas (such as Bridgit’s Goddess of Fire story). For his latest test subject, he fused a man’s genes with octopod DNA, which results in his face being disturbingly stretchy. (Comic fans will immediately ID him as the villain Clayface.)
Strange isn’t at all bothered by the fact that none of the returnees have any memories of their old lives. In fact, he prefers it. However, his employers expect him to resurrect someone fully intact. He pulls Fish Mooney (a.k.a. “Subject 13”) out of storage, merges her body with cuttlefish DNA, and pumps some extra electricity into her during the resurrection process.
After his failed escape attempt, Ed Nygma is locked up in a cell with a deranged cannibal. He begs to be let out of the room, saying that he can be of assistance in stopping Jim Gordon. Strange decides that he doesn’t have much to lose and will let him have a go at it.
Mooney’s resurrection works. When Strange starts to feed her a story about her identity, she stops him cold: “My name is Fish Mooney, bitch!” She has all of her memories and personality. Strange is ecstatic. His employers will be very pleased.
Bruce Wayne arrives at Arkham. As an investor in the asylum, he requests a tour of the facility. Prof. Strange personally greets him. Bruce asks to speak with him privately while his assistant (Lucius Fox) is led around the building by Miss Peabody to perform an inspection. Lucius uses this excuse to search for a radiation signature from the secret lab using a mini Geiger counter he’s developed. Meanwhile, Jim Gordon, who had hidden in the trunk of Bruce’s car, sneaks into the building posing as a guard. (Good thing he kept his old uniform.)
While Bruce attempts to keep him distracted, Prof. Strange gets under the boy’s skin by talking about how misguided his father, Thomas Wayne, was. Strange isn’t fooled by Bruce’s story and knows exactly what he’s up to. He orders guards to grab Bruce, Lucius, and Jim Gordon.
Selina tries to use Bridgit’s flamethrower to burn down the door to her cell, but doesn’t have much luck at it. Bridgit wakes up and grabs a second flamethrower. The two girls have a standoff. Feeling that she has no other option, Selina torches her friend. However, the fire doesn’t hurt Bridgit at all. She’s impervious to it now, and continues to rant about being the Goddess of Fire. Selina then bows to her and offers to be her servant, insisting that all goddesses need servants. Bridgit thinks that’s not a bad idea.
Locked up in a cell, Fish Mooney touches the orderly who brings her a meal and somehow exerts control over his mind. She doesn’t understand how that happened but is excited by the possibilities.
Strange receives a call from a masked woman who is very upset at him about recent activities, until he informs her that he has successfully brought back a whole person, memories and all. He isn’t sure whether it was the cuttlefish DNA or the extra electricity that did it, but he’s confident that he’ll be able to reproduce the results soon enough. The woman orders him to move his entire operation as soon as possible and blow up the Indian Hill lab. Strange is very displeased by this news.
When Bruce and Jim don’t return on time, Alfred convinces Harvey to storm Arkham with a SWAT team.
Strange puts a weird device that looks like a pressure-cooker over Jim’s head. In another room, Ed Nygma toys with Bruce and Lucius and threatens to flood their cell with poison gas unless they tell him exactly who else at GCPD knows where they are.
After a minute, Strange removes the helmet from Jim and puts it onto Basil, the stretchy-faced man from earlier. Jim is terribly confused about what’s happening. The helmet makes clanging noises and steam shoots out of it. When it’s done, Strange reveals that Basil now has Jim’s face. The helmet was obviously a mold. Strange cackles with glee at his genius.
Oh dear, with so many cliffhangers left dangling, how will our heroes get themselves out of all these predicaments? Tune in next week, same Bat-Time, same Bat-Channel!
Personally, I always enjoyed Fish Mooney and have no problem with her returning to the show now. I imagine that her detractors will disagree.
On the other hand, I feel that Mooney alone would be enough camp value for one episode. Instead, this entry is a bit overburdened with goofiness. ‘Gotham’ has always struck a weird balance between the grittiness and grounding of the Christopher Nolan ‘Dark Knight’ movies with the cartoonish campiness of the 1960s ‘Batman’ TV series. Some episodes lean more heavily in one direction or the other, and this one falls just a bit too far into over-the-top absurdity.