As if the show weren’t already overstuffed with goofy villains, ‘Gotham’ pulled yet another colorful madman from the pages of ‘Batman’ comics this week. Sadly, that character’s introduction is the least interesting thing about the episode.
In the comics, Jervis Tetch, a.k.a. The Mad Hatter, is usually depicted as a lunatic with an ‘Alice in Wonderland’ fixation and keeps a mind control device hidden under his ridiculously oversized hat. The ‘Gotham’ version is introduced as a stage hypnotist showman working as the new act in Barbara Kean’s club. (‘Walking Dead’ fans will recognize actor Benedict Samuel as the psychotic Wolf who caused so much trouble last season.) Tetch makes a man from the audience balance on a chair and then whispers a secret phrase in his ear that will be useful later. Barbara thinks he’s great, but Tabitha is less impressed. Tetch tells Barbara that his powers of persuasion can make a person do pretty much anything he wants.
The audience participant is later awoken in the middle of the night by a telephone call. He hears the secret passphrase and immediately falls back under the hypnotic trance. He lets Tetch into his home. Tetch orders him to kill his own wife and then himself. The man unquestioningly obeys.
Meanwhile, after having a night of passion with reporter Valerie Vale, Jim finds that she isn’t so interested in becoming his girlfriend, per se. He heads to the police station to pick up his latest bounty check, and learns that his ex, Lee, has moved back to town and been rehired by the GCPD. Lee tells him that she’s moved on and has a new fiancé, who’s a doctor. Jim grits his teeth and says he’s happy for her.
Traditional versions of the Mad Hatter have him obsessed with a lost love named Alice. In this one, Alice is his said to be his sister. We meet her living in a slum. When her sleazy landlord tries to force himself on the girl, she accidentally gets some of her blood on him, which makes the man go crazy.
Tetch visits Jim, claiming that he knows his reputation as the city’s best bounty hunter. He wants to hire him to find his sister, whom he says was an Arkham patient experimented on by Hugo Strange. (That would explain the blood.) Because he offers to better the GCPD’s standing bounty for escaped Arkham inmates, Jim agrees.
Jim believes that Selina can help him find the girl. She agrees only on the condition that he help her find Ivy in return. Nothing comes of this.
On the hunt for Alice, Jim follow the trail to a bar she’d visited, which has been torched. He runs into some lowlifes there and gets into a scuffle. Jim wins the fight, but takes a blow to the head that sends him to the hospital for stitches. There, he meets Lee’s fiancé, Mario. This really isn’t Jim Gordon’s day.
Jim eventually finds Alice’s apartment. She’s keeping the landlord locked up in her bathroom. The man is ranting and raving like a loon. He busts out and rushes Jim. Alice has to shoot him. She explains that she has a blood infection, and now she needs to burn the landlord’s body to prevent it from spreading. She also says that she’s running from her brother and begs Jim not to tell him where she is.
In his next performance at the club, Tetch hypnotizes Barbara to fall in love with him. Tabitha isn’t amused. Jim approaches Tetch after the show on the roof of the club and tells him that Alice doesn’t want to see him. Tetch hypnotizes him and makes him stand on the edge of the building. Just as he’s about to make Jim step off the edge, Alice stops him. She shoots at her brother (never hitting him) and rescues Jim.
In a final reveal, we learn that Lee’s new fiancé is the son of former mob boss Falcone.
Penguin interrupts yet another speech by Mayor James (he’s making quite a habit of that this season) and insists that his re-appointment back to office following the Theo Galavan debacle is illegitimate. Penguin demands an emergency election and announces his own candidacy for the office.
After officially launching his campaign, Penguin meets with Mayor James in a public space – a bustling restaurant. James has bodyguards hidden among the wait staff who pull guns on Penguin, but it turns out that Penguin seeded the crowd with his own henchpeople who pull their own guns. They have a brief standoff, and Penguin leaves James with a hilarious “Make Gotham Safe Again” campaign button.
With his new pull as a politician, Penguin visits Arkham asylum and attempts to bribe the new administrator to release a patient. (I think we can guess which one.) Penguin promises the man a cushy political appointment when he wins the race. If the administrator refuses, Penguin will instead see to it that he’s stuck in Arkham forever. In short order, Ed Nygma is released on his own recognizance with an official Certificate of Sanity in hand. Penguin is waiting at the gate to give his friend a ride.
They Laugh Alike, They Walk Alike
Having revealed himself to Bruce Wayne last week, the lookalike clone (at this point, I think that’s what he is) introduces himself by the name 514A, or “Five” for short. He says that he has no memories before Fish Mooney freed him from the laboratory. Alfred is skeptical of the creepy boy, but Bruce offers to let him stay at the mansion.
While giving Bruce a boxing lesson, Alfred agrees to go a round with Five. The boy has unexpected skills and feels no pain when his nose is bloodied. This doesn’t endear him any more to Alfred.
Bruce hides Five when Selina comes to the mansion to ask for his help finding Ivy. He says he’s too busy to go with her right now, and Selina storms off pissily. Five spies on the conversation and practices imitating Bruce’s voice. Later, he cuts his own hair short and sneaks out of the mansion, stealing a car from the garage.
Five finds Selina on the streets. Pretending to be Bruce, he apologizes for blowing her off earlier and offers to help search for her friend.
Mad Hatter is a very traditional ‘Batman’ comic book villain, meaning that he’s a little too goofy to work in live action (outside of the campy 1960s TV show) without a serious image overhaul. ‘Gotham’ did wonders for Penguin, but doesn’t pull this one off. I find him uninteresting, and it disappoints me that he’s apparently going to be a major focus of the season.
I’m much more on board with Penguin running for mayor of Gotham. That can certainly go some fun places.
The Bruce Wayne clone could go either way. I feel like that storyline has potential, but hasn’t done much to excite me so far.