The Riddler is back causing trouble, and the Penguin starts work assembling a new team of supervillains. We may also witness the birth of Catwoman. ‘Gotham’ is a pretty busy place this week.
After falsely claiming to have murdered his uncle, Jim is brought to a secret meeting with Kathryn, the woman running the Court of Owls. She’s impressed with him and claims that he will be critical in saving Gotham, but she still requires that he prove his loyalty to the Court before he’ll be allowed to join. What that test will be hasn’t been determined yet. She’ll let him know when she needs him.
Jim returns to the GCPD to fill Harvey in on what happened. Lee breaks the news to him that his uncle’s body was found dead in an apparent murder, unaware that he knows what really happened. She finds his reaction very suspicious. For the rest of the episode, Lee becomes determined to prove that Jim murdered his uncle.
After a brief absence, The Riddler resurfaces and robs three banks. Barbara pays him a visit to tell him what she learned about a mysterious group known as The Court that secretly runs Gotham. Barbara is rather pissed that she clawed her way up to the top of the crime world only to find somebody still above her. She wants to rule Gotham herself. Nygma, however, is delighted by this new mystery. He can’t wait to solve “the riddle that got away.”
Of course, he has to do this in the showiest and most impractical way possible. As his first step, he interrupts a stage performance of ‘Hamlet’ with most of the city’s hoity-toity cultural elite in attendance. He announces himself and declares that he will kidnap and torture one member of the audience, then ends his speech by murdering the actor on stage.
In the aftermath of this scene, Jim finds a box that Nygma left on the stage for him. Inside is a paper scroll with a riddle that suggests his intended target is Mayor James. Jim and Harvey race to the mayor’s office to take him into protective custody, but get there too late. The Riddler poisoned a danish he’s eating. (Get it? He sent the mayor a danish… because Hamlet is Danish.)
Jim and Harvey rush the mayor to the nearest hospital, aware that it’s probably a trap but having no other options. The Riddler’s voice comes over the intercom, taunting Jim. While Harvey stays behind to protect the mayor, Jim searches futilely for Nygma. At that very moment, a stream of burly bikers flood into the Emergency Room, the victims of a bomb that Nygma instructed Barbara to set off in a biker bar. It doesn’t take long for them to start brawling, as TV biker gangs are wont to do. Harvey gets distracted trying to break up a fight, which gives Nygma enough time to kidnap the mayor.
Certain that Barbara had something to do with this, Jim goes searching for her at the bar, but only finds Tabitha (who appears to have gotten enormous breast implants since her last appearance on the show) and Butch. Tabitha claims that she doesn’t know where Nygma is. She’s lying, of course. When Butch asks her why she’d protect Nygma, Tabitha explains that she may not trust him, but she does trust Barbara.
Nygma places an explosive-lined collar around Mayor James’ neck and questions him about the Court. He explains to Barbara that he plans to publicly expose the Court, because the one thing shadowy cabals hate the most is being brought into the spotlight of public attention.
Ed next goes on TV, flaunting that he has the mayor captive and talking about the Court that runs the city. Kathryn immediately calls Jim. His test of loyalty will be to shut Ed Nygma up and bring him to the Court. Jim debates whether he should do this, because he assumes that Kathryn plans to kill Ed. Eventually, Jim calls Ed live on TV, promising to tell him about the Court if he’ll come to the GCPD station. Ed agrees only on the condition that everyone else evacuate the building.
As Jim stands alone in the station, Mayor James enters, still wearing the bomb collar. Ed follows after a moment. Jim reveals that he’s jammed the frequency to the collar. The mayor runs away. Jim asks Ed to take a ride with him.
Ed agrees and they drive to a meeting place where Kathryn’s limo is waiting. She steps out of her car and offers Ed answers to all of his questions. All he has to do is come with her. Ed gets into the back of her car. Before leaving, Kathryn tells Jim that she’s very pleased with him.
As his reward, Jim is later brought before the rest of the Court of Owls and introduced as their newest member. He puts on an owl mask.
Getting the Gang Together
Following the advice of Ivy – whom it should be remembered is a 12-year-old girl somehow mutated into an adult body – Penguin sets off on a quest to recruit an army of freaks. The two of them begin by hiking through the arctic, where they find Victor Fries (a.k.a. Mr. Freeze) banished to living alone in a small dome hut. Victor isn’t exactly happy to see Penguin. In fact, he threatens to kill him. Penguin nonetheless asks him to join his cause. He promises that, once restored to power in Gotham, he’ll give Victor all the resources at his disposal to find a cure for his ailment. When Victor points out that he can’t survive in a warm climate without his special cold suit, which was last in the possession of a Wayne Enterprises lab, Penguin reveals that he already stole it and has brought it along. He asks, “Will you join us?”
Penguin’s next stop is to steel mill foundry, where Bridgit Pike (Firefly) is working a pretty miserable job for a slave-driver boss. Penguin and Ivy make their pitch to her, and Bridgit delivers her resignation notice to her boss by way of a handful of molten metal in his face.
This storyline ends this week with Penguin returning to his father’s abandoned mansion, with Ivy, Mr. Freeze and Firefly in tow. On the TV, the news announces that The Riddler was arrested by the GCPD but has escaped custody.
Clones and Kittens
Alfred plays chess with the Bruce Wayne clone pretending to be Bruce. When he seems to notice something off about the boy, Not-Bruce attempts to distract him by claiming that Selina broke up with him and he’s been a little depressed ever since. Alfred appears to accept this story, but he may know more than he lets on.
After Alfred leaves the room, Not-Bruce develops a nosebleed. He immediately calls Kathryn and sneaks out of the house to meet with her and a Court doctor. He asks if he’s dying, and Kathryn confirms as much, but says that at least his life has a purpose.
Later, Not-Bruce seeks out Selina Kyle. He finds her at her hovel, feeding her cat. (Am I mistaken, or is this pretty much the first time we’ve seen Selina so much as notice a cat, much less care for one?) She doesn’t have any interest in talking to him until he admits that he’s not Bruce. He tells her the story of how he was recruited by the Court of Owls, and tells her that they plan to use a terrible weapon. He asks her to leave the city, but she dismisses the suggestion.
Selina suddenly puts together that Not-Bruce must be impersonating Bruce, which means that the real Bruce must be missing. She gets very upset and tells Not-Bruce that he’s nothing and doesn’t matter. She gets up in his face and aggravates him until, shockingly, Not-Bruce shoves her out a window. Selina plummets several stories to the ground, seemingly dead.
Not-Bruce leaves her in the alley and flees. Moments later, stray cats from around the area begin congregating around Selina’s body.
Even more than usual for ‘Gotham’, this episode feels very fragmented, like it’s just a big exposition dump on a bunch of storylines without much connective tissue or a unifying theme. I still don’t buy Jim’s induction into the Court of Owls, which seems way too easy. Nor do I care much about the Bruce Wayne clone.
Something is also really off about Ed Nygma in this episode. He comes across less as an insane criminal genius than just a daffy idiot. His riddles are weak, and the way he happily goes along with Kathryn at the end feels really out of character.
I’m not sure what to make of Selina’s apparent death. Yes, the setup here is straight from the Catwoman origin story, but that particular story is reliant on magic and mysticism, which this show has thus far not dabbled much in. Will the next episode really feature magic cats bringing her back from the dead? I can accept the pseudo-science explanations for other character resurrections this season, but magic cats seem to cross a line into the absurd.