A lot of old characters come out of the woodworks to pay ‘Gotham’ another visit this week. I can’t say that I’m happy to see all of them.
We start with the reappearance of former police captain Nathaniel Barnes (Michael Chiklis), who’s been imprisoned in Arkham Asylum ever since being driven mad by the Alice Tetch blood virus (which still doesn’t have a better name than “the Alice Tetch blood virus” and could really use a rebranding). The black-and-white stripy prison PJs are not particularly flattering on him. Hauled outside in the middle of the night for a prisoner transport, he breaks free from his restraints and kills the guards. Before he can escape, however, the Court of Owls ninja assassin attacks and subdues him with a sedative. During all this, Jervis Tetch (Benedict Samuel) watches with interest from the window of his cell.
Barnes is brought before Kathryn, who says that she needs a sample of the virus in his blood. For this, she brings in Prof. Hugo Strange (BD Wong), wielding a large syringe. I guess a regular phlebotomist wouldn’t do.
At the GCPD, Lee insists that Harvey investigate Jim for the murder of his uncle. Harvey lies to her and tries to dissuade her from following this path. She isn’t satisfied with his answers.
Now an inducted member of the Court of Owls, Jim is instructed to provide a list of names of loved ones to be spared from the upcoming judgment on Gotham. We don’t see what he writes, but I’m guessing it’s Lee. While left alone in the main chamber, he swipes a fingerprint from Kathryn’s owl mask and sends it to Harvey.
Using the blood sample from Barnes, Strange extracts the virus and makes a weaponized version that can be transmitted as a gas. This must be the terrible weapon that Kathryn keeps talking about. (But if so, what did she have shipped to Gotham in the crate at the harbor? Was that Strange himself?)
From the fingerprint Jim provided, Harvey identifies Kathryn as a rich woman named Kathryn Monroe, a member of the city’s wealthy elite. Jim plans to break into her home to search for clues about the weapon. Before he can, he’s interrupted when Penguin reveals himself to still be alive. “I am quite hard to kill,” he grins. Penguin is looking for Ed and correctly surmises that Jim turned him over to the Court. He demands a meeting with the Court to negotiate.
Jim leaves Penguin and, as planned, snoops around in Katryn’s townhouse. The only thing he finds is a Wayne Enterprises access keycard hidden in secret compartment in a desk drawer. Before he can search for more, Kathryn comes home. Rather than try to sneak out, Jim reveals himself to her, as if to prove that he found out her real identity and she can’t hide from him. He says that he wants a bigger role in the Court, and to know what the so-called “judgment” will be. Asking for a promotion already seems awfully presumptuous for a guy who just joined the organization the other day. All Kathryn will tell him is that the purpose of the weapon is “showing the people of Gotham their darkest selves.” That’s plenty enough for Jim, who figures out what she’s up to and calls Harvey as soon as he’s out the door.
After returning to the GCPD, Jim and Harvey fill Lucius in on everything they know about the Court of Owls. Jim explains that the weapon must have something to do with the Alice Tetch virus, and that Nathaniel Barnes’ sudden disappearance can’t be a coincidence. From the keycard Jim stole, Lucius narrows down the Wayne Enterprises blacksite facility where Barnes is likely to be held.
Jim and Harvey raid the lab and find it a total wreck, with the bodies of dead doctors on the floor. The patient that Strange tested the virus on got loose and tore the place apart. He also attacks Jim and Harvey, but Strange sedates the man and pulls him off them. Strange explains that he has no loyalty to Kathryn and is willing to play both sides. He offers them his research notes and a sample of the blood virus in exchange for their leaving him be and keeping it quiet that he’s back in Gotham. After they leave, he’ll blame the loss of the notes and sample on the patient.
Later, Kathryn summons Jim to a former bank currently hosting a society party. They watch the partygoers below from an upper floor of the building. Kathryn tells Jim that she’s built an aerosol bomb to disperse the Alice Tetch virus into the crowd as a test of its effectiveness. Jim is to stay and watch what happens. This is a test for him as well. If he tries to interfere with the bomb, the Owls’ ninja assassin (whose name we learn is Talon) has orders to kill him.
Jim surreptitiously dials Penguin’s number on his cell phone and makes small talk with Talon that will clue Penguin in on where they are and hint that Ed is there. Penguin gets the message.
As the countdown timer on the bomb ticks down, Jim can’t stall any longer. He picks a fight with Talon, which doesn’t go so well until Penguin arrives with Firefly, who kills Talon with her flamethrower and sends him tumbling through the window down to the floor below. The party crowd panics, and Jim yells for them to evacuate the building. He manages to get everyone out just in time before the bomb goes off and harmlessly fills the empty room with toxic gas.
Penguin is disappointed and angry that he didn’t find Ed and that Jim used him to save a bunch of people he didn’t care about. As he rants and raves about this, he’s kidnapped from his mansion by an unseen assailant.
Lee tells Jim that she’s done with him and she’s leaving town again. They fight some more over the fact that Jim murdered her husband (seriously, when’s she going to get over that?!) and Lee storms out.
Penguin wakes up locked in a cage. In the cell next to him is Ed, who’s very surprised to see him alive. At the sight of Ed, Penguin turns stony cold and tries to grab him through the cell bars. He looks psycho mad.
Kathryn notices the Wayne Enterprises keycard missing from her desk and knows that Jim has betrayed her. She has Nathaniel Barnes brought to her in full restraints, and tells him that it’s time for The Executioner to pass judgment on Jim Gordon. Barnes tears free from the restraints and declares, “Jim Gordon is guilty!”
Concerned that Selina never returned to her hovel, Ivy goes looking for her at Barbara’s club. Tabitha dismissively tells her to check the hospital, because she heard that Selina took a big fall. Indeed, Ivy finds Selina alive but comatose. Her doctor says there’s no hope for her, but Ivy won’t accept that and vows to heal her friend on her own. To do that, she fills the room with lots of specially modified medicinal plants.
Eventually, Selina does recover and wakes up. Ivy is ecstatic. Selina pulls out all the tubes and wires stuck to her and climbs out of bed. When Ivy asks what she’s doing, Selina says that she’s going to Wayne Manor because she needs to kill someone.
Everybody Was Kung-Fu Fighting
Somewhere in the Himalayas, Bruce Wayne is forced to train at martial arts and stick fighting with some anonymous goon. He loses – a lot. The Shaman (Raymond Barry) tells him that he’s blinded by his rage and needs to learn to control it. He uses the magic acupuncture needles to make Bruce revisit the memory of his parents’ wake, the first time he felt that rage. In the vision, he convinces Bruce to lock his father’s cufflinks away in a safe, as a symbolic gesture of containing his anger.
Now freed from that emotion, Bruce improves at his fight training and defeats the goon. The Shaman offers him the opportunity to return home to Gotham if he chooses, or he can stay and continue his training. Bruce opts to stay.
The Shaman then calls Kathryn and fills her in on Bruce’s progress. From their conversation, it’s clear that The Shaman is the true leader of the Court of Owls and Kathryn takes orders from him.
I can’t say that I’m excited to see Capt. Barnes, Jervis Tetch or even Prof. Strange again. They all served their purpose in the past and didn’t need to come around again. Their respective returns just exacerbate this show’s ongoing problem with every episode being overstuffed with characters and storylines. Honestly, it’s exhausting to watch these days. When this one was done, I looked up how many more episodes are left for the season and was disheartened to realize that I’ll have to sit through four more of these.