'Gotham' Recap: Season 2, Episode 16- "Wrath of the Villains: Into the Woods"

This week’s theme in Gotham was all about closure.  Many storylines that have been developing reached a definitive conclusion.  Gordon managed to discover who framed him and cleared his name.  Edward Nygma was able to finally transition to The Riddler.  Bruce Wayne was able to gain closure on his adventure with Selina and get back to his original quest of continuing his father’s work (and eventually becoming Batman).  Oswald Cobblepot managed to finally shed his sane self and get back to being the insane criminal we all know and love.  While this was a packed episode, it had great resolutions.

Besides Cobblepot, Edward Nygma has been one of Gotham’s most developed villains.  One of the problems with the ‘Wrath of the Villains’ narrative is that we are introduced to a new bad guy seemingly every week, and don’t have much time with the villain for them to develop.  Nygma is someone who the audience knew was a bad guy (just because we all know he’ll eventually become The Riddler) but was introduced to us as just a quirky employee of Gotham’s police department.  Slowly but surely, he has transitioned from weird loner to criminal mastermind, to captured criminal.  The last few episodes we got to see him play his cunning and his resourcefulness to frame Jim Gordon for murder.  This week he finally gets his comeuppance.  With Gordon escaping from jail, he was a little bit on his toes.  What does Gordon know?  What should he do about it?  When someone is usually in complete control, they are prone to making drastic mistakes when they don’t have complete control.  When fugitive Gordon showed up at his doorstep “seeking help”, he immediately thought the walls were crumbling in.  Lucky for himself he was able to pivot quickly and gain control.  He knew Gordon knew he was the culprit, and managed to gain the upper hand once again.  This time, however, he wasn’t able to kill Gordon and with Gordon escaping his clutches it led to his downfall.  With Gordon’s name cleared, he has one last task for himself before rejoining the Gotham police department: finding the true killer of Bruce Wayne’s parents.

Gordon even though is a fugitive, can’t help but be the good guy.  When a woman was being robbed, his cop instincts kicked in and through saving the poor woman’s life allowed Gotham police to know where he was, which led him to have to assault a fellow officer.   By the way, even though he was cleared of the murder charge, Gordon still broke out of prison, stole evidence from internal affairs, and beat up a fellow cop… it would seem that he should have a whole bunch of new charges to answer for.  Thanks to his partner Harvey, he was able to gather the necessary evidence to put Nygma on the defensive, which led to him getting arrested and clearing Gordon’s name.

Speaking of Harvey, it’s always nice to see he’s also getting the girl.  Even though he was simply using a fellow cop for information, and getting some in the process, it’s funny to see him in action.  It’s clear that Captain Barnes knew that Harvey knew what was going on with Gordon.  Even towards the end, Gordon asked Barnes to “take it easy” on Harvey.  The big question though: is “break no rules” Captain Barnes going to reprimand Harvey, or will this entire fiasco get pushed away.

Cobblepot finally was able to break his shell that has been dragging him down since the mid-season premiere.  He’s been a shell of his former self since he’s “gone straight.”  Nothing like the death of his newfound biological father to bring back the maniac.  Most of the episode he was still trying to do well by his step-family, even after they first kicked him out of the house and then reduced him to being their slave.  Once he figured out that they inadvertently poisoned his father (when they really wanted to kill him), the gloves came off.  He first fed the poison to their family dog (a surprising turn for network TV to kill animals) and then his turn to the dark side was complete.  He then prepared a nice meal for his step-mother.  She was berating his “slut mother’s” family recipe and wanted a roast, so he proceeded to kill his step-brother and step-sister, roasted them, and fed them to his step-mother.  It’s no longer a guessing game if he’s cured or not.  Oswald Cobblepot has once again turned into The Penguin!

Bruce and Selina’s adventures continued this episode.  It began with them robbing a criminal.  It was good that Bruce displayed that he was doing this not for the money, but to further understand criminal behavior.  It’s good that Gotham is showing that Bruce has a code.  To help an injured Gordon, Bruce had to come back to Wayne Manor and enlist Alfred’s help.  While there Alfred reminded Bruce that he had to complete his father’s mission, which would mean he needs to let Selina go.  What Bruce and Alfred need to do will gain him more and more enemies, and to keep Selina safe, Bruce would need to let her go for her own safety.  Even though he let her go gently, it was heartbreaking for her.  Expect those who to be at odds for the remainder of the season.  

The only story that didn’t have a definitive ending (and was the weakest story) was of Barbara Kean waking up “cured” of her insanity.  Hugo Strange, of course, has been just letting insane criminals leave Arkham Asylum even though they aren’t cured.  His fascination with Barbara led him to release her without the same aggressive therapy he used on Cobblepot.  Of course, this means that the story is just beginning as seen towards the end of the episode with her visiting Gordon (how did she know where he was?).  With Gordon and Leslie Thompkins broken up and losing their baby, is there any room for a reconciliation with him and Barbara (if she is in fact cured)?  Comic fans know Barbara eventually becomes Gordon’s wife, but the show has veered away from that for quite some time.  Is this their way of course correcting?  What happens between the two of them is still a mystery that will unfold in the coming weeks.