'Gotham' Recap: Season 2, Episode 16- "Wrath of the Villains: Pinewood”

If last week’s episode of Gotham was about closure, this week was about starting a whole bunch of new mysteries.  Hopefully, these ones will give the level of satisfaction that previous storylines have since the mid-season started.  This week we saw the return of Barbara Kean, Gordon continuing to operate independently, Gordon teaming up with Bruce Wayne, and we even got to see Victor Fries back in action.  We also got to briefly meet Karen Jennings and learn more of the Thomas Wayne and learn more about Pinewood Farms and even learn who The Philosopher is.  Pretty good episode of Gotham.

The episode picks up moments after last weeks’ with fresh out of Arkham Asylum Barbara claiming she’s cured and seems like she wants to come back in the good graces on Jim Gordon.  Once again, how many people are going to get let out of this place with no strings attached?  If Edward Nygma gets the same “early release” as Oswald Cobblepot and Barbara Kean, someone needs to shut this place down!  After Gordon rejects her help, he proceeds on his single mission of finding out who is ultimately responsible for the Wayne’s murders.  Since he refuses to join the force until he solves their crime, he’s pretty much continuing operating as the vigilante he was last week.  With the help of Harvey Bullock giving Gordon some weapons, he goes full on in dealing with criminals trying to get some answers.  He finally gets a name, for Matches Malone’s contractor “The Lady” (same one from early episodes), but Gordon needs Barbara’s help in order to get into the women’s only club The Lady is at.  Barbara seems to betray Gordon, but ultimately she ends up helping him get information.  He learns the name responsible for the hit is “The Philosopher:” more on that.

Back at Wayne Manor, Bruce has been in the “Batcave” with Alfred and Luscious Fox trying to crack the code for Thomas Wayne’s computer to help discover more clues for what led to his murder.  Before the files on the computer can be decrypted, Bruce manages to crack his father’s password and gains access to his father’s calendar.  Before his death, Thomas Wayne was to meet Karen Jennings.  Bruce gains her address and goes with Alfred to meet her.  In a reclusive cabin, she immediately attacks her perceived attackers, where she slashed Alfred with what at first appears to be a weapon.   Turns out it is not a weapon, but Karen’s left hand is not human, but some sort of bird/lizard talon.  We learn her backstory being an unwitting recipient of genetic experimentation that Wayne Enterprises was running.  Born with a hand deformity, she was given a claw.  Although she didn’t remember any names of the scientists, she told Bruce that she remembers their face, especially the head of the program who she still have nightmares of.

Karen agrees to take the two of them to Pinewood to see if they can uncover any details, but they are followed and attacked by two assailants.  Lucky for them, someone in their group has a claw.  After killing one of the assailants, the police arrive and take everyone into custody.  After Harvey gets Bruce and Alfred released, the two team up with Gordon to help Karen get released.  Meanwhile, Hugo Strange who’s been performing “reanimation” tests on “Patient 44.”  Strange realizes that if Karen talks, she could blow the whistle on all the Pinewood activities.  He immediately dispatched Victor Fries (Mr. Freeze) to find and kill her.

Once Mr. Freeze catches up with the group, Gordon and Alfred manage to hold him off a little.  Karen doesn’t want Bruce to get hurt because she sees much of the same heroic determination in Bruce that she saw in his father.  She tells him that his father was responsible for the creation of Pinewood (to Bruce’s disappointment) but did not know of their nefarious purposes and once he tried to stop it, he and his wife were killed by Matches Malone.  Karen then proceeds to sacrifice herself to ensure Bruce’s safety and Mr. Freeze kills her by turning her into a popsicle and then smashing her.  Without anyone to help identify who The Philosopher is, the group is back to square one… or so they thought.  Luscious Fox uncovers an old photo of Thomas Wayne and Hugo Strange with the caption identifying Strange’s nickname: The Philosopher.

Back at the lap, it is revealed who Patient 44 is, and it’s Theo Galavan completely resurrected.  After Galavan kills the scientists treating him, he mentions one name Azrael.  We will be getting Azrael!!!

Although this is a “starter” episode, it was very good.

The reintroduction of Barbara Kean was done well.  Instead of having her follow the same route they did for Cobblepot, we were on the fence as to if he was “cured “or not until he flipped out, we know from jump that she’s her usual crazy self.  Although she’s still insane, she does want to connect back with Gordon, probably because she still loves him.  Even after she helps him, he still rejects her, which leads her back to the loving arms of Tabitha.

Karen was a very good exposition character. Although she is not based on any character in DC comics, she helped close a lot of holes and give a massive data dump of information related to Pinewood and the overall mythology as to why the Wayne’s were killed.  In a sense, she became an essential character, even though she’ll barely be a flicker on the show.

We all knew for a while that Hugo Strange was going to be the man responsible for the Wayne’s murder.  It’s good that the story finally caught up with what we already knew.

Throughout this season, we have seen Bruce slowly morph episode by episode into the character we will eventually know as Batman.  Alfred has been providing him guidance throughout these episodes, but it seems to really hit home that not only Karen died as she was helping him, but Bruce realized that she will probably not be the last person to die.  Bruce also discovered Hugo Strange was responsible for his father and mother’s death.  For the first time, we got a peek at some of the rage that has been bubbling inside of him since episode 1.  Probably by next season, we’ll see him start training, and maybe by the end of next season see him put on the cape.

Having Galavan resurrected as Azrael is a detour from the comic, but still somewhat in the spirit of the character.  He’ll still be a part of Order of St. Dumas, but his origins will be a little different, and that’s a good thing.  Next week’s episode is titled "Azrael", so expect the whole episode to surround his character.  We’ll see what happens next week!