Although the second half of this season of Gotham has been the “Wrath of the Villains” storyline giving us the “bad guy of the week” showing off many of the rogues of the Batman comic book, this week we are reminded who the true bad guy is: Stephen Strange. Finally, we get to see what his total end game has been throughout the season, and also we see that even he isn’t the total bad guy. Everyone reports to someone. Also, a fan favorite (or fan hated depending on your viewpoint) character returns for an interesting cameo as well. As Gotham’s second season is winding to a close, the stakes continue to raise.
Last week ended with the second death of Theo “Azrael” Galavan, so all seemed well, right? Nope! Selina wanted to save her presumed dead-but-now resurrected friend Bridgit from Indian Hill, now is Bridgit’s prisoner. Bridgit calls herself “Firefly” and believes she is the goddess of fire, thanks to Hugo Strange’s brainwashing. Ever the resourceful kitten, Selina manages to avoid being burned to s crisp by Firefly. By the way, that fire CGI was not fooling anyone. Get some practical effects, or a better CGI budget! Although Selina is able to outsmart and overpower Firefly, she is still trapped in the secretive room in Indian Hill and once Firefly comes around, Selina is still stuck in the room with her. Rather than try and kill her friend, Selina surrenders and placates the Firefly storyline saying that she will be the fire goddess’ “servant” until Bruce can come and save her.
Meanwhile, Bruce knows something is amiss when Selina doesn’t show up to meet them at their usual pigeon rooftop hangout. Bruce puts it together that Selina is probably now a prisoner at Arkham/Indian Hill and decides that he needs to go and rescue her. Because he’s not Batman yet, he’ll need some help. As he had a quorum with Alfred, Lucius Fox, and Gordon, they come up with a predictably easy-to-get-caught plan of infiltrating the prison to get some face time with Strange, as well as save Selina. Of course, Alfred is not completely on board because it would once again put Bruce in harm’s way. After scolding Bruce for getting Selina in trouble, and once again going to risk his life for the millionth time, Alfred relents and lets Bruce go once again. Alfred is such an enabler. He’s either the best uncle (letting you do whatever you want) or the worst parent (letting you do whatever you want) with how he and Bruce interact with danger.
Back at Indian Hill, Strange is continuing his radical experiments, but we finally have a clear endgame. He’s been reviving dead people with the intention of creating a complete resurrection program, where he will be able to revive someone dead and they will have their memories intact. So far all his previous test subjects were not able to remember who they are. As a result, Strange build fanciful storylines for who they supposedly are. The more extravagant the lie, the more the recently revived believe. In today’s episode the two who were revived. The first was Clayface. The CGI on his morphing face was way better than the horrendous fire CGI mentioned earlier. A usual, upon awakening, he was horrified to have no memories, and now a face that is malleable.
Being ever persistent, Strange continues to reanimate dead people. His assistant Ms. Peabody even warns him that he’s going to lose their employers’ patience. Strange, still determined tries to resurrect his next patient, and she’s one we all know. There’s an interesting Easter Egg reference to splicing cuttlefish DNA for the genetic experimentation that harkens to last summer’s Jurassic World. If you remember BD Wong also played even scientist Henry Wu who was responsible for using cuttlefish DNA to create the Indominus Rex. Now cuttlefish DNA was used for bringing another “monster” to life: Fish Mooney.
Fish was last season towards the end of season one having been thrown off a roof into the water battling Oswald Cobblepot. She was somewhat a divisive character. Some fans absolutely loved her, especially her Eartha Kitt impression, and some fans hated her character for the exact same reason. Either way, Jada Pinkett Smith returns this episode as the first successful reanimation. Not only did she return, but she returned with all her memories, and all her sass from last season as well. She’s the first resurrected that can’t be controlled with false memories. Strange isn’t stupid, he locked her up. While she’s locked in her cell getting fed by her guard, she discovers that she has powers. With an almost Jessica Jones Killgrave-like ability, Fish is able to get what she wants from the guards with her newfound powers of persuasion. She wanted a grilled cheese sandwich, and the guard immediacy made it for her, and can’t remember why. Of course, she’s going to use to ensure her escape. Does this mean that she’ll be returning for season three? It’s highly doubtful that she’ll be in just this and the next episode.
This does also create a new concept for Gotham. Until now, the show has been very much grounded in “the real world.” In this universe, there is no Superman, no Green Lantern, no Flash, or even Martian Manhunter. Heck, there’s not even a Green Arrow. This little section of the DC Universe doesn’t have any type of superpowers. The other villains powers have been explained away via technology. Victor Fries’ freeze powers are technology-based. This is the first time the world of superpowers is introduced on this show. Like Arrow, the show may have some problems trying to incorporate superpowers in a world where they don’t exist.
Meanwhile, Bruce and Lucius find their way into Arkham under the guise of a tour. After all, the Wayne’s foot the bill for everything their doing. Lucius, ever the techie, will use a radiation detection device to determine where in Arkham the Indian Hill facility is while Bruce will finally get a chance to confront the man responsible for his parents’ murder. Actor David Mazouz does a fine job acting against BD Wong during their confrontation and time and time again he’s capturing the angst in a young Bruce that will develop to the rage that is Batman. Ultimately Strange knows the game and captures Bruce, Lucius, and Gordon (who is disguised as an Arkham guard. Strange leaves Bruce and Lucius at the mercy of Edward Nygma, while he has Clayface adjust his appearance so now he looks like Gordon. With a “puppet Gordon,” Strange can send him outside to do his bidding looking like Gordon.
This was an episode where the bad guys definitely won. The only silver lining is that Harvey Bullock is the acting Captain (even though he hates it) and is sending a SWAT team to Arkham for the inevitable confrontation in next week’s season finale. This episode also introduced Strange’s boss. A better person would say that they are the Court of Owls based on the owl mask his leader worse during their chat. With next week being the season finale, rest assured it will be explosive!