Saturday, March 16, 2019

'Gotham' Recap: "The Trial of James Gordon" (5x09)

Welcome back to another recap of Gotham—or, as I like to call it, the worst years of Jim Gordon's life.

This week's episode, "The Trial of James Gordon," focuses on a fight for the life of Jim Gordon, Barbara's efforts to redeem herself, and Poison Ivy's quest to rid Gotham City of all human life. However, since all of these plots are a little more interconnected than usual, I will not be breaking them up into separate parts for the recap.

Be warned: the episode contains somewhat suicidal themes and intense scenes, and this recap contains spoilers.

Plots A, B, and C: "Somewhere That's Green"

The episode opens with Gordon, Bullock and other members of the GCPD arming themselves for some sort of confrontation. Lee tells Gordon that his plan is "unnecessary and reckless." Gordon, however, says that while Lucius's filtration system is purifying water from the polluted river, the Green Zone's supply of drinking water is getting dangerously low and the gangs are getting more aggressive. He tells her that if he can get a ceasefire, there will still be people left to save when the city is eventually reunified.

Lee replies that he needs to think about his unborn child. She says that Gordon is so focused on taking care of the city that he forgets to focus on other things. She accuses him of being constantly ready to sacrifice himself and asks if that's how their life is going to be from now on: will she and Barbara raise the child together while Gordon goes off risking his life every day?

Gordon insists that things will be different after the city is reunified, but Lee says that nothing will change unless Gordon stops being—

"Me?" he asks. Before Lee can respond, Bullock tells Gordon that it's time to go. Gordon tells Lee that they'll talk after he returns.

"If there is an after," she retorts.

As it turns out, the ceasefire negotiations are being held at Penguin's headquarters in City Hall. Penguin watches as gangs dressed with various motifs and armed with various weapons crowd the lobby. Barbara approaches him and asks why she, Penguin and Riddler haven't skipped town already. Penguin replies that "building a submarine from scratch takes time," but Barbara insists that they need to hurry up.

She then asks why Penguin is hosting Gordon's ceasefire negotiations. Penguin replies that if the three of them are going to leave town, they need to keep Gordon happy in the meantime. He jokes that Barbara knows "all about that." She replies that her one-night stand with Gordon was "a momentary slip" that took place while "the world was on fire."

As if on cue, Gordon and the GCPD enter City Hall, and Penguin turns the floor over to Gordon. As some fans have pointed out, Penguin's exact words—"Mi casa, su casa"—are a nice call-back to Fish saying the same thing in the show's pilot.

Gordon tells the gangs that the city's supply of clean water will only last a few more months. He says that they can keep killing each other over what's left of the supply until they're all dead, or they can agree to an immediate ceasefire. He adds that "the government will not annex a war zone" and will only send more supplies if the people of Gotham show that they deserved to be saved. He tells them that the choice is theirs: life or death.

After talking amongst themselves, the gangs agree to a ceasefire, but before Gordon can revel in his victory, a gunshot is heard. As everyone tries to find the source of the sound, Gordon falls to the ground, shot in the side.

Bullock tells Detective Harper that the clinic is too far away, so they'll have to take Gordon back to the GCPD for treatment. As they carry him away, the gangs begin to squabble amongst themselves again.

Elsewhere, Selina and Bruce enter a swanky-looking building. Selina asks why Bruce chose this spot for a scavenging mansion. He simply tells her to trust him and leads her into a dining room, where he turns on a gramophone and asks her to sit at a dining table. He sits across from her and lights a row of candles.

"If I didn't know any better, I'd say this was a date," Selina says.

"Maybe it is," he replies. "That okay with you?"

"Maybe," she says.

They smile at each other and sit down to eat, oblivious to a person watching them from the hallway.

Back at the GCPD, Bullock tells Lee that Gordon has lost a lot of blood and asks if she can save him. She doesn't reply and hurriedly takes Gordon away to the morgue/medical office for treatment.

Bullock then turns to the rest of the cops and lies, saying that the doc says Gordon will be okay. He then says that he's acting captain until Gordon recovers. He adds that the gangs will be running wild after what happened to Gordon, so the GCPD needs to take to the streets and show force. Bullock then tells Harper to organize patrol teams and says that he's going to focus on finding out who shot Gordon.

Meanwhile, Lee notices that the bullet shattered against a rib. As she pulls out the fragments, she spots an exit wound and moves on to sewing Gordon up. She tells him to fight.

Suddenly, Gordon opens his eyes, but he's not in the morgue with Lee. He's in a dream version of the GCPD bullpen, which is covered in darkness. He hears a gavel banging and sees a judge in front of him. The judge says that Gordon (who is now handcuffed to a witness stand) is going to be tried for his many crimes and that his life hangs in the balance.

When he asks if Gordon understands, Gordon tries to say that he doesn't, but the judge announces that, "The defendant understands and waives his right to an appeal."

Back in the real world, Selina says that she's just had the best canned meal ever and jokes that if this was a date, she's not sure how Bruce will top it when "everything goes back to normal." Bruce soberly replies that he doesn't think things will ever be normal—at least, not for him.

Selina asks what he's talking about, and he replies that he's lost Wayne Manor. He tells her that he's aware that other people lost a lot more, but part of him wonders if it was fate that he lost his home. He says that maybe it's time for him to move on.

Selina asks if he's talking about leaving Gotham and insists that the city is his home. He replies that a lot of terrible things have happened to the city because of him and cites the crimes of Theo Gallivan and Ra's al Ghul as examples.

"If this city really is my home," he says, "then maybe the best thing I can do for it is leave."

(C'mon Bruce, don't beat yourself up about the villains and/or cult leaders who have killed people to get to you.)

Suddenly, Poison Ivy enters and says that she agrees with Bruce.

Over in City Hall, Penguin tells Barbara that Gordon getting shot could be good for both of them. He says that the only way she'll get custody of the child is if Gordon's dead.

Before she can reply, Bullock barges in and punches Penguin. He demands to know who shot Gordon. Penguin insists that it wasn't him and says that Gordon himself is to blame for knowingly walking into a room full of criminals. Bullock punches him again before turning to Barbara. He asks when she and Penguin became friends and suggests that maybe she helped plan Gordon's death so she could keep her child.

Barbara replies that, whatever else she's done, she wouldn't kill her child's father. Bullock, however, says he's not leaving until he finds out who tried to kill Gordon. Penguin points out that whoever did it couldn't have been in the room, as the bullet came through the window and left a hole in the glass.

You'd think that, given their track record of mayors being murdered, the city of Gotham would invest in bulletproof glass for City Hall.

Bullock examines the window, estimates the trajectory of the bullet, places Penguin in the spot Gordon was standing in when he got shot, and uses all of this information to find out where the bullet went. He digs a large fragment of it out of a chair and says that when he finds out who shot Gordon, "there'll be hell to pay."

Barbara asks if there's anything she can do, and he replies that she can "keep the gangs from tearing the city apart."

Elsewhere in Gotham, Selina asks what Ivy wants. Ivy replies that she'll deal with Selina later and that she needs Bruce to come with her.

Selina tells Ivy to leave Bruce alone, but Ivy says that Selina has other things to worry about. Ivy then calls in the mutant gang leader (the one that Selina almost beat to death in 5x03), who's apparently under her spell.

Bruce tries to attack Ivy, but she grabs him and says that the future of Gotham will be a green world of her design. She then sprays him with her hypnotic perfume. Before taking Bruce away, she says that Selina wouldn't be walking if it weren't for Ivy's plants and tells Selina to think about that while the mutant leader is killing her.

Back in the morgue, Lee tells an unconscious Gordon that there are so many things she wishes she could tell him and things she wishes they could do. She tells him to talk to her, but he says nothing out loud.

Inside his dream, however, Gordon tries to tell the judge that he shouldn't be on trial, but the judge silences him so that they can hear remarks from the prosecution. Suddenly, another Gordon steps forward (who will henceforth be designated as Gordon-2). Gordon-2 says that Gordon's crimes are "a matter of public record" and accuses him of "failing Gotham at every turn," both in his efforts to eradicate the city's corruption and to stop the destruction of the bridges and of Haven.

Gordon-1 says that he tried to help the city as best he could, but the judge silences him and says that if Gordon-1 speaks out of turn again, he'll be held in contempt of court. Gordon-1 then looks down and sees blood spreading over his shirt where the bullet entered his body in real life. He says that he's hurt and needs help, but the judge doesn't listen.

Gordon-2 continues his case, saying that "the issue is not how many people have died because of Gordon, but how many more must die to satisfy his need to be a hero." He adds that the ultimate question is this: would the people in Gordon's life be better off if he were dead?

"I think I'm dying," Gordon-1 whispers, looking at the blood on his shirt.

Gordon-2 then calls his first witness to the stand: Dr. Leslie Tompkins.

In real life, Bullock asks Lee how Gordon's doing. She says that she removed the bullet fragments from his wound, but "something else keeps pulling him down." Bullock examines the fragments and sets them against the one he found. When he places the pieces together, he sees two initials on the bullet: V. Z. for Victor Zsasz.

Victor himself is actually outside of the GCPD and in the middle of a shootout with several cops. He tells them that he's only there for Gordon and that they need to stay out of his way. However, before Victor can enter the precinct, Alfred sneaks up on him and knocks him out.

Elsewhere, Selina asks the mutant leader if they can just "let bygones be bygones." He refuses and says that Selina hurt both him and Ivy. After a brief fight, Selina gets him in a chokehold.

"Ivy didn't make me strong," she says. "I made me strong." She then orders him to tell her where Ivy took Bruce.

Meanwhile, over in the GCPD's interrogation room, Bullock asks why Victor would try to kill Gordon after Gordon saved his life (in 5x04) and points out that it would've made more sense for Victor to go after Penguin. Victor says that he might do that later, but it's not up to him.

Bullock realizes that Victor is working for someone and asks who it is. Victor mimes locking his lips and throwing away the key. Bullock punches him and demands that Victor give him a name. Oddly enough, Victor replies by quoting Shakespeare ("What's in a name? That which we call a rose by any other name would smell as sweet") and rambling about roses.

Bullock asks if Victor is high.

"Only on love," he replies. This is enough to make Bullock realize what's going on: Ivy Pepper hypnotized Victor and ordered him to kill Gordon.

Over in the morgue, Alfred brings Lee a cup of tea. He says that he heard about her argument with Gordon and asks if she's having misgiving about the arrival of Barbara's child. Lee says she doesn't know what she's getting into or how she can raise a child alongside Barbara Kean. She adds that there's another problem: if Lee and Gordon are going to raise the child, they'll need to do it together, but she doesn't always know what's going on in his head.

Alfred replies that Gordon needs Lee more than he lets on, but she says that she needs to hear it from Gordon himself. Alfred then changes the subject back to parenting. He says that he originally had no interest in being a father and used to think he was unfit to be one, but everything changed when Bruce's parents died. He says that while and Bruce aren't related by blood, "the most ecstatic moments" of Alfred's life have been all the moments he shares with Bruce.

Alfred tells Lee that nothing can prepare her for that kind of joy and that she'll figure out how to be a parent as she goes. He then promises that Lee will be an amazing mother and that the child will be better for having her in his/her life.

Lee thanks him and goes back to tending Gordon. She asks if he can hear her.

Gordon, however, is still caught up in his dream. Gordon-2 (the prosecutor) says that while Gordon has hurt Lee more than anyone else, she's still with him. Lee replies that she loves Gordon. Regardless, Gordon-2 asks if her life would be better off without him. When she stays quiet, he rephrases the question: would Lee be better off if Gordon were dead? Lee tells Gordon-1 that she's sorry, but everything he touches ends up dead.

Gordon-2 rests his case. Gordon-1 says that the prosecution made Lee say what he wanted her to say, but Gordon-2 says that he didn't force her to say anything. He then tells Gordon that if he wants a second opinion, he should "ask them." Gordon then looks out and sees the burning, half-dead souls of all the people who died in the Haven explosion (all the people that he failed to protect, Gordon-2 says).

"I think I'm dying," Gordon-1 says faintly.

"Isn't it about time?" Gordon-2 asks, opening his jacket to show the same wound as Gordon-1. He then tells Gordon-1 that the verdict is in: Gordon's guilty.

Meanwhile, in the real world, Victor is chatting with his guard when, suddenly, another cop enters and shoots the guard in the head.

The cop begins to uncuff Victor, and Ivy enters the room. She says that all she asked Victor to do was kill Gordon, and he hurriedly offers to finish the job. Ivy, however, says that she'll kill Gordon herself while Victor keeps the cops busy. She then gives him several guns for his part of the job and remarks that the other part of her plan is working nicely.

The other plan, as it turns out, involves a hypnotized Bruce entering Lucius's water filtration plant. He tells Lucius that he wanted to check out the plant's progress. Lucius replies that the toxicity levels in the river are decreasing and that they'll be under the government-mandated threshold soon. He adds that the work will save thousands of people.

"People, ugh," Bruce remarks.

Lucius notices that Bruce is acting weird, but before he can do anything about it, Bruce sprays Lucius with Ivy's perfume and tells him to shut down the plant. Lucius agrees, saying that he'd do anything for Ivy.

Over at the Sirens' Club, Barbara serves drinks to Gotham's various gangs. She proposes a toast to Gordon's imminent death and says that he can't hound them anymore. While the gangs eagerly drink up, Penguin asks what Barbara's up to. She replies that she's "trying to keep the city from ripping itself apart."

Penguin suggests that this plan might have more to do with Barbara's feelings for Gordon than she lets on, but Barbara insists that it doesn't. She says that if the three of them aren't able to make it out of town, they need a backup plan that keeps them in Gordon's favor.

Barbara then calls for everyone's attention. She says that the real reason she called them to the club is so that they could agree to an immediate truce. One of the gang members asks what's to stop them from killing Barbara and taking her club instead.

She replies that everyone's drinks were poisoned and the man she's talking to had two shots before everyone else arrived. He then drops to the floor, clutches his throat, foams at the mouth, and falls dead. Barbara says that everyone else has 48 hours to take the antidote, which she'll deliver if they go back to their territories, "play nice," and send her all of their guns. They agree and quickly leave.

Back at the filtration plant, Lucius tells Bruce that once he reverses the system, the toxins from the river will be re-released, overload the filters, and shut down the facility altogether. He then starts the process.

Suddenly, an alarm goes off. Lucius and Bruce check the security cameras and see Selina skulking around the plant. Bruce decides to take care of it while Lucius oversees the plant's destruction.

Meanwhile, Bullock tells his fellow officers that Ivy's on the loose again and that they need to take her down. Before he can give any more orders, however, Victor enters and announces that she's already arrived. He then begins to shoot at them while babbling about Ivy, which leads to him accidentally letting it slip that he's the distraction while she goes to kill Gordon.

Gordon, at the moment, is still unconscious. Alfred hears gunfire and leaves the morgue to help the GCPD fight Victor, and Lee continues to anxiously watch over Gordon.

Gordon, however, is still stuck in dreamland. Now he's in a cell. Bullock is on the other side of the bars, and behind him is a crowded party. Bullock offers Gordon a drink. When Gordon asks what's going on, Bullock replies that it's Gordon's wake.

Gordon looks around the room and sees Riddler and Penguin at the piano, while other villains (Kathryn from the Court of Owls, Scarecrow, Professor Pyg, etc.) and cops join in a chorus of "For He's a Jolly Good Fellow."

Gordon realizes he's still alive, and Bullock replies that it'd be a bummer to have the wake after Gordon had died. Gordon then wonders aloud how he's going to protect his child when everything around him dies. Bullock shrugs and walks off.

"That's a good question," someone says from behind Gordon. He turns and sees a bloodied, half-dead Will (the kid who was friends with Gordon and later died in Haven). Will says that Gordon said he'd be safe. Gordon again says that he did his best to keep Will safe, but Will says that Gordon's best "never seems to be good enough."

He then tells Gordon that it's time to go and opens the cell door. As Gordon follows Will, he begins to flatline in real-life. Lee quickly grabs a syringe filled with adrenaline, but before she can inject it, Ivy enters. Upon seeing Gordon's failing state, she remarks that Victor must have "succeeded after all" and decides to kill Lee instead of Gordon.

Meanwhile, Victor keeps shooting at the GCPD. Bullock says that he's tired of getting shot at in his precinct and tells Alfred and the other cops to give him cover so that he can get something out of the storeroom.

Over in the morgue, Ivy and Lee fight. Lee asks why Ivy cares about killing Gordon, and Ivy replies that "Gotham has a chance to be born anew." She says she wants to return the city to a place filled with nature and says that Gordon's quest to reunify with the mainland would only lead to a return to filth and pollution.

Lee tries to stab Ivy with the syringe, but Ivy grabs her arm and stops her. Lee asks if Ivy's plan is simply to kill Gordon and let plants take over the city. She replies that killing him is only the first step and that Bruce Wayne is taking care of everything else. Lee then apologizes to Ivy—before grabbing a gun off of a nearby table and shooting her in the stomach.

Ivy says that the pain of being shot is nothing compared to the pain Lee's about to feel. Ivy knocks the adrenaline syringe to the ground, destroying Lee's last hope of reviving Gordon. She then exits.

Back at the filtration plant, Bruce and Selina fight. Selina tries to convince Bruce to snap out of Ivy's control, but he doesn't listen to her and says that Ivy's given him a purpose. As they fight, Selina asks if he really wants to kill everything in Gotham. Bruce replies that the toxins will only kill the people and the plants will adapt and overcome. He then punches her repeatedly.

Selina says that she's not actually that surprised and adds that if Bruce really cared about Gotham, he wouldn't be leaving. She knocks him to the ground and begins to punch him over and over while asking what'll happen to everyone Bruce leaves behind in Gotham.

The punching is enough to break the spell. Bruce tells Selina that he's okay, and she apologizes for hurting him. He tells her that they need to stop Lucius, and she helps him get back on his feet.

The two of them run over to Lucius. Bruce tells him that they need to stop the shutdown, but Lucius says that if they did that, Ivy would get mad. Bruce tries to tell Lucius that he's been hypnotized to obey Ivy, but Lucius doesn't buy it. Selina decides to cut the Gordian knot by simply kicking Lucius in the head, which is enough to snap him out of the spell. Bruce then switches the shutdown off.

Meanwhile, at the GCPD, Bullock enters in the bomb-proof suit that Riddler wore a few episodes ago. Victor shoots at him. The impact knocks Bullock to the ground, but he quickly gets back up and tackles Victor.

In the morgue, Lee gives Gordon CPR and begs him to fight for himself as fiercely as he's always fought for everyone else.

In Gordon's hallucination, Will leads him into a room with an electric chair. Gordon gets strapped in and closes his eyes. Suddenly, he hears Lee say his name and opens his eyes. He sees her in his dream, holding a baby. She asks if he wants to hold it. Gordon says that he doesn't know if he can.

"Oh, I see," Lee replies, and she drops the child.

"No!" Gordon shouts. "I want to live!" Will tells him that it's too late and flips the switch. Gordon screams as electricity shoots through him.

Suddenly, he wakes up in the real world. Lee tells him not to move and asks how he feels.

"Like I almost died," he says. She replies that he didn't give in; he fought and came back to her. Gordon says it's because he needs Lee. He begins to mention the child, and she tells him that it's okay to be scared about being a parent. He replies that "the only thing scarier than doing this is doing it without you." He then says he has something to ask her. He whispers it in her ear, and she replies by kissing him.

The episode then skips ahead by a month. The GCPD is now decorated with lanterns, candles and lovely greenery, and Gordon is wearing a suit.

Bruce remarks that Gordon looks nervous. Selina replies that he should be thrilled to be "marrying a woman who's smarter and better-looking than him" and laughs. Bruce then tries to talk to her about what she said when they were fighting, but she shushes him as Lee walks down the stairs in a beautiful white dress.

Bullock, who's apparently officiating the wedding, tells the attendees to sit. He says a bit about Gordon (who he says is not just his best friend, but his only friend) and a little bit about Lee as well. He says that Lee has always had Gordon's back, except for the time that she was injected with the Tetch virus and almost killed him.

"But hey, that's love," Bullock says, and everyone laughs it off. He adds that if there's one beautiful thing that's happened in the past few years of craziness, it's that Gordon and Lee met each other. Afterward, they say their "I do's."

"By the power invested in me, by absolutely no one," Bullock says, "I now pronounce you man and wife."

(To be fair, they could've gotten a marriage license from city hall, but that would probably have meant inviting Penguin to the wedding.)

Gordon and Lee kiss. As they do, Bruce looks at Selina briefly before kissing her as well.

Elsewhere, Penguin remarks that Lee and Gordon have tied the knot. He jokingly thanks Barbara for holding the city together long enough for the wonderful event to take place. He then says that her push for a ceasefire wasn't a back-up plan; it was her last-ditch effort to show Gordon that she'd changed.

"But he will never see you as anything but a dangerous woman trying to keep his child from him," Penguin says. Barbara replies that it's time to get out of town before Gordon can stop her. Penguin points out that Gordon will do his best to track her down. Barbara says he's welcome to try.

The Verdict

I enjoyed this episode, because it took the time to slow down and focus on the characters' emotions and relationships in spite of all the action.

In particular, I was fascinated by Gordon's trial. The dream itself isn't about Gordon trying to atone for his past failures and mistakes or prove his innocence; the whole point is that he can't. He can't change the past. The more he dwells on the guilt of what he's done, the more he makes self-destructive choices in an effort to atone for what he's done.

This episode isn't an attempt to excuse Gordon's sins; it's an acknowledgment that he's more aware of them than anyone else, that the reason he keeps jumping into danger is because he wants to make things right. And as noble as this might sound, it's a self-destructive cycle.

Killing Theo Galavan, leaving the GCPD in season 2, working with Sofia Falcone—these are all things Gordon did. And while none of them was the right thing to do, each one was a reaction to Gordon's past failures (a sort of over-correction, if you will).

Gordon killed Galavan because he didn't want to hesitate and risk Galavan escaping to kill someone else (as had happened with an assassin Gordon arrested a couple of episodes earlier). Gordon left the GCPD in season 2 because he thought that working outside of the law would allow him to catch the mastermind behind the Wayne murders (after he'd been unable to solve the case for almost two years). Gordon let Sofia take over the criminal underground because he thought Penguin (the man he'd saved from the show's beginning) was becoming too powerful.

In short, Gordon's guilt was his biggest obstacle before this episode. He could only move forward, both as the GCPD's leader and as a partner for Lee, when he confronted that guilt. That's what the dream is about: Gordon choosing to overcome his guilt in order to be there for the people that he cares about and who care about him in return. It's about him realizing that he can't do everything himself and that the more he tries to do so, the more he fails. It's about him forgiving himself so that he can be the father that his child needs.

Without Gordon's defeat of his own guilt and shame, the ending of this episode wouldn't be possible. He couldn't enter a legitimate relationship and partnership with Lee until he confronted his own guilt (especially about how he's hurt her in the past) and acknowledged that he needs her strength as much as she needs his. Because he was able to do that, the wedding felt earned. It felt like a relief to see those two characters, after all the strife they've gone through, finally get a happy ending.

Was it cheesy? Sure, but I loved every second of it. And the fact that the actors for Gordon and Lee (Ben McKenzie and Morena Baccarin) are married in real life just makes the whole episode more heartwarming and more real, especially since McKenzie wrote this episode.

Speaking of heartwarming, I'd be remiss if I didn't touch on the Bat-Cat aspect of this episode. Needless to say, I thought it was well done. Having Bruce be hypnotized by Ivy was a good was to pit him against Selina without having the two characters suffer another falling-out. The fight was also a great way to physically show Selina's anger and distress over the thought of Bruce leaving town (and proves that, no matter how cool and collected she acts, she doesn't really want to lose him for good).

If Bruce does leave Gotham, I suspect it will only be to train and that his departure will only come after reunification. But at the moment, I think he's planning to stick around.

As for Barbara's subplot, I don't have much to comment on, except that it's sad to see her agonize over the prospect of losing Gordon and possibly the custody of her child.

Overall, I'd give the episode a 7 or 8 out of 10. I'm anxious to get back to the main storyline with Eduardo and Walker, but I enjoyed "The Trial of James Gordon" nonetheless.

The next episode, "I Am Bane," comes out on March 21. The recap should be up by March 27. Until then, have a good few weeks, and remember: a good canned meal is a surefire way to charm your date every time.

Thursday, March 7, 2019

'Gotham' Recap: "Nothing's Shocking" (5x08)

Welcome back to another recap of Gotham—or, as I like to call it, a TV show combined with a Russian nesting doll that contains a never-ending stream of Batman villains.

This week's episode, "Nothing's Shocking," revolves around three plots: a killer targeting ex-cops from the GCPD, Bruce and Alfred's search for missing people in the sewers, and Penguin's run-in with an old friend and a new foe.

So, without further ado, let's get started.

Plot A: Facing the Past

The episode begins in the Sirens' Club. Two old men enter, and Barbara tells them that if they want to keep coming to her bar, they need better intel. They tell her that they've heard about a black market with heating oil, and she says it's enough for them to get one drink to share before they clear out.

The guys go to the bar. As they wait for their order, another man walks up to them. It's Dix, an ex-cop and Bullock's former partner who we saw once in season 1 ("Spirit of the Goat").

Dix is noticeably not in a wheelchair. He tells the two men that he's been looking for them and asks if they ever think about their past and what they did to "the girl."

Barbara notices Dix and is annoyed that another man came into her club unannounced. She walks over to confront him, but before she reaches him, Dix stabs the other two men and leaves.

A little bit later, Gordon and Bullock arrive at Sirens. Barbara explains that she wouldn't normally call them about a dead body but says that, in this case, she did it as a courtesy. Bullock examines the bodies and identifies them as Boggs and Lewis, two ex-cops that were on the GCPD before Gordon joined.

Barbara explains what happened and notes that the bartender heard one of the men call the killer (who also looked like an old cop) something like "mix or hicks." Gordon remembers Dix, Bullock's old partner, but Bullock says that Dix wouldn't have killed Boggs and Lewis, and even if he had, he wouldn't be able to make a quick getaway in his wheelchair (which he's been in for 15 years). Barbara replies that the killer wasn't in a wheelchair.

Gordon asks if Dix evacuated. Bullock replies that he heard something about Dix moving into an apartment about a year ago. He says that Dix can't be the killer. Gordon replies that he understands how Bullock feels but they should still follow up on the lead and see if he knows anything. Bullock walks out.

Gordon then asks Barbara how things are going work with her pregnancy and says that he's going to be part of the kid's life. He tells her that reunification will happen and that she should think about who she wants to be when it does. He says that Barbara can have a fresh start, but she replies that she likes who she already is.

Let's be real: I would also feel satisfied with myself if I was the owner of a successful business and had a league of assassins at my beck and call.

A little later on, Gordon and Bullock go to Dix's apartment. Before they go in, Bullock admits to Gordon that he feels bad for not checking in with Dix earlier, since the ex-cop doesn't have a lot of friends or family.

Bullock then knocks on the door. He's met by a blast from a bazooka that blows a hole in the door but leaves Bullock and Gordon unscathed, since they got out of the way in time. Once Dix realizes that Bullock is on the other side of the door, however, he lets them in and apologizes.

Dix (who's in a wheelchair) says that you can't be too careful in Gotham these days.

He says that he wasn't expecting Bullock, since he'd assumed the cop had forgotten about him.

As Bullock talks with Dix, Gordon notices a suitcase on a nearby bed. He asks if Dix is planning a trip, and Dix replies that he likes to keep a bag packed just in case. Gordon asks where he was the previous night. Dix says that he was in his apartment. When Gordon asks if anyone can back up that claim, Dix asks if Gordon thinks he killed Boggs and Lewis (though it's unclear how Dix would've heard about their deaths).

Dix tells Gordon that if he would do anything to get out of his wheelchair, even confess to Gordon on the spot, but that doesn't change the fact that he can't. Gordon points out that Dix used to be a detective and asks what he would assume if he was on the other side of the case. Dix replies that he'd either assume he (Dix) had done it or that he (Dix) is the next target.

Gordon asks what connection Dix would have to Boggs and Lewis that would make him assume he's the next victim in the killer's vendetta. Bullock silently shakes his head at Dix, telling his old partner not to say the truth. Dix replies that he merely worked with the other two cops.

Bullock adds that the four of them worked on a case together, back when Bullock was a rookie and before he and Dix were partners. He tells Gordon that it was an "open-and-shut case" about a woman who killed her husband—before adding that, regardless of his connection to them, Dix didn't kill Boggs and Lewis. Gordon seems hesitant to assume that, given Barbara's account of the scene and the fact that Dix is leaving town.

Suddenly, someone knocks on the apartment door. They open it, only to see another Dix staring back at them and on his feet. Bullock manages to pull a realistic, bloodied mask off of the fake-Dix's face in a fight before the intruder runs off.

Back at the GCPD, Gordon says that the mask is made out of human skin. Harper then hands him a file on Victoria Cartwright. Gordon says that he had her cross-reference every case Boggs, Lewis, Bullock and Dix worked with any cases involving a woman who killed her husband.

Bullock tells Gordon that Victoria Cartwright was "a banker who led a boring life." Dix says she went crazy and then killed her husband. Gordon points out that Victoria was only convicted on the statement of her daughter, Jane, and not any actual physical evidence. Gordon adds that Jane would be about 27 and asks where she is.

Bullock says that it doesn't matter; what matters is finding the killer. He points out that the killer could switch faces, like Basil from Indian Hill (aka Clayface), but Gordon seems convinced that this isn't the same person. He asks if they have an address for Jane. Harper says that they don't, but the family's old house is in the green zone. Gordon decides to go with Harper and another cop but tells Bullock to stay at the GCPD with Dix.

Once Jim leaves, Dix remarks that Boggs and Lewis must've been complete idiots to think it was Dix in the club. Bullock wonders if "the Cartwright girl" said something to someone. Dix isn't sure but says that the Cartwright girl is dead. A friend of his, who worked at Arkham, said she was an inmate who died a few years ago, so she can't be the killer.

Elsewhere, Gordon and co. enter the old Cartwright house. The place is messy and covered in dust webs, causing Harper to remark that it was likely abandoned long before the bridges blew. Gordon notices a framed family picture with the father's face scratched out.

One cop goes to search the attic while Gordon and Harper take the first floor. He finds a pile of bloody skin masks, but before he can investigate further, a woman in a white (non-skin) mask knocks him out from behind. She touches his face, and her skin begins to glow and transform. Seconds later, she looks identical to the cop.

Downstairs, Harper finds food, which means that someone must be still living in the house. She and Gordon then go upstairs and see the pile of masks. The fake-cop tells them that no one is in the house and that everything is fine, but Gordon spots the real cop lying on the ground and tackles the fake cop. He pulls the mask off, and the woman's face and hair reemerge. She quickly covers her face with her hands and begs him not to look at her.

They take the woman back to the GCPD, and Gordon puts her in the interrogation room while Bullock watches from behind the two-way glass. Gordon attempts to remove her mask, but she flinches and moves away from him. Gordon tells her that she can only keep the mask if she tells them what's going on.

Gordon asks who the woman is. She replies that she's "nobody." He then asks if she's Jane Cartwright. He points out that this mystery woman was in Jane's old home and is the right age. He asks what happened to the woman. When she replies, "nothing," he asks what happened to Jane.

The woman tells him that Jane was taken from Arkham, down into Indian Hill, where Hugo Strange experimented on her. She says that Strange as obsessed with creating a way for humans, like chameleons, to change their skin and outward appearance.

And now that I think about it, this woman right. Hugo Strange is obsessed with imitation. He created not only Clayface but Bruce's clone and possibly others—Isabella, for instance, may have been a clone of Kristin Kringle, though we'll likely never know. It's interesting that so many of his test subjects were designed to mimic other people. I wonder if that was his idea, or if the Court of Owls was planning to replace multiple people, not just Bruce, with duplicates who would serve the Court.

But I digress. The woman says that Strange made it so that Jane could change her entire body with a single touch and that after she's done being someone, she sheds their skin (hence the bloody masks). She then reminds Gordon that she's already touched him.

"We can help you, Cartwright," he says. But the woman insists that Jane Cartwright died in Arkham; now she's Jane Doe. Gordon asks why Jane killed the cops, and she replies that he should ask Bullock.

After Gordon leaves the interrogation room and Bullock steps out of the hallway, Jane stretches and manipulates one of her hands so that it slips out of the cuff.

A little bit later, Bullock and Dix meet in the locker room. Bullock says that they needed somewhere quiet to talk because the two of them "did a bad thing." Dix refutes this, saying that Victoria Cartwright was guilty and got what she deserved. Bullock replies that Dix didn't get what he deserved and says that he made Jane into a murderer.

"I'm gonna make sure you never do that again," Bullock says, as he begins to choke Dix.

Meanwhile, Barbara enters the GCPD to talk to Gordon. She tells him that the bartender heard the killer say something before he stabbed Boggs and Lewis—"The kid's guilty too." Barbara says that she's been thinking about what Gordon said about her being a known criminal and adds that she heard about Eduardo's list of people that he was supposed to arrest and/or execute. She asks if the government will arrest her if and when they step in to fix Gotham.

Gordon says that he's not sure, but Barbara points out that it would work out for him if she had to go to jail and he got to keep the baby. He says that he doesn't want that to happen. Barbara, in turns, asks if that's a promise on his part—and if she goes straight from now on, will she get to stay out of jail?

Before Gordon can answer her, Bullock walks in. Gordon asks where he took Dix, but Bullock replies that he didn't take Dix anywhere. They then search the GCPD and find Dix's body in the locker room. Gordon realizes that Jane must've disguised herself as Harvey and killed him.

With that in mind, Gordon puts the GCPD on lockdown, though Harper anxiously points out that Jane could look like anyone now. Suddenly, Barbara re-enters, wearing the same coat as earlier. She says that she's been attacked and sounds a little more hysterical than usual. Gordon asks how we know that she's the real Barbara.

Suddenly, another Barbara (Barbara 2) walks in. Barbara 1 says to shoot Barbara 2, but Barbara 2 tells them that she's the real one.

Gordon asks the two Barbaras to tell him where he and Barbara first met. Unable to give the real answer, Barbara 1 (aka Jane) holds Barbara 2 at gunpoint. Jane says that if anyone tries to follow her out, she'll shoot Barbara. Barbara says that they should just shoot Jane, but Gordon says they can't risk hitting her.

Barbara, however, manages to escape from Jane's grip with only a minor graze from a bullet. Jane then runs away.

Bullock finds Jane, some time later, back in her old house. He says that he's sorry, that it was his job to protect her and he let her down. Jane says that Bullock and his friends made her into a murderer and have to face the consequences of what they did.

As they draw guns on each other, Jane says that he might as well shoot her, since he killed Jane years ago anyway. Bullock puts his gun down and asks to see her real face. Jane replies that she's a monster now; Strange destroyed her face and Bullock destroyed her soul. He asks a second time.

Jane then removes her white mask to reveal . . . an ordinary face, though she seems to think it was deformed or ruined in Arkham.

Bullock tells her that they can work things out, but Jane replies that the only way this confrontation can end is with one of them dead. She raises her gun to shoot him, but he draws his and kills her first. Afterward his hands shake, and it's clear that he's been traumatized by the experience.

After returning to the GCPD, Bullock tells Gordon the truth: Victoria Cartwright killed her husband, confessed, and later recanted. Bullock wanted to make detective, so he pressed Jane to make a statement. Bullock later found out that the husband had beaten both Victoria and Jane. He says that he knew something was wrong about the situation, but he listened to the others and kept quiet to close the case. After a while, he stopped feeling guilty, and he became more callous.

But once Bullock met Gordon, he began to change. Despite that, however, he can't change the past or what happened to Jane. Gordon asks if Bullock's asking for forgiveness and says he can't give it. Bullock replies that he just wanted Gordon to know the truth.

Plot B: Don't You Know That You're Toxic?

At the clinic in the Green Zone, Alfred and Bruce meet with a badly wounded woman. Alfred asks her to repeat her story for Bruce. The woman explains that she lives in a crowded shelter with close-knit people who have come together since the river was poisoned by Jeremiah.

She then says that, a few weeks ago, she heard rumors about something living underneath the building where it connects to the sewers. Not long after, people started to go missing, so she and her husband, Hank, went to look for them. That's when something attacked them in the darkness. The woman hit her head and was knocked unconscious. When she woke up, Hank was gone, and she was alone. The woman begs them to find Hank, and Bruce promises that he and Alfred will do whatever they can.

He and Alfred then step out in the hallway to talk. Bruce thinks that they should call Gordon.

(Batman? Calling the police? It's more like you than think, apparently.)

Alfred says that the GCPD are stretched thin already. Bruce replies out that they don't even know what the threat is, but Alfred points out that Hank is in danger and that the woman came to them for help. He asks what Bruce thinks they should do, and Bruce admits that they should go find Hank.

A little later, Bruce and Alfred explore the basements that run along the sewers. Bruce notes that toxic chemicals in the river have the potential to cause a lot of damage to the city, and Alfred tells him not to touch anything.

As they walk on, they find a detached, bloody arm on the ground. Alfred spots bite marks on it and says that they don't look human. The two of them then spot a bloody trail from where the supposed creature must have dragged its victim away.

They follow the trail and begin to hear growling in the sewers. Just as the battery on Bruce's flashlight starts to die, someone tackles the two of them. It's a hysterical man who says someone ("he") is coming to kill him and that he just barely escaped from his attacker.

This man is Hank. Alfred asks if there's anyone else alive in the sewers, but Hank says that all the other victims are dead.

Suddenly, they begin to hear growling again and a large, somewhat deformed, and rabid man knocks Bruce down and drags Hank away. Bruce and Alfred chase after him.

Bruce deduces that the toxins must have damaged the wild man's body and driven him mad. He and Alfred fight the wild man. Just as their opponent gets the upper hand over Alfred, Bruce begins to throw blades at his back. Once the wild man is distracted by the pain, Alfred begins to beat him relentlessly. Bruce actually has to pull Alfred off and tell him to stop, which is a reversal of how things usually go with these two.

Back at the clinic, Hank reunites with his wife. Bruce tells Alfred that, according to one of the nurses, the man who attacked them suffered brain damage due to the toxic chemicals in the river—damage that is likely irreparable. Alfred regrets that they weren't able to save the other victims, and Bruce says they were reckless not to go to Gordon from the beginning.

Alfred argues that they "took decisive action" and saved Hank. He tells Bruce that Gotham's citizens are suffering and needs a protector. Bruce agrees but tells Alfred that "there are better ways to find absolution." He says that Alfred has been blaming himself for what happened to Wayne Manor when it wasn't his fault that their home was destroyed.

Alfred replies that he feels responsible for its destruction because he wasn't strong enough to fight off Mad Hatter or Jeremiah. He then says that he's worried that Bruce lost his "last tie to the past" when the manor blew. And in a way, he's right. Wayne Manor was the last physical reminder of what Bruce's life was like back before his parents died, before he began the path to becoming Batman. The house was a symbol of who Bruce used to be, and it's sad to see it all go up in smoke.

"I must never be that weak again," Alfred says.

"Part of being a family is that we can be strong for each other," Bruce replies.

Plot C: I'm Not the Dummy, You Are.

Elsewhere, the Riddler works with tools and looks over the submarine schematics. Suddenly, a line of bells goes off, tripped by someone's entrance into the room. Riddler turns and raises a gun, only to see that the "intruder" is Penguin. He says that Penguin should've been back hours ago. Penguin replies that he meant to come back sooner, but he had to get the lunch—and, on the way, he hired Dale (a large man standing next to him).

Riddler angrily tells Penguin that their escape plan is supposed to be secret. Penguin replies that Dale is not only trustworthy but also mute. Riddler says that he put up the "alarm system" to alert them of intruders, but Penguin says that he thought they needed muscle.

"At least you're doing something," Riddler mutters.

Penguin then asks how the Riddler's work on the submarine ("the S.S. Gertrude") is going. The Riddler replies that it's fine, but says that the sonar is more complicated than he'd previously thought. Penguin says that he's sure Riddler will figure it out. Riddler replies that of course he'll figure it out, just like he did with every other step in building the submarine, because he's the only one putting in any work.

Penguin says that he already did his share of the work when he stole everything in Gotham, but Riddler points out that Penguin's thieves did the actual stealing and that he killed them afterward.

Suddenly, someone trips the alarm bells. It's a very-much-alive Mr. Penn, who enters with a suitcase in his hand. Penguin is initially happy and shocked to see him, before switching to anger that Penn has only just now returned to him after being presumed dead for a month or so.

Penn says he wanted to return to Penguin but that someone wouldn't let him. He then opens his suitcase to reveal a manakin dressed like a gangster and sets it on his shoulder. He introduces the dummy as "Mr. Scarface."

Penguin is incredulous and doesn't believe that Scarface could make Penn do anything. Penn replies that Scarface is "persuasive" and made Penn tell him about Penguin's treasure. Penguin laughs and says that Penn needs to rest and see a psychiatrist. He adds that once Penn has done both of those things, they can talk about him resuming his position (though he won't get any pay for the time he was gone).

As soon as Penguin turns his back on Penn, Scarface yells at him to shut up (though, if you look closely in this episode, you can see Penn's mouth moving slightly). He asks if Penguin is the punk "who thinks he's in charge." Penn confirms this. Riddler tells Penguin to make Penn leave, but Scarface says that no one's going anywhere and orders Penn to show Penguin that he's serious. Penn responds by pulling out a gun and shooting Dale.

Scarface orders Penguin and Riddler to hand over their guns, and they do, albeit reluctantly. Penguin asks what happened to Penn after Haven was destroyed. Penn replies that after he was shot, he woke up alone in the GCPD morgue, patched his wounds, and crawled out. He then hid in an abandoned magic shop where Scarface found him.

Scarface interjects that that was when Penn told him all about how Penguin used him and treated him poorly. Penguin says that's not true, but Riddler replies, "That is what you do."

Penguin asks what Penn wants. Penn replies that he doesn't want anything, but Scarface wants the treasure and to "be the boss." Penguin asks why he should give Scarface the key to his treasure room if he's probably just going to kill Penguin afterward. He then groans in frustration, realizing that he's talking to a doll.

Riddler says that Penguin deserves this comeuppance.

"You're opportunistic," he says, "your loyalty is shaky at best, and you will hurt anyone, anyone, to get what you want." Penguin, however, replies that the Riddler might as well be the pot calling the kettle black.

Riddler then asks Scarface what he'll do after he gets the treasure and becomes the boss. He says that people will come after Scarface and try to take his wealth and power. He then adds that Scarface wouldn't have to fight anyone off if he had a way to get off the island and begins to tell him about the submarine.

A little bit later, Riddler and Penguin bicker while Penn and Scarface discuss Riddler's suggestion. Penguin is furious that Riddler would tell Scarface about the sub and "play along with his psychosis." Riddler replies that Scarface was about to kill Penguin and that telling him about the sub bought time. He adds that he has an idea and tells Penguin to wait for his signal.

Scarface tells the two of them to shut up. Penn says that they've decided that the sub is a good plan. Scarface, however, adds that while they need the Riddler to build it, they don't need Penguin (which means that he's dead meat).

Penn raises his gun, all the while apologizing to Penguin. Penguin replies that while Scarface accused him of manipulating and using Penn, Penguin never asked him to kill anyone. He tells Penn to think of everything they've been through, from the fight against Sofia Falcone to starving after the bridges blew. Scarface replies that Penn starved while Penguin and his dog ate steak (which is true).

Penguin admits that he hasn't been a good friend to Penn and anyone else.

"It's why I'm alone," he says.

Penguin then adds that in spite of this, he saw Penn for who he was and valued that person, which must be worth something. Scarface replies that Penguin is a liar and a thief, and Penn agrees that all Penguin does is take from people without giving back. He says that Penguin worked him too hard and made Penn his puppet.

Riddler then uses his machinery to produce a loud sonar ping, which distracts Penn long enough for Penguin to lunge at him. Penn and Scarface fight back, but Penguin manages to shoot Scarface down. Penn then thanks Penguin for freeing him, and Penguin seems happy to have the old Penn back. However, before he can rejoice, the Riddler shoots Penn in the head, seemingly killing him for good this time.

Penguin asks why the Riddler would do that when the dummy was the real threat. The Riddler replies that he accepts Penguin for he is and vice versa.

"And, as friends, I think we can both agree that that lunatic had to be stopped," Riddler says.

Penguin laughs and replies, "Perhaps, Edward, we really are meant for each other." The Riddler joins him in laughing.

The Verdict

Plot A: I'm not sure how to feel about Plot A. On the one hand, it was a breather episode focusing on Harvey's past, and not much of it (save the parts with Barbara) will probably be important in later episodes. On the other hand, it was an emotional and intense episode that delved into Bullock's past, reminded us of the mistakes he's made, and introduced a tragic villain (albeit one who died early and probably won't return).

In general, most of the "twists" with Jane felt predictable, and this part of the episode wasn't engaging. I know it was probably supposed to be a break from the weightier episodes with Eduardo and Jeremiah, but it still felt like a waste of time to focus on a one-off villain. And the episode didn't tell us anything about Bullock we don't already know. We know he used to be immoral, we know he used to be corrupt, we know he's changed since he and Gordon became partners.

So I'd probably give this plot 2 stars out of 5.

Plot B: Not much to report on this plot, honestly. I was kind of hoping that it was going to be Man-Bat killing people in the sewers and that Bruce would have a moment where he realizes how much he really hates bats.

As it is, Plot B mainly felt like filler. It's nice to see Bruce trying to help people, but I'm ready for him to put on a mask and beat up big criminals. Also, in a 12-episode season, it doesn't really sense to waste time on a plot the revolves around Bruce saving some unimportant minor characters who we'll probably never see again. It's dead weight, and it's the weakest part of the episode.

Plot C: Plot C is interesting in that it shouldn't really work as well as it does. It shouldn't work for Gotham to introduce its version of the Batman villain Ventriloquist halfway through its final season only to kill him off in the same episode before he can accomplish anything.

It shouldn't work. And yet, it does. It works for few reasons:

  1. This is Gotham. In a show with super-powered criminals, mystic cults, mind control chips and trippy hallucinatory sequences, having the Ventriloquist show up is hardly the weirdest thing to happen in five seasons. It fits the wacky, surreal tone the show has built up. By the way, if you want to learn more about Mr. Penn, Scarface, and Gotham's fifth season, you can click here to listen to a podcast interview with Andrew Sellon (the actor for Penn).
  2. This is Gotham's final season and therefore the writers' last hurrah. This is their final chance to introduce new villains and develop the ones that they already have. It's possible that they had a slower burn planned for Penn, but the 12-episode structure forced them to lessen his role in season 5. As it is, I enjoy seeing the character brought to life in live-action.
  3. The plot itself isn't about Penn or Scarface: it's about Penguin and Riddler's partnership. It's about how they come to terms with how they can still work together after being enemies for so long. It's about Penguin apologizing for his manipulative and selfish behavior and Riddler forgiving him. It's about the two characters coming to an understanding of who the other is. It's about returning the friendly yet argumentative banter of an odd friendship that started three seasons ago.

That's what it comes down to, for me: I care about Riddler and Penguin's friendship, and it's more important to me than Bullock's shady past or Bruce and Alfred searching for a man in the sewers. That's why Plot C was my favorite part of the episode.

Overall, I'd probably give the episode a 6 or 7 out of 10. I agree that viewers probably needed a break from the more intense Eduardo and Jeremiah-centric episodes, but a breather episode doesn't need to be as irrelevant to the rest of the season as this one felt.

(Side note: if you want an example of a good breather episode, take a look at Daredevil's "Nelson v. Murdock." It sidelines the action sequences and main plot to focus on the previously-unknown past between Matt Murdock and Foggy Nelson while also exploring the new tension and distrust in their friendship. "Nelson v. Murdock" is a good example of how to give the audience a rest from the action while still exploring emotional aspects of characters that will have an impact on the rest of the season.)

Come back next week for a recap of episode 5x09, "The Trial of James Gordon." Until then, have a good week, and try to stay out of abandoned magic shops.