Sunday, April 26, 2015

Gotham Recap: Under the Knife

Another Monday has come and gone, and this week we’ll be delving into a very important episode. What with Eddie’s turning point, and some very interesting plot twists involving Oswald and his mother, there’s lots of fascinating stuff to talk about. So let’s get started! We would like to remind readers that Gotham contains adult content and viewer discretion is advised. Trigger warning for violence and blood. Spoilers ahead.

Bruce is still shaken after witnessing Cat murder Reggie. He gets upset and tells her she didn’t have to kill him, but Cat insists it was necessary. He would have gotten them killed, and may have even been the one who killed Bruce’s parents. Besides, she says, he wanted to kill Reggie too, but didn’t have the guts. Cat then tells Bruce not to tell a soul about what she did.

The killing continues to haunt Bruce throughout the episode. At one point, he asks Alfred if he found it necessary to kill people when he fought in the war. The question bothers Alfred, but he assures the boy that killing was necessary. When Bruce brings up the subject with Cat again, he insists she not kill anyone ever again. He says she can blame it on “not having the guts” all she likes, but there are some lines he won’t cross, and killing is one of them. Cat tells him that’s where they’re different — she’d do it again, and it wouldn’t bother her one bit.

The children turn their focus on the next step of their plan — finding out what Sid Bunderslaw, the man who hired Reggie to spy on Bruce, is up to. Bruce remembers that every senior executive at Wayne Enterprises has a safe in their office, and believes Bunderslaw might be keeping his secrets in there. Cat believes he probably keeps the key to the safe on him, and says if Bruce can get her close to him she can steal it. Bruce realizes Bunderslaw will most likely attend the upcoming Wayne Ball.

Bruce announces that he will be attending the Wayne Ball with Cat as his date, to Alfred’s great interest. Barbara is also surprised to hear Cat is going to the ball with Bruce, and helps her learn to walk in the required fancy dress shoes.


The hard work pays off, though. When Bruce arrives to pick Cat up, he’s dazzled by the sight of her. And who wouldn’t be?


Barbara tells Cat to look for her at the ball, and the two kids head to the event.

No one can resist the sight of the baby bat and baby cat dancing together. And that goes for both viewers and the attendees of the Wayne Ball. They’re like a perfect mini couple out of a Gotham Cinderella story.


Finally they spot Sid Bunderslaw. Bruce distracts him while Cat steals his key and makes a mold of it, placing the original back in his pocket. Success.

Cat gets a glimpse of Barbara at the ball, and shows a momentary expression of fear when she sees Barbara’s date. Bruce asks what’s wrong, but she says it’s nothing.

Barbara’s date, of course, is the major villain in this three-part series of episodes, the Ogre. As was established last week, the Ogre targets the loved ones of those who investigate his killings. And now that Jim is hot on his trail, that puts Jim’s loved ones in danger. Former loved ones too, apparently. Before the ball, we see the Ogre target Barbara, mistakenly thinking she’s still dating Jim. After a dinner date, Barbara takes him back to her apartment. But things go a bit sour for the Ogre when he lets slip that he thinks Barbara has a boyfriend.


Offended, she asks him to leave. It would never have worked anyway, she says; as soon as people get to know the real her, they run away screaming (true). You’d think that would be the end of the line for the Ogre’s plans for Barbara, but it turns out she gave him just the right amount of info to help him get to her heart next time they meet at… you guessed it… the Wayne ball, where Cat spotted them.

The Ogre uses her insecurity to get back in her favor. He tells her he really identified with what she said about no one being willing to love her when they get to know the real her. He understands what it’s like to be unloved, and to be different on the outside than you are on the inside. “Aren’t you tired of hiding?” He asks her.

This tactic works like a charm. Not only is Barbara intrigued by him, she also seems to be intrigued by the danger she senses in him. She follows him back to his place after the ball and sees the door to his room of torture.


But instead of being frightened by this, she seems pretty into it.


Looks like Barbara has a pretty strong Anastasia Steele streak in her after all.

Jim accidentally scares Lee checking up on her in her apartment. He informs her about what’s going on —  that going after the Ogre will make her a target —  and asks her to leave town during the investigation. She refuses to leave Gotham, but tells him to catch the killer.

Jim and Harvey talk to Detective Ben Mueller, a former investigator of the serial killings who dropped the case after the Ogre killed his wife. He’s reluctant to talk, as he still fears for the safety of his daughter, but Jim and Harvey motivate him by showing him the pictures of all the young ladies that were killed since he dropped the case. They tell him that they found some parts of his notes scratched out, and ask him for the missing information. He says he discovered the first victim, Julie Kimball, worked as a nurse at a private medical clinic dedicated to cosmetic work. The two detectives attempt to get information about Julie from Dr. Cushman at the cosmetic facility, but he refuses to talk and demands they get a warrant first.

On their way out, they walk by an alley where a familiar car is parked. They remember seeing it earlier, parked outside the precinct. Suddenly, the driver of the car attempts to run them over. Once at the station, Jim gets a call from the driver, who is, of course, the Ogre.


The serial killer sarcastically calls Jim “the rising star of the GCPD” and threatens to kill someone Jim loves if he doesn’t drop case. Unwilling to give up the search, Jim makes a televised statement telling the public that a serial killer has been in their midst for years, protected by the fear of the GCPD, and that nothing will stop him from bringing the killer to justice.


Once he has a warrant, Jim returns to Dr. Cushman, who tells him he hired Julie based on the recommendation of Constance van Groot, a member of a very wealthy and renowned Gotham family. Jim and Harvey head to the van Groot mansion, where they find a very old corpse that was once Constance, save a man from an attempted suicide, and discover several photographs of a boy with his face scratched out. The man who attempted suicide, it turns out, is Jacob Skolimski, Constance’s butler and the father of the man now known as the Ogre. As they question him, the Ogre’s complex background comes to light.

From the few non-scratched photographs Jacob Skolimski managed to save, the detectives learn that the Ogre was born with a radically deformed face. His birth mother couldn’t stand the sight of him and left. And as the young boy grew up, he mistakenly believed Skolimski’s employer, Constance van Groot, was his mother. Being the cruel woman she was, Constance played along with this idea as a joke. And when the boy finally demanded she publicly acknowledge him as her son, she laughed — enraging him so much that he killed her. Skolimski helped cover up the murder, but insists he doesn’t know where his son is now. He is also convinced his son couldn’t possibly be the famed serial killer he’s believed to be, as his deformed face would surely not allow him to seduce women. Jim gets an admission from Dr. Cushman that the facility operated on the Ogre’s face, giving him the good looks he has now. From there, the detectives realize the killer must have met Julie, the woman recommended by his hated “mother”, at the facility and murdered her.

Suddenly, Jim remembers the Ogre’s comment about him being the “rising star of the GCPD”, and realizes where that phrase came from. It was the headline of an article — an article that showed him standing next to Barbara. He rushes to Barbara’s apartment, but finds she isn’t there. Cat tells him she went home with her date at the ball.


Cat admits the drawing does resemble the man she saw with Barbara. Which means, Jim realizes, that wherever Barbara is, the Ogre is with her.

Meanwhile, Oswald attempts to get some assistants in murdering Maroni by creating a rivalry between Victor Zsasz and some of Falcone’s other men. He seeks out Connor, Falcone’s second-most valued hitman, and tells him that murdering Maroni might lead Falcone to favor him over Zsasz. Connor agrees to this.

Oswald is horrified to find Maroni flirting with his mother. Gertrud seems to be falling for him completely, and neither she nor Maroni listen as Oswald tries to get them apart. Instead, they insist he sit down with them. Gertrud goes on and on about Oswald’s childhood, telling Maroni how proud she is of him owning his own nightclub. The tone of the conversation takes a more sinister turn as Maroni asks her if she really believes her son is merely a nightclub owner. She doesn’t understand what he means. Ignoring Oswald’s protests, Maroni grabs her and tells her all the murderous and psychopathic crimes Oswald has committed. And then—


That’s right. She faints.

Not dies. Faints.


Oswald takes his mother back to her apartment. Once she’s awake again, he attempts to pass the whole thing off as her having too much to drink and Maroni having an odd sense of humor, but she doesn’t buy it. Gertrud asks him if what Maroni said about him is true.


He insists he is nothing but a nightclub owner. Exhausted, Gertrud goes to bed; and Oswald cries, having to outright lie to his mother for the first time.

His sadness and anger turns dangerous when a knock on the door reveals a deliveryman bringing flowers Sal Maroni ordered for Gertrud.


Hearing the noise, Gertrud asks what’s going on. Oswald tells her it’s one of the neighbors asking for help.


Over at the station, Eddie sees bruises on Kristen’s arm and discovers her new boyfriend, Tom Dougherty, has been abusing her. When he confronts Dougherty on this, telling him never to hurt Kristen again, the officer just mocks him.


Dougherty says that women need a firm hand. Particularly Kristen, who, he says, has got quite a tongue.

Later, Eddie sits in his car outside Kristen’s house to see if Dougherty comes back to bother her again.

When Dougherty eventually shows up, Eddie stops him, says he won’t let him hurt Kristen again, and tells him to leave Gotham tonight. Dougherty, of course, does not take him seriously, and starts beating him. Eddie surprises Dougherty — as well as himself —by suddenly stabbing him in the stomach. He continues to stab the man multiple times, until Dougherty falls to the ground, dead. Looking horrified at the dead body and the blood on his knife, Eddie switches between terror and laughing maniacally, as he realizes what he’s just done.


Final Thoughts: 

This, in my opinion, was the best episode in the series so far. The moments with Bruce and Cat at the ball were some of the best for their relationship we’ve seen. And all the important character moments and shocking plot twists were handled so well.

The way things were going with Eddie and Kristen, I was afraid it would be his bitterness against her that would eventually turn him evil. But I’m really glad they didn’t take that route (at least, they haven’t so far). Instead, it was his desire to keep Kristen safe and respected that led him to kill someone, and I love that. It strikes me as odd that Eddie’s actions would even be considered murder, though. Even if you disregard the Kristen angle, Dougherty would have beaten Eddie to a pulp if he hadn’t stabbed him.


Self-defense? I think so. Whether or not that argument would fly in a real life court, though, I’m sure the GCPD would favor Dougherty over Eddie. And Eddie’s guilt will drive him mad, regardless. I also found it interesting that they had Eddie switch between joyously insane and horrified after he saw that he had killed someone. It was strangely like Harvey Dent.

My absolute favorite moment in the episode, of course, was the exchange between Oswald and his mother, once she hears about what kind of person he truly is. I honestly love everything about their relationship, and it was amazing to see an episode so focused on them. I love that, despite how many terrible and psychopathic crimes the Penguin commits, he still gets broken up by lying to his mother. We don’t get to see many moments of Oswald being his true self, as he is almost always putting on an act to deceive others. But in that scene with his mother, he was purely himself.


This is the first time we’ve actually seen Oswald in such a vulnerable state that he cries. And, of course, Robin Lord Taylor gave an amazing performance. I’m really glad we got to see this. And not only that — we got to see it without losing Gertrud! Oswald’s mother actually survived the episode! And since she’s not listed in either of the upcoming episodes, she’s unlikely to die in either of them either. Which means, we will most likely get to enjoy her presence in Season Two as well.

I think Lee is being very foolish in insisting to remain in Gotham, rather than leaving the city during Jim‘s investigation. Hopefully the Ogre won’t turn his attention to her once he’s through with Barbara. It was also not so wise a move on Oswald’s part to turn people against Victor Zsasz. That could easily backfire. You do not want to get on Victor Zsasz’s bad side.

I also noticed a change of background music in this episode. I loved it. It gave the show a new tone that had more suspense, more force.

Overall, amazing episode. I hope the two remaining episodes of the season are just as stunning.

What’s To Come: 

With just two episodes left of this season, we are almost at the end. I’m really excited to see what direction they will take, and how they tease Season Two.

I’ve read that, at some point, Barbara and Lee will meet each other. I look forward to seeing how that goes, them being the two love interests of Jim Gordon this season. I’m interested in seeing how the plot with the Ogre will end. I have a hard time imagining everyone will get out of it alive, yet both Lee and Barbara have important futures in the Batman canon. It would be a huge deviation to kill one of them off, but it would also be a very interesting route to take.

Bruce and Cat will continue to investigate Bunderslaw. The show will finally introduce Lucius Fox. And from the previews, it looks like Bruce may discover the Batcave.

Oswald steps up his game, and the mob war becomes more intense, more dangerous. Fish goes up against him and Maroni. And we’ll be seeing more of her friend Kelly. I’m really curious about whether or not they’ll do something unexpected with his character. From publicity photos, it looks like Falcone is either killed or badly injured.

It may be possible he dies, and Oswald finally acquires his power in Gotham City by becoming Falcone’s successor.

We’ve reached an exciting point in the series, and I can’t wait to see what happens. Remember to catch the next episode of Gotham this Monday on Fox!


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