Wednesday, November 8, 2017

'Gotham' Recap: "A Day in the Narrows" (4x07)

Welcome back to another Gotham recap. For this week's episode, "A Day in the Narrows," I'm trying something different. Instead of going through the entire episode chronologically, I'm going to break the recap up by talking about each plot separately. Hopefully, it should make things less confusing and a little more brief.

Warning for excessive violence and underage drinking.

I'll start with the A-plot, featuring Jim Gordon, the GCPD, Penguin, and Professor Pyg. The episode begins with Gordon and a recently-recovered Bullock arguing about whether or not the GCPD should be taking money from Penguin. Their conversation is interrupted by a delivery to the GCPD from Professor Pyg: 44 boxes filled with bloody severed pig's heads.

And the kicker? There are 45 cops in the GCPD. The only one who didn't get a pig head was Gordon.

Penguin shows up to the GCPD, offering the help of his "security consultant" (read: eccentric assassin), Headhunter, as Zsasz is apparently visiting his "bubby." Gordon wants the GCPD to handle it alone, but Bullock has already accepted the offer. Gordon snaps that he's legitimizing Penguin. Bullock replies: "He's been legitimized for years! He was the frickin' mayor!" (Which is actually a very good point.) Their argument is once again interrupted, this time by Detective Harper, who reports that three cops have gone missing in the Narrows.

Once the GCPD and Penguin's men meet up in the Narrows, they find a cop car left behind by Pyg and realize that there must have been witnesses. Bullock announces that since the people of the Narrows are tough and have a code of silence, they'll have to be hard on them. He tells Jim he'll do what he has to to find a cop-killer, but Gordon is intent on keeping the witnesses and civilians safe from Penguin's men. For once, I'm on his side. The police brutality in this episode is gratuitous to the point of making Gordon seem like a saint (which, I suppose, is the point). 

Gordon eventually gets an old couple to let him in. He tells them he can trust him and that he knows the three missing cops were running a protection racket. Before he can convince the wife to tell him what happened, Headhunter enters, beats the sickly husband, drags him onto the streets, and threatens to shoot if his wife doesn't say which way Pyg went. He says if she doesn't tell him, he'll just go from house to house until he gets an answer. This leads to a Mexican stand-off with Gordon and a Headhunter before the woman rushes in to tell them which way Pyg went. Once both Headhunter and the GCPD arrive at the location, they find one cop dead and the other badly hurt.

Over at the new orphanage, Oswald brags to Sofia about how "co-opting" the police to do his dirty work was a brilliant move. She says he doesn't want her opinion, but when he presses, she tells a nearby child to cover up his ears. Sofia then tells Penguin that her father never would've relied on the GCPD publicly because they're "incompetent and unreliable." When they mess up, it'll reflect badly on Penguin. He snaps that if that's the case, he'll go down to the Narrows himself to oversee things. She replies that he shouldn't have asked for her opinion if he didn't want it.

As Gordon rides in the back of the ambulance, the injured cop (whose name, I kid you not, sounds suspiciously like "Fazoli") comes to. He tells Jim that he never saw Pyg's face but that he and other cop were tortured for hours while Pyg sang nursery rhymes and babbled. Fazoli says he doesn't understand why Pyg's doing it. Gordon says it's partially because of Pyg's insanity but also partially because he's reached a breaking point.

"Sometimes, even I feel like breaking, y'know?" he says to Fazoli. Fazoli admits that he worked for Penguin, and Gordon confesses that he's done the same—but that they can make it right by destroying Penguin's empire and getting rid of the dirty cops. 

Fazoli then (conveniently) recalls that Pyg planned to "bring justice to where there is justice no more," and Gordon interprets this to mean an abandoned courthouse in the Narrows. Before Gordon tells the other cops, Fazoli tells him he's "one of the good ones."

But when Gordon gets to the courthouse, Penguin and his men are already there, along with the GCPD (both thanks to Bullock). Penguin boasts to the press that he spearheaded the siege against Pyg, and Bullock tells Gordon offhand that it's better to let Penguin's men go in first as cannon fodder.

Disgusted, Gordon backs away. He gets a blocked call from Pyg, who tells him that his named is spelled with a "y"—short for Pygmalion. However, instead of focusing on creating better people, as in the comics, this Pyg is intent on recreating a better Gotham and a better Gordon. He says if Gordon goes into the courthouse he'll die, and it's better to just let the scene play out. After all, he says, Gordon is "one of the good ones."

Gordon realizes that Pyg disguised himself as Fazoli. He tries to tell Bullock and Penguin that it's a trap, but they won't listen. Penguin asks why Pyg would want to save Gordon. 

"I'm against dirty cops!" Gordon insists.

"Except for all the times when you are one!" Penguin fires back (thank you, Oswald, for saying what we were all thinking).  Bullock orders Gordon to stand down, and cops storm the building. Bullock shoots at Pyg, only to realize that it was actually a policeman under the mask and that the room is rigged with machine guns. Gordon can tell by the noise that it's not the GCPD firing, so he decides to go in after them while Penguin's men chicken out and stay outside. He grabs one of their weapons and manages to take down the rigged machine guns and get everyone to safety, including Headhunter and Detective Harper. (Nice to see they haven't killed off another WOC cop. I hope she won't disappear like Montoya.)

Back at the GCPD, Penguin tries to distance himself from the incident as he speaks to the press. They turn to Gordon, asking how he found the bravery to save the cops. He simply replies that if Pyg is watching, he should know that Gordon is going to take him down. A few cops thank him as he walks past, but Bullock is bitter that Gordon is the hero while he (Bullock) shot a fellow cop by mistake (even though the cop did survive).

Pyg calls Gordon to praise him for getting things done, but Gordon's having none of it. As they talk, the camera cuts to Pyg stepping out of the ambulance and stripping away his disguise. He vows to keep going, claiming Gordon inspired him by saying how the rot has infested all of Gotham.

And over at the Iceberg Lounge, Headhunter admits that Gordon was right, and Penguin stabs him to death. Penguin's clearly upset from his very public failure, which is due in no small part to Sofia Falcone. By suggesting he shouldn't trust the GCPD, she manipulated him into going to the Narrows and connecting himself to the event. 

And Penguin's failures don't stop there. When a licensed robber gets taken into the GCPD, one of the cops Gordon saved tells him that they're not accepting licenses anymore. Gordon's pleased, but Bullock looks on in seeming discontent.

And now, on to the B plot. Or, as I like to call it: "Man, Bruce. Back at it again with being a billionaire brat."

Alfred thanks Bruce for letting a society host their annual charity cocktail at Wayne Manor. Bruce testily replies that at least he doesn't have to leave the house. He then snaps at a waiter for bumping into him. Bruce stalks off and Alfred follows him into the kitchen. He tells him that although Bruce is understandably still reeling from what happened with Ra's, he needs to face his anger before he (or anyone else) gets hurt.

A little bit later, a girl walks into the kitchen to say hi. Turns out her name is Grace and she's an old classmate of Bruce (who is sitting alone now). She asks if he's as bored as she is at the charity event, and he replies "You'd have to be pretty bored." She asks if he wants to leave with her, and he readily agrees.

They meet up at one of Grace's friend's houses, which leads to Bruce meeting a few new faces, and one old one: Tommy Elliot (well, I say "old" lightly. They did switch actors, according to If you don't remember his alter ego from the comics, you might remember him from season 1.

Bruce beat up Tommy for saying rude about his mother (rule one: don't ever bring up Martha Wayne). However, in this episode, Tommy brushes it off and says he deserved it for being a jerk. I'm not a hundred percent if he's really gotten over it or if he's faking. On the one hand, he seems pretty sincere, but on the other hand, he thought Bruce was going to kill him, so I probably wouldn't be over that either.

The other boy in the group, Brant, sarcastically asks what Bruce does for fun. He replies, without missing a beat, "I used to walk on rooftops and fight crime, but now I'm not so sure."

Bruce, why would you say that out loud?

Brant just thinks Bruce is being weird and makes a joke about Alfred. Bruce punches him in the face, freaking everyone out, but PSYCH! It's just Bruce imagining what he wants to do. In real life, he plays off the comment after a beat of silence. The gang decides to head to the club. Tommy tells Bruce that it should be fun, even though Brant is a jerk. (If Tommy's actually being nice for real, this might mean he and Bruce are getting closer to their childhood friendship from comics.)

When they get to the club, Brant can't convince the bouncer to let him in. Bruce savagely replies: "He knows who you are, he just doesn't care." Brant calls Bruce a dork and a freak, but Tommy tells him to stop. Bruce walks right past them and talks to the bouncer and another man. And, a few minutes later, he tells the gang that they're all allowed in, before pulling off a spectacularly Bruce Wayne move:

Why tell the bouncer you're one of the biggest names in Gotham when you can just buy the club he works at?

As the night goes on, Grace says she always suspected there was another side to Bruce. "I think I'm gonna try it out for a while," he replies. Cue a montage of him drinking, dancing, and making out with Grace. All in all, it looks like he's going to have a killer hangover and it looks like we're going to see a lot more of Bruce truly being a billionaire brat.

And finally the C plot, featuring Babs, Tabs, and Selina. Back at the weapons facility, Barbara tells Selina and Tabitha that since Ra's is gone, she's shutting down the business. Tabs is ticked that Babs came to them offering a partnership when she really just needed people to work for her. Selina insists that they can still keep the business running and spy on the gangs as originally planned. Babs says that's not going to happen and gives her version of "sisterly advice": that it's better to work alone. After she leaves, Selina tells Tabs that she already spied on a motorcycle gang, knows where they keep their cash, and that the two of them can rob them blind. Tabs says they'll find something else, but Selina doesn't seem to buy it.

Sure enough, she breaks into the gang's hideout on her own, all decked out in proto-Catwoman gear.

(I'll admit, I have conflicting feelings about this suit. On the one hand, it looks amazing. But on the other, it does nothing to hide Selina's very visible, very distinctive hairstyle. Girl, either straighten your hair and wear a hood, or just go for the cowl, ears and all.)

Selina sneaks in and breaks into the trunk of a car, which sets off an alarm. She manages to grab the cash and hide, but since the gang knows she's somewhere in the building and is on the lookout, she can't move. She calls Tabs for backup. Tabs berates Selina for going against her wishes but agrees to come and get her. She tries to persuade Babs to help, but Babs wants to leave Selina to do it on her own. Tabs shows a surprising amount of emotion as she insists that Selina came to her looking for a "purpose and a home," and snaps at Babs for only caring about herself.

Tabs manages to make a distraction and sneak in. She finds Selina and says she'll draw their fire while Selina gets away. Selina refuses, saying they have to stick together. But before they can strike, Babs shows up and deals with the problem in her own unique way.

After shooting every gang member present, she asks for her cut. Selina asks if it's over, but Babs replies that their business is back on. The three of them walk out with the cash, with an awesome rock 'n' roll number playing in the background, cementing their status as Gotham's Sirens.

The Verdict:

A Plot: Surprisingly sympathetic. While I understand that it's not necessarily the best idea to make one character look better by making others worse, that tactic works very well in this episode. It's been a while since I really sympathized with Gordon and was able to see him as a good guy. This episode accomplished that. For the first time in a long while, I got a glimpse of the idealistic Gordon from the pilot episode, the Gordon who could become the good, untainted commissioner from the comics. I've never seriously doubted that Gotham's Bruce would become Batman, but I have doubted that this Gordon could ever become the true Commissioner Gordon of old. This episode brought back that hope.

B Plot: A delightfully entertaining train wreck (in the best way). While it's painful to see Bruce making bad choices to ignore his inner pain, I'm interested to watch him become more a billionaire brat. Looks like it's going to be for real this time, at least until he has some sort of epiphany that snaps him back into vigilante mode.

I'd also like to say that it was a good call on the writers' part to make Bruce 12 years old at the beginning of the show, rather than the traditional eight. If he was 11 now instead of 15, we wouldn't get to see him slipping into these early playboy tendencies.

I'm also excited to see what the show has in store for Tommy Elliot, but given his comic-book future and what happened to Alex Winthrop, I know better than to think Gotham will give Bruce a true friend his own age for long.

C Plot: Refreshing. If you'd told me two seasons ago that Tabitha Galavan would become a sympathetic character, I would've laughed in your face. But in this episode, she genuinely treats Selina like family (and not like Silver, who she pushed out a window) and has her best interests at heart. While I still wouldn't trust Babs, it's fun to see the three of them teaming up to be the Sirens. It's just too bad Ivy's not allowed to join the party.

Overall, this was a great episode. Nygma and Grundy may have been absent, but given the amount of focus they had in the past two episodes, it felt good to take a breather from their story line. 

Got any thoughts on the episode? Or this new recap format? Comment below, and come back next week to read my recap for episode 4x07, "Stop Hitting Yourself."


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