Wednesday, November 22, 2017

'Gotham' Recap: "Let Them Eat Pie" (4x09)

It's Wednesday, and you know what that means.

No. Well, yes, but no. It is Hump Day, but more importantly, it's time for another Gotham recap. This week's episode, "Let Them Eat Pie," follows two plotlines. The first revolves around the latest scheme of Professor Pyg and its effect on Gordon, Sofia, and Penguin. The second revolves around Bruce Wayne being a supreme billionaire brat. Let's begin with the first plot.

Warning for spoilers, violence, implied underage drinking, and some very disturbing subject matter.

Plot A: Pyg's Modest Proposal

The episode begins with Pyg, disguised as some kind of religious official, taking the poor into his van with the promise of feeding them a good meal. And I've just got to say, if you lived in a town like Gotham, why would you accept food from a total stranger? Yes, you're starving. Yes, he looks like a priest/rabbi. Still, that's just a disaster waiting to happen.

But I digress. Pyg takes some homeless people to a dinner of his own preparation and photographs each of them, labeling the photos with their names. He tells the people there are two categories of Gotham's citizens: the haves and the have-nots. As he tells them this, each person collapses on their plate, dead from poison. Pyg continues to monologue and promises that the "haves" of Gotham will taste what it is to be a "have-not."

(If you saw the Red Band trailer on YouTube, you know where this is going.)

Over at the GCPD, Harvey moves the last of his things out of Gordon's new office before preparing to go on leave. Gordon says he didn't want his promotion to happen like this. Harvey bitterly says that it is what it is. He also points out that a lot of what's going on in Gotham's underworld is indirectly Jim's fault for sparing Penguin.

Harvey insists that Gordon still doesn't understand how the city works. "Gotham doesn't need heroes," Harvey says. "It needs people who will do what's necessary." Gordon argues that the people of Gotham will learn to follow his example. He tells Harvey that there'll be a desk waiting for him when he returns from leave, but Harvey isn't so sure there'll be anything for him to do in the GCPD.

Over at the Falcone Orphanage, Sofia prepares for a fundraiser dinner that will feature the wealthiest citizens of Gotham. She asks Penguin to attend, but he's upset over Gordon's promotion. She points out that someone must have paid off the mayor, but that doesn't explain why Penguin can't come to her dinner. Penguin explains that the mayor is missing and he needs to find out who bribed him. Sofia says that it would mean a lot to Martin (the silent boy from the previous episode) if Penguin could attend, as he and some other orphans will be performing a song. Penguin agrees to consider coming. 

After Sofia exits, Mr. Penn asks why, if Penguin suspects Sofia, he doesn't just have Zsasz interrogate her. Penguin replies that Sofia is his only friend and he needs proof of her betrayal before he acts. The solution? Have Martin spy on Sofia. 

In the next room, Sofia (who seems to have overheard Penguin's conversation) calls Gordon's cell phone to tell him that Penguin suspects their partnership. He thanks her for the warning, but tells her not to call him again. After he hangs up, Harper tells Gordon there's a call for him on line one.

Who is it? Professor Pyg. He tells Gordon that he was right about Gotham's rot going from high to low and that the second phase of his plan is to hurt Gotham's elite. As Harper tracks the call, she realizes that Pyg is outside the precinct. She and Gordon rush outside, only to find a tent set up by Pyg. Citizens swarm it, disgusted at what's inside: two dead people dressed as French aristocrats, with pigs beginning to eat them. A card reads: "Vive la revolution." 

Thankfully, everyone's fave is here to help: Lucius Fox.

Lucius is able to ascertain that the victims were homeless. He also tells Gordon that Pyg removed organs from his victims. Gordon wonders why Pyg would go after the homeless. Lucius suggests that it was an act of madness, but Gordon insists that Pyg always has a plan. He decides to search the Narrow for Pyg.

As Gordon widens the radius of cops searching in the Narrows, Harper tells him that chemicals found on the victims are commonly used in paper manufacturing. The two of them decide to search a nearby paper factory. There, they find more dead homeless people, along with a smoker—causing Gordon to realize that Pyg's been cooking his victims. Gordon and Harper encounter Pyg outside the factory, but Pyg manages to stab Harper and take her hostage. He tells Gordon that the plan has to be seen through and that no one can eat until the table has been set. Gordon offers to be his hostage instead, but Pyg refuses, saying that both Gordon and Gotham have to see his final act.

Meanwhile, Penguin tells Martin that he suspects Sofia. He explains that she may only be pretending to be Penguin's friend. Penguin also suggests that she's using Martin. He continues, saying that there are two options: either Sofia chose Martin to get close to Penguin and prepared him for the role, or she simply picked a group of children and hoped one would get close enough to Penguin to make him vulnerable. Penguin tells Martin that in the second version, the boy would be innocent, which is what he wants to believe. In order to prove their friendship is real, Martin must spy on Sofia. Martin, though scared and upset, agrees.

Back in the narrows, the press asks Gordon for answers. He says that the GCPD is hopeful for Harper's safe return and will catch the Pyg. The press, in turn, asks if Gordon will be pushed aside like Harvey if he fails. He refuses to comment on that. They also ask him if it's true that Pyg is cooking his victims. Gordon, confused as to how they could've gotten that information, doesn't confirm or deny it. 

Gordon later confides to Lucius that he's worried there's a mole in the department, but Lucius points out that Pyg could've leaked that information himself. As the two of them search the Narrows, they find a painted excerpt from Jonathan Swift's "A Modest Proposal." Lucius explains to Gordon that the work suggested that the rich of England, who had already profited off the poor, should actually eat the poor. Gordon notes that the passage specifically mentions orphans, leading him to realize that Pyg will strike at Sofia's dinner. 

Gordon tells Lucius that he's going in alone so that none of the other cops will get lead into a trap. (As heroic as that sounds, however, I think being captain means that Gordon will have to eventually drop this lone-wolf attitude.)

At the orphanage, Sofia speaks with the chef (Pyg in disguise), who has added one item to the menu: Gotham meat pies, which are "to die for."

Sofia then greets Penguin, noting that Martin is happy to see him as well. She asks if he was able to find the mayor, and he replies that he was not. She then says she needs to check on the chef again since he seemed a little odd. Martin follows Sofia in an attempt to spy on her, but she asks what he's writing down.

Meanwhile, Gordon sneaks into the party but gets knocked out by Pyg's henchman and wakes up next to Harper, who's tied up and gagged with duct tape.

Back at the dinner, Sofia thanks Penguin for showing up in support of her orphanage and tells him that the children are about to sing. She tells him that things happen for a reason and hints that the person who got Gordon appointed as captain may have saved Penguin from the error of licensing crime. Penguin, however, says the person was trying to destroy him and tells Sofia that if she's going to confess, she should do it now and face the consequences. But before she can respond, Pyg walks in on them with a cleaver in his hand and announces that it's time to be seated.

The scene then cuts to Harper and Gordon, who manage to get loose, thanks to the former having a hidden blade strapped to her leg. 

(Seriously, I'm glad that Harper is shown as a competent cop and also that she survived this episode. When Pyg stabbed her, I was pretty worried.)

Back at the dinner party, Penguin asks Sofia if having Pyg show up is another one of her plans. Sofia is quick to tell him it's not. Pyg then announces a change in the evening's entertainment: he'll be performing the "Meat Pie Tango." The song is a parody of Chicago: The Musical's "Cell Block Tango" in which he sings about how the rich deserve punishment for neglecting the poor. Martin, a hostage of Pyg, plays a triangle during the song when told to.

Sofia asks where the other children are and is about to threaten Pyg, but he stabs her in the hand with a knife and tells Penguin that if he pulls it out, the next one goes in her eye. Pyg then explains that the children are safely locked up with the rest of Sofia's staff. 

He then explains that it is time for the rich to literally feed on the poor and tells the guests to open the envelopes next to their plates. Each one has a picture of the person that he used to make each pie. Penguin initially refuses to eat his. (I find that odd, since he was completely fine with cooking his step-siblings into a pot roast in season 2. Then again, we didn't see him eat the roast; he only implied that he had. Or maybe he doesn't want to eat innocent people). 

Pyg says that the guests must eat the pies, or else he'll kill Martin. One guest says he's not going to eat human flesh just to save one orphan. Penguin responds by ripping the knife out of Sofia's hand and stabbing that man in the head with it. Pyg, barely shaken, tells Penguin it's no coincidence that he came to the banquet. The people of Gotham prey on the poor, he says, and "You are the biggest glutton of them all."

Penguin, worried for Martin, dives into eating his pie.

Despite his sarcastic enthusiasm, Penguin is visibly disgusted by the taste of the pies. Still, he yells at the other guests that if they don't eat, he'll hunt them down and kill them. They reluctantly begin to join in, but Sofia can't feed herself because of her injured hand, so Penguin has to cut up the pie and feed it to her.

Gordon rushes in and shoots Pyg's men. Penguin yells at him to stop for Martin's sake, but Gordon presses onward as all the guests flee, along with Martin. After a somewhat lengthy fight involving knife-and-cleaver throwing, Gordon manages to get the upper hand on Pyg and bring him into custody.

Later, Penguin asks about Sofia's hand. She says it's all right, and he tells her that Martin is also unharmed. He then gets her to confess to making Gordon captain and says that, whether or not she truly had his (Penguin's) best interest in mind, she went behind his back. However, given her willingness to eat the pie to save Martin, Penguin decides to give her a second chance, provided she doesn't betray him again. He also agrees to get rid of the licenses but says he still needs to appoint a different captain. Sofia says that Gordon means "less than nothing" to her, but it's unclear if she's telling the truth.

Speaking of Gordon, he announces to the press that Pyg is under arrest and Harper is recovering in the hospital. The reporters actually thank Gordon for catching the criminal. As he leaves the press, he notices Sofia staring at him out of a window.

He later joins her inside. She says Gordon was the hero, and it proves he deserves to be captain. He replies that he does deserve the job, but he's going to make sure the city gets justice.  Sofia insists that she wants the same thing and that they're not enemies. She then kisses Gordon, who looks very unsure of what to do.

However, Martin sees the kiss and reports it back to Penguin, who thanks him but swears that Sofia will pay for betraying him. Sofia, I have one thing to say:

Still, it seems like Sofia's usually on top of things. Is this a part of her master plan? Only time will tell.

Plot B: Step aside Zuko, there's a new king of angst.

A hungover Bruce trudges into the kitchen and demands breakfast, but Alfred replies that he already ate it himself and tells Bruce it's nearly lunchtime. Bruce blearily asks for a coffee, causing Alfred to conclude that he's been out with Tommy and co. again. Alfred tells Bruce that he's lost and compares the boy to soldiers who can't return to normal life after the war. He says that Bruce has been fueled by vengeance for so long that he doesn't know what to do without it. Bruce mutters that he doesn't care and tries to call Tommy.

Alfred, however, grabs his phone and reminds Bruce that it's the day of their annual camping trip, which brings back some season 1 nostalgia.

(During episode 1x15, "The Scarecrow," Bruce tried to complete his and his father's annual camping trip alone, only to have Alfred follow him because he knew he couldn't do it on his own. Part of the tradition is that Bruce and Thomas would place stones with their initials in a pile for each year they made the journey.)

Alfred shows Bruce the stones and says that he needs to go on the trip because he needs to remember who he is.

Later, as they sit next to a fire eating stew, Alfred tells a petulant Bruce about how he first met Thomas Wayne. It was shortly after Alfred left the army. He had taken to drinking, getting in fights, and anything that resulted in general mayhem. One morning, Alfred woke up bloody in an alleyway with no memory of the night before. He decided to turn himself in, but they told him to wait. 

As Alfred waited, he met a preppy-looking American man who asked what happened. Before he knew it, Alfred told the man everything he'd been keeping inside, all of his misery and shame. Afterwards, the man (Thomas Wayne) covered for him by saying that Alfred had saved him from being attacked.

Alfred tells Bruce that his friendship with Thomas is what saved his life. He says he knows what it's like to want the world to punish you and insists that he wants to help Bruce. Bruce says that he just doesn't want to talk and walks over to the packs. He says the stones aren't there and must've fallen out in the car. Bruce takes the keys—only to drive off without Alfred.

Later that night, Alfred returns to Wayne Manor only to see Bruce throwing a wild party. Bruce cheerily asks him how his walk was. Alfred replies that his friends need to leave, but Bruce says they're staying because it's his house. Tommy says Alfred is out of line and needs to be kept in check, but Alfred tells him to back off. Tommy decides to leave and take his friends to a club.

After they exit, Alfred says Bruce has shown a different side of himself. Bruce replies that Alfred doesn't understand what he's going through (which is utter B.S.). He says that they're nothing alike and that Alfred can't help him. By killing Ra's al Ghul, he avenged his parents, but it didn't change anything. Bruce wonders why he did it if it didn't change anything and asks how Alfred could possibly help that. Alfred insists that Bruce needs to talk to him and face who he is. But Bruce gives a heartbreaking reply:

Bruce then leaves to join Tommy and the rest of the gang at the club.

The Verdict:

Plot A: Gruesome, but nothing spectacular. As interesting as this plot was, it mainly only worked because of the shock factor of cannibalism. Other than that, I'd have to agree with the AV Club that this episode was a little lackluster. Still, it wasn't a bad plot. I'd give it about a 6 or 7 on a scale of 1-10.

Plot B: Looks like they're not pulling any punches with this storyline. Bruce is lashing out at the person who cares about him most, and it's heartbreaking to see. Still, I like that the second the guests leave, he turns from a carefree partier back into his angrier self—which shows that the party-boy side of him is still just a mask. However, while he'll use it in the future to keep people from suspecting his vigilante activities, he's using it here as a way to escape the horror of what he's done.

As painful as this was to watch, I'd still say it's necessary, both as a means to developing Bruce's playboy persona and showing his inner turmoil after Ra's death. And as I said earlier, I'm confident that his jerk phase won't last too much longer—I agree with YouTuber BobaTalks that Bruce will probably sober up and suit up during the mid-season finale to fight a familiar foe. It's a confrontation I'm looking forward to seeing.

Overall, the episode was all right. I think it was more of a transitional story, as it appears to have set up confrontations that will come to a head next week. I hope you enjoyed this week's recap! If you have any questions, theories, or opinions about the episode, don't hesitate to comment on this post.

Also, just a note: there will not be a new episode airing tomorrow, most likely due to it being Thanksgiving. So my next recap won't be for another two weeks. Until then, have a happy Thanksgiving and don't eat any pies!


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