Wednesday, January 16, 2019

'Gotham' Recap: "Trespassers" (5x02)

Well, you know what they say: Another week, another Wednesday, another Gotham recap. (Well, “they” as in me.)

We’re two episodes into this season with ten to go. This week’s episode is called “Trespassers.” It focuses on three different plots: Gordon’s mission to save child slaves from a factory in a dangerous part of the city, Bruce’s quest to find the Witch who can supposedly cure Selina, and the Riddler’s ongoing attempts to figure out what he’s been doing in his sleep.

Warning: the following recap contains SPOILERS, as per usual, and the episode contains some abuse towards children and mentions of suicide.

Plot A: Oliver, But With a Twist

Gordon tells Harvey that the orphaned boy who came to them is named Will Thomas. Will’s parents were killed in a home invasion after the bridges blew and the killers (part of a group called the “Soothsayers”) took him to a factory in the Granton District where he and other stolen kids are chained together and forced to dig a tunnel. Will was able to break free and came to the GCPD for help.

Will asks if Gordon can save his friends and adds that the Soothsayers are probably angry about his escape and will punish the other kids as a result. Gordon promises to help.

Harvey, however, points out that there’s still a bounty on Gordon’s head and adds that if even if Gordon doesn’t get hurt, the people around him might get shot instead.

Gordon puts the conversation on hold to answer a call from his radio. Someone from the outside (presumably the government again), says that in order to maintain peace, Gordon needs to avoid confrontation. Gordon insists that the GCPD is the only one who can rescue the enslaved kids, but the voice says he’s missing the bigger picture. If Gordon’s mission is successful but he dies in the process, then he has jeopardized everyone who depends on him in order to save only a few lives. The voice says that Gordon needs to stay in the green zone and protect everyone who’s already inside.

Gordon says he needs supplies, not opinions, but the voice replies that neither the government nor Wayne Enterprises can send in any pilots until the airspace is declared safe. Gordon calls the voice out for hypocritically caring more about a couple of pilots than the thousands of people in Gotham (in other words, putting the needs of the few above the many, just as they told him not to do).

Gordon then tells Harvey that they need five men and transport for 20 kids or more. The two of them divvy up ammo for the mission, and Gordon says they’ll need to pass through Sirens territory to get to the Granton district, which will be four miles into the dark zone. Harvey’s not happy about this, as they have no idea what’s in the dark zone. He also points out that Barbara won’t be happy to see Jim after what happened to Tabitha. Gordon ignores this and tells Lucius that they’ll need housing for the kids when they return.

After arriving in Barbara’s territory, Gordon enters the Sirens’ Club, which is pretty busy. She asks why he’s out in the open when there are people ready to kill him for Penguin’s bounty. He says it’s because he needs a favor. Barbara laughs sarcastically and says that he did nothing when Tabitha was killed. Gordon points out that he did shoot Penguin, but Barbara says the shot only restored Penguin’s limp. She yells that she wants Penguin dead and then screams for all of the club’s guests to leave.

All the people clear the room, and Gordon asks if she’s planning revenge on Penguin. She says someone has to get rid of him. Gordon points out that attacking Penguin would be suicide, but Barbara says everyone in Gotham is slowly dying; there are just some people who get to choose how they die.

Gordon says he’s sorry for her loss and says he’s trying to keep the city from falling apart. Barbara says it’s too late and asks what favor he needs. Gordon says that he needs transportation. When she asks what for, all he says is that it’s a police matter.

She tells him where her trucks are and says “to knock himself out” but adds that he won’t last the night. As he leaves, she yells that all of Gotham is coming to kill Gordon, coming to kill its “most hated son,” and adds that no one deserves death more than he does. She then begins to cry and grabs a drink.

Later, as the GCPD enters the dark zone, Harvey remarks that the Granton District was already a cesspit before the bridges blew. Gordon guesses that not many people stayed in the area but is soon proven wrong as gangs emerge and begin to throw things (including arrows and other projectiles) at his truck. One of the gangs that spots the GCPD is made up of people with their faces painted to look like skulls.

Inside the factory that Will mentioned, a child collapses from exhaustion and one of the guards shocks him with a cattle prod. An older boy, Gabriel, rushes in and a masked guard, Sykes, asks if he’s making trouble again. Gabriel says that the kids needs water and food and adds that some haven’t slept in two days. Sykes says that Gabriel could’ve woken him up when Will ran away but chose not to.

Sykes then removes his mask. He says that if Will inhales the smoke from the masks (which all the guards wear), it’ll give him energy and see the future.

Sykes says that Gabriel doesn’t understand the importance of the work they’re doing. Once the tunnel is complete, the Soothsayers will have exclusive access to the mainland, and people will be force to do business with them.

Gabriel points out that the kids have been digging for a month and have only made it 100 feet. The tunnel is also too narrow, and when the roof collapses, the whole thing will flood. Sykes yells at Gabriel for being too negative and pulls a gun on him. Before he can pull the trigger, another Soothsayer approaches and tells Sykes that he needs to step outside.

Sykes and other Soothsayers meet the GCPD outside, and Gordon tells them to put their weapons down. Sykes says that this must be their lucky day; all they have to do is kill Gordon and they’ll be “bullet-rich.” The GCPD close in, and Gordon tells the Soothsayers again to lay down their guns. They do.

Gordon says that if the Soothsayers give them the kids, they’ll leave. Sykes claims that he doesn’t know about any kids and says the cattle prods are just for “fun.” Gordon doesn’t believe it and grabs Sykes’ keys. He tells the other officers to stay outside and shoot Sykes if he moves. Gordon then steps inside and frees the kids.

Outside, Sykes asks Harvey why anyone would choose to be a cop in Gotham. Harvey snarkily replies that the costume shop was out of gas masks, so "it was either this or sexy nurse."

During this exchange, one of the Soothsayers sneaks up on Harvey. Sykes tells Harvey that they don’t have enough ammo to “shoot a duck.” Harvey says they do, thanks to Penguin. They don’t believe him, but Gordon emerges and quickly shoots down the man who tried to get Harvey. This starts a shootout.

At the same time, the officers try to usher the kids into the truck safely. Gabriel helps the others in and spots two straggling girls. He goes over to help them, and the truck takes off, leaving Harvey and Gordon to cover the three kids and run away from Sykes’ gang.

The five of them hide in an abandoned hotel to get out of the daylight. Harvey points out that the lit candle in the room means that someone else was there recently. Gordon says that in the old west, settlers used to leave candles burning to lead others to safety and speculates that maybe kind people left it.

(I appreciate the optimism, Gordon, but this ain’t the 1800s.)

Gordon tells the kids to stay put while they look around. Gordon says he’ll take the next floor and tells Harvey to check the basement. Harvey (ever the genre-savvy cop) sarcastically asks, “What could go wrong?” but agrees to check it out. After the two of them go their separate ways, however, a masked woman in an old-fashioned dress appears behind the children.

Upstairs, Gordon finds a little boy and tells him it’s okay to come out.

Downstairs, however, Harvey finds a kitchen where glasses, watches, and teeth are set on platters—and the fireplace is full of bones. The woman appears and tries to attack him, and he runs to away while screaming for Jim.

Gordon asks the kid what his name is, but he says he can’t remember. Gordon asks about his parents, and the boy says that a gang murdered them and after he ran away, a woman found him. He calls her “the Ghost” and says that while she was kind at first, she can be very cruel.

Harvey joins them and says they need to leave because of the crazy lady. The kid agrees, saying that the Ghost hates strangers. Gordon says that there’s no such thing as ghosts and says they can protect him. The kid says they can’t and that the woman makes him call her “Mother.” He then closes the room’s doors and locks Gordon and Harvey inside.

The lights begin to flicker on and off and the boy says they’ll make the men fall dizzy and fall asleep. Harvey starts to collapse, and Gordon beats on the door. The kid says they can’t fight it and that they should just give in.

Suddenly, “Mother” appears behind Jim and attacks him and Harvey. They fight back, and Harvey smashes a window to let in the light. They knock off her mask and ask who she is. She claims to be the only mother the boy knows and says she’s protecting him from people outside who would’ve “killed him or worse.” She adds that she taught him how to survive. She then gets loose and runs away.

Harvey and Gordon go back to the kids and tell them they need to leave. As they exit, they go over ammo and Gordon notes that he only has two bullets left in his gun. They try to get in a car and escape, but the Soothsayers approach them before they can leave.

Sykes says he’s gonna kill them all, but before he can, the skull gang emerges and their female leader says that she’s going to be the one to collect the bounty on Gordon. Sykes replies that he’ll take his head and she can have the rest. As they argue, Gordon shoots the skull woman down, meaning that he’s down to one bullet.

Suddenly, Barbara shows up in a tank and shoots down both gangs before they can lay a finger on Gordon.

She says she might’ve been “a little rash” during their last talk and asks if the kids were the “police matter” he mentioned. Sykes tries to attack Barbara from behind, but Gordon shoots him down.

“Your last bullet just for me?” she snarks. “Must be love.”

(Don’t do this, Gotham. Don’t make me hope that Jim and Barbara can be reconciled. Every time I hope for that, you pull the rug right under my feet and I look like an idiot.)

Barbara says they’re still not quite even and says that Gordon’s going to help her kill Penguin. He says that they’ll discuss it after they get the kids to safety.

Once they’re back in the green zone, Lucius shows them the new apartments he found at Gordon’s request, which have gas but no electricity (yet). He mentions that after the kids arrived, the word got out that there’s a safe place to live and several citizens came flooding in. He predicts that the area will be full by nightfall, but Gordon says they’ll find more places to house people.

Barbara decides to leave, but tells Gordon that she’ll be back because the two of them have "unfinished business."

Plot B: Witch Hunts and Weird Herbs

Bruce opens a vine-covered wrought-iron fence and enters into an abandoned, overgrown park in the dead of night. As he steps inside a nearby building, he finds several dead bodies that are covered in more vines.

A group of three men approach him and ask if he’s with the witch. He says he’s not, but he needs her help. The men tell him that other people tried asking for help too, but she killed all of them, “took their souls,” and now they’re stuck in the vines. They add that they’ve managed to subdue the Witch by locking her in a storeroom, stripping it of all plants (because she can “talk” to them), depriving her of light and water, and placing salt on the floor. Once more men arrive, they plan to burn her for good.

Bruce decides to lie and tells them that the Witch took his brother and he needs to find out what she did with him. He tells them that he only needs five minutes alone with her, and they reluctantly agree. He looks in at the storeroom through a window and sees Poison Ivy lying on the ground, looking pretty pathetic.

Bruce steps inside. Ivy recognizes him and asks for help. She claims that she didn’t kill the men, but he’s not so sure he believes her. Ivy insists that it wasn’t her; it was the park. The trees, the plants and the roots are all speaking to one another and protected her when the men came to kill her.

Bruce says that he might be able to help her if she helps his “friend” who got shot (figuring that since Selina and Ivy had a falling-out, it might be best to leave her name out of it). He explains that the bullet severed his friend’s spinal cord and someone said Ivy could help.

Ivy tells him that ever since Gotham was cut off from the mainland, the park started behaving differently and new plants started growing, plants even she didn’t recognize. One of these is a seed growing under the oaks. The seed, she claims, has magical qualities and can heal damaged tissue and bone. She says that if Bruce protects her from the men, she’ll help him find it.

He agrees and lets her out of the cell. The men immediately tell him to lock the Witch back up, and he tries to talk them down, saying that he takes full responsibility for Ivy and will make sure that if she really did kill those men, she’ll pay for her crimes. But before he can convince the men, Ivy quickly slits their throats and gets the upper hand.

She mocks Bruce for being naive (though, to be fair, he probably released her more out of desperation than anything else). He says she didn’t have to kill the men, but Ivy says she wanted to. She then asks why he came to her, and he explains that Selina was shot, became paralyzed, and lost the will to live. Ivy says that she doesn’t care, since Selina destroyed the last of the Lazarus Pit water and wouldn’t go along with Ivy’s plans (it’s a shame really; she could really use some of that water right now).

Bruce, however, doesn’t believe that Ivy really wants Selina to suffer and points out that the two girls grew up together on the street and were once friends. Ivy changes the subject, saying that she was telling the truth about the park’s transformation. She’s been feeding the earth with men. The land consumes their bodies and flourishes as a result. Ivy says she’ll plant Bruce in the ground next and wonders what will grow from his corpse.

Bruce tells her the men were right about Ivy; she is a murderous, callous witch. She asks if he’s trying to bait her, but Bruce says he wouldn’t waste his breath on that, since there’s clearly no good in her. He points out that if the park were really thriving, it would be full of beauty and color; instead, it’s a nightmare that smells of death. Ivy, taken aback by this accusation, asks if Bruce will leave her alone if she helps him. He doesn’t answer, but she takes it as a yes and tells him to follow her.

Ivy leads him through the park until she reaches a tree. She touches it, bends down and sinks her hands into the dirt. She pulls out bloody, living seed of flesh attached to a root and hands it to Bruce.

Ivy says that if Selina ingests the “seed,” it’ll go straight to the wound and fuse the nerves and cartilage together. He asks if it’ll cure her, and Ivy says maybe; it depends on how strong she is.

Whether it cures her or not, Ivy adds, seed will change her forever. She says that some people (though it’s hard to say who these people are, since she’s a psychopathic plant-loving hermit) say the seed “unlocks the darker angels” of a person’s nature. She asks if Bruce and Selina are both willing to live with that consequence, and he replies that he doesn’t see any other way to cure her.

When Bruce hesitates, Ivy asks if he trusts her. He replies that he doesn’t.

“Good,” she says. “Then you’re finally becoming a man.” She tells him to leave soon, as the seed’s power will die if it’s left out in the open for too long.

Bruce returns to the clinic and asks Alfred how Selina’s doing. He replies that she hasn’t said a word since Bruce left and asks if Bruce found the Witch. Bruce explains that it was Ivy and shows him the seed that will supposedly help Selina. Alfred asks if they can really trust it to work, since they both know that Ivy’s a killer.

Selina, having overheard the conversation, tells them to give her the seed. She reminds them that she already tried to kill herself, so she doesn’t care whether Ivy’s trying to poison her or not. Bruce hands her the seed and she swallows it. She waits for a second, and at first nothing happens.

Selina reflects on her friendship with Ivy, saying that even though Ivy’s clearly gone insane, she still thinks of her as a little girl that she looked after and took care of when she was sick (specifically in season 1, episode 11, “Rogues Gallery”).

This tearjerker of a moment is interrupted when Selina begins to shake and shutter. Alfred calls for a doctor and the clinic’s staff rushes in. Bruce, terrified, wonders what he’s done to her.

Some time later, the doctor explains to Bruce and Alfred that after Selina swallowed the seed, her body went into shock. Her temperature and white blood cell count were high, but after a time, everything stabilized, though he has no idea why. Selina was still in a lot of pain, so they sedated her. He suggests that they come back in the morning and Alfred agrees.

Bruce, however, looks back at the room and sees that Selina’s bed is empty. He rushes in and sees an empty window. Selina emerges from a shadowy corner of the room, walking upright with her eyes closed. Bruce says it’s a miracle and asks how she feels.

She says she feels different, but she’s not in pain—in fact, she feels even better than she did before she was shot. She opens her wide green eyes and smiles, and Bruce hugs her. However, while they’re still embracing, Selina closes her eyes and reopens them again. As she does, her pupils transform from circles to cat-like slits.

Plot C: Last Friday Night ft. the Riddler

Elsewhere, the Riddler wakes up chained to a table. He laughs happily and says that his plan to stop himself from sleepwalking was a success. He then unlocks the chains and heads to the bathroom, telling himself that the whole thing must’ve been a random phenomenon brought on by stress.

However, as the Riddler is in the bathroom, he hears someone groaning. He pulls back the shower curtain only to find a man tied up and gagged. He puts the curtain back and tries to tell himself it’s all in his head and there’s nothing there, but when he opens the shower again, the man’s still there.

The Riddler rips off the guy’s gag and asks for his name. The guy is both confused and annoyed that the Riddler doesn’t remember but identifies himself as Tank, a member of the Street Demons’ gang. The Riddler asks what Tank is doing in his bathroom, and Tank says that the Riddler brought him here, tortured him, and tied him up.

The Riddler asks why he would’ve done that, and Tank exasperatedly replies that he had information the Riddler wanted. Since Tank won’t say what the information was, the Riddler decides to go back to square one and torture Tank all over again.

After a bit of off-screen torture, Tank gives up and tells Riddler that the last time he tortured him, it was to find out where the Street Demons’ base was and to make sure that the boss, Emmanuel Vasquez, would be there that night. The Riddler asks Tank about his mannerisms, trying to figure out if it was Ed that did the torturing and interrogation.

Tank says that the last time when the Riddler captured him, he was stiff, quiet, and seemed to be in some sort of daze. The Riddler doesn’t know what to make of that and decides to go the base to figure out why he went there before.

When Tank and Riddler arrive at the base, they find several dead bodies, one of which is Vasquez. Tank asks if Riddler did it, but he replies that he doesn’t remember. The two of them then spot a message spray-painted in white on the wall, which reads: PENGUIN WAS HERE. The Riddler, however, doubts that Penguin would’ve left the note. Tank says that whoever did just started a war.

The Verdict

Plot A: As far as I can tell, Plot A had two main purposes: to introduce Mother and to establish Gordon and Barbara as uneasy allies.

I have mixed feelings about Mother. On the one hand, I would be fine if her only cameo was in this episode. This is a 12-episode season, so it would be inefficient to spend time focused on a minor villain who probably won’t play a big role in the overall arc.

On the other hand, it might be illogical for Gordon to just forget about the crazy female serial killer who’s got some kid in a truly loco version of loco parentis. So I might understand if he felt compelled to confront Mother again, even if I’d rather focus on other things.

As for Barbara, I’m interested to see how her plan to kill Penguin goes, though I doubt that the Gotham writers kill him off, since he’s:
  1. A major Batman villain.
  2. Arguably the show’s biggest breakout character, short of Jerome.
  3. One of the three characters the show focuses on most (the other two being Gordon and Bruce)
  4. An openly gay character (Since the writers have already killed the bisexual Tabitha; I doubt they’d risk alienating LGBTQ fans by killing Penguin as well.)
  5. Already survived assassination attempts from Fish, Maroni, the Van Dahls, the Riddler, Sofia Falcone and several other baddies.

Still, it’ll be interesting to see if Jim agrees to help with this revenge scheme and, if so, how he’ll fix things up with Penguin in time for the flash-forward team-up that we saw in episode one.

Also, a part of me wonders if there’s any chance that the Barbara/Jim relationship will be touched on this season, if not re-established. I’m not saying it makes sense for him to get back together with her after all the crazy things she’s done, but I’d like to see them reach a sort of closure, you know?

I think they might achieve that by working together this season. If I had to make an educated guess, here’s what I think might happen (POSSIBLE SPOILERS AHEAD):

Barbara wasn’t in the flash-forward scene, which makes me think she might not live through the entire season. My theory is that she’ll make some sort of selfless sacrifice for Jim or the greater good, causing him to ultimately forgive her (and, perhaps, one day name his daughter after her).


But I digress. While Plot A wasn’t boring, it felt a little pointless, since it’s unlikely we’ll see the Soothsayers or the skull gang again.

Plot B: This might’ve been my favorite part of the episode. Even though it’s a little bit of a deus ex machine for Ivy to know about some magical healing seed, it was interesting to see Bruce having to work with her, persuade her, and trust her despite their differences. It was also a nice send-off to Ivy and Selina’s friendship and seems to hint that even though they’re estranged, maybe there’s hope for them in the future.

Of course, if you want a classic Gotham City Sirens team-up, they might have a ways to go in recruiting the third member of that trio.

By the looks of next week’s trailer, Selina’s quest to get revenge on Jeremiah will put her in the path of Ecco, who’s basically Harley Quinn in all but name (just as Jeremiah is the Joker in all but name).

On the subject of Selina herself, I’m curious to see how the seed changed her. I’m hoping it didn’t give her any outlandish abilities, like in the TV show Birds of Prey (2002) or the film Catwoman (2004). I’d prefer it if it just improved her natural abilities to a slightly-above-human degree and maybe heightened her senses. But I don’t want her sprouting actual claws from her hands or sniffing catnip, ya know?

Still, I guess time will tell.

Plot C: Honestly, the Riddler’s subplot is still the least interesting part of the show, but I am curious to see where it goes. It almost sounds like he might be developing a third personality, one who’s trying to create trouble for Penguin. I’m not sure that I care for the idea of Nygma developing a third identity (he’s got enough trouble juggling Ed and the Riddler), but since I haven’t seen this possible identity onscreen yet, I’ll try to keep an open mind.

Overall: While “Trespassers” isn’t necessarily a bad episode, it certainly felt like less of a bombshell than “Year Zero.” It also moved a bit more slowly and focused on some (seemingly) unimportant characters, which is a bit annoying given that, as I said before, this season will only be 12 episodes long. That means that every second is precious. Does it really make sense to waste one of those episodes on fighting gangs we’ve never seen before and likely will never see again? Not really.

Handing out a letter grade would make me feel like The A.V. Club, though, so I’ll just rate this episode as a 7 out of 10.

I’ll be back next week with a recap of “Penguin, Our Hero.” Until then, have a good week and do your best to steer clear of witches!


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