Wednesday, March 27, 2019

'Gotham' Recap: "I Am Bane" (5x10)

Welcome back to another recap of Gotham season 5—or, as I like to call it, the Suffering Game (but with 90% less McElroy shenanigans).

This week's episode, "I Am Bane," focuses on three storylines: Gordon and Bruce's painful encounter with Walker and a much-transformed Eduardo, Riddler and Penguin's attempt to leave Gotham, and Barbara's laborious (forgive the pun) childbirth. However, since all of these storylines converge with each other and are difficult to separate, I won't be separating them in the recap.

Warning: This recap contains SPOILERS, and the episode (if you haven't seen it yet) contains some fairly heavy violence.

Plots A, B, and C: Demons from the Past

The episode opens with Dr. Strange examining a bandaged Eduardo, who lies on an operating table with his glowing respirator still on. Walker enters and tells Eduardo to rest. She says that she intends to fulfill the promise she made when she found Eduardo in Peña Dura—to give him a purpose and the strength to see it through.

Strange tells Eduardo that he's about to undergo a long and agonizing process. He then starts to infuse Eduardo with some mysterious greenish-blue liquid (gee, wonder what that could be). Eduardo starts to breath more heavily and shake. As this happens, Walker tells him that he's going to be reborn as the bane of the unjust, the corrupt, and anyone who stands in their way. Eduardo's eyes then turn red, and he screams.

Over at GCPD headquarters, Bullock tells Gordon that General Wade has arrived in Gotham with a convoy on its way to the GCPD, which means today is reunification day. Gordon says that's good news but points out that things aren't going to instantly improve just because the army arrived. Bullock says that even though Gordon is worried about the future, they have to believe that it will be better—for the sake of Gordon's kid, if for no other reason.

After Gordon steps out of his office, Bruce informs him that, for the past seven days, the river has had a .07 water toxicity level. Gordon says that he hopes Lucius's hard work won't be for nothing.

Bullock then (presumably in an effort to cheer Gordon up) tells the other cops in the precinct that they're all here because of Gordon.

"And you're gonna be a father," he adds. "That's a future I'll take."

(You and me both, Harvey. You and me both.)

The other cops clap, and Bruce joins in. Gordon then tells them that while they've done good work over the past year, they're not out of the woods yet. He reminds them that, no matter what General Wade says, their work continues.

"Give yourselves one more round of applause," he says. "And get back to work."

Bullock, Gordon and Bruce then walk out of the GCPD and meet General Wade's convoy. Wade greets Gordon and commends him for establishing some kind of law and order in the chaotic city, noting that Gordon's green zone now "stretches to every corner of the island." Bruce then informs Wade about the low water toxicity levels. Wade replies that he'll have to have his own people check the water to see if that's true.

Meanwhile, Barbara arrives at the docks with luggage and a pretty big baby bump. Penguin and Riddler, who are standing next to the completed submarine, inform her that she's late. Riddler then asks if her belongings are less than 27 pounds and 11 ounces. He claims that anything heavier could cause the sub to sink. Barbara replies that Penguin can get rid of some of his things, but he heartily refuses.

Before the argument can continue, Barbara starts to breathe heavily. Realizing that she's going into labor, Penguin hastily tells her that she should go to the clinic and have her baby. Barbara says that if she does, they'll leave without her, but Penguin replies that they'll just finish the preparations and be ready to go the second she comes back with her child. He offers to drive her due to her "delicate condition," but Barbara refuses his help.

After she leaves, Penguin says that he knew she'd never accept his offer to drive her. Riddler asks if he should start the engine. Penguin agrees.

Elsewhere, Selina looks through dusty shelves before pulling out a massive book. She hands it to Alfred, and he opens it to a page with a building plan of Wayne Manor. He tells her that once the city is reunified, they'll need to build a new manor.

Selina asks if it's going to be just like the old one, and Alfred says that nothing is ever quite the same. She then asks why they're looking at the old plans, if that's the case. He replies that he might not be ready to let go of the past just yet.

"If it makes you feel better, I wish I could blow up my past," she replies. Alfred replies that when you build something new, the past is always part of it—which is interesting to me, as it contrasts with Jeremiah's philosophy in season 4, as he said that "to truly build something, you must first tear down what is already there."

Alfred tells Selina that now that Bruce is grown, recreating Wayne Manor may be his last service to the young man. Selina asks if he's planning to retire after that.

"I will stand guard," he replies, "as I've always done."

Back at the convoy, Bullock grows frustrated with waiting and wonders if Wade's going to call off reunification at the last second and whether or not he could be working with Walker. Gordon tells him to calm down.

He then gets a radio message from Lee, who informs him that Barbara's in labor and says he needs to come quick. He replies that he'll try to get there as soon as he can and tells Lee that he loves her.

Wade then tells Gordon that they're all clear for reunification to begin. Gordon happily replies "that's just the second-best news I've gotten today."

However, before anyone can celebrate, someone throws smoke grenades at the convoy, a truck pulls up, and gunfire begins to sound. Eduardo emerges from the truck with the mask still on his face. Soldiers try to fight him, but he throws them to the ground effortlessly. Gordon recognizes Eduardo, but barely has time to process it before he, Bruce, and Wade are all shot by knockout darts and thrown into the back of the truck.

A little bit later, Bullock returns to the GCPD and sends out squads to look for the kidnapped trio. Alfred and Selina enter, and Bullock quickly fills them in on the situation. Alfred says they'll search an area as well, and Selina notes that Alfred's not done protecting Bruce yet.

Somewhere else in Gotham, Eduardo has Gordon tied up in a dimly lit room. Gordon asks what Walker did to him. Instead of answering the question, however, Eduardo responds by telling Gordon a story about his time in Peña Dura. The guards in that prison had a game where they would bury prisoners and take bets on whether or not they'd dig their way out. But once a prisoner got out, the guards would bury them deeper and play again. Eduardo tells Gordon that he was the champion of that game.

"To survive that, I had to stop being human," he says. "I had to become something else."

(Hmm, where have I heard that before?)

"I had to become Bane," he continues. "Only I didn't know it yet." Bane says that Walker showed him that the way to defeat monsters is by becoming one. Gordon says he's sorry for what happened to Eduardo, but Bane tells Gordon not to pity him. He tells Gordon that he and Gordon are building a future.

"A new world is coming," Bane says. "Strong, merciless, unyielding."

Gordon replies that he's heard the same spiel before, but it won't happen. He points out that Bane has kidnapped the leader of the GCPD, a billionaire, and a U.S. general. He says that Eduardo might be talking about the future, but he doesn't have one.

Bane tells Gordon that Eduardo is dead; only Bane is left. Walker then enters, and Bane forces Gordon to stand. Walker tells Bane to "get the other one," and he exits.

Gordon says he recognizes Walker's voice and asks who she really is. She says that it's a good question that Bruce can help answer. Bane then re-enters with Bruce. 

Gordon tells Walker that since she already has two hostages, she should let Bruce go since "this has nothing to do with him." Walker replies that Gordon doesn't understand what's really going on and adds that everything she's done has been to punish Gotham "for the sins of Bruce Wayne." 

Walker then instructs Bane to begin beating Gordon. Next, she turns to Bruce and says there's a name he needs to guess. When Bruce says, "What?", she says that's the wrong answer and instructs Bane to kick Gordon. She then tells Bruce to guess again.

Over at the docks, Penguin says a melodramatic goodbye to the city of Gotham and says its where his heart will always be.

"You're in luck," Riddler replies, stepping out of the sub. "It won't start." He explains that the pressure regulator valve is missing, and the two of them conclude that Barbara must have stolen it.

Back at the clinic, Barbara asks Lee how long the process is going to take. Lee asks if Barbara has somewhere to be. Barbara lies and says no, it's just that Lee's been great about the whole pregnancy and that Barbara just wants to get out of her hair as soon as possible. Lee replies that the health of the baby comes first; whether it takes a long or a short time to deliver, the two of them are staying at the clinic until the child comes.

Meanwhile, Walker insists that Bruce give her a name, a name that explains everything that's going on. Every time he says he doesn't know, Bane beats Gordon. Bruce tells Walker that if she wants to punish him, she should hurt him instead of Gordon. 

Walker replies that she is hurting him, as watching a friend suffer is always painful. She then adds that Gordon has been more than a friend to Bruce, he's almost been like a father to him.

"How awful it must be to watch another father die," she comments. She then asks Bruce to guess who she's doing everything for. She tells him that losing someone you love is like losing a part of yourself. 

"So why do I hate you so much?" she asks. "Who was cut away from me?" She tells him it's his last chance to answer the question and Bane prepares to give Gordon a killing blow. 

And Bruce finally answers the question: Ra's al Ghul. That's who she's seeking revenge for. 

"And who am I?" Walker asks.

"You're his daughter," he replies. She then reintroduces herself as Nyssa al Ghul and says that, "Revenge is just the beginning of what I want."

Nyssa tells Bruce that the League of Shadows is everywhere and says that her father's mission, to purge the weaknesses of humankind, will be completed. 

"I'm just starting with you and yours," she adds.

Bruce replies that she's right; he did kill Ra's, so he should be the only one punished for his death. Walker replies that Bruce isn't the only one responsible and points out that someone else "quite literally gave [him] a helping hand." 

Bruce then remembers how, in episode 4x22, Barbara put the knife in his hands and threw him at Ra's in order to kill the man. Walker then orders Bane to go after Barbara. Gordon tells Bane that Barbara is with child, but Bane replies that weighing the life of one child against the future of the world "seems petty" and leaves.

Gordon tells Walker that if Bane hurts his child, Gordon will destroy everything she has. Nyssa replies that she has nothing left but her father's mission and adds that Bane wants Gordon to join the mission and see the world the way they do. Gordon refuses but passes out after Strange injects him with a drug. Strange then takes Gordon away, and Nyssa asks Bruce how it feels to know that everything going on is his fault. 

Back at the clinic, Riddler walks in on Barbara. When he notices Lee, there's an awkward moment of silence where he tells her that he's not there for her—but adds that, for the record, she did stab him first (at the end of season 4).

Penguin then barges in and says that they want the valve Barbara stole from them. Lee says that they need to leave because Barbara's in the middle of trying to have her baby, but Penguin insists that they can't leave Gotham without the valve, so they need it ASAP. Lee then realizes that Barbara was planning on skipping town after having her baby.

Annoyed, Penguin pulls his gun on Barbara, though he pulls it back when Lee chastises him for pointing it at the baby.

Barbara tells Penguin that she doesn't have the valve with her; she stashed it somewhere safe. She then adds that they can try to torture her, but it probably won't be as painful as going into labor.

Elsewhere in the clinic, Bane enters the hospital, punching out anyone in his way. He walks up to the intercom and announces that there is nowhere for Barbara Kean to hide from her sins.

Meanwhile, Bruce asks Walker what she wants from him. She tells him that there's a military secret called Special Order 386, which states that if Gotham is "irretrievably lost," there's a contingency plan to destroy the city. Bruce tells her that there innocent people in the city, but she replies that she wants him to suffer before he dies. She then leaves.

In the clinic, Lee pushes Barbara through the clinic in a wheelchair with Penguin and Riddler close behind. Lee asks who spoke on the intercom, and Barbara replies that she has no clue.

Lee then comes up with a plan: they can cut through the abandoned wing, but they need to buy some time. Barbara points out that Penguin and Riddler can distract the attacker. Penguin is reluctant to help, but she reminds him that if she dies, he'll likely never find the valve. He and Riddler agree to the deal and say they'll meet her at the sub after they escape.

After splitting up, Penguin tells Riddler that he doesn't have enough ammo on him for a shootout, but Riddler spots some nearby gasoline cans and says they can use those instead.

Back in Strange's lab, Gordon lies on an operating table. From where he is, he can also see General Wade tied up with duct tape over his mouth. Gordon says that Strange picked the wrong side and reminds him that the army has come to Gotham.

Strange replies that he's more confident in Nyssa's chances of victory over the army (with Strange's help, of course). He adds that, with a few modifications, Gordon will become a soldier in her ranks, just like Bane. Gordon replies that he'll pass on that opportunity, but Strange replies that he doesn't need permission to begin the process. He adds that after he improves Gordon's physical abilities, he's going to make some mental adjustments (i.e., putting a control chip in his brain).

Back at the clinic, Penguin and Riddler send a fiery, explosive cart of gasoline cans at Bane—only for him to walk right through the flames unscathed. When he spots them, they frantically run away.

Elsewhere in the clinic, Lee notes that Barbara's contractions are a minute apart and that they need to get her out ASAP. As Lee pushes Barbara down the hall, Barbara fires at Bane's men with two guns in her hand.

Over at Walker's hideout, Bruce sees a candle on top of a table behind him. He scoots his chair back and raises his tied-up hands towards the flame, using it to burn the ropes.

Meanwhile, Penguin and Riddler sneak through the clinic.

Penguin asks what their plan is now that they seem to have lost Bane. Riddler replies that they've got a sub to catch and pulls the pressure regulator valve out of his pocket. Penguin asks how long he's had the valve on him.

"Long enough to know she'd never let it out of her sight," Riddler replies.

Penguin laughs but then asks why Riddler decided to stay around and risk their lives to save Barbara . . . unless he was actually trying to protect Lee. Riddler replies that he could answer that question, or they could focus on skipping town.

"Bon voyage," Penguin replies.

Outside the clinic, Lee asks Barbara if her plan was really just to leave Gotham and become a fugitive. She tells Barbara that she can stay in raise the baby in Gotham; Gordon's not going to take it away from her. Barbara seems skeptical that he'd let a criminal raise his child. She then adds that since people have already started shooting at her kid, she needs to be strong to protect him/her.

Lee replies that being strong doesn't necessarily mean being a criminal and adds that both Gordon and she will help Barbara raise the kid, if she allows them to. Barbara remarks that it's a little weird to think about.

Suddenly, Barbara begins to feel something happening and says it seems like the baby's about to come. Lee quickly moves her onto a nearby gurney and prepares for the next steps.

At the same time, Bruce continues to the burn the ropes around his hands. When he screams in pain, guards rush in, but he breaks loose and beats them both. He then grabs a walkie-talkie and asks if anyone at the GCPD can read him. Alfred and Selina quickly answer the call and ask where Bruce is. He says he's in an abandoned mansion in North Side Park but tells them that he can get out on his own.

Bruce then fills Alfred and Selina in on how Nyssa al Ghul is trying to punish both him and Barbara Kean and tells them to go to the clinic to protect Barbara.

Over in the lab, Strange prepares to start his work, but Gordon gets loose and throws Strange against the wall. Strange quickly decides to leave and sounds the alarm on his way out. After detaching himself from Strange's equipment completely, Gordon gets up and walks over to General Wade. After checking his head for a chip and finding no signs of one, he frees Wade.

Just as the alarm sounds, Bruce enters and fills them in on the situation at the clinic. Gordon asks where Nyssa is, and Bruce replies that while he's not sure where she went, her plan is to use the military to destroy Gotham.

Wade assures them that he can give an order for the military to stand down, but as the three of them move out with Wade bringing up the rear, his eyes roll back in his head—a sure sign he's been chipped after all.

Back at the clinic, Barbara holds her newly-born daughter in her arms. Lee congratulates her, and Barbara remarks that she still needs to come up with a name. Before she can brainstorm one, however, Bane comes toward them—and is promptly hit by a car.

Alfred exits the vehicle, tells Barbara and Lee to get in, and promises to hold Bane off. Selina joins him, though he tells her to leave with them. Alfred then approaches Bane and punches him, with little effect. Selina joins in, but Bane quickly knocks her down and then punches Alfred repeatedly. He then lifts Alfred and throws him against a nearby pole and drops him to the ground.

As Bane leaves, Selina crawls over to Alfred and cries for help.

Meanwhile, Bruce, Gordon and Wade arrive at the military convoy. Wade orders his men to get him a line to the mainland. Upon seeing Gordon, Bullock informs him that his daughter has just been born and that Lee and Barbara are heading to Sirens for the time being. Gordon is ecstatic at the news and says he can't believe they've won the day. Bullock remarks that Gordon's daughter will have a better world because of what they've done, and Gordon agrees. Bruce asks if Alfred was with Lee and Barbara, but Bullock says they didn't say.

Suddenly, they hear Wade authorize special order 386 over the phone.

"Gotham City is lost," he says, and then instructs them to begin bombing. When Gordon and Bruce try to stop Wade, he orders his men to arrest them.

Over at Sirens, Lee and Barbara enter the club and see the dead bodies of women strewn across the floor. Nyssa enters and knocks Lee to the ground. She then introduces herself to Barbara, who looks visibly terrified, both for herself and her child.

Meanwhile, soldiers take Bruce, Bullock and Gordon out of the convoy. Bruce wonders aloud how Wade could've been chipped since they didn't see the scar on his neck. Bullock says that Strange must've hidden it. Bruce then remarks that Nyssa probably let them escape so that they could "rescue" Wade, leaving him free to authorize special order 386.

Gordon then turns to the soldiers who are guarding them and tells one that he's holding his gun incorrectly. This distracts him long enough for Gordon to get close, grab the gun, and knock the soldiers out.

He, Bruce and Bullock run away from the convoy. As they do so, they see helicopters overhead, which begin dropping bombs on the city.

The Verdict

Where to begin, where to begin? I suppose I should start with the titular character: Bane (or, at least, Gotham's version of him).

I'm a little frustrated that, once again, Bane is taking orders from someone else and being regulated to the role of second-in-command (just like in The Dark Knight Rises or Batman and Robin). In the original Knightfall comic, Bane was a mastermind who came up with a brilliant plan to break Bruce Wayne in every sense of the word (not just physically), but a lot of Batman media overlooks his genius and focuses only on his physical strength, and Gotham is no exception.

However, Gotham did highlight one important aspect of Bane from the comics: his determination. Bane is a character who will do whatever it takes to survive and meet his goals. This was seen vividly in his story about being buried alive over and over in Peña Dura and also (to a lesser extent) in his pursuit of Barbara. I'm hoping his determination will be further highlighted before the character's run is through.

As for Gotham's choice to create a new version of Bane for its final season, I'm . . . indifferent. I understand why they didn't use the classic version of Bane (who becomes obsessed with breaking Batman and taking over Gotham), it would be weird to introduce, in the final season, either A) a teenage version of Bane we've never met before who's obsessed with breaking Bruce Wayne, or B) an adult Bane we've never met before who's obsessed with breaking Bruce Wayne. At least with Eduardo, his connection to Gordon makes more sense. And, similarly, Nyssa's grudge against Bruce makes sense.

Which brings me to Nyssa al Ghul. If you watch CW's superhero shows, you're probably familiar with the more heroic version of Nyssa portrayed on Arrow. 

Though Nyssa is initially a loyal member of the League of Assassins in Arrow, she later turns against her father when he A) denies her the chance to properly avenge her dead ex-girlfriend, B) decides to make someone else his heir instead of her, and C) forces her to marry Oliver Queen. 

From that point on, Nyssa helps Team Arrow defeat Ra's and later acts as an ally when called upon. This includes the battle against Prometheus and Nyssa's own sister, Talia al Ghul, in Arrow season 5.

Talia appears to be the older sister in Arrow, though if she exists in Gotham, she is likely the younger sister for one big reason: in comics, she and Bruce Wayne have a son named Damian Wayne, aka Robin. 

While Gotham's version of Nyssa is decidedly not a love interest for Bruce (thankfully), she does share some of Talia's other traits; such as being ruthless, ambitious, and hellbent on avenging her father's murder, as she was in both Arrow season 5 and The Dark Knight Rises. 

While I'm somewhat indifferent to Gotham's version of Bane, I'm somewhat intrigued by its version of Nyssa—especially since her plans mirror Bane's story about prison. He said that every time a prisoner broke free from being buried alive, the guards would start again and dig the whole deeper. In the same way, Nyssa kept raising the other characters' hopes only to crush them.

Think about it:

  • She let Bruce's supply helicopter enter the city, only to have it shot down.
  • She let Gordon build Haven into a budding community, only to have it bombed.
  • She sent in Eduardo to give Gordon hope of saving the city, only for Eduardo to take over Gordon's control of the city.
  • She let Gordon think Eduardo was dead, only to revive him and give him extraordinary power.
  • She let Bruce escape and rescue the others, only for Wade to execute Special Order 386 and doom the city.
Every time, she let her enemies dig their way out a little bit, and then she dug them in deeper.

Also, if you think about it, Nyssa probably chose Eduardo solely for his connection to Gordon. If her plan, all along, was to make Bruce suffer, then she likely chose Eduardo as a pawn to gain Gordon's trust before betraying him and attempting to kill him. If Eduardo had succeeded in the latter part of that mission, Bruce would have been devastated.

Also, since one of Wayne Enterprises' shady subsidiaries created a prototype version of Venom (the chemical that empowers Bane in the comics) in season 1, it makes sense that Nyssa could've gotten her hands on an improved version, since the Court of Owls controlled Wayne Enterprises from the inside, and her father ran the Court of Owls by proxy. (Man, this show's mythology is complicated.) This also explains why Nyssa went to Strange for help; since he worked for the Court of Owls, he would've already been on her radar. 

As for Nyssa's motivations, I'll buy it. It's possible Ra's never told her that he wanted to die, or that he considered Bruce his heir, or that he gave Barbara the demon's-head powers. (Ra's was never great at sharing information with anyone; he mainly just said cryptic stuff to Bruce and Barbara before disappearing when he felt like it.) So, yeah, I can understand why she'd be ticked about his death. 

Speaking of Barbara, I'm thinking she might be a goner in the next episode, though I could be wrong. My bet is that she'll make some heroic sacrifice to protect her daughter, which will cause Gordon to name the baby after her. 

For now, it was sweet to see her and Lee come to an understanding about the child and actually start to see each other as friends rather than rivals.

Speaking of friends and rivals, I was also touched by how the Riddler helped the two of them escape. While he likely knows he and Lee will never get together, the two of them were friends once, and it's nice to see him do his best to protect her again (even if he won't admit it outright). 

Also, speaking of heartwarming moments, I enjoyed watching Alfred and Selina interact in this episode. It was a nice reminder of how far they've come since seasons 1 and 2, when the two characters could barely stand each other. 

Alfred: How do we know that you're not working with Galavan now?
Selina: How do I know you're not a martian in a rubber suit?
(Season 2)

It was nice to see Selina and Alfred talking like friends for a change as they discussed the rebuilding of Wayne Manor—and to see them have each other's backs in the fight, even though neither of them could defeat Bane. 

Overall, I enjoyed the episode's twists and turns. I'll be honest: I'm ready to be done with the whole Bane storyline, because I'm pretty sure the final episode is a big time-skip where we get to actually see Batman and I'm SUPER hyped for that. However, this was still a good episode. I'd give it a 7 or 8, and I'm excited to see what happens next.

Unfortunately, the next episode, "They Did What?", won't drop until April 18. But until then, have a good few weeks, and remember: Lee stabbed first.


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