Last week on Gotham, there was a new sheriff in town. The GCPD got a hard-nosed leader and the result was that Jim Gordon ended up with his very own squad, affectionately named the “strike force”. With the new crew, he declared war on The Penguin and began in earnest to clean up the streets of Gotham. Speaking of the Penguin, he was having a rather bad week. Theo Galavan had the so-called “King of Gotham” squirming under his thumb due to the timely kidnapping of Cobblepot’s mother. Meanwhile, Nygma was making some moves on Miss Kringle and Bruce was learning how to be more of a bad-ass. This week, ‘Scarification’ brings another Batman villain into the mix when Firefly shows up to set things ablaze.
We begin with some face-time between The Penguin and Galavan. Cobblepot wants to make their relationship a bit more amenable by getting his mother released. Naturally, Galavan doesn’t want to comply. All he wants is to continue his plan to take over Gotham. This involves Penguin doing yet another favor for him, a favor that involves setting a bunch of buildings on fire.
The Penguin, being a slight bit paranoid yet still beholden to his enemy, sends Butch off to take care of business. This involves getting ahold of Selina so that he can meet up with some professional firebugs. One quick negotiation later and The Penguin has his men and Gotham shall burn as a result.
Meanwhile, Gordon and the GCPD are running about and messing up The Penguin’s business interests. When they raid a warehouse that is basically the Costco of heavy weapons and explosives, however, they end up incidentally killing one of the very firebugs who work for The Penguin. This means that they have to recruit a new member to their crew – Bridget, their sister. Selina has taking a liking to Bridget, however, so things aren’t likely to go as planned.
Bridget gets into the role, though. She even makes her very own villain-esque suit so that she doesn’t end up burning herself to death. But the second night out, while trying to torch the Wayne Book Depository, Gordon heads her off at the pass. A brief confrontation ensues which results in one dead cop and Bridget being forced to flee for her life, courtesy of a little help from Selina.
Galavan has already been courting Gordon, hoping to gain the popular cop’s endorsement during his campaign for mayor. Gordon feels as if it’s a conflict of interests, so he declines. When one of his own dies, however, Gordon’s feelings on the matter change. He pledges support (unknowingly, of course) to the very man who ordered the attacks on Gotham in the hope of cleaning the city up.
Luckily, not all is lost for the enemies of Galavan. One of The Penguin’s tasks was to retrieve a knife for Galavan during the various attacks. As it turns out, this knife is quite old and has the Wayne family crest on it. Being the clever boy that he is, Cobblepot determines that the knife is key to understanding Galavan and eventually defeating him. So he calls in an antique dealer to tell him more.
As it turns out, the knife has been in the Wayne family for some time. Back in Gotham’s early days, there were five families who ruled and built it. When two of those families feuded, the result was the removal of a man’s arm with that very knife. The man’s family was subsequently shamed and banished. They were so socially destroyed that they even had to change their name – to Galavan. Seeing a prime opportunity, Penguin sends Butch into Galavan’s household as a spy. The big problem is that Galavan won’t likely trust Butch. So to make it seem more believable, Penguin takes extreme measures…
And in the end, Galavan receives a visitor – a priest. After checking up on Galavan’s progress, he promises that the rest of the clan is on their way. What’s more, they plan on taking over the city and exacting their final revenge. That final revenge is the death of little Bruce Wayne.
Though this episode was not the best of the season, it was fairly necessary in order to progress the plot. Penguin is slowly figuring things out and preparing to make some moves. It’s nice to see the character transitioning from a criminal who was simply clever to one who is becoming steadily more vicious and mad. The crazy of The Penguin is in full force and while we know he will eventually end up in Arkham we also know that he’s a very capable criminal overlord, despite his madness. Watching this transition has perhaps been my favorite part of Gotham.
Other than that, there weren’t really any high points to this episode. The conversations between Selina and Bridget were a main part this week, but they felt forced and awkward. Bridget’s transition from abused sister into full-fledged firebug was rushed and unnatural. The only plus side to this is that her outfit looks pretty damned cool. Hopefully we’ll get more out of her when she returns next week, but for now she’s little more than a villain-of-the-week and not that interesting of one.
The other main focus this week was Galavan. It’s good to know more about what he’s doing in Gotham, but his character, while very smart and manipulative, is mostly boring. His screen time is nothing to celebrate and Galavan really feels more like a plot device than an actual character. He steps up, sets events in motion and takes advantage of the situation, but never displays even a small bit of the charisma possessed by villains (and villains-to-be) such as The Penguin, Edward Nygma or even, as much as I loathe to say it, Jerome. He’s bland and the writers need to work on fixing that before his grand scheme loses our interest. At least others will be coming to join him soon. Hopefully they will have a little more personality among their numbers.
All-in-all, a mediocre episode that seemed to be more about setting up future story arcs than anything else. Next week, we get the conclusion of our villain-of-the-week’s (Firefly) story. Bridget will be back to light more things on fire, this time with Selina by her side. And in the meanwhile, Penguin looks to be gearing up to start making some heads roll. Check out the trailer for ‘By Fire’ below.