Last week on Gotham, Huge Strange had taken the liberty of raising Theo Galavan from the dead and reprogramming him as Azrael. He then sent his zealot minion out to kill Gordon. That didn’t quite work out, however, and now everyone in town knows that Galavan is alive and kicking and wearing a silly costume. Also, Edward Nygma plunged deeper into the mysteries of Arkham and stumbled upon something that he might prefer to forget. This week, ‘Unleashed’ pits Azrael against pretty much everyone who has ever had a beef with him. Scroll on for the full review.
First up, we find Gordon, Bullock and the GCPD at Arkham. They’ve got a warrant to look around Strange’s office and see if they can find anything regarding all those dead people who seem to keep coming back from Arkham. Naturally, Strange has covered his tracks, so he’s protected for now.
So it’s off to find a different lead and track down Azrael. The first thing that Gordon and Bullock do is visit the former Galavan’s sister, Tabitha. She’s packing up and ready to get out of town when they show up to ask their questions. Luckily for them, she knows the secret behind the legend of Azrael. She also knows about a special, antique sword that the baddie will be looking for as well as where it may be found.
Then they’re off to the crypt to dig it up. Naturally, Azrael shows up right after they do and a fight ensues. Tabitha steps up to keep Gordon alive and perhaps bring her brother’s mind back to the forefront of the Azrael-Galavan mental cocktail and ends up reviving the part of his brain that wants to kill Bruce Wayne. So off Gordon goes to rescue Bruce once again.
Meanwhile, little Batman has his own bone to pick with Hugo Strange. He recruits Selina to help him get into Arkham by waving a carrot under her nose – Selina’s friend Bridget may still be alive and locked away somewhere in the asylum. Selina decides she’s onboard, but also decides she’s going in alone. She crawls stealthily through the air vents and even ends up running into a desperate-to-escape Edward Nygma. He tells her about the secret basement and she tells him how to get out. So further down the rabbit hole goes the young Catwoman.
Bruce heads back home to find out that Azrael is looking to kill him yet again. Alfred and Bruce set up to defend the mansion, but their enemy shows up in short order. It’s up to the faithful manservant to keep Azrael at bay, though even Alfred’s skills aren’t up to snuff when it comes to facing a lunatic assassin. After dealing with Alfred, Azrael chases Bruce around for a bit until, just as it seems he’ll be successful in his hunt, Gordon shows up to save the day. Then, when even bullets don’t put Azrael into the ground, The Penguin appears with a rocket launcher, turning the former Galavan and killer of Penguin’s mother into tiny, flaming bits.
In the end, poor Nygma makes his escape only to immediately get caught again. And Selina finally finds one of Strange’s dirty little secrets – Bridget. Only now she’s been brainwashed and doesn’t remember her former self. Instead, she has become Firefly and Selina looks to be her next BBQ victim.
This week, while it served to wrap up the Azrael storyline, was more interesting in that it brought Selina into the dungeons of Hugo Strange. This sets up the potential for many new villains to emerge, providing a host of notorious baddies for season 3. Better yet, Strange seems intent on giving all of his resurrected pals their very own super-villain costumes, so we’re going to be seeing more of the bizarre-looking characters who populate the Batman universe.
The episode also served to officially reintroduce The Penguin to Gotham’s game. He’s back and he’s evil and now everyone knows it. Whether the writers will use him for anything interesting during the last few episodes remains to be seen. There are a lot of other loose ends to tie up and Strange is the key villain as the season closes, so our beloved Cobblepot may very well disappear until next year.
As far as the better elements of the episode, I really am enjoying the Alfred-Bruce dynamic that’s being portrayed. With Alfred being the ass-kicking machine that he is in Gotham, we see a shadow of the future and Batman’s relationships with his eventual Robins. Only during the Gotham timeline, Alfred is more like Batman and Bruce like Robin. I wonder if the writers are doing this as an intentional parallel…
I was also pleased to see Selina in her own element – being stealthy and sneaking around where she doesn’t belong. We’ve seen some of that before, but the solo aspect of it is a welcome addition. As the series goes on, the individual development of side characters beyond the ones we love to see (i.e.: Bruce, Riddler and Penguin) is important to fully fleshing out this incarnation of the Batman universe. We may even get to see an episode devoted exclusively to exploring little Catwoman in the future.
The one thing that annoyed me this week was the dues ex machina overload. It’s pretty common in comic books for people to show up “in the nick of time” to become a nuisance or save someone from certain death, but almost every action-focused scene this week hinged on that cliché. By the time The Penguin showed up out of nowhere with his rocket launcher (or was that a bazooka?), I was done with it. Please, Gotham writers, be cleverer in the future. It gets old, fast.
Also, what’s with blowing Azrael to smithereens? Isn’t this guy supposed to be fighting Batman at some point? Or is there another, more authentic Azrael lurking behind the curtain? In the end, I suppose it’s not too important to a show that will never truly introduce Batman, but it does rub fans the wrong way when you kill off iconic villains like that.
Btw – New hair for Selina? She was wearing that hat the entire time, but I think I may approve.
Next week, ‘A Legion of Horribles’ promises even MORE dead people coming back to life! Unfortunately, the one they’re bringing back is one of the worst Gotham villains to date – Fish Mooney. What looks more interesting, however, is that Arkham seems to be getting out of control. The crazies may just be reaching the point where Strange can no longer control his own experiments. Check out the trailer for that one below.