Gotham: By Fire Review

Gotham's "By Fire" focuses on the tragic villains of its story — Firefly, Nygma, and Selina — to compelling effect.

This Gotham review contains spoilers.

Gotham: Season 2, Episode 6

Gotham hasn’t always had the best success creating multi-faceted characters, but it hit it out of the park with tonight’s episode, making us feel sympathy for both Nygma and Firefly as they did terrible things. It was all tied together with the viewpoint character of Selina (Camren Bicondova), who is given more to do here than ever before — and steps up in some major ways, giving us one of Gothams best episodes yet — and, yes, we have been saying that a lot lately. Season 2 is getting better and better.

The tragedy of Bridgit Pike.

In another story, Bridgit Pike might be allowed to be the hero. She escapes from her abusive “family” to bust up a human trafficking ring. What’s not to cheer for in that? Unfortunately, she cooked a few people along the way, and the new and improved Gotham P.D. cannot stand for that. Gotham is not a place for redemption stories; it is a place for villains.

It was a stroke of genius tying Bridgit’s story into Selina’s. We already know (and love) Selina. We also understand that she is not a bleeding heart. She doesn’t usually go out of her way to help people — to care about people. It’s only the occasional wayward puppy she sticks her neck out for. (Like Bruce Wayne.) So, by having Selina care about Bridgit, we care about Bridgit. And by having Selina cry about Bridgit’s presumed death, we cry about Bridgit’s presumed death.

Selina learns never to trust a cop.

Another dynamic that really worked in this episode was the one between Jim Gordon and Selina. This is one that Gotham has out the occasional, consistent time into over the first season and a bit. Gordon obviously has a soft spot for Selina — and, seemignly, now does Leigh — but he is between a rock and a hard place. He has already compromised enough of his values in recent episodes, he can’t go any further out on a limb to help Bridgit. He tries his best.

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Selina has never seemed more like a teenager than in the scene when Gordon tells her what’s happened to Bridgit. (And couldn’t he have broken it a little better?) She refuses to believe he tried his best; she just wants her friend to be OK. And, though she may be throwing a very justified tantrum and jumping to the worst conclusions about Gordon, she has some points. Gordon doesn’t always care about “people like her.” When Jim tells her that the situation didn’t turn out well, Selina bites back: “Is that what you call it when people die?” Um, kind of. Gotham (and Jim’s life) have become so steeped in death, it’s hard not to expect it at this point.

Bridgit ends up in Indian Hill.

But Bridgit isn’t really dead. Only nearly. The DIY costume she made fused to her skin, making her fireprof. (OK, moving on…) The episode ends with Bridgit being wheeled into Indian Hill, a subsidiary of Wayne Enterprises. The site also got a mention in Gotham‘s first season as a toxic waste dump within Arkham. We’re only beginning to get a sense of the larger picture that both Bruce and Galavan were hinting at when they mentioned the bad things happening at Wayne Enterprises. As Bridgit is wheeled in to be experimented on, we see that countless others are being given the same treatment. Yikes. Gotham is certainly hedging its bets for future seasons. One can only imagine all of the future villains being created in this place.

Galavan continues to scheme.

Yeah, that sounds relatively uneventful, but no one schemes like James Frain. Seriously, can we take a moment here to talk about great the actor is in this role? He brings a terrifying delight to every scene he’s in, managing to ground the often absurd tone of Gotham‘s villainy.

This week, Galavan is continuing to slowly torture support out of local poiliticians, while simultaneously moving closer to Bruce. He, Tabitha, Silver St. Cloud, and Bruce have a creepy “family” dinner that Bruce doesn’t seem to notice is creepy at all — even though Tabitha shows up with Butch’s blood on her face.

Speaking of Butch, talk about characters who should have gone vengeful a long time ago! After getting his hand chopped off to serve a failed scheme to infiltrate Galavan’s network as a spy, he is tortured for his attempts. He manages to escape in time to let Penguin know where his mother is being held, but it all feels too good to be true. Is Penguin’s mother really still alive? Given the body count on this show, one presumes not, but you never know.

Whatever the fate of Penguin’s mother, Galavan is creating a serious enemy in the form of Penguin — one he should probably he taking a whole lot more seriously.

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Nygma kills Kristin.

Ouch. This scene was really tough to watch — not only because Nygma truly is the creator of his own misery, but because Gotham has a seriously bad habit of killing off women in the to further the others’ storyline. (Seriously, watch out, Penguin’s mom.) Did Kristen really have to die to set Nygma on the path to true villainy? Probably not. Regardless, it seems like there is no turning back now for this character. Watch out, Gotham.


4 out of 5