This Gotham review contains spoilers.
Gotham Season 4, Episode 14
Selina Kyle is a hero. Ivy Pepper acts like this is a surprise, but on a show where almost no one has a moral compass, Selina is one of the only true heroes standing. She does what she thinks is right, regardless of brand or perception or consequence. Sure, she tries to stay alive, but she risks her own life when she thinks it is her responsibility. And, for better or worse, she feels like Ivy is her responsibility.
This confrontation would have played a heck of a lot better if we weren’t two actresses away from the actress who played Selina’s childhood friend. Ivy and Selina worked as a duo because they were two peas in a pod: girls who were forgotten by the people who should have taken care of them, girls who were forgotten by Gotham itself. Sadly, Peyton List, however good of an actress she may be, cannot pull off the “Gotham is poison” monologue with any real sympathy. She’s not the girl who lost her parents and her home to this city, not really.
Still, Selina’s heroism stays. She’s not in this for the glory or to try to win back her ex-butler or to make proud her dead parents proud. She’s in this because she does what she has to do, and sometimes that means protecting people who can’t protect themselves.
Ultimately, Ivy lets Selina go, though with the threat that she won’t let her go another time. It’s Selina’s decision to drop her own knife that seems to do it. Selina would rather than die than murder her friend, and that’s a decision too few characters on Gotham would make. It’s a powerful statement in an episode that, like most episodes, contains more nonsensical, “crazy” villany than articulately-motivated deeds.
While Selina tried to take responsibility for her former friend, Bruce tried to take responsibility for the hurt he’s caused Alfred. It’s a somewhat pathetic effort, though one that gets much more impressive when Bruce does that TV show thing where he makes a speech about a thing that has nothing to do with the event he’s making a speech at.
The speech in question is about how much he owes and needs Alfred and, somehow, Alfred still rejects him after it. Instead, he feeds Bruce this line about needing to embrace his darkness as well as his light before they can both move forward. It’s a half-formed idea, one that makes more sense as a line or narrative than something that would actually come out of someone’s mouth, let alone the mouth of a mentor/parent figure who wants the best for their child. But this show needs its Batman, I guess, and it will contrive any character it must in the effort.
It’s OK, the two eventually patch things up, with Alfred returning home in the final act of the episode, willing to reassume responsibility of poor, teenaged Bruce after he beats up some bad guys during Ivy’s raid on the Wayne Enterprises fundraiser. I guess Alfred’s love and support are dependent on Bruce’s ability to vigilante? Not exactly the message we should be sending America’s youth.
One of the more unexpected twists of the night came in the most minor of subplots: Sofia’s attempts to strong-arm Lee. In this case, Gotham puts its money where its mouth its. When Lee tries to negotiate with Sofia, offering dirt on Jim instead of 30% of the Narrows’ GDP, it backfires. Sofia takes out Lee’s men and then smash Lee’s hand (she only did one because they are family, you know). It seems like an unnecessarily violent move, as it not only angers Lee, but moves a protective Jim on the offensive. Before, he stayed away from Lee to keep his own position safe. Now that Lee has been hurt, he will seemingly stop at nothing to take her out… and, after a run-in with Ivy, Harvey seems like he may be willing to back Jim up again in the effort.
The final storyline of the night came in Ed’s continuing descent into madness. When Riddler receives the letter from Oswald, he slowly moves the pieces into place, but Ed has other solutions in mind. When the Riddler suggests that suicide is the only way Ed will ever truly be rid of the Riddler, Ed is ready to go for it. However, Riddler convinces him not to, manipulating him into thinking that signing himself into Arkham will protect Lee somehow? Really, it’s a way to reunite the Riddler with Oswald, who claims he sees the Riddler inside of Ed. An emotional Oswald seems more in love than ever, while Ed is horrified that he has fallen into his trap. Together, Penguin and Riddler may rule Gotham yet. But how does Jerome play into all of this… or does he?