This Gotham review contains spoilers
Gotham Season 4 Episode 2
And somehow it all comes together.
This season of Gotham has been disjointed at best and absolutely impenetrably chaotic at worse. Some story lines came and went that had little impact on the overall narrative of the season while other storylines became some of the most memorable in the show’s four-year history.
But Gothamites, we ended strong, really, really strong, and thank goodness the show got a fifth season (even it will be the final season) because with the myriad cliffhangers this week, we would have been hurting if we never got a catharsis from No Man’s Land.
Because kids, this week’s episode is a doozy. With Jeremiah teaming up with Ra’s Al Ghul to transform Gotham City into a Hell on Earth, with the bloody ending of the Riddler/Lee Thompkins romance, with the Penguin’s final plan in regards to Solomon Grundy revealed, with Bruce Wayne becoming Gotham’s protector, with Selena Kyle facing a tragic and uncertain future, and with the coming of No Man’s Land and the arrival of new Gotham City villains, the series has reached a crescendo of chaos that is as daring as it is mind blowingly all over the place. It can be said that Gotham has finally became the series it has always promised to be.
In the past, Gotham has pussy footed around being a legit Batman show. There would be winks and nods and Smallville level teases but there was a general prequel no capes rule to the proceedings. Now there are still no capes, but dammit, after this week, this is a legit Batman series. I’ll fight you on this if you say otherwise.
Let’s start with Jeremiah. The season really got going when the show began to focus on the Valeska twins. Last week, Jeremiah formed an unholy alliance with Ra’s Al Ghul. Now, this super villain team up is trying to make Gotham a no man’s land.
I absolutely love the idea that Jeremiah feels Bruce Wayne is his best friend. It solidifies that unique Batman Joker dance of eternity that has been highlighted in so many Batman comics and stories. Jeremiah is very much the Heath Ledger Joker. The episode even homages some of the more memorable Chris Nolan Dark Knight moments like Batman and Bruce in the interrogation room and Joker locked in the GCPD holding cell.
Jeremiah wants to turn Gotham City into a dark playground, a landscape worthy of a Dark Knight. Ra’s Al Ghul is a willing partner and wants to make the city a HQ for his League of Shadows. The one weak seed of the episode is Ra Al Ghul’s attempt to reconcile with Barbara Kean. This relationship is just flimsy. A few weeks back, Ra’s tried to kill Barbara and dismissed her as a vapid, in his words, whore. This week, Ra’s offers to bring Barbara and her squad of female killers back into the League fold and we still don’t know why Ra’s is even drawn to what to him would be a petty criminal. But all that is a blip on the radar of this killer finale.
Because No Man’s Land went down, Jeremiah and Ra’s blow the bridges into Gotham City, cutting of Gotham from the rest of the world. Ra’s does not stand victorious for long as the alliance of Alfred, Bruce, Barbara, Tabatha, and Penguin all take the fight to Ra’s and Jeremiah. It’s Barbara that stands victorious as she uses the Ra’s killing dagger to take down the Demon’s Head. While Bruce is holding the dagger, Barbara pushes the future Dark Knight and the knife into Ra’s heart. As the bridges of Gotham fall, Ra’s al Ghul turns to ash (Thanos?), telling Bruce Wayne to become the Dark Knight and protect the city that now needs him more than ever. Damn, that’s a lot of moving parts, but it all works and even justifies Ra’s al Ghul’s sometimes-needless presence on the series.
So Ra’s is gone, but just about every other villain in Gotham is ready to embrace the anarchy of No Man’s Land because Gotham has been cut off from the rest of the world. So let’s check in with our two main rogues in this new era of Gotham City.
Riddler’s main priority is his love for Lee Thompkins. Before the bridges blow, Riddler abducts Jim Gordon and tries to squish him in an industrial press. Lee frees Jim and reveals that she plans to leave Gotham. Later, she tries to break things off with Riddler and we all know how Edward Nygma takes rejection. Lee knows too and stabs Ed before he can stab her. He returns the favor and the very odd it shouldn’t work but somehow it does Thompkins Nygma romance ends with two stab wounds and a bloody kiss. Or does it? Stay tuned.
As for Penguin, Oswald Cobblepot has been awfully helpful lately,what with trying to steal enough money to pay Hugo Strange to cure Butch of the Solomon Grundy curse. Tabitha and Barbara are on board and after Penguin helps Bruce and company take care of Ra’s and Jeremiah, he returns to make sure Butch. After Strange cures Butch, Tabitha is thrilled to have Butchie baby back and they live happily ever after. Oh wait, no they don’t. Because remember Tabitha once killed Penguin’s mother?
Well, Penguin did not forget as he reveals that the only reason that he was helping Butch was so he can kill him in front of Tabitha. Umm, wow. In case we forgot just how diabolical Oswald can be, what with the Valeska evil permeating every inch of Gotham lately, this should remind you how deep Penguin’s depravity truly goes. Now, that is a long set up for a shocking and satisfying payoff.
Speaking of payoffs, Gotham City is now cut off, Ra’s and Jeremiah’s plans have succeeded and it is revealed Selena Kyle is now paralyzed in the Killing Joke like invasion of Wayne Manor. Bruce begs Alfred to go and care for Selena away for Gotham City because he needs to stay behind and be Gotham’s guardian. He feels Jeremiah is his responsibility and decides to stay and protect Gotham from the devil that Bruce feels he created. And of course, Gordon stays too. Along with Harvey Bullock and Lucius Fox, Gordon sets up at the GCPD and places a spotlight on the roof.
Yes, that spotlight. Bruce is drawn to the … signal, and Gotham has its guardians in its darkest hours. Seeing Bruce Wayne answering Jim Gordon’s call is so epic that it justifies the existence of Gotham as a series. It is an iconic moment and very satisfying-Gordon and Bruce Wayne on a rooftop, Gotham’s only hope. Doesn’t get better than that, kids.
And Gotham will need its heroes because the costumed crazies of the city are carving up Gotham City like a pizza. We see Penguin, Mister Freeze, Firefly, and Scarecrow (with the most f’ing awesome costume on comic book TV) stake claim to pieces of No Man’s Land. We see the arrival of a new bat creature (Man Bat?) and a new masked woman and child who have a penchant for murder (Mother and Orphan, I assume) ready to reveal themselves to this new Gotham.
But we’re going to have to wait because the season is over. Ra’s and Butch are gone (for now, they both have a habit of rebirth) and Jeremiah is out there. Selena is at her most vulnerable and Bruce is without Alfred. Barbara and a vengeance driven Tabitha form the Sirens from the ashes of the League of Shadows and are ready to take on Penguin. But what of Lee and Riddler? They are in the clutches of Hugo Strange and ready to be experimented on. Uh oh.
Now that is a satisfying conclusion to a batshit crazy season. With the last season of Gotham on its way, there are many toys in place ready to be bashed together. Let’s meet back here next season, same Bat time, same Bat channel and see if Gotham can stick its landing.
Because it sure tied up every single character and plot thread this week before kicking off some awesome new ones.
Well almost, where the heck is Poison Ivy? What was up with that?
Batman: No Man’s Land was a long story arc published in 1999. In it, Gotham City suffers a major earthquake and is cutoff from the rest of the United States. The villains of Gotham carve up the city into fiefdoms and all hell breaks loose. No Man’s Land was a pretty popular and successful storyline that spread throughout the Bat books of the very late 90s and even spawned a kickass novelization by Greg Rucka. No Man’s Land also seemed to have inspired the film Dark Knight Rises and now the concept has inspired Gotham.
Of course in Batman: The Killing Joke, Barbara Gordon gets shot and paralyzed by the Joker during a home invasion. In Gotham, it’s Selena and one has to wonder what Catwoman’s journey will be now that she has taken this unexpected and brutal turn.
We’ll give the history of Man-Bat, Mother, and Orphan next season. But suffice it to say, Gotham will become an even darker place with this group of newcomers around.