This Gotham review contains spoilers.
Gotham Season 5 Episode 6
Terminator by way of the Riddler? Sure, why not. We kick off this week’s Gotham with a mind-controlled Ed Nygma (controlled by Eduardo Dorrance by way of Hugo Strange’s control chip — man, that’s convoluted) beginning his hunt for James Gordon. Now, you need to put aside a bit of logic here, as this hunter/killer Riddler is somehow Gordon’s physical equal, but despite all that, the cold open is quite exciting, as Riddler is just an inch away from taking out Gordon. Only a lucky shot with a defibrillator allows James to take down Ed and we are off.
And damn, Gotham, you’re almost over and you have picked up the pace. Truly, “13 Stitches” is indeed a high water mark in Gotham history. The episode delivers humor, action, pathos, and shocks. After kicking things off with Gordon and Nygma, we jet off to the Sirens Club where an injured Gordon gets stitched up by Barbara. Eduardo shows up and a fierce firefight ensues. Nygma plays things smart by pretending to still be under the chip’s control. Let me just say, Shane West’s arrogant posturing really brings something special out of this new adversary.
Gordon and company escape and are able, with the help of Lucius Fox, to pry the chip out of Ed’s brain. In the past, so many characters (sooooo many) really choked Gotham with too many plot threads, but this week, all the major Gotham players are used perfectly.
Speaking of being used perfectly, we have the return of a major Gotham player as well. Eduardo reveals his ace in the hole, the missing Lee Thompkins! Lee was last seen stabbing the apple juice out of the Riddler and her whereabouts since Nygma’s return have been a mystery. A mystery no longer as Lee could be the x-factor that allows the enemies of Gotham to overrun the gates.
During the firefight at the Sirens Club, Eduardo learns that Gordon has the evidence to bring down the mercenary group and their mysterious boss, Walker. So Gordon and company are on the run. Bruce and Alfred join the fun and come up with a plan to broadcast the contents of the chip dug out of Nygma’s coconut to the outside world. Sadly, the only antenna is on the roof of the GCPD, a building held by Eduardo and his crew. And this is where shite goes down!
As Gordon and company try to escape from the GCPD, Eduardo is waiting. He and Jim engage in some manly fisticuffs as Eduardo relates his origin. He was found by Walker in a hellhole prison and nursed back to health. He is now loyal to the mysterious Walker (the female voice on the radio Gordon has been begging for help all season), and if this is sounding all The Dark Knight Rises familiar, it should. Eduardo orders Lee killed and the fight is on. Gordon manages to impale Eduardo on a piece of rebar and it looks like Gordon’s old pal is done for. Lee manages to free herself and take down her assailants as Gordon and Thompkins reunite, and it feels so good. Lee Thompkins taking down two heavily armed soldiers on her own? Hell, yeah. Gordon learns that Walker wanted Haven taken out because it became a symbol of empathy and the rest of the world was going to send aid into Gotham City. Can’t have that now. So a mind-controlled Nygma was ordered to take down Gotham’s only symbol of hope. Pretty cold.
Inside the GCPD, Nygma gets to shine, as he dons a bomb suit and plays a game of riddles with Eduardo’s men to keep them occupied. Unfortunately, Harvey Bullock, not smartened up to what is going on, solves the riddle. Oh, Harv. Thanks to some Lucius Fox concocted KO gas, Riddler escapes and the message to the outside world is delivered.
Look at Gotham, using humor and character quirks effectively instead of going for the easy slapstick, ultra-violent camp. Sniff, Gotham has grown up so fast. It seems like just yesterday plots centered on people turning into weather balloons.
Anywho, this is where things get intense. After the battle, Walker shows up to assist Bane. Now, one has to assume that the beautiful Walker is Talia al Ghul because when she shows up she places a high-tech gas mask on Eduardo’s bloody head and, all of a sudden, he has the Snidley Whiplash voice and oh, yeah, Gothamites, we have our Bane. You noticed the way Shane West hooks his thumbs into his combat vest, didn’t you?
Now that Eduardo is in full on Bane mode, things should get even more intense on Gotham. And they do, quickly, as Walker reveals she has another sleeper agent and activates Lee. At the GCPD, Lee tries to kill Gordon until he manages to shock her brain. Lee and Riddler are free from Walker and the message has been broadcast thanks to Lucius and Bruce. The outside world is now aware of the conspiracy in Gotham and things seemed to finally turn for the good.
Until Barbara reveals that she is pregnant. With Gordon’s kid. And she reveals this blissful news in front of Lee. Well, that’s going to cause…problems.
While all that was going on, there was indeed a B story, as Penguin runs afoul of a new thief known as Magpie. Magpie leaves explosive duplicates of whatever she steals and gets one over on the Penguin. Cobblepot can’t have that and goes to Selina Kyle for help. Selina is having issues of her own because every killer in Gotham is gunning for her since she’s the one who killed Jeremiah. Selina and Penguin team up and are able to take down Magpie. Selina is shocked when Penguin murders Magpie, but she still wants her promised share of the loot and a way out of Gotham, so the Cat and Penguin alliance is born. Holy, Batman Returns! Looks like that is going to be an additional problem Bruce will have to face in the future.
And there’s one more problem: Alfred is abducted by the very alive Jeremiah, who is still in the midst of completing his master plan that somehow involves a tunnel, plastic surgery, and Wayne Manor. We’ll just have to wait and see how that all plays out.
Gotham really delivers this week, as we pass the halfway point of the final season. The chess match for the control of No Man’s Land continues!
Gotham Easter Eggs and References
1) Bane first appeared in Batman: Vengeance of Bane #1 (1993) and was created by Chuck Dixon, Doug Moench, Graham Nolan, and Dennis O’Neil. Bane was introduced as the only villain who can be an intellectual and physical rival to Batman. This super-villain grew up in an underground prison and was forced to pay for the crimes of his parents. He feared the Batman, and once he was released, swore to destroy the thing he feared.
In Bane’s first appearance, he releases every inmate from Arkham Asylum. After Batman is exhausted tracking them all down, Bane, who already deduced that Batman is Bruce Wayne, waits for Batman in the cave and breaks his back. In his initial appearances, Bane wore a lucha libre mask and used a steroid called Venom to make him super strong.
Bane’s first live-action appearance, if one can really call it such, was in the odious 1997 Batman and Robin. The character was essentially reimagined in the 2012’s The Dark Knight Rises, as Tom Hardy’s Bane replaced the lucha mask with an electronic voice changer and the Venom for some kind of pain-numbing gas. Hardy’s version of the character became an all-time great iconic film villain and thrust the character into the upper echelon of the Bat-mythos.
Hey wait, Bane used Venom; Tom Hardy is Venom! It all makes sense now.
2) Not as well-known is Magpie. Magpie first appeared in Man of Steel #3 (1986) and was created by John Byrne. Margaret Pye was always obsessed with shiny things and became the thief known as Magpie to feed her sparkly addiction. In the post-Crisis DC Universe, Magpie was the first villain Batman and Superman fought together. If there is a Superman in the Gotham universe, that team up against Magpie won’t take place, because Magpie is dead thanks to Penguin. Jeez, Cobblepot, way to break continuity.
Marc Buxton is a freelance contributor. Read more of his work here.