This Gotham review contains spoilers.
Gotham Season 5 Episode 9
We began the latest Gotham with a water shortage as Gordon must negotiate a ceasefire with the myriad gangs in order to prove to those in charge that Gotham City has stabilized, and yo, what’s with these gangs? It really looks like that despite the fact that Gotham City has been cut off from the outside world, Hot Topic is still doing a booming business. Where does one find copious amounts of eye liner, gel to spike one’s hair and endless supplies of leopard print in a dystopian, dying city?
Anyway, as Gordon negotiates with what appears to be a 1997 Front 242 concert crowd, disaster strikes and Gordon is shot. Yeah, just as Gordon was getting used to the reality of being a father to Barbara’s child and rekindling his romance with Lee Thompkins, a bullet shatters all those hopes.
The bullet kicks off an afterlife trial thingie as the dying Gordon endures a hallucinatory, fevered trial where all those he failed condemn the future commissioner. It’s all kind of melodramatic and forced, but hey, it all takes place on the same faux courtroom set, so it saves on budget. Gordon is visited by himself, by a black veiled Lee, and, the most disturbing visitor, the Dickensian orphan boy killed during the attack on Haven. Gordon must face his own guilt and failings if he hopes to escape this purgatory.
Bullock is on the case in the second Bullock-heavy episode in as many weeks (yippee!). Bullock wants to blame Penguin or Barbara, until Penguin, while being beaten with Bullock’s ham fists, points out that the shot came from outside. After a little lab work, Bullock discovers that they are Victor Zsasz’s bullets. Remember, Zsasz was framed a few episodes ago for the destruction of Haven, so lest there’s any ambiguity, Zsasz directly attacks the GCPD and is easily taken down by Alfred. That’s how you butle, by God!
Anywho, let’s talk about Gordon’s influence on Bullock. With Gordon down, it becomes clearer than ever that Bullock is a man handcrafted by James Gordon. Bullock is the epitome of the Gordon dream, a non-corrupt selfless hero who would do anything for the city. Because at the end of it all, hasn’t Gotham really been the hero’s journey of one Harvey Bullock? Yeah, Gordon started out with doubts, but we have really witnessed Bullock’s transformation into a hero and a top-notch thinker and detective. All that is on display this week.
While Harvey is on the case, Bruce and Selina have a sweet little date where Bruce expresses the idea that Gotham might be better off without him. After all, Ra’s Al Ghul and Theo Galavan both went after Gotham City to get at Bruce. It’s really compelling to see Bruce plagued with self-doubt at this point in his life. That inner Bat fire is inside of the young Wayne, but it cannot be fully kindled at such a young age, can it?
Well, as Bruce and Selina discuss Bruce’s doubts and eat beans, Poison Ivy attacks along with the Dark Knight Returns Mutant Leader. Ivy doses Bruce and Selina easily takes down Frank Miller’s favorite son, but now, Bruce is under the influence of Ivy. Bat-horny! And things converge as Bullock discovers it is Ivy controlling Zsasz. Oh Victor, attacking the GCPD. Again! And you aren’t responsible. Always the patsy and never the mastermind. Zsasz has always been a load of fun, and it’s nice to see him as much as possible as the series winds down.
Speaking of balancing the case, while the Zsasz madness is going down there is a sweet scene where Alfred and Lee bond over parenthood. There is a really revealing moment for Alfred as he expresses that fatherhood is the greatest thing that ever happened to him even though Bruce is not his biological son. But really, Lee should be given sainthood for even considering raising the product of Barbara and Gordon’s ill-conceived monkey love.
I mean, Alfred was raising Bruce anyway when the Waynes were shot, or at least he had a hand in the raising, but Lee is going to have to raise Barbara Kean’s kid because of a moment of head scratching life choices by Gordon. Have any of you slept with someone who tried to kill you (this is a legit question; you should meet Den of Geek’s admin team)?
Now let’s talk us some Ivy Pepper. Ivy wants to make Gotham green again and now controls Bruce, Zsasz, and Lucius Fox in order to take down Gotham and turn it all into a rain forest. It’s kind of cool to see, after all these seasons, Ivy being Ivy. She’s pretty much the full on comic Ivy, adult, confident, wicked yet with an odd sense of honor. This is the male controlling Ivy we all know and love and it’s nice we get at least one straight ahead “Imma take over Gotham for the trees” type of Ivy tale.
With Bruce, Lucius, and Zsasz under control, it’s up to Selina to save the day, ironically. The Selina/Ivy friendship was established in episode one of Gotham and now we have come full circle with them as rivals. Just like we saw Gordon’s honor impact Bullock, the same dynamic has taken place with Bruce and Selina. A few weeks back, Selina refused to help anyone, claiming she just didn’t care, now she’s beating Ivy’s control out of Bruce and saving the day, like the true superhero she will become someday.
It all comes down to Lee versus Ivy. As Gordon is dying, Ivy tries to kill Gotham’s bastion of hope. Lee fends Ivy off, but the Queen of the Green manages to destroy the adrenalin Jim needs to survive. The GCPD does a bit better as Bullock takes down Zsasz with the bomb suit Riddler wore a few weeks back. Man, they’re getting play out of that bulky plot device! Predictably, it is Lee who brings Jim out of the twilight world while also saving his life in the real world, but unpredictably, this leads to an event I didn’t think we’d ever actually see. Lee and James getting married! Wait, what?
Yeah, with Ivy’s plans defeated thanks to Selina, things get meta as, while performing the wedding ceremony, Bullock says, “If there’s beautiful things that happened during these past few crazy years, it’s that these beautiful people met each other,” because of course Ben McKenzie and Morena Baccarin are actually married! And they met on the set of Gotham! So with only a handful of episodes left, Gotham celebrates the biggest event to come from the series, the union of two wonderful and talented people (sniff, I’m not crying, my eyes are just dusty). As all this goes down, Bruce, caught up in the romance of it all, kisses Selina as we are finally privy to a happy Bat wedding (take that Tom King!)
But there is someone not happy, Barbara Kean, who knows that another woman will be raising her child now that James and Lee have tied the knot. Oh, we all know what happens when Barbara is spurned. I think Penguin and Riddler need to build that sub a bit faster or else Barbara might do something – rash. Meanwhile, we got a sweet little unexpected surprise as Gotham continues to go out with some of the best episodes the series has pulled off to date.
Marc Buxton is a freelance contributor. Read more of his work here.