If you were at all worried that Gotham would somehow have run out of complete and total insanity prior to its fall finale, “Worse Than a Crime” must have been quite a comfort to you. For instance, James Gordon became a straight-up villain, and that wasn’t even close to the craziest thing that happened last night.
Even though most episodes of Gotham leave me with my jaw open, disbelieving what I’ve just seen, last night’s episode actually has me doubting my own sanity. I really just want to talk about all the madness right now, right here, but that would defeat the point of the recap. So, whenever I’m discussing something I can’t believe happened, I’m going to bold it, okay?
Most of the episode is taken up by two storylines: 1) the captured Bruce talking with Silver St. Cloud and 2) Gordon more or less assembling a posse to kill the hell out of Theo Galavan, law be damned. The first storyline is actually pretty boring, even though Theo tells Silver she has to somehow get Bruce Wayne to fall in love with him before he gets sacrificed by those wacky monks, despite the fact that Bruce knows she plotted against him. It’s most notable because, again, David Mazouz continues to emit a certain Batman-ness in his scenes with Silver, facing his upcoming death with total calmness. He also immediately figures out a failed, Silver-led escape attempt was a total charade. (If he would ever bother to learn to even throw a punch, we’d be getting somewhere.) The other notable bit is a scene where Silver talks about how a dolphin once read her mind. I am 100 percent serious.
So let’s move past them, and let us talk about how Jim Gordon assembles a League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, where the Extraordinary Gentlemen are actually Murderous Bastards. When Gordon wakes up at the beginning of the episode, he’s in Nygma’s apartment with the Penguin, which I would think would be bad for Nygma. But nope! He lets his cop pal discover he’s pals with a proto-supervillain. Nothing suspicious about that! Also, the Penguin and Riddler sing a duet.
Obviously Penguin wants Galavan dead, so Gordon has his first Murderous Bastard; the second is of course Alfred. After escaping Tabitha Galavan by jumping in the back of a passing garbage truck last episode, Alfred has inexplicably ridden the garbage truck all the way to the city dump, instead of, you know, getting out at any point before that. (More insanely: Tabitha and her goons somehow knew that Alfred would take the garbage truck all the way to the dump, and begin their search for him there.) Alfred eventually escapes and tries to jack a car GTA-style, although he’s quickly stopped by a cop. Is this the first Batman adaptation where we see Alfred get tased in the face? I imagine so.
Alfred is eventually freed thanks to Captain Barnes, and he and Bullock join Gordon’s Murder Squad shortly thereafter, along with several of Penguin’s goons. Also, Cat shows up with a secret entrance to Galavan’s lair, in the least disguised plot contrivance I’ve ever seen on primetime TV. Gordon doesn’t even have a second of hesitation about allowing a child to join their murder gang, even as they adults are putting bulletproof jackets and loading assault rifles. It’s madness.
Again, let me stress that no one here has any desire to arrest Galavan for his crimes, including the two cops; they all want him dead. They also want to rescue Bruce Wayne once they figure out Galavan has him for his wacky-ass Dumas family sacrifice, but still, it’s mainly about the murder. After all, Gordon has learned that if you don’t murder criminals then innocent people die, so it’s best to kill anyone you worry may kill someone in the future!
So they head to Galavan’s, where of course the monks are getting ready to sacrifice Bruce in order to, and I quote, “wash away the sins of the Wayne family.” Yes, much like Jesus, Bruce Wayne is going to be killed to save people’s souls, the people in this case being members of the Wayne family. The monks have even put him in a baptism dress for the occasion! Obviously, the League of Murderous Bastards arrive just before head monk Ron Rifkin plunges the knife into Bruce’s chest.
Hey, remember how all the monks of St. Dumas couldn’t feel pain? Well, Gotham sure doesn’t, because Gordon et al. shoot most of the melee weapon-wielding monks immediately, and punch the rest until they fall down, leaving only Ron Rifkin. Ron Rifkin is a terrific TV actor, best known for J.J. Abrams’ spy show Alias, but also a ton of dramatic work. He deserves better than to have had to wear Halloween store monk’s robes for his short, meaningless scenes. He’s also 75, and looks 75, and yet that doesn’t stop Gotham from pretending an elderly man has some kind of Crouching Tiger-esque jumping powers for a few brief seconds before Bullock guns him down. (I wish to god I had a gif of this.) They all free Bruce, while Gordon heads off after Galavan alone.
Galavan, for his part, is getting ready to escape with Tabitha, but he wants to murder Silver for her screw-up firsts. Tabitha decides this, suddenly, is the moment where her brother annoys her, and kicks his ass, allowing Tabitha and Silver to escape by jumping out of their high-rise apartment windows while wearing parachutes. (It’s worth noting that Tabitha actually pushes Silver outthe window unexpectedly, making the hilariously dangerous escape even more dangerous for the child.) When Gordon arrives, he discovers Galavan on the floor and draws his gun.
Because Gotham does not understand that people, real or fictional, can have interior monologues, Gordon’s conflict as to whether to shoot the evil but unarmed Galavan is made manifest. First Barnes bursts in, demanding that Galavan be arrested and taken in for trial, because it’s the law! And they’re police officers! People who are paid to uphold the law!
This is when the Penguin bursts in and knocks Barnes unconscious, in order to play the dapper devil on Gordon’s other shoulder. The Penguin actually has an eloquent case—to forget about revenge, to forget about the Penguin’s mom, and just to think of “the greater good.” Galavan has beaten the legal system once; what will stop him from doing it again? What other crimes will Galavan inevitably commit that Gordon can prevent right here, right now? What will choice will Jim Gordon, the last honest cop in Gotham, the man determined to clean up the city and the police force, make?
Gordon listens to the Penguin, of course. They drag Galavan’s body to the river, where Gordon watches as the Penguin beats an unarmed, helpless man to near-death with a baseball bat.
After a while—a long while—Gordon has had enough. He stops the beatings… then Gordon shoots the unarmed, helpless man in the head, killing him.
Yes, Jim Gordon has murdered Theo Galavan in cold blood, making him someone Batman absolutely would capture and leave for actual cops, were Batman not currently a child. This isn’t Gordon straddling the line, this is Gordon being an out-and-out bad guy, someone who is not only taking the law into his own hands, but also deciding who lives and who dies. And in case you’re thinking “Well, Gordon is obviously going doing a dark path, and he’s going to be tormented by his decision until he redeems himself,” nope! He immediately finds his gal pal Lee and proposes to her, because, as we found out earlier, she’s pregnant. Jim Gordon has murdered the bad guys, and now he gets his happy ending! He’s basically become a less clever version of Dexter.
Don’t believe me that Gordon is a bad guy? Well, let’s compare him to Edward Nygma, the man who will one day be the Riddler. As this moment, even though the nascent Riddler has murdered 2-3 people, Gordon is actually a worse person than the Riddler. Sure, the Riddler killed Daughtry the cop, but 1) the Riddler was actually defending himself, and besides 2) Daughtry was an abusive asshole. Future crimes prevented! And yeah, Riddler also killed Ms. Kringle, but that was a total accident. James, meanwhile, has murdered many, many people over the last season and a half—one guy merely to collect money for the Penguin—and now Galavan, who, again, was unarmed and helpless. To repeat: We now have a Batman TV show where Jim Gordon is a bigger villain than the Riddler.
What is there to say about this series, which doesn’t give two shits about Gordon’s character, the Batman mythos, or even basic storytelling? I don’t have the faintest idea. All I know is them I’m so glad the show isn’t coming back until February, so my sanity can recover from this bad, bad, but still massively entertaining show. I’d try to posit some kind of theory about the second-half of the season, seeing as last night’s episode ended with Galavan’s corpse being shipped to a lab run by a Dr. [Hugo] Strange, and Mr. Freeze walking through a parking lot to freeze some dude,but how can anyone guess what is going happen on this ridiculous show?
All I can hope is that the show stays jaw-droppingly insane, Bullock still talks like he has aphasia (“Sure as eggs!”) and that Penguin and Riddler stay roommates forever.
• Gotham City: Where cops can just give people they like guns.
• We all understand that Alfred locked Lucius Fox in the Batcave in the second episode of the season, right, and he’s only just now been allowed to leave? We do? Good.
• When the lab unveils Galavan’s corpse, he has Penguin’s umbrella shoved halfway down his throat. I admit, I chuckled.
• Hey. Did I mention that A DOLPHIN ONCE READ SILVER ST. CLOUD’S MIND SERIOUSLY WHAT THE HELL IS EVEN HAPPENING ON THIS SHOW
• Fun fact: Do you know what Bruce Wayne’s favorite animal is, according to Gotham? Bruce Wayne, the kid who will grow up to be Batman, a superhero themed solely on the flying mammal also known as members of the order Chiroptera? An owl, obviously.