The Secret of Gotham’s New Villain Is More Absurd Than I Could Have Possibly Imagined

Look. I know the new Star Wars: The Force Awakens trailer dropped last night, and the last thing any of us want to think about is a new episode of Gotham right now. But we finally learned the true identity of Theo Galavan, and we need to take a minute to discuss how Gotham has lost what little remnants of sanity it had.

Before we get into Galavan’s secret, let’s discuss the episode. “Scarification” wasn’t just another step in Galavan’s weird plan to mess with Gotham City and get himself elected; instead, he’s hired (through a network of middlemen that include Penguin, Butch, and Selina Kyle) three pyromaniac brothers to torch a variety of Wayne Enterprises-owned buildings. But Galavan doesn’t just want them burned; he also wants a certain centuries-old dagger hidden in a safe.

Why? Well, we’ll get to it. The main plot of “Scarification” offers an early version of Firefly, who is not one of the brothers but sort of an adopted (and enslaved) little sister named Bridget. When the youngest brother is caught at the illegal weapons supermarket known as the Merc by Gordon and his task force, li’l bro foolishly pulls a gun on the cops, forgetting he has explosives in his pockets; Gordon and Barnes fill him full of led until he explodes in Gotham’s silliest, most gratuitously violent moment yet.

With the Li’l Py-bro dead, the other brothers threaten/guilt the little sister to take his places (something about needing someone small to fit in a vent or something). She’s the one who manages to steal the knide (with help from the severed eyeball of Wayne CEO Mr. Bunderslaw, presciently collected by Theo and his sister earlier), but gets burnt, solely because her brothers are assholes.

After the robbery, Bridget—who a mere five minutes ago was a meek, quiet, Cinderella-type—suddenly gets super-into her work, creating a Firefly costume that she wears the next night when her family is ordered to burn more Wayne-owned buildings. However, Gordon and the Task Force are waiting for them (having very easily established their pattern) and a panicked Bridget/gender-swapped Firefly uses her flamethrower to escape, but accidentally burns one of the Task Force members to death. Now Firefly is enemy #1 to Gordon and his team, and the only friend Bridget has seems to be Cat/Selina. We’ll see how that works out next week.

Meanwhile, the Penguin is of course losing his shit over his mother’s imprisonment, and is desperate to find some way to bring down Galavan. When Butch brings him the 200-year-old knife, he questions an antiques dealer (improbably named Edwige, for no reason I can discern) for its history. And my god does she deliver.


As it turns out, five families ruled Gotham 200 years ago: the Waynes, the Kanes, the Elliots, the Crowns and the Dumas. Now, there was a Wayne girl promised to one of the other family, but she was caught sexing a certain member of the Dumas clan. The Waynes decided to declare this rape, cut off the offending Dumas’ hand off, and then banish the entire family to some sort of European monastery, as if this had happened in the 1500s and the Waynes were royalty, instead of it being 1815 when there was a reasonably functional system of law to handle such things. As ridiculous as this all is, it’s made even more absurd in that Gotham shows all this in flashback with all the nuance of a Community College putting on a a mid-season production of The Importance of Being Earnest or something.


The Dumas changed their name to Galavan, and now Theo has returned to Gotham to make the city pay for what a small class of wealthy elite did to his wealthy, elite family 200 years ago—and most especially Bruce Wayne, the last surviving member of the family that wronged his family, even though Bruce had almost certainly has no idea about any of it. Great plan, Theo!

So for those who were wondering if Theo Galavan was some part of a Court of the Owls storyline or maybe even Ra’s al Ghul, the answer is he’s kinda both. He has ties to Gotham’s shady past ruling class, but he also seems to want to clean Gotham City with fire. But surprisingly, the Bat-storyline he is most directly involved with is Azrael—yes, the crazy French dude who took over being Batman for a while after Bane broke Bruce Wayne’s back. See, in the comics, Azrael is the name of the champion of the Order of St. Dumas, a group of warrior monks who… actually, I have no idea what they wanted, but I do know they had nothing to do anything Gotham is positing.


At the end of “Scarification,” Theo enters his study to see a monk in a monk’s robe sitting on the coach (played by perennial TV villain Ron Rifkin), and it appears that an entire abbey of warrior monks are heading to Gotham to wreak havoc in general and destroy everything the Waynes built in specific. I have no idea where Azrael fits into this—Azrael is a title, so we could get a full-grown psycho instead of being forced to hang with 12-year-old Jean-Paul Valley for no reason—but I think we can safely say he’s on his way at some point in this season.

You know, in just about any other superhero show, the idea of 20 or so dudes in hooded robes running around the city randomly murdering people would be nonsense; too silly to ever work. But when I realized this is what Gotham is leading up to, I didn’t even blink. In fact, I bet the arrival of a bunch evil death monks doesn’t even make the Top 20 of the most ridiculous things that will happen on Gotham this season, once it’s all said and done.


You may now returning to watching the Star Wars: The Force Awakens trailer for the several hundredth time.


Assorted Musings:

• So let’s take one moment to discuss the stupidest thing in this episode of Gotham, but the stupidest moment I have ever seen in any live-action Batman entertainment: The Merc. As I mentioned above, the Merc is basically a supermarket for weapons, and when I say supermarket, it has aisles, it provides its customers with shopping carts, and, most unbelievably, it even has announcements over a PA system discuss the days’ sales. This is literally dumber than the Bat-credit card in Batman & Robin. It’s dumber than the villains turning the United Nations ambassadors into powder in the ‘60s Batman movie, the powder getting mixed up, and the ambassadors being returned to life with the ability to speak other languages.


• Jim and Leslie went on a double-date with Riddler and Ms. Kringle. Thye had fondue. It was thankfully brief, although I admit to being morbidly excited about the date going off the rails.

• I’m not sure why, but Tabitha’s description of Barbara made me laugh out loud. “Yeah, she’s cool, but she sleeps a lot.”


• Selina/Cat—and a few other Gotham criminals—believe that Fish Mooney is still alive. I am completely torn between hating this idea, as all of her scenes (minus the eye-scooping one) were worthless, and being desperate for it to happen, as Gotham is running solely on ridiculous plot twists at this point.

• Theo asks Gordon to support his candidacy as the president of the police union. When Gordon agrees, Theo doesn’t even try to hide his hilariously diabolical smile.


• Penguin cuts off Butch’s hand so he can infiltrate Theo’s organization. I’d explain it if made any sense.

• Line of the night, courtesy of Captain Barnes: “Belay that order. No one gets pants.”


Contact the author at Follow him on Twitter at @robbricken.


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