Review: Gotham – Season 2, Episode 5 “Scarification”

Yep, I’m still here. In for another week of Gotham madness.

The most I can say about my general feelings about the episode is: “meh.”

Before I get into the rundown of the episode, can I just point out the thunder and lightning in the sky as the opening shot? Could you say that a STORM IS COMING??? Subtle!

We begin this show in Galavan’s office, where Penguin is trying to convince Galavan to give him his mother back. Galavan is all, “Let me think about – NO. Nope. Not gonna happen. I’M EVIL!!! :Insert evil laugh here:”  Penguin is all, “Well perhaps this gift will change your mind. It’s a man. Inside a trunk. Don’t you just love it?” (When a Hallmark card just won’t do – send humans!)

It’s Bunderslaw, who works for Wayne Enterprises and who we have all forgotten about even though he appeared last season. Galavan threatens him, his sister wields a knife, it’s all very run of the mill “evil villain” stuff. Though I do find it interesting that the man who is trying to position himself in the public eye as the savior of Gotham would be so willing to do his own dirty work and allow his victims to see his face.

Gordon, Bullock, Ben Grimm, and The Redshirt Taskforce bust one of Penguin’s money laundering offices where all the money counters are dressed like extras from a barrack scene in a 1940s war movie. This scene is NUTBALLS. It features the line “Anybody who doesn’t want to get shot raise your hands!” and that’s BEFORE a guy uses a  ROCKET LAUNCHER to try to take out the cops. That guy’s been playing way too much Grand Theft Auto. Ben Grimm also gets the lines “City Counsel can suck my tailpipe,” and “No one gets pants.”

Back at the precinct, Jim and Leslie discuss their date night plans in the middle of the station floor (HOW DOES EVERYONE KNOW YOU’RE TOGETHER, JIM? HOW??????) when Nice Guy(tm) Riddler approaches them to ask them on a double date.

Uh.

What?

How long of a time gap is there between last episode and this episode? Is it really long enough to facilitate a “couple’s date! tee hee!”? And then Leslie, who is dumb as a fucking post, invites them to her place for FONDUE. Apparently it’s the 1970s and people are eating fondue at home. Who wants to do that at home? You have to try to clean congealing cheese out of a pot! This is why the Melting Pot restaurant exists! No clean up!

Jim isn’t thrilled about this and says, “We’re already home. We can’t leave!” Spoken like a true introvert/guy who doesn’t want to be turned into a skin suit by his weird riddle-obsessed coworker.

Then Galavan shows up to ask for Jim’s endorsement of his campaign. He’s all “Wanna talk about how great it is to kill people? Can you tell I’m evil? Most people can.” He also points out that Jim is a “symbol for the people of this city.” Well, isn’t it awesome that we’re getting characters to TELL us how much Jim Gordon means to the people of Gotham instead of the show, I don’t know, SHOWING us? The A.V. Club says:

The dialogue is “Scarification” readily uses words like “hope,” “leader,” “inspiration,” and “respect” to talk about Jim Gordon and his crusade, and yet there’s never been anything to suggest that what Gordon is doing is noble. Sure, he’s locked up a few guys that other cops might not have, but that’s about it. Again, the extent of Gotham‘s character work is endless description, where noble, brave, and loyal are words used by tertiary characters to describe main characters, not actual qualities that we can see challenged or deployed from one episode to the next.

Exactly. We’ve never seen the people of Gotham react to Jim in any way that would make us as viewers believe that Jim is a “symbol” for the city. In fact, I don’t think we’ve ever really seen regular people react to him at all. And it’s extremely difficult to see how the people of Gotham would begin to see Jim as a force of good in the GCPD when in less than a year he was demoted to Arkham security guard, reinstated as detective, demoted to traffic cop, and then fired (which he actually had to actually kill a man to get reversed.) Unless there is some sort of Pavolvian conditioning going on in the city where whenever anyone mentions the name “Jim Gordon” Tina Turner’s “Simply the Best” starts playing, I’m unclear on how he’s become the Hero of Gotham.

Back in Penguin’s ornate sitting room (whatever happened to his club? Is that still a thing?) Galavan’s sister informs him that they’ll be burning down some buildings for the LOLs. He says, “Sure. Fine. Whatever.” which I hope to god is a shout out to this:

Butch gets Selina to take her to the most generic bad guys ever, the Pike brothers. The Pike Brothers were loyal to Fish Mooney so they hate Penguin, but apparently everyone knows that Fish loved Selina so they’ll be nice to her. Which, didn’t she work for Fish for one entire episode before Fish was killed? Unless Fish screamed “I LOVE SELINA!” on her way down, I call bullshit on this. Again, more telling, no showing.

One of the Pike brothers has to go to the Merc to pick up supplies, and this becomes one of the most hilarious things I’ve ever seen on a television show in my entire life. It’s a Costco…for weapons. It has price tags! IT HAS AN INTERCOM SYSTEM!!! This is amazing. If Gotham would stick to this odd sort of humor that both salutes comics books and satirizes them, it would be the best show.

Of course, one of the Pike brothers is stupid, so he decides to shove C-4 down his pants (while saying “robbery!” out loud. Actually, it’s only theft – robbery is stealing something through the use of force or fear.) The cops choose this moment to raid the Merc. The kid runs, Gordon and Ben Grimm follow to spray him with stop resisting kisses, and the kid blows up. And when he explodes pieces of him go flying. Maybe they saw that head exploding scene from Scanners and they wanted to pay homage?

At Leslie’s, Nice Guy Riddler is proving that he can get creepier by using the term “mouth feel.”

Jim gets home and is all “hey! It’s me! Busy day! Traffic, paperwork, exploding kids. The usual.” He then looks over to see Tinsel, who has completely forgotten about how scared she was of Nygma in the first season, fucking going to town on some fucking fondue.

MMMMMM SO GOOD

With the dinner thankfully over, we’re back with the brothers., who need to replace their ground meat brother for the job. Under the threat of forced sex work, Bridget sets the fire bombs and steals a knife using Bunderslaw’s eye. (What’s with this show and eyes?) Bridget, who was terrified of fire, now thinks its awesome and sets about making herself a suit to wear next time she goes arsoning. Selina comes to pick up the knife and gives her “friend” a lecture. Here is the problem with Selina – the writers have no idea what to do with her so her one and only job is to react to things. She’s not active, she’s reactive. It’s hard to build a character out of that.

When Penguin gets the knife, Butch finds an old lady to tell him all about it. AND THEN THERE IS A FLASHBACK. I’ll let Rob Bricken, patron saint of Gotham reviewers, break this down (emphasis mine):

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 mid-season production of The Importance of Being Earnest or something.

RIGHT??? As I said last review (and I’m sure before that) – Bruce isn’t a king. His family aren’t royalty. They’re just rich. And maybe it’s naive to think that cutting off the hand of another wealthy man would result in some sort of legal punishment, even for the rich (and only because the victim is a member of the 1%. If the victim was poor, no punishment required!) Nope. The Waynes (who are terrible people) get to banish someone’s entire family from an American city in the 1800s.

Oh, but let’s not forget that these poor banished Dumas changed their name to Galavan. And they became a cult, the Order of St. Dumas. I admit to not catching this last night. Instead of Galavan = Ra’s al Ghul or being a member of the Court of Owls, the mention of Dumas means that this story is connected to Azrael. Since Azrael is a title, does that mean that Theo is Azrael? Will he show up looking like this?

Penguin remembers that Butch was fucked up by Zsasz last season and has to do everything Penguin says even if he doesn’t want to. So he decides that Butch is going to go to Galavan and say he’s double-crossing Penguin. But since Galavan is smart, Penguin decides he can play on his sympathies by cutting off Butch’s hand. See, it’s just like what happened to his ancestor, so he’ll automatically sympathize! I’m pretty sure I have ancestors who were blown up in wars, I don’t feel any sympathy toward to dude who shoved C-4 down his pants. GAME, SET, MATCH, PENGUIN! YOUR PLAN IS FLAWED!

Gordon figures out that the arsonists are going to strike the Gotham City Book Depository and Harvey decides they should stake it out…with donuts. This show needs more Harvey.

At the stake out, Selina JUST HAPPENS to be hanging around watching when the Pikes show up. Bridget, a.k.a. Firefly, has a sweet flamethrower and she’s about to burn things down when Jim shows up. From out of nowhere one of the Redshirts tackles her, and she lights him on fire. He dies. Firefly runs off with Selina and all the cops want to get Firefly.

Later, Gordon tells Galavan he’ll endorse him if Galavan eases the rules for the cops. The Hero of Gotham is advocating for lax laws so he and his police buddies can engage in questionable tactics. Oh, yes. We all know how much citizens love police forces that are big on police brutality and using questionable tactics to conduct investigations.

Finally, we see Galavan talking to a monk. He wants to know if Bruce has been lulled into a false sense of security by Manic Pixie Dream Silver. He hasn’t, yet. But soon. And then the Waynes will pay!

Just to lay it out – Galavan, a grown ass man, is trying to destroy a 13-year-old boy because of something that happened generations before either of them were born.

Missing from this episode – Barbara, Bruce, and Alfred. No complaints.

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