(WARNING! SPOILERS AHEAD FOR SEASON 5 EPISODE 8 OF GOTHAM!)
Last week's episode of Gotham is a tough one to top, right? How do you follow up such an iconic moment in the show? That's the beauty part about Gotham City, there is always something else looming on the horizon. I guess what's why you can call this episode, "Nothing's Shocking".
For the most part, this is very much a Harvey Bullock episode. Gordon and Bullock are called to Sirens, by Barbara of all people, to investigate a double murder. At first glance, it turns out the prime suspect is Bullock's old partner, Dix. Problem is, Dix is in a wheelchair and this guy was walking around stabbing people in the neck. Seems unlikely, but they have to check it out. Bullock feels guilty for not checking up on his friend, but there seems to be something more to it than that. So after Gordon gives Barbara a quick lecture about being a mother and a criminal, off they go.
Dix is clearly paranoid when they get to his apartment, and looks very guilty. He has a bag packed, he's armed and he has no alibi. Gordon smells a rat, but Bullock just can't believe his friend is capable of this. Turns out the victims were two other cops who worked with them on a case years ago. This is a case that nobody seems to want to talk about. Dix gets a visitor, and it's not a pleasant one. Not too often your evil twin shows up to kill you, but this is Gotham after all. They make it out alive, but Gordon still has his radar up.
Gordon manages to track down the old case and everyone seems very uncomfortable. It turns out there was a woman that they locked up on the testimony of her daughter, and that may have something to do with their current situation. Gordon goes to check the address, and it ends up leading them to a villain named Jane Doe who can shapeshift into anyone that she has touched. Skipping ahead a bit, she ended up at Arkham where she was experimented on by Hugo Strange at Indian Hill. Another great callback for long time viewers of Gotham, and further proof of just how vast that project was and how much damage was done. She wants revenge on anyone who led her down this path, and that means killing all of the cops responsible. She ends up getting to Dix, but is eventually taken down by Bullock.
After it's all over, Bullock finally gives Gordon the whole story about what happened. Turns out the confession was shaky at best, and Bullock was a rookie cop who wanted to close a case at the urging of his fellow cops to make detective. This is another bump in the road in the friendship of Bullock and Gordon, as Gordon says he can't give Bullock the forgiveness that he needs. The guilt here is more than palpable from Bullock, and it's another amazing performance from Donal Logue. He is definitely one of the things I will miss the most when Gotham is over at the end of this season. This case really sets a dark cloud over the entire episode and gives things a very heavy tone. That's not how the whole episode would go, and there is one friendship that appears to now be on firm footing.
Ed is now underway on building the sub that will carry his villainous group out of Gotham. Meanwhile, Oswald has recruited them some muscle, which leads to a hilarious back and forth between Ed and Oswald. If there was any chance for us to get a Penguin and Riddler spinoff series with Robin Lord Taylor and Cory Michael Smith, I would take it in a heartbeat. Their chemistry in every scene they share is so amazing and incredibly entertaining. They play off of one another so well, and even bring humor to moments that wouldn't otherwise have them. It turns out that they would be getting even more company than expected.
It turns out that Mr. Penn is alive, and tracks Oswald down, but not on his own. He has brought a dummy named Scarface with him who is very upset at how Oswald treated Penn when they worked together. Continuing to pull out all of the stops in it's final season, Gotham gives us the closest thing to The Ventriloquist that we will probably ever get on screen. This really was a perfect way to bring the character in, and did serve a purpose in his insanity. As Penn projects his anger through Scarface, Oswald buys some time to save his life while Ed is coming up with a plan. Eventually Oswald gets the drop on Penn, knocking him to the floor and shooting Scarface. Just as we think the spell is broken for Mr. Penn, Ed finishes him off with one final bullet. This was an important scene because Ed realizes that he has a bond with Oswald that will probably always be there. After all of the ups and downs that these two have had, it feels like they are all the way back to being the friends and cohorts that they were before.
Speaking of quick shot villains, Alfred and Bruce go down into the sewers after agreeing to help a woman find her family that was taken. Long story short, they end up coming across a man/creature who appears to have been mutated by Jeremiah's toxin that was released into the water last week. I guess you could call this villain Killer Croc, but it was really far from it. Normally I really enjoy the different take that Gotham has on classic Batman villains, but this one really didn't work for me. Not only do we really never get a good look at him, but he is taken down far too easily by Bruce and Alfred. Granted they are a formidable duo, but it would have been much tougher to stop a monster like Croc in his true form. This was a bit rushed, but there wasn't a huge focus put on his story anyway. This was pretty much a plot device to get Alfred to express his guilt over what happened to Wayne Manor. It also gives Bruce a chance to show how much he has grown and matured, along with strengthening his bond with Alfred once again. I didn't hate this take on the Croc story, I'm just not sure it was worth doing when there were so many other things going on. I do think that these chemicals in the water will eventually come back around.
All in all, this episode seemed like it was a stop gap in the larger story of the season. Knowing how hard it would be to follow something like Ace Chemicals, this episode seemed like a short break for the characters and the fans before the final push of the rest of the season. I'm not sure I would completely call it filler, because as I said before, we did get some useful elements in the bigger picture. Even Barbara almost getting caught up in Jane Doe's crossfire surely will come up again at some point.
When will we see Jeremiah reappear in Gotham? When will the show get back to the Bane storyline and Walker's plan? Will Ed continue to make progress on the sub? Is Bruce finally taking one step closer to becoming The Dark Knight? It looks like we have another bit episode of Gotham next week, and I can't wait!
(Photo Credit: ©2019 Fox Broadcasting Co. Cr: FOX)