By Jarrett Kruse

GOTHAM has been pretty damn dark as of late and I just have not been enjoying it that much. I think that one of the main problems for me is that this whole "Rise of the Villains" thing is a major bummer. And my main gripe is this: how about a little follow up from last season's finale where Alfred and Bruce find a cave? I would like a little bit of Batman peppered into a show called GOTHAM. I understand keeping the dark in the Dark Knight but they have been moving along this season at a fast but miserable pace. I mean it feels like a depressing show over say Supergirl or The Flash. Heck, even ARROW has its light moments. GOTHAM is all business all the time. There is no break and it is down and dirty in the muck for the whole hour every week. Sometimes adding a tiny bit of levity can be a good thing. After all, this is not Law & Order: SVU, its supposed to be a prequel of sorts and while I understand it is the "Rise of the Villains," their need to be more Bruce & Alfred-centric episodes like this one. Thankfully, "Son of Gotham" while still very dark, at least has young Bruce Wayne at the center of this installment.


Last week was a pretty sickening episode with the cannibalistic hitman that killed young Officer Parks. The GCPD is in mourning and Gordon is feeling terribly guilty about not pulling the trigger when he had the chance. This is actually the second or third time that Jim has not gone ahead and offed a bad guy making me wonder what the characters thought process is at this point. With Barbara I understand his hesitance to shoot his ex-fiancee because she is loopy. But they shared a life together and were going to spend the rest of their lives together. Putting a bullet in your ex-fiancee, no matter how wacky she is has got to be tough. Jim visits Galavan in prison who sits down at the visitor window as if he just got done playing the back nine at the prison golf course. Galavan knows he's not going to prison and so do we. Gordon is there to seemingly convince himself that the new fallen mayor will be locked up. I think deep down, Jim knows that there will be some cockamanie turn at the hearing that will set Galavan free. More on that later.

These monks that have arrived in the city, led by character actor Ron Rifkin who is a seriously scary guy for a tiny human, are kind of a drag. Rifkin was scary on ALIAS as well. He carries weight and gravitas and is just a frightening guy in these roles that he has found a wheelhouse for in the past decade or so.  The monks have killed several people and are set up in the sewers with the message that says: "The day of reckoning is at hand. Blood of the nine shall wash away the sin and Gotham will be cleansed." They are the Order of St. Dumas and they are pissed and ready to reclaim Gotham. Gordon & Harvey get a lead on one of Galavan's holdings that is now a "massage parlor" (a happy ending establishment) but is really the old home base of the Order. When the partners seize the joint, its another bloody fight before a monk stands in front of a truck chanting the same thing before he becomes road pizza. Turns out that these guys are some sort of masochists that get purification through pain. Its hard to find good monks nowadays.


Finally we see Bruce and Selina working on a plan together to dupe Silver in getting the name that Galavan threw into the fire. The name that supposedly killed Thomas and Martha Wayne. Watching from a tree, like a cat, Selina looks jealous at the attention Bruce is showing for Silver. Selina is not sure if Bruce can pull this off because it requires lying to a world class liar and descendant of Galavan. Young Bruce tells Silver that he will pay for Galavan's legal defense if she gets the name of the killer from her uncle. He then whispers something into her ear and kisses her deeply and suddenly we get the first real glimpse of moxie that Bruce is going to need. He is not used to deceiving or lying or doing anything like this but he looks like an old pro here. While walking away from the encounter, a man in a van is watching Bruce giving us the impression that maybe the young prince is going to be kidnapped. Hmmm.

Nygma is back at work and fielding phone calls from his new roomie, The Penguin! Ed is stressed out and losing it and his new living situation is not helping anything. Lee, who is clearly suspicious of Nygma asks a few questions and the forensics expert says that Kringle and Officer Dougherty left Gotham together. When Lee questions this, saying he was abusive, Nygma simply shrugs his shoulders and says, "Love." The fact that he killed both of them, especially Kringle is weighing on him because I really believe that he did love her. He thought what he did for her was genuinely heroic and just; something a real man would do. I really love the Nygma character. He is deeply flawed but focused and sees order in what he does and what he is turning into. Cory Michael Smith is a touch of Frank Gorshin a little bit of Jim Carrey mixed in with his own take on The Riddler. It is The Riddler we have always wanted to see or were promised but never got. Back then, Riddler may have seemed kind of silly and campy but nowadays he is a very relevant villain of the 21st Century what with his forensics training and brilliant mind.


Gordon & Harvey get the lead I mentioned earlier from Lee that judging by the shoes of the victim, the Order is holed up in the sewers of Gotham. When they encounter one of the monks, a melee ensues and he is knocked out but they realize that it will be tough to interrogate a guy that does not feel pain. Half knocked out, he is repeating that same chant over and over. I was confused at what happened next because somehow the monk gets blindfolded and doesn't realize that Jim is a cop and is pretending to be a part of the Order. He asks for a sacrifice so Gordon cuts his own hand and lets the blood drip onto the perp. Then he starts to talk, saying that the son of Gotham will die, yada yada. It is only when a uniform announces themselves as GCPD that the monk realizes who he just told something secret. Huh? I did not get this scene at all. It was very strangely orchestrated and I did not understand how or when he got blindfolded, how he did not know they were police, why he started talking, etc. The only thing we walk away with is that the Order is going to complete some ritual with the finale sacrifice being the son of Gotham.

The scene I liked best was the real centerpiece and meat of the episode in my opinion. It puts Bruce on center stage in his first real test of wills. Silver leaves a message for Bruce that her uncle has agreed to his terms and she has the name for him and to meet him after school. However, the van I mentioned earlier rolls up with a tied up Silver, some scary thugs and the leader, a bearded Scotsman named "Tom the Knife" ordering him to get in. Bruce and Silver are tied up in an empty warehouse (Sidenote: man does Gotham have a lot of empty warehouses) and the interrogation begins with the Scotsman asking what Theo Galavan knows. Silver is hysterical and finally admits that she knows nothing that her uncle did not tell her anything. Bruce is slapped pretty damn hard a few times before being wheeled into another room where Tom says he is going to start cutting off his fingers. Silver is screaming and the door shuts leaving her terrified. When he returns with a blood soaked rag, he says he hasn't killed Bruce yet and the rest is up to her. Silver shows some bravado but when Tom goes in to cut her, she gives up the name "M. Malone" that she heard before her uncle was arrested. Suddenly Tom bellows, "Are we good?" and Bruce and Selina enter totally fine. It was all a ruse to get Silver to talk and it played out beautifully. Silver starts to talk and Bruce harshly cuts her off--this is not the Bruce Wayne we are used to seeing. Silver admits that her uncle is worse than he thinks and that he will kill her when he finds out what she told them. Yet she also said the name was fake so I don't know what to believe. But when Silver says, "Bruce, this isn't you," he slowly approaches her and says, "That's what you think, but you're wrong" and walks away leaving her there. It was pretty cool to see Bruce in this new role and showing some real quick thinking and trickery. Of course, having Selina help orchestrate it did not hurt. Selina and Bruce share a sweet moment afterwards at Wayne Manor where for the first time, Selina lets her guard down a bit and tells Bruce it is good to change, but not too much.

GOTHAM: L-R: David Mazouz in the ÒRise of the Villains: The Son of GothamÓ episode of GOTHAM airing Monday, Nov. 23 (8:00-9:00 PM ET/PT) on FOX. ©2015 Fox Broadcasting Co. Cr: Jeff Neumann/ FOX

At this point, Alfred is going bonkers looking for Bruce because he is nowhere to be found. Alfred is probably my favorite character on the show because he is a total badass with a crazy history as an elite soldier in Great Britain. He has "mad skills" as the kids say and he pretty much owns every scene he is in. Al shows up at Galavan's apartment armed and comes upon his sister, Tabitha who appeared to be taking some kind of large dagger out from a tile in the floor. An awesome fight ensues and you realize that this is not a butler you want to eff with. Plus him catching the whip was insane! So cool. However, Al walks away with a major stab wound before he gets out on the street and is nailed by a long range knife Tabitha throws penetrating his back and landing him in the back of a garbage truck. I am still a little confused as to what Tabitha's role in all of this is and if she really even Galavan's sister. The Order does not seem like the type of group that allows women either. I am very curious how this is going to turn out but am most concerned that Alfred is okay.


At the hearing for Theo Galavan, ex-Mayor Aubrey James who spent October with his head in a box gives his testimony and SHOCKER says that it was not Galavan but Oswald Cobblepot that kidnapped and held him captive. Despite the obvious perjury that we just witnessed, the judge dismisses the case and Galavan is free and addresses the court asking Gordon, who has just arrived from the sewers, about working together again. Naturally Jim slugs him in front of the whole court and is taken away by a couple of uniforms before being hit with a stun gun and waking up in a warehouse. (Yet ANOTHER warehouse!) Penguin's goon Gabe shows up at Nygma's place to tell him the verdict because remember, no one wants Theo Galavan dead more than The Penguin. He killed his beloved mother and Oswald is hellbent on killing Theo personally.When Jim comes to, Galavan is there and at this point we know he loves to hear himself talk and he drones on and on about the Order and answers any questions from Jim. He tells him that the family name is really Dumas and they have been betrayed, etc. Then he says, "I've got some time. Cut him loose. Come on Jim, give it your best shot." Jim's straightforward fighting style is no match for the highly trained Galavan who kicks the crap out of the veteran cop with some sort of capoeira fighting style. It was pretty dope. He tells the two officers to kill him and make it slow.


However the uniform cops beating of Jim is interrupted when gunshots ring out and the two officers fall. Its Oswald and Gabe and he is screaming at a barely alive Gordon as to Galavan's whereabouts. It is then that they cut to Wayne Manor where Bruce has documents everywhere and hears someone come in assuming it is Alfred. It isn't. It is Galavan with a Crocodile Dundee sized knife. When Bruce asks what he wants, Galavan retorts simply, "your life."

I liked the episode. Not loved. Liked. It was good so it gets an average rating of two and a half stars. The highlights for me were the scenes with Bruce, Selina, Silver and the Scotsman in the warehouse and the sting style operation to get the debutante to talk. That was terrific. The Alfred scene was also great but albeit too short and I feel like the character is being underused. Frankly I cannot wait for this story arc to end because I don't think that I am going to make it until May dealing with Galavan. The rhetoric and the non-stop speeches are just weighing on me already. Still, for a moment in the warehouse talking to Silver, a glimpse of the future Bruce Wayne was seen and that was great to finally see after a season and a half.






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