How do you learn to be a killer? How do you learn to be a cop? The answers may not be that different, but in Gotham, as you might have guessed by now, everything has a twist of its own.
Nygma and Penguin's scenes were maybe my favorite part of the episode. They felt rich, and as if there were dozens of references for their interchanges which just went over my head. It seemed as if there were bits of Stephen King's Misery in there, and at one point the heavy reflection on Nygma's glasses made me think of the Corinthian from the Sandman comic books, a character who made a near-religion out of serial murder and cannibalization. What struck me most was how Nygma's passion to be mentored flipped so neatly into an opportunity for mentoring, and re-fired Penguin's own particular brand of hate. Their dual killing at the end seemed nearly sexual in nature, and certainly gratuitous.
The same mentorship theme was approached differently for Gordon and Barnes. Their initial relationship is one of older and wiser, and highly law-abiding mentor with younger, jaded and slightly less line-toey cop. What is it, really, by the end of the episode, with Barnes himself out for the count and Parks dead by the teeth of Eduardo Flamingo? Is Jim's understanding of how Gotham works more accurate than that of Barnes? This is put to the test when Tabitha decides to order a hit on Jim. The fight scenes here were better than some–no shooting into the wall–and they even manage to capture Flamingo: who uses the process against them, ripping out Parks' throat. How many members of the Strike Force or police force have to die before a more effective balance is struck? Jim now has basically concrete evidence that lenient approaches result in the deaths of his friends. Which sucks, because I kinda liked Parks.
Incidentally, poor Alfred is also trying to figure out a new balance tonight. He really, really does not like Silver St. Cloud, especially now he's seen Galavan attack Bruce. He does not tolerate Bruce's tantrums any longer. But at the same time, his hold over Bruce can't be complete; Bruce has been shown the flaw in their agreement, and the years before his maturity seem like thick mountains between where he is and where he needs to be. I liked the storyline of Alfred consistently being clever enough to keep Bruce in the house; I also liked the little visit at the end from Selina, and I hope she can prove Silver's duplicity to Bruce. Bruce is really being uncharacteristically dumb about this girl. Both these girls.
I'm not totally convinced about the Galavan plot, but it looks like we'll find out soon what the plan is to take over Gotham. I hope it's not as boring as Galavan.
Bits and Pieces
Nygma's rationalization of what it means to be free reminded me somewhat of Ayn Rand's philosophy. Rand praised serial killers because of their lack of empathy, which to Rand prevented purely capitalist decisions. The Penguin is a murderer, but also a businessman. Hmm.
There's a Mistress of Assassins in Gotham named the Lady.
The poor chair victim; was anyone else consumed with laughter any time he appeared?
Barnes is a lot more realistic when he's been shot. Up till now he's been sort of cardboard and stock; today's revelations about his past humanized the character somewhat.
I liked this episode, but when it finished I felt as if it were a great joke which lacked a punchline–but maybe that's just me. I thought all the plotlines worked together really well, which is a first so far this season. Weakest part of the episode? Tabitha calling for hit men - I think the character's a do-it-herself sort of woman. 4 out of 5 scary Nygma-handled needles.