When the cops are on your backtrail/and your enemies beside/then there's nothing you can do but/aim and shoot the Gothic Bride./Not like victim but like bullet:/both can tear the guts inside/if temptation will not do it/just release the Angry Bride.
Temptation takes many forms. I mean, they call it angel cake and devil's cake for a reason: two ends on a range, and when you get to the end of the circle you're nearly back at the beginning. All you're changing is the flavor. I have to give it to David Masouz in this episode. His performance of Bruce hasn't entranced me, but here, I felt a boy in the middle of conflict, too small for the rage he has inside him, too impatient, and oh so easily manipulated. I was so glad that, when Bruce confessed the temptation of Galavan to Alfred, Alfred immediately saw it for what it was: emotional blackmail and extortion. I don't think much of Alfred's parenting skills. He needed to make it clear to Bruce: if Galavan at all had Bruce's best interests at heart, and truly wanted to uphold the law, Galavan would have given the information about Bruce's parents to Jim Gordon, not used it as a form of cake to test a teen's self-control. And yet the entire process, the developing friendship, the beautiful ward, the personal connection did make the offer seem realistic and palatable. Good work from James Frain in selling this.
Nygma now has the taste for murder and, more importantly, for controlling the world around him. There's a favorite quote of mine from Steinbeck's Arthur where Lancelot's trapped by the four evil serial-killing witch-queens, including Arthur's own sister, Morgan the Fey (and don't think they weren't aware of the pun: Fay and Fey, fairy-queen and mad-woman in the attic.) When he confronts the sisters, Lancelot points out that magic users are basically people with a penchant for control and the ability to make that control real, and that this ability drives them mad. The ability to use magic is a way to not engage with reality. So, apparently, is the ability to kill, which is a kind of magic, removing people from the world. Nygma is burying his girlfriend, who he's gone back to calling Miss Kringle, and is happened upon by a local watchman, whom he whacks with an axe just like She Who Gave Her Mother Forty Whacks. Then he discovers that, during his doing of the dastardly, someone's eaten his sandwich! And done nothing about the watchman's, or Kringle's, body. It's a mystery that leads him to everybody's favorite Penguin who's apparently madly ill and bleeding to death in the remote but heavily-trafficked woods. The Nygma scenes in this episode were creepy and hilarious at the same time. I was sold. Will Nygma replace Butch as Penguin's right hand?
Jim was also tempted in this episode, and I'm not sure how he's done, and neither is Lee. I don't think he cares about Barbara in terms of love. I don't think Lee is worried about that, despite the kiss. I think Jim is a savior, a hero, someone who's imprinting on Bruce. I think he wants to save Barbara, and coax what he once knew back into life again–which is in many ways what he wants to do to Gotham and to the Gotham police force. And his desire to save just leads him again and again into danger, and since he's with Lee, he drags Lee into danger as well. At least this episode delivered on the action–the moment when Jim's car is hit by the truck more than made up for the shootout that wasn't last week. I don't know what the alternative to going along with the trap would have been–I think Jim made lots of tough choices on the ground. He had to follow Barbara, and endure the concussion and macabre church scenes that followed. There was actually some good acting here, although Jim still vacillates between two expressions: angrily wooden and sheepish.
Where this episode fails is moments of really sloppy writing. Barbara reveals some information leading to the arrest of Galavan at the end of the episode which is just blupped out like a formally-written question from Trivial Pursuit or Clue or something (the Mayor's at the docks in a box with some rope.) I think it could have been drawn out a little more carefully and in character. Or Jim might have mentioned the death of Jerome, who Barbara actually seemed to have sort of liked. Anyway, it stood out as an unconnected moment.
I was also cranky about the Death of Barbara. She falls from a church, which is a perfectly Gothic ending for a perfectly Gothic character. Then we returned from commercial and she's okay, just in a neck brace, and looks like one of those angry dogs which can no longer lick itself. It just felt sloppy. I was okay with the whole writing her into a bride thing, even though it was sort of clichéd, because her history with Jim gave it an extra dimension. But it felt like she died, and her death had absolutely no dignity. Maybe the show was edited differently elsewhere?
I also think Bruce shouting incoherently at the fire at the end really took down my estimation of his character a notch, because, come on, you should be realizing how freaking gullible you were, you dork, and running to Selina to apologize and beg her to give you a hug and a wisecrack. She's a real friend, and the Blonde Wonder needs to return from whence she came.
Bits and Pieces
Galavan's present to Barbara appears to be a sawed-off shotgun. I don't think he entirely intended for her to succeed. We'll see.
The episode opens with a bizarre Barbara dream of her practice wedding with Jim, at the end of which a nightmare emerges, a bird flies out of her mouth, and she's attacked by prisoners. A prophecy of what will happen with this character in the future?
Was it my imagination, or was Barbara trying to do to Jim what the Monster did to her, once upon a time?
Are we now going back to the last Mayor? Is Galavan completely toppled?
Oh, and didn't Bullock kick buttock in this episode, getting past his own concussion to inductively figure out where Barbara took Jim? GO HARVEY!
Tabitha/Tigress: "Doesn’t being mayor mean you can never sleep in?"
Despite what felt like some gaping plotholes, this was an exciting and engaging episode with very cool images. I felt the Barbara story turned out pretty anti-climactic, but I'm looking forward to more Nygma fun. Three out of four empty Gotham churches.