I've always maintained Michael Chiklis is a good actor, but up until now he's rarely been given much of a chance to shine. I will also admit that yes... When Azrael stabbed him back in last season, I truly believed he was a goner, deceived by a message from the Gotham TV writers' account themselves. However, it's now clear that the show's had intentions for his character for quite some time, and this episode serves as his transformation.
Michael is good at being angry. There's no one on the show that sells "angry" quite like he does, and this episode gives him plenty to be angry about. First, he gets to be angry about a kid disposing of murder victims. Then, he gets to be angry at an insane plastic surgeon carving up girls for spare parts. Then, he gets to be angry at Carmine Falcone swaggering around at a fancy engagement party despite being the chief architect of most of the crime in Gotham. Finally, he gets to be angry at the aforementioned plastic surgeon walking free due to a rigged system, and that's where he shoves him through a wall.
In a way, we could all see this coming, "magic blood" or not. Assigning Nathaniel Barnes, the most by-the-book and rule-of-law character on the show to make sense of the ultra-corrupt Gotham City was a recipe for disaster from the start. While there were definite parallels between Jim and Nate, Nate has shown himself absolutely unwilling to compromise in any way with anyone and finally his frustrations with the legal system reached the breaking point.
As my internet friend Cordelia† put it, Barnes' transformation is the stand-out story of the episode. Most of the Gotham villains start off "evil", like Oswald, and Edward was mentally ill all along. Barnes, however, is interesting because he's basically a gruff but good man who is being driven insane by forces beyond his control. His tragic flaw is his absolutism concerning right and wrong and his feeling that he has the right to judge. Alice's blood brings out all the worst in him and empowers his demons.
With Jim finding out about his murder of the surgeon at the end we're headed for an immediate showdown between the two, but I don't think Barnes is toast. The show spent too much time building him up for them just to off him.
In other news the show keeps beating us over the head with the Jim, Lee, Mario and Barbara love quadrant plot, and really, the only one coming out of it looking good is Jim. It seems the show is making a conscious effort to portray him as more likable this season than the last, first by his endearing heart-to-heart with Bruce and now by taking the high road after Mario punches him in a fit of jealous rage. In contrast we're probably supposed to think Lee is still in love with him, which just makes her a rather terrible or harebrained woman trying to solve that by getting hitched to another man, and Barbara is as obsessive as ever about him.
I'm not sure if I'm in the minority or the majority on this one, but as I've repeatedly said, I find it impossible to root for Jim and Lee getting back together again. They never seemed the most passionate couple and Jim's decision to propose to her was motivated by all the wrong reasons. In contrast, Jim hooking up with Barbara is a terrible idea but I can't help being drawn to it anyway, because those two have actual sparks.
The second love-induced disaster - there really is a lot of romance on Gotham nowadays, isn't there? - is the showdown between Ozzie and Izzie for Eddie's affections, and it's a great deal more entertaining. I don't think anyone in the audience is surprised by Oswald's decision to kill Isabella, but I'll be very surprised if she turns out to be dead. Oswald is clearly an intensely jealous and possessive man when it comes to the love in his life, and in a way this mirrors his mother's unhealthy affection for him, with her constantly and needlessly worrying about him being led astray by another girl.
Isabella, on the other hand, is a legitimate threat. It's really hard to say what her ultimate motive is. If she's actually serious about being madly in love with Edward, she's... a fair bit strange. After all, that would mean she's actually turned on acting out a role play portraying Eddie's dead ex-girlfriend, the dead ex-girlfriend he actually murdered. Then again, most of the citizens of Gotham are more or less crazy. Who's to say?
The funny thing here is how the show goes about making Isabella more or less an exact female replica of Eddie - clever, obsessive-compulsive, daring, analytical - even to the point of her behavior when he's not present. It's by no means an accident that her final words before allegedly running into the train are, "oh, dear." This does point to her ending up a satellite to the Riddler as Query or Echo albeit heavily retooled, but again it's hard to tell.
Also the show reintroduces Gabe, and it's honestly rather funny. Whenever Butch and Ozzie are estranged and Ozzie needs a big, tough old mobster, Gabe shows up. I can't remember if Butch and Gabe have ever shared a scene together. If nothing else they've never exchanged words. I also doubt they'll get the chance to do so in the future, because I don't think Gabe is long for this world. Eddie will quickly figure out what happened and while he can't kill Ozzie in revenge, Gabe has no such plot armor. Next week looks to be spectacular. Decective Nygma is the best Nygma.
At this point, it's easy to think that the reason for introducing Ozzie's romantic feelings for Eddie is to destroy their "perfect bromance". I'm not entirely sure if it's that simple. Edward, Oswald and Isabella are all very weird people. While Eddie will naturally be upset - very upset - about Ozzie's machinations, I don't find it implausible for him to finally forgive him, and even appreciate how he did it out of "love." If you need a reminder, Butch forgave Ozzie for chopping off his hand. One thing is sure, though - it's going to be a bumpy ride.
In summary, I liked this. It was a solid hour of television, and my only gripe is... I miss Bruce and Selina. The show seems to be making a habit of only showing them every other episode, and while this gives the other plots time to breathe and makes for a more cohesive experience, they're rarely given any such luxury in return when they're included. At least, next episode seems to feature a lot of them.