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Gotham: Scarification

"What good's freedom if you're alone?"
"What good's family if you're a slave?"

The Penguin is under pressure from two sides: the Gotham Police and Theo Galavan, who still has a stranglehold on Penguin's mother. Now that Barnes is taking no prisoners in his quest for a clean Gotham, and Galavan's plans are slowly coming to fruition, the Penguin's being squeezed like a pimple – and, Gentle Readers, he looks ready to pop. Add in some pyromaniacs, and you have a fun episode.

Shrewdness and psychosis. These are the meat which make the Penguin's dinner, and give him his ideas and glinting, quick, dangerous intelligence. What was it Gaiman wrote? "A pale and prissy, pompous, preening prig. A prick-me-dainty popinjay. A pig." So it is with Oswald Cobblepot, and if it was not for the psychosis which makes him take up a hot poker and destroy the face of the messenger who brings him terrible news, he might be nothing but an ineffective Yes-man. Doesn't he always have his best ideas when covered in blood? Penguin gets this hunting expression which he keeps throughout the episode as he tracks down information about the Galavan family until the end, when he learns a little truth about Galavan, and finally breaks out into a humorless, but utterly sincere smile. Whether he can indeed turn his knowledge about the Galavan/Wayne feud into the prybar that rescues Penguin's mother is another story. Myself, I think Penguin's mom is dead, or will be soon.

Butch Gilzean is a driving force behind many of the Penguin scenes. He provides the perfect foil for the character – slightly chatty at times, and overall a lot more straightforward, though just as shrewd, as Penguin. His tic problem seems to be getting so much worse. He's either breaking free of his mental conditioning or going completely insane. I'm not sure, and I'm cringing to find out what happens next episode after his boss... erm... physically reconfigures him to look like the Galavan ancestor who was attacked by the Wayne ancestor. I love Butch whenever he appears. I think Butch has thrown in his lot with Penguin in some ways despite the controls and their history with Fish, which is why he recommends talking to Edwidge. Love the Edwidge scenes by the way! It was a very 19th century type of fancified interrogation, and she had great energy with Penguin. I hope she comes back.

I loved the Selina scenes. That Fish Mooney was mentioned and is remembered by the people who worked for her as a leader – almost a spiritual figure – is a great touch. The firebug boys and their capable, but roped-in sister, were simultaneously gross and completely believable. Selina may live on the wrong side of the law, but she's clearly got a good heart, and I wish she hadn't been divided from Bruce. The development of Bridgit into a villain – complete with her baptism-by-dismembered-eyeball-and-fire – was a really nicely written series of scenes. Not too much, very character and conversation based, and not too little. I'm hoping for bad-girl fun now that Bridgit and Selina are hanging.

Jim's story this week focuses on his continued struggle for leadership in Gotham. While Barnes is clearly a breath of fresh, happy air, Jim realizes the corruption starts at the top, and has to be rooted out there. Galavan's offer was pretty well-scripted. He went from slightly-awkward man to politician to the Tempter in a few minutes. I have no idea what was the thinking behind the gratuitous blow-up scene early on, but that and the death of Garrett, one of the new Strike Force, drive him to accept Galavan's offer (over my screaming, No! No!)

Yeah, sure, have some religious approval for murder.
We're left with a priest appearing, possibly a Galavan family member, and having a Sinister Talk with Theo about the plans... to kill Bruce Wayne. Muahahaha. Bruce and Alfred don't have anything to do in this episode, which maybe makes this more chilling. I don't miss them – this episode works with them in the background, and the focus on Selina/Bridgit. The whole thing about Theo's power trip is still a little inexplicable for me – he wants to be mayor to kill Bruce Wayne? There's got to be more going on – but I'm hoping the story gets to that part of the explanation soon.

Bits and Pieces

Jim and Lee giving opposite invitation-acceptances to Nygma. So cute! Nygma's having a good month. He manages to keep it together for fondue and fun with Miss Kringle... no, right, Kristen. He even gives a toast!

Thermite and other explosives are being used by Bridgit and her brothers. She also sews a sort of protective costume, which actually looks like a hero costume. The sewing scene reminded me strongly of Michelle Pfeiffer making her Catwoman uniform in Batman Returns.

Disfigurement – the face, the eye, the hand, the heart – is a theme of this series. A sort of gross theme.

The history of the Waynes and the Dumas/Galavans and other Gotham families is OK, but seems kind of overblown to me. I don't know. I didn't buy into it. And that scene with the arm pumping blood? I was like, erm, do real arms pump blood like that? And my husband was like, Don't look at me. Yeah, Hallowe'en is coming.

Does Barnes seem to be getting behind in cleaning up the city already?

I don't think anyone knows what to do with Barbara now, so she's sleeping.


Barnes: The City Council can suck my tailpipe.


A strong plot-building episode with great character portrayals throughout, but whoa, seriously gratuitous violence! 3 out of 5 arm-removing knives.


  1. Galavan, along with revenge against the Waynes, wants to remake/rebuild Gotham - by putting highrises where the poor people live. He wants to gentrify Gotham, and to do that, being mayor will be helpful.

  2. I think Bridgit's costume complete with flamethrower was an homage to Firefly: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Firefly_(DC_Comics).

    Also as Gotham City is generally accepted to be based on New York City, I happen to know that NYPD officers are not allowed to publicly endorse political candidates or do anything that would involve press really without permission from their supervisors. Gordon would, however, probably be able to arrange for the police union to collectively endorse him. This is me being overly critical, but I thought I would share in case anyone found it interesting.

  3. Galvan wants power to get revenge, one of the most powerful motives to kill. Did you notice family's last name was Dumas? Recall that another (actual) Dumas wrote the most famous famous book of revenge while assuming a secret identity, "The Count of Monte Cristo". While that was revenge for actions against the person seeking retribution against the actual perpetrators, family revenge has been the reason for violence. Montages and Capulets in fiction and Hatfields and McCoys in history are the most famous examples. I continue to enjoy this show more than any other running.

    Did you notice the brother of Bridget was Bubbles BFF from The Wire? I can still see him calling him "Bubs".


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