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Gotham: Beasts of Prey

Bullock: "Fly too close to the sun, you're gonna get burned."

After much deliberation, I’ve come to the conclusion that Jim Gordon must be Proto-Batman all along – after all, how else do you explain Ben McKenzie going the extra mile to channel a Christian Bale-Batman dialect during a heated and hostile confrontation with Commissioner Loeb?

Witticism aside, Gotham has pulled a rabbit out of their hat and has made me suddenly experience a new emotion for two of its leading ladies – Lee and Barbara – by the end of ‘Beasts of Prey,’ and that is fear. Fear for both their general safety, and also fear for the solidarity of both characters from a writer’s standpoint. To give some context, Gordon has taken on an investigation into a serial killer preying upon young women, a case that’s been shuffled around from officer to officer. The reason for the GCPD’s game of hot potato is because part of this killer’s M.O. is targeting the female loved ones of any cop that investigates him. Gordon doesn’t learn this until it’s too late and it doesn’t take a genius to deduce that either Barbara or Lee is likely going to be the next target of this unsettling son-of-a-mother – his moniker given to him by the GCPD is ‘The Ogre.’

I need to stress that in spite of my frustration in the past that Gotham’s writers seem to be having a little predicament giving Barbara and Lee other things to do besides being Gordon’s eye candy, the two gals haven’t done anything yet that has made me resent them as characters themselves; they’re certainly not Gotham’s trump characters but I have no reason to despise who they are either. This makes me apprehensive going forward that one of them is likely going to be preyed upon by The Ogre as a form of retaliation for Gordon investigating him. Which then brings me to my above-mentioned fear for their solidarity as characters – as if the trope of being the protagonist’s ever-supportive girlfriend wasn’t enough for Gotham, Lee and/or Barbara may now be headed into ‘damsel-in-distress’ territory in the near future too. I know Gotham has other subplots spiraling towards an explosive finish too for the finale, but the series needn't think that Barbara or Lee needing to be rescued by Gordon will add to the suspense – the brewing mob war will be enough.

While we’re on this subject too, I must admit I’m not familiar with the details of The Ogre as he appears in DC Comics, but if the show’s intent is to unnerve me immensely every time this guy is on screen, well then they can certainly say "mission accomplished." Here, The Ogre is portrayed by Milo Ventimiglia, who, much like Robert John Burke in Person of Interest, or Ashley Zukerman in Designated Survivor, is so successful in the feat of portraying such a deplorable scumbag of a character, that you might get a certain sense of satisfaction if you were to learn that their cojones had suddenly become caught in a car door.

Meanwhile, Bruce recruits Selina to help him find Reggie, the one who stabbed Alfred. Reggie warns Bruce to cease his digging into his own company, but when it becomes clear that Reggie poses as much a threat to Bruce’s safety as he did to Alfred, Selina shoves Reggie out a window and to his death in order to protect her friend. This turn of events sets in stone two things for the series: for one, it’s the beginning of establishing Bruce’s no-kill rule. For as much as he would like to avenge Alfred, Bruce will likely never have it in him to take away someone’s life with his own hands. And two, if there was any reason to suspect that Gotham would bring Bruce down to Selina’s level, or Selina up to Bruce’s level, then it’s quickly quashed with Selina’s murder. It wouldn’t surprise me to hear that there are some DC fans out there a bit staggered to see such a brutal offense being committed by the future Catwoman, and I will state for the record that even I can’t recall any cold-blooded killings in the comics committed by Catwoman either. BUT let us remember too that most Batman comics have just shown us the adult Catwoman and how she operates in Gotham only once Batman has shown up. Because the comics haven’t done much to explore Selina Kyle’s childhood, that’s where Gotham comes in. For this iteration of Selina, the act to take a life solely to preserve Bruce’s safety made sense for me as a viewer, and didn’t feel at all as if the show had suddenly showed me something completely out of character. When it comes to living on the streets, Selina’s philosophies are pretty short and sweet – kill or be killed.

Maybe sweet's the wrong adjective there.

This act too is where this episode leaves Bruce and Selina for now, so there’s no telling at the moment what Bruce will think of Selina after this. I just hope that this plot point isn’t used as an excuse to create tension between them again because I adore their scenes together.

Lastly, Fish finally puts into action her plot to escape from Dulmacher and return to Gotham. Her escape blends elements of spy and espionage, careful cunning, and a few instances of double-crossing…and yet it still manages to be this week’s episode’s most underwhelming moment. But a friend of mine told me once to look for the silver lining in everything, so in the case of this subplot, I’m relieved that the show didn’t play Dulmacher for a fool and have him fall for Fish’s whoppers. He’s right to be on guard with her whenever she’s around, but Fish’s escape likely means an end to his arc, so it’s anyone’s guess as to when he’ll cross paths with Gotham's denizens again.

Other Thoughts:

Gotham hits another home-run (for me anyway) with a ten-second scene, devoid of any dialogue, displaying Oswald, en route to torture a guitarist (it makes sense in context, trust me), passing Bruce Wayne on the street; they don’t see each other at all, but Oswald gives a brief side glance suddenly, the glance one makes when they can’t shake the feeling that maybe they’ve passed someone who’s supposed to be familiar, yet they can’t exactly place why. It’s a nice (and slightly chilling even) tidbit of foreshadowing to the many inconveniences Batman is to deal Penguin.

Aaron Studer loves spending his time reading, writing and defending the existence of cryptids because they can’t do it themselves.

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