TV Review: Gotham - Season 2 Episode 18 "Pinewood"
Episode 18: "Pinewood"
Synopsis: After leaving Arkham Asylum, Barbara attempts to make amends with Gordon. Then, Bruce and Alfred track down one of Thomas Wayne’s former friends from Project Chimera, but Hugo Strange disrupts their plans.
Recap: IGotham is a lot like a professional sports franchise heading into the playoffs. Once you get to the final streak of the season, it becomes easier to forgive any errors along the way. It was a very smart movie by the Gotham showrunners to split this season into two arcs as it adds a much needed boost of intensity over the long 22 episode season. The first and second halves of this season have both had hits and misses, but tonight's hour brings together several plot threads built up over both plot arcs as well as narrative elements going back to the first season. Tonight's episode is a big one for Gotham and also for the series mythology.
Eschewing the Penguin storyline this week, "Pinewood" focuses on Jim Gordon's quest to solve the Wayne murders as well as Bruce's own research into what led to his father's death. This starts both characters off in different places before bringing them together for the big reveal at the end. Gordon starts off by listening to Barbara profess her redeemed nature before sending her off so he can bust heads and find the mysterious criminal known as The Lady (Doctor Who's Michelle Gomez). Knocking heads leads Gordon to The Lady's nightclub, a women's only establishment. Barbara shows up and offers to get Gordon what he needs. Barbara then fakes a turn back to her darkside to get the fact that The Lady hired Matches Malone to kill the Waynes after being contacted by a man known as The Philosopher. Barbara feels this proves she has changed, but Gordon doesn't buy it.
At the same time, Lucius Fox helps Bruce and Alfred learn the name Karen Jennings from Thomas Wayne's files. They locate her outside of Gotham. Karen reveals a lizard like hand which she explains was done at the code-named Wayne facility, Pinewood Farms. Karen was locked in Blackgate for murdering her abusive father when she was promised a new limb. Bruce pleads with Karen to take him to Pinewood Farms to find proof of his father's death. They find the facility abandoned and are soon swarmed by Hugo Strange's thugs. Karen kills one and Alfred another before they are surrounded by GCPD and arrested. Gordon and Bullock help Bruce and Alfred get out of jail but Captain Barnes decides to send Karen back to Blackgate. It is with that, Gordon concocts a plan to break Karen out so they kind find out who The Philosopher is. Karen had never heard names but would definitely recognize faces.
Gordon's "plan" seems pretty silly. After asking Bruce how much cash he can get together, they put the money into a bag and leave it on the street. the GCPD cop driving the van stops to get the money and Gordon lures the other guard out and knocks him out. The masked Gordon then asks the driver if she wants the money to let them escape or they can knock her out and she gets nothing. The fact no one took a bag of money in an open street is baffling enough but so is the entire sequence. Needless to say, the trio get the van and drive away. It is then that the recently released Victor Fries catches up to them. Gordon is surprised to see Fries alive, but he is now altered by his gas in such a way that he is uncontrollably angry. He attacks in his newly built suit, which appears to be bulletproof, as he tries to get Karen. Karen thanks Bruce for his trust and says he is much like his father. Karen appreciated Thomas Wayne's kindness and sees the same in Bruce. She then runs towards Fries who shoots her with his gun and shatters her frozen body. Bruce screams in anger but Gordon and Alfred hold him back.
Back at Wayne Manor, Bruce is consoled by Gordon as they both feel they are back to square one without Karen able to identify who experimented on her. Lucius Fox enters and hands a photo he found which features Thomas Wayne at a company function next to his friend, Hugo Strange, whose caption features the nickname "The Philosopher". Knowing that Strange is not only the man who had his father killed but was also his friend angers Bruce more than ever before. Everyone now knows that Strange is the puppet master behind all of the events to date, but that is not even the biggest reveal. Back at his laboratory where he has been experimenting on bringing people back from the dead, Strange finds that his latest experiment has finally worked. We see the latest test subject in a rage as he kills the orderlies and guards around him. Mumbling about his sister, we see it is none other than Theo Galavan. Galavan stretches out his arms and screams the name "Azreael" as the episode ends.
A strong episode that did a good job of building the mythology, it seems it may frustrate Batman fans who may not like the new take on the Thomas Wayne narrative. Having Hugo Strange behind everything is a tricky move, especially for the long run. Having Gordon and Bruce solve the Wayne murders this early would seem to negate the development of Bruce as he becomes Batman, but that also doesn't seem to be the driving focus of this show. I am cautiously optimistic of what Bruno Heller and his team are doing, but it seems way too early for all of this resolution. With the show already locked for a third season, it leaves one to wonder what they will be able to do next year. Still, we have a few episodes to go and we have a lot of Penguin, Riddler, and now Galavan to be revealed. Hell, we even saw Barbara Kean return to her former lover, Tabitha Galavan, so that leaves a lot to resolve there, too. Stay tuned to find out more including the introduction of Azrael!
Episode Final Verdict:
Next Episode: "Azrael" airs April 25th: Gordon and Bruce question Professor Strange about Project Chimera, which leads Strange to send the newly resurrected Galavan to confront Gordon. Meanwhile, Nygma investigates who Professor Strange