TV Review: Gotham - Season 2 Episode 19 "Azrael"
Episode 19: "Azrael"
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: In the annals of DC Comics, there are some characters more divisive than others. One such character is Azrael. Otherwise known as Jean-Paul Vallee, Azrael was the namesake taken after the character became Batman in the iconic Knightfall story arc. This same event inspired Christopher Nolan's THE DARK KNIGHT RISES with the character of Bane. With Vallee taking on a darker and more violent persona than Bruce Wayne was accustomed to, it forced the return of the original Batman to dethrone his successor. Well, Gotham has certainly taken liberties with the Batman mythology to tell a very different origin story and that includes Azrael who, as we learned last week, is none other than former mayor Theo Galavan. It shouldn't have come as a surprise that Galavan would become the small screen Azrael with the introduction of the Order of St. Dumas earlier this season, but it definitely opens up lots of issues for the show moving forward.
The focus on this episode is placed on Professor Strange and his experiments as well as his connection to the murder of Bruce Wayne's parents. Last week, Gordon and Bruce learned that Strange was nicknamed "The Philosopher" and had order the murder of Thomas and Martha Wayne. Gordon decides to confront Strange who immediately sees his grand plans threatened by the investigation. With Galavan back from the dead, Strange deduces that his broken mind needs direction. With the resurrected mayor spouting rhetoric from the St. Dumas manuscripts, Strange poses as Galavan's father and orders him to murder those who stand in the way, namely Gordon. Providing a replica sword of St. Dumas, Galavan takes the name of Azrael to be the avenger for his family and vows to kill Gordon at any cost.
At the same time, Edward Nygma begins to realize something is happening at Arkham Asylum and cooks up a plan with his fellow inmates. Oddly, Nygma figures out a way to break out of containment multiple times with none of the guards any the wiser. Despite Strange using security cameras to track intruders in prior episodes, nobody seems to notice that Ed keeps strolling around without any concerns. Maybe it is because everyone is focused on Strange's plan for Azrael, but it feels like sloppy writing that Ed can just do as he pleases so easily. Something tells me that Nygma will take over for Strange after this season concludes, but I could be wrong. Otherwise, what else are they going to do with Ed now that he has been figured out? His medical background would make him a perfect succesor for Strange.
With Azrael on the loose, bodies begin piling up with the shadowy sightings of Galavan in his armor. As you can see in the image below, the outfit is very reminiscent of the comic book iteration of Azrael. The flowing cape also alludes to Batman himself as the police and criminals cannot figure out who this masked man actually is. Captain Barnes still doesn't buy into Jim Gordon's theories about Strange and the fact that they don't have any evidence makes it even harder to believe. Still, Barnes, Gordon, and Bullock investigate who is killing people in Gotham which leads them to use Gordon as bait. Azrael attacks the GCPD and seems impervious to bullets, leading to a fight on the rooftops. There, Barnes knocks Azrael's mask off, revealing Galavan. Shocked, Galavan gets the upper hand and stabs Barnes with the hilt of his sword. Gordon shows up and sees Galavan who is knocked from the roof.
Below, Galavan survives the fall and the news crews reporting about the GCPD attack get footage of the assumed dead mayor. Galavan escapes and the headline switches to the discovery that the slain man is actually alive. Watching the broadcast is everyone involved with the narrative this season: Tabitha sees the news alongside Butch that her brother is alive, Bruce sees the man who almost stole his company, Gordon sees himself exonerated for the murder, and Penguin watches alongside the body of his murdered stepmother. Penguin seems to be the most reactive to the news as this means he can once again exact revenge for his mother. The episode ends with Azrael ascending a bridge and looming over the city in a pose that looks exactly like Batman himself.
The other subplot during this episode involved Barbara Kean who has been taken in by former lover Tabitha and her current lover, Butch. The trio make strange bedfellows as Butch becomes concerned regarding Barbara's frame of mind. Honestly, I am not sure where they are going with Barbara's plot as she seems to switch week to week from insanity to normalcy. Whatever the case, with just three episodes to go this season, I am expecting a big blowout as the writers prepare for the already announced third year of the show. There have been so many characters introducted thus far, I am not sure how many more then can add in without focusing on the existing bad guys and honing Bruce Wayne's arc as he grows closer to his destiny. Gotham still delivers good ratings for FOX but I don't know how much longer then can keep this up.
Episode Final Verdict:
Next Episode: "Unleashed" airs May 9th: Azrael is on the loose in Gotham City, which sparks Penguin’s need for revenge. Meanwhile, Bruce enlists the help of Selina Kyle to help track down Professor Strange, as he evades arrest for his experiments.