TV Review: Gotham - Season 2 Episode 20 "Unleashed"
Episode 20: "Unleashed"
Synopsis: 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.
Recap: In the first half of this season of Gotham, Theo Galavan (James Frain) was built up to be a major baddie and one of the lone original creations on this Batman series. With the first season's original creation, Fish Mooney, a bit underwhelming for fans, I was anticipating that Galavan would be a badass. Alas, he was unceremoniously killed by James Gordon and Penguin during the mid-season finale. Still, he was resurrected by Hugo Strange and last week became Azrael, the immortal assassin. Escaping death, Azrael looked like he was poised to become the proto-Batman archetype on this show and what Bruce Wayne would eventually model his iconic armor on. Well, this week puts a finish to the Azrael story arc in what ends up as a lackluster mini-narrative but one that seems to be ushering in a powerful finish to this sophomore season.
With Barnes in the hospital, the GCPD turns to Bullock and Gordon to be their leaders as they hunt for Galavan. Gordon has the bright idea that the logical place the former Mayor may turn would be to his sister, Tabatha. As she prepares to leave Butch to find her brother (and a quick throwaway line reveals that he kicked out Barbara Kean), Gordon and Bullock meet up with her and learn that Azrael is a story that the Galavans were taught as children by the monks of St. Dumas. She also tells them that the fake sword used to stab Barnes is actually buried with their uncle and they head off to exume the body. In a show full of predictable plot turns, I fully expected to see what happened next: Galavan would show up at the grave site, Tabatha would turn on the GCPD, and Galavan would end up getting the sword and kill his sister.
Well, I was almost right. Everything happened as I just described, but Galavan merely runs his sister through and she remains alive. Tabatha seems to be genuinely sorry for not trusting Gordon and Bulliock but now her brother has knowledge of his prior goal to kill Bruce Wayne which gives the detectives their next destination: Wayne Manor. Bruce and Alfred are prepared to defend themselves, but first Bruce must plot to break into Arkham Asylum to stop Hugo Strange's experiments. Bruce meets with Selina Kyle who offers to break in on his behalf so she can free her friend Bridgit Pike who was taken there after her Firefly incident earlier this season. While breaking in, Selina runs across an escaping Edward Nygma. Nygma directs her inside, in exchange for directions out of the asylum. Nygma has been useless over the past few weeks since being incarcerated. The once nebbish but brilliant villain seems genuinely disturbed by Strange's experiments for some inexplicable reason.
Once inside, Selina overhears Strange discussing plans with his assistant Ms. Peabody as they begin to clear the facility. I can only imagine what the big reveal will be for all of the villains being housed within the laboratory but I have a strong feeling we will see many more familiar faces in the coming weeks. Selina eventually finds her way into a holding cell where she is confronted by Bridgit Pike. Now brainwashed into a killing machine calling herself Firefly, she doesn't recognize her friend and unleashes her flamethrower. The results of the blaze are unknown, but I expect that Selina will be fine. What that means for anyone else will have to be seen next week. We do see that poor Ed makes his way to the roof only to be caught by the Arkham guards, making his entire arc thus far a complete waste.
Back at Wayne Manor, Bruce watches as Alfred fights Azrael and almost takes him down. But, Azrael gets away and tracks Bruce to his garage where the young man drives a car into the assassin. Like a Terminator, Galavan gets right back up and is then cut down by Jim Gordon who unloads his entire clip into the bad guy. Celebrating their victory too soon, we see Galavan rise yet again. Of course, this is the final time as Penguin and Butch make their way through the gate. With a bazooka in hand, Butch launches it into Galavan and blasts him into chunks. Azrael/Galavan is defeated as a very incongrouos rock score plays as Penguin and Butch walk through the carnage. Having been reunited in the hospital as a sad Butch laments his injured love, Tabatha, I can only imagine this is either the end of the line for Butch or the reunion of the two former allies.
All in all, this entire episode really served no purpose but to get Azrael out of the picture. It seemed inevitable that his tenure on the show would be short, but this was a bit abrupt. The entire season has hinged on Galavan's plan and here we are almost at the end of the season and it feels like a waste of twenty episodes. I did enjoy the time Butch and Penguin were on screen, but everything else came across as a bit forced. The writing and structure this season on Gotham has been much better than last year but it is still lacking some congruency that would help the narrative be easier to follow. I am not sure how well a third season will go down, but the final pair of episodes this season could determine whether next year is a must watch or something to avoid.
Episode Final Verdict:
Next Episode: "A Legion of Horribles" airs May 16th: Hugo Strange welcomes a familiar face to Gotham after he resurrectsFish Mooney in Indian Hill. Later, Bruce discovers a friend is in danger and teams up with Gordon, Alfred and Lucius, while uncovering more of Strange's experiments.