TV Review: Gotham - Season 2 Episode 9 "A Bitter Pill To Swallow"
Season 2 Episode 9: "A Bitter Pill To Swallow"
Synopsis: Gordon and Barnes continue cleaning up Gotham, and Gordon comes face-to-face with one of the city's most dangerous hitmen, Eduardo Flamingo. Meanwhile, Nygma and Penguin cross paths again, and Bruce pressures Galavan into handing over the name of his parents' murderer.
Recap: Everything is coming to a head as we approach the midseason finale of Gotham. After tonight, there are only two more episodes before the series takes a long hiatus. This means that many plot elements will be wrapped up with a potentially big cliffhanger looming as we approach the holiday season. Last week's episode saw James Gordon arrest Mayor Galavan while Edward Nygma stumbled across the wounded Penguin in the forest as he disposed of the corpse of Kristen Kringle. Bruce Wayne also watched the evidence of his parents' murderer go up in flames. With all of these characters at a crossroads, tonight's outing feels like the moment each of them makes a decision that could alter their path for the rest of this series.
First up, Jim Gordon is still stinging from his encounter with Barbara as she tried to kill him and Lee Thompkins and now finds herself in a coma. Jim is torn between his violent instincts and his duty as a cop and both will be put to the test as Tabitha Galavan puts a hit out on Gordon with an underworld contractor known only as The Lady, played by Doctor Who's Michelle Gomez. The Lady sends the top murderers in Gotham after Gordon who happens to be investigating Galavan's penthouse. It is there that Gordon, accompanied by Captain Barnes and a rookie GCPD cop named Parks, face off against the mediocre Piano Tuner and, eventually, cannibalistic DC Comics villain Eduardo Flamingo.
The showdown comes after Captain Barnes is injured gravely and on the verge of bleeding to death. As the cops wait for backup, Gordon reveals his fear of his darker impulses. Michael Chiklis is then given his meatiest work on the series to date and tells Gordon a story about his last tour as a soldier when he killed a young prisoner who was about to escape. Haunted by the killing, Barnes relates that it wasn't until he forgave himself that he was able to move on. Barnes tells Gordon there is no "line" to cross but instead there is the law. Gordon takes this to heart and battles Flamingo. Instead of shooting him when he has the chance, Gordon brings him in and heads home to see Lee.
After their issues regarding Barbara, I was prepared for the relationship between Lee and Gordon to be over. But, Lee truly cares about Jim. They promise that there will be no more secrets between them. When Gordon's phone rings, Lee answers it. She then has to deliver the sad news. At GCPD, before being processed, Flamingo was able to turn on Parks and bite her neck, killing the young cop as the rest of her fellow officers can do nothing to save her. It is yet another sad turn for Gordon who has seen numerous cops die on his watch. But, Gordon now seems to have resolved his responsibility to defend Gotham and his burgeoning bloodlust. At the same time, Bruce Wayne is compelled to visit Galavan in prison despite protests from Alfred. Silver St. Cloud visits Bruce and tries to convince him she is innocent of her uncle's plans, but Bruce is not swayed. He even tries to sneak out but Alfred stops him again, knowing what is best. As Bruce remains torn, Selina returns and tries to stand by her friend.
The most interesting plot thread this week is Edward Nygma and Penguin. Nygma nurses the injured Penguin back to health and even brings him one of Galavan's thugs as a gift-wrapped victim. But, Penguin vows that once he is healthy he is leaving Gotham. Nygma then pushes Penguin about his mother's death, professing that Penguin is now stronger than ever since a man with no one cannot be betrayed. Penguin eventually comes to his senses and murders the thug as his friendship with Nygma has revitalized his desire to kill Galavan and reclaim his crown as the King of Gotham. Nygma has evolved from a weak cliche character to one of the best on Gotham and his interactions with Penguin here definitely allude to strong future collaborations between the two. At Blackgate Prison, Galavan belittles his sister for sending hitmen after Gordon. Galavan claims their plan is right on track and they are close to finally killing Bruce Wayne and taking Gotham City. In the closing minutes, we see the mysterious Father Kreel greet a small group of men in cloaks who stab a security guard to death and make their way towards the city.
While I am still not sure exactly what Galavan's plan is, this episode did a great job of giving an extra push towards the inevitable mid-season cliffhanger. While it never truly felt like there was a chance that Gordon or Barnes were in any trouble during the siege of hitmen, the surprising murder of Officer Parks made up for it. The evolution of Gordon's torment this week as well as the Nygma/Penguin story definitely delivered on the plot development this week. I have a sneaking suspicion that Galavan's hooded colleagues could be the Court of Owls from the recent New 52 reboot of Batman. I could be wrong, but that would be an awesome twist for this series. Also, did anyone else see the Joker graffiti towards the beginning of the episode? Gotham continues to be much improved over last year and is heading towards something pretty big. Stay tuned to find out what.
Episode Final Verdict:
Next Episode: "The Son of Gotham" airs November 23rd - Detective James Gordon (Ben McKenzie) confronts a suspect who is connected to Theo Galavan (James Frain), but falls short of obtaining any information. Meanwhile, Bruce Wayne (David Mazouz) gets one step closer to discovering the name of his parent’s killer.