TV Review – Gotham S02E09: A Bitter Pill to Swallow

This was a far from perfect episode, but a drastic improvement over earlier episodes this season.  The writers finally found something for Captain Barnes (Michael Chiklis) to do besides sit in his office scowling and barking orders. Chiklis is a good actor, and it’s nice to see him utilized.  And even though the majority of this week’s episode was centered on Gordon (Ben McKenzie) and Barnes, there were three side stories of equal value.

This week, Lady (Michelle Gomez) is employed by Tabitha Galavan (Jessica Lucas) to kill Jim Gordon in revenge for hurting Barbara (Erin Richards) last week.  She sends a bevy of assassins to kill Gordon but in spite of their best efforts, he is able to survive.  The Lady is intriguing and doesn’t seem to appear in the Batman universe by name, but could be narrowed down to a few possible established characters:

  • Celia Kazantkakis aka Athena – A former CEO of Wayne Enterprises and now head of a criminal organization known as The Network.
  • Lady Vic – A woman from a rich and prominent British family turned assassin.
  • Sofia Falcone Gigante aka Hangman – Daughter of Carmine Falcone and serial killer.

Another villain to note from this episode is the cannibalistic hit man Eduardo Flamingo (Raúl Castillo), one of the men hired by The Lady.

GOTHAM: L-R: Ben McKenzie in the ÒRise of the Villains: A Bitter Pill to SwallowÓ episode of GOTHAM airing Monday, Nov. 16 (8:00-9:00 PM ET/PT) on FOX. ©2015 Fox Broadcasting Co. Cr: Nicole Rivelli/ FOXBruce (David Mazouz) and Alfred (Sean Pertwee) have a couple of tense and pivotal scenes this week.  After Alfred sends off Silver St. Cloud (Natalie Alyn Lind) rather abruptly, it sets the two at each other.  Bruce is determined to get the information that Galavan promised before her arrest, and Alfred believes it to be an elaborate ploy in order to get control of Wayne Enterprises.  It seems that in all of the madness going on in Gotham, Alfred (as usual) is the only sane and rational voice.  It is only when paid a surprise visit from Selina (Camren Bicondova) that Bruce is able to listen to reason and allows Selina to prove that Silver is up to no good.  

There needs to be more of Bruce and Alfred.  Bruce’s story line is consistently interesting and at the end of the day, he continues to be only character who turns out to be remotely noteworthy.

The real meat and potatoes of the episode came from the interaction between Nygma and Penguin.  After finding the wounded Penguin (Robin Lord Taylor) last week, Edward (Cory Michael Smith) decides to take him home and nurse him back to health.  Nygma wants to learn from Penguin what it is to be a true killer, but after suffering the loss of his mother, young Oswald Cobblepot is ready to throw in the towel and leave Gotham for good.  It is then that Nygma knows that he must inspire Penguin to become something more.  The lengths Nygma goes through to coax Penguin back to his maniacal self were written brilliantly.  

The episode concludes with the arrival of The Brotherhood in Gotham.  This is fairly reminiscent of The Court of Owls from the Batman comic, but since there hasn’t been any mention or appearance of an owl or anything resembling such, that rumor can more than likely be put to rest.

GOTHAM: L-R: Cory Michael in the ÒRise of the Villains: A Bitter Pill to SwallowÓ episode of GOTHAM airing Monday, Nov. 16 (8:00-9:00 PM ET/PT) on FOX. ©2015 Fox Broadcasting Co. Cr: Nicole Rivelli/ FOXThe continued exploration of Gordon’s dark side is beginning to grate on the nerves.  It’s Gotham, everyone has a dark side. That’s the entire point of the series.  Batman as a comic title serves to represent the nature of duality, and the fact that everyone has a dark side, especially the heroes.  It comes as no surprise to anyone that Jim Gordon has a darker side.  Why waste time establishing something everyone is already aware of?  It is a fruitless endeavor that can only be taken so far.  Time could be better spent exploring other characters like Harvey Bullock (Donal Logue) who was once again left entirely out of the episode. 

Although the episode wasn’t perfect, it was interesting without gimmicks and was well written.  It was true to its comic  roots without campy nonsense.  Gotham started the season strong, stumbled to get going and has now had two solid episodes in a row.  It hasn’t been free of the dreaded sophomore slump but as of this week, it’s keeping it at bay.  No doubt the writers have something big planned for the winter finale, which will hopefully pave the way to a strong second half.

Images courtesy of FOX


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About the author

Bryan Brown

The founder of Word of the Nerd and semi-fearless leader. Bryan is an all around nerd, from Star Trek to comic books to collecting action figures. If it's nerd related, he's into it or at least has an opinion on it.

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