When people think of Gotham, they usually think of a myriad of zany camp moments — a cross between the Burton Batman and the Schumacher take. Thankfully, Gotham‘s version of Mr. Freeze has kept a lid on the ice puns. Between that and the showrunners’ pretty drastic changes to his and others’ respective continuity, the former was probably the best viewers were going to get.
That doesn’t mean the show diverges from its formula in its Season 2 finale; It’s over the top, in your face, and frankly, a bit ridiculous. Hardcore Batman fans will have jumped ship by now. The changes works with some benefit; sometimes it falls flat. Definitely one of the biggest revisions of Batman lore is its driving storyline: For those not caught up yet, pull up a seat and pay attention, because it’s a doozy.
Warning: Spoilers will follow.
The first half of the second season was devoted to the machinations of the Order of St. Dumas, their agent Theo Galavan, and their physical/symbolic reclamation of Gotham City from the Wayne family. Theo’s attempt to murder Bruce Wayne and become mayor were thwarted by Jim Gordon, resulting in Galavan’s death at the future commissioner and the Penguin‘s hands.
The second half picks up with Jim dealing with the consequences of his own actions, none the wiser that a new villain was setting the pieces in place. Played deliciously villainous by B.D. Wong, professor Hugo Strange attempts a variety of experiments on his patients held within Arkham Asylum, in hopes of achieving a method to raise the dead. With Mr. Freeze’s formula, he does just that, the first of which is Theo Galavan himself. Due to the patients’ fractured state of mind upon waking, Professor Strange imbues them with a psyche of his own choosing. He implements the story of Azrael when dealing with Theo Galavan, Alice in Wonderland in a nod towards Mad Hatter, and an actor’s skillset on a man named Basil (together with putty skin making Clayface!) Oh, and the other weird thing to turn Bridget Pike into Firefly. Basically, the idea is that Strange creates the weirder Batman rogues in his basement.
On top of that, Jim and young Bruce finally sniff out what he’s up to, Penguin goes off on a weird tangent this season, the show introduces the freaking Court of Owls as the people responsible for the death of Thomas Wayne, the development of Edward Nygma (just shy of the Riddler monicre), Selina Kyle antics, and a lot of contrived stuff in between. So how do these disparate story elements connect in the season finale?
The episode begins with a police squad preparing their breach on Arkham Asylum on Harvey Bullock’s command. Their objective? Rescue Jim. But suddenly, Jim Gordon walks out and gives the all clear. Confused? In the penultimate episode, Jim, Bruce, and Lucius Fox attempt to follow their lead on Strange by sneaking into Arkham to gather enough evidence to convict the creepy shrink. They’re caught, of course. Bruce and Lucius were placed in the hands of Edward Nygma for interrogation while Gordon was taken below and introduced to Clayface. In an actually rather disturbing sequence, Clayface takes on Jim’s appearance. What sort of dastardly deeds will the villain get up to?
…More on that later. Point is, Clayface gets the cops off of Hugo, but the Court of Owls still demand he destroy the research lab beneath Arkham, Indian Hill, via bomb detonation. Meanwhile, Nygma asks Bruce and Lucius two questions: Who runs Arkham? (Lucius and Bruce answer correctly ‘Wayne Enterprises). But who runs Wayne Enterprises? Lucius guesses the Board of Directors. EHHH. Wrong. Knockout gas deployed. Hugo is also going to town on Jim and essentially asking the same thing while injecting Jim with truth serum. After getting grilled by Strange for his past mistakes, Jim reveals he truly does not know anything. Hugo is pleased.
The Professor’s assistant is busy evacuating their experimental patients. When pressing by the cell of the recently resurrected Fish Mooney (Ugh), Fish attempts to use her newfound mind control powers on the assistant to set her free. She fails. Bruce and Lucius wake up in the same room as Jim Gordon. Edward Nygma didn’t even know the answer to the second questions, and his asking about it while gloating to Strange is met with being thrown back into a cell. Hugo reports to the Court that knowledge of them is still zippy zap, but the Court’s head, Madame, orders him to kill all of his patients and his hostages anyway, much to the Professor’s chagrin.
Selina Kyle, having managed to fool Firefly into thinking she’s her new servant (yeah, Firefly in Gotham believes she is the Goddess of Fire. Goddesses need servants!) in the last episode, is sent in to check on Bruce. They share their usual banter and result, with Selina telling Bruce she’s got him wrapped around her finger and leaving. Next up, Fish finally takes control over Strange’s assistant in order to help her escape, which impresses the Professor, but he cannot allow them to leave. Doesn’t take much to frighten Strange though, as a few steps forward by the opposing party scares him off like a little girl. He rushes to the bomb and manages to activate it while fending off his assistant, knocking her old. Thirty minutes on the clock and the facility shuts down before Fish can escape out a garage.
Back to Clayface, really acting like a creep as Jim and blowing off Harvey’s questions with “Don’t worry about it,” or “You don’t wanna’ know.” Seriously, master actor? Say nothing for Harvey’s intelligence at this point. Alfred Pennyworth and Barbara stroll into the police station to have a word. Alfred can’t get anything out of him, but once Barbara notices Clayface acting all gushy towards her and distant towards Lee—”Lee? Screw that ho'”—Barbara realizes this isn’t Jim and decks the man across the face. The face is mashed, like…CLAY?!
Strange orders Freeze to kill his captives. Selina is the first to go, but due to her newfound status as Firefly’s servant, the latter steps in to rescue her. The two rogues squabble while Selina reunites with Bruce, Jim, and Lucius. It was her plan all along. Strange takes advantage of a brief window to run but is caught in the crossfire between fire and ice. By some miracle, Strange is completely unharmed. Just needs a good smack to wake him. Is there a way to stop the bomb, they ask? Strange doesn’t think so. Everything is going to be a nuclear ground zero in thirteen minutes. Selina mentions that Edward Nygma could get them down to the lab, so Jim and Lucius go to round him up while the kids escape.
Nygma begrudgingly does so, bypassing the security of the facility. Fish Mooney is able to drive the patient bus out while Jim and Lucius find the bomb. One minute, twenty seconds left. Strange’s assistant comes to and says they need water. So Jim and Lucius use water to short out the bomb with one second to spare. Turns out afterward the assistant just needed to drink some water. Lucky them. Strange is arrested, but the GCPD still need to find the bus Mooney has taken in order to bring this thing to a close. Two cops go up against it. The first failed miserably. The second got scared away by a mini-gun that also causes the bus to crash. Penguin, Butch, and the rest of their squad roll up there acting hard, calling out for Professor Strange. But who should meet Penguin than the one he tried so hard in the first season to get rid of? “Fish Mooney, B*tch.” Penguin faints; everyone else flees.
While Bullock is working on getting that bus, he and Jim share a final talk. When being questioned by Strange about his actions, his guilt for what Lee has gone through bears down upon him. Now he wants to make things right. Goodbye for now, Jim! All’s well that ends well, right Master Bruce? Sorry Alfred, Bruce wants to find out who the secret council running Gotham is. And finally, all those monsters on the bus are released by a homeless woman trying to help. They file out, unfocused and immediately recognizable, until one fades into the camera’s focus. Did you feel the instinctive clench down there when you saw he had the hair of Kylo Ren and the face of Bruce Wayne?
Now that the show has left its grounded crime thriller roots behind in the first season and the first half of this season, Gotham is about to fully embrace the stranger side of the Batman mythos (Hey, just because the showrunners kept Freeze from making puns doesn’t mean I won’t). It will be interesting to see how it progresses into its third season, no doubt drawing in many viewers curious to answer the question: Who the heck was that Bruce doppelganger? It’s no Jon Snow cliffhanger, but it is a decent way to draw people back who may be getting tired of the sometimes pretty wacky show.
What did you think about this episode? How about Season 2 overall? Step above the first? Any theories on whose sporting Bruce’s face? Let us know in the comments below!