Gotham: 'Under the Knife' Review & Spoilers Discussion

'Gotham' Under the Knife

[WARNING: This article contains spoilers for Gotham Season 1, Episode 20.]


Gotham takes one step closer to wrapping up its freshman season this week, as the show continues to chronicle Gordon and Bullock's pursuit of the serial killer known only as the Ogre. For a series that has spent the bulk of its episodes introducing viewers to younger versions of well-known future Batman villains such as the Riddler (more on him later) and Scarecrow, the show embraces the fact that its central figure - at least in this episode - lacks the preconceived notions that many other members of Gotham's dark side bring to the table.

In this week's episode, "Under the Knife", the show sets the stage for its season finale, pushing several members of its supporting cast to their breaking points and no doubt planting the seeds for season 2. Still, the principal focus is on Gordon's investigation into the Ogre. So let's start there.

Hot on the Trail

Gotham "Under the Knife"

With the Ogre (Milo Ventimiglia) targeting the loved ones of the cops who investigate him, Gordon rushes to rescue Leslie (Morena Baccarin), and a jump scare or two later, he declares his love for her. Meanwhile, the Ogre targets Barbara (Erin Richards), but just as he's planning to kill her, he holds off, perhaps implying that he feels she may be a worthy mate. The twisted romance of the Ogre and Barbara doesn't exactly fall flat, but it is perhaps one of the less interesting aspects of an episode loaded with more intriguing B-story.

Gordon and Bullock (Donal Logue) get closer to figuring out the Ogre's identity - and after a brief confrontation with the killer himself (he's been tailing them), Gordon and the Ogre have a tense conversation, during which the latter warns the rising GCPD star that continuing to chase him will end in tragedy. Propelled by his sense of righteousness, Gordon finds out the Ogre's identity and his troubled history as a young man who murdered his surrogate mother because he couldn't accept that she didn't return his affection (due to his previously scarred face).

Gordon finally figures out that the Ogre is going after Barbara, but it's too late, as the killer has already begun trying to seduce her and has whisked her back to his home. When she asks about a mysterious room, the Ogre tells her to see it for herself, drawing her closer into his web of deceit. It's hard to tell exactly which way this storyline will go, considering that it looks like it's on a Fifty Shades of Grey path at this point. Barbara has been a divisive character for most of the season, and this Ogre plot would give the showrunners a chance to either write her out or (more likely) attempt to redeem her character. After all, Gordon and Barbara, at least according to the comics, are endgame, right?

Some Ruffled Feathers

Gotham "Under the Knife"

Continuing his ascent in Gotham's crime world, Oswald (Robin Lord Taylor) orders a hit on Maroni (David Zayas) and his lieutenants, only for Maroni himself to pop up at his nightclub. After some casual yet cryptic allusions to Oswald's mother (Carole Kane), Maroni tells her about her son's criminal activities, declaring that her Oswald is a killer and "a monster." Later, she asks Oswald if it's true, and he lies, though it's clear his distraught mother isn't entirely convinced. This only strengthens Oswald's resolve to be rid of Maroni once and for all - and when a flower delivery shows up from Maroni for his mom, Oswald takes his anger out on the delivery man.

Much has been said about Taylor's performance as the Penguin. The character is one of the better known members of Batman's rogues gallery, and his role in Gotham has been central in establishing the show's offbeat, yet violent tone as well as its approach to the origin stories of such iconic characters. This episode is no exception - and with Oswald on the warpath now more than ever, it shouldn't be long before the Penguin truly does become a name that strikes fear into Gothamites.

Wayne & Kyle Investigations

Gotham "Under the Knife"

Bruce (David Mazouz) is visibly shaken after seeing Selina (Camren Bicondova) commit murder; despite the fact that her interest is clearly in keeping them safe, the youngest (and only surviving) Wayne maintains that Selina has crossed a line that he will never cross. It's an interesting dynamic between the two and one that establishing their particular moral codes in an honest way that is remarkably true to the characters - and in the case of Bruce, the episode offers a hint at the non-killing rule that he will later adopt as Batman. The scene between Bruce and Alfred, in which Bruce asks his butler whether it was necessary for him to kill while in the military, is a subtle way of laying out yet another building block on the road to the cowl, as Bruce continues to form his perspective on how to deal with Gotham's criminals.

Moreover, the moment between Bruce and Selina at the Wayne Enterprises charity ball works not only as a nod to previous incarnations of the characters' relationship (the pair previously danced at formal balls in Batman Returns and The Dark Knight Rises), but also as a plot device to get them closer to finding the answers they need to find out who's after them - as well as, perhaps, who murdered Bruce's parents in the first place. While Gotham could easily lean too heavily on the young sleuths, it wisely folds their plotline (and the bond they share) in with other, more substantive story points.

Riddle Me This

Gotham "Under the Knife"

Edward Nygma (Cory Michael Smith) takes a crucial step forward on his arc this week. After discovering that his unrequited love Kristen Kringle (Chelsea Spack) has found herself in an abusive relationship with Officer Dougherty (Zachary Spicer), Nygma warns him to stay away from her - but when Dougherty responds with violence, the future Riddler viciously murders him. It's the kind of moment where the character's journey clicks into place, taking a quirky, sympathetic figure and pushing him one step too far.

The episode also nicely foreshadows the bloody murder with Nygma taking out his frustration on a bunch of watermelons. This is undeniably a man with a great deal of repression and angst, and the fact that he warns Dougherty to stay away from Kristen with a riddle about love - before ultimately committing his first murder (and of a cop, no less!) - truly bridges the gap between the unassuming character Nygma started as and the green-suited menace he will become to the citizens of Gotham. The true challenge for the show now lies in following up with this plot point, now that the first step towards the Riddler is complete.

What did you think of "Under the Knife"? Share your thoughts on the episode in the comments section below.

Gotham returns next Monday at 8pm with "The Anvil or the Hammer". Check out a preview of the episode below:

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