Gotham: 'The Anvil or the Hammer' Review & Spoilers Discussion


[WARNING: This article contains SPOILERS for Gotham Season 1, Episode 21.]


Gotham finally wraps up its ongoing focus on the serial killer known as the Ogre this week, leaving the show primed and ready to go out with a bang in next week's season finale. With the weeks-long Ogre storyline now officially in the can, the series looks like it aims to return to a number of its long-running threads from earlier this season, for better or worse.

In this week's episode, "The Anvil or the Hammer", a number of characters find themselves closer than ever to accomplishing their goals, and a familiar character joins the the cast, bringing young Bruce Wayne (David Mazouz) that much closer to the cape and cowl. However, the Ogre plotline still takes the bulk of the runtime. Let's delve into the conclusion of his story.

It's Over for the Ogre

Fans who were hoping that Barbara (Erin Richards) - who has been the subject of much criticism all season - would meet her end at the hands of the Ogre (Milo Ventimiglia) were left disappointed. After spending the night with the Ogre, she quickly learns of his vicious nature and spends the bulk of the episode held captive in his secret room. Showing her photos of his previous victims, he proclaims that she is "the woman [he's] been searching for" in his violent quest for his soul mate.

Meanwhile, Gordon (Ben McKenzie) and Bullock (Donal Logue) are closing in on Barbara's location, after the former failed to recognize that she would be a target in time. "Whatever happens to Barbara, it's on me," Gordon says to Leslie (Morena Baccarin) early on this week. Luckily, the detectives learn from a local pimp that the Ogre has been seen at a local brothel, and Gordon promptly reaches out to Oswald (Robin Lord Taylor) for details on its location. Once there, Gordon and Bullock find a girl who was once kidnapped by the Ogre (before he began murdering his victims), and a call from the Ogre gives them the clues they need to figure out where he's headed.

Ultimately, Gordon arrives at the home of Barbara's parents. In order to prove his love to her, the Ogre made Barbara tell him who he should kill, and apparently she pinpointed her parents as her targets of choice. By the time Gordon and Bullock show up, a number of people - including both Mr. and Mrs. Kean - are dead, and the Ogre takes an oddly passive Barbara hostage, though Bullock still manages to sneak up behind him and take him out. It's a somewhat unceremonious end to what the show has been building up as a major story development, and the ramifications for the character of Barbara are troublesome, especially considering her relative unpopularity with fans. It will be interesting to see if the show will explore the emotional effects this ordeal has had on her next week and into season 2.

One Step Closer


After Alfred (Sean Pertwee) brings Bruce an envelope containing the key Selena has acquired for him, the young master Wayne heads over to Wayne Enterprises to investigate. Once there, he sets off the fire alarm and heads to Sid Bunderslaw's (Michael Potts) office for answers. However, his safe has already been emptied out, and Bunderslaw arrives, announcing that he was expecting Bruce and explaining that he hired Reggie to find out what Bruce knows about the illegal dealings Wayne Enterprises is involved in. Even worse, Bunderslaw reveals that Bruce's father, the late Thomas Wayne, knew all about it.

Shocked, Bruce is soon ushered out of Bunderslaw's office by a junior executive by the name of Lucius Fox (Chris Chalk), who claims that Thomas was "a true stoic [who] kept his best self hidden." When Bruce reiterates his discovery to Alfred, the butler echoes these sentiments, assuring Bruce that his father was a good man. But, as Bruce points out, "even good men have secrets." This entire plotline is a rather on-the-nose parallel to Bruce's eventual transformation into a vigilante who spends his days pretending to be a rich playboy, but it at least hints at what might lead him down that path. Moreover, the introduction of Lucius as an ally within Wayne Enterprises nicely plants the seeds that will eventually help Bruce kick off his crime-fighting career. Expect an increased focus on this storyline in season 2.

A Dark Future Ahead


Both Oswald and Edward (Cory Michael Smith) lashed out last week in bloody fits of rage, and now both future Batman villains take their nefarious plans to the natural next step. For Oswald, this means striking against Maroni (David Zayas), but when the attempted hit doesn't go according to plan, Oswald reveals that his plan wasn't to kill Maroni but to pit him against rival crime boss Falcone (John Doman). The former launches a series of timed attacks against Falcone, and Gotham becomes a war zone, all according to Oswald's plan. This is perhaps the most obvious storyline to be continued on in the season finale, making it ever more likely that Oswald will very soon emerge at the top of the Gotham crime wave.

In the meantime, Edward has the nasty task of disposing of Officer Dougherty's body. While doing so, he is briefly interrupted by Kristen (Chelsea Spack) and ultimately crafts a letter in which Dougherty explains to Kristen that he has left town. Kristen bemoans the situation, and Edward is pleased with himself, having encoded the letter with his own name. The glee with which he does so is the most disturbing part, and it isn't hard to see how this amateur killer will develop into the sadistic, puzzled-obsessed Riddler. Here's hoping that Gotham can create a smooth transition in the meantime.


What did you think of "The Anvil or the Hammer"? Share your thoughts on the episode in the comments section below.

Gotham returns next Monday at 8pm with "All Happy Families Are Alike". Check out a preview of the episode below:

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